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The Week That Will Be: Texas Two Step

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The Longhorns danced into the polls, but a nemesis awaits

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas Bethany Hocker-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 8-16 (.333) (-$880) ATS 15-9 (.625) SU

Last week…

  • If you turned on the Nebraska/Michigan game at halftime and learned that the Cornhuskers had only 17 total yards of offense, you might know how the game was going. Nebraska was sitting on 52 total yards before an 80-yard scoring drive at the end of the game. Scott Frost now has more losses as Nebraska head coach (3) than he did as Nebraska quarterback (2).

  • This week’s edition of Why Betting Is Bad: Oregon, up 24-7 at halftime, could have kneeled the ball nearing the end of the game. A Ducks punt would have forced Stanford to go the length of the field with very little time left and no time outs, but the Ducks got a little cute, fumbled and were left throwing bottles at the Cardinal as they took a win back to Palo Alto.

  • Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa completed 22 of 30 passes for 387 yards on four touchdowns as the Crimson Tide held down the Aggies. All were career bests for Tagovailoa.

  • Not to be outdone, West Virginia’s Will Grier threw for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns in a rout of Kansas State. But he did throw two interceptions…so advantage Tagovailoa?

  • Congratulations if you saw Texas Tech ending a nine-game losing streak to Oklahoma State with a true freshman quarterback, and winning by more than three touchdowns in the process. The Cowboys were held to more than 200 yards below their season average.

  • And finally, Texas beating another ranked opponent, and Tiger Woods winning a golf tournament. What is this, 2008?

“All it does is a validate the fact that we’ve taken another step. We’ve got many, many steps left to take.” - Tom Herman

That was fun, wasn’t it?

The first half of Saturday’s 31-16 felt a lot like games of recent years – some good, some bad, but enough bad that the Longhorns were trailing at half – and then that second half happened.

TCU struck first, but then Texas rattled off 21 unanswered points, punctuated with...

Sam Ehlinger to Lil’Jordan Humphrey for 5 yards.

Ehlinger to Collin Johnson for 7 yards. First down Texas.

Tre Watson rush for 6 yards.

Ehlinger to Devin Duvernay for 6 yards. First down Texas.

Watson rush for 9 yards.

Daniel Young rush for 4 yards. First down Texas.

Watson rush for 2 yards.

Watson rush for 1 yard.

And then, as Craig Way so eloquently offered: “Pressure coming, Ehlinger in a lot of pressure, now steps back again, throws, deep over the middle, CAUGHT by Humphrey, to the 20, 10, 5, Touchdown Texas! Sam Ehlinger, cool as a cucumber, down the middle, and LJ Humphrey takes it in…”

Four plays later, TCU was so demoralized and beaten up that Gary Patterson punted down 15 points and with less than three minutes left in the game.

He had had enough. No mas.

As I stood there amongst a mostly still there raucous crowd, celebrating the first back-to-back Longhorn wins over ranked opponents since 2008, I couldn’t help but thinking as George Strait’s Texas wafted over the crowd:

This feels like the old days.

I’ll always remember that particular song as Colt McCoy’s favorite song, the song that was playing at that exact moment in 2009, when McCoy wrapped up his illustrious home Texas career by becoming the all-time winningest quarterback in NCAA history.

McCoy took a victory lap before he left the field on that cool November night.

There were no victory laps at DKR on Saturday, nor should there have been. While it is a testament to TCU’s recent success that a win over them feels like a win over Oklahoma, there are many more steps to take before we are ready to call the Longhorns anything close to a championship contender.

But what if, what if this is the “light bulb” moment for the Tom Herman era at Texas? What if this is the moment that we’ll all look back and say that is the game that Texas took that next step?

For a fleeting moment, it felt like the old days.

And one day, it might be.


Stanford @ Notre Dame -5.5

The Cardinal enter this game off that gift from Oregon, and you have to wonder what their mindset will be coming after that emotional win.

Their opponent will be Notre Dame, who has lost 7 of 9 to Stanford (with one of the Irish wins being vacated), but who is coming off their best offensive showing of the season, a 56 point explosion fueled by inserting junior quarterback Ian Book into the starting lineup. Book completed nearly 75 percent of this passes for 325 yards and five total touchdowns.

Both of these teams have ridiculously good defenses, but being at home, and with Stanford rocking a bit from last week, I think the Irish get this one.

Notre Dame 27 Stanford 17

ATS – Notre Dame

SU – Notre Dame

Ohio State -3.5 @ Penn State

The game of the week is in State College, Pennsylvania as Ohio State and Penn State meet up. The last two games in this series have been a delight, as Penn State won two years ago on a blocked field goal attempt, while last year in Columbus the Buckeyes overcame a Saquon Barkley touchdown on the opening kickoff to win 39-38.

