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The Week That Will Be (10.01.2011)

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 14-10 (.583) ATS 16-8 (.667) SU

What we learned last week:

We learned that Mike Stoops should probably be sending feelers elsewhere as Oregon ran for 415 yards on 47 carries as Arizona got hammered for the third straight week.

…that LSU is probably the best team in the country as their offense was efficient at best but they still managed to down West Virginia by nearly four touchdowns on the strength of takeaways (Oregon feels your pain WVU) and special teams play (again, they feel your pain).

…that Alabama could be right behind them with that defense and Trent Richardson running like the cars he drives, but they’ll need A.J. McCarron to make a play at some point.

…that apparently Kansas State is better than we all thought, knocking over Miami on the strength of 286 rushing yards on 36 carries. Bill Snyder might be able to pass as a South Florida resident, but he can coach some football.

…that we can hold off on anointing Oklahoma as the best team in the country after falling down quickly to Missouri. Nobody thought that they were going to lose that game, but you are at home against a team that beat you last year, great teams roll there.

…and finally, we learned that Texas A&M’s offense left for the SEC a half early as they choked one away at Kyle Field.


The 2010 Texas Longhorns started the season 3-0, but that is akin to saying that the Titanic made it out of port just fine. Which is to say yes, this team is 3-0 and has been much more impressive in getting there than last year, but the potentially hardest three game stretch of their season lies ahead of them in the next three weeks.

This isn’t the same Iowa State team that Texas beat 56-3 in the midst of what we thought at the time was the dreadful 2007 season. This Iowa State team is undefeated (more on that later), and will host a sold-out stadium that would like nothing better than to beat Texas for the second straight year.

Add to that nervousness is the fact that Mack Brown said the Longhorns had a couple of lackluster practices last week after feeling good about themselves coming off the victory against UCLA, and the fact that Oklahoma is next week, and this is the classic trap game where a young team starts to think it is better than it is and can waltz into another team’s stadium and walk away with a victory.

Texas is saying all the right things this week, but beware.

Next week the Longhorns stay on the road and travel to Dallas to play Oklahoma. If you are reading this column I really don’t have to tell you the importance of that game, but consider that a great percentage of our two-deep are freshmen and sophomores that have never walked off the Cotton Bowl field with a ridiculous golden hat on their heads after beating Oklahoma.

And yes, we should mention that unless Oklahoma falls to Ball State this weekend (and David Letterman throws the biggest party in America), the Sooners will travel to Dallas ranked at the very least in the Top 3 of the country. It would be a monumental win for a rebuilding program, a sign that we might be a year ahead of schedule.

After that, the Longhorns finally travel back home to take on Oklahoma State, which for a half last week looked more like Khloe than Kourtney or Kim, but then knocked A&M off their own field with that trademark Kardashian rear end. It might be a stretch but not a huge stretch to say that Oklahoma State will present a greater challenge on defense than Oklahoma will, with Brandon Weeden eligible for Social Security in the next year and Justin Blackmon looking like Dez Bryant with a good head on his shoulders.

Win one of those three, and we might be where any rational fan might have projected we would be. Win two, and it could be that sign that we are a year ahead of schedule in the Longhorn rebuilding project. Win all three…and we’re talking about a Longhorn football team ranked firmly in the Top 10, we’re talking about building a statue of Case McCoy and David Ash in the Red McCombs Red Zone and we’re debating whether or not Malcolm Brown will leave for the NFL before he wins four Heismans.

These next three weeks won’t make or break the program, but it is a great opportunity to see where we are as a program halfway into the first year of this new era followed by a number of winnable games leading up to the Thanksgiving tilt with Texas A&M.

Insert Bart Scott quote here.

On to the games...

Clemson @ Virginia Tech -7:

Clemson is 4-0 on the strength of an offense directed by Chad Morris and acted out by sophomore Tajh Boyd, who has 13 touchdowns to only 1 interception. Unfortunately for Clemson, they also have a defense that is allowing 405 yards per game to teams like Auburn and Florida State, but also to teams like Wofford and Troy.

Clemson’s first road game in 2011 ends in a loss.

