Last Week: 1-5 ATS 2-4 SU
For the Year: 1-5 (.167) (-$410) ATS 2-4 (.333) SU
· LSU converted only 3/16 first downs, but used strong defense and outstanding starting field position (their own 43-yard line) to their advantage in routing Miami.
· Michigan lost their 17th straight game on the road against a ranked opponent. The last Michigan win came on September 16, 2006. For reference, the Longhorns defeated Rice that day 52-7, as Colt McCoy moved to 2-1 as a starter (with his one loss coming the week before to eventual Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and the Ohio State Buckeyes).
· Both Washington and Auburn made six trips inside each other’s 40-yard line, but the difference in the outcome was the fact that Auburn came away with 21 points while Washington only came away with 16, the key stretch being early in the third quarter when the Huskies missed a field goal and fumbled in the red zone on successive drives.
· Just when you begin to believe that Texas Tech has made progress on defense, Jordan Ta’amu throws for 336 yards (and two scores) and Scottie Phillips runs for 204 yards (and two scores), and that illusion is poof….gone.
· Anyone that was hoping for a drop-off from Oklahoma had to be sorely disappointed on Saturday, as the Sooners scored four first quarter touchdowns in a rout over Florida Atlantic. Future Oakland Athletic Kyler Murray had as many touchdown passes as incompletions in the victory.
· I’m telling you, my ability to pick games against the spread looked better last weekend than it did at any point in 2017. It is just hard for the general public to recognize that.
If you read last week’s column, I indicated that I was slow to embrace this team this year, because we’ve heard all the hype before only to be let down before the temperatures even dipped below 95 degrees.
And then they fall behind 24-7 to a team without a head coach in a stadium that was hardly hostile.
Despite any reports to the contrary, that was exactly like 2017. And 2015. And 2016.
You get the drift.
”I still feel great about it,” Tim Beck told reporters this week. “I got the backing from Coach Herman, which is awesome, and the players.”
One game into a season that was supposed to be a stepping stone back to being “Texas” and our offensive coordinator is raving about his vote of confidence from stakeholders around the team.
Others after the game insisted that “this isn’t a setback”, and they are right, it isn’t a setback if your goal is to get back to the illustrious Houston Bowl against the worst bowl eligible team that the SEC has to offer.
But, if you have higher standards, if you strive to get back to that vaunted level like Oklahoma seems to achieve every year by plugging and playing, then it was absolutely a setback.
Maryland has beaten five FBS teams since mid-October 2016. 2017 and 2018 Texas are among that number. If that isn’t bad enough, the Terrapins are now 2-22 against ranked teams since 2011. You can guess the two.
“We know how much better we are now than we were probably at any point last year,” Herman said after the game. “We didn’t show it in the first quarter and the fourth quarter.”
But Tom, you yourself admitted less than two weeks ago: “No, I mean -- yeah, you are what your record says you are, right? And we went 7 and 6 last year, and until we step out on the field and play a game, everything from our last game until now says that, you know, we are the last iteration of what you saw us.”
What you are is 0-1.
Is everything lost? Of course not. There are 11 more of these, but games like Maryland are the ones you have to have when you have USC, Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and sneaky trips to Manhattan and Lubbock on the schedule.
The rest of the 2018 season once again becomes an exercise in trying to flip the narrative and dig themselves out of a hole they have dug themselves.
How they get from Point A to Point B, I have no idea.
And I’m not fully confident that Tom Herman knows, either.
Georgia -10 @ South Carolina
Both of these teams won their openers against patsies – Georgia defeating Austin Peay and South Carolina taking down Coastal Carolina (sounds like the opening round of one of those holiday basketball tournaments).
With the caveat of their opponent’s level of play, the number one concern entering this season for Georgia had to be whether they could come anywhere near replacing the production of gone to the NFL Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, early results were promising as the Bulldogs had 7 players reach double digits in rushing yards.
Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks tried to enter the modern era and went out and got a new offensive coordinator in former Bulldog player and coach Bryan McClendon, who is only 34 years old and already managed to coach Georgia to a bowl win under the interim tag when Mark Richt left for Miami.
Again, early results were good as quarterback Jake Bentley threw four touchdown passes and six different players scored a touchdown for the Gamecocks.
While South Carolina might be back on the rise, Georgia is on another level.
Georgia 27 South Carolina 20
ATS – SOUTH CAROLINA
SU – GEORGIA
USC @ Stanford -5
One tidbit of good news for Texas fans – USC gets to get beat up by Stanford before coming to Austin next week.
Trojans quarterback J.T. Daniels will get his first road test, as the true freshman made his debut last week at the Coliseum against UNLV, completing 62% of his passes and throwing for a score.
