Last Week: 1-5 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 39-39 (.500) (-$390) ATS 48-30 (.615) SU
We learned last week...
- $1.5 million apparently can't keep a middling SEC offense under half a hundred points.
- Washington State couldn't have felt good about their Pac-12 North chances when they fell down 28-3 to Washington, and it turns out they were right.
- Alabama still hasn't given up a touchdown since October 22nd.
- The Game almost featured The Butt Fumble, but The Overtime ended quickly, much to the chagrin of Jim Harbaugh (looked like a first down to me), but he might want to blame this stat instead: 4th Quarter Yardage: Ohio State 127 Michigan 5
- Kliff Kingsbury apparently still wants his job, while Jim Grobe said you can have his. I believe he came to this conclusion about a month ago.
- And finally...bye Charlie.
We will win championships. We will build men of character. We will graduate our players, and we will do it all with integrity and with class. - Tom Herman
Despite the crowd filtering out around me last Friday evening as TCU put a rubber stamp on another disappointing Texas season, I stood my ground because if this was it (and there was no doubt it was at that point), I wanted to see...the reaction.
The crowd - what was left of it - was mostly silent until the singing of The Eyes of Texas and downright despondent afterwards, but in the middle of the field, there was what I expected to see - a distraught player being helped to his feet by Charlie Strong while he walked off the field with his head held high.
It is yet to be written what the annals of Texas football history will ultimately say about the Charlie Strong era - will it be the awkward beginning, where a good half of the Longhorn fan base wanted another coach - or will it look at the binary results and see the worst winning percentage in Texas football history - or will be a mixed bag that recognizes the work that was put in for the program that ultimately paid off?
We all knew what Texas was signing up for in December 2013 when Mack Brown
was fired resigned. This program needed not only a severe infusion of talent, it also needed a top to bottom culture change, to weed out the complacency and entitlement that had set in over several years. Everyone seems to agree that the former has happened, but it can be argued as a whole that the program didn't take the latter seriously enough.
Charlie Strong absolutely couldn't continue as head coach after yet another 5-7 season, but don't think for a second that the blame stops there.
In steps Tom Herman.
Herman said all of the right things in his press conference on Sunday. He thanked all the right people and said all the good things that make Texas fans feel good - family, winning and high school football - but it was most striking what he mentioned first, noted above.
Because after all, for all the good Charlie Strong did for the program, he didn't win any championships, and for all the good Mack Brown did for the program, he didn't win enough championships.
By all accounts and referrals Tom Herman is a fantastic coach to lead the Longhorns on the field next year - his attention to detail and love of a good process is music to the ears of Longhorn fans who felt that the previous regime lacked cohesion and focus.
He is also reportedly going to finally use the resources of the largest athletic budget in the country to hire enough support staff in the areas that matter - recruiting and scouting - to make even Nick Saban antsy.
Our much maligned athletic department was absolutely correct in identifying their candidate and moving swiftly.
But time will tell if the requirements of the job will befall Herman like it did Strong. They both won national championships as coordinators (under Urban Meyer), and they had similar records in their last two years in their previous stop at a mid-major (Strong 23-3 at Louisville, Herman 22-4 at Houston).
When publications this week are calling Herman anything from "the next DKR" to a "mixture of Mack Brown and Urban Meyer", the expectations are sky high - and that is even before taking a look at a roster where 37 of the 44 on the two-deep will return.
What the goal is next season as far as number of wins is yet to be clear (9 or 10 wins seems to be the most often cited number), but this much is clear - the Eyes of Texas will start wandering to the next candidate before you even know it if expectations are not met.
On to the games...
Pac-12 Championship: Colorado vs. Washington -7.5 (Santa Clara, CA):
Both teams from this game have a shot at the College Football Playoff, with the Huskies at #4 now you would think all they need is a win and they are in, while Colorado has a shot with a win and some help in the other games.
