The Week That Will Be (09.25.2010)

Last Week: 3-2-1 ATS 5-1 SU
For the Year: 8-7-3 (.533) ($-10) ATS 15-3 (.833) SU

What we learned last week:

We learned that John Brantley is no Tim Tebow, and he’s also no Doug Johnson or Ingle Martin, as the youngster is doing enough to get by, but that won’t be enough when they travel to Tuscaloosa next Saturday night…

We learned that Texas fans had better start the Mark Richt Fan Club because things could get ugly in Athens this season…

We learned that Nick Foles belongs in the talk of upper echelon quarterbacks this year, and that Arizona can save me from a bad afternoon in the sports book…

We learned that you never, never bet on Baylor, and we also learned that if Andy Dalton has to say that TCU came out "with a lot of emotion" and wanted to beat "an in-state rival", then that tells you all you need to know about TCU’s college football identity…

We learned that Boyz II Men must have a hit record out because Nebraska is running for 383 yards and has a stout defense again…

And finally, we learned that a 22 play drive is possible, that Neal Brown is no Mike Leach and that you never feel bad about a win in Lubbock.

Anyhow…

My family was in town. It is still the only game my dad has ever seen in that stadium. I remember watching my 60 year old aunt climb the stairs to the next to last row of the upper deck and thinking that she couldn’t feel any worse than I do on this day.

All the hopes, all the dreams? All I could hope for is a cool breeze and all I could dream of were the Ranchiladas from On the Border after the game.

Not only could an outsider question my choice of Tex Mex, they could question my sanity about following a football team as bad as this one.

When my family looked at me with sweat dripping off their brows after a Skip Hicks two yard run made it 52-3, I shrugged my shoulders and betrayed the memory of fighters of the Alamo and said, "Let’s go."

Who knows what I would have written about if I did this column back in the late summer of 1997. I might have written about building upon the miracle in St. Louis by leaning on quarterback James Brown and running back Ricky Williams, and riding them to another South Division title. I might have written about how John Mackovic’s 4th and 1 call the year before might have turned a corner in the annals of Texas football, about how this was the year that we will build upon with Casey Hampton and Quentin Jammer ruling the defensive side of the ball.

I might have written about how Penn State was bound to fall from #1 with a 70 year old coach, and about how Steve Spurrier could never win the big one at Florida, so the opportunity was there to take the next step.

But in no way did I see what was to happen next, that the best thing to come out of the whole ordeal was that Marty Cherry would get a modeling contract.

As I walked down the ramps of Royal-Memorial Stadium, the Sons of Westwood ringing in my ears, I might have even talked myself into believing that this was a fluke, and that this team would gather their pride and finish the season out in fine fashion and go get that national championship in ’98.

Yeah, that 38-31 win over Rice the next week lacked fire, but we rallied from a 14-0 deficit, dammit. Then a 42-16 loss in Stillwater. Then a 27-24 win in Dallas over OU…you know, if we can beat Missouri next week…

They tore down the goalposts. As did Baylor two weeks later.

The only place Texas football was popular that year was the opposing locker room, field goal posts manufacturing facilities and airplane banner companies that flew the infamous "Flush the John, Dump Deloss" banners across game locales.

Mackovic was put on the important task of golf course designing and in came a brown haired fellow from tobacco road that couldn’t win the big game and had zero pressure at a school obsessed with an orange ball, not a brown one.

But it didn’t take long for Mack Brown to win over the hearts of Texas fans, and the rest, as they say, is history. 131 wins. 2 conference championships. One crystal trophy.

An athletic department that makes more money than a gold mine. A stadium that Joe Jamail is proud to have his name on, unlike in 1997 when he told Deloss, "how much … money will it take to get my name off that … field?"

Now it is unfathomable that anyone would want to fire Dodds, who has built the strongest athletic program in the country fueled by the strongest football program in the country.

So why the trip down bad memory lane? I guess it is just impossible to think of a UCLA/Texas game without thinking about that game, a game that in an odd way was a turning point of Texas football, even if it didn’t appear so to the fans filing out of the stadium looking for somewhere better to eat than On the Border.

Even though Mack Brown had his own 63-14 and 65-13 games that seemed so much worse than that September day, his teams always rallied to finish out the seasons strong, just as I had wished while looking at the bird excrement on the ramps down Belmont Hall.

And yes, there is that national championship as well.

So even if you get the shakes at the sight of those UCLA uniforms once again inside the confines of DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium, take a moment to ponder how far this program has come since then, and if you could have ever imagined that when you walked out of the stadium that day.

We’re lucky, folks. Enjoy the ride, because you never know when it will come crashing down amid a plate of Ranchiladas.

On to the games...

