The Week That Will Be (10.23.2010)

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 2-4 SU
For the Year: 16-22-4 (.421) ($-800) ATS 28-14 (.667) SU

What we learned last week:

We learned that while last week’s Auburn/Arkansas game was fun to watch on television, and Auburn is now 7-0, they won’t be there for long if they continue to let back-up quarterback-level quarterbacks throw for 332 yards and four touchdowns…

We learned that while Denard Robinson is the flashy one, Ricky Stanzi continues to have an outstanding year after throwing for 248 yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in a 38-28 victory over Michigan. Stanzi trails only Kellen Moore and Cam Newton in passing efficiency…

We learned that Wisconsin can manage 330 yards of offense but still knock off the #1 team in the country by two touchdowns. College football in 2010, ladies and gentlemen…

We learned that Tommy Tuberville’s defense first approach is failing, as Oklahoma State rolled up 581 yards on the Red Raiders and coasted after getting out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter…

We learned that Mike Sherman will not last long in College Station, as the Aggies again haven’t shown a lick of improvement from last season, and in fact in many ways have regressed…

And finally we learned that Taylor Martinez might be able to beat Deion Sanders in a footrace and would destroy Chuck Norris in a street fight, but he’s no challenge for Will Muschamp.

Anyhow…

That’s what we’ve been looking for all season.

Yeah yeah, you can come out now and say that Nebraska wasn’t really all that good, blah blah blah, but we had plenty around these parts saying last week that Texas didn’t even need to show up because they had no chance.

For all of their deficiencies at times, this coaching staff has shown the ability time and time again in the past to get past challenging times, and that this team will never give up on a season.

And I couldn’t have been prouder of that on Saturday evening.

But Saturday means nothing if Texas comes out in the second half of the season and pulls much of the same tricks that they did in the first half, because although five of those games are at home, it would make each of these team’s seasons to beat Texas in their own house.

The ultimate goal might be out the window, but there are still plenty of secondary goals within reach, and much like the end of 2004 or the bowl game in 2007, momentum can carry on to the next season.

So let’s finish it out right.

Unfortunately we have reached the halfway point of the 2010 season. The last few weeks have saved what was looking to be a very generic college football season, so let’s take a look at the first half and how the post-season awards might shape up at the end of the year:

The Chaps Girl Award (MVP) – Cam Newton (QB), Auburn

In a tight race between Newton and Kellen Moore, give me the guy that has done it in the SEC, running for 176 and throwing for two touchdowns against South Carolina and rushing for 188 and 3 touchdowns against Arkansas last week. This might look like a stupid pick six weeks down the line, but for right now, he’s done the most in the toughest arena.

The Herschel Walker Award (Freshman of the Year) – Taylor Martinez (QB), Nebraska

Martinez had an awful game against Texas, but Will Muschamp will make a lot of guys look silly. Martinez has transformed what was a woeful offense in 2009 against every opponent they played into one of the most feared offenses in the country this year. Once Martinez learns to throw the ball (or his receivers catch it), watch out.

The Eric Taylor Award (Coach of the Year) – Chip Kelly, Oregon

Oregon will drop a game this year due to their horrid defense, but Oregon lost their quarterback before the season started, was doomed to be a 7 or 8 win team without him, and have already done that with several weeks to go. The Ducks make their opponents look about as silly as the Oregon uniforms, and that is saying a lot.

The Wade Phillips Award (Worst Coach of the Year) – John Blake, North Carolina

The man isn’t even a head coach but he has destroyed yet another program and will cost Butch Davis his job. Sounds like a crappy coaching job to me.

The Surprise Team of the Year Award – Michigan State

We’ve already mentioned Oregon, but Michigan State is 7-0 for the first time since Don Draper…spoiler alert….threw his life away by marrying that big tooth broad to marry him in 1966…spoiler alert over.

Head coach Mark Dantonio had a heart attack earlier in the year, but shook it off and was back in the stadium in no time. The Spartans still have road trips to Iowa and Penn State on the schedule, but this season already is a success for those guys.