Virginia Tech 27 Clemson 23
ATS – Clemson
SU – Virginia Tech

Nebraska @ Wisconsin -9.5:

Nebraska’s first Big 10 conference game finds them in Madison, where they have not played since 1962. The Cornhuskers welcome back Jared Crick, who missed last week’s game with an injury.

But you have to wonder if it will matter since Nebraska has given up 81 points in three games with and without him, against lackluster competition such as Fresno State, Washington and Wyoming.

Russell Wilson has been outstanding (1,136 yards passing, 11 TD 1 INT). Add his performance to a Wisconsin rushing attack and I see Nebraska getting run out of the building here.

Wisconsin 34 Nebraska 17
ATS – Wisconsin
SU – Wisconsin

Alabama -4 @ Florida:

It is the #2 defense in the country (Alabama) against the #5 defense (Florida) in what promises to be a low scoring slugfest.

The question is, which quarterback do you trust here to make a play if the running games get bottled up? A.J. McCarron (Alabama) and John Brantley (Florida) have been remarkably similar, with McCarron throwing for 779 yards to Brantley’s 752, McCarron completing 66.3% of his passes compared to Brantley’s 64% completion percentage, a 4/2 TD to INT ratio for each, and a negligible difference in YPA (8.20 to 8.74).

Who wins here? Your guess is as good as mine.

Alabama 17 Florida 14
ATS – Florida
SU – Alabama

Baylor -3.5 @ Kansas State:

It would be a waste of space to talk about Robert Griffin’s accomplishments here, you know that he has more touchdown passes than incompletions, but the question is, can he and Baylor do it on the road?

Griffin had 404 yards passing against Kansas State last year and figures to approach that number this year, but Baylor needs to win games like this convincingly to start proving that they belong.

Baylor 31 Kansas State 24
ATS – Baylor
SU – Baylor

Texas A&M -3 vs. Arkansas:

The Aggies finally get their dream SEC match-up, unfortunately for them they have lost both games against Arkansas since renewing this series two years ago.

A&M fell in love with the pass last week, throwing the ball 18 times in the fourth quarter and only giving Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael a combined 19 carries overall. Ryan Tannehill can be great, although he was borderline awful last week, but A&M is at their best when those two guys get going.

Arkansas has their own problems, but throwing the football is not one of them. They are averaging 312 yards through the air on the year despite only throwing for 209 last week against Alabama. They should be able to move the ball on the A&M secondary that is giving up 279 yards through the air.

Arkansas 31 Texas A&M 28
ATS – Arkansas
SU – Arkansas

Texas -9.5 @ Iowa State:

The first thing you hear about Iowa State is about their quarterback, Steele Jantz, who played last year at City College of San Francisco, who Mike Stoops tried to schedule at the end of the year to pad his win totals when he heard this story.

Jantz has been good but not great, completing less than 60% of his passes and throwing for only 666 yards in 3 games with 6 TD and 6 INT. He’s been clutch, but not consistent. He is what some might call "Iowa State hot", as in "pretty good for what you’ll find at Iowa State."

Insert obligatory "they beat us last year" here.

So how did Iowa State get out to that 3-0 record? They beat a Northern Iowa squad by one point that went on to defeat both Stephen F. Austin and Western Illinois. They then beat Iowa in 3 overtimes, a Hawkeye team that is allowing 386 yards per game. And then there was the 4 point win over defending Big East champion UConn, who beat Buffalo by 2 touchdowns last week.

Let’s put it this way. If Texas had the same results, we would have people crashing the Internet with rants about how Mack Brown is washed up and we need to replace him with Major Applewhite.

However, that isn’t to say that Iowa State doesn’t present a formidable challenge. Like what was mentioned earlier, this will be a real test for a young team that will face their first true hostile environment against a team that very well could be bowl eligible by the end of the year.

Get up big like you did against UCLA, and Iowa State doesn’t have the weapons to come back. Let them hang around, however, and this team will gain confidence behind a sold-out stadium.

Texas 24 Iowa State 17
ATS – Iowa State
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for #6 jerseys at the Co-op.