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The Week That Will Be - Take Two

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Okay, the Tom Herman Era starts NOW...

Maryland v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 2-4 (.333) (-$220) ATS 5-1 (.833) SU

What we learned last week…

  • How did Dave Aranda’s debut as LSU’s defensive coordinator go? Well BYU had less than 100 total offensive yards, held the ball for only 18 minutes and failed to cross the 50-yard line.
  • Never in a game was I so convinced that both head coaches were getting fired the next day, but that was certainly the case when Texas A&M jumped out to a 38-10 halftime lead, only to lose 45-44 to UCLA. Super sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen threw for 4 touchdowns and nearly 300 yards…in the fourth quarter alone. Yikes, Aggies.
  • Perhaps West Virginia was the second most underrated team in last week’s column, as Will Grier looked great (371 yards passing, 3 touchdowns and 1 interception), and West Virginia’s offense looked like it hadn’t missed a step from last year (nearly 600 yards of offense), but ultimately the Mountaineers did fall to Virginia Tech.
  • Florida’s trip to Texas was just about as we suspected, only scoring touchdowns on defense (two pick-sixes) as quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire combined for 12 of 22 passing for 133 yards.
  • Alexa, please set a reminder for next August to never pick against Alabama in a season opener again. And play Taylor Swift.

The pride and winning tradition of the Texas Longhorns will not be entrusted to the weak nor the timid.

It didn’t take long to notice the off-season renovations made to Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, which included improvements to the sound system, video boards and cellular coverage throughout the venue.

That cell phone coverage came in handy quickly in the first half as fans that didn’t have to suffer in the brutal Texas heat were bombarded by text messages from those that were.

Despite the impressive renovations, the product on the field looked much the same as 2016, which looked much the same as 2015, which looked much the same as 2014, which looked, well you get the idea.

Special teams blunders. Lack of physical play on defense. Five quarterback sacks allowed. Only getting one of their own. Questionable situational calls. Questionable play calling. Terrible angles, terrible tackling, and 11 penalties.

The only alignment I saw on Saturday was aligning perfectly with the Charlie Strong era.

Reasonable Texas fans didn’t expect fairy dust. What they did expect was not to get run out of their own building by a three score underdog while showing the same lackadaisical tendencies that eventually got the two former tenants of the head coach’s office fired.

I should mention here that Maryland is a much better team than I gave them credit for right here in this space last week. They are big, they are physical, and it would not surprise me in the least to see them jump up and take down one of those big boys in the Big Ten Eastern division this season, even if they must now go without quarterback Tyrell Pigmore, who tore his ACL in this contest.

But the fact of the matter is that the only Power 5 team that Maryland had beaten on the road since 2014 was Rutgers, and this was their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010.

Unacceptable.

Talent is no longer an excuse, nor is leaning on young players to make up most of the depth chart. These guys have run out of excuses, and frankly they ring hollow when teams like Maryland roll into your stadium with a sophomore and true freshman quarterbacks and dominate the afternoon.

Coach Tom Herman has made it abundantly clear this week that the problem on Saturday was execution, not schemes, but honestly, I don’t know if that doesn’t scare me more because schemes can be changed quite easily. Ability and instinct is much harder.

This program now stands at 46-44 in their last 90 games. As down as everyone is on them this week, come out and beat USC next week and this game will be a distant afterthought.

But if this loss is a harbinger of more to come this season, the “winning tradition” will only be a marking of yesteryear on the wall, fading more and more.

On to the games…

Auburn @ Clemson -5.5:

I am not entirely sure why Auburn is ranked #13 in the country, but here we are. Of course, I went 2-4 against the spread last week, so what do I know?

It is former Baylor quarterback Jarrett Stidham under center for the (Auburn) Tigers, and he okay last week against Georgia Southern, throwing for 185 yards and two touchdowns while running for another score.

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant appears to be a worthy successor to DeShaun Watson, but it is the defense that will win this one for the (Clemson) Tigers, as I’m not sure I trust Stidham to beat the national champs in their house.

Clemson 31 Auburn 21

ATS – Clemson

SU – Clemson

Georgia @ Notre Dame -6.5:

This is the first meeting between these two teams since the 1981 Sugar Bowl, where Herschel Walker was named MVP after scoring two touchdowns. That victory gave the Bulldogs the national championship, the most recent one they can claim.

This time, it is a (little) less heralded freshman leading the charge for Georgia, as 5-star true freshman quarterback Jake Fromm gets the call after an injury to incumbent Jacob Eason last week.

The Irish had a fairly impressive 49-16 victory against Temple last week, with new quarterback Brandon Wimbush accounting for three scores and 106 rushing yards.

