Last Week: 2-4 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 22-20 (.524) (-$20) ATS 27-15 (.643) SU
We learned last week...
- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly tried to slide past some Arkansas defenders like he slid into the DMs of Mia Khalifa but much like he did with Ms. Khalifa he fumbled his chance and the Rebels were done.
- Ohio State's win over Wisconsin was their 20th straight win in a "true" road game, and Urban Meyer is now 8-3 against Top 15 teams in his tenure at Ohio State. Man.
- Alabama notched their biggest win over Tennessee since 1906, which was even more remarkable when you consider the Vols only had 1 turnover and 1 penalty all game and still got trucked. Nick Saban after the game: "When we play really good teams the runs aren't going to be so easy." Damn, Nick.
- Kliff Kingsbury did his best Mack Brown impersonation and apologized to all Texas Tech fans after their 48-17 loss to West Virginia. Strike 1.
- Another game, another 9 receptions, 184 yards and 3 touchdowns for Dede Westbrook. Savage.
- And finally, yes Virginia, there is a defense in Austin, as the Longhorns' 14 tackles for loss and 8 sacks last week were the most in the Charlie Strong era.
This week it is time to dip into the ol' mailbag for a column when you don't quite have the conviction to write on one topic but you can for sure opine smarmily on several. Just a reminder, these are not actual letters from actual readers.
Q: WHAT is going on with this Big 12 expansion deal. I mean, the Big 12 only has 10 members...you know that, right? Right?
Look. I don't understand why this is so hard to understand. Texas doesn't want to be in this conference. We know that. I don't even know how they got stuck in this conference a few years back when they looked to be headed to the Pac-12, for all I know they did it to piss off Chip Brown. Deloss had a wicked sense of humor.
Oklahoma knows they can't go anywhere without Texas. The SEC and Big 10 laughs at their general direction - the Pac 12 tells them, "seriously dude, so gross". The Baylors, Iowa States and Kansas States know they have no pull - not everyone is looking to clamp down the northeast Kansas television market.
So every school in the conference wanted expansion but Texas. And Texas is king in the conference. So OU president David Boren starts talking up a big game, starts talking about how they don't need Texas, yada yada yada, until ESPN/Fox come along and tell them, "Um, yeah, nobody in Houston cares about Houston Cougars football and UCONN? Was Slippery Rock not available?" and slams the door in the Big 12's face.
Once TV said no - it was dead on arrival and now everyone is scrambling to say they were the one who broke up with expansion first - classic middle school romance move.
Q: Did you see Tom Herman last week? Total Jedi mind trick to keep Tulsa out of the endzone on that last play.
We all know that Tom Herman deliberately keeps his real last name Parcells-Landry off his resume just to save anyone further embarrassment - but the canonization of Herman after coaching a season and a half is a bit much...even more so when you consider that the Houston roster was already in good shape when he go there.
Herman might be a fine coach - several in the industry, not just random fans, hold that opinion - but Texas fans should know by now that there is no magic elixir out there, no matter how sweet the grill is. This is Year 3 of a major rebuild - and whoever is coaching next season - whether that be Charlie Strong or someone else - has a load of work still to do to get in the same stratosphere as Alabama or Ohio State.
Q: Is Brian Kelly going to survive in South Bend? Not job status - literally survive?
Kelly has always been a hothead, and that was when Notre Dame was winning. A 2-5 start, with Miami, Navy, Virginia Tech and Southern Cal still on the schedule doesn't bode well for the general disposition of the Notre Dame coach.
Q: How in tarnation are we ranked at 3-3?
Because duh - SECSECSEC. No chance any other conference has a school that is 3-3 get ranked in any poll. I look forward to the Rebels being ranked at 4-6 in a few weeks because c'mon, the Cleveland Browns couldn't beat these teams.
Q: Where do I send my resume?
Please win, Charlie.
On to the games...
Arkansas @ Auburn -10:
If it weren't so wordy, we might dub this the "Battle of the Best Losses Bowl", as Auburn enters with two losses, one to Clemson and the other to Texas A&M, while Arkansas also enters with two losses, one to Alabama and the other....to Texas A&M.
The S&P rankings love Auburn, as they have them ranked 8th in the country, in front of such schools as A&M, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Baylor and Houston, and it is mostly due to a defense that has been stingy, only giving up more than 19 points once, when they gave up 29 to the Aggies.
Arkansas was able to upset Ole Miss on the legs of Rawleigh Williams III (180 rushing yards), and the Tigers have had trouble in their biggest matchups this season facing top running backs.
Auburn wins, but Arkansas slows the game down and keeps it close.
Auburn 31 Arkansas 24
ATS - Arkansas
SU - Auburn
Ole Miss @ LSU -5.5:
Another week, another "Top-25" match-up in the SEC. And yes, I am giving them the side eye.
Speaking of S&P, this is a Top-10 match-up, so perhaps both of these teams have just played a tough schedule?
Whatever the case, lost in the hubbub of the Les Miles firing is the fact that LSU's defense has been outstanding, only surrendering six touchdowns in six games, and only allowing one team (Mississippi State) to score as many as 20 points. Hard to lose games when you do that, but they face an Rebels offense that has scored 30 points in 10 straight games.
