The No. 15 Texas Longhorns are preparing to open their long-awaited 2012 campaign against the Wyoming Cowboys on Saturday.
After last year’s dismal outing, in which Mack Brown couldn’t decide between David Ash or Case McCoy at the quarterback position— and often played both during the same game—the legendary head coach finally settled on Ash.
While the quarterback play won’t be the focal point of the Longhorns, it certainly will be for the Cowboys, who are hoping Brett Smith—Mountain West conference freshman of the year in 2011—can have the game of his life.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this upcoming matchup, including where to watch it, which players to keep an eye on and a prediction on the final score.
Where: Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Tex.
When: Saturday, Sept.1 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Watch: Longhorn Network
Listen: The Zone 1300 AM—Texas, KFBC 1240 AM—Wyoming
Betting Line: Texas -31.5, Over/Under 51 (Via ScoresAndOdds.com)
Key Storyline: Texas Rushing Attack
Texas has an elite stable of RBs that can do some serious damage on the ground, while Wyoming simply doesn’t have the personnel to stop it.
If the Longhorns are going to win this, they don’t even have to worry about how Ash plays as the starter. They can simply pound the ball against a team that gave up over 230 yards on the ground per game last season.
Don’t be surprised when the running backs—Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray—get the majority of touches in this contest, as the Cowboys will be hard-pressed to prove they can limit them.
Who Might Not Play for Wyoming (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
DL Ben Durbin—Transfer—OUT
QB/WR Sam Stratton—Undisclosed—Out
Who Might Not Play for Texas (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
PK Anthony Fera—Hip—OUT
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
The Longhorns are ranked No. 15 in the preseason AP Poll. If Texas wants to keep that lofty ranking, which they certainly have yet to prove they deserve, then they’ll need to open the 2012 campaign by blowing out Wyoming.
Anything less—a close game or even worse, a loss—would be devastating to the Longhorns' chances to compete for a Big 12 title or national championship this year.
Expect coach Brown to keep his foot on the gas and allow his boys free reign to run the score up on Saturday night.
What They’re Saying
Carter Strickland of ESPN’s HORNSNATION (pay wall) pointed out that the Longhorns have an X-factor working in their favor for this game—the weather.
“Maybe it is not a stat but it is a fact that the forecast high is 97 degrees for Saturday. In Laramie, Wyoming the forecast high is 80. Simply put, the Cowboys are not used to the heat.
Texas on the other hand is and is better equipped to handle it. Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is already talking about rotating his eight defensive linemen on the first series. Texas has the depth to do that. Wyoming doesn’t.
Depth of talent is typically the difference between teams from the Mountain West and Big 12. Usually the first string lines can at least hang with the bigger conference teams. It’s when the game gets into the second quarter and beyond that a team like Wyoming is exhausted physically and of resources. Texas meanwhile will have a fresh defensive line and be working on at least a seven-man rotation on the offensive line.”
Wyoming Player to Watch: Brett Smith
Smith is a dual-threat QB that has showed game-changing ability, but he’s going to have the best performance of his life if he’s going to lead his Cowboys past the Longhorns.
After throwing for 2,622 yards and 20 touchdowns, while rushing for 710 and 10 TDs last year, Smith is hoping to build upon that performance and help keep Wyoming near the top of the MWC.
A win over Texas would vault them up there, but that’s a near-impossible task.
Texas Player to Watch: David Ash
With a trio of elite RBs and a stout defense, the Longhorns need Ash to manage games, make the easy throws and not turn the ball over.
He’s got a chance to test his management skills against a soft Wyoming squad on Saturday. If he starts making mistakes, expect a lot of people to question Coach Brown’s decision.
Prediction: Texas 38, Wyoming 10
The Longhorns are going to win this game. It’s that simple. They have a beastly ground game, one that is simply unstoppable with the defensive scheme and personnel that the Cowboys employ.
If Texas sticks to that attack, there is no way that they even let Wyoming into this game.