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The Week That Will Be: Under Pressure

Only a shot at the college football playoff and a Big 12 title on the line, TCU. No pressure.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 36-41-1 (.468) ATS 54-24 (.692) SU

We learned last week…

• Missouri committed 14 penalties, Maty Mauk completed less than fifty percent of his passes, the Mizzou kicker missed two extra points, yet they had control for much of this game and have now won 10 straight road games.

• Arkansas is suddenly one of the most dangerous teams in the SEC as they became the first unranked team to shutout two ranked teams in consecutive games.

• Brett Hundley is now 3-0 against USC, and at least for now there is no doubt which major university football program runs that town.

• Arizona’s Pac-12 title hopes are still alive as true freshman Nick Wilson rushed for 218 yards and three touchdowns on only 20 carries in their victory over Utah.

• Kansas State’s Jake Waters finally has the first 400-yard game in his career…and it was only the second time he surpassed 300-yards.

• It is hard to call Baylor a "system" team after Bryce Petty threw two touchdown passes on the first five plays of the game…and then they proceeded to rush for 318 yards as a team. That can be dangerous.

It is that time of year where we give thanks, whether it be for health, or for family, or for wealth, or for Sofia Vergara, we take one day out of 365 to put our personal agendas aside to say thanks for about five seconds before we eat an ungodly amount of food.

So with that…

To the walk-ons, thank you for your dedication on every day but Saturday, your role is appreciated and valued by those that know that championships aren’t won on Saturdays, they are won those other six days of the week.

To Demarco Cobbs, Gregg Daniels, Tevin Jackson, Miles Onyegbule, William Russ, and Geoff Swaim, thank you for your contributions on the field. You guys aren't finalists for awards, but each of you has had a part in winning football games at Texas and that is what matters.

To Mykkele Thompson, thank you for bringing the wood in the secondary. Your improvement this year has been quite noticeable and I’m not sure where we would be this year without that.

To Josh Turner, thank you for working your way back this year when you could have easily quit and gone elsewhere. That is a true statement of your character.

To Cedric Reed, thank you for bringing it every time you stepped on the field. I know this year wasn't always easy, but I’m not sure we beat West Virginia without your efforts, and I know that you’ll do whatever it takes to get to that next level next year.

To Steve Edmond, thank you for coming back from injury to be a devastating force in the middle of the defense this year. You’ve made great strides this year, and I hope it earned you a spot at the next level going forth.

To Malcolm Brown, thanks for sticking with us through thick and thin, through several offensive coordinators and running back coaches and the like and being steady and true all the way through.

To Quandre Diggs, thank you for your contributions on and off the field. You were the vocal leader that this team needed at times, and always brought the lumber on the field as well. I know you’ll be playing on Sundays, and wish you well.

To Jordan Hicks, thank you for sticking with us. It seems your career before this year was one step forward and two steps back, so it is nice to see you blossom into the type of player you have become. If this is it, good luck next year, and if this isn’t it, well welcome back and let’s shoot up that draft board next year.

To John Harris, thank you for turning the Russell Gaskamp Award into the John Harris Award. Wow, I hate to think where this offense would be this year without your production. I’m sure it wasn’t always easy, but I’m glad you remained a Longhorn and hope that it translates to a job in the league next year…if you don’t come back.

To Dominic Espinosa, thank you for your 40 starts at center during your time on the 40 Acres. I feel terrible for how this season ended for you, but I know you have your head on straight and will do well with your degree.

To David Ash, thank you for your dedication in trying to make it back this year and for your efforts the past several years. Good luck with the baseball gig.

To Jaxon Shipley, thank you for not being afraid to follow in your brother’s footsteps. It is an end of an era seeing the last Shipley leave the University of Texas, but I know you guys will be great ambassadors to the University.

To Nate Boyer, first and foremost thank you for your service, and continuing to be a role model and proud ambassador for this school and this program. What starts here does indeed change the world, but you were changing the world long before you stepped on campus here. Hook ‘em.

To Charlie Strong and staff, thank you for shedding that "soft" label that has followed Texas around for a long, long time. You are going to get it done here, and you are going to do it your way, and we’re going to love each and every minute of it.

To Sailor Ripley, thank you for allowing me to give these bad picks every week.

To the readers of Barking Carnival, thank you for taking the time to read, distribute and comment on this column each and every week. I know your time is limited, and the fact that you take the time to read this means a lot.

To my tailgating group, thank you for 15 years of tailgating. It is a really special thing we have going, and as much as I complain about it every year, I’d sure hate to see it go. Each of you pull your own weight in your own way and it comes together to form 15 years of friendships, which is a powerful thing.

To my wife and son, thank you for allowing me the time to write this column each and every week, and for the support and love that you give me each and every day. It has been an up and down year but you give me the strength to survive the bad times and the companionship to ride the good times.

LSU -3 @ Texas A&M:

What in the pre-season looked like an epic, season ending match-up has devolved into a match-up of unranked and highly flawed teams, as LSU seeks to end a two-game losing streak while Texas A&M looks for their first home SEC victory of the season.

LSU leads the SEC in pass efficiency defense and passing yards allowed, which should match up well with the Aggie offensive attack. Despite their struggles this year the Tigers have managed to hold 9 of their 11 opponents under 30 points and only allowed 47 in their last four games.

