Ehlinger’s 4 TD passes lead No. 10 Texas over Louisiana Tech

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sam Ehlinger threw four touchdown passes and No. 10 Texas rolled past Louisiana Tech 45-14 on Saturday night, giving coach Tom Herman his first season-opening victory in three years with the Longhorns.

Texas had started each of the past two seasons with losses to Maryland, but had no trouble overwhelming the Bulldogs from Conference-USA in this one. Ehlinger was coolly efficient from the start with scoring passes on three of Texas’ first four possessions.

Herman dismissed the previous bad starts as “irrelevant,” but those losses had hung over his first two seasons, even when Texas finished 2018 with a Sugar Bowl win over Georgia.

“The preparation of our guys was really, really impressive the way they handled their business,” Herman said after getting the victory. Texas was solely focused on Louisiana Tech, even with game against No. 6 LSU up next.

“The leaders in the locker room know how the openers turned out the last couple of years,” Herman said.

Texas is one of the favorites to challenge Oklahoma for the Big 12 title as long as Ehlinger can keep delivering touchdowns like he did last season and Saturday night. The junior passed for 25 TDs and ran for 16 more last season, and his four scoring thrown against the Bulldogs tied his career high. Ehlinger left the game at 38-0 and did not play in the fourth quarter.

Devin Duvernay caught nine passes and Ehlinger’s first touchdown, and Brennan Eagles caught touchdowns of 28 and 25 yards in the second and third quarters.

THE TAKEAWAY

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs (0-1) needed senior quarterback J’Mar Smith and his top playmaker, Adrian Hardy, to have big games and neither could deliver against a swarming Texas defense. Smith was under regular pressure and missed some open looks, most notably a wild pass in the first half that missed an easy touchdown when the game was still close. Hardy didn’t have a catch in the first half.

“Poor Adrian, that guy is going to have bruises all over his body the way he got tackled tonight,” Bulldogs coach Skip Holtz said. “They weren’t going to let him free.”

Texas: The Longhorns defense had eight new starters from a year ago and got off to a good start behind a dominant effort with so many fresh faces. Texas used a mix of looks that even included eight defensive backs on some plays, and forced three turnovers. Refine that scheme, and having that kind of coverage speed all over the field could have a big impact when Big 12 play starts.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

There’s no reason to drop Texas down after a methodical dismantling of a Bulldogs team that has been known to give bigger programs fits.

UP NEXT

Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs head back to Louisiana to face FCS opponent Grambling.

Texas: The Longhorns host their biggest non-conference game of the year: No. 6 LSU (1-0), which beat Georgia Southern 55-3 behind five touchdowns passes from Joe Burrow.