Last Week: 3-3 ATS 5-1 SU
For the Year: 3-3 (.500) ATS 5-1 (.833) SU
Musings from last week…
• It took exactly one game for everyone in College Station to forget Johnny Manziel, but with Lamar, Rice, SMU and Arkansas next on tap for Kenny Hill and the Aggies, you hope that he doesn’t get overwhelmed.
• In the United States of Superlatives, Todd Gurley is now the Heisman front-runner after 293 total yards and four touchdowns, but if we must talk about the Heisman in August, it certainly starts with him.
• Speaking of the Heisman, Jameis Winston found out that it is harder to defend than chase, as he throws for 370 yards but is criticized for two interceptions (and almost a third) and for taking a couple of unnecessary sacks. Tough crowd.
• LSU is now 22-21 in the Les Miles era when trailing at any point in the fourth quarter, the only active coach in that time period to have a winning record. And if this surprises you, you haven’t been paying attention.
• Baylor recorded their first shutout of a FBS opponent since 1995, when Boyz II Men were providing the soundtrack to high school proms. The score was about right, but is there concern in Waco about only 6.7 yards per pass attempt against a woefully inept SMU secondary? No, didn’t think so.
• The Texas defense had more than four times as many yards receiving as the North Texas offense, which when you think about it, is really, really hard to do.
And it has all been downhill from there for Charlie Strong.
First Dominic Espinosa suffers a high ankle sprain. Then that high ankle sprain turns into a broken ankle.
Then David Ash calls in the middle of the night to tell him that he’s having headaches and dizziness. Strong makes the caller verify his phone number, date of birth, social security number and mother’s maiden name in order to make sure it isn’t some practical joker.
On Monday, Saved by the Bell: The Unauthorized Story turns out to be terrible.
And finally, today he has to suspend Desmond Harrison (who is playing the worst game of Hokey Pokey Texas fans have ever seen) and Kennedy Estelle, but the good news is that it wasn’t the entire offensive line.
Where does Texas go from here? To work.
Gone are the days of a single injury derailing the program, gone are the days of suffering an injury at quarterback and trying to plug a square peg into a round hole by making that square peg throw the ball 45 times on a Thursday night in Ames.
And gone are the days of a few select players run amok in spite of the team.
Strong and Shawn Watson will adapt to what is before them, like they did when Teddy Bridgewater was made the starter halfway through the 2011 season, or like Watson did when Taylor Martinez was named the starter at Nebraska in 2010.
Is Tyrone Swoopes the answer? I don’t know, and you don’t know. That chapter is yet to be written.
On to the games...
Michigan @ Notre Dame -4.5:
Six hundred days to the day after Everett Golson last played for Notre Dame, he stepped on the field last week against Rice and didn’t miss a beat, throwing for 295 yards and accounting for five touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Michigan wasn’t going down the upset road against Appalachian State again, rushing for 350 yards and rolling up 52 points in a blowout victory.
I expect Golson to show a few more signs of rust here and for Devin Gardner to show some brilliance, too. This is the last game in this series for quite a while, and I expect it to be close.
Notre Dame 34 Michigan 31
ATS – Michigan
SU – Notre Dame
USC @ Stanford -3:
It is USC’s tradition to run a pro-style offense, but Steve Sarkisian is upping the ante this year with a faster paced tempo, evidenced by the Trojans’ 105 plays against Fresno State, the second most in the country last week. It was successful, as USC rolled up 704 yards in their blowout victory.
Stanford isn’t Fresno State, as the Cardinal have taken 4 out of the last 5 in this series…but that one SC victory was last November in Los Angeles on a last minute field goal that derailed Stanford's national championship hopes.
Interesting that Vegas basically thinks this game is a push on a neutral field with Stanford ranked 13th in the country. For that reason, give me USC.
USC 24 Stanford 20
ATS – USC
SU – USC
Virginia Tech @ Ohio State -11:
This is the first meeting between these two programs, and it will feature a battle of Texans at quarterback, with J.T. Barrett getting the start for the Buckeyes and Texas Tech transfer Michael Brewer getting the start for Virginia Tech.
Ohio State’s struggles against Navy were well documented last week, with the defense struggling to contain the option attack, but the Buckeyes had trouble moving the ball as well. Take away an 80-yard bomb in the third quarter, and Barrett threw for a rather pedestrian 146 yards against a service academy defense.
The Hokies are what they are seemingly are every year, tough on defense but tough to watch on offense. Add to it, <all together now>, the Horseshoe at night mystique, and that’s a bit of an uphill battle to fight.
Buckeyes pull away late.
Ohio State 28 Virginia Tech 14
ATS – Ohio State
SU – Ohio State
Michigan State @ Oregon -13:
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota will become the school’s all-time leader in passing touchdowns (66 – Darron Thomas) and total offense (8,140 – Bill Musgrave) at some point in this game, which is a testament to how good he has been in his tenure there.
Here is my problem in this one. Yes, on the surface it looks like a tough match-up for Oregon, who has been stymied by tough, physical defenses from Stanford in recent years. But Michigan State did have trouble against running attacks with a pulse last season (273 yards from Ohio State and 4.5 yards per carry from Stanford), and honestly, how long can the Spartans keep this up? Wins against Ohio State, Stanford and Oregon would be impressive…but are the odds against them?
Oregon wins…with some comfort.
Oregon 34 Michigan State 17
ATS – Oregon
SU – Oregon
Kansas State -12 @ Iowa State:
For the second straight season Iowa State has been defeated by a FCS school (although North Dakota is as tough as they get), and to add insult to injury they lost their leading receiver Quenton Bundrage (48 catches for 676 yards and 9 touchdowns in 2013), to a knee injury for the season.
Kansas State returns Jake Waters at quarterback and Tyler Lockett at wideout, which should be enough to get the comfortable win here. Iowa State has lost six straight in this series, but five of those have been by eight points or less.
Not this one.
Kansas State 38 Iowa State 20
ATS – Kansas State
SU – Kansas State
BYU @ Texas -1.5:
I’m not going to sit here and make you relive that fateful night in Provo last September, a game that might as well have been the Long Beach Causeway toll plaza for Mack Brown and his staff.
Vance Bedford said this week that guys don’t need to be at the University of Texas if they need a redemption storyline in order to motivate themselves, but at the same time you know that quarterback Taysom Hill will be the target of some fundamental tackling straight from a late night DVD promo on ESPN.
Running back Jamaal Williams is also back this year, playing in his first game of the year after being suspended against UConn last week. And if you haven’t felt sick yet, the Cougars also return all five offensive linemen from last season as well (although some BYU fans and media will tell you that those linemen struggled most of the season outside of that ballgame).
One advantage that Texas might be able to exploit offensively? BYU had to replace its entire starting linebacker corps from last season, so they might be able to find some holes for the running game there.
It comes down to this. If the Texas defense that played against North Texas comes out, this is a very winnable game for Texas on defense alone. But if BYU is able to use their experience against a too eager defense, this could get uncomfortable quickly.
Your guess is as good as mine on what Tyrone Swoopes will bring to the table, but you certainly hope that an off-season with a motivated coaching staff has slowed the game down for him and he can not only manage the game, but can make some big plays downfield.
This one should be a dog fight. But in Austin, I think the home field advantage wins out.
Texas 24 BYU 17
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for a game program with roster…you might need it.