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The Week That Will Be (09.15.2012)

Ball security!
Ball security!

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 6-6 (.500) ATS 9-3 (.750) SU

What we learned last week:

Tommy Rees came to the rescue, and this time it didn't involve rescuing a raging party from the police but instead involved a game-winning drive as the Irish ran their winning streak against Purdue to five.

Sign that Bo Pelini isn't long for this job other than his medical chart: getting manhandled by UCLA of all teams. Things appear different in Westwood under first year coach Jim Mora, but dude...

Ah yes, Texas A&M, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Florida's SEC house-warming gift was a memento to remind them of their Big 12 home, a come from ahead loss that will no doubt be changed to a win when nobody is looking [checks A&M's site to be sure].

Well, well, well...I can be a genius every now and then. Oklahoma State might have had a magical year last season but 167 penalty yards will kill you, as will 3 interceptions.

Okay, I can be a genius twice in one column. Miami usually shows about as much interest in playing a day game in the plains as Jerry Jones has in cleaning his own glasses and it showed.

And finally, we learned that...well you probably don't learn anything from playing New Mexico.


The year was 2004.

The date was September 11th, three years to the day that will also live in infamy, as Texas traveled to SEC country to play a football game deep into a mild Saturday evening. They had an inexperienced quarterback, a bruising rushing attack and a defense that would one day have six players starting on NFL Sundays.

Those Longhorns were accused of not winning the big one, carrying a four-game losing streak to Oklahoma and a horrific Holiday bowl loss to Washington State the previous December into Fayetteville, which had one day housed Richard Nixon, James Street and Randy Peschel, but today housed an Arkansas team coming off a 9-4 season highlighted by a Razorback win in Austin and a seven-overtime victory over Kentucky.

Was it a big game in the sense that it attracted ESPN's College Gameday or ESPN's top announcing duo? Nope, it featured the greatness of Ron Franklin. What it did garner was the attention of each and every Arkansas fan young and old, who wanted nothing better than to send Texas back to Austin with another defeat and wouldn't mind if they broke a few ankles along the way.

The atmosphere in "Fayettenam" was raucous, the very foundation of the stadium seemingly shaken every time the hogs were called.

What happened was foreshadowing. Texas jumped up early in the first quarter, enjoying a 16-7 lead, only to find themselves in a dog fight as a Chris Balseiro field goal with 9:58 remaining in the game brought Arkansas within two, 22-20.

Texas went three and out. Arkansas threw an interception. Texas went three and out.

With 2:54 remaining in the game, the Razorbacks drove the ball down to the Texas 13, certainly within Balseiro's range. Here we go again...Texas falters when it matters.

But then on the next play, Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones rolled right, didn't find what he was looking for, ran back towards the middle and found the Texas defense, where Larry Dibbles knocked the ball loose, Brian Robison recovered, and Texas held on.

It felt great to beat Arkansas that night. To have them make that miserable walk to the locker room felt like Christmas morning in the endzone bleachers, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't feel like much. Texas, after all, should have won the ballgame. They were ranked seventh in the country, while Arkansas might have been featured in that "others getting votes" section in the smallest typeface available.

But it very well could have been the makings of something.

Texas still lost to Oklahoma that year in a miserable 12-0 game. But they won every other game, including a road win against ranked Texas Tech and a Rose Bowl victory for the ages over Michigan.

And we all know what happened the following year.

That game in Arkansas one late night was a building block to something else, a victory that showed a young squad that they did belong near the top of the college football mountain, if only their resolve matched their talent level.

Once again, this late Saturday night, Texas travels into SEC country into what figures to be a charged environment. The signal caller will be a young quarterback, the defense a seasoned unit with a ton of talent, and a running attack that would just as soon run over you than around you.

Sure, Texas should win. They're favored. If they do win, it might garner a 15 second blurb on the late night Sportscenter.

But don't underestimate how a galvanizing win might awaken a sleeping giant.

On to the games...

Arizona State @ Missouri -6.5:

My question for Arizona State is, can they win on the road? They had one road win all of last year, a 35-14 victory over Utah in Week 6. Facing an experienced Missouri squad that needs this victory before entering the bulk of their SEC schedule is not the place to improve upon that mark.

Missouri 31 Arizona State 21
ATS - Missouri
SU - Missouri

Florida @ Tennessee -3:

Does this game matter again? Not quite, but it certainly should hold more interest. Florida was able to bruise their way to a win last week, but at times looked vulnerable on defense. Tyler Bray should be more consistent than Johnny Manziel.

Tennessee 27 Florida 17
ATS - Tennessee
SU - Tennessee

USC -8.5 @ Stanford:

Stanford has a front seven that can give Matt Barkley and company trouble, but I'm wondering how Stanford is going to move the ball on USC. The Cardinal offense has been dreadful sans Andrew Luck, only averaging 326 YPG against San Jose State and Duke...not exactly Southern Cal talent. That inability to move the ball will give USC good field position, and then it is only a matter of time before they pour it on.

USC 34 Stanford 17

Alabama -20.5 @ Arkansas:

Alabama is the defending national champion, looked great against Michigan, while Arkansas lost to Louisiana-Monroe last week...back up the pick-up truck to the bank and head to Vegas, right?

Not so fast. Sure, Tyler Wilson might not even play, but Knile Davis is a Heisman-worthy running back, and you can be sure that he'll get more than the 16 carries that he got last week. If Arkansas can get some running lanes going, this one could be interesting late.

Alabama 34 Arkansas 17
ATS - Arkansas
SU - Alabama

Notre Dame @ Michigan State -6:

Hopefully there will be some point this year where I don't have to pick a Notre Dame game.

Michigan State has yet to allow an offensive touchdown through two games, but the Big Ten has been dreadful on this young season. Sure, they could be the class of the division, but could also just be the skinniest Jersey Shore girl.

They will get the win, but it is another close one.

Michigan State 20 Notre Dame 16
ATS - Notre Dame
SU - Michigan State

Texas -10.5 @ Mississippi:

Bo Wallace thus far has been legit, ranking 8th in the country in passing efficiency while throwing for 5 touchdowns to 1 interception. Wallace can run as well, rushing for 135 yards and two touchdowns. The competition has been light (ahem, Oklahoma), but thus far the Rebels have no complaints.

That's what has been good. The bad? Inconsistent pass protection. Ole Miss has given up 4 sacks in two games, which is concerning when you haven't faced Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. And turnover margin. They lost an astounding three fumbles against UTEP last week, and we all know this Texas defense can bring the wood.

I expect Ole Miss to be fired up from the start, and the first half should be a battle. However, I expect the Longhorns to use some misdirection against an aggressive Ole Miss front, and hit some big plays throughout the game.

It might not be pretty, but Texas escapes the South with what ends up being a comfortable victory.

Texas 34 Ole Miss 17
ATS - Texas
SU - Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for liquor to take to the Grove.