The Week That Will Be (10.30.2010)

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 18-26-4 (.409) ($-1020) ATS 31-17 (.646) SU

What we learned last week:

We learned that with a road game at Michigan the toughest test the rest of the way for Wisconsin, they will really be cussing that loss to Michigan State earlier in the year…

We learned that everyone in the country can ask at one time, “How did UCLA beat Texas in Austin?” and then 48 hours later they say, at one time, “Oh yeah…”

We learned that the Cam Newton For Heisman train is picking up steam, and if that excites anyone outside the state of Alabama congratulations…

We learned that Justin Blackmon continues the long tradition of Oklahoma State wide receivers making bad decisions…and we learned that yes it is possible to throw for more than 100 yards on Nebraska…

We learned that Bob Stoops will punt late in the game because he has so much confidence in his defense that he doesn’t want to lose by double digits…

And finally we learned that yes, Texas, that other team has scholarship players as well.

Anyhow…

When Gabriel blows his horn I know things may not go my way…
- The Old 97’s Here’s To The Halcyon

No kidding.

Of course not even in the deeper realms of my brain did I ever think that Iowa State would beat a team in Austin that just nine months ago was playing in the national championship game, but the reality is that it happened, and this team is in deep trouble.

Let’s just hope that it isn’t the program that is in trouble.

There is a difference.

Shame on me for being arrogant enough to not even give Iowa State the dignity of breaking down the match-ups last week, but when you lose your last two games by a combined score of 120-27, I put the chances of the Cyclones coming into Austin and stealing a victory at about .5 percent.

But they didn’t come into Austin and steal a victory, they earned it, and they kicked our ass up and down the field.

All of their guys beat the man lining up across from them. Their coaching staff looked at the film from the UCLA and Oklahoma losses and actually came up with the novel idea to incorporate some of those principles to their game plan for this week.

Craig Way was surprised that Iowa State came out in a hurry-up offense, one that they hadn’t run all year. Got it from Oklahoma. Those 199 rushing yards? Mostly on plays stolen from the UCLA playbook.

Mack Brown said all of the right things in his post-game press conference, and reiterated them in his Monday press conference. He talked about how the cocky and arrogant attitude that permeated the team before the game “scared him to death” and that he tried to get the message across to the team all week about how anyone in the Big 12 can jump up and bite you.

He mentioned that the coaching staff educated the team on the city of Ames, their school colors and mascot, because Iowa State was an unfamiliar opponent from that wasteland that is the Big 12 North.

Perhaps his coaching staff should have been coming up with a viable game plan.

An offense that is on pace to be the worst offense since the 1991 squad led by David McWilliams went back to the horizontal passing game that has gotten them absolutely nowhere this season. Gone was the innovation from the Nebraska game plan, back was the first through four pages of the Texas playbook that have been dog-eared since 1998.

The Cyclones had given up 1,078 passing yards (nearly 2/3 of a mile) in the month of October and this coaching staff thought that the best plan of action would be to nickel and dime them up the field.

More like peso and peso.

A Cyclone offense that the week before against Oklahoma (their worst defense in the Bob Stoops era) managed 10 first downs, 183 yards and zero points grabbed a 14-3 lead in Austin in the first half.

And don’t give me this “the defense was tired because of the offensive ineptitude” load of garbage.

Iowa State, dude. Iowa State.

Somewhere out there at least one Texas fan has criticized Greg Davis after every single game of the Mack Brown Era, but for some reason Will Muschamp gets a pass.

Where is this “best defense of the Mack Brown Era” that we were supposedly going to see this year?

Rice, a team that has averaged 22.5 points this year, put up 17 on Texas. Wyoming grabbed yet another first half lead. Texas Tech was held in check, but this is the worst Tech team in years. Oklahoma had a 14-0 lead in Dallas before most had downed their last wax paper cup of beer. Nebraska was impressive…but Saturday was a trainwreck.

It is time to admit that this year has been a colossal failure from every member of this coaching staff. Not individual coaches on any one side of the ball. All of them.

But yes, if we must pick a villain this offense has been abhorrent. Appalling. Atrocious. Beastly. Disastrous. Ghastly. Harrowing. Vile.

The offense is averaging 23.6 points per game, which would be a full 10 points per game lower than the next worst offense in the Greg Davis/Mack Brown tenure, the 2002 team that averaged 33.76 points per game and went through a five game stretch in the middle of the season where they didn’t score more than 27 points in any one game.

This team hasn’t scored more than 24 points since Wyoming in week two, a span of five games.

Not one single running back has stepped up over the course of the season. The same could be said about the receiver corps. The offensive line has been awful.

And Garrett Gilbert has not been good…but at least he has the excuse of youth.

They haven’t been helped by a coaching staff that thought that this team had a stable of running backs that was good enough to run the Alabama offense, despite the 1,099 combined rushing yards between the three of them a year ago. The staff spent the entire off-season implementing an offense built around a power attack when they have a soft offensive line leading the way. An entire off-season spent implementing an offense that goes against everything your quarterback has learned in his football life.

So here we are, a team without an identity on Halloween weekend, a 4-3 record in the books and not a “sure thing” win the rest of the way.

Don’t you dare look past Florida Atlantic after this past weekend.

Gone are the goals of the national championship, the Big 12 Championship, the Big 12 South championship.

All we are left with are Texas state title hopes.

Print the t-shirts!

It would be one thing if this was a young team that was in a transition year, depending on youth at most positions, but as we’ve gone through before that simply isn’t the case.

And I don’t care if we were lining up a team of sophomores and freshmen, with the accolades that these recruiting class get they should be able to beat Iowa State in Austin.

So what are we left with? A program that is at a crossroads.

I’m not fearful of a Miami or Florida State-like drop-off here. The team still has multitudes of talent at key positions on both sides of the ball, and more is coming in every year.

