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The Week That Will Be: The Hunted

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The Horns return to DKR after a big victory...what should we expect?

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Last Week: 2-3-1 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 12-23-1 (.343) (-$1230) ATS 24-12 (.667) SU

We learned last week…

  • LSU’s Joe Burrow picked a bad time to throw his first interception of the season, as Florida returned his fourth quarter pick for a touchdown to seal their victory.

  • About all you need to know about the Kentucky and Texas A&M game last Saturday was that the Wildcats didn’t enter Aggie territory until the overtime period. New SEC rushing leader Trayveon Williams’ had 212 total yards in the victory.

  • It is never a good sign when a fanbase starts Googling buyouts. Unfortunately for Auburn fans wishing to get rid of Gus Malzahn (again), the new deal he signed last year stipulates his buyout in 2018 is….$32 million. They should probably get used to teams running for 353 yards on them, as Mississippi State did the other night. Good news, Auburn fans – the total goes down to $16 million in 2021.

  • Notre Dame turned a one-point halftime lead into a formidable one with 21 straight points after halftime. You might go ahead and pencil them into the College Football playoff, as their most formidable remaining opponent is probably USC.

  • If you need another reason not to bet on college football, you might check the box score of that Iowa State/Oklahoma State game last week.

  • Texas managed to do what nobody thought was possible – winning a shootout showdown shootout with Oklahoma – that was made possible by the play of Sam Ehlinger (314 yards passing, 5 touchdowns). Well done. It was the first time a Texas quarterback had two passing touchdowns and 3 rush touchdowns in a game since VY against CU in 2005.

”When we lost the opener, I said this game will not define us. How we respond to it will. I told the team after the OU game this will not define us either.” – Tom Herman

Before Dusty Mangum trotted out to attempt the game-winner against Michigan in the 2005 Rose Bowl, the story goes that Mack Brown pulled Mangum aside and congratulated him, because he was about to become the hero of a Rose Bowl victory.

And he did.

When Ryan Bailey was to attempt a field goal to beat Nebraska in Lincoln, Brown pulled him aside and told him, “You’ve got a chance to be Dusty Mangum on your first kick.”

And he was.

When Cameron Dicker trotted out there to attempt a 40-yard field goal after an improbable Oklahoma comeback, I doubt he was paying much mind to the fact that a Texas win here would be the biggest spanning a couple of different coaching time spans.

He probably wasn’t thinking about Phil Dawson or Dusty Mangum or Kris Stockton or Ryan Bailey.

”When they started coming back I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll kick the game winner,’” Dicker said Saturday. “I kind of knew I was going to and I felt that and I was ready to go.”

See?

And 15 years from now, even without the amusement factor, you’ll remember Cameron Dicker’s name and his kick that defeated mighty Oklahoma back in 2018.

Texas hasn’t been 5-1 since 2009, and while it is far too early to think about New Years Day bowls or even Big 12 title game appearances, the fact of the matter is that Texas is relevant again.

And if you remember my first column of the season, you know how much taking that step was important to me in 2018.

But all of that can disappear with their next loss. Texas is always the hunted, but they are even more so when they are at the top of the news cycle, so guarding against a letdown this Saturday against Baylor will be paramount to achieving those larger goals.

Tom Herman’s teams have struggled with that in the past, defeating No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 3 Louisville but losing to double digit underdogs UConn, Navy, Texas Tech and SMU.

No, beating Oklahoma is not the ultimate goal, is it only validation that these Longhorns are on the right path.

And to his credit, at least publicly, Herman goes out of his way to hammer down the point that each week is a new week and that anyone can beat anyone and the message seems to be filtering down to the players.

This Saturday, Texas takes the field at DKR as legit Big 12 contenders for the first time in I don’t know how long.

I can’t wait.


Washington -3.5 @ Oregon

This could be the toughest game remaining for the Washington Huskies, who jumped all the way up to #7 in the country last week despite a lackluster win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl.

The Huskies have won just 2 of 12 against Oregon…but those two were the last two, by a combined score of 108-24.

My concern for Washington is that they have yet to face an offense of Oregon’s caliber (Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert is averaging 10.4 yards per attempt), having faced the likes of Auburn, UCLA, Arizona State and Utah thus far.

But they are the better team, and after a scare should have enough to pull away.

Washington 41 Oregon 34

ATS – Washington

SU – Washington

Wisconsin @ Michigan -8.5

The Wolverines have yet to allow an opponent to score more than 24 points, and they have broken out of their shell on offense, scoring 40 or more points in 4 of their last 5 games.

The matchup to watch here will be if Michigan’s outstanding rush defense will be able to contain running back Jonathan Taylor, who ran for 221 yards and three touchdowns last week against Nebraska. If the Badgers have to rely on the arm of junior Alex Hornibrook, they could be in trouble as 963 yards in 5 games.

