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The Week That Will Be (Red River Shootout 2010 Edition)

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 10-11-3 (.476) ($230) ATS 19-5 (.) SU

What we learned last week:

We learned that if nothing else, Auburn has proved to play exciting games…

We learned that I suddenly don’t give a damn if Boise State runs the table, but they’re going to have to do better than holding the Rodgers brothers to 78 total offensive yards and only winning by 13 at home…

We learned that Arkansas might be better, but throwing for 357 yards doesn’t matter if you throw three interceptions and only run for 64 against Alabama…

We learned that Owen Marecic is the Heisman Trophy front runner, as the two-way Stanford star scored touchdowns on both sides of the ball in a 37-14 win over Notre Dame…

We learned that punt returners were not our friends on Saturday, and I’m talking about Cincinnati here, of course…

And finally, we learned to never schedule f’ing UCLA again.


There’s nothing you can do. Nothing you could do. That’s just the way it is. – Lee Garner, Jr. on Mad Men

UCLA – The Official Buzzkill of Texas Football.

Kinda catchy, no?

On the same weekend that Texas decided to go retro and get reamed by UCLA, our favorite advertising agency Sterling Cooper Pryce Draper on AMC’s Mad Men lost their most cherished account, Lucky Strike cigarettes.

Unfortunately there was nothing lucky about the striking that UCLA was doing all over the field, but it did look like Texas’s entire offensive unit was out smoking cigarettes with Latrian Milton before the game.

When the Longhorns limped to a halftime deficit of 13-3, most of us that needed something stronger than water figured that Texas would come back in the second half and win a close one, somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-16.

But when UCLA came out of halftime and put up another touchdown to make it 20-0, I looked to a buddy and said, "We don’t have the offense to score 20 points in a half. This one is over."

The midnight oil had better be burning at Belmont Hall this week, because how in the world does that happen? How does a team that lost to Stanford by 35, and lost to Kansas State come into your house and embarrass you like that?

All I’ve heard all week is about how Texas is a "young" team, and how this happens to "young" teams, but when you have a top recruiting class each and every year, and supposedly the top coaching staff in the country, "rebuilding" years do not apply.

And "young" is no excuse for losing by three scores in your house.

So it’s done. I’m tired of talking about it, and I’m damn sure tired of writing and reading about it, which I’m sure you are as well.

So what do you do about it? Do you listen to the words of Lee Garner Jr. and give up, hoping that something else will come along to save you? Or do you go and do work the very next day and get better?

Do you quit trying to force feed an offense that simply isn’t working and actually play to the strengths of your strong armed quarterback? Do you take the training wheels off a quarterback who has already shown that he can play through adversity and damn near lead his team to the promise land?

What is it about this coaching staff and placing the shackles on their own players? Why does it take a catastrophic moment to let Cedric Benson get off the bench, let Vince be Vince, let Colt be Colt and let the players be the players? We’ve had enough players handcuffed by their own coaching staff here to fill up a cafeteria to watch Johnny Cash sing at Folsom Prison.

Let Garrett Gilbert throw the ball. You know what? He’s going to throw some interceptions. It happens. But he’s also going to make some plays. He’s going to find an open receiver on a busted coverage. He’s going to let his receiver draw a pass interference penalty. But no, instead we talk about game planning for short, horizontal passes against a defense that gave up 35 points to Stanford and is simply not as talented as you are.

It is maddening, and I hope every single coach lost sleep this week because of it.
But unfortunately, we’ve all seen it before at Texas. And fortunately, we’ve seen this same coaching staff pull the team out of the doldrums.

Pick any of those Oklahoma losses last decade and they were followed by impressive win streaks. In 2006 a demoralizing loss to #1 Ohio State was followed by eight straight victories. In 2007 two straight losses earlier in the year were followed by the team getting back into contention for the Big 12 title.

But you have to admit defeat, say "this isn’t working" and do what you do best to win football games. Mack said during the broadcast on Saturday that football games aren’t won, they are lost.

Well whatever the Longhorns were doing up until Saturday is going to lead to more losses.

Most of the goals for this team are still intact. I think even the most optimistic of all fans didn’t exactly have hotel reservations at the Days Inn in Glendale, Arizona for the second week in January. But the Big 12 South title is still up for grabs. The Big 12 title is still up for grabs. Take care of those two things, and see where the chips fall from there.

The road to that starts on Saturday. You can go into the game, and feel sorry about yourself, and get beat. You can say, oh UCLA was a fluke, We’re Texas dammit, and get beat.

Or you can put in the work this week, recognize that you were thoroughly embarrassed on Saturday, and take it to the field this week and hit somebody in the mouth and make them know that yes, we are going to fix this, and we’re going to fix it quickly.

Vince Young isn’t going to help you. Colt McCoy is reading up on lake effect snow in Cleveland. It is time to find an identity and start making your own legacy.

Legends are made down that famous tunnel on the floor of the Cotton Bowl during this game.

I can’t wait to see the next one born.

On to the games...

Penn State @ Iowa -7:

Iowa has won 7 of 8 in this series, several of those as the underdog, including the last two years. Iowa’s defense is statistically the best in the nation, only allowing 227.5 yards per game, and that spells trouble against a Penn State team that is relying on a freshman quarterback who has more interceptions than touchdowns.