Ole Miss has been a mess, looking like a national championship contender one minute and a Baylor out of conference opponent the next. Which Chad Kelly shows up?
The home team has won 5 out of the last 6 in this series, and this one feels like it won't be any different.
LSU 38 Ole Miss 31
ATS - LSU
SU - LSU
Texas A&M @ Alabama -18.5:
It has been four years since Johnny Manziel sidearmed his way through a victory over Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and it is pertinent to ask if Nick Saban took that loss personally.
The Crimson Tide have scored a combined 149 points in their three victories since that day, including a 59-0 beatdown the last time these two met in that stadium.
In order to pull off the upset that would certainly make the Aggies a favorite in the College Football Playoff, they are going to have to rely on the position that won this game last time - the quarterback.
Trevor Knight had that epic game against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl a few years back, a game that was just good enough to tease two entire fanbases that he might be an answer under center.
To his credit, Knight has been adequate under center, not exactly climbing up the Heisman charts but not doing anything to lose games, either. The trouble is that you have to be more than adequate against the Crimson Tide to win.
In the three (!) Alabama losses since that Sugar Bowl following the 2013 season, Alabama lost because Chad Kelly threw for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns, because Cardale Jones had 286 total yards and a touchdown and because Bo Wallace threw for 3 touchdowns.
Can Knight do that? His 522 yards and 9 touchdowns are certainly impressive - but you can't count on that against Alabama.
The Crimson Tide have played four ranked teams this season - and have won each won by an average of 27 points. This might be the best Crimson Tide team Nick Saban has had - and it would take Johnny's Aggies to have a chance to take them down.
Alabama 38 Texas A&M 21
ATS - Texas A&M
SU - Alabama
TCU @ West Virginia -5:
Well, West Virginia showed me last week.
Not that Texas Tech is a world beater these days, but it is still impressive when you go into Lubbock and snag a 31-point victory and hold that offense to 17 points. It's nothing new for the Mountaineers though, as that is the third opponent they've held to 17 points or less this year.
Inconsistency has been the theme at TCU this year, who can't seem to put a complete game together, much to the delight of Oklahoma and Arkansas, which both left Fort Worth with a win.
IF Kenny Hill can be the good Kenny Hill for a complete game, this is a winnable game against a defense that while they have allowed few points, also have sacked the quarterback an astonishing few 9 times this year.
But we haven't seen that.
West Virginia 37 TCU 31
ATS - West Virginia
SU - West Virginia
Oklahoma -14 @ Texas Tech:
While it feels like this has been a relatively close series of late, Oklahoma has won four in a row after a stretch from 2005-2011 that saw the Red Raiders win four times.
I gave some good defensive stats earlier in this column, but Texas Tech flies in the face of that by giving up no less than 44 points on its schedule not named Stephen F. Austin or Kansas. Given that they only pressured West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard six times last Saturday, Baker Mayfield is poised to have a huge game in his first game back in Lubbock.
The guy that Mayfield couldn't beat out, Patrick Mahomes, gives the Red Raiders their best shot at winning (if healthy), but he'll have to be better than he was last year in Norman, when he had his worst game of the year, throwing for only 233 yards while tossing four interceptions.
Oklahoma 45 Texas Tech 38
ATS - Texas Tech
SU - Oklahoma
Texas @ Kansas State -2.5:
You know it is bad, but even when you hear that Texas has only beaten Kansas State once in Manhattan, it is a little hard to believe. Going all the way back to 1926, the Longhorns are 1-6 all-time on the road against the Wildcats, whose 9-7 overall record against Texas marks the only Big 12 opponent that has a winning record over the Longhorns.
Add that to the known issues Texas has playing on the road in the Charlie Strong era and --- whelp.
Ell Roberson, Darren Sproles and Terence Newman were all Wildcats in that one Longhorn win in 2002 - and the good news is that they are all gone now.
In fact, Kansas State might be down their starting quarterback Jesse Ertz suffered an injury last week - but even if he plays, Kansas State isn't known for their offense this year as Ertz has only thrown for 756 yards (and added an additional 346 on the ground). If Ertz can't go, it will be senior Joe Hubener under center, who Longhorns fans will remember from the monsoon game last October when he threw for all of 97 yards on 22 passing attempts.
The Wildcats aren't going to beat you with offense.
They want to beat you with a defense that "held" Christian McCaffrey to 5.7 yards per carry, but held Stanford as a team to 4.1 yards per carry. They want to beat you with a defense that sacked Skyler Howard three times, or held Patrick Mahomes to 500 yards passing (haha, just wanted to see if you were still reading). Just last week, they did hold Joe Mixon to 4.6 ypc - it was the rest of the team they had a problem with.
No, this defense is "Big 12 good", which is like that girl you find in the bar at 1:55 in the morning, but if the Horns try to just overpower them, or go one-dimensional, they can be beaten to submission. Bill Snyder enjoys watching that.
This is one of those games if it were in Austin I would be extremely confident in a Texas win - but since it is on the road it makes me downright nervous - and since it is in Manhattan it makes me downright pessimistic.
That is to say...Charlie and company need to show me a complete game on the road before I can pick them to win in that place of all places.
Kansas State 34 Texas 28
ATS - Kansas State
SU - Kansas State
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for an elixir - to fight off a wizard.