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The Week That Will Be (09.01.2012)

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How good is Texas going to be this year?

That's been the question you have heard the most this offseason. From the pimple nosed cashier at the grocery store that sees your Texas t-shirt to the annoying co-worker who smirks at you when asking that question to Small Talk Airport Guy to the annoying cousin that went to an inferior state school, to your wife when she's looking for something out of you other than a shrug of the shoulders and a grunt, you've no doubt heard it several times a week.

And, of course, the answer is always, all together now, it all depends on the quarterback.

Perhaps it is just Mack Brown being Mack Brown, but the fact that bowl game back-up Case McCoy is still in the conversation for the spot has terrified me for a good three weeks...because as we all know, if you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any.

Texas fans had hoped that incumbent David Ash would have risen up and could be a poor man's A.J. McCarron, who led Alabama to a national title despite throwing for 200 yards or less in 8 of their 13 victories.

And perhaps he could still be. After all, Alabama played two quarterbacks in their season opener against Kent State last season.But if he could be, why not just name him the starter? Unless, of course, Case McCoy has been Tom Brady minus the supermodel wife in summer practices, of which I have seen none unless you count um, going to a "friend's" house and watching the Longhorn Network's coverage of practice featuring the guy from the Real World that isn't Mike the Miz (imagine how much street cred we'd have then), and perpetual sideline guy Ahmad Brooks.

So we tell the airport guy that our defense should be "SEC-caliber", and then get immediately annoyed that everything is now judged in terms of that annoying conference. We tell the grocery store kid that the stable of running backs should be good enough that we will consider bringing back the Single Wing offense as a set base if a quarterback gets injured and we tell our co-worker that Ash's weapons include an Olympian and the sibling of a Texas legend who had a great year last year despite needing his own ward at the hospital.

But we walk out of the store or go back to our cubicle knowing that 11-1 wouldn't be a complete shock, but nor would another 7-5 campaign.

In previous years I might have ended this section with an inspiring passage on the meaning of the team motto RISE (Relentless Intensity Swagger Emotion), but now I immediately get droop-shoulder when considering that this team needs to be reminded to play with any of those four attributes. And of course I would like to end with a prediction that this year the Longhorns will find their way home to a BCS game or at least a January bowl game...

But who knows?

All we know is that the answer to the "How good is Texas going to be" question starts to be answered on Saturday.


On to the games...

Boise State @ Michigan State -7:

Michigan State has the defense and running game to get back to the Big 10 championship game, while Boise State has to replace the all-time leader in victories as a quarterback in Kellen Moore, as well as 9 starters on defense.

The Spartans should be able to run, but that's what we thought when Boise beat Oregon (2009), Virginia Tech (2010) and Georgia (2011). But Boise has to have a down year at some point, right?

Michigan State 27 Boise State 17
ATS - Michigan State
SU - Michigan State

Notre Dame -16.5 vs. Navy:

Only Notre Dame can be a three-score favorite with their starting quarterback, running back and two main contributors on defense suspended. It very well could be a make or break year for Brian Kelly (already), and starting on a different continent against an opponent they have lost two of the last three meetings against isn't the safest of starts.

Notre Dame 27 Navy 24
ATS - Navy
SU - Notre Dame

Clemson -3.5 vs. Auburn:

Fitting the general theme of this terrible off-season, suspensions will play a role here as Clemson is missing star wide receiver Sammy Watkins and Auburn is without Reese Dismukes at center.

Clemson has the better talent here and should win...if new defensive coordinator Brent Venables can keep Auburn under the 70 points that the Tigers gave up in the Orange Bowl to West Virginia.

Clemson 31 Auburn 28
ATS - Auburn
SU - Clemson

Michigan vs. Alabama -14:

Michigan is going to have to get a HUGE game from Denard Robinson to win this game. No matter how many starters Alabama lost on defense, we all know that a Nick Saban/Kirby Smart defense is going to come to play.

I'm tempted to believe in Robinson here to at least keep it close, but this isn't Notre Dame and Indiana here.

Alabama 34 Michigan 16
ATS - Alabama
SU - Alabama

SMU @ Baylor -10:

The common sentiment outside of Waco seems to be that Baylor will go back to the bottom of the Big 12 after the loss of Robert Griffin III, but Art Briles always will be able to provide an offense, especially with experienced Nick Florence at quarterback and newcomer Lache Seastrunk at running back. No, the question will always be on defense...

Which is why a team like SMU with an experienced offense will be able to put up some points and stay close.

Baylor 34 SMU 31
SU - Baylor

Wyoming @ Texas -31:

If Texas is to make that next step this season, we should know quickly as Wyoming isn't your typical Multi-Directional State School of a State That Borders Ours. They've made two bowl games in Dave Christensen's three years, and yes, making a bowl game jokes ceased to be funny somewhere around the last snap of the 2010 season around here.

Quarterback Brett Smith was the Mountain West conference's freshman of the year last year, and went through a stretch mid-season where he threw 8 touchdown passes to zero interceptions. He might not even be in the top half of quarterbacks Texas faces this year, but he's certainly not one to beat his own team.

The warm and fuzzy feeling for Wyoming ends with their rush defense, which was gashed for 300 yards an astounding FIVE times last year and allowed 260 plus in three more. The three headed monster of Brown, Bergeron and Gray along with a searing heat that their defense cannot replicate in practice conditions spells disaster for the Cowboys...but have to see if from Texas before I can predict it.

Texas 38 Wyoming 10
ATS - Wyoming
SU - Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for going to a bar to see this game.