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The Week That Will Be: 1-0?

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The Longhorns survived the best Kansas team of the Les Miles Era, but the road only gets tougher from here.

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 25-22-1 (.532) ($40) ATS 33-15 (.688) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week…

Oregon Clinches Pac-12 North in October: Well, not officially, but pretty much, as they have a two-game lead on second place…Oregon State?!? Justin Herbert tossed four touchdown passes as the Ducks rallied from a 14-point third quarter deficit to prevail in Seattle.

Michigan is Still Michigan: Penn State raced out to a 21-0 first quarter lead, and Michigan was throwing into the end zone with just a couple of minutes left with a chance to tie, but once again the Wolverines don’t get it done against a ranked opponent on the road.

Kansas State Out-TCUs TCU: The Wildcats only managed 266 total yards and still won the ballgame – namely because TCU doesn’t have a quarterback that looks like he knows what a forward pass is. Max Duggan was 16 of 29 for only 132 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions largely because when you average 4.6 yards per attempt you’re basically doing shuffle passes all game.

Iowa State Out-Texas Techs Texas Tech: Iowa State’s Brock Purdy passed for 378 yards at a 11.8 yards per attempt clip, while Texas Tech’s Jett Duffey threw for 239 yards at a 4.6 yards per attempt. Try telling that to a Big 12 fan five to 10 years ago.

Oh Hell Baylor is Good: Just when you thought the Bears were going to take their rightful place in the Big 12 cellar again, Matt Rhule has done an outstanding job in taking the Bears from 1-11 two years ago to 7-0 this year. I wonder if those “#CAB” shirts are still a thing. Winning with integrity. What a concept.

Texas Around Quickly…Did Anyone See That? The Kansas Jayhawks were averaging 22.7 points per game coming into Saturday night’s contest. They proceeded to score 24 points in the fourth quarter alone against Todd Orlando’s defense. The 48 points they scored were the most since 2010 in a Big 12 game. It was the first time since….oh forget it, here is a sharp stick just go ahead and stick it in your eye, it would be less painful.


But…they won.

The fortunate thing for the Longhorns is that right now it doesn’t matter how they win – unless you are holding out hope for a two-loss Texas team to make the College Football Playoff over another two-loss team – if they want to get back to the conference championship game, it only matters that they win, and they did.

But make no mistake, if they bring that effort for any of their remaining games, they will lose – and someone will have to take the fall.

It seems like I write this column once a year, and I’ve been writing this column since Mack Brown’s hair was a lovely caramel brown shade, but someone needs to drill it in every player’s (and coach’s) head that walks through those doors at the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center…

Everyone gives Texas their best shot.

For teams like Kansas, it is their bowl game. It would have been a statement, a signature win for Kansas in Les Miles’ first-year in Lawrence. I watch enough football to know that Texas got the best effort of the year from Oklahoma State and West Virginia as well.

Yet because a team wearing the same uniforms beat Georgia 10 months ago, this team and coaching staff thought they could just waltz through Saturday night’s game and still rout them, because after all, as I heard multiple times the other night, usually in a high-pitched squeal, it’s Kannnnsas.

This program is nowhere good enough to just show up and win. You get 12 of these a year, and a couple more on top of that if you are lucky. Why not just give your best effort each and every time out?

And Good Lord help us if that was their best effort.

Because after at least three sub-par efforts in a row, perhaps as Bill Parcells famously once said, you are what you are and the Longhorns are just as close to a 7-win team as a 10-win team as the S&P+ rankings suggest.

I doubt Todd Orlando suddenly forgot how to coach defense. Two years go the man was on a list of up and coming coordinators that would be the next wave of head coaches, but last week The Athletic listed 23 names and Orlando is nowhere to be found.

Or perhaps Orlando did forget how to coach, or perhaps he thought to get a head job somewhere he needed to show how smart he was with the most complex defense imaginable, or perhaps he just had a lot of seasoned talent to work with that is now on NFL rosters, but for whatever reason, Orlando is another sub-par effort against a mediocre TCU team from being shown the door, and nobody will complain except for his wife and Big 12 offensive coordinators.

