Last Week: 3-1-2 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 16-6-2 (.727) ($820) ATS 17-7 (.708) SU
We learned last week:
- The 62 points that Utah scored on Saturday night were the most by any opponent at Autzen Stadium, leading us to believe that maybe it isn't just plug and play at Oregon...
- Arizona State is going from Rose Bowl contender (or national championship contender if you listened to a certain ESPN analyst) to the worst team in the Pac-12 South not named Colorado.
- Okay so they're still building those hotels in Vegas, but Bret Bielema is now 0-9 in games decided by 7 points or less at Arkansas.
- No Myles Jack, no problem for UCLA as they scored a touchdown on 6 of their first 7 possessions to bury Arizona in their own desert.
- 1,357 total yards and 70 first downs later, TCU survived in Lubbock on a fortunate bounce, but keep winning and it won't matter how pretty they are...
- And finally, we learned refs names. You should never know refs names.
The Texas Longhorns are 1-3 for the first time since the Eisenhower administration, but somehow that wasn't even the story of September.
Perhaps it was the blasting they took in South Bend, signaling right away that the rebuilding was far from over? Maybe it was demoting Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline about 2 days into the season? Or was it replacing Tyrone Swoopes with Jerrod Heard about 3 days into the season? Was it Steve Patterson "resigning", and the epic party that followed? Heard setting the single game record for most total offensive yards in program history? Was it Nick Rose missing an extra point in the waning seconds, or was it the officiating fiasco on Saturday afternoon that preceded yet another special teams disaster?
Or is that just...Texas?
It was in this space last week that I wrote the match-up with Oklahoma State might be the first conference game of the new season, but a new era began the previous week when Heard almost led his team to an improbable victory over an obviously better opponent. For most of the afternoon of this past Saturday, it looked like Charlie Strong would have his first signature win of that new era, but then it all came crashing down in a perverse cloud of controversy and the game was flat stolen from us.
Not taken away by a better team. Stolen by a sad group of individuals who have made a career out of penalizing Texas more than any other crew in the conference. Whatever their motive, whether it be extreme, gross incompetence, which is the best case scenario for those involved, it happened, and anyone without a Texas A&M Twitter avatar was able to see that clear as day.
At the same time, yes it happened, but it is time to let the back channel communications do what they do, and move on to TCU.
The sleeping giant has been asleep far too long.
Any sane fan with any semblance of reality will tell you that this wasn't a short rebuilding process that Charlie Strong undertook 20 months ago, that the culture of Texas was rotten to its very core, and before any steps forward could be taken the trash would have to be excavated from the program itself.
But any fan can also tell you that this season makes four out of six years that Texas will have multiple losses by October 2nd, and that simply won't fly for very long around here.
This thing is close. Anyone who watched the last two games knows that. But now it is time to put it together for one game and come out and show the rest of the country that you are pissed off and aren't going to take it anymore.
This Saturday against the third-ranked team in the country would be one hell of a statement.
Play for yourselves, play for that guy next to you, play for that coach that is in the trenches every day with you.
Instead of lingering on the dreadful outcome of last week's contest, or feeling sorry for yourselves about the shortcomings of the last two games, the one thing you can do is harbor that energy, feed on that hate of those relishing in your downfall, and come out and unleash hell on the Horned Frogs.
On to the games...
Mississippi State @ Texas A&M -6.5:
Before we get too excited about the Aggies being 4-0, we must remember that last year they were 5-0 and finished the regular season at 7-5, but of course this year they have a defense (we think), a more established quarterback (we think) and a better supporting offensive cast (they do).
Mississippi State is of course led by quarterback Dak Prescott, who has yet to throw an interception this season. Prescott won't be intimidated by the Kyle Field scene, and it may come down to how well the Bulldog offensive line (only five sacks allowed in four games) can protect him against an Aggie defense that is second in the country with 17 sacks.
