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The Week That Will Be: Fixer Upper

The Horns have a lot of work to do, and the schedule just gets tougher.

Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 6-0 SU

For the Year: 26-22 (.542) ($140) ATS 33-15 (.688) SU

We learned last week...

  • No word from Auburn coach Gus Malzahn on how "erotic" that win over Arkansas was, but 543 rushing yards (a SEC record for a regular season conference game) must elicit some good feelings, as would holding your opponent to 25 rushing yards at a 0.8 yards per carry clip.
  • Ole Miss was a nice bunch of southern gentlemen, welcoming Leonard Fournette back to the LSU lineup by allowing him to rush for 171 yards on his first 6 (!) carries. Fournette ended with 284 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries.
  • I'm not sure how you lose by 19 and feel "good" about a loss, but you have to feel like Texas A&M at least "held serve" against Alabama on Saturday, who were aided by their 12th non-offensive touchdown (they now have one in ten straight games). With two lay-up non-conference games and Mississippi State, Ole Miss and LSU left on the schedule you have to feel good about your chance at 10, possibly 11 wins if you are the Aggies. Who saw that coming in August?
  • Can we start talking about how West Virginia belongs in the playoff discussion? Sure, there is a valid question about who they have played thus far in the season, but if they keep winning and close out the season like they have begun it, they merit a discussion against say, an undefeated Clemson or Washington. Their latest feat, holding Texas Tech and TCU to a combined 27 points, was certainly impressive.
  • I'm not sure what that was in Lubbock on Saturday night, I am just glad it wasn't my team involved in it (yet). 1,708 yards (400 yards and 36 points in the final quarter alone) sounds more like a 7-on-7 showing than an actual Power 5 conference game. I'm still wondering how Patrick Mahomes can throw for nearly a fourth of a mile and lose a football game.
  • One stat seems to be all you need from the Texas and Kansas State tilt on Saturday: In the first half, the Wildcats had 19 first downs. Texas had run 19 plays.


I said above that I'm not really sure what that was in Lubbock on Saturday night, but I am equally unsure of what we saw in Manhattan on Saturday morning.

Let's say it all wasn't that Texas lost, it was how they lost.

We predicted in this space last week that Kansas State would likely win the ballgame, due to the toxic hold that the place seems to have on the Longhorns.

But c'mon.

How in the world does Texas come out flat in that game? Three penalties (and another declined) on the very first drive of the game? After you allow them to score an easy touchdown (the fifth time in seven games this year the opponent has scored first, including four first-drive touchdowns), you again bring the ball out of the end zone on a kickoff, starting your offensive day at the 10-yard line instead of the 25?

How in the world, in a game that you likely must win, does that happen? Right then and right there, I think we all took a sip of our Bloody Mary and took a mental note to make the next one stronger because this was going to be a very, very long day.

One of the largest failures of the Charlie Strong era is the inability to realize that to every single team on your schedule, Texas is the biggest game of the year. How that passes him by, after coaching at such juggernaut programs such as Notre Dame and Florida, escapes me.

Everyone, even when Texas goes 5-7 and misses on a bowl, circles that game on their schedule and you best believe that every team that you play is going to give you their best effort.

If you want to be the alpha dog, you better be prepared to defend your position.

And these Longhorns repeatedly fail in that aspect.

BYU, Kansas State, TCU, Arkansas in 2014. Many others last year.

As a whole, fans can handle losing because of youth and inexperience. They can handle losing because they just don't have the talent at key positions to compete. But they can't handle losing because of a lack of focus and zero sense of urgency.

Texas eventually got it into gear Saturday in Manhattan, but a defensive game plan that wanted to treat Jesse Ertz like he was Ben Roethlisberger (strong armed and immobile) when he is the exact opposite of that, especially with a shoulder injury, just boggles the mind and probably caused more than a few broken television sets in the City of Austin trash pickup this week.

Get your players prepared to play and put them in a position to win. I am not going to pretend that I have anywhere near a tiny percentage of the football knowledge that any single person of the Texas coaching staff possesses, but what we saw this weekend was utterly absurd and frankly not up to the standard that this program prides itself on.

Texas should have beaten Kansas State. And Cal. And Oklahoma.

Instead, the Longhorns sit here at 3-4 and coaches are updating their LinkedIn profiles, just in case.

If there is anything left to salvage of this season, there are five games left to do so.

And each one of those teams has that date circled on their calendar.

Get it together.

On to the games...

Michigan -24.5 @ Michigan State:

What in the world happened to Michigan State? The Spartans have now lost 5 in a row (their first such streak in 25 years) after their 28-17 loss to Maryland last week, making that four double-digit losses in that streak.

Their defense has failed them, giving up 54 points to Northwestern of all teams, and their offense has failed them, only scoring more than 21 points in one of those losses (40 against Northwestern).

Well, luckily their luck is better this week as they have...oh no, Spartans.

