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The Week That Will Be (Thanksgiving 2011)

Last Week: 5-1 ATS 2-4 SU
For the Year: 39-33 (.542) ATS 46-26 (.639) SU

We learned last week that Arkansas plays with more footballs than everyone else, as six receivers had at least 3 catches and three running backs had at least 10 carries in a blowout win over Mississippi State.

…we learned that USC is an inexplicable blowout loss to Arizona State away from having deep, deep regret over their post-season ban this year. Take away that loss and the ban, and USC is perhaps a win over UCLA and a win at home in the Pac-12 Championship from going to the BCS National Championship game. They would certainly be in the argument with Alabama. Which is, of course, to say if I was Tom Brady…

…we learned what a difference a year makes in Ann Arbor. After holding Nebraska to a season-low in total yards, Michigan now ranks in the top 15 in total defense and scoring defense. If Denard Robinson can improve on an inconsistent junior season, you have to think Michigan is a good candidate for the national title next season that might fly under some people’s radar.

…we learned that Baylor can actually beat Oklahoma, after Robert Griffin III led them on six touchdown drives in the last three quarters, three of which took less than a minute. Griffin’s 562 total yards are at least worth an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony, and many are saying he's the favorite now.

…we learned that Oklahoma State will never win the national championship. If they don’t win it this year, with Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon playing at a ridiculous level, with a running game that is a nice complement, and a defense that leads the nation in takeaways, they’ll never win it. Championship programs don’t fall to Iowa State, no matter where the game is or what the circumstances are. They had one game to focus on before a de facto title game semi-final and blew it.

…and finally, we learned that 18 points in two weeks will drive a fan of a college football team very, very crazy.


It is that time again, the time of year where we all gather around and make small talk about how it is the holiday season already even though we all just lived through the hottest hell of a Summer that man can endure, or perhaps your cousin from Pennsylvania has somehow convinced himself that ESPN and The Longhorn Network hoodwinked Penn State into firing Joe Paterno in order to cover-up that whole conspiracy about 1969 and you sit there with failed smile nodding your head because the time it would take to refute this argument would be better spent putting him back on the next flight to Pittsburgh.

It is also the time that we give thanks, and for that reason, I present to you what I am thankful for this holiday season…

To Tim Tebow, thanks for the food on my plate this Thursday, for ridding us of the Aggies, for lowering the price of gas by 10 cents this week, for my beautiful wife, for killing and presiding over the funeral of Osama bin Laden, and for most of all, being relevant again so the Tim Tebow Joke Series has more legs.

To Penn State school officials, thanks for being unethical buffoons (via The University of Miami and Ohio State University).

To David Stern, thanks for allowing the Dallas Mavericks to be all-time NBA Champions.

To Christine Michael, thanks for this ringing endorsement of Texas A&M University: "I want to go to A&M," Andrew Michael (a Junior recruit) said. "It would be cool but he (Christine) wants me to be in a better place than him. Like he wants me to be at LSU or something like that."

To Gary Pinkel, thanks for teaching the school kids of America how NOT to recite the Alphabet.

To Lee Corso, thanks for being that crazy uncle that might say anything at anytime.

To Michael Vick, thanks for having a low pain threshold so Vince Young could win another game as a quarterback.

To Austin Beer Works, thanks for the outstanding brew.

To Urban Meyer, thanks for the one year hiatus (via @UrbanMeyer’sHeart)

To T-Baby, thanks for letting us know it is cold in the D. We were not aware.

To Time Warner Cable and The Longhorn Network, thanks for absolutely nothing.

To the readers at Barking Carnival, thanks for taking the time to read and comment on this column each and every week. It makes it absolutely worth the effort to get such valuable discourse.

To Texas A&M, thanks for humping it, for your ridiculous haircuts, for having someone stand with a chalkboard at all times showing the score to Reveille, drawing your swords on SMU cheerleaders, for Coach Fran’s newsletter, for non-sanctioned bonfires, for Dave South, for acting like you care about women’s basketball, for your refusal to have female cheerleaders, for Yell Leaders for that matter, for Mike McKinney, for "can you help me with this?", for proudly being in the 98th percentile, for maroon carrots, for athletic directors that write "tu" in e-mails, for your undefeated record at half-time, for calling a tradition "elephant walk", for hissing, for Hullabaloo Caneck Caneck, for having the courage to Whoop, for your jars of special sauce, for Aggie Yell Leaders singing in the car and putting the video on the Internet…and for running to a conference that kicks your ass every time you play them. Goodbye.

To Emanuel Acho and Fozzy Whitaker, thanks for not only your notable contributions on the field, but for the outstanding contributions off the field. We are proud to have you in the Longhorn nation and wish you well in your future endeavors.

To Nolan Brewster, thanks for your contributions to the program. Your dad made his mark on this program, and we know that you will follow in his footsteps closely.

To Blaine Irby, thanks for your heart and determination. We can’t tell you how proud we were when we heard you were coming back, how proud we were when we saw you back, and how emotions nearly won over when you scored a touchdown in your final home game. That determination will get you very far in life.

To Christian Scott, thanks for coming back from a personal setback to make a strong contribution on the field.

To Justin Tucker, thanks for your diversity and for being such a strong contributor to this team for the past few years. You were the team MVP several times, and you will be missed next year.

