Last Week: 1-5 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 24-36 (.400) ATS 37-23 (.617) SU
We learned last week that Johnny Manziel not only is a good quarterback, but can also pull in a lot of Thelmas and Daphnes in a Scooby Doo costume...
...we learned that pre-season polls are bad, bad, bad as pre-season #1 USC was blasted for a second straight week. Oregon scored touchdowns on their first five possessions.
...that A.J. McCarron may or may not be a Heisman candidate, but who cares, he just big balled LSU in their own house. Okay, we have to deduct some points for crying, but who knows, there might be some sick puppy story we don't know about going around the Alabama sideline.
...we learned that for West Virginia, the best prevent defense is to keep your defense off the field.
...that Collin Klein might not be able to kiss very well, but he's a hell of a quarterback.
...and finally, we learned that yes, this Texas team still has some fight.
The year was 1955.
Post-war America was in flux. The Salk polio vaccine was approved by the FDA. A theme park named Disneyland opened in Anaheim, California. Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. A woman by the name of Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama.
But locally, the University of Texas football team was changing, as well. The previous season they posted a 4-5-1 record, their first losing season in 16 years. In 1955, the team played their first game under the lights in front of 47,000 fans in Memorial Stadium. The Longhorns lost, 20-14 to Texas Tech.
Later that year, a Texas cheerleader named Harley Clark introduced the "Hook ‘em" hand sign. Also that year, a 500-pound, eight foot tall bass drum was donated to the University from the University of Chicago, which had disbanded its football team. The drum was dubbed "Big Bertha". It didn't help much, as Texas finished 5-5.
But the biggest change was yet to come. In 1956, the Longhorns fell to 1-9, their lone victory a 7-6 win at Tulane. Texas A&M defeated Texas in Austin for the first time since 1922. Halfway through the season, head coach Ed Price resigned.
Athletic director D.X. Bible decided he needed somebody from the outside for his next hire...and he found his man at the University of Washington, 32-year old former Oklahoma Sooner Darrell Royal.
A consummate CEO, Royal possessed the PR savvy to handle the demanding Texas job and the football knowledge to win enough to stay employed. If you're reading this article, I don't have to tell you Royal's accomplishments, but they included a 167-47-5 record, 3 national titles, 11 conference titles and 27 All-Americans.
Royal was an innovator, a tactician who won the first game decided by a two-point conversion against Oklahoma in 1958, the first of eight straight victories over the rival north of the Red River.
Just when that run was ending and the Texas program was becoming stagnant, Royal and his staff introduced in 1968 an offensive set that would change football forever, the wishbone. A 30-game winning streak, 3 conference titles and 2 national titles followed in short order (which of course included a post-game visit from President Nixon in Fayetteville).
But then, just as suddenly as he was hired, Royal promptly retired at the age of 52 in 1976, trading the pressure and pageantry of Texas football for Austin golf courses and country music in Austin's music halls.
Royal wasn't Texas football. But he was damn close. His name rests on the stadium, a statue bearing his likeness overlooks the field. But, as many would tell you, his contributions outside those white lines were even larger, stopping players to ask about their girlfriends or grades before he would ask them about the game that Saturday.
Known for his folksy style and his quick wit, Royal was known for many sayings, including likely his most famous, "dance with who brung ya."
Royal brought Texas football to modern prominence, and made sure it stayed there by gently nudging it in the right direction several times, including the hiring of Mack Brown.
On Saturday, Brown will honor his mentor Royal with a decal on the helmet and, in what should be a very emotional moment, Texas will line up for their first play in the legendary Wishbone formation.
One last dance, if you will.
On to the games...
Penn State @ Nebraska -7:
Nebraska has had a bit of a struggle putting up points in their last three games, which includes 326 combined passing yards for Taylor Martinez in their last two games, both victories over Michigan and Michigan State.
Penn State, meanwhile, has managed to salvage a respectable season after a disastrous start, winning 6 out of 7, which includes at least 280 yards passing in each of the last four for Matt McGloin.
