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The Week That Will Be: Back to the Future

The future is now, but can Texas survive as a favorite?

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 6-0 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 27-13-2 (.675) ($1110) ATS 32-10 (.762) SU

We learned last week...

  • Stanford is a dumb 9 AM Pacific start time loss to Northwestern away from possibly running the table and forcing their way into the College Football Playoff. The rest of their slate? Road trips to Washington State and Colorado and home games against Washington, Oregon, California and Notre Dame.
  • You have to wonder how they practice catching snaps in Australia...
  • LSU wins yet another game with a fake field goal. Stop me if you have heard this one before...
  • Is there any truth to the rumor that Kevin Sumlin has the Aggie offense going through tackling drills this week?
  • Baker Mayfield threw five touchdown passes in the first half of Oklahoma's 55-0 romp of Kansas State, the worst loss in the illustrious history of Wildcat football. But heh, you still lost to Texas...
  • And finally, Corey Coleman is this week's best college football player ever, but when you set your school's single season touchdown record six games into the season, that is certainly impressive.

If you're like me, you get a bit annoyed this time of year, as the impending holiday season and college basketball season threaten to usher my college football season into the off-season. Or I suppose you can be the half-full type and say that there is a whole half season left, but Kansas fans don't want to hear they have to endure this for another month and a half.

At any rate, it is Mid-Season Awards time, so let's get started.

Freshman of the Year: Malik Jefferson, Texas

Okay that was an easy one.

Disappointment of the Year - Auburn and USC (tie)

The Trojans were a mess, their coach went to rehab, but before he went to rehab he was fired, which is better than the last coach that got fired on the tarmac. Auburn at least has the excuse that they are in the SEC, which gets everyone overrated.

Surprise of the Year - Memphis, Toledo, Houston, Temple, Duke

These teams have one loss between them and have me making sure that I'm not looking at a pre-season Top 25 basketball poll while doing research for this column. Temple is even in prime-time next week, which has Kirk Herbstreit looking up how many PTO days he has to see if he can just skip this one.

Hottest Coaching Seat - Al Golden (Miami)

Flight space over Sun Life Stadium on Saturday afternoons is full, as Miami fans have taken to flying banners over the product that Golden puts on the field every week. It really shouldn't be hard to find out which of the 6 Hurricane fans is doing it, but you have to figure that Al is in his, ahem, Golden days on South Beach.

Best Defensive Player - Myles Garrett, Texas A&M

A&M's defense is improved this year, and they owe it to Garrett, who has 8.5 sacks and three forced fumbles on the year. He's so good he almost had a pick 6 against Kyle Allen as well on Saturday.

Best Quarterback - Trevone Boykin, TCU

That still feels odd to type, considering Boykin's first two years in Fort Worth. But as good of a year he had last season, he's about two games from surpassing his touchdown total of 33 (currently has 25) he put up last 242 less attempts. That TCU/Baylor match-up on Black Friday is looking more delicious than the turkey dinner itself.

Best Running Back - Leonard Fournette, LSU

Not to go all Jon Gruden on you, but this guy could start for your NFL team right now and he's only 20-years old.

Best Wide Receiver - Corey Coleman, Baylor

Coleman has 16 touchdowns this year. The FBS leading wide receiver had 17 all of last year. WTF. Plus he has some sweet moves.

Best Team - Baylor

Yes, that is weird to type, and no, they haven't played anybody, but are you telling me you've seen more from Ohio State or Utah or TCU or whatever SEC team you have to hype because after all they are from the SEC?

On to the games...

Utah @ USC -4:

Insert Internet meme of Admiral Ackbar saying "It's a trap" here.

The third ranked team in the country is an underdog to an unranked 3-3 team that has lost three out of their last four and has an interim coach? Are you kidding me?

But dig a little deeper and you'll see a USC squad that put up nearly 600 yards on a Notre Dame defense that ranks in the top third of every major category and a Utah team that was practically begging for Cal or Arizona State to knock them off the last two weeks.

When it sounds too good to be true...

USC 31 Utah 24



California @ UCLA -3.5:

Both of these teams are coming off devastating losses, or in the case of UCLA, two straight devastating losses. Jared Goff is trying to rebound from his five interception game against Utah, and he should find it easier against a UCLA defense that is down three starters due to injury.

Absent a big game from Bruins running back Paul Perkins, I see Cal with a slight edge here.

