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The Week That Will Be: Red River Disarray

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Oh boy.

Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 6-0 SU

For the Year: 19-9-2 (.679) ($790) ATS 23-7 (.767) SU

We learned last week...

  • October of 2012 was the last time that Texas A&M defeated a ranked opponent at Kyle Field before Saturday's victory over Mississippi State, and it was also their first conference home victory since 2013. Kyle Allen looks like a keeper as he had 385 total yards.
  • Alabama set a school record for largest margin of victory (28) over a Top-10 opponent on their home turf. I'm sure that filled Georgia fans with glee.
  • Notre Dame's injuries finally caught up to them, but we haven't heard the last of them, because, well, they're Notre Dame.
  • Analytical darling West Virginia found out that games weren't played in an Excel spreadsheet, as Skyler Howard's four turnovers sank any chance the Mountaineers had of pulling off the upset in Norman.
  • Texas Tech gave up 118 points and 1,430 yards to TCU and Baylor the last couple of weeks...
  • So you see Texas, if we had an offense it would be masked as a fun game.

Anyhow...

Ever since about 11:30 A.M. Saturday morning, I've wondered what the hell I was going to write about in this column.

And the simple fact is, what else is there to say?

One could go off on a program that has now lost 7 of its past 8 games, but that seems repetitive, counterproductive and downright depressing.

I could defend Charlie Strong against the milquetoast Texas fans who apparently thought this rebuild was going to be a cakewalk despite watching the last four years of the Mack Brown era that saw him steer every viable quarterback in the state to Baylor, Texas A&M, Ohio State or Stanford.

But rational fans know it was always going to get worse before it got better.

"We don't know how to compete yet," Strong said after the TCU game. "There's something about pride, pride in yourself. It's a very competitive sport. You have to know when things aren't going right, that someone has to step up. That's just not what we're getting right now."

Quite the understatement.

Strong will never admit the majority of the problems that he was left with at Texas lay at the feet of the previous regime - and he shouldn't, because nobody wants to hear those excuses from Austin - but he was left with a team that was beaten, so much so that the senior players on this team have never won as much as 10 games in a season (at Texas!), a number at which Texas fans used to turn their nose up at like a Kardashian.

I could write a rah-rah "Remember the Alamo" feature here...but I tried that last week and it fell miserably flat. There have been several times that I have sat down to write this column and had no idea where it was going to go, but never for this game.

This game writes itself.

So I went deep into the archives back to 2013 (seems like forever ago, doesn't it?) and wondered what came out last time I felt this way about this game.

In what very well could be Mack Brown's final Red River Shootout Rivalry, apathy couldn't be higher, the feeling of playing out the string starting to sink in. If indeed this is his last year, a significant part of Brown's legacy will be his failure in Dallas.

Bob Stoops, out of respect for this rivalry, has always brought his team to Dallas ready to play. Even though you can certainly argue that Texas has been more talented in the Stoops/Brown era, Stoops has been blown out once in fourteen years, while Brown has been blown out four times in that span.

Stoops will have his team ready to go to battle. Brown will have his guys ready to have fun.

Of course we know what happened that year, an improbable Longhorn drubbing of the Sooners, who would finish the season 11-2 with a beat down of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Case McCoy threw the two most beautiful passes of this life, Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown had a field day and even Chris Whaley even had a touchdown.

As a side note, I wonder how many times a week the much maligned McCoy still stops and reminds himself - I own scoreboard against both the Aggies and Sooners.

If there is one game to write your legacy, to right a whole bunch of wrongs, to bring a team that might be fractured together, it is this game. Be ready for battle, because those guys across from you sure as hell will be.

Win this one, and the narrative is rewritten.

Starting with this column next week.

On to the games...

Northwestern @ Michigan -7.5:

Both of these teams had tough openers, with Northwestern coming out on top of Stanford in a shocker and Michigan losing by a touchdown to Utah on the opening night of the season.

They're both undefeated since then, and rank first and second in the country in scoring defense, as Northwestern has only allowed 35 points all season and Michigan has only allowed 14 points in 4 games since that opener.

Michigan is the better team here, but I see this as one of those prototypical Big 10 games of lore with a lot of physical play and not much scoring.

Michigan 23 Northwestern 20

ATS - Northwestern

SU - Michigan

California @ Utah -7:

This one is a battle of the Pac-12's last two unbeaten teams. Cal is beginning a rough stretch that finds them traveling to Utah and UCLA before hosting Southern Cal, while Utah still has road trips to Southern Cal, Washington and Arizona and home games against Arizona State and UCLA.

