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The Week That Will Be: Austin Commas

As others prepare for conference championships, the Horns once again search for coaches.

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

Last Week: 1-5 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 39-42-3 (.481) (-$720) ATS 58-25 (.699) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Wisconsin Hates Hopes and Dreams: The Badgers decided that a 38-7 loss to Ohio State wasn’t quite enough so they went up to Minnesota and stomped all over Cinderella. Jonathan Taylor had three touchdowns in the winning effort, and we all hope that Wisconsin can stay within 59 points in this conference championship game.

Nation Threatens Boycott if Michigan and Ohio State Scheduled Again: You know it is Thanksgiving weekend when Michigan gets their heads beat in by Ohio State again. J.K. Dobbins (did you guys know he is from the Austin area?) ran for a career high 211 yards and 4 touchdowns while Justin Fields had a hand in four touchdowns as well. Ohio State’s 56 points scored were the most ever given up by Michigan in the Big House in regulation – and the Buckeyes have now scored at least two touchdowns in seven consecutive quarters against the Wolverines. Next year I’ll opt to put up the Christmas lights on the house.

When Did Alabama Hire Mike Stoops? A Nick Saban-coached Alabama team has scored at least 41 points in their two losses this year – unbelievable. The 48 points scored by Auburn were the most scored on a Nick Saban team since 1999 when Saban’s Michigan State team met Drew Brees and Purdue. The Crimson Tide are now 0-7 at Jordan-Hare Stadium against ranked teams.

$75 Million Only Gets You So Far These Days: Joe Burrow Burreaux threw for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Kellen Mond matched him, throwing 3 interceptions as the Aggies were embarrassed in Baton Rouge. Burrow is now the highest single-season passer in SEC history with 779 yards….no seriously, 4,366 yards.

Shocker, Bedlam Doesn’t Go Well for Oklahoma State: The good news is that Chuba Hubbard reached 100 yards for the 11th time in 12 games this year, but the bad news is that it was his lowest output of the year against a Big 12 opponent as Kennedy Brooks rushed for 160 yards in the Sooner victory.

Texas Goes Black Friday Shopping: The Longhorns were late arriving from their Black Friday excursion to Best Buy…by the time they arrived they were down 14-0, but a 49-10 run left the Red Raiders going home without a bowl win again. Sam Ehlinger (19/27 348 yards 2 TD) looked great again, Roschon Johnson had his second 100-yard effort of the season and Devin Duvernay was Devin Duvernay. The Horns now await their bowl fate.

The Comma.

Greg Davis, Major Applewhite, Bryan Harsin, Darrell Wyatt, Joe Wickline, Shawn Watson, Jay Norvell, Sterlin Gilbert, Tim Beck.

Will Muschamp, Manny Diaz, Greg Robinson, Vance Bedford, Todd Orlando.

They might still do this, but I know at one time the Texas Longhorns used to list conference championships and national championships in their team facility, and after the last year, there would be a comma.

Because the expectation is that the list is not complete.

But, as the decade closes, the comma can now be left after the last coordinator in the staff directory.

Because we know that the list isn’t complete.

The Longhorns are now looking for their 15th and 16th persons to hold the “coordinator” title since Hunter Lawrence floated that 46-yard field goal through the uprights to give Texas the conference championship and sent them to California for the national championship.

That was ten years ago today.

One of Tom Herman’s favorite phrases since he was hired has been telling us how we all have PTSD, inferring that he’s got a grip on this, just trust him.

These are the kind of seasons that cause that trepidation. And many are quickly losing faith that he has any sort of grip on this.

As we enter the final month of the final year in the decade, it is impossible to overstate how important this month is not only for the Tom Herman Era at Texas, but for the program in general.

Hire middling coordinators whose teams look lost against teams that don’t even make a bowl game in 2019, where every team makes a bowl game, and this column this week next year will be trying to talk myself into lowering our standards enough to hire Urban Meyer.

Hit a home run (or two) and this column this week next year will be discussing how Texas can stop from Oklahoma from winning (another) conference championship or knocking off defending national champion Baylor from the throne.

And good luck, Mr. Herman, because I’m not sure there is a sure-fire candidate out there. Graham Harrell has a solid resume in his young career, but will an “Air-Raid” coordinator mesh well with a head coach (and a program) that tends to prefer to be more run-based?

Joe Brady is the wonderkid from the Bayou state, but he hasn’t been a coordinator before and Texas would have to pay out the you know what to pry the savior of LSU from their hands.

On the defensive side Chris Ash seems to be the name that comes to mind first, but there are concerns this would be a “comfort hire” for Herman because of their time together at Ohio State and before that, Iowa State. The other names thrown out there don’t seem to have much connection to Texas and its deep recruiting at all or not much experience in this region.

Whatever the case, the honeymoon is surely over for Herman in Austin, and if he is going to succeed here, he has to get these hires right or the comma will be after his name shortly.

