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The Week That Will Be: Long Drive Home

One big win down, a bigger one awaits this Saturday.

Kansas State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 31-33-2 (.484) (-$530) ATS 45-21 (.682) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Iowa Not Interested in Your Cover: The Hawkeyes scored 16 fourth quarter points to almost pull off a victory, but “almost” pulling out a victory just serves to piss off gamblers. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor had 250 rushing yards in the victory.

Minnesota: Maybe We Should be Ranked Fourth: Golden Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns in Minnesota’s victory over fourth-ranked Penn State.

LSU Clemsons Alabama: The Tigers led 33-13 at halftime before Alabama scored on four straight drives to start the second half, but Joe Burrow (393 yards, 3 touchdowns) was too much as LSU put up 46 points, the most scored on a Nick Saban Alabama team. Tua Tagovailoa was great (418 passing yards, 4 touchdowns) and he wasn’t (fumble in red zone). This also marked the first time that in the AP Poll era that Alabama scored 41 points and lost the game.

Baylor Less Ugly Than TCU: Baylor needed a 51-yard field goal with 36 seconds left and a fourth-down touchdown in extra time to remain unbeaten, but they did it.

Iowa State = Tortoise Oklahoma = Hare: Oklahoma raced out to a 21-point lead over Iowa State, but had to hold on for dear life as a blatant pass interference on a potentially game winning two-point conversion was “missed”. I wouldn’t say I really missed it, Bob…

Texas Goes as Kansas State for Halloween, Wins: Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson combined to average 7.7 yards per carry as the Longhorns rushed for 162 yards and milked 18 minutes off the clock in the second half (6:45 on the final drive alone). After a rough start, the Texas defense stepped up, holding the Wildcats to 55 rushing yards on 26 carries.

Just win.

By virtue of that win last week against Kansas State, the Texas Longhorns find themselves in this situation if they wish to return to the Big 12 Championship game – win out and hope for either two Oklahoma losses (slightly unlikely) or another Baylor loss (possible).

If the Horns somehow pull off the unlikely – you have to call it that when they are a touchdown underdog in this one and could be the same next week in Waco – well, let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.

But Texas might have found their roadmap back to Arlington last week in Austin. Play tough defense (well for most of the game). Run the football. Be efficient in the passing game. Keep your own defense off of the field.

This team was left dead and buried three weeks ago when they walked dejectedly off the field after the loss to TCU – and with good reason, they flirted with absolute disaster a week prior against Kansas and then took absolute disaster’s little sister disaster to dinner and a movie in Fort Worth.

It’s a funny sport that we all adore – one week you are Bruce Wayne wearing an ascot stepping out of the Maserati, the next you’re dressed like Baker Mayfield after a loss to the Broncos, getting in a fight with your wife Karen at the Thanksgiving dinner table and finally getting it off your chest that her mashed potatoes are runnier than Usain Bolt and she’s yelling at you about your crappy at best Movember beard all while her brother Chad stifles the laughter sure to bust out at the most inappropriate of times.

But things do seem to be coming together for the Horns – they are heathier now than they’ve been since Louisiana Tech (if Collin Johnson is good to go like they say he is, we’ve heard that before this season) and confidence must be high after a satisfying win over a dangerous opponent.

For all the ups and downs this season, win this Saturday and next Saturday and the Horns will find themselves in very good shape. But these teams aren’t going to give it to them – Iowa State has a hell of a squad, having lost to four ranked opponents by a combined 11 points and they are desperate for a “signature win” this season. And while we’ll find out a lot about Baylor this weekend, the Horns got all they wanted from the Bears last season in Austin and they’re significantly improved from that team.

Time to decide whether they want to be Bruce Wayne or crappy Movember beard guy with runny mashed potatoes running down his face.

“Well people anymore

They got no stayin power

I love you come by easy

It’ll leave you just the same

You want somethin bad

You gotta bleed a little for it

You gotta look it in the eye

You gotta call it out by name” – Long Drive Home, Turnpike Troubadours

Minnesota @ Iowa -3:

Minnesota is 9-0 for the first time since 1904, right around the time that Theodore Roosevelt defeated Alton Parker to become the 26th President of the United States. The Gophers are flying high after their big win against Penn State, can they get up for another big game 7 days later?

The answer is likely yes, due to the fact that the Gophers have 1-8 Northwestern next week. Since they currently hold a two-game lead over Wisconsin (their opponent in the last game of the year) for the division lead in the Big 10, they could effectively clinch their division with a victory over Iowa.

The problem here is that Minnesota hasn’t won in Iowa City since 1999, and have won just five games this century against Iowa.

But, of course, this Minnesota team is unlike those previous Gopher teams, as they have the offense to challenge a defense like Iowa’s (scored at least 28 points in each game this season) and a defense as well (67 points allowed in their last five games).

Iowa in 0-3 against ranked teams this season…there probably is a reason for that.

Minnesota 28 Iowa 20

ATS – Minnesota

SU – Minnesota

Georgia -3 @ Auburn:

The first one to 10 here might win.

Georgia hasn’t allowed anyone to score more than 20 points in any game this season, and have shut out their opponent in two out of three games. They held Missouri to less than 200 yards in a 27-0 victory last week and have only allowed three opponents this year to rush for as much as 100 yards in a game this year.

Auburn hasn’t allowed anyone to score more than 23 points all season and held newly explosive LSU to 20 points and Oregon to 21 in the season opener.