After last year's ridiculous ending in Ann Arbor, and the fact that Michigan State has won 7 of 8 in this series, Harbaugh likely wants blood. Like actual, literal blood. Good thing it is Halloween.

Michigan 38 Michigan State 14

ATS -€” Michigan State

SU -€” Michigan

Clemson -4.5 @ Florida State:

Aside from the Louisville game and the likely Heisman winner putting up 36 points on the Clemson defense, the most points they have given up this year is the 24 they gave up to Troy of all teams.

Yeah, the Sooners might be missing Brent Venables.

The Seminoles defense has been better as of late, but they gave up 34 to Ole Miss, 63 to Louisville, 35 to South Florida and 37 to North Carolina.

Better defense wins.

Clemson 27 Florida State 20

ATS -€” Clemson

SU -€” Clemson

Washington -10 @ Utah:

Washington has flown under the radar due to a downturn in the Pac-12, but they have done what they needed to do, pounding teams like Stanford and Oregon, and while ranking 4th in the country in S&P+ offense and 9th in S&P+ defense.

Pretty salty.

Sophomore Jake Browning is throwing as well as anyone in the country, racking up 27 touchdown passes to only 2 interceptions, all while completing 68% of his passes...why aren't we talking about him more?

Utah quarterback Troy Williams began his career at Washington, playing in five games before transferring. He'll be motivated...but the Utes don't have the horses to keep up with the Huskies.

Washington 36 Utah 24

ATS -€” Washington

SU -€” Washington

Texas Tech @ TCU -9:

Speaking of basketball scores, these two teams have combined for 216 the last two meetings in this rivalry, with TCU putting up an astonishing 82 points the last time they played at Amon Carter.

The Red Raiders have lost four games this year, mostly due to a defense that insults the very word. Consider that they have averaged 42.3 points per game in their losses, and that is just baffling.

TCU actually pretends to play defense, and sometimes it even works out for them, but their problem has been some holes on that side of the ball and inconsistency at quarterback, where Kenny Hill has thrown 9 interceptions on the year, including at least one in every game outside of Iowa State.

Should be another shootout.

TCU 52 Texas Tech 48

ATS -€” Texas Tech

SU -€” TCU

West Virginia -3.5 @ Oklahoma State:

West Virginia brings the nation's 15th best scoring defense, while Oklahoma State brings the nation's 14th best scoring all together now, something has to give.

I've watched the Mountaineers a few times this year, and while they are really, really good, does anyone expect them to keep winning tough road games?

Perhaps I am just not giving them enough credit, but this feels like one where things finally get away from them.

Oklahoma State 31 West Virginia 24

ATS -€” Oklahoma State

SU -€” Oklahoma State

Baylor -3 @ Texas:

How much has happened since Texas and Baylor last met last December?

First there was that unlikely 23-17 Texas win in a game in which they were three touchdown underdogs. Then there was the Art Briles firing, which some want to blame Texas and ESPN (if Texas is powerful enough to get coaches fired you think they would be powerful enough to not be 3-4). Then there was the exodus of several Baylor Texas.

These two teams and fan bases don't like each other. See last year's near brawl in Waco.

The Bears are 6-0 for the fourth straight year, so a win here would make them 7-0 for only the fourth time in team history (1980, 2013, 2015). Baylor is (ridiculous stat alert) 3rd in the conference in total offense (549 yards a game), but 4th nationally. So you think they're the typical shootout Big 12 team, but they haven't been thus far, ranking 1st in the Big 12 and 16th nationally in total defense.

But....that schedule.

Imagine if Texas had played Northwestern State, SMU, at Rice, Oklahoma State, at Iowa State and Kansas thus far to date. We're sitting here at 5-1 at worst, ranked in the Top-15 and talking about how Texas is "back", aren't we?

The running back tandem of Terence Williams and Shock Linwood have run for nearly 1,000 yards combined with 9 touchdowns...and yes, quarterback has also run for 313 yards and 5 touchdowns, so you have to respect his ability to run on short yardage situations and near the end zone.

The Seth Russell/K.D. Cannon duo is the one to watch, but Russell hasn't been spectacular, completing only 57% of his passes for 245 yards a game...but forget about getting your hands on him, as he's only been sacked three times all year.

On offense, Texas should be able to run on these guys, as Oklahoma State had success, as did Iowa State and Rice of all teams. D'Onta Foreman is 145 yards from 1,000 on the season, a feat no Texas running back has achieved since Jamaal Charles in 2007.

Charlie Strong has had success against Baylor, holding their offense without a quarterback most of the day to 17 points in 2015, and dropping Bryce Petty a full round in the draft by stymieing him to the tune of 7/22 passing for 111 yards in 2014.

If Texas can play "Big 12 hot" defense....if they can show consistency on offense....if they can run the football like they have in most home games this year, Texas can very well get their fourth win over a Top-12 team in the last two seasons.

But that is a lot of ifs.

Baylor 41 Texas 35

ATS -€” Baylor

SU -€” Baylor

For entertainment purposes only.  Save your money for tin foil hats.