I admit it. I doubted.
When they said Tom Herman was a MENSA-level genius, I scoffed a bit like the rest of you (but also half turned around to steal one more look after walking away, because a boy can dream *a little*). After a blasé first season, I mostly buried that optimism that he was so smart and we were so aligned and that everything would be like, totally, BACK. I mean 7-6 would get Mack fired, surely it can’t be what Smart Guy Tom planned for...right? I should just understand that the clock starts over each time a coaching change happens, understand that patience is required, and temper my expectations accordingly.
Then after an offseason where my diet sustained entirely of Earl Campbell Hot Links, Gigi’s cupcakes, Melk, and Burnt Orange kool-aid, I was ready. Each perfectly crafted Instagram video, each soundbyte from the staff, each free-for-a-limited-time message board post had me adding about a win per week on the predicted total. It was dizzying. Tom and I were on an absolute high.
I even traveled to the greater DC area to see him. It had been so long since we were in Houston “securing the bag”...literally just a few weeks short of...Nine Months. In that time something special had grown in my belly -- an idea! An idea that this could finally be The Year! After Garrett Gilbert and still-bad Iowa State and that whole 2011 season stole our mojo, we were gonna Find That Loving Feeling, whooooa That Loving Feeling.
And then the crushing feeling. Maryland, like dancing on a coffee table with such joy and confidence that you are oblivious of the edge and then you go viral with Pregamer Takes a Tumble (or friend of the Pregamer, Sad Cowboy). Followed by the Tulsa “Moral Loss.”
Y’all. I was low.
...But when I realized that this was ACTUALLY the greatest rope-a-dope ever concocted?
These battlefield tactics could only make sense to a Genghis-Khan, Stannis Baratheon, William Wallace type character. He’s lured ‘em in close. Done the shoosh-finger while he gathered all of the ‘croots in Austin. And now he’s about to BLOW THE DOORS OFF of the USC defense (and call all the plays)(and have Sam run the zone-read without hesitating a second too long)(and have the defense play up to billing)(and have the punter play like his Zeus-like cousin). With strategies like this, we can’t lose. We’re too big to fail.
You may have read recently that the Trojans are undefeated all-time against Texas, as they claim that they are able to vacate arguably the most memorable college football game of all time out of existence. Turns out, the labs at USC have reverse engineered the MIB neuralizer and have wasted no time putting it to use.
Better Know a Roster
Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR, Fr.) - Officially ‘Amon-Ra Julian Heru J. St. Brown,’ but to his Cali friends he’s just Amon-Brah. [We’ve seen his brother Equanimeous St. Brown in this space before]
Aca’Cedric Ware (TB, Sr.) - This is like Aca’seriously so Aca’Perfect! Leaving the friendly confines of Texas, Mr. Ware is in the perfect spot for Aca’ditioning for Pitch Perfect 4.
JT Daniels (QB, Fr.) -
This photo leaves me going so many directions. He looks like he could play Ethan Hawke’s illegitimate (and fallen on hard times) son in the next Linklater film. Or keeping the bird theme -- looks like the final, human-evolution of Pidgeotto. Or like LeBron, he is mainly plying his trade with an inferior team in LA to try to Hollywood his way onto the next Pirates of the Caribbean film.
Matt Fink (QB, R-So.) - According to Merriam, a “Rat Fink” is an informer or ‘stoolie’ and an example in a sentence includes “who’s the sorry rat fink that went squealing to the cops?” So. You’re one bruised hand flare-up from having a sorry informer as your QB, USC. Pete Carroll would be so disappointed.
Porter Gustin (OLB, Sr.) - sounds like a movie star from an era where he would read a line calling someone a “Rat Fink.”
Ben Easington (TB, R-Fr.)
Isaiah Pola-Mao (S, R-Fr.) - Oh...USC has a safety named Pola-Mao? Can Texas play a QB named Vance Yang?
Davonte Nunnery (S, R-Sr.) - Did you know Billy Shakespeare (‘wrote a whole buncha sonnets’ and also) called brothels Nunneries? That rapscallion!
Brandon Perdue (QB, Fr.) - More like BRAN Perdue, amirite? Get it, like French Toast? Speaking of French Pardieus, Gerard De...that one REALLY sucks (up to despots).
Solomon Tuliaupupu (ILB, Fr.) - Here at the Pregame we support both brows -- the ostentatious affectations of the high brow but also the lows of brows that giggle at his name ending in “pupu.” All are welcome.
Bubba Bolden (S, So.) - IF YOU THOUGHT COUNTRY CARL’S CAPS LOCKS WERE GOOD IN YOUR FACEBOOK COMMENTS, you’ll love Bubba Bolden
Keyshawn ‘Pie’ Young (WR, R-So.) - USC lists players as last, first and “Young Keyshawn Pie” sounds like something Hannibal Lecter would pair with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
Austin Applebee (TE, R-Sr.) -
Listed as a Tight End on the roster, but LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH and tell me he’s not a Nickleback!
Best Third Installments of Trilogies, Ranked
If you’ve seen any of the fox adverts, you’ll know that THIS IS A VERY SERIOUS RIVALRY AND TRILOGY of games between the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Southern California.
- Ali-Frazier III - Thrilla in Manilla
- The Empire Strikes Back*
- Toy Story 3
- Super Mario Bros 3
- The next Shipley son (crosses fingers)
- Arrested Development Season 3
- The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
- Die Hard with a Vengeance
- LOTR: Return of the King
- Dark Knight Rises
- Bun B’s Trill OG
- BioShock: Infinite (damn the ending of Mass Effect 3, or it would be higher on here)
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Indiana Jones - Last Crusade
- Nirvana’s In Utero
- Godfather 3
- FDR’s third term
- Return of the Jedi
- That third strike the Rangers never got to beat the Cardinals in game 6.
*third in sequence after A New Hope & Star Wars Holiday Special
Kyle Carpenter: “You can’t go 3-0 against the state of Oklahoma if you don’t start with 1-0 against Tulsa.” - Tom Herman, probably.
Let’s just hope that Big Game Tom is actually a thing and we can go undefeated against the state of California.
VYPumpfake: This is the part of the season where you hope your team’s problem is just playing down/up to the level of competition while at the same time knocking back four fingers of scotch to suppress you real fears. Texas wins, but I run out of scotch.