LSU is down, but the Aggies have just appeared lost at times this year. And I’ll always trust a good defense over a good offense.

LSU 27 Texas A&M 21

Arizona State @ Arizona -4.5:

Each of these teams would win the Pac-12 South with a win and a UCLA loss to Stanford that occurs at the same time at the Rose Bowl.

Arizona quarterback Anu Solomon left with an injured ankle in their victory against Utah, so his status is uncertain for this match-up. That would be quite the blow as Arizona State has struggled against the pass this year, giving up 266 yards a game.

The Wildcats defense has been spotty this year, but they have shown their best in big games, only giving up 24 points to Oregon, 28 to USC, 17 to UCLA and only 10 last week to Utah. Arizona State, meanwhile, has struggled in their last few ballgames, losing to a bad Oregon State team and struggling with Washington State for much of that game.

Arizona 38 Arizona State 28
ATS – Arizona
SU – Arizona

Georgia Tech @ Georgia -13:

Georgia Tech is already in the ACC championship game, while Georgia needs a Missouri loss in order to represent the SEC East in Atlanta next weekend.

The Bulldogs have won five in a row in this series, and both teams come into this hot, with Georgia Tech winning four in a row and Georgia winning three in a row.

Georgia Tech has 570 yards rushing in the last two games of this series, and should be able to stay in this game against a Georgia team that has had their defensive troubles at times this year.

Georgia 41 Georgia Tech 37
ATS – Georgia Tech
SU – Georgia

Auburn @ Alabama -9:

These two teams are going in opposite directions, as Alabama appears to be peaking at the best time, winning six in a row and giving up only 80 points total in those six games.

Meanwhile, Auburn has lost three out of five to teams not named Samford, and have given up 31 points or more in those five games against teams not named Samford.
The Crimson Tide have been deadly at home, and this one shouldn’t be any different. If Amari Cooper is fully healthy, it could get downright ugly.

Alabama 31 Auburn 16
ATS – Alabama
SU – Alabama

Baylor -25 vs. Texas Tech:

Check out the scores from this series the last four years:

2013: Baylor 63 Texas Tech 34

2012: Baylor 52 Texas Tech 52

2011: Baylor 66 Texas Tech 42

2010: Texas Tech 45 Baylor 38

Defense goes out the window in this series, no matter if you have each other’s defensive signals or not. Texas Tech hasn’t been the offensive show they usually are of late, however, as the status of Davis Webb is still uncertain and Patrick Mahomes isn’t rolling smoothly just yet.

Baylor has some issues of their own stemming from the Oklahoma State victory, where they scored the two early touchdowns and then threw for only 118 yards and tossed two interceptions from that point forward. Add to that giving up 281 yards and two touchdowns to a true freshman making his first start, and while the scoreboard said Baylor had no issues, that was a very tight game after that initial burst.

That, of course, isn’t to say they’ll have any issues in this one. Tech is just riding out the season at this point.

Baylor 52 Texas Tech 28
ATS – Texas Tech
SU – Baylor

TCU -6.5 @ Texas:

Win this one and next week against Iowa State in Fort Worth and TCU will at least wrap up a share of the Big 12 title, a remarkable achievement from where they were just a year ago. The Longhorns, meanwhile, have already wrapped up bowl eligibility, and while that is not the floor at Texas, you have to wonder if a mission accomplished banner has been raised in the athletic facility after their putrid start.

TCU brings the nation’s most improved offense to Austin, as you know the story by now. Trevone Boykin is a legit Heisman Trophy contender, ranking third in the country in total offense, and running back B.J. Catalon is a threat to score every time he touches the ball, although he might miss this one with an injury as he has the last two ballgames.

Texas, meanwhile, boasts the conference’s best defense, only allowing nine touchdown passes all year and only one during the past four ballgames. That is remarkable especially once you consider the opponents.

When a great defense meets a great offense, the defense usually wins. Texas absolutely needs to win that battle to win this game.

On offense, while the Texas offense has improved since the beginning of the year, they are still having trouble on third down, where they have only converted 36% on the year. TCU’s defense, meanwhile, is holding teams to just below 30%.

Simply put, if the Longhorns can’t extend drives and keep the Horned Frogs off the field, this will get out of hand in the second half much like other games earlier in the season.

If there is a game where Tyrone Swoopes might be able to bring a big one home this is it, as TCU is allowing 255 yards per game through the air, good for 98th in the country. They’ve done a poor job against good to solid teams, giving up 33 points to Oklahoma, 61 to Baylor, 30 to West Virginia and even poor at times against bad teams (27 to Texas Tech and 30 to Kansas).

There will be chances. Take advantage of them.

And finally, you can’t downplay the pressure factor here. TCU is an Alabama, Oregon, Florida State or Mississippi State misstep from getting serious consideration to play in the playoff. How will they respond to that? How will they handle going three and out a couple of times in the first quarter? With panic?

It is cliché, but this is a time where the home crowd could really help out the home team. The Horned Frogs have played twice this season in what I would consider a hostile environment, Baylor and West Virginia, and lost one of those and needed a last second field goal to win the other.

There is absolutely nothing for Texas to lose here but everything to gain on the recruiting front. Let it loose and get loud, Texas fans. You can talk again on Saturday.

Texas 27 TCU 21
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for much better picks than mine.