South Carolina @ Auburn -3:

South Carolina hasn’t beaten Auburn since 1933, so the latest trends aren’t good for the Gamecocks, but Auburn had a lot taken out of them in an overtime win over Clemson last week, while South Carolina comes into this game playing really well.

South Carolina 27 Auburn 21
ATS – South Carolina
SU – South Carolina

Oregon State @ Boise State -17.5:

Yawn. Another "statement" game for Boise, which reminds me of Andy Dalton’s quote above. Oregon State is a nice program, but the fact of the matter is that they are 1-1 with a loss to TCU and an unimpressive win over dreadful Louisville last week.

The Beavers gave up 453 yards to Louisville in Corvallis last week, and spent this week painting their practice field blue instead of fixing the pass defense. Boise rolls at home, ESPN drools and America rolls their collective eyes.

Boise State 48 Oregon State 24
ATS – Boise State
SU – Boise State

Alabama -7 @ Arkansas:

Alabama spanked Arkansas 35-7 last year at Bryant-Denny, and while this one is getting hyped as a classic SEC match-up, it smacks to me of contender vs. pretender. Until Arkansas shows something against a quality opponent, I have to go with the proven commodity.

Alabama 28 Arkansas 13
ATS – Alabama
SU – Alabama

Stanford -4.5 @ Notre Dame:

Stanford has quietly rolled out to a 3-0 start in the darkness of West Coast late night starts, with an impressive 35-0 victory over UCLA and 68-24 drubbing of Wake Forest last week.

Andrew Luck is third in the country in passing efficiency, and this is the game where people start to talk seriously about him and post-season awards.

Stanford 34 Notre Dame 24
ATS – Stanford
SU – Stanford

Oklahoma -13.5 @ Cincinnati:

On a completely unrelated note, don’t ever bet on Oklahoma against a service academy. You’ll feel dirty, and OU will end up screwing you in the end.

A great start by DeMarco Murray has helped Oklahoma avoid dropping an embarrassing one to Utah State or Air Force, games which the Sooners have won by a total of 10 points. Utah State lost by 17 to Fresno last week, while Air Force is a nice team, but won’t remind anyone of Texas or Nebraska anytime soon.

So what’s wrong with the Sooners? Let’s start with a defense that has allowed an average of 408 yards per game, good for 89th in the country, and a running game that goes nowhere with anyone but Murray running the ball. Add in a largely ineffective Landry Jones, and the Sooners look shaky at best right now despite a blowout win over Florida State.

But the Bearcats don’t have much either, dropping two of three to start the season due to an offense that is only 84th in the country and a pass defense that is giving up 247 yards per game. One thing Cincinnati does do right is keep the ball in their own hands as Zac Collaros has yet to throw an interception this year.

Cincinnati will be able to hit a couple of big plays, keeping the ball away from Oklahoma. It won’t be enough to win, but I’m not sure Oklahoma is good enough to beat solid teams away from Norman in convincing fashion.

Oklahoma 31 Cincinnati 20
ATS – Cincinnati
SU – Oklahoma

UCLA @ Texas -15:

The offense might have been mediocre last week, but the defense was anything but, only giving up 144 total yards, a number that Texas Tech might have gotten in the first quarter against Texas in recent years.

But oh that offense. 4 turnovers and 3 sacks after not allowing either all season. 93 yards rushing against a Red Raider defense that gave up 109 against SMU and 97 against New Mexico.

What is this offense? Is it a running team? Obviously not, only averaging 152 yards per game on the year, good enough for 65th in the country. Is it a passing team? No, the passing game has been worse at 71st in the country. Not one single running back has stepped up. Not one single receiver has established himself as the go-to guy on offense.

With all due respect to UCLA and the talent they have on defense, they gave up 313 yards rushing to Kansas State, 211 rushing yards to Stanford and 252 passing yards to four different Houston quarterbacks last week. This is the last "warm-up" act before facing Oklahoma and Nebraska.

Oklahoma’s defense has struggled thus far, but you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think they won’t be at their best against Texas. Nebraska’s defensive numbers are down, but they’ll be amped up with their lame one second BS and will be ready to play as well.

If the Longhorns don’t get their … together this week, then this offense has major problems that might not be fixed all season.

When the Bruins take the field, they’ll be led by Kevin Prince, who missed most of fall practice with an injury and it shows, as he’s thrown 4 interceptions to 1 touchdown pass as the Bruins average only 100 yards of passing yards all season.

The Longhorns absolutely tee off on one dimensional offenses, and UCLA has that, running for 266 yards last week and only throwing for 99 against Houston.
In fact, it is hard to see the Bruins doing much at all on offense. Let us hope that isn’t the case for Texas.

Texas 34 UCLA 6
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Maudie’s.

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