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The Week That Will Be: Just Breathe

The Longhorns dive into the bye week with a big victory but several more questions.

Oklahoma State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 14-10 (.583) ($260) ATS 13-11 (.542) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Your Shane Buechele Update II: Buchele threw for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns as SMU defeated TCU for the first time since 2011. The Mustangs rolled up 31 first half points on a TCU defense that held Purdue to 13 total points last week. They’ll look to go 5-0 for the first time since 1983 next week when they visit South Florida.

Fink Saves Helton’s Job: Okay, probably not, but the fourth-year Junior had completed only 13 passes in his USC career when he was forced into the game two plays into Friday night’s USC win due to an injury to starter Kedon Slovis. Fink passed for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns, helped in large part due to outstanding plays by his wide receiver corps, led by Michael Pittman and his 232 yards receiving.

New Year, Same Verse for the Aggies: Saturday was supposed to be the game that Texas A&M had to win, with Alabama, Georgia and LSU still left on the schedule, but after a 57-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game from Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz, the game never felt much in doubt after that. Auburn is now 4-0 at Kyle Field after they held the Aggies to only 56 yards rushing for the game.

Hell to the Victors: Jim Harbaugh is now 4-11 against Top 15 teams (including 0-8 in road games) as Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor racked up 203 yards and two touchdowns (despite missing the second quarter) in Wisconsin’s rout of Michigan. The Badgers were up 31-0 at halftime.

Notre Dame Moral Victory March: This one was not the runaway that many thought it would be, as the Irish held Georgia to a respectable 339 total yards (including 152 rushing yards on 33 carries). The Irish even held a half-time lead, but Georgia QB Jake Fromm and their own ineptitude (12 penalties, including 6 false starts), eventually was their undoing.

Longhorns Literally Hold on to Victory: The Longhorns have now not beaten Oklahoma State in 4 days. Sam was Sam, Keaontay Ingram looked like himself again and the defense was improved, holding Spencer Sanders to 19/32 passing and Chuba Hubbard to 3.3 yards per carry and a couple of huge red-zone stops. But the game also slipped away due to a couple of special teams gaffes, and one near gaffe (the on-side kick). But a win is a win.

The bye week that the Texas Longhorns will enjoy this weekend couldn’t come at a better time as they enter the weekend with injuries in the secondary (Green, Thompson, Foster, Overshown, Sterns), linebacker (Tilman), offensive line (Shackelford), wide receiver (Johnson), running back (Johnson, Whittington), quarterback (Ehlinger) and who knows what else that they haven’t even told us about.

The losses in the secondary loom especially large with the tilt against Oklahoma 14 days away from this weekend. It doesn’t take a calculator to see that most of the guys listed won’t be suiting up in that game, which is certainly a shame.

But just like every other FBS school, the Longhorns have 85 scholarship players, and unlike last year, or the year before, or the year before they have the depth to be able to absorb those losses and not just have it derail their season like it might have just a couple of seasons ago.

This is where those recruiting wins matter, and this is where the secondary recruiting (keeping guys on your roster and out of the Bru McCoy Transfer Portal) is crucial to the success of your football team, because let’s face it, injuries happen in this sport, and some of them are just violent injuries.

That depth is why most of us won’t be any further worried about a trip to Morgantown against a rebuilding West Virginia team than we would normally be about a trip to Morgantown. Or why most of us will talk ourselves into we’re beating Oklahoma by three touchdowns by Thursday of game week.

Championships are won by teams that manage to survive the war of attrition, and unlike previous years where injuries meant non-scholarship players or true freshmen that weren’t ready were suddenly forced into action, this year it is the “next man up” mentality and if anything getting snaps for some of these younger guys will make the Longhorns more dangerous later in the year when they can rotate more guys in because they have that valuable experience.

So fret about it for a couple of days, but come next week in Morgantown, get ready to do battle with those that are there and don’t concern yourself with who isn’t there.

Some other random thoughts about the Longhorns:

  • Whether it was the knee brace coming off or a fire lit under him, it was nice to see Keaontay Ingram get back in the groove and make some sick moves in the open field on Saturday. A guy like that can be a game changer and we’ve only scratched the surface on what he can do for this team.

  • Speaking of running backs and injuries, I’m old enough to remember when everyone was freaking out about the running back depth chart. Now three weeks later Roschon Johnson looks like a third-year running back, Ingram is getting into the flow of things, Daniel Young is working his way back into the rotation and Kirk Johnson was even spotted in warmups before the Oklahoma State game like a Yeti. Depth. Recruiting matters.

  • Is WRU already taken? Kidding. Mostly. A little.

  • Not Longhorn related, but is the Jimbo honeymoon over yet? Did it ever start? Imagine trying to sell tickets to the A&M/Arkansas game at the Death Star this weekend. One of these teams is guaranteed to finally get a SEC win! 11 AM! Be there!

  • And finally, steps to being a good human: Talk less. Listen more. And tweet Del Conte even less.

Clemson -27 @ North Carolina:

The 2019 season has scared Mack Brown to death, as all four North Carolina games this year have come down to the final seconds of the ballgame – with two wins and two losses, including a loss to Appalachian State last weekend in Chapel Hill.

Clemson has yet to play an interesting game yet thus far this season, rolling over hapless opponents such as Charlotte (where 110 guys saw the field), and oops, sorry, Texas A&M didn’t notice you had played Clemson, too.

Dabo Swinney hasn’t shown much of a desire to run up the score on anybody, but I have a hard time seeing North Carolina scoring many points on a Clemson defense that hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in any game this year, and have allowed only 40 in total.

