Last Week: 2-4 ATS 4-2 SU
For the Year: 4-8 (.333) (-$440) ATS 9-3 (.750) SU
We learned last week…
Jarrett Stidham might not have gotten off the couch last Sunday, as Clemson sacked the Auburn quarterback eleven times on only 35 passing attempts. How many simulated car accidents is that?
Georgia ventures further north than Kentucky and what do you know, they win a football game. It wasn’t pretty, but they got the job done, holding that “improved” Notre Dame rushing attack to only 55 yards.
So much for Stanford “beating up” USC for Texas, as the Trojans steamrolled over the Cardinal for 623 total offensive yards. Sam Darnold got all the touchdown plays out of his system, throwing four on the evening, so the Longhorns shouldn’t have to worry about that this week.
Kenny Hill wasn’t spectacular (21/31 for 166 yards), but he didn’t need to be as TCU held the always formidable Arkansas rushing attack to 129 yards on 30 carries. Gary Patterson seems to have pulled another reclamation project, but they’ll have to keep it up as they have a rivalry game this week against SMU and a trip to Stillwater coming next weekend.
Baker Mayfield can’t help being, well, him. And that is a damn good quarterback (nearly 400 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and his leading receiver was a fullback), but also one that apparently can be rattled (oh no, they’re singing a song), and one that apparently didn’t expect to win a big game. Even better than Mayfield’s performance was the defense that appears to be much improved, but Ohio State has been shades of Texas in the Texas Bowl against Arkansas early this season, so we’ll see how that holds up.
And finally, how good did it feel to see a dominating Texas victory in Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium again? It was a slow start, but the outcome was never in doubt and the Longhorns managed to outgain the Spartans by nearly 500 yards. Exactly what they needed to do against an inferior opponent, but that hasn’t always been the case in the last 6 years.
It’s been eleven and a half years since that fateful night in Pasadena, California.
Nestled in the valley below the majestic San Gabriel Mountains, on a cool January night Vince Young took a 4th and 5 into college football history, cementing his status as
one of the best ever, and bringing the national championship all the way home to Austin, Texas.
Just imagine how much different this program might be, the direction it might have taken if he doesn’t make that corner.
But of course, that was never a possibility.
Fourteen and a half miles down the 110 Freeway sits the Los Angeles Coliseum, where Saturday night Sam Ehlinger or Shane Buechele can’t cement their status as anything other than the hot hand in the early dawn hours of a season. It wouldn’t be for any championships. The Longhorns would be simply beating the best team from last week, not the best of all-time.
But it would give us a peek.
A peek of where this program strives to one day be again, running into the fire, not ducking away from it.
That 4th and 5 run for Vince didn’t start at the 9-yard line.
It started in the Hiram Clarke neighborhood of Houston.
It was the pump fake in Stillwater. Emerging from hostile territory in Fayetteville.
4th and 18 in Lawrence. Down 35-7 in Austin.
It was being down two to Michigan with three minutes to go, a little over a calendar year before.
It was 2nd and 9 on the 24-yard line with 2:37 remaining in Columbus.
Texas fans know that 4th down attempt in Pasadena was a hell of a lot longer than five measly yards.
Championships are built, not arrived at.
A Texas win at USC on Saturday wouldn’t bring home a championship.
But one day it just might.
On to the games...
Tennessee @ Florida -5:
This game was in doubt earlier in the week due to the ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Irma, but it will be played, and it will be played in Gainesville.
The last time we saw the Gators was two weeks ago in Arlington, where they were busy setting the game of football back several decades. They’ll look to gain the edge in this series, which was dominated by Florida for a number of years, as they won 11 in a row before the Volunteers won last year in Knoxville.
Tennessee doesn’t have the best defense in the world, but it will be good enough to get their first win in Gainesville since 2003.
Tennessee 24 Florida 16
ATS – Tennessee
SU – Tennessee
LSU -7 @ Mississippi State:
LSU gets pass rusher Arden Key back this week, and they might need him, as the Bulldogs are the only SEC team not to allow a quarterback sack thus far this season. Under center for Mississippi State is Nick Fitzgerald, who has accounted for eight touchdowns so far this young season.
The Tigers have had their fits with the Bulldogs, losing three years ago in Baton Rouge and only winning the last two years by a combined total of five points.