To Blake Gideon, Cody Johnson, Kheeston Randall and Keenan Robinson, thanks for being a part of some very notable teams, and for several years of contributions.

To Tray Allen, Jamison Berryhill, Mark Buchanan, Ahmard Howard and David Snow , thanks for sticking with it. You guys were never the guys on the front of the program, but you stuck with it and contributed where you could without taking the easy path elsewhere.

To Anthony D’Addeo, John Paul Floyd, Luciano Martinez, Patrick McNamara, John Osborn, Christian Randolph, Sam Walker, Trey Wier, Nick Zajicek, Alex Zumberge, thanks for the thankless job of being a walk-on at the University of Texas. You know you are pretty much guaranteed zero playing time when you set out on this path, yet you sacrifice your health and time each and every week in order to make this program the best in the country.

On to the games...

Notre Dame @ Stanford -6.5:

Notre Dame has played well against the pass (including holding Matt Barkley to 224 yards), but seeing them struggle against Boston College last week, in addition to their troubles on the road this season (Michigan – L, Pitt- Close W, Purdue – W, Wake Forest – Close W), I think Stanford gets back on track here.

Stanford 31 Notre Dame 24
ATS – Stanford
SU – Stanford

Alabama -21 @ Auburn:

Auburn held it together the first couple of weeks of the season, but they’ve fallen apart lately, losing by 35 to LSU, 38 to Georgia and only leading Samford by 8 going to the fourth quarter last week. Alabama should be focused on winning convincingly and then letting the dominoes fall on them going to the BCS Championship game…

But this series is nearly always close. Look at this point differential the past 10 meetings: (1, 5, 36, 7, 7, 10, 8, 5, 10, 24). Alabama wins, but Auburn sticks around for a while.

Alabama 34 Auburn 17
ATS – Auburn
SU – Alabama

Ohio State @ Michigan -7.5:

It has been 2,922 days since Michigan beat Ohio State in football. The big musical hit was Outkast’s "Hey Ya", Steve Bartman had just ruined the Cubs title hopes, LeBron James was a rookie for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Gmail was months away from being introduced…and Facebook was weeks away.

And with the news that Urban Meyer is on the way, Michigan had better do it this year.

Michigan 20 Ohio State 16
ATS – Ohio State
SU – Michigan

Arkansas @ LSU -13:

Oh what an interesting game. If Arkansas wins, the tidal wave of chaos that will engulf college football will be delicious…if LSU wins, we’re likely looking at LSU/Alabama once again.

Arkansas has actually won 3 out of 4 in this series, including a 31-23 win last year. They feature a high-powered offense that has scored 40 or more points in three straight games, but they must find success against a LSU defense that has given up more than 11 points in a game since September.

This is always a great game, and I don’t see it being any different this year. LSU just has a monster of a defense, and it will come up big when needed.

LSU 28 Arkansas 24
ATS – Arkansas

Texas Tech vs. Baylor -12.5:

Baylor hasn’t beaten Texas Tech since 1995, but then again they had never beaten Oklahoma, so perhaps it is their week.

Tech appears to have given up on the season, and players are dropping like flies…but Baylor’s defense still has its troubles.

Baylor 44 Texas Tech 34
ATS – Texas Tech
SU – Baylor

Texas @ Texas A&M -7.5:

Last meeting, Texas offense sucks, Texas defense good, Texas A&M offense good, Texas A&M defense sucks, Texas A&M dreadful in the second half of games…that about covers it, right?

The Texas defense that held Collin Klein to 4 rushing yards last week might catch a break with Cyrus Gray possibly being sidelined….Gray last year ran for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Longhorns….or is it Gray receiving a break?

How do you beat the A&M offense? Force turnovers. A&M struggled the most against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, mostly because of Ryan Tannehill’s 6 combined interceptions in those games. They also had two fumbles in a loss against Missouri.

So you’ve forced turnovers, but can Texas convert those into points? Obviously the health of Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Jaxon Shipley factor into that. If they are healthy, then Texas can run on an A&M team that gave up 284 yards rushing to Missouri….if those guys are "limited" again, then they won’t be able to run on a team that only gave up 2.5 ypc to Kansas State, 3.17 to Oklahoma, 2.37 to Arkansas and 1.31 to Oklahoma State.

Sure, you can beat the Aggies through the air, as evidenced by them giving up 292 yards per game, but you are a better prognosticator than me if you see a Texas quarterback that will be able to exploit that.

And then it gets worse. The Aggies lead the country in sacks, averaging 3.73 a game, and they face a Texas offensive line that has shown little ability to protect the quarterback, ranking 80th in the country in sacks allowed at 2.20.

It is a broken record, but this team simply won’t get better until the quarterback position gets better. One of these guys shows something (or the offensive coordinator suits the offense to the quarterback by moving the pocket, safer routes, etc.), and Texas can escape here with a win on the back of a defense and running game predicated on motion and deception. Play like they did against KSU, Missouri and Oklahoma, and the Horns get blown out of the building.

Unfortunately, until that record player plays a different song, you have to trust you know what's coming.

Texas A&M 30 Texas 17
ATS – Texas A&M
SU – Texas A&M

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for post-holidays gym fees.