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The Week That Will Be: House of Horrors

Can a new coaching staff get Texas a win in Manhattan?

Cooper Neill

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 22-25 (.468) ATS 36-12 (.750) SU

We learned last week…

• Stanford’s offense is so bad...How bad is it? It’s so bad they only got 287 total yards against an Arizona State team giving up more than 450 yards a game…

• Notre Dame tried the old "Let’s Have Our Receivers Block Everyone Into the Stands and Then a Receiver Can Catch it Wide Open Underneath" play, but officials called the obvious pass interference and now we’re left with pollsters and media lobbying the next six weeks for Notre Dame to make the playoff only to have them lose by 30 at the Rose Bowl.

• Speaking of losing by 30, for the third straight game Texas A&M found themselves down by 28 points or more, and this time it was much, much more. It was Alabama’s largest conference victory since a 66-3 drubbing of Vanderbilt in 1979, and anyone could tell you it could have been much worse.

• TCU has now led 14-0 in all six of their games this year.

• Kansas State has now won 43 games in a row when leading at halftime (3 behind Oklahoma’s all-time record of 46), but Sooner kicker Michael Hunnicutt choose the wrong time to kick with the wrong foot (that didn’t really happen) for that to continue this week…

• And finally, letting Swoopes be Swoopes won a game for Texas. What a concept.

Dusty Mangum. Marcus Tubbs. Chris Simms. B.J. Johnson. Kalen Thornton.

These were the heroes the last time Texas defeated Kansas State in Manhattan, a 17-14 thriller over the #17 Wildcats. They defeated guys like Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles a week after getting their heart broken in their third straight loss to Oklahoma, a game in which Quentin Griffin ran all over the Longhorns.

This is all to say that Manhattan has been a house of horrors for the Longhorns (1-5 all-time there). But you knew that already.

So why should any sane Texas fan expect a win up there on Saturday?

Simple. Tyrone Swoopes. And a defense that has a clue.

In 2012 it was Collin Klein running all over the Longhorns, to the tune of 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns and Case McCoy throwing it to the other team. In 2010 it was Garrett Gilbert throwing five interceptions and Kansas State running two plays all night, run left and run right (Klein in his first start threw 4 passes all night), as Will Muschamp was befuddled by this new brand of football. In 2006 it was Colt McCoy getting injured on an ill-advised quarterback sneak and Josh Freeman throwing for 269 yards and three touchdowns.

As strange as it sounds, this 3-4 Longhorn team led by the quarterback making his seventh start and a defense that just gave up 45 points to Iowa State might give them the best shot at winning since that night in 2002.

How good has Swoopes been these last two weeks? His 800 total yards over the last two games is the third most in back to back games in UT history. The first and second guys on that list are named Vince Young and Colt McCoy.

As the offense has opened up, the turnovers have come, but if he can lead a drive like he did to begin that game last week, and lead a drive like he did to end that game, we can forgive those as he learns to extrapolate those from his game.

Along with the development of Swoopes has come the Texas running game, which has averaged 176 rushing yards the last three games behind an offensive line that is really beginning to jell.

Add the play of John Harris and Jaxon Shipley over the last couple of games, and a Texas offense that was the punch line to several jokes earlier this season is starting to come together.

And yes, despite getting owned by Mark Mangino and Iowa State last week, I fully expect Vance Bedford to have his unit ready to go more often than not when they step on the field. An optimist might even say that Texas spent more time preparing for the Wildcats last week than Iowa State, but that would of course be wild speculation.

This coaching staff gets a free pass from me this year, a year of transition, but at a time when the Aggies are down and Baylor is coming off a loss, there is no better time than now for Texas to pull off the upset and gain some traction going into the stretch run of the season.

Win one for Colt. And Jevan. And Garrett. And Major. And Case.

But if not, sadly it won’t be the first time.

USC -1 @ Utah:

Utah will roll with Travis Wilson at quarterback once again after giving former Oklahoma quarterback Kendal Thompson a try last week. When you consider Wilson has thrown 111 passes this year without an interception, it tells how underwhelming he must have been to get pulled in the first place.