Stanford’s Heisman Trophy favorite Bryce Love did not have a good start to his 2018 campaign as he only ran for 29 yards against San Diego State. The Cardinal instead went to the air, with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside the main beneficiary, hauling in six catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns.
USC lost a lot of talent from last year’s Pac-12 champion team. This should be a test to see where they stand going forth.
Stanford 31 USC 24
ATS – STANFORD
SU – STANFORD
Clemson -12.5 @ Texas A&M
Jimbo Fisher gets thrown right into the fire in College Station, in a game that should be a nice barometer of where the program he inherited stands.
The Clemson defensive line is much hyped, and with good reason, as the Tigers’ front line of Austin Bryant, Christian Wilkins, Dexter Lawrence and Clelin Ferrell could all legitimately be first-round draft picks in the NFL Draft whenever they become eligible. That line only allowed five rushing touchdowns all of last season and ranked third in the country in sacks.
Now let’s introduce that line to a Texas A&M offensive line that features three sophomore starters who had only combined for 7 starts before last week’s “contest” against FCS-South. Big-time advantage to Clemson.
The Tigers will once again rotate quarterbacks, as incumbent Kelly Bryant likely gets the start and will be relieved by true freshman Trevor Lawrence at times. They both combined for five touchdowns last week against Furman.
As much talent as A&M has, the Tigers have the advantage in the trenches and at quarterback (no matter which one is in). That spells comfortable win.
Clemson 34 Texas A&M 17
ATS – CLEMSON
SU – CLEMSON
Mississippi State -9 @ Kansas State
This is the first ever match-up between these two teams, and in Ridiculous SEC Scheduling Notes, this is Mississippi State’s first true road non-conference game against a Power Five opponent since 2008.
Suspended quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (29 total touchdowns in 2017) returns for the Bulldogs. His back-up Keytaon Thompson put on a show in head coach Joe Moorhead’s debut in Starksville last week, racking up 473 total yards and seven total touchdowns in a win over Stephen F. Austin.
Kansas State had 13 penalties and four turnovers against South Dakota in a game they could have easily lost in Manhattan. Their twin duo Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson combined to only complete 13 of 28 passes and had more interceptions (2) than touchdowns (1).
We think of Kansas State of being a defensive stalwart, but they finished in the bottom half of FBS teams last year in both S&P+ pass defense and total defense, and defenses noticed that, as South Dakota attempted 56 passes just last week.
Kansas State is better than they showed last week (as we’ll no doubt see when the Longhorns travel there at the end of the month), but Fitzgerald is good and will be looking to stave off anyone looking to take his job.
Mississippi State 37 Kansas State 23
ATS – MISSISSIPPI STATE
SU – MISSISSIPPI STATE
UCLA @ Oklahoma -30
Oklahoma looked fantastic last week (I won’t make you vomit by regurgitating all the stats again), and UCLA looked awful in Chip Kelly’s debut, losing to Cincinnati and giving up nearly 200 rushing yards in the process, but thirty points against a Power Five team (the biggest such spread since 2003 for the Sooners) that perennially goes to bowls and competes?
The issue for UCLA, of course, is that Cincinnati is nowhere near the level of Oklahoma, who ran for 316 yards and averaged 8 yards per carry while doing so (whoops) and Michigan transfer quarterback Wilton Speight was injured in the loss and could be unavailable for this one.
The Bruins have lost ten consecutive road games by an average of 15 points per game.
But still, thirty points?
Oklahoma 45 UCLA 21
ATS – UCLA
SU – OKLAHOMA
Tulsa @ Texas -22.5
Tulsa has won 10 or more games five times since 2007, but last year regressed down to 10 losses. In fact, in Philip Montgomery’s tenure, they have been on quite the roller coaster, as they finished each season:
Last season wasn’t quite as bad as it looked for the Golden Hurricane, who opened the season with a 35-point loss to Oklahoma State but also was narrowly defeated by #23 South Florida 27-20 (they also had three other one possession losses) and routed Houston 45-17.
Their issue was defense, as they allowed 37.5 points per game and finished 128th (out of 130) in the country in S&P+ defense. Despite all that, Tulsa retained defensive coordinator Bill Young, who won a conference championship at Oklahoma State and an Orange Bowl at Kansas in the same capacity.
It is hard to say that a defense that ranked 128th had any playmakers, but those that there were graduated, so Montgomery has desperately tried to fill the holes there with JUCO players. Only time will tell if that works out.
Luke Skipper gets the start at quarterback. Skipper was a fill-in for injury last fall, starting the last five ballgames of the year, and finished with more interceptions (4), than touchdowns (3).
Simply put, as down as we are on the Longhorns, this shouldn’t be much of a ballgame on Saturday.
Texas gets a much needed confidence boost going into USC.
Texas 48 Tulsa 14
ATS – TEXAS
SU – TEXAS
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