Oddly enough, a conference well known for its defensive ineptitude now features two teams that rank in the top 12 of S&P+ defense, and while the Huskies haven't given up more than 28 points in any game this year, the Buffaloes haven't given up more than 24 since September.
This one probably comes down to the quarterback play, and with Jake Browning under center, Washington definitely has the advantage, as he has thrown for more than 3,100 yards with 40 touchdown passes this season.
Washington 28 Colorado 24
ATS - Colorado
SU - Washington
Big 10 Championship Game: Penn State vs. Wisconsin -2.5 (Indianapolis, IN)
A loss by Washington (or Clemson) helps the winner of this game possibly reach the playoff, although even then they might have to hold off another team that didn't make this game...Michigan.
These two teams also feature premier defenses (sense a pattern?) as both of these teams enter the game ranked in the top 11 in S&P+ defense, with Wisconsin not giving up more than 20 points to any team not named Ohio State this season while Penn State (with the exception of Indiana), hasn't given up more than 26 points in a game since September.
The Badgers two losses this season were to Michigan (by a touchdown) and to Ohio State (by a touchdown in overtime), so you feel they are more "weathered" for this game.
Wisconsin 23 Penn State 16
ATS - Wisconsin
SU - Wisconsin
ACC Championship Game: Clemson -10 vs. Virginia Tech (Orlando, FL):
Yep, you guessed it, both of these teams feature top fight defenses, as Virginia Tech enters 16th in the country in S&P+ defense while Clemson is 6th (shouldn't Brent Venables be getting head coach interviews?), but the difference here is quarterback play.
Clemson's Deshaun Watson is the known element, having thrown for 3,600 yards and 34 touchdowns in a "down" year (14 interceptions might have something to do with that label), while the Hokies' Jerod Evans has thrown for more than 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns, and run for an additional 800 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Something doesn't seem quite right with the Tigers this year, but they'll get by here...for a chance in the playoff again.
Clemson 31 Virginia Tech 24
ATS - Virginia Tech
SU - Clemson
SEC Championship Game: Florida vs. Alabama -25 (Atlanta, GA):
The suspense is likely gone from this one when you consider that Alabama could probably lose in a giant upset and still go to the playoff...just that they might be punished by being jettisoned to Arizona instead of Atlanta for the semi-final.
Florida hasn't beaten Alabama since 2008, and with the comments by Gators coach Jim McElwain this week, going to the rooftops and calling out scoreboard on all Florida detractors, you get the feeling that they are just happy to be here.
Alabama 38 Florida 17
ATS - Florida
SU - Alabama
Kansas State @ TCU -4:
Then there is the league with no defense, and coincidentally the one that likely doesn't have a shot at the playoff.
Last week Bill Snyder became the sixth coach in history with 200 wins at one school, but called out his team afterwards for a lack of effort...but at least they beat Kansas.
TCU is the Jekyll and Hyde of the Big 12, so who knows which one will show up, but their defense is playing a lot better, and should be able to make the Wildcats one dimensional. Throw in (good?) Kenny Hill against a lackluster Kansas State pass defense, and the Frogs should get over here.
TCU 38 Kansas State 24
ATS - TCU
SU - TCU
Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma -11:
The winner of this one likely gets to face Auburn in the Sugar Bowl and might have a shot at the playoff, while the loser probably goes to the Alamo Bowl.
New Orleans vs. San Antonio. That's incentive enough.
The road team has won the last three in this series, which has seen some wildness of late, but the discrepancy in conference championships is wide, as Oklahoma is going for their tenth Big 12 title while Oklahoma State chases their second.
Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph enters this game healthy, which was not the case last season when he limped through a big Oklahoma victory. With the two passing touchdown conference leaders, and the two leading receivers, this one should be fun, even if the ultimate prize isn't what they want.
Oklahoma 47 Oklahoma State 44
ATS - Oklahoma State
SU - Oklahoma
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for your grill.