I am worried about a coaching staff that seems to be complacent, one that much like a tenured college professor isn’t worried about the ramifications of not performing up to par on his job.

I’m worried about a team that for the second or third time in the past five years has the attitude that just because they played in a national championship game as an underclassman that they’ll get back there again just by showing up to the stadium on Saturday.

The problems are fixable. Garrett Gilbert will be fine. The talent pipeline is still very viable, full of talented, hungry guys that want the same success that the others before them have achieved, guys like Malcolm Brown who would start on Saturday against Baylor if he was afforded eligibility a year early.

But it is going to take a lot of hard work, and it isn’t going to happen overnight.

It is going to take a player leadership component that this team does not have right now.

And frankly, it might take some new coaches in certain positions.

But getting angry and getting productive are two different things.

We need more of the latter.

On to the games…

Michigan State @ Iowa -6.5:

In the few years that I’ve been doing this column, I’m pretty sure that I’ve written about Iowa more times this year than the other years combined. Does that mean the Big 10 is relevant again?

Debate that one among yourselves, but what isn’t debatable is that Michigan State is having a hell of a season, but aren’t we all kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop with this team? Obviously Vegas does if they’re making them almost a touchdown underdog against two loss Iowa.

The Spartans don’t do any one thing great, their offense is above average, their defense is above average, they do takeaway more balls than they giveaway, but I watch a lot of college football and I couldn’t tell you much about them.

This is the time of the year where teams start to look ahead and think, “if we beat so and so, then we have these teams at home….we can do this!”

Or not.

Iowa 24 Michigan State 21
ATS – Michigan State
SU – Iowa

Auburn -7 @ Mississippi:

The same principle applies to Auburn here, but they do do a few things great, namely run the football with Cam Newton…and Cam Newton.

The problem with Cam Newton left and Cam Newton right and Cam Newton straight ahead is that some team is going to figure you out…can that be Mississippi?

The Rebels gave up 197 rushing yards to Arkansas last week, but held Alabama to 100 yards rushing on 34 carries the week before, and while they didn’t have the offense to keep up with Alabama that night, I think we can all agree that Auburn doesn’t have the Crimson Tide defense.

No, it won’t be the fourth straight week that #1 goes down, but Houston Nutt always manages at least one great game a season.

Auburn 34 Mississippi 31
ATS – Mississippi
SU – Auburn

Oregon -7 @ USC:

Okay, I spent all last weekend telling my buddies that Oregon was going undefeated…but this one has me re-thinking that.

Perhaps I shouldn’t go against an Oregon team that just last week embarrassed me by making UCLA look like they were coached by Wade Phillips, but…

USC has had two weeks to prepare. This is their bowl game. They don’t have a defense worth a damn (87th in the country), but Matt Barkley has been terrific (20 TD to 4 INT), they have the power backs to wear down Oregon and the Ducks have been a little shaky away from Autzen (beat lowly Washington State by 20 but was a tight game at the half; beat Arizona State by 11 despite five Sun Devil turnovers).

Oh what the hell.

USC 41 Oregon 38
ATS – USC
SU – USC

Oklahoma State -4.5 @ Kansas State:

Oklahoma State will be playing without Justin Blackmon, who is suspended for being a dumbass, but if you’ve seen Kansas State’s defense this year, we know that the Cowboys could line up that mascot of theirs with the big hat and he’d put up 85 yards.

Oklahoma State hasn’t won in Manhattan since 1988, but that changes this weekend.

Oklahoma State 34 Kansas State 21
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Oklahoma State

Missouri @ Nebraska -7.5:

This one might decide the Big 12 North, as Missouri goes outside the state of Missouri for only the second time this year.

Can the Tigers build on that Oklahoma win last week? The defense was once again key, as they held DeMarco Murray and the Sooners to 99 yards rushing on 25 carries…but stopping the Sooners rush attack and Nebraska’s is a different story.

I’m having a hard time seeing Blaine Gabbert going into Lincoln and passing it all over the field, and despite their showing against Oklahoma last week they’re not a great rushing team. Their defense will hang tight, but will eventually let up.

Nebraska 24 Missouri 20
ATS – Missouri
SU – Nebraska

Baylor @ Texas -7.5:

The last time Texas lost back-to-back home games in consecutive weeks? 1938 under head coach Dana X. Bible, with a 7-6 loss to SMU followed by a 14-3 loss to Baylor the very next week. And although our offense seems to be that bad sometimes, that Longhorn squad went 1-8 and scored 52 points all year.

Baylor comes into the contest with the nation’s 5th best total offense, 5th best passing offense and are 16th in the country in sacks allowed. They will pass it up and down the field on you, and when the pass doesn’t work, Robert Griffin III will run on you (384 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns on the year).

Their defense isn’t great (79th in total defense and 84th in pass defense), but we all know that doesn’t matter this week.

Baylor last beat Texas in 1997, and this is by far their best chance to do it since then. I really wish I could come out and say that this is the week it all changes and we come out firing and actually score more than 24 points, but what the hell evidence is there of that?

I see Texas scoring somewhere around 20-24 points in this game…can we hold Baylor to that much? Perhaps. Texas does feast on pass first/run second type teams, but if the offense doesn’t help them out, or worse, turns the ball over, then we’re in trouble, because Baylor will capitalize on our mistakes.

I don’t think Texas loses three straight home games, but at this point it wouldn’t shock me. The problem when you lose games like last week is that it wasn’t because of talent, it was purely the give-a-shit factor.

Will Texas give a shit this weekend? I sure hope so, because if not D.X. Bible will have that ugly blip off this record.

Texas 24 Baylor 21
ATS – Baylor
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Texas Rangers World Series tickets.

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