Last Week: 4-2 ATS 3-3 SU
For the Year: 4-2 (.667) ($160) ATS 3-3 (.500) SU
We learned last week...
...that Brent Musberger was destined to announce a game where Dabo Swinney declined to attempt a very doable 34-yard field goal and instead went for it on fourth and four and RAN the ball. Clemson didn't pick it up and nearly lost the game when Auburn had two attempts at a late hail mary to the end zone. Clemson, a seven-point favorite, won by six.
...that this Texas A&M Wrecking Crew defense might be the real deal, even after giving up 15 points in a span of 1:40 in the fourth quarter. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen was sacked five times on Saturday, he was only sacked 14 times in all of 2015.
...that Brandon Harris is who we thought he was (RIP Dennis), throwing for only 131 yards and throwing in two interceptions as well against Wisconsin. The feeling in Baton Rouge is...
...probably the same as it is in Southern California, as USC coach Clay Helton was given the job last winter after a mildly successful interim run, and then proceeded to lose his first game as full-time coach 52-6 to Alabama. Both schools at the very least have to be wondering if they made the right decision this past off-season.
...that #BigGameBob called two timeouts on their opening drive of the second half, one immediately preceding a 53-yard attempt that was woefully short (you don't ask your kicker how far he was kicking it in warmups?), then his team failed to notice a Houston defender field said short attempt and that resulted in a 109-yard touchdown for the Cougars that pretty much signaled the end of the game. But Stoops wasn't done, as he then decided to throw his own quarterback under the bus, blaming him for the loss. Classy.
...and finally, we learned that Brian Kelly is now 20-1 as the head coach of a Top-10 team against an unranked opponent.
The question hung over Longhorns fans all off-season.
"So who is going to be the quarterback?"
Usually delivered with a smirk.
Your boss asked you in the midst of a budget meeting. Your drunk uncle sloshed some egg nog on his sweater and slurred it to you during a commercial break while watching A Christmas Story last holidays. The cashier at HEB deadpanned it while eyeing your burnt orange swimsuit this summer. Your mom even texted you last week.
Sunday night, we finally had an answer.
And it didn't matter a lick.
Shane Buechele trotted on the field for the first Texas play from scrimmage, but it was Tyrone Swoopes who put on a cape and flew across the goal line on the 86th and last play from scrimmage, igniting a ruckus that had not been seen in Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium in quite some time.
When the dust settled, Texas sat ranked in both polls for the first time since 2013, Buechele and Swoopes had both been honored with player of the week awards, and for the first time in a long time, there is optimism in Austin that the darkest period just might be over.
But first, UTEP.
With all due respect to Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer might be the best quarterback that the Longhorns see the rest of the season. With all due respect to, well, nobody in the Big 12, that Notre Dame defensive line will surely be the best defensive line they see the rest of the season. And that offensive line will also be the best they see all season.
And yes, if Texas plays like that against the rest of their schedule, well, some goals might be attained a year ahead of schedule.
But first, UTEP.
I need only to remind you of the last time Charlie Strong was lifted upon the shoulders of his team on the field, after a 24-17 Texas victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl last October.
Before the month was even out the Horns had been shut out in Ames.
That is really hard to do.
The series between these two teams is best known for a display of impressive dexterity in the hills above Sun Bowl Stadium, so if you have to pretend the entire UTEP roster are the bastards that took your headphone jack out of your iPhone in order to get pumped for this game coming off the emotional high of last week, by all means do it.
Put a beating on a weaker opponent here, get out unscathed, and let's head west and the next opportunity to prove yourself.
On to the games...
Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee -10.5 (Bristol, TN):
This one is at the Bristol Motor Speedway, so instead of a whiskey flask college kids for both sides will sneak in a jug of moonshine.
Virginia Tech played like garbage for much of the first half against Liberty last week, while Tennessee played like garbage for the entire game and overtime against Appalachian State. Your guess is as good as mine.
Tennessee 28 Virginia Tech 24
ATS - Virginia Tech
SU - Tennessee
BYU @ Utah -3.5:
This year marks the 15-year anniversary of Taysom Hill's first start as BYU's quarterback, and he celebrated by leading the Cougars to 415 total offensive yards. I kid, of course, as it really is only his 12th year.
Utah has won five straight in this series, including a seven-point victory in last season's Las Vegas Bowl. But the experience of Hill and running back Jamaal Williams (fifth all-time rusher in school history) will win out over the rebuilding Utes, who have new faces all over their offense.
BYU 27 Utah 21
ATS - BYU
SU - BYU
Iowa State @ Iowa -15:
Such great match-ups this week and then I have to do this game this week. Blech.
Iowa decided to extend the contract of Kirk Ferentz this week, which means he is locked up until 2025, because you know, everyone was beating down Ferentz's door with job offers. Just for reference, Texas will have completed their home and home match-ups with USC, LSU and Ohio State and would have traveled to Ann Arbor to play Michigan...and Ferentz will still have one more year left.
His buyout next year would be $33 million, which is just under a million a win for the five-year period before last year's 12-2 mark (34-30).
I can't pick them just for being silly.
Iowa 24 Iowa State 16
ATS - Iowa State
SU - Iowa
Texas Tech @ Arizona State -3:
Northern Arizona quarterback Case Cookus (not a fake name, look it up) threw for 369 yards last week against the Sun Devils. Now Patrick Mahomes comes to town.
Arizona State will rely on the ground game, as they rushed for rushed for 276 yards and five touchdowns last week.
The Sun Devils don't appear to have the offense to get into a shootout, so I'm inclined to go with the much more dangerous offense against a paltry defense that could be missing multiple players due to suspension/injury.
Texas Tech 45 Arizona State 33
ATS - Texas Tech
SU - Texas Tech
Arkansas @ TCU -7:
Both teams had odd debuts last week, as Arkansas's usually potent offensive line only pushed for 106 rushing yards and allowed new quarterback Austin Allen to be sacked four times - while TCU allowed 461 yards and 41 points to...South Dakota State?
The Frogs have won their last 14 at home - the third longest streak in the nation - and figure to be the more dynamic team here, but if they don't tighten it up on defense, we know Bret Bielema's team can grind one out.
TCU 34 Arkansas 20
ATS - TCU
SU - TCU
UTEP @ Texas -28.5:
The Miners come into Austin with the nation's leading rusher, as Aaron Jones rushed for 249 yards last week in a 38-22 UTEP win over New Mexico State. Jones showed some explosiveness, rushing for a 37-yard touchdown and then later a 75-yard score, and added 43 yards receiving (Jones had a 91-yard touchdown against Texas Tech last year).
So the Horns need to keep an eye on him...but perhaps little else.
Quarterback Zack Greenlee is a Fresno State transfer but might not play this week as he has been held out of early week practices with an assortment of injuries. If he can't go, it would be sophomore Kavika Johnson, who threw for 258 yards in limited action last season.
The Miners have some familiar faces on their sidelines, as former Florida/Boise State/Baylor offensive coordinator Brent Pease took over this season, and Tom Mason (best known for going 1-9 as SMU's interim head coach in 2014) heads their defense.
But they're not a good football team, as they are predicted to finish near the bottom of a league that would literally take you an entire work day to name all their players in a Sporcle quiz.
This is a team Texas should hammer, and they will.
Texas 45 UTEP 13
ATS - Texas
SU - Texas
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for moonshine jugs.