Cal is 5-0 for the first time since 1950, but to keep that record intact they'll have to take advantage of a Utes defense that is giving up 238 yards per game, but of course they have to stop somebody as well. Utes quarterback Travis Wilson is coming off a great game, scoring 5 total touchdowns against Oregon in their last ballgame.

I'm not sure a beat down of Oregon is as good as it sounds, but the Utes are the most complete team, and I'm just not sure I see Cal getting yet another victory on the road.

Utah 41 California 33

ATS - Utah

SU - Utah

Arkansas @ Alabama -17:

Arkansas finds themselves in a stretch where they play Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU on the road, so if you enjoy seeing Bret Bielema pissed off like I do, you're in luck.

The Crimson Tide have won 8 in a row in this series, and I don't see that ending here, as while Arkansas has been playing better as of late, they're still a team that doesn't have the healthy horses to survive in this league.

Alabama 27 Arkansas 17

ATS - Arkansas

SU - Alabama

Oklahoma State @ West Virginia -7:

West Virginia needs a win here, as they travel to Baylor and TCU the next two weeks, while Oklahoma State has to feel a bit like they are playing with house money after some fortunate calls from the officials the last two games.

The calls have over shadowed a bounce back year for the Cowboys, as they are getting superior quarterback play (Mason Rudolph had 437 passing last week against Kansas State) and a defense that is 24th in the country in total defense.

West Virginia is playing some good defense as well, as they were able to sack Baker Mayfield four times last week and rank third in the country in defensive efficiency.

The Mountaineers end the Cowboys win streak, but this one should be close.

West Virginia 31 Oklahoma State 27

ATS - Oklahoma State

SU - West Virginia

TCU -9.5 @ Kansas State:

Lost in all the bitching about how bad Texas was last week is how good TCU was, specifically Trevone Boykin, who since the Minnesota season opener has completed more than 60 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.


Salty.

Kansas State is just trying to keep someone upright while playing quarterback, as they had to put in a converted receiver at one point last week. Second string Joe Hubener is expected to get the start after suffering a head to head hit last week against Oklahoma State.

The Wildcats just don't have it this year.  Quarterback depth concerns aside, their defense hasn't been very good against teams that are not South Dakota or UTSA, and TCU appears to be on a mission.

TCU 45 Kansas State 17

ATS - TCU

SU - TCU

Oklahoma -17 vs. Texas:

Another week, another undefeated opponent for Texas (the sixth in six games), and also another ranked opponent (the 8th ranked opponent in 10 games).

Some, like computers, might say this is the toughest yet for the Longhorns, as the Sooners rank 2nd in the country in the ever popular S&P+ rankings, as their offense has been rejuvenated by the emergence of a quarterback that is playing very well.

It is amazing how much that can do for a team, no?

Baker Mayfield is playing lights out, throwing for 1,300 yards with 10 more touchdowns than interceptions, with another 178 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. Any game plan must include containing him in the pocket, as the Sooners have failed to protect Mayfield very well, allowing 10 sacks.

They have a talented group of receivers led by senior Sterling Shepard, who somehow has been there for 12 years without anyone noticing, and will utilize their backs in the passing game as well, as Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon have combined for 22 receptions on the year.

This is a balanced attack that Texas had better be prepared for, or the results will be much the same as last week.  They had three touchdowns of 28 yards or longer last week, so they can score from anywhere on the field.

On defense the Sooners have shown some holes, allowing 500+ yards to Tulsa while also allowing the opponent to rush for more than 100 yards the past three ballgames. If the offensive line can open some holes, and if the score doesn't get out of hand early, the Longhorns might be able to control the game a bit by keeping the ball on the ground and wearing down that defense.

Eric Striker is the guy you have to account for, as he had 13 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble against West Virginia. It would be nice to have Daje Johnson available to perhaps keep his eyes off of Jerrod Heard, but it doesn't look like he will be available.

Texas is 5-2 when they enter this game unranked and Oklahoma is ranked, but I just haven't seen enough from this team offensively or defensively to give me much hope other than anything can happen in games like this.

But, I've been wrong before.

Oklahoma 44 Texas 21

ATS - Oklahoma

SU - Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only.  Save your money for chicken fried lobster.