Expect another close one, and even a possible upset.
Mississippi State 24 LSU 21
ATS – Mississippi State
SU – Mississippi State
Clemson -3 @ Louisville:
These two squads played an absolute thriller last season, as Clemson took a 28-10 lead into halftime before Louisville came roaring back to take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. DeShaun Watson then led a gem of a drive to secure the victory for the eventual national champions.
Lamar Jackson is contending for another Heisman Trophy, as he already has 1,000 yards of total offense on the season and scored a ridiculous six times against North Carolina last Saturday.
We’ve already talked about the Clemson defense in this column, but here is another silly stat, they have only allowed five plays of 10 or more yards this season, well less than the next closest defense.
The magic has to run out for Clemson at some point, but they should still get through this one.
Clemson 31 Louisville 24
ATS – Clemson
SU – Clemson
SMU @ TCU -19.5:
The Battle for the Iron Skillet has been dominated by TCU of late, as they have won 15 of 17, including five in a row.
SMU is 2-0 for only the second time since 1996, and haven’t been 3-0 since 1984, when they defeated Notre Dame in the Aloha Bowl to finish 10-2 and ranked eighth in the country.
Reggie Dupard was the star for those 1984 Mustangs, but today it is wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who caught 8 passes for 163 and an American Athletic Conference record four touchdowns against North Texas last week.
This game shouldn’t be much of an issue for TCU, but if Kenny Hill keeps the Mustangs in it, they could certainly rise up an pull off the upset.
TCU 44 SMU 31
ATS – SMU
SU – TCU
Oklahoma State -13 @ Pittsburgh:
These two teams combined for nearly 1,200 yards of offense last year in Stillwater, as the Cowboys got 540 passing yards from Mason Rudolph in a 45-38 win. The Cowboys have been up to much the same thus far this year, and while Pittsburgh went down 33-14 to Penn State last weekend, they still outgained the Nittany Lions.
Oklahoma State rolled up that many yards on an experienced defense for Pitt last season, but the Panthers are breaking in nine….NINE new starters this season.
Oklahoma State 48 Pittsburgh 21
ATS – Oklahoma State
SU – Oklahoma State
Texas @ USC -16.5:
A sellout crowd will witness this one at the Los Angeles Coliseum, USC’s first since the 2013 season. The Trojans enter this contest with 11 straight victories, good enough for second in the country (Oklahoma 12).
The Longhorns performed much better against San Jose State than they did in the season opener against Maryland, tallying zero turnovers, no sacks of the starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger and only 68 penalty yards.
It will take something like that to defeat these Trojans.
USC also has a Sam at quarterback, but this one could be the top pick in the NFL draft should he choose to declare after this season, and why not, as it doesn’t take much time in the film room to find a prototypical NFL body type, arm strength and even possesses some mobility to boot.
Darnold’s favorite receivers are his most experienced, as Deontay Burnett and Steven Mitchell combined for 215 yards receiving and four touchdowns in USC’s impressive victory against Stanford.
Oh, and you can’t just sit back and make Darnold drive down the field, because they have one of the better running back duos in the country with Ronald Jones and true freshman Stephen Carr. Those two combined for 235 yards and two scores against the Cardinal.
Todd Orlando could get a head coaching gig just from this game if he somehow manages to come up with a gameplan to stifle that attack.
It isn’t advisable to get into a shootout with the USC offense, but their defense will allow you to get in one, as they allowed more than 400 yards on six occasions last season and gave up 263 yards rushing to Western Michigan two weeks ago.
Keep the ball on the ground, extend the game, don’t turn the ball over, don’t commit penalties, win the special teams game and don’t let Darnold throw for 500 yards.
While Texas fans’ confidence is surely shaky from the performance against Maryland two weeks ago, what an exciting opportunity to get a barometer reading on where this program is right now. Herman’s performance in games of this caliber cannot be understated, as he obviously knows how to push the right buttons to get his teams to peak at the right time.
I expect a performance better than what most experts think – the Longhorns have the athletes to hang with the Trojans – but damn I wish this game were later in the schedule.
But why not?
Texas 41 USC 38
ATS – Texas
SU – Texas
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for a cocktail at Chez Jay in Santa Monica.