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The Week That Will Be: Texas...back?

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Texas may or may not be back, but Texas/OU for sure is

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 6-0 SU

For the Year: 10-20 (.333) (-$1100) ATS 21-9 (.700) SU

Last week…

· Stanford is known for their defense and physical style of play, but Notre Dame rushed for 272 rushing yards and ran up 550 yards of total offense while holding the Cardinal to 31 total yards in the second half in a runaway win.

· For the third straight year, the loser of the Ohio State/Penn State rivalry game blew a two-touchdown fourth quarter lead, as Penn State outgained Ohio State by more than 100 yards and averaged more than 1.4 yards per play but found themselves arguing with the student section as they walked off the field with another loss.

· Kyler Murray tied an Oklahoma record with 7 total touchdowns (Baker Mayfield scored 7 against Texas Tech two years ago). Something to keep in mind at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday is the fact that 5 of those touchdowns were from outside the red zone. Prevent the big play.

· Neither TCU or Iowa State reached 300 yards of total offense, but TCU was just a little less boring in a win.

· West Virginia rushed out to a 35-10 halftime lead, but failed to score an offensive point in the second half as they nearly blew it against Texas Tech.

· And finally, the wicked curse is dead. Now we can move on to my ATS record…

TEXAS IS BACK!

That simple utterance a play-by-play announcer let out when Tyrone Swoopes extended across the goal line in 2015 to defeat Notre Dame in overtime has lingered over this program since that date, getting shoved back in its face with every loss.

Most across the country say big deal if Texas has won four ballgames in a row, despite them achieving that feat for the first time since 2012. No, they say, they aren’t really going to be back until they win a big game.

It doesn’t get any bigger than this.

A Texas win here would not only give the Longhorns the inside track for the Big 12 Championship game and give them a 5-1 record for the first time since 2009, but it would further legitimize the “steps” they have taken since they left FedEx Field a little over a month ago.

I talked to many (and even acknowledged the possibility myself) that believed that Texas could have been 1-4 entering this game, so it is no small feat the turnaround that has occurred since that game.

The defense has rounded into the machine that it was for most of last year, and the offense seems capable of bursting out of its shell at any moment. With a very winnable game against Baylor at home next week, the bye week would be at a very advantageous time to give the Longhorns a much needed break going into the second half of the conference schedule.

It won’t be easy, of course. Oklahoma has won 10 conference games in a row since that defeat at the hands of Iowa State last year, and Kyler Murray looks every bit as prolific as Baker Mayfield was when he won the Heisman Trophy.

But then again, this game doesn’t ever do what a computer spits out and says it should do.

Tom Herman has stressed over and over again this season that “our best is good enough”, meaning that the Longhorns can beat anyone at anytime and anywhere if they play in the manner in which they are capable.

Saturday morning would be a great time to play their best.


LSU -3 @ Florida:

These two schools might are the embodiment of that looking at each other Spiderman meme. Take a look at this:

Overall S&P+ Ranking: LSU (17) Florida (19)

Offensive S&P+ Ranking: LSU (38) Florida (45)

Defensive S&P+ Ranking: LSU (15) Florida (13)

And these teams like to play low scoring, close games as well.

2017: LSU 17 Florida 16

2016: Florida 16 LSU 10

2015: LSU 35 Florida 28

2014: LSU 30 Florida 27

2013: LSU 17 Florida 6

2012: Florida 14 LSU 6

You get the idea.

The Gators are only giving up 14 points per game, and LSU is only giving up 15 points per game, so expect another low scoring, defensive battle.

Florida 20 LSU 16

ATS – Florida

SU – Florida

Kentucky @ Texas A&M -6

Kentucky hasn’t been 5-0 since 2007, which leads me to think, wait, Kentucky was 5-0 in 2007? Not since 1950 have the Wildcats started 5-0 and won every game by 11 points or more, but here we are.

Those wins haven’t come over patsies, either, as they are 3-0 in the SEC with wins over Florida, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Running back Benny Snell Jr. is the focal point of the Kentucky offense, as the junior has rushed for 639 yards and 8 touchdowns thus far. Against Mississippi State two weeks ago he broke Randall Cobb’s record for most touchdowns in Kentucky history (38), so he’ll be the guys the Aggies are looking to key on. They might just have the guns to shut Snell down, as the Aggies are only allowing 85 rushing yards per game, including only 3.9 yards per carry to Alabama two weeks ago.

On defense the Wildcats are ranked 3rd in S&P+ defense and giving up just 13 points per game, including just 10 points and taking away four turnovers against South Carolina last week.

I think Kentucky’s streak ends here, they have yet to play an offense that is as dynamic as Texas A&M and I think they’ll have some troubles running the football against an improved defense.

Texas A&M 27 Kentucky 17

ATS – Texas A&M

SU – Texas A&M

Auburn -4 @ Mississippi State

There is unrest in Auburn, and for good reason, for as good as the Auburn defense is (1st in the country in S&P+ defense), their offense has been downright putrid (82nd).

Jarrett Stidham has been turned from a playmaker to a game manager, as he only has 5 touchdown passes on the year and averages a very paltry 6.4 yards per attempt.

