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The Week That Will Be: State of Texas

Sixty minutes to change the narrative.

Tom Pennington

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 16-19-1 (.457) ATS 26-10 (.722) SU

We learned last week…

• A 65-yard yard touchdown drive by Notre Dame with less than three minutes to go in the ballgame was their longest of the day, but enough to beat Stanford…

• It is hard for Ole Miss students to coordinate their outfits with goalpost yellow…

• Which was more impressive, Auburn running up 566 offensive yards on LSU, or their defense not allowing a third-down conversion all game?

Dak Prescott’s Heisman train keeps rolling, while the Aggies had more turnovers and sacks allowed on Saturday than they had allowed all season up to that point…recipe for needing two late touchdowns just to make it respectable.

• TCU alumni and students were ready to give up on Trevone Boykin two years ago, but the resurgent Junior had 395 total yards and two touchdowns in TCU’s upset of Oklahoma. Hmm.

• Texas followed the blueprint to beat Baylor, shut down the big play, made them earn their points by driving the length of the field, and then gets beat because A.) a blocked field goal, B.) a fake punt, and C.) an offense that might have impressed folks in 1914. All in all a frustrating afternoon.

They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day, but at this point I think Longhorn fans would settle for Rhome, Texas. Hitch hiking or otherwise.

The early returns for Charlie Strong’s first Texas team are not good, and while there are certainly valid reasons for the offensive ineptitude displayed thus far this season, at some point those excuses become a justification for not getting better.

Simply put, it is time to put on the big boy pants and take a step forward.

Most of us knew this year would be bleak, especially with the injuries that occurred in the first game of the season, but I think we were willing to look past the wins and losses the season for the promise (or hope) that the Longhorns would be in every ballgame, and would show progress in every ballgame.

Yeah…not so much.

But, the beauty of this game, and especially THIS game…is that all it takes is sixty minutes to change the narrative.

There is a reason every Longhorn fan worth his salt can tell you why the name Bubba Jacques is important. And Stonie Clark. And why Peter Gardere should never have to buy lunch in this town again.

Because this game is just more important than the others. Sorry, Baylor. And Texas Tech. And yes, you too, Texas A&M.

In a game that is all about momentum, Mack Brown never quite understood that you have to throw (and land) the first punch to the mouth and see if the other guy wilts. Until, of course, the desperation of last year set in, and Case McCoy hit Kendall Sanders for 22 yards on the first drive of the game to set up an Anthony Fera field goal.

Oklahoma added their own field goal, but Chris Whaley intercepted a Blake Bell pass minutes later and the momentum never left Texas’s side.

In fact, one of the few times that momentum wasn’t a factor in this game was Bob Stoops’ first Texas/OU game, in which they jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter before Hodges Mitchell and Major Applewhite took over.

Charlie Strong’s first Texas/OU game is this Saturday, and while the Longhorns are once again huge underdogs, Strong knows these types of games from his time at Florida and Notre Dame, and how they can define a legacy.

Win here, and Rome gets a lot clearer.

Oregon -2.5 @ UCLA:

This time last week this game was looking just as good as the epic SEC showdowns last weekend, but now this is just looking like an afterthought game to decide who might try to sneak into the playoff on the last weekend of the season.

Oregon hasn’t lost two in a row in the same season since 2007, but they are going to have to start playing some defense (giving up 453 yards per game), and stop killing themselves with penalties (110th in the country).

This hasn’t been a good match-up for UCLA in recent years (lost five in a row including a 28 point drubbing last season), and I can’t see Marcus Mariota losing two games in a row.

Oregon 41 UCLA 35
ATS – Oregon
SU – Oregon

Alabama -10.5 @ Arkansas:

Alabama got beat up in more ways than one last week in Oxford, losing running back Kenyan Drake and center Ryan Kelly to injury. But this one fits right into their wheelhouse.

