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The Week That Will Be: The Journey Continues

The Horns return to Lawrence with one goal. Win.

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 4-1 ATS 4-1 SU

For the Year: 32-36-3 (.471) (-$750) ATS 53-17 (.757) SU

We learned last week…

  • Central Florida gave up a touchdown on a fumbled snap on their first offensive play but still dominated Cincinnati as McKenzie Milton had four touchdowns.

  • Syracuse quarterback left the game early with an injury and that was it for their chances against Notre Dame. Orange quarterbacks combined for three interceptions. USC, yes the same USC that just lost to 2-8 UCLA last weekend, is our only hope to avoid witnessing Notre Dame losing to Alabama by 40.

  • TCU is one win away from bowl eligibility with their win over Baylor on Saturday. Would it really surprise anyone to see them get that win against Oklahoma State this weekend, despite being down to their third quarterback? Jalen Reagor scored two touchdowns to extend his streak to six games with a score.

  • West Virginia outgained Oklahoma State by 121 yards in the first half. The Cowboys turned the ball over twice in the first half. The Mountaineers led by 17 points. Oklahoma State won. Makes total sense.

  • It is amazing that once the Texas defense gets the healthiest they have been in quite a while, they hold Iowa State to 116 yards in the first half, hold Brock Purdy to 5.1 yards per attempt and hold the Cyclones to 5 of 15 on third down. What a performance on a night when the Longhorns needed their defense to step up.

”We put ourselves in position to have a shot,” running back Tre Watson said. “We have to finish, finish the journey.”

Texas fans had their fun with a different kind of Journey on Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, but make no mistake about it…the journey from the depths of a loss two years ago in Kansas that culminated in a victory over Iowa State that gives the Longhorns a chance to earn their first conference championship berth in 9 years has been fun as well.

We’ve been hesitant to say it.

But Texas football is fun again.

Texas football is good again.

Texas football is relevant again.

Like some of us begged for weeks ago.

For that, we give thanks.

Thank you, Kendrick Lamar for the inspiration on Saturday mornings. #BeHumble

Thank you, Calvin Anderson and Tre Watson for bringing stability to two positions that needed senior leadership. Your time on the 40 Acres was shorter than most – but your contributions were not.

Thank you, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis for your 40+ games and outstanding senior seasons – good luck at the next level.

Thank you, Charles Omenihu for coming back.

Thank you, Chris Nelson, Elijah Rodriguez, Patrick Vahe, PJ Locke, Cameron Townsend, Joshua Rowland and Anthony Wheeler thank you for all your contributions and your outstanding senior leadership.

Thank you, Gary Johnson for being the quarterback of this defense the last two years. You will be missed.

Thank you, Breckyn Hager for your dedication. It is easy to tell that you just enjoy being a Longhorn. This isn’t a stepping stone to you, it isn’t just laundry. That is appreciated.

Thank you, Andrew Beck for working your ass off to get back on the field. Your contributions have long been felt off the field – thank you for your determination to ensure that your on-field contributions matched.

Thank you, Jarmarquis Durst & Philipp Moeller for all your hard work. You didn’t know that it would all end in a scholarship – but I’m glad it did.

Thank you, Jak Holbrook for your 36 career games.

Thank you, Austin Allsup, Chris Fehr, Kyle Hrncir, Chase Moore, Edward Pequeno, Michael David Poujol, and Tim Yoder for the dedication behind the scenes. You do all the work and get none of the recognition.

Thank you, Jerrod Heard for…what can’t we thank you for? For that special night against Cal, for not only sticking with UT but for making the switch to receiver, for your contributions at receiver, and for taking a reduced role this year, all with a smile on your face and saying that winning is all that matters. Immensely proud to call you a Longhorn.

Thank you, Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey for making this team fun again. Let’s do it again next year.

Thank you, Sam Ehlinger, for all your hard work and dedication to this team. It has always been your dream to be a Longhorn, and it shows. Let’s take it to the next level next season.

Thank you, Tom Herman and coaches, for your dedication in turning this thing around.

Thank you, Chris Del Conte for all of this. All of it.

Thank you, Barking Carnival, for giving me the space to write, for giving me an outlet and for all the comments throughout the season. I would still write this column if I knew only one man in Idaho was reading it on his toilet, I love this sport that much, but all the feedback and discussion is what takes it up a notch.

Thank you, friends, family, wife & child, for all the support, the kind comments, the shares, the likes, the retweets and all in between. Thanks for the time allowed to me to put my thoughts into writing and all the fun times had at 18th and San Jacinto and Trinity and wherever they send us next.

We’re all right where we’re supposed to be.

Washington @ Washington State -3

Somehow Washington managed to return quarterback Jake Browning and running back Myles Gaskin and have the 9th best defense in the S&P+ rankings and still lose three ballgames already this year.

This Huskies defense hasn’t allowed an opponent to score 30 points all season in regulation play, but they will have their toughest test of the season this weekend against Washington State. The Cougars have scored less than 30 points only twice this season, feeding off the play of quarterback Gardner Minshew, who has thrown for nearly 500 yards more than the second place quarterback in total passing yards this year.

The Huskies have won 8 of 9 in this series, including the last five (by a combined score of 162-54). Washington won 41-14 last year in Seattle, but the Cougars seem to be an immovable force right now.

Washington State 34 Washington 21

ATS – Washington State

SU – Washington State

LSU @ Texas A&M -3

LSU has won every meeting between these two schools since Texas A&M joined the SEC six years ago – and four of those have not been close, as the Tigers won by double digits each time.