Iowa 27 Penn State 14
ATS – Iowa
SU – Iowa

Stanford @ Oregon -7:

Stanford’s offense gets all of the headlines, but the Cardinal defense is only giving up 13.7 points per game, shutting out UCLA and holding Notre Dame to 14 points last week.

Oregon is steamrolling opponents, as 18 of their 23 offensive touchdowns this year have been on drives of less than two minutes. The defense has been impressive, but showed some holes against an Arizona State squad that was more interested in throwing to Oregon than their own receivers.

Stanford is the more complete team here. But can they win in Autzen? I give Oregon an edge, but only a slight one, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Stanford win outright.

Oregon 31 Stanford 28
ATS – Stanford
SU – Oregon

Florida @ Alabama -8:

"Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)" was the number one song in America the last time that Alabama allowed a 100 yard rusher, in October of 2007. I’m not sure if that is more impressive than it is stupid that that song was ever number one, but I digress.

Florida finally got somewhat on track last week against Kentucky, but that is Kentucky and Ashley Judd doesn’t attend football games for a reason. Alabama survived Arkansas, but gave up a ton of passing yards in the process.

I like Alabama here, but I expect Florida to hang around a bit.

Alabama 24 Florida 17
ATS – Florida
SU – Alabama

Georgia -4.5 @ Colorado:

Ouch…how bad is Colorado that a 1-3 Georgia team is favored in Boulder?

Pretty bad, but CU shows some pride here.

Georgia 17 Colorado 16
ATS – Colorado
SU – Georgia

Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State -3:

Hey everyone, the Aggies are on TV!

Unfortunately they’re playing Oklahoma State, who pummeled Tulsa two weeks ago while the Aggies were needing a comeback to beat Florida International.

Jerrod Johnson is not the same, and frankly looks like he’s still recovering from off-season surgery, and without him 100% the Pokes will roll.

Oklahoma State 45 Texas A&M 21
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Oklahoma State

Texas v. Oklahoma -4:

And the one we wait all year for.

Or what next year will be called "The De Facto Big 12 Championship Game."

Texas comes into the game with the one loss among the teams, but Oklahoma has tried to lose as well, barely defeating Utah State 31-24 (Utah State is 1-3 with a 41-7 loss to San Diego State last week), besting Air Force 27-24 (Air Force is 3-1 with a 6 point win over Wyoming last week) and getting by Cincinnati (the Bearcats are 1-3 with losses to NC State and Fresno State).

So what is their problem?

In a word, defense. The Sooners are giving up 421.25 yards per game, good for 97th in the country. Other teams in the 90’s in defense? Northern Illinois. Ball State. Memphis. Michigan. UAB. Louisiana Monroe. Louisiana Lafayette. Colorado State. Rice.

Not exactly the teams you want to compare defensive accolades with.

The Sooners have great individual talent (Beal, Lewis, Nelson), but are really struggling at other positions, and enter this game with injuries exposing their depth chart…

If Texas could play offense.

Greg Davis should have kept the ridiculous notion that they "gameplanned" the short passes against UCLA to himself, because you know that old adage about opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

IF the Longhorns decide to actually play football and not try to be something they are not, this Sooner defense will give you yards, and is easily one of the worst, if not the worst Oklahoma defenses since Bob Stoops has been there.

But you know, if you want it.

If a running back decides to step up. If a receiver can run the right routes and hold on to the ball. If the quarterback can stop checking down more times than Fran Tarkenton. If an offensive line doesn’t look like the Golden Girls.

That’s a lot of ifs.

But there is a chance.

On offense, the Sooners are better, due to the slight improvement by Landry Jones. I’m not ready to proclaim him the next great Sooner quarterback like most of the media is after throwing for 370 yards on mighty Cincinnati, but he’s improved from Eli Manning dumb face to Sam Bradford dumbface, if we want to use a proper analogy.
If you’re worried about OU running over us like UCLA did in the second half, first of all be a man and quit worrying but second of all, don’t, because OU’s offensive line is much lighter, and not as good. The Sooners average 2.96 yards per carry, so if you think that Texas’s running game is about to make you gouge your eyes out, they at least average 3.84 yards per carry.

DeMarco Murray might not be a homerun threat like he once was, but he’s still averaging 109 of the 120 rushing yards the Sooners are averaging this year, and is especially effective out of the backfield in the passing game, as the Longhorns have found out the last year years.

The Sooners do have a fine set of wide receivers, led by Ryan Broyles, who leads the nation with 10.25 receptions per game. The Longhorns will have to account for him the entire game, because in a tight contest like this, one blown coverage and he’s gone.

If the one yard and a cloud of turf pellets offense that Texas throws out there can somehow keep from turning the ball over inside their own territory, Oklahoma has been outscored 41-10 in the fourth quarter this year, so we have that going for us.

Which is nice.

I’ve gone back and forth on this game all week, but, and perhaps I’m just a homer, hell I know I’m just a homer, but to me the Longhorns’ defense will be the key to the game here. I’m not sold on Landry Jones, and any Sooner fan that looks you in the face and tells you that they have complete confidence in him is either a bigger homer than I am or just football dumb.

Stop Murray and contain Broyles and you beat Oklahoma, and we’re lucky because we make them guess on which guys for us that they have to stop.

Texas 21 Oklahoma 17

ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for fried frito pie.