American Athletic Championship: Cincinnati vs. Memphis -9.5

These two teams haven’t met in Memphis since….five days ago when the Tigers snapped the Bearcats’ 9-game winning streak with a 34-24 victory.

Win and Memphis is headed to the Cotton Bowl, lose, and who knows, they might end up in the Boca Raton Bowl or somesuch…that is quite the motivation.

Memphis 37 Cincinnati 23

ATS – Memphis

SU – Memphis

PAC-12 Championship: Utah -6.5 vs. Oregon

Utah makes their second straight appearance in the Pac-12 Championship Game as they fell in last year’s game 10-3 to Washington, but they were missing quarterback Tyler Huntley and running back Zack Moss in that game. Both are healthy for this one.

Huntley (75.5% completion rate, 16 TD/2 INT) and Moss (1,246 yards 15 TD) are one of the most underrated duos in the country, as they have the Utes on the cusp of the college football playoff if they win this one and the dominos fall in the correct manner. Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert could have had his team in this position, but Herbert threw two costly interceptions in the Ducks’ loss to Arizona State last month. Herbert has been up and down of late – Oregon will need him to be the Top 5 NFL draft pick he will be if they want to pull off the upset here.

The Utes have won 8 in a row after falling to USC in the Coliseum back in September, with all but one of those victories by three scores. They only allowed 35 points total in the six games sandwiching the 28 they gave up to Washington the first weekend of November, as they get the lead on you and then sit on you the rest of the game.

This should be a hard fought, close game. The Ducks have a defense, too, and shouldn’t be intimidated by the challenge.

Utah 28 Oregon 24

ATS – Oregon

SU – Utah

ACC Championship: Clemson -28.5 vs. Virginia

The NCAA should have the ability to “flex” in an actual opponent for Clemson, as the Tigers have been heavy favorites in every game this season. They’ve won 27 in a row, with their last 7 by 30 or more point so let’s just have them play Auburn this weekend instead of this yawner.

Trevor Lawrence started off the year slowly, throwing 8 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in his first five games, but the ratio is 22/3 since then and 17/0 in his last five games. The defense has gotten in on the act, too, holding all 12 opponents to less than 300 yards total offense.

Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins (27 total touchdowns this season) might make this one entertaining for half a quarter, but Clemson should roll here.

Clemson 45 Virginia 14

ATS – Clemson

SU – Clemson

Big 10 Championship: Ohio State -16.5 vs. Wisconsin

Yawn. The first game where the favorite can lose and still make the playoff.

But that isn’t going to happen, because if you have forgotten, these two teams met a month and a half ago and Ohio State rolled after a slow first half, winning 38-7 in Columbus. This will be the third meeting of these two teams in the Big 10 Championship game, as the Buckeyes won 59-0 in 2014 and 27-21 in 2017. The Badgers haven’t beaten the Buckeyes since 2010.

And they aren’t winning this one.

Ohio State 34 Wisconsin 14

ATS – Ohio State

SU – Ohio State

SEC Championship: LSU -7 vs. Georgia

And another game where a team can lose and still make the playoff.

The experience factor is certainly on Georgia’s side here, as this marks their third consecutive SEC Championship game, while LSU makes their first appearance since 2011.

That might be their only advantage in this one.

Georgia’s offense has been downright frightening this year, but unfortunately it is the Bulldogs fans who are frightened after watching Jake Fromm complete less than 50% of his passes for the fourth straight game.

It didn’t get any better this week as star running back D’Andre Swift banged his shoulder last week, wide receiver Lawrence Cager injured his ankle in practice and will miss this game and wide receiver George Pickens was suspended for the first half of this one after a fight last week in their rivalry game with Georgia Tech (gee, I hope he won the fight, I’m sure it was worth it).

The Bulldogs have the defense to slow down LSU, but Joe Burrow has thrown for less than 300 yards in exactly one SEC game this year, and if the Tigers start to score, I’m not sure there are enough quarters in this game for Georgia to catch up.

LSU 31 Georgia 17



Big 12 Championship: Baylor vs. Oklahoma -9

While Texas looks for their 15th and 16th coordinators since their last Big 12 title, Oklahoma will be playing for their fifth consecutive Big 12 title against Baylor, who was 1-11 two years ago (drink) but could find themselves in the playoff Sunday afternoon.

These teams of course met three weeks ago in Waco, when Baylor jumped out to a 28-3 lead before blowing it in the second half. So either they know they can beat Oklahoma they just need to play a full game, or they know that Oklahoma can beat them no matter what and can go in a shell.

Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer had two rushing touchdowns in the first meeting, and he’ll need to continue that in this one. The Bears had SEVEN rushing touchdowns against Kansas last week, so Oklahoma must be prepared for that defensively.

My concern for Baylor in this game – are they just happy being here? Did Texas suffer a bit from that last year? Baylor hopes they know how to win this game, Oklahoma knows how to win this game.

I just don’t see Baylor coming into this game and winning…which means Oklahoma sits in really good position to make the playoff.

Maybe next year, Big 12.

Oklahoma 38 Baylor 24

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for more buyouts.