Another year, another year of LSU winning football games with adequate offense and doming defense, as the Tigers have yet to allow an offense to score 30 points against them, and in fact have held seven opponents to less than 20 points.

The Aggies like to run the ball and to stop the run, but LSU thrives on making teams one-dimensional. Why go against a good streak?

LSU 24 Texas A&M 17



Auburn @ Alabama -24.5

One of the great rivalry games in all the sport, with perhaps the coolest name, the IRON bowl…is supposed to be a laugher.

You know all about Alabama, how this might be the best of the bunch of Saban’s great teams, how they finally have a quarterback to match their defense, but Auburn went out of the public subconscious probably around the time they lost to Mississippi State in mid-season and then fell completely off the map when they followed that up with a loss to Tennessee.

Offense has been the problem for the Tigers, as they have failed to score 10 points in two of their losses. For a team that likes to run the power spread, they can’t run the ball – they currently rank 84th in rushing offense S&P+.

Auburn did win this game last year, but that seems like a million years ago right now. Jarrett Stidham threw for 237 yards and rushed for an additional 51 with a touchdown last year – if he doubles that this year they might have a chance.

Alabama 34 Auburn 16

ATS – Auburn

SU – Alabama

Michigan -4.5 @ Ohio State

Any college football fan worth his or her salt should know the narratives in this game – mainly that Ohio State has won 13 of the last 14 meetings between these teams, including the last six (three of those against Harbaugh) – can you even call it a rivalry anymore?

Well if there is ever a year that Michigan is going to end the hex, it is this year, as Ohio State enters the game with a 10-1 record with shaky wins over Maryland, Nebraska and Penn State and a season of defensive lapses that included seven opponents scoring at least 26 points.

On the other side are the Wolverines, who have won 10 in a row, allowing an opponent to score as many as 21 points only once all season. They have extended their victim count of offensives held under 100 yards passing to five – and have allowed said opponents to complete only 47% of their passes.

Reports indicate that Urban Meyer is on the way out in Columbus…if not now Michigan, when?

Michigan 27 Ohio State 17

ATS – Michigan

SU – Michigan

Oklahoma -2.5 @ West Virginia

Oh boy. I’m sure you all did what I did when I checked the Oklahoma score late on Saturday night, fully expecting to see a blowout, only to see that Kansas – the team that put up 17 points and 338 yards of offense against lame duck Kansas State just the week prior – put up 40 points and 524 yards of offense (including damn near a first down each rushing attempt at 9.7 yards per gain) on the Sooners.

But good thing they got rid of Mike Stoops, right?

Actually maybe Stoops was doing the best he could in that environment in Norman, as under Stoops Oklahoma gave up 5.3 yards per play, but that number has ballooned up to 6.6 yards per play since the Stoops departure.

And that is playing against Kansas. What will West Virginia do? In Morgantown? On Senior night?

Oklahoma has owned this series since West Virginia joined the Big 12, winning all six contests. The four since 2013 have been by an average winning margin of 22 points, but Will Grier did miss last year’s contest in Norman after fracturing a finger against Texas.

But he doesn’t play defense – and the Mountaineers gave up 650 yards to Baker Mayfield and the Sooners last season.

Can the Mountaineers contain Murray and simply outscore Oklahoma? Can they force him into the mistakes like Texas and Texas Tech did? Can West Virginia be perfect on offense like they were against Texas?

Should be fun to find out.

West Virginia 48 Oklahoma 44

ATS – West Virginia

SU – West Virginia

Texas -14.5 @ Kansas

Most teams don’t have much trouble when they go to Lawrence, Kansas to play the Jayhawks. Oklahoma won 41-3 there last year. Oklahoma State beat them by 20 this year. Texas Tech won by 44 last year. Even Baylor, with their only victory of the year, defeated the Jayhawks by 29 last season.

But when Texas steps on the field Friday morning, it will have been 1,518 days since Texas last won there. But if they do – the rewards that await.

I don’t know what it is but the Longhorns have seemingly always had more than their share of trouble in Lawrence even when winning was more routine – who can forget 4th and 18 in 2004 (when Texas was a 23.5 point favorite), or needing a last minute touchdown pass from Case McCoy to D.J. Grant in 2012 (when they were a 18.5 point favorite).

And of course this year Kansas seems to be better than in recent years, despite the firing of their head coach. They won two non-conference games in a row in September and did manage to defeat Gary Patterson and TCU at home back in October. Not a lot of success, sure, but not the pushover that they have been to (other) teams in the past.

Running back Pooka Williams is the focal point of their offense, and certainly rose to prominence last week when he rushed for 252 yards on 15 carries against Oklahoma – in fact Kansas as a team averaged more yards per play than Oklahoma’s offense (8.2 to 7.9), mainly due to Williams running roughshod against the Sooners.

It appeared that the Texas defense turned a corner back towards being respectable last week – six different Longhorns recorded a sack against Iowa State. Combine that with the four from the previous week against Texas Tech, and the Horns finally appear to have something resembling a method to disrupt the quarterback.

Of course the big question coming into this one is the health of Sam Ehlinger – who injured the same shoulder that he did a couple weeks back against Baylor. Do the Horns play Ehlinger at less than 100%, or do they rest him and try to win with Shane Buechele against an inferior opponent?

This team has the ability to play up or down towards the effectiveness of the opponent – the previous coaches here would tell you that it would be a mistake to do so…less Tom Herman forgets how he got hired in the first place.

But Herman has been saying all the right things since the events of Saturday night, when the tide suddenly shifted towards the Horns. I think this team comes out with a sense of duty and takes care of business.

Texas 38 Kansas 17

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for tickets to an important football game.