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What’s at Stake

The Longhorns begin the year with hopes of returning to the BCS title game after a stinging 37-21 loss to Alabama last season, when QB Colt McCoy was injured in the first quarter. Saturday should be a good chance for new QB Garrett Gilbert to show what he can do in a less pressure-filled situation than when he filled in for McCoy against Alabama.

Key Matchup

Gilbert against Rice’s defense, which ranked among the nation’s worst last season. The Owls allowed 464 total yards and more than 273 yards passing per game. The high-school All-American is eager to take the field now that he’s the Longhorn’s starter and facing Rice should be a good way to ease into the job.

Players to Watch

Texas: RB Cody Johnson. The 5-foot-11, 250-pound junior was expected to be used mostly in short-yardage situations, but instead has gained the starting job. He had 335 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. This year the Longhorns will use his hard running to make their ground game more about power than style. He won the job over Tre’ Newton, who led Texas last season with 552 yards.

Rice: RB Sam McGuffie. He gained 486 yards and three touchdowns as a freshman at Michigan before sitting out last season after transferring. Owl fans are so excited about McGuffie that his biography became the most popular one on the Rice website when he wasn’t even playing. That could be because of his high school career in the area at Cypress-Fairbanks high school, where he had 5,847 yards and 83 touchdowns in his career.

Facts & Figures

It is the first year since 1995, when the Longhorns opened at Hawaii, that they begin the season on the road. … This is the fourth appearance at Reliant Stadium for Texas. They beat the Owls at the Texans’ stadium in 2003 and ‘06 and defeated Colorado in the Big 12 championship game there in 2006. … The Longhorns have won 10 straight openers. … Texas has been ranked in the AP poll for a school-record and NCAA-best 158 straight weeks. … The Longhorns have won 10 straight and 38 of their last 39 against the Owls.

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No. 6 TCU (0-0) vs. No. 24 Oregon St. (0-0) at Arlington, Texas, 7:45 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: TCU by 13 1/2.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

After finally becoming a BCS buster last season, but losing the Fiesta Bowl, TCU wants a do-over. The Horned Frogs will almost certainly have to go undefeated in the regular season to have that chance. A tough opening test for new QB Ryan Katz and Oregon State, which got close to the Rose Bowl last season. The Beavers still have the Rodgers brothers, RB Jacquizz and WR James.

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