The Badgers have lost 6 of 7 in Ann Arbor, and with a road trip to Michigan State and back home against Penn State on the immediate horizon, Michigan knows it needs to get a win here.

Michigan 27 Wisconsin 23

ATS – Wisconsin

SU – MIchigan

Georgia -7 @ LSU

Somehow this is a “conference” match-up yet these two teams haven’t met since 2013. I guess it just means more when you haven’t played in five years.

To me, this game comes down to this: each team has a formidable defense (LSU 15th in S&P+ defense, Georgia 19th) but one team has an offense and the other does not.

Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm and LSU quarterback Joe Burrow have thrown for about the same number of yards thus far this season (1,214 vs. 1,200) but Fromm has reached that number in 51 less attempts, and has thrown for twice as many touchdowns (12 vs. 6) while throwing the same amount of interceptions (2).

You have to respect the LSU home field advantage (since 2010, the Tigers have lost at home by more than 7 points against teams not named Alabama once), but Georgia wins.

Georgia 24 LSU 21

ATS – LSU

SU – Georgia

West Virginia -6 @ Iowa State

I can’t figure out Iowa State, you can’t figure out Iowa State, they are probably even shocked about what they have done in recent years, going 13-5-2 in their last 20 as an underdog, including wins over Big 12 powers Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma State in the last season and a half.

West Virginia’s Will Grier is a Heisman candidate, but you wouldn’t be able to tell last week, as he committed four turnovers in a win over Kansas (trying committing four turnovers against everyone else and winning), including three interceptions in the red zone.

If you are a believer in Pro Football Focus grades, Iowa State true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy had the highest passing grade last week in the Big 12 (I know), completing 78% of his passes for 318 yards (at a 13.8 yards per attempt clip!) and four touchdowns to one interception.

I’m thinking this week we’ll see a correction to the mean, as Grier goes back to the Heisman candidate while Purdy (the likely starter) comes back to Earth a bit.

West Virginia 34 Iowa State 23

ATS – West Virginia

SU – West Virginia

Texas Tech @ TCU -7.5

TCU has won three of four in this series, including a 27-3 defensive shutdown in Lubbock last season.

Both of TCU’s losses this season are to Top 10 teams, Ohio State at the Death Star and…who else, oh yes, Texas in Austin.

Any/all/some/none of five quarterbacks could play in this game, as Kliff Kingsbury has been very coy about how will start for the Red Raiders. We can be reasonably certain that it will be one of Carter McLane, Alan Bowman or Jett Duffey. Because of Kingsbury’s coyness, Gary Patterson also has refused to name a starter for this game, as Shawn Robinson was injured against Iowa State two weeks ago, and has largely been not much of a weapon, failing to throw for 200 yards in four of his five starts.

If he doesn’t start, Michael Collins will get the nod for TCU, which sounds more like your accountant than a Big 12 starting quarterback. No word on how each head coach plans on announcing his starter for the game, but we expect roses to be involved.

Despite playing three quarterbacks, Texas Tech leads FBS in averaging 591 yards per game, and their defense plays well enough to keep whoever starts at quarterback for the Horned Frogs in check.

Texas Tech 37 TCU 28

ATS – Texas Tech

SU – Texas Tech

Baylor @ Texas -14.5

Baylor enters this game with a record of 4-2 after their last second field goal against Kansas State last week. That is a marked improvement over their 1-11 record last year, but let’s all slow down on proclaiming that BAYLOR IS BACK because they have yet to defeat anyone with a winning record.

Fueling that improvement is the play of quarterback Charlie Brewer. The Lake Travis product is completing 64% of his passes on the season, with nine touchdowns to only two interceptions. Brewer has some wheels, too, as he has rushed for four touchdowns this year.

Brewer also has some weapons around him. Junior running back JaMycal Hasty is averaging 5.9 yards per carry this season, while Jalen Hurd and Denzel Mims have combined for 74 receptions on the year.

So far, so good, right?

Well then Baylor’s defense hits the field. They’re ranked 107th in the country in S&P+ defense, and have given up at least 27 points to every team not named UTSA or Kansas.

They’ll let you go right down the field on them (as Kansas State did last week, rushing for 319 yards…Alex Barnes had 250 of those), and they won’t take the ball from you, as they have only taken the ball away from the opponent four times this year.

If you get bored methodically going down the field on them, you can gain yards in chunks, as the Bears have given up an outrageous 14 plays of 40 or more yards this season.

The question in this game is how big the Post-Oklahoma Victory hangover will be for the Longhorns. We have said that the first six games of the season were tests in their own way, this one might be right up there, because everyone is watching for a response for how this team reacts as a clear contender.

Texas 38 Baylor 20

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Dicker the Kicker t-shirts.