Expect Georgia to give the Irish all they can handle with doses of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Fromm will be just good enough.

Georgia 27 Notre Dame 24

ATS – Georgia

SU – Georgia

Stanford @ USC -6.5:

You kind of wonder if USC was arrogant enough to not gameplan against Western Michigan last week and spend all their time on Stanford, because although Western Michigan certainly had a good year last year, they shouldn’t give the Trojans all they can handle for a good three and a half quarters.

Heisman front-runner Sam Darnold threw two interceptions, and the Trojans defense allowed 5.5 yards per carry. Just a bad afternoon that could have been disasterous.

Stanford is Stanford, they want to beat the hell out of you (which bodes well for the Longhorns traveling to Southern California next week), and they have done plenty of that to the Trojans of late, winning three in a row in the series and 7 of 9, with an average margin of victory of nearly 14 points in those wins.

It is Keller Chryst at quarterback for Stanford this season, and he was impressive in Australia against Rice, throwing for 253 yards and two touchdowns.

The Cardinal isn’t afraid of USC. USC might be a little afraid of the Cardinal.

USC 27 Stanford 24

ATS – Stanford

SU – USC

TCU -3.5 @ Arkansas:

This is becoming a theme. We have no idea what either of these teams are, as they faced off with Ding Dong State and Ding Dong Tech last week. For their part, TCU held Ding Dong State to 65 total yards, while Arkansas racked up 236 rushing yards against Ding Dong Tech.

Last year the Razorbacks won 41-38 in double overtime in Fort Worth, and while I don’t expect quite the shootout we saw last year, I trust Austin Allen at home more than I trust Kenny Hill on the road.

Arkansas 31 TCU 24

ATS – Arkansas

SU – Arkansas

Oklahoma @ Ohio State -7:

All these delicious matchups this week. In college stadiums. What a concept.

I don’t know that this one needs much breakdown. Baker Mayfield was fantastic last week (19 of 20 passing), as he has been his entire college career. JT Barrett was unimpressive for much of the game against Indiana last week, but the Buckeyes still managed to put up 596 yards of total offense. Weird.

To me, it comes down to this. Do you trust Lincoln Riley, in his first game on the road as a head coach, in the Horseshoe, with Mike Stoops trying to stop that Buckeye attack that ran over his defense for nearly 450 yards last season, or do you trust Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano to tame Mayfield, who has issues at times on the biggest stage, including last year, when he barely completed half of his passes and threw two interceptions?

Ohio State 41 Oklahoma 31

ATS – Ohio State

SU – Ohio State

San Jose State @ Texas -27.5:

The Spartans bring with them first year head coach Brent Brennan, a man who San Jose State hopes can give them a P.J. Fleck-like rise, because while Brennan has plenty of coaching experience under great names like Dick Tomey and Mike MacIntyre, he only has one year of experience even at the coordinator-level, when he was co-coordinator in 2009.

Brennan hired former Texas quality control coach Andrew Sowder, who Sterlin Gilbert brought to Austin from Bowling Green, where he coached under Dino Babers. Expect the Spartans to run the Art Briles offense, and hope that the Longhorns can hold San Jose State to under the 6.1 yards per carry that Maryland achieved, or can keep them from the big play, as four of the Terrapins’ touchdowns came from at least 20 yards out (and were 5/6 passing 20 yards or more downfield, for an astounding 179 yards).

Freshman Montel Aaron gets the start at quarterback. Aaron saw his first action last week against Cal-Poly, throwing for 183 yards and three touchdowns. This game should be a bit big for him, but there is experience around him, including his offensive line, which total 125 combined collegiate starts.

The Spartans have experience up the middle on defense, and return all four starters in the secondary, which held standout South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers to 47% passing in their season opener.

Overall, they’re experienced mostly everywhere but quarterback, but when you go 4-8 in the Mountain West, that isn’t always a good thing.

That is the Spartans. What about the Longhorns?

If Shane Buechele is unable to go (and logic seems to reason that he will not go at this point), what kind of gameplan do the Longhorns trot out there with true freshman Sam Ehlinger, who won’t turn 19 until later this month? Hopefully it is a cautious one – because there isn’t a scholarship quarterback behind him.

On defense, the Horns should have a field day against an inexperienced quarterback on a mid-major team. They will need all the confidence they can get going into the Coliseum next week.

Tom Herman gets his first win, but with a possible backup quarterback and a possible cautious gameplan, it is hard to see them getting the confidence building blowout win that fans might covet.

Texas 38 San Jose State 16

ATS – San Jose State

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for more and more clear bags.