Most matchups in the first week of the college football season are not too intriguing. There are exceptions, of course. This season, one of those few takes place in Austin, Texas, featuring two ranked teams: the No. 21 Texas Longhorns hosting the No. 23 Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
Theoretically, two teams ranked close together should make for a good game. But if you look at the college football betting odds for the game, oddsmakers do not seem to think it will be tight.
Louisiana Vs. Texas Odds
Here are the best lines for spread, over/under, and moneyline bets, depending on the side you like, as of Monday, August 30.
|Best Texas Odds||Best Louisiana Odds|
|DraftKings||-8 (-110)||Spread||+8.5 (-110)||FanDuel|
|DraftKings||Over 58 (-110)||Total||Under 59 (-110)||Caesars|
The worst thing Texas could do is relax because the odds say this should be an easy one.
Texas Longhorns Preview
Tom Herman made the Longhorns good but could not quite make them great. Enter another offensive mastermind — former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. After watching what Sarkisian was able to do with Mac Jones and Tua Tagovailoa, fans must be excited to see Sarkisian work similar magic in Austin.
Eight starters from last year’s offense are back, but the unit lost a vital piece — quarterback Sam Ehlinger. While both junior Casey Thompson and redshirt freshman Hudson Card were four-star recruits, Card will get the start Saturday with Thompson also expected to get some reps.
While the passing game looks promising with several receiving weapons returning, Longhorns fans will want to see more of running back Bijan Robinson.
Robinson did not touch the ball much last season, but he made something happen when he did (703 yards and four TDs on 86 attempts). With four of five starters on the offensive line back, it will probably be more easier moving the ball on the ground rather than through the air.
Where Texas may struggle is on the defensive side of the ball. The team was not effective against the run last season, and it looks like they will count on a solid group of linebackers to improve this season.
While there is a lot of experience returning in the secondary, Texas ranked 108th in passing yards allowed last season.
Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns Preview
Billy Napier may not be a household name, but he has quietly done an excellent job with Louisiana. In the three seasons since taking over the program in 2018, the Ragin’ Cajuns have gone 7-7, 11-3, and 10-1. They made the Sun Belt championship game all three years, losing the first two to Appalachian State but sharing the conference title last season with Coastal Carolina after the championship game was canceled due to COVID.
With a talented, veteran squad coming back, the sky is the limit for Napier and Louisiana in 2021.
Napier has nine starters returning on offense, including his quarterback, Levi Lewis (a fifth-year senior). The entire offensive line is back and will likely be one of the best units in the country once again. Lewis will have a bevy of talent to work with at wide receiver, but there is a big question mark at running back.
Elijah Mitchell and Trey Regas are gone. But hopes are high for Chris Smith, who has played well with limited touches the last couple of seasons. Michael Orphey Jr. will probably see time as well, along with Texas A&M transfer Jacob Kibodi.
On the defensive side of the ball, there is a lot of talent and experience coming back from a unit that was one of the most efficient in the country against the pass last season. The bigger question is how it will fare against the run.
There is a lot of talent and size on the defensive front, which needs to play better this season. If it does not, Louisiana’s speedy, talented linebackers may be able to step up. But if offensive lines start getting bodies on them, opponents may be able to run the ball on them.
Louisiana’s defense is going to make it hard for Texas to get the passing game going. But Texas will not be too concerned since the Longhorn’s strength to start the season will be the run game. While the Louisiana defense looks good enough to slow them down for a little while, it is hard to say if it can for a whole game.
The Texas defense is counting on new defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski turning it around. But if the talent is not there, well, it isn’t there. It will probably be a better unit than it was last year, but fans should temper expectations to start the season.
So the game will come down to whether Texas can keep the ball away from the Louisiana offense or if the Ragin’ Cajuns can score enough to force Texas to throw the ball.
Look for this game to be closer than expected, which means take Louisiana and the points. Taking Louisiana via the moneyline is not a bad bet, but do not bet the house on it.
Outhouse, maybe. Not the house.