Giving up yard after yard and point after point and possession and possession to LSU and Oklahoma is one thing, but this was Kannnnsas.

It was widely said last week that the Longhorns didn’t give the Sooners their best shot, that they can tackle better than that, they can block better than that, they can catch the ball better than that, they can run the ball better than that, but against Kansas, the Longhorns were one mis-handling of the snap or false start on that final drive or final kick from ruining all of that, and taking everything that has been built in the past 13 months and pouring gasoline on it and lighting it up like Andre Rison’s house.

If redemption against Oklahoma is the goal here, this team and staff had better look inside themselves and find their best effort for these last five games, starting this Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth.

More efforts like that one this past weekend, and someone will have to answer for Santino.


Notre Dame -1 @ Michigan:

That old Bill Parcells adage referenced above might very well fit the Michigan Wolverines – maybe they are destined to be no better than the third or fourth best team in their own conference.

You have to go all the way back to 2005 to find Notre Dame’s last victory in Ann Arbor, which was better known as the very first year of the Charlie Weis era in South Bend. Now that we’ve given all Irish fans the shakes, we can kindly point out that the Irish did win a 24-17 nailbiter in last season’s opener in South Bend.

The Wolverines are 1-12 under Jim Harbaugh against Top 10 teams, and I have little basis for doing this other than gut feel, but certainly Michigan can’t go 1-13, right?

Michigan 24 Notre Dame 21

ATS – Michigan

SU – Michigan

Auburn @ LSU -10.5:

Joe Burrow showed his ass (literally) and was still able to throw four touchdown passes in a rout of Mississippi State last weekend – the 29 touchdown passes for the season are a new LSU school record – 7 games into the season.

Auburn’s Bo Nix? He has 11.

Burrow has thrown for 2,484 yards this season. Nix has 1,301.

Burrow has thrown 3 interceptions. Nix has 5.

And that brings us to the crux of his game – if LSU manages to jump out ahead, can Auburn keep up?

This could possibly be the best defense the Tigers will see this season (Auburn ranks 6th in S&P+ defense), but this will also be the best offense that Auburn will see this season (we’ll see if Tua plays the Iron Bowl).

Amazingly Auburn has not won in Baton Rouge this century, as their last victory came in 1999, but Auburn hasn’t had much luck against LSU anywhere, as LSU has won 9 of 12 in the series.

The Tigers (Auburn) will try to shorten the game and grind out a win by running the fall, protecting Bo Nix, but I’m not sure LSU is going to allow them to play that game.

LSU 35 Auburn 21

ATS – LSU

SU – LSU

Wisconsin @ Ohio State -14.5:

When these two teams were last seen, Ohio State was walloping Northwestern while Wisconsin fell to Illinois in the biggest upset in the Big 10 since 1982.

The Buckeyes are now 7-0 with each win by more than 20 points. Their offense and Justin Fields have gotten all the headlines, but their defense has been flat out demoralizing this season, limiting their last 6 opponents to a total of 35 total points.

Speaking of Fields, he has completed 71% of his passes thus far this season and has a ridiculous 22 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio. Fields hasn’t just been feasting on the smaller schools, either, as against Northwestern last week (16th in S&P+ defense), Fields completed 78% of his passes with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

For Wisconsin, the question is much the same for them as it was for Auburn, can they win a game against Ohio State if it turns into an offensive showcase? Wisconsin’s Jack Coan has nearly thrown for as many yards as Fields has this year (Coan has 1,383, Fields 1,492), but Fields has those 22 touchdowns while Coan only has 9.

Ohio State has won 9 of 10 in this series, and have only lost one Big 10 game in Columbus since 2011. I don’t see much reason to deviate from that.

Ohio State 27 Wisconsin 14

ATS – Wisconsin

SU – Ohio State

Oklahoma State @ Iowa State -10.5:

Oklahoma State comes into this one having lost two games in a row and giving up 90 points in the process. Now they face a red-hot Iowa State team that has won three straight games, scoring 121 points in those contests.

Iowa State won last year in Stillwater 48-42 behind the strong play from Brock Purdy, who put up more than 400 yards of total offense and scored five touchdowns. Purdy hasn’t slowed down much this year, throwing for at least one touchdown in every game this season and throwing for 2,185 yards in 7 games.

The Cyclones have also benefited from the emergence of freshman Breece Hall, who has 315 rushing yards in the last two games after only carrying the ball 18 times in the first four games of the year.

Breece Hall 315 rushing yards the last two games; only 18 carries in four other games this year. That, combined with the propensity of Oklahoma State quarterback Spencer Sanders to give up the ball lately, leads to an Iowa State win.

Iowa State 37 Oklahoma State 21

ATS – Iowa State

SU – Iowa State

Oklahoma -23.5 @ Kansas State:

Yada yada yada, Lincoln Riley is great, yada yada yada, Jalen Hurts could win the Heisman, yada yada yada, Alex Grinch is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

About the only thing Oklahoma cannot do this year is drive a covered wagon.

This could be an interesting match-up because the Wildcats do have a pass defense that ranks among the best in the country, only allowing 152.5 yards per game and only three touchdown passes all season. Really, their entire defense is a solid unit, as evidenced by the fact that only Baylor has scored more than 26 points on them.

But those teams are those teams and this is Oklahoma, and I just don’t see Kansas State being able to seriously challenge the Sooners for four quarters. Oklahoma has scored 34 points in a school-record 17 straight games, and I don’t see that changing here.

Oklahoma 45 Kansas State 17

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

Texas -1.5 @ TCU:

Texas snapped a four-game losing streak to TCU last year in Austin. Their 31 points in that contest almost matched the 33 combined points they scored in the previous four losses.

The Horned Frogs have had a bit of a strange year, defeating Purdue and Kansas by a combined 58 points, while statistically fielding a fantastic defense (more on that in a bit) but giving up 41 points to SMU and 49 points to Iowa State in losses and then looking very uninspired last week in Manhattan in a loss as well.

That defense is first in the conference in total defense, only allowing 281 yards per game and leading the country (I can never hear that phrase and not hear it in Mack Brown’s voice) in fewest first downs allowed, with only 12.7 per game.

Furthermore, they are stingy against the run (3rd in the country in stuff rate percentage) and against the pass (leading the country in open receiver rate).

Other than that, you can totally get to them.

On offense, TCU has been hampered by bad quarterback play all year, as they have gone with freshman Max Duggan under center, and while he hasn’t thrown an interception all season, he’s only thrown for 9 touchdowns in six games, is completing only 56% of his passes at a 6.2 yards per attempt clip.

Duggan has also had trouble getting the ball to TCU’s best player, junior Jalen Reagor, who could start for either one of these teams. Reagor finished with 72 receptions for 1,061 yards and 9 touchdowns last year, but only has 23 catches for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns through half a season this year.

The Longhorns hope that they forget he is on the roster for at least another week.

With their last ineffectiveness in the passing game, TCU has turned to the rushing attack, as seniors Darius Anderson and Sewo Olonilua have combined for 859 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns on the year. The Horn Frogs as a team rank 12th in the nation in rushing yards per game, averaging 239.5 yards per game.

I guess what we have to ask here is which Texas team shows up, is it the Texas team that held Oklahoma State and Oklahoma below their scoring averages, or is it the Texas team that let Kannnnnsas roll up nearly half a hundred in their house?

Sitting at 3-3 with trips to Stillwater, Lubbock and Norman still on the table, with Baylor coming to town, TCU likely needs this one just to become bowl eligible.

So they’ll be desperate, and it is Texas.

But for me, this one comes down to Texas has Sam Ehlinger, and TCU does not.

Texas 37 TCU 27

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for lunch at Heim BBQ.