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The Week That Will Be: Trojan War

This is gonna be fun.

Tulsa v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 6-0 SU

For the Year: 4-8 (.333) (-$440) ATS 8-4 (.667) SU

Fun items last week:

  • Despite a Georgia pick-six on the fifth snap of the game, South Carolina had to feel okay with where they were at halftime, trailing only by 10 despite outgaining the Bulldogs in the first two quarters. Then came three straight scoring drives for Georgia in the third quarter, each spanning at least 75 yards, and the Gamecocks were done.

  • Bryce Love ran for 136 yards and a touchdown, and Stanford sacked USC quarterback JT Daniels four times and intercepted him twice. That was all they needed.

  • Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond was outstanding against Clemson’s formidable defense, throwing for 430 yards and three touchdowns (and adding 33 yards on the ground), but A&M fell just short (and then fumbled out of the end zone) of pulling off the upset.

  • Mississippi State held Kansas State to only 197 yards of total offense, in fact Bulldogs’ running back Kylin Hill outgained them by himself, rushing for 211 yards and three touchdowns. The 372 rushing yards by Mississippi State were the most given up by the Wildcats since 2010.

  • Kyler Murray threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns (and also added two more scores on the ground), but his 58% completion percentage for the day left something to be desired. Still, it was more than enough to send Chip Kelly and the Bruins home at 0-2.

  • First half in Austin? A step forward. Second half in Austin? Send it to the moon never to be spoken of again.

Be Humble.

It wasn’t much of a game.

It was a mild October afternoon when the #24 ranked Colorado Buffaloes came calling to Austin to take on Vince Young and the #2 Texas Longhorns. The Horns were up 35-3 late in the second quarter before Colorado quarterback Joel Klatt delivered a touchdown pass for the Buffaloes to pull within 25.

There would be no letdown from their previous week’s victory over Oklahoma.

As I walked over the bridge back to our tailgate, there was a palpable buzz permeating the barbeque smoke-infused tents.

“USC is down to Notre Dame! USC is losing!”

The mighty #1 University of Southern California Trojans, winners of 27 straight, were down to #9 Notre Dame 31-28 with just over two minutes left.

Several huddled around the television, doing things that college football does, like make you root for Notre Dame of all teams.

Second and 10. USC quarterback Matt Leinart sacked. Loss of 10 yards.

1:44 left.

Third and 20. Leinart passes to future Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush for a gain of 11.

Fourth and 9. 1:32 left. On their own 26-yard line. Touchdown Jesus looking down on the scene as Leinart lines up at the line of scrimmage and signals to Dwayne Jarrett.

“C’mon Irish!” the crowd around the television cries, the glee in their voice hardly sustainable.

Except me.

I’m in the back singing Tribute to Troy and Conquest and every other fight song you learn by immersion in Keith Jackson and west coast college football.

My reasoning was simple.

“If you want to BE the best, you have to BEAT the best!” channeling my inner Ric Flair.

You know the rest. Leinart hit Jarrett on a fade down the sideline and he raced down to the 13-yard line. Three plays later USC head coach Pete Carroll called for a fake spike play, Leinart keeps it on a sneak and scores…with a little assist from Bush.

Nobody was happy with me that night.

But two and a half months later the Longhorns held the national championship trophy to the Rose Bowl skies after winning their 800th game in program history. And while the Longhorns could have played Bowling Green that night and it still would have been special, those roses smelled a little better when USC went down.

There is zero chance that Saturday night’s matchup between two one-loss teams will surpass that night in Pasadena, but no matter the rhetoric coming from Bellmont, make no mistake about it, this one is different.

If you have made it this far into the column I don’t have to explain to you what a win over USC would do for this team – despite how bad they looked last week in Palo Alto, they still have more Rose Bowl championships than your wife has pairs of shoes in her closet and more Heisman Trophy winners than you can count on one hand.

If Texas is going to get back to where they want to be, wins like this will be the foundation.

And if you are a fan of symmetry, win and this will be the 900th win in school history.

A win will take a far better effort than we have seen this season, a far greater focus and an awareness that what we’ve seen so far isn’t Texas football.

USC might not be the best anymore, but you’d better go out there and act like they are.

Be humble.

Alabama -21.5 @ Ole Miss

With a post-season ban once again lurking over Oxford, this is essentially Ole Miss’s bowl game. They were steamrolled in Tuscaloosa 66-3 last season (when the Tide had 613 total yards), but held tight with the Tide in 2016 and won in 2015 & 2014.

But of course that was 3-4 years ago.

Now is now, and while Ole Miss has scored 123 points in their first two games, Alabama can put up points just as quickly…and they actually have a defense.

Alabama is 28-2 in their last 30 games against SEC competition, with the loss at Auburn last year and that loss to Ole Miss in 2015 being the last two defeats.

Ole Miss loses their bowl game…badly.

Alabama 48 Ole Miss 20

ATS – Alabama

SU – Alabama

LSU @ Auburn -10

One of the most puzzling results of last season was LSU defeating Auburn 27-23 in Baton Rouge two weeks after losing to Troy. The loss didn’t seem that big at the time, but as it turns out Auburn was in the midst of a 9-1 stretch with that being the lone defeat.