The Crimson Tide are only allowing 64 yards per game on the ground this year, and only gave up 2.5 yards per carry to Ole Miss last week. Brandon Allen will have to be better than he was last year to pull off the upset (7/25 91 yards 2 interceptions), and I’m not sure he has it in him.

Alabama 31 Arkansas 17
ATS – Alabama
SU – Alabama

Ole Miss @ Texas A&M -2.5 :

Two things about this game: A.) What kind of mindset will Ole Miss be in after their largest win in quite some time just a week ago? And B.) How good is Texas A&M, really?

The Rebels are 5-0 for the first time since 1962, riding a defense that has dominated their opponents thus far. They allow only 10.2 points, 152.4 passing yards and 4.6 yards per pass attempt. Add to that a 28-game streak of getting at least one turnover, and this defense has the ability to shut down the Aggies for much of the game in the same way Mississippi State did.

The Aggies have yet to beat a AP Poll ranked team at home in the Kevin Sumlin era, and while they will be very fired up for this one, the Rebels make less mistakes and are simply the better team.

Mississippi 28 Texas A&M 24
ATS – Mississippi
SU – Mississippi

Auburn -3 @ Mississippi State:

While everyone is sitting there talking about Ole Miss and Mississippi State and Alabama and Texas A&M, Auburn is just sitting over there beating Kansas State on the road, beating down Arkansas and putting a 34-point drubbing on an albeit down LSU squad.

But Auburn had their difficulties with the Bulldogs last year, gaining their least amount of rushing yards on the ground all year, 120 yards on 36 attempts.

This is Mississippi State’s third straight top 10 opponent, but they’ve got the home crowd and the hot quarterback. Have to ride that streak.

Mississippi State 33 Auburn 28
ATS – Mississippi State
SU – Mississippi State

TCU @ Baylor -8:

Yet another game that you have to worry about how motivated one team will be, as TCU had their biggest win since joining the Big 12 last week against Oklahoma. TCU’s offense is much improved, and they certainly are used to playing the defensive schemes that Texas utilized last week to shut down Baylor, but the Bears are a different animal at home, and should be amped for this one.

Baylor 34 TCU 24
ATS – Baylor
SU – Baylor

Oklahoma -15 vs. Texas:

Bob Stoops goes for his 10th win over Texas in this one, which would be the most by any coach in Oklahoma history. For the first time since 1999, neither team enters this game ranked in the top 10.

Trevor Knight has been what he was in every other game last year except for the Sugar Bowl, a decent quarterback who hasn’t been terrible, but hasn’t been great, either. His 54.5% completion percentage is next to last in the Big 12, leading only Kansas’s Montell Cozart. Instead of utilizing Knight’s athletic ability, the Sooners have choosen to keep him in the pocket, as a result his 61 yards rushing against TCU last week were a season high. Knight also has five interceptions in 134 attempts, so unlike Bryce Petty last week, you can force him into a game changing turnover.

The Sooners are bolstered by a running game that once again will feature Samaje Perine in the absence of Keith Ford. Perine is a bruising 243 lb. running back, which isn’t good for a Texas defense that has tended to wear down later in the ballgame once the offense leaves them on the field too long.

The Texas defense is holding their opponents to 124 yards below their season average on the year. If they are going to somehow pull off this upset, they’ll need to do that and also get the turnovers to flip the field.

Oh, the offense. This week Shawn Watson admitted that Tyrone Swoopes appeared to be nervous. At home. Against Baylor. How is he going to fare during one of the emotional games on the college gridiron?

No time for nerves.

Oklahoma’s defense was praised coming into this season, but once again we’re left to wonder how good they are after giving up more than 500 yards to West Virginia and more than 450 against TCU. An uptempo offense that can move the ball through the air can get the job done against these guys, but will Watson utilize the uptempo, and better yet, will Swoopes be able to complete the passes?

Perhaps things click and this team starts to show that progress. This game is absolutely there for the taking, if the execution is there.

But we can’t count on it until we see it.

Oklahoma 35 Texas 17
ATS – Oklahoma
SU – Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Funnel Cake beer.