Mississippi State has been about the same on a much different scale, as they have only allowed 41 points in their last two games, but have also only scored 13 points in those two losses as well.

This one might be the first one to 8 wins.

Auburn 20 Mississippi State 13

ATS – Auburn

SU – Auburn

Notre Dame -6.5 @ Virginia Tech

The first time we saw Virginia Tech this season they were destroying Florida State, which seemed impressive at the time, but then we saw on the sports ticker during other games that they were getting rolled by Old Dominion, giving up more than 600 yards of offense in the process.

Quarterback Josh Jackson is out for the Hokies, but backup Ryan Willis looked more than capable in their victory over Duke last week. But Duke is Duke, and Notre Dame is a different animal, as the Irish defense looks legit, ranking 5th in the country in S&P+ defense having only given up more than 17 points in a game once this year, 27 to Wake Forest.

The Hokies, meanwhile, have had their problems outside of the Old Dominion game, as they are giving up more than 300 yards per game through the air.

Notre Dame 34 Virginia Tech 21

ATS – Notre Dame

SU – Notre Dame

Iowa State @ Oklahoma State -10

We’re now five weeks into the season and I can’t tell you who Oklahoma State is. Are they the team that dismantled Boise State, or are they the team that the very next week lost by four scores to Texas Tech at home?

And then gave up 28 to Kansas last week?

We pretty much know what Iowa State is, they are a team that doesn’t score that much, doesn’t give up that much, but does nothing great, but can still beat you with any quarterback they happen to bring off the street that day.

My worry with them is that if they fall behind a couple of scores early, do they have the offense to climb back into it? “Holding” Oklahoma to 37 points and hanging within 10 points is one thing when it is in Ames, but this one is on the road, where the Cyclones have lost 4 of 5 dating back to last season.

Oklahoma State 38 Iowa State 23

ATS – Oklahoma State

SU – Oklahoma State

Oklahoma -7.5 vs. Texas

This one isn’t much different than recent years: Texas is a somewhat sizeable underdog, coming into the game with a so-so offense and an above average defense, while Oklahoma brings a high flying offense but Mike Stoops still collects a W-2 from the university every January.

Let’s start when Texas has the ball. Sam Ehlinger was nails in this game last year, throwing for 278 yards and a score, but more importantly rushing for 110 yards and a score as well. There is little more dangerous in college football than a quarterback that can move the chains with his feet. I don’t know if the Longhorns have been intentionally holding the Ehlinger run factor back for this game, but last year coming into this game he had already rushed 20 times in a game twice, this year his high water mark is his 17 attempts against USC.

Ehlinger has thrown 128 straight passes without an interception, and it doesn’t take a rocket science to deduce that that streak must continue through this game for the Longhorns to have a chance.

Oklahoma’s tallest cornerback coming into this game is the 6-foot Parnell Motley. That has caused trouble for Oklahoma thus far, as Iowa State’s 6’6” wide receiver Hakeem Butler tallied 5 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns, and Baylor’s 6’4” Jalen Hurd and 6’3” Denzel Mims each had more than 100 yards and a touchdown.

Throw it often to Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey over top and hit them underneath with Keaontay Ingram and Ehlinger’s legs.

Kyler Murray (42-0 in high school, 3 state titles) might have been underwhelming in his Texas A&M career, but he has picked right up where Baker Mayfield left off last season. Murray has an absurd 21 total touchdowns through five games, and ranks second in the country in passing efficiency, behind only Alabama’s Tua Tagavailoa.

I’d be lying if I said our youth at safety and some shakiness at corner at times didn’t keep me awake this week. The Longhorns must find a way to not only keep Murray in the pocket, but must get to him when they do. Their sack rate only ranks 122nd in the country.

The Longhorns ran up nearly 100 yards in penalties in the first half against Kansas State last week, and in fact Texas has been penalized more than their opponent in four of five games this season. When your opponent has the ability to score from literally anywhere on the field (go back to last week’s items as the top of this column), you simply cannot give them second chances.

Oklahoma has been favored each of the last five years in this rivalry game, and Texas has covered all five games. In fact, the last four in this series have been decided by a touchdown or less, and neither team has won by two scores since 2012.

Can Texas win this game? Absolutely. Oklahoma has yet to face the quality of opponent that Texas represents (maybe Murray looks more like the Texas A&M Murray when facing a defense with a pulse), and a Mike Stoops defense is always vulnerable to be exploited.

And these are the types of games that Tom Herman has thrived in. His teams are 9-4 against ranked opponents, 3-3 against the Top 10 and 2-1 against teams from the Top 5. Going back to his Iowa State tenure as offensive coordinator, his teams have covered 22 of 23 times.

Whatever he says, whatever he does leading up to the game, it works.

Control the situation, keep their receivers in front of you, make them drive the length of the field for scoring opportunities, and better yet, wear them down by the fourth quarter.

But until the Texas offense matures to a viable force, and I think we all know that is coming soon, I find it hard to believe that they are going to be able to keep up with Lincoln Riley’s offense.

Oklahoma 34 Texas 24

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for a serving of Texas Twang-kie.