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The Week That Will Be: Deja Vu

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The Horns