The Disappointing Team of the Year Award – Take Your Pick

Texas, Florida, USC, Penn State…At least three of those teams have a first year starter, so they have a valid excuse. USC lost a lot as well, though. Suffice it to say that when you have teams like Boise State, TCU, Michigan State and Utah in the Top 10 at this point of the year people are going to wonder what happened to the premier programs.

The (Insert Failed Sound From The Price Is Right Here) Award – Virginia Tech losing to James Madison

Boise State thought they had their signature win (and still do), but the Hokies went out the very next week and lost to James Madison, who is 4-2 in FCS, having lost to Delaware and New Hampshire. Now that the Hokies have reeled off five wins in a row, people are talking up that win again…but c’mon, James Madison. Presidents should win elections, not football games.

The HornMafia Is Not Nostradamus Award – His Take on Tim Brewster

Aside from my sub-par record against the spread this year, there is this from this column two years ago:

The Texas Karma Award – Tim Brewster, Minnesota

The former Texas coach (and father of Texas safety Nolan Brewster) has the Gophers at 6-1 (after going 1-11 last year), with the lone loss coming in Columbus to Ohio State. With no Penn State on the schedule, Minnesota could be looking at a 10 win season, which might get Brewster some looks at the bigger schools out there. You think the Aggies could have hired him?

Um, yeah.

The Les Miles Award – Les Miles, LSU

The guy should really be a Hollywood screenwriter.

The I’m Going to Bow Up Really Big, But Hold Me Back, Hold Me Back Award – Nebraska

You know that guy. The guy that is always looking for a fight, but as he tries to start one, he runs into his buddy’s arm and yells "hold me back! Hold me back!" Well, Nebraska wanted a fight all off-season, but when it came time to exchange blows, they wilted like, well, Nebraska.

The We’re the Champions! Wait, We Have to Play Next Week Award – South Carolina

The Gamecocks looked like a shoo-in for the SEC title game after blasting Alabama, and then they come out the next week and drop one to Kentucky, who snapped a three game losing streak with that win. C’mon Steve Spurrier, allow us to hate you again.

The Pete Rose to the Hall of Fame Award – The BCS Argument

Ugh. It is about this time of the year that I start rooting for Boise State and TCU to lose because I’m sick of the Pete Rose to the Hall of Fame/Barry vs. Emmitt argument that you hear 100 times a day. It ain’t changing, people, so you might as well embrace the system and hope it isn’t the team that you root for that gets screwed. I get the angst that the system causes, but I was already seeing the "1 vs. 8" potential match-up articles this week. Sick of it.

On to the games...

Wisconsin @ Iowa -5.5:

This is looking like Wisconsin is in a South Carolina-like situation here, no, except that Iowa is a lot better than Kentucky. Iowa has only given up 17 points at home all season, and I don’t see Wisconsin coming in here and doing enough to get the upset.

Iowa 24 Wisconsin 13
ATS – Iowa
SU – Iowa

UCLA @ Oregon -25:

We all know that Oregon’s offense is steam-rolling everyone, averaging 54 points per game. Their defense has been porous against teams with a pulse, but they’ve been opportunistic, ranking 2nd in the country in turnover margin.
The question is whether UCLA can put enough together on the ground to shorten the game here. I don’t think they can do it nearly enough to win the ballgame. This has traditionally been a close game (neither team has won by more than 19 points in the last 10 matchups).

They just don’t have the offense to keep up with the Ducks.

Oregon 44 UCLA 24
ATS – UCLA
SU – Oregon

LSU @ Auburn -6:

Ah, can the luck of Les hold up? Auburn has lost three in a row in this series and last year was held to 193 total offensive yards.

I’m not sure that happens again this year, as Lester has to drop one at some point.

Auburn 31 LSU 17
ATS – Auburn
SU – Auburn

Nebraska -5.5 @ Oklahoma State:

OSU is 6-0 after their win in Lubbock last week, doing it with offense as they are 2nd in the country in scoring and total offense. Sophomore receiver Justin Blackmon leads the nation in receiving yards per game and is tied for the scoring lead as well.