Clemson 45 North Carolina 10

ATS – Clemson

SU – Clemson

USC @ Washington -10.5:

The Trojans now stand at 2-0 in Pac-12 play, and by virtue of their defeat of the Utes on Friday they now hold the tiebreaker against Utah. All of that is to say that this might be a preview of the Pac-12 Championship game, but of course it is way early for that talk.

We talked about new USC quarterback Matt Fink earlier in the column, but it Georgia transfer Jacob Eason led the Huskies to a victory in Provo against the same BYU Cougars that USC lost to the week prior. Eason had 290 passing yards and 3 touchdowns in the 45-19 Washington win.

It is hard to imagine USC going into Seattle and winning a game with their third-string quarterback, but stranger things have happened.

Washington 27 USC 24


SU – Washington

Ohio State -17 @ Nebraska:

Ohio State has won 5 of 6 against Nebraska since the Cornhuskers joined the Big 10, including last year’s 36-31 nail biter in Columbus. Nebraska entered that game 2-6 but quarterback Adrian Martinez nearly pulled off the upset after throwing for 266 yards and a touchdown. The Huskers would go on to finish 4-8 while Ohio State finished 13-1 with a win over Washington in the Rose Bowl.

This season the Buckeyes haven’t been tested that much, as they enter this game having outscored their opponents 214-36. Of course the Buckeyes haven’t exactly faced murder’s row as they opened the season with home games against Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, and Miami of Ohio while venturing on the road to play Indiana.

I’m not sure the Huskers are much of a test, either, as Nebraska enters this game fresh off an uninspiring 42-38 victory over Illinois. How that game managed to be that close when the Huskers outgained the Illini by nearly 400 hundred yards I am not entirely sure, but it was.

This certainly would be a game that would validate the Scott Frost era at Nebraska, but I’m not sure they have the horses to pull off anything like this yet.

Ohio State 34 Nebraska 20

ATS – Nebraska

SU – Ohio State

Kansas State @ Oklahoma State -5:

Kansas State certainly has been in the thorn in the side of Texas since the formation of the Big 12, however Oklahoma State has had their issues with the Wildcats as well.

KSU owns a two-game winning streak in this series, including last years 31-12 victory in Manhattan and 45-40 in Stillwater two seasons ago. On top of that, despite this being the golden age of Oklahoma State football, the series is tied at 4 games apiece in the last 8 years with Oklahoma State’s wins coming by margins of 6, 2, 4 and 7 points. In fact, the Cowboys haven’t beaten the Wildcats by more than 10 points since 1988, when Barry Sanders ran for 320 yards and Mike Gundy passed for 228 yards.

KSU is winning football games the way they usually win football games, committing few penalties, not turning the ball over and playing well on third down on both sides of the ball. But they haven’t really faced a team yet with a decent offense – can they avoid getting into a style of game that won’t suit them, a shootout?

Oklahoma State had a draining game against Texas last week while Kansas State watched the game on their couch, so you have to wonder how much the Cowboys have left in the tank, but Gundy will have them prepared.

Oklahoma State 33 Kansas State 24

ATS – Oklahoma State

SU – Oklahoma State

Iowa State -3 @ Baylor:

Iowa State’s 2019 got off to a rocky start with an overtime win over the football version of Northern Iowa and then a mistake-filled loss to Iowa, but righted the ship last week with a resounding victory over Louisiana Monroe (Florida State is jealous).

Meanwhile oddly enough, Baylor has yet to play this season…I’m just getting a bulletin that they actually have, they just made their home fans purchase tickets to see Stephen F. Austin (again the football version) and UTSA and traveled to Rice last week (those fans are rewarded with home losses games against Oklahoma and Texas later this season).

The Bears raced out to a 21-3 halftime lead last week at Rice Stadium, however they were shut out in the second half, and managed only 124 yards rushing on 35 attempts. It was only close on the scoreboard because they did outgain Rice by 200 yards, but still, that raised some eyebrows after that Rice team suffered a 48-13 loss to Texas the week prior.

Baylor’s defense has yet to allow a touchdown pass this season, but I’m not entirely sure that teams with Lumberjacks as their nickname should qualify a team for that statistic.

This is a good measuring stick for both teams. Can Baylor defeat a solid Iowa State team and possibly lay claim to second-tier Big 12 status? Or will Iowa State finally show the potential many were predicting this off-season?

I’m thinking the latter.

Iowa State 37 Baylor 31

ATS – Iowa State

SU – Iowa State

Texas Tech @ Oklahoma -26:

There was a time in the not so distant past that Texas Tech gave Oklahoma real fits. In fact they won 4 of 7 during the period from 2005 to 2011, but since then the Sooners have won 7 straight, including last season’s 51-46 scoreathon in Lubbock last season.

Jett Duffey replaced an injured Alan Bowman at halftime of that game last season and he quickly went to work on the Sooners’ much maligned defense, totaling 186 yards and 3 touchdowns in the second half. A similar situation occurs again this weekend as Bowman is once again injured and Duffey appears to be next in line to replace him.

Jalen Hurts is putting up Lincoln Riley numbers in a Lincoln Riley offense, so there is no real intrigue there, but the Red Raider defense is improved under first-year head coach Matt Wells. They have allowed only 41 points through three games thus far this season, but of course Oklahoma is no Arizona, UTEP or Montana State.

Duffey is an intriguing prospect as a back-up quarterback (Texas and Todd Orlando might remember the 500 yards he put up on the Longhorns last season), but this isn’t the Kliff Kingsbury Red Raiders anymore. I’m not sure they can put up the fire power required to do battle against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma 49 Texas Tech 24

ATS – Texas Tech

SU – Oklahoma

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for bye week MRIs.