The Week That Will Be - 09.17.2011

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 7-5 (.583) ATS 8-4 (.667) SU

We learned last week:

…that Auburn has been outgained by 234 yards in their first two games and Gene Chizik might have had horrible hair in high school, but they obviously bought the extended warranty.

…that EA Sports has outdone themselves this year, as I could have sworn that the Notre Dame/Michigan game where I saw three touchdowns in the final 1:22 was live action and not a video game.

…that Alabama is Alabama, and they do what they do, which is thump non-SEC opponents handily.

…that Mark Richt had better start looking at Zillow.com.

…that yes, it is possible to freeze your own kicker as Gary Pinkel proved.

And finally, we learned that Texas can out-physical another team…that they have progressed as that was a game that they lose last year, and that the leash was indeed short.

Mention the Rose Bowl around a group of Texas fans and they’ll break into a broad grin…but give them a second and they’ll also shake their head and look at the ground in disgust.

Sure, there is the beauty and tradition of the cathedral. Listen carefully and you can still hear the tones of Keith Jackson float over you as you gaze at the sunset reflecting off the San Gabriel mountains. There isn’t a better venue in all of sports in my opinion, but that isn’t why they smile.

They smile because of 4th & 5 at the North end of the field. They grin because of the fluttering kick at the same end of the stadium. And they shake their head because the last time we were in that stadium a national championship that they know was theirs went down with Colt McCoy’s injured shoulder.

Although Saturday’s match-up between Texas and UCLA has nothing like that on the line, we all know that wherever this team goes, intrigue follows.

The intrigue presents itself at the most important position on the field, the quarterback. Leading Texas onto the field on Saturday will be Case McCoy, Colt’s brother, who unlike his brother will be attempting to begin his legacy instead of cementing it.

Garrett Gilbert will once again take his seat on the Rose Bowl bench…this time as a jilted starter, not the bright eyed freshman taking it all in. If he plays this time it will once again be a story, but instead of a story of opportunity it will be a story of redemption or desperation, whichever side you should happen to fall upon.

But before McCoy, before Gilbert, before the other McCoy, before Young and Mangum, there was another game at the Rose Bowl that stick out to Texas fans old enough to remember the lean(er) years.

In 1998 the Longhorns entered Pasadena looking to avenge the 66-3 loss at the hands of the Bruins the year before. Texas was ranked #23, UCLA #6, so it should have been a competitive game but once again it was not as UCLA got out to a 35-3 lead at half-time.

But unlike the previous year, the Longhorns made a spirited charge at the end of the game on the legs of eventual Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams, and a freshman quarterback who made the most of his opportunity.

Texas was out of the game by the time Major Applewhite came into the game with 7:39 left in the fourth quarter, but nine plays later the Longhorns were in the end zone. First year head coach Mack Brown was impressed enough to make Applewhite the starter the next week (a 48-7 drubbing at the hands of Kansas State), and the rest…is history.

It remains to be seen how Case McCoy and David Ash handle their chance in the land of opportunity.

But if previous Texas trips to the Rose Bowl are any indication, it should be memorable.

On to the games...

Tennessee @ Florida -9.5:

There was a lot of talk about Cincinnati upsetting Tennessee last week, but Tyler Bray threw for 405 yards as the Vols dispatched the Bearcats with ease.

Florida QB John Brantley is off to another slow start, throwing 2 interceptions to 1 touchdown for 424 yards in two games against doormats Florida Atlantic and UAB.

Florida will have enough on offense to win their seventh straight in the series here…but Tennessee has a little something this year so it should be close.

Florida 27 Tennessee 24
ATS – Tennessee
SU – Florida

Ohio State @ Miami -2.5:

Jacory Harris is back for Miami, but he won’t help a secondary that gave up 348 yards to a guy named Danny (not Davey) O’Brien.

Ohio State 24 Miami 14
ATS – Ohio State
SU – Ohio State

Oklahoma State -13.5 @ Tulsa:

Tulsa has given up 593 passing yards through two games. They gave up 65 points to Oklahoma State last year, who returns Weeden and Blackmon. OSU rolls.

Oklahoma State 54 Tulsa 27
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Oklahoma State

Oklahoma -3 @ Florida State:

Oklahoma has never won a non-conference road game against a ranked opponent in the Bob Stoops era…which consists of about two games, one of those being the infamous loss to Oregon under auspicious circumstances. But it just seems a bit odd that they haven’t played more road games of that ilk, no?

What you have to ask in this game is….who the hell is E.J. Manuel? Well he’s thrown 12 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 180 career passing attempts, and did lead the Seminoles to two bowl wins the last two seasons in relief of Christian Ponder. Is he good enough to beat Oklahoma? Sure. The Sooners gave up 271 passing yards to Tulsa and showed vulnerability against the pass all of last year.

Will he? Probably not.

Oklahoma 38 Florida State 30
ATS – Oklahoma
SU – Oklahoma

Texas -4 @ UCLA:

Stop the run. Stop the run. Stop the run. Play it on a loop at the practice fields all week, I don’t care. Stop the run and you beat UCLA.

Thankfully that actually looks like a possibility after the addition of Ashton Dorsey in the lineup helped Texas hold BYU to just 43 rushing yards. That effort will be needed as UCLA ran for 264 yards in last season’s 34-12 victory over Texas and return both running backs. Quarterback Kevin Prince ran for 50 himself and might play but that will be a game time decision after sustaining an injury earlier this year.

On defense, UCLA has (and let’s say this all together as it is a theme for UCLA) underachieved. Against doormat San Jose State the defensive line only combined for 11 total tackles, had no sacks, recorded no quarterback hurries and only had one tackle for loss.

Do that against Texas and they’ll run all over you. Haven't felt that certainty in a while, eh?

So it sounds like Texas should roll, right? But who knows what you will get from McCoy and Ash? While the talent is there, this will be their first road test (if you don’t count Case McCoy’s one attempt at Rice last season). The Rose Bowl for a UCLA game is not an intimidating venue at all, but the fire is still a bit brighter away from home.

When in doubt, trust the coaching staff. Texas has more to gain here. They should expect UCLA’s best shot (we always get it), but I trust Bryan Harsin and Manny Diaz more than I do Rick Neuheisel and crew.

Texas 28 UCLA 20
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

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