But they run into a Nebraska defense that might have yielded the rushing yards in their loss to Texas but held Garrett Gilbert to 62 yards passing. They also held Jake Locker to 71 yards earlier in the season.

The Cowboys would probably have some luck by sticking to the run and giving the ball to Kendall Hunter 30 times in this game, but they haven’t done that all season.

Good defense usually beats good offense, so I look for Nebraska to recover here and give the OSU offense some fits.

Nebraska 34 Oklahoma State 21
ATS – Nebraska
SU – Nebraska

Oklahoma - 3 @ Missouri:

Does anyone really believe that Oklahoma is the #1 team in the country, like the BCS poll states that they are? Might they be the worst #1 team in the BCS era?

They barely beat Utah State and Air Force at home (don’t give me this crap about AF being good, yes they’re good, but they’re not Oklahoma in Norman good), struggle with Cincinnati and then need Texas to shoot itself in the foot multiple times to win by 8 in Dallas.

Landry Jones has been efficient, DeMarco Murray looks like his old self, but the defense isn’t the OU defense of old, giving up 227 yards through the air this year.

Enter Missouri, who I wrote off last week as another Big 12 North team that is solid for half a year then starts playing road games and folds. No, going to College Station and winning a ballgame isn’t exactly going into Lambeau Field in January, but the Tigers impressed me by holding a Texas A&M offense that is averaging 30 points per game to 9 points.

In fact, this Missouri defense hasn’t given up more than 24 points in any single game this year, and only gave up 19 points in their other three games in Columbia combined. They’re fourth in the country in sacks, and expect defensive end Aldon Smith back from a fractured leg to join that unit. Smith only had 10 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks against Illinois in the season opener.

If Blaine Gabbert plays within himself, and if the defense can make Landry Jones make the plays with his arm instead of Murray with his feet, then Missouri can certainly pull off the upset here. But…does that paper tiger Missouri team finally show up here?

Probably. Oklahoma is the greatest team in the history of ever…right?

Oklahoma 34 Missouri 28
ATS – Oklahoma
SU – Oklahoma

Iowa State @ Texas -20.5:

I’m not going to go into how Iowa State can beat Texas, because they can’t, unless all three Texas quarterbacks sleep through their alarm for the 11 AM start and Texas is forced to start James Kirkendoll at QB while Coach Rucker pounds on Gilbert’s door…

The Cyclones looked to be more trouble earlier in the year when they beat Texas Tech in Ames, but since then they have given up 120 points in two games and nearly got several bookmakers in Vegas fired for only making them a touchdown underdog to Utah two weeks ago.

They now rank 104th in the country in total offense, 112th in total defense, 104th in scoring defense and 112th in the country in sacks.

They’re bad. Jerrod Johnson 2010 bad.

Nope, what I will talk about here, like I do in a lot of games like this, is talk about what I would like to see from this game:

A.) Garrett Gilbert showing us a glimpse of the future. Sure, we’ve seen halves of games here and there, saw an impressive stretch in the second quarter against Wyoming, but I want to see a dominating effort against a team that lets you dominate them like a New York governor. They gave up 334 yards to Landry Jones, 325 to Jordan Wynn and 377 to Taylor Potts. I want to see similar numbers.
B.) Special Teams outburst. The Texas return teams have been dreadful this year, with nice punt returns being negated by miscues and fumbles. Our kickoff return unit ranks 106th in the country. It is past time to see some improvement.

C.) Offensive Line continuing their play from Nebraska. The offensive line dominated for long stretches of time against Nebraska, let’s see it again. And again. And again.

D.) Defense doing what they does. To paraphrase Rangers manager Ron Washington, keep it up. Mack Brown mentioned this week that some players injured against Nebraska last week might not play this week (Keenan Robinson?), so use this time like you did last week, Jordan Hicks…shine.

Let’s not see the 2010 team that at times has been lost, and at other times flat out un-effective. If this team wants to get where it wants to be in the future, it must start dominating games like this.

Texas 45 Iowa State 10
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Texas Rangers…playoff tickets.

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