Nebraska 28 Penn State 24
ATS - Penn State
SU - Nebraska
Oregon State @ Stanford -4.5:
This might be the case of a rare defensive battle in the Pac-12, as Stanford has held their last three opponents (California, Washington State and Colorado) to NEGATIVE 34 yards rushing, while Oregon State has only allowed more than 26 points once (35 against Arizona in September).
Stanford has quietly been very tough at home, only losing to Oregon there in the last two plus seasons. They pull it out here.
Stanford 28 Oregon State 23
ATS - Stanford
SU - Stanford
Texas A&M @ Alabama -13.5:
Texas A&M enters this game searching for some validation, while Alabama on some level just has to be happy to survive last week's match-up in Baton Rouge. The Aggies have the SEC's best offense, while Alabama has the nation's best defense.
The question here is whether Johnny Manziel can do against Alabama in Tuscaloosa what he has done for much of the season - and past history says no. His worst games have come against Florida and LSU, two top caliber defenses. Florida held him to just 60 rushing yards and 173 yards passing, while LSU had 3 interceptions and held him to 27 rushing yards.
The Aggies have impressed thus far, but I have a feeling that their entrance into the SEC has been far too smooth - and there are bound to be some rough patches.
Alabama 37 Texas A&M 21
ATS - Alabama
SU - Alabama
Baylor @ Oklahoma -21.5:
Baylor got their first victory over Oklahoma in Big 12 play last season, riding the shoulders of Robert Griffin III, who passed for 479 yards and 4 touchdowns in Waco for a 45-38 victory. Nick Florence won't be able to replicate those numbers, but he should be able to keep Baylor in the game against an Oklahoma team that hasn't blown out anyone besides Texas and Kansas.
Oklahoma 44 Baylor 31
ATS - Baylor
SU - Oklahoma
Kansas State -7.5 @ TCU:
There is a question about the health of Collin Klein here, who was removed from last week's victory over Oklahoma State after taking a blow to the head and not knowing that they just scored a touchdown. Yikes.
The Wildcats own the ridiculous stat of the week, they have scored 111 points off opponents turnovers, all the while allowing 0 points off of their turnovers. Wow.
The Horned Frogs have been up and down this year, and the stats that deter me from picking an upset here - because they are certainly dangerous enough to do just that, especially in Fort Worth - is the fact that they have nine turnovers in their last three ballgames, and 25 penalties in that same span.
They have to be perfect to beat a team like Kansas State, and I don't think they can do that.
Kansas State 38 TCU 27
ATS - Kansas State
SU - Kansas State
Iowa State @ Texas -10:
It was the Iowa State game in 2010 that Texas fans began to realize that this wasn't just a down year - that it was a systematic problem that needed to be purged. The Longhorns were coming off an improbable 20-13 victory over Nebraska on the road, and waltzed into DKR thinking that all they needed to do was show up to beat Iowa State - and left the stadium with a 28-21 loss, which sent that season into a tailspin.
Texas, of course, is coming off a seemingly improbable win over Texas Tech in Lubbock this week, and although many Texas fans wrote this one off weeks ago as a win, Iowa State can play, as evidenced by their win over TCU in Fort Worth and a six-point loss to Kansas State in mid-October.
They have an experienced front seven that can play as well as anyone they have played this year, holding every opponent they have faced this year to below their scoring average on the season, including giving up just 21 to Baylor and 27 to Kansas State.
Their offense won't blow anyone over, but if you watched the game against Oklahoma last week you know that more than a couple drives were stopped when Cyclone receivers dropped passes - or they would have put up more than 20 points on a stout Oklahoma defense.
If this Texas defense has indeed been saved, and if the good version of this offense shows up, this should be a game where Texas wins handily. But, if the Longhorns come out lethargic, or the defense reverts to pre-Kansas play, or the offense becomes nonsensical once again, a repeat of 2010 isn't only possible, it is very likely.
But Mack Brown appears to be coaching for his life here. Texas shouldn't be caught sleeping here.
Texas 38 Iowa State 21
ATS - Texas
SU - Texas
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