Cal 38 UCLA 30

ATS - Cal

SU - Cal

Tennessee @ Alabama -15:

Mike Shula was the Crimson Tide coach the last time that Tennessee defeated Alabama, a 16-13 barn burner in Knoxville. You have to go back to 2003 to find the last Volunteer win in Tuscaloosa. The last five haven't even been close, as Alabama has won by a combined score of 201-59.

But this is the year that Tennessee was going to turn it around and become a contender again, because after all, look at those recruiting classes, am I right?

But that was before they blew big leads against Oklahoma and Florida and then lost to a bad Arkansas team.

The Crimson Tide extends their streak, but coming off a big game against the Aggies and looking forward to LSU in two weeks there is a chance they aren't going full strength here.

Alabama 28 Tennessee 14

ATS - Tennessee

SU - Alabama

Texas A&M @ Ole Miss -5.5:

Ole Miss was flying high after beating Alabama, but then a funny thing happened...they forgot to win the rest of their games. The Aggies have the opposite problem, they won the rest of their games and then mistook the Crimson Tide for a fun and gun team, coming out in nickel while Derrick Henry ran down their throat for a quarter and a half.

The matchup to watch here is Chad Kelly against this A&M defense. The Aggies have only given up 183 yards per game through the air, and of course can put immense pressure on a quarterback. Ole Miss have allowed 12 sacks in 7 games, so they have had their issues.

Texas A&M 35 Ole Miss 31

ATS - Texas A&M

SU - Texas A&M

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma -14.5:

This one will be billed as Baker Mayfield vs. Kliff Kingsbury, and rightfully so, but Patrick Mahomes leaves everyone in Lubbock not really caring where Mayfield ended up.

The last game that the Red Raiders won in this series was 2011 in Norman (they were 29-point underdogs for that one), but to get this one they'll have to play some defense (ranked 119th in the country in defensive S&P).

If you've watched Oklahoma this year you know they've had their issues on defense (500 yards to Tulsa, 300 yards rushing to Texas, 24 points to a West Virginia team that turned the ball over 5 times), but they'll have just enough to get a victory at home.

Oklahoma 44 Texas Tech 35

ATS - Texas Tech

SU - Oklahoma

Kansas State @ Texas -3.5:

With games in Lubbock and at home against Baylor and West Virginia left on the schedule, Kansas State might need this one to get bowl eligible...but so does Texas.

All the talk this week is how everyone is ignoring the Oklahoma result last week "because that isn't Kansas State", and traditionally it is not, but what is Kansas State this year?

Are they the team that had to go to triple overtime against Louisiana Tech in Manhattan earlier this year? Or are they the team that gave TCU the scare of their life two weeks ago? Are they the team that struggled for a half against UTSA, or are they the team that probably should have beaten Oklahoma State in Stillwater without some help from the officials?

The Wildcats lost their quarterback in the season opener, and had to turn their lonely eyes to Joe Hubener, who, and all together now, didn't even start for his high school football team. Hubener hasn't been good, completing less than half of his passes. The good news is that he has only thrown 4 interceptions, but the bad news is that he's also only thrown 4 touchdowns.

If Hubener is injured, as he has been a few times this season, or ineffective, the Wildcats will turn to Kody Cook, who plays wide receiver in his spare time. Either way, it shouldn't be a position that Texas needs to overly concern themselves about, as the two were a combined 5/22 for 45 yards and three interceptions against Oklahoma last week.

Kansas State is very happy to go three yards and a cloud of FieldTurf pellets and wait for you to make a mistake.

On defense, what is usually a solid unit is a mess as well, as the Wildcats give up 424 yards a game, good enough for 90th in the country. If you're more the advanced stats type, they rank 85th in the country in rushing defense S&P+. They don't get turnovers (82nd in the country in turnover margin), can't get off the field on third down (97th in the country), and don't stop you once you get in the red zone (78th in the country).

And yes, I know where Texas ranks in those metrics, too.

All in all this is a very winnable game for the Longhorns, but they'll have to go out and earn it, because not only does Bill Snyder always bring his best for Texas, they're the wounded animal that Texas was against Oklahoma, eager to show that the 50 point loss was an aberration, not an indictment.

This one plods along at first, but Texas asserts their will late.

Texas 28 Kansas State 20

ATS - Texas

SU - Texas

For entertainment purposes only.  Save your money for rain ponchos.