Texas A&M 38 Mississippi State 28
ATS - Texas A&M
SU - Texas A&M
Alabama @ Georgia -2:
Alabama is an underdog for the first time in a mind-boggling 72 games, a streak that started with the SEC Championship game the year they played Texas for the BCS championship.
Georgia running back Nick Chubb is the real deal, having rushed for more than 100 yards in 12 straight games, but he faces an Alabama defense that is only giving up 58 rushing yards a game.
Alabama is still the king, and the next big game that Georgia wins will be the first.
Alabama 34 Georgia 23
ATS - Alabama
SU - Alabama
Notre Dame @ Clemson PK:
Speaking of failures in big games, you have a match-up of Clemson (1-7 in their last 8 regular season games against ranked opponents) and Notre Dame (who hasn't beaten a ranked opponent in their stadium since Oklahoma in 2012)...something has to give.
Who the hell knows what Clemson has after playing Wofford and Appalachian State at home (people pay money for those season tickets?), and squeaking by Louisville on the road two weeks ago. Notre Dame has played well thus far this season, but you have to think the injury bug causes them to drop a couple along the way.
Clemson 24 Notre Dame 21
ATS - Clemson
SU - Clemson
West Virginia @ Oklahoma -7:
For some reason everyone is going Mr. Wolf on the West Virginia Mountaineers, who is ranked 3rd (!) in the country in the S&P+ rankings on the strength of their wins over Georgia Southern, Liberty and Maryland, but I suppose they have done well in those games, only allowing 23 total points.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, is trying to convince themselves that those 500 plus yards they gave up to Tulsa a couple of weeks ago was an aberration and not a trend, but if it wasn't, Dana Holgersen can definitely exploit that.
Oklahoma 31 West Virginia 28
ATS - West Virginia
SU - Oklahoma
Texas Tech vs. Baylor -17 (Arlington, TX):
Apparently somebody let Alan Eck control scheduling in the Big 12 office, as Texas Tech must face Baylor 7 days after hosting TCU. The over/under in that Lubbock contest was 88.5 by game time, and with it once again hovering in the high eighties for this match-up, Vegas forecasts more of the same.
Anyone who watches Big 12 football regularly knows that Baylor isn't as prolific away from Waco (they average 39 points a game on the road versus 53 at home since 2011), but this series has been the exception, with 94 points scored last season and 97 the year before.
Which is to say, of course, if you feel comfortable giving 17 points in a game that is going to be like that...
Baylor 52 Texas Tech 45
ATS - Texas Tech
SU - Baylor
Texas @ TCU -15.5:
The good news for Texas is that this could very likely be the best team they play all year. The bad news for Texas is that damn, they're really, really good.
The Horned Frogs offense has gone over 600 yards the last three ballgames, and have surpassed 700 yards the last two contests. They wing it all over the field, have a veteran offense that knows your weaknesses and how to exploit them, and most importantly they go out and do what they want.
Texas will either have to play a perfect game to win this one or will have to win a shootout. I'm not sure which is more improbable.
If you favor the shootout route, you have to be encouraged by a defense ravaged by injury and graduation to the point that they've given up 89 points the last two ballgames, and given up more than 1,100 yards in the process. It is the first road start for Jerrod Heard, but TCU isn't known as an overly hostile environment, and with an 11 AM kickoff, the atmosphere won't be as raucous as it could be.
Simply put, the offensive opportunities will be there, Texas must take advantage of every single one of them.
Play defense like they did after the first two drives in Saturday's game, and Texas can hang around long enough in this game to possibly even pull off an upset. This team is certainly beatable, as SMU and Minnesota can attest to.
Have the same defensive mistakes that they did against Cal and Notre Dame, and it could be a long, long day in Fort Worth.
Never underestimate the power of the human will, I'm not sure this defense is quite ready.
TCU 45 Texas 34
ATS - Texas
SU - TCU
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for celebratory drinks at Joe T. Garcia's.