USC, meanwhile, has to wonder which Trojan team shows up, the one that defeated Stanford and Arizona in their stadiums, or the USC team that got hammered by Boston College and Arizona State?
Utah, while looking much better this year (particularly running the football and getting after the quarterback), has really only defeated one team of note, a UCLA team that was proven to be a paper tiger. I think they struggle with a USC team that has it a little more together.

USC 34 Utah 28

Michigan @ Michigan State -17.5:

Michigan State has owned this series of late, winning five of the last six, and there really isn’t any reason to see why that won’t continue. The Wolverines can’t run and can’t pass, and the Spartans stop everyone outside the state of Oregon from running and passing.

Michigan State 28 Michigan 13
ATS – Michigan
SU – Michigan State

Ole Miss -3.5 @ LSU:

You know things are going well for your program when a "down" year is a 6-2 mark, but that is where LSU stands, bowl eligible before Halloween. Boo hoo.

They’ll face another tough one this week, as Ole Miss has the defense (Tennessee had 28 carries for zero yards last week), and the offense (Bo Wallace has 7 touchdowns to zero interceptions in SEC play) to flat out embarrass anyone.

It is the Bayou, at night, with the voodoo and Les Miles magic, and Ole Miss’s offensive strength (passing) coincides with LSU’s defensive strength (4th in the country in passing yards allowed), but if the Rebels play their game they should leave with record intact.

Ole Miss 27 LSU 14
ATS – Ole Miss
SU – Ole Miss

West Virginia @ Oklahoma State PK:

Clint Trickett has thrown for 300 or more yards in eight straight games, but it is West Virginia’s defense that deserves the accolades after holding Baylor to 318 yards on 79 plays last week in their upset victory.

Oklahoma State, meanwhile, has struggled without J.W. Walsh as back-up Daxx Garman failed to complete a pass after halftime last week against TCU.

You have to wonder when West Virginia is going to fall back to Earth, but the Cowboys are in a bad way right now.

West Virginia 31 Oklahoma State 24
ATS – West Virginia
SU – West Virginia

Texas Tech @ TCU -23:

Texas Tech went 364 days between Big 12 wins (last week vs. Kansas), but that probably won’t continue against a TCU team that is playing just about as good as anyone in the country. Trevone Boykin’s 451 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma State were a career high, and you have to think he is the front-runner for the All-Big 12 team at this point, and a candidate for national accolades as well.

B.J. Catalon gets to play against the Big 12’s worse run defense, but I’d like to see how this TCU defense plays against another good offense before I trust them to cover a spread that large.

TCU 41 Texas Tech 24
ATS – Texas Tech

Texas @ Kansas State -10:

What does it take to defeat Kansas State? Be ahead at halftime (see above), and stay disciplined on offense AND defense.

Simply put, Iowa State/Oklahoma Texas offense shows up, and Oklahoma/Baylor Texas defense shows up, they have a very good chance at an upset here. If just one or neither shows up, forget about it.

Let’s start with the offense. Kansas State’s defense has been good (only giving up 100 yards a game on the ground), but suspect at times as well. The same Oklahoma team that couldn’t manage a first down against Texas for most of the game put up 544 yards on the Wildcats, with 327 of those coming from the arm of Trevor Knight. Sterling Shepard put up 197 receiving yards on 15 catches. There is something to be had there, Tyrone Swoopes just must find the open receiver.

And if Johnathan Gray were able to replicate the 141 yards on 28 carries with two touchdowns that he did last year, well, that would just be icing on the cake.

One stat that could be completely meaningless, or completely relevant, depending on what side of the bed you woke up this morning? Shawn Watson was 4-0 as an offensive coordinator against Kansas State, putting up offensive outputs of 73, 56, 17 and 48 points.

On defense, Wildcats quarterback Jake Walters leads a balanced attack that is 48th in the country in rushing and 51st in passing. Leads as in he’s the leading passer and rusher. They don’t do any one thing great, but at the same time they can beat you with anything.

The Horns will have to do a better job on Tyler Lockett, who had 13 catches for 237 yards against Texas last season. They certainly couldn’t do much worse.

It might take a damn near perfect game for Texas to pull off the upset here, but I think this team is ready to show the potential that is there down the road.

Charlie Strong gets his first big win.

Texas 28 Kansas State 21
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the lawsuit when Oklahoma State finds out you aren’t calling plays.