Jarrett Stidham had an awful night in Death Valley, completing only 9 of 26 passes for 165 yards, but it was the lone blemish in a year that saw him throw for 3,158 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s on the same pace this year, throwing for 9.1 yards per attempt in limited action.

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was praised for his work in the Miami victory, but then you check his stat line for the year and notice that he is completing less than 50% of his passes and then realize how low the standard at LSU has been.

LSU’s defense will come to play, but they might be the only ones. The home team has won 16 of 18 in this series, I don’t see that changing here.

Auburn 28 LSU 17

ATS – Auburn

SU – Auburn

Oklahoma -18 @ Iowa State

Speaking of upsets, probably the biggest upset of the 2017 season was when 30-point underdog Iowa State went into Norman and defeated the Sooners behind quarterback Kyle Kempt, who had yet to throw a collegiate pass entering the game yet threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns.

As it turned out, while it was still a big upset Iowa State showed enough last year that the embarrassment wore off quickly for the Sooners. But the Cyclones, who had their opener cancelled by severe weather, couldn’t find that same magic last week against Iowa when they only averaged 3.3 yards per play and only gained 11 first downs.

To make matters worse, Kempt is day to day with an injury suffered against Iowa and may miss this game completely.

The Sooners suffered a bad injury of their own as running back Rodney Anderson was lost for the year, but this is Oklahoma, we all know they will plug in another running back that will probably get an invite to New York for the Heisman ceremony.

Fun fact, Iowa State has only allowed 1 opponent to score more than 20 points in their nine games since their last date against the Sooners…but this is Oklahoma.

Oklahoma 41 Iowa State 20

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

Boise State @ Oklahoma State -2.5

What a saucy game this is turning out to be.

Boise State has treated their first two opponents like they stole something from their mothers as they outscored Troy and UCONN 118-27.

The UCONN beating was especially bad, as they only allowed the Huskies to cross the 50-yard line once while scoring five touchdowns in a span of 15 plays on offense. All in all they put up a whopping 818 yards of offense…outgaining UCONN by more than 600 yards.

While Troy & UCONN won’t be representing their conferences in the New Years Six bowls this year, they are at least a few steps up from Missouri State and South Alabama, who Oklahoma State embarrassingly charged full-price to their season ticket holders to come see those exhibitions.

In those scrimmages new Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius has been up and down in his audition to replace the outgoing Mason Rudolph, throwing for 723 yards (but also tossing three interceptions). Running back Justice Hill, who had 16 touchdowns last season, is back for Oklahoma State and has already scored three touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Brett Rypien has been outstanding for the Broncos, completing 73% of his passes at 14 yards per attempt with seven touchdowns. He’ll lead the Broncos to a victory on the road.

Boise State 41 Oklahoma State 37

ATS – Boise State

SU – Boise State

TCU v. Ohio State -13.5 (Arlington, TX)

Did the Big 12 orchestrate all these wonderful match-ups this weekend?

Much like Oklahoma, Ohio State just replaces and motors along as J.T. Barrett is finally gone but his replacement, sophomore Dwayne Haskins has started the season by completing 79% of his passes for 12.8 yards per attempt and nine touchdowns.

Not too shabby.

Speaking of replacements, TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson has done an admirable job of replacing Kenny Hill, as the DeSoto product has added three touchdowns on the ground to his four passing scores in the early season.

Gary Patterson is always dangerous in these types of ballgames, but the Buckeyes have too much talent for a TCU team that has a lot of inexperience on offense.

Ohio State 34 TCU 16

ATS – Ohio State

SU – Ohio State

USC @ Texas -3

Take a spin around the USC message boards this week and you’ll quickly find out that they have about as much confidence these days as Texas fans do. You’ll find hot takes on their next head coach (because fourth-year coach Clay Helton, who went 24-6 the last two seasons, clearly doesn’t have it), their offensive coordinator (aforementioned Helton needs to take over play-calling duties from Tee Martin), their offensive line (even circa 2002 Texas fans takes on zone blocking versus man to man blocking schemes), their lack of established safeties (only three healthy scholarship guys) and much, much more.

USC makes their first trip to Austin in 52 years, and it is a team of disarray that will step off the plane. A loss against a rival in which you don’t put it in the end zone will do that to you, as true freshman quarterback J.T. Daniels has had some growing pains, only completing 55% of his passes and throwing more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1) on this young season.

Daniels wasn’t helped by an offensive line that is not only banged up but might not being very good in the first place, as they gave up four sacks and seven tackles for loss against Stanford last week.

So what will it take for Texas to get that 900th win?

Well we saw the blueprint last year, as the Longhorns stacked the box and shut down the USC rushing attack (71 total yards rushing and 1.9 yards per attempt) and capitalized enough on offense to take the lead with under a minute to go.

Ideally you would like the Horns to be able to control the game by running the football and being efficient in the passing game, controlling the clock and forcing USC to try to win the game with the freshman quarterback (who showed a propensity to press against the Cardinal last week).

And of course eliminate the four turnovers.

Collin Johnson was HUGE last year, hauling in 7 passes for 191 yards. The Horns need to see another effort like that.

Both teams are desperate for a win. I think the crowd and a solid effort from Sam Ehlinger gets this one done for Texas.

Texas 24 USC 17

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for an Austin Beerworks for our California friends.