In addition to the recent evidence, the Nittany Lions enter this game as the top scoring team in FBS (55.5 points per game), while the Buckeyes are second at 54.5 points per game.

Fueling that offense is Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley, who has thrown eight touchdowns and rushed for an additional six, but don’t discount running back Miles Sanders, who has rushed for 495 yards this season, good enough for sixth-most in the nation.

The question for the Nittany Lions is their defense, which gave up 38 points to Appalachian State in their opener and 24 points last week to Illinois.

Because of that, I have to go with the Buckeyes.

Ohio State 38 Penn State 31

ATS – Ohio State

SU – Ohio State

Baylor @ Oklahoma -23.5

Imagine my surprise when I got home from the Texas game last Saturday night to hear that Oklahoma was tied with Army late in the fourth quarter, but had just intercepted a pass and was driving near the end of the game….and then Austin Siebert missed a field goal, allegedly his first miss ever.

The Sooners had their struggles with Army, but you can’t blame the offense, which only had 40 plays on Saturday night, the third lowest output in school history.

Baylor enters this contest at 3-1, much better than their 2017 effort, but those wins are also over Abilene Christian, UTSA and Kansas.

Not an Oklahoma in the bunch.

Oklahoma 45 Baylor 24

ATS – Baylor

SU – Oklahoma

Iowa State @ TCU -10.5

Gary Patterson has been coaching at TCU for 18 seasons, and while Texas punished him so bad last week that he quit, the Horned Frogs have lost three straight games in the same season only once.

TCU bounces back.

TCU 27 Iowa State 14

ATS – TCU

SU – TCU

West Virginia -3.5 @ Texas Tech

This game is the tale of two quarterbacks, as West Virginia’s Will Grier is a Heisman candidate, ranking second in the country in passing efficiency and third in passing yards per game. For Texas Tech, freshman Alan Bowman will get another start, he only leads the country in passing yards per game while throwing 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions.

Perhaps the biggest surprise entering this game is the Mountaineers defense, which has only given up 37 points in three games. Texas Tech’s defense looked improve against Oklahoma State, but Taylor Cornelius is no Will Grier.

West Virginia 44 Texas Tech 37

ATS – West Virginia

SU – West Virginia

Texas -8.5 @ Kansas State

I’m sure it has been drilled into your head this week that Texas has not won in Manhattan since 2002, but if Texas Tech can beat Oklahoma State, then anything is possible, kids.

I know we’re all conditioned to believe that Kansas State is a physical, fundamental team, and I’m sure they will play out of their minds against Texas (because everybody does), but there are some signs that this isn’t your traditional Bill Snyder coached squad.

The Wildcats defense that we’re all accustomed to has fallen off a cliff, giving up 27 points per game (only 63rd in the country), while giving up 6.4 yards per play (74th) and allowing opponents to convert third downs at a jaw dropping rate of 56% (126th).

You can run on the Wildcats as they are giving up 211 yards per game (97th) at six yards per clip (118th). If you get tired of that, you can pass on them at 6.9 yards per pass (58th) and they are kind enough to let your quarterback do his job (121st in sack percentage).

On offense, Kansas State is in disarray, as an internal struggle between assistants who want Skylar Thompson to start (completing only 59% of his passes) and head coach Bill Snyder forms, who wants Alex Delton (who is only completing 48% of his passes and has more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1)).

Snyder gets his way this week, as Delton gets the start. Delton should be familiar to Texas fans, as he rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns in the Longhorns’ win in double-overtime last year in Austin.

The good news for the Wildcats coming into this season was their experience on offense, as they returned 9 starters, including all five starters on the offensive line, but unfortunately for them that offensive line was terrible last year and that trend continues this year, where the Wildcats have given up 15 sacks in four games.

So in summation, the Wildcats can’t stop much, can’t move the ball much, and oh yeah when they do they rank 74th in the country in penalty yards per game so there is a good chance the play is getting negated anyways.

Simply put, there is a reason that the 2018 Kansas State Wildcats have been outscored 66-16 in two games against ranked opponents.

The best chance to beat the streak comes here. Sam Ehlinger has completed 92 straight passes without an interception, and that streak will need to continue, because the last thing you want to do is level the playing field for a mismatched team playing at home.

Texas didn’t win much in Manhattan even in the good ol’ days, but times are a changin’.

Texas 31 Kansas State 17

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Childish Gambino Travis Scott.