Neither team has a particularly explosive offense, and Auburn quarterback Bo Nix has struggled against the bigger opponents on the schedule this year, so I see Georgia winning a tight one down the stretch.

Georgia 20 Auburn 16

ATS – Georgia

SU – Georgia

Michigan State @ Michigan -13.5 :

Michigan has won two out of three in this series but the Spartans owned the series before that, winning 8 of 11. In all of that, Michigan hasn’t beaten Michigan State in Ann Arbor since 2012.

Michigan State is reeling, having lost four games in a row and five of seven. Putrid offense has been most to blame for that, as they failed to score more than 10 points in four of those games. The one game they did score points, last week against Illinois, they blew a 31-10 lead and lost in the final seconds of the game.

The Wolverines are on the other end of the spectrum, as Michigan has won five of six since that dreadful loss to Wisconsin, with that lone loss being by a touchdown at Penn State. The offense seems to have figured things out, as they have scored 38 points in three out of their last four games.

The Spartans are fighting for respectability and bowl eligibility at this point. I think they can keep it close here.

Michigan 27 Michigan State 17

ATS – Michigan State

SU – Michigan

TCU -3 @ Texas Tech:

Texas Tech defeated West Virginia 38-17 last week to snap a three-game losing streak. In addition to that, they had lost five of six – with that one win that bizarre domination of Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, after their loss to Baylor last week, TCU has now lost four of five – with that one win that bizarre domination of Texas.

Both teams have a tough road to get bowl eligible, but I think the Red Raiders get a little closer this week.

Texas Tech 34 TCU 28

ATS – Texas Tech

SU – Texas Tech

Oklahoma -10 @ Baylor:

Oklahoma has won four in a row in this series, with Baylor’s last win coming in 2014 by a score of 48-14 in Norman. Baylor’s last home win in this series was 2013, when they defeated the Sooners 41-12.

Of course that was the Art Briles era in Waco, and now it is the Matt Rhule era, where the Bears sit at 9-0 with a chance to take a commanding lead in the Big 12 standings with a win here over the Sooners.

The Bears have been flirting with disaster recently, however, as they had to go to triple overtime against a mediocre TCU team last week, struggled against a terrible West Virginia team on Halloween night (a 17-14 Baylor win) and another overtime game against Texas Tech two weeks before that. All in all, they have won five of their last seven games by one score.

But they won.

Baylor has a decent matchup here. Defensively you feel like they have a real chance to slow down the juggernaut Oklahoma offense, but you obviously have to account that nobody on their schedule comes close to replicating what the Sooners do on offense.

One thing to watch if the Sooners do struggle on offense is the panic nature of Lincoln Riley, who tends to forgo handing off to his running backs and focus instead on trying to get all the yards back in one play through the air.

Trey Sermon (who the team announced earlier this week was out for the year with an injury) and Kennedy Brooks combined for only 6 carries in a struggling loss to Kansas State a few weeks back, and last week Sooner running backs only had 16 carries in a struggling win against Iowa State, despite Brooks averaging 8.8 yards per carry.

There are questions about the health of Charlie Brewer, but even with a healthy Brewer I’m not sure how the Bears keep up if the Sooners start grinding down the Baylor defense.

Oklahoma 37 Baylor 24

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

Texas @ Iowa State -6.5:

Can Texas win this game? Absolutely. We like to think about Iowa State as a pain in the side of Texas, but they haven’t scored more than 10 points on Texas since Halloween night of 2015, their last victory in the series. They have 23 combined points in the last three meetings.

But they’re likely going to have to play their most complete game of the season to get it done.

The Texas defense was a lot better last week against Kansas State once they were past the initial two drives, but those two drives counted, and the previous four sub-par performances counted as well. The defense is getting healthier by the week, but performance matters, not the good feelings we get when we see certain names on the depth chart.

Iowa State sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy broke upon the scene last season, throwing for 2,250 yards and 16 touchdowns in less than a full season, but had his worst game against Texas last November when he completed less than half of his passes for 130 yards and an interception.

But Purdy has been outstanding this season, throwing for more than 2,800 yards with 20 touchdowns (five of those coming last week against Oklahoma) and 7 interceptions. He hasn’t completed less than 60% of his passes in any game this season and has surpassed the 300-yard mark four times. He’s not a big runner but can, as TCU learned earlier this season when he eclipsed the 100-yard mark against them.

The Cyclones’ offense has been buoyed by the emergence of freshman running back Breece Hall, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in three out of his last four games and has scored 7 touchdowns in that timespan.

Their defense has been shaky lately, giving up 42 points to Oklahoma last week (but who doesn’t give up 42 points to Oklahoma), but did hold them to 7 points in the second half. The defense gave up 27 points in their prior game against Oklahoma State, but gave up three scoring plays of 50 yards or longer to the Cowboys. Texas Tech rushed for 4.9 yards per rush against them.

But still, outside of that Oklahoma game they haven’t given up more than 27 points defensively this season and currently rank 18th in the country in S&P+ defense.

That is all to say that Texas has their work cut out for them. I think they’ll need to win this game much like they did last week against Kansas State, keeping the ball away from Purdy, establishing the run, being efficient when passing the ball and protecting their defense by keeping them on the sidelines.

Can Texas win? Sure. But let’s see their most complete game of the year before we step out on that ledge.

Iowa State 34 Texas 31

ATS – Texas

SU – Iowa State

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