Louisiana Tech Texas Football

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) runs against Louisiana Tech during the first half Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Austin, Texas.

Notes on a golf scorecard Monday while thinking I would like to bring my golf clubs to Austin this weekend for the LSU-Texas game, but I’m afraid they might melt (the high Saturday is supposed to be 102) …

… Folks in Austin say this is the biggest non-conference showdown Texas has hosted since Ohio State came calling in 2006. A pair of top-10 teams (LSU was No. 6 in the preseason AP poll, Texas was No. 10). ESPN’s “College GameDay” is going there for the first time in a decade. This is a big deal for all concerned. The Longhorns are certainly feeling once again that they are headed back to the top. Exhibit A was Texas’ stunning 28-21 upset of Georgia in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. A victory that prompted Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger to mug for ESPN’s cameras and shout, “We’re baaaack!” There is no way to really quantify it, but I’m among those of the opinion that the Sugar Bowl meant more to Texas than it did to Georgia, whose College Football Playoff hopes were dashed by that gutting come-from-ahead loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. That same Georgia team was dominated 36-16 back in October by LSU, albeit in Tiger Stadium and not at a neutral bowl site.

… A writer for the Austin newspaper wrote Monday that Texas has nothing to fear from LSU. Well, maybe not fear, but the ESPN Football Power Index implies the Longhorns should be a trifle concerned. ESPN says LSU has an 80 percent chance to win Saturday. Maybe those numbers are skewed early in the season with only one game aside to pick from. Then again, maybe ESPN’s FPI computer thinks the Longhorns are, to use Texas-ish term, all hat and no cattle.

… By the way, an FPI simulation of the NFL season that ESPN.com published Monday picked the Saints to beat the Los Angeles Chargers 40-33 in Super Bowl 54.

… Texas coach Tom Herman said LSU’s defense will be the best his Longhorns have faced, with “NFL players at pretty much every position.” Apparently, some of his players don’t think so, at least when it comes to one contentious defensive unit. Texas defensive backs were sporting “There’s only one DBU” T-shirts in warmups before last Saturday’s 45-14 victory over Louisiana Tech. Texas has put out great players at a lot of positions, but recent history leans to LSU on this one, at least in a head-to-head count. Since 2010, LSU has had 14 defensive backs drafted, with 10 of them still on NFL rosters. Texas has had nine defensive backs drafted in that same time, with five on NFL rosters. Then again, this whole “DBU” thing is about as overplayed as a freshman cornerback trying to jump a pass route. Is it LSU? Is it Florida? Is it Ohio State? Is it Texas? Does anyone really still care at this point?

… That said, Texas has this formation called Cowboy in which the Longhorns put eight defensive backs on the field. They pulled it out a couple of times against Louisiana Tech. That should be a sight if they go back to it against LSU.

… During his Monday news conference, Herman was asked that tired old question about the way Ed Orgeron talks. Herman, it must be said, was rather diplomatic, replying: “It’s unique, his language, certainly.” The question just isn’t funny anymore, insulting and implying a lack of intelligence on Orgeron’s part. Orgeron just got a contract extension and a raise to $4 million a year. If you pay me that much, you can snicker all you like about how I talk.

… Speaking of Ehlinger, a lot will be on his shoulder pads to produce yards and points Saturday, with the Longhorns being critically thin with only one true scholarship running back available. For some reason, he’s taken his shots from different corners. Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Louisiana Tech alum Terry Bradshaw said before the Bulldogs played Texas that, “He ain’t that good.”

And over the summer, Cleveland Browns and former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield blasted Ehlinger, too. “He couldn’t even beat Lake Travis, so I don’t really care (about) his opinion on anything winning,” Mayfield said back in June. “He doesn’t like me, and I hope he knows I don’t like him either.” It doesn’t help that Mayfield prepped at Lake Travis High School in Austin while Ehlinger starred at Westlake. “The two best quarterbacks to come out of there are Drew Brees and Nick Foles. Sam can stay down there at Texas.” OK, so maybe Ehlinger isn’t Brees or Bradshaw or a Heisman winner like Mayfield. But he certainly isn’t bad. He threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns against Louisiana Tech. He threw for 25 touchdowns and rushed for a school quarterback record 16 last year, his 41 combined touchdowns behind only Colt McCoy’s 45 in 2008 in Texas history.

Email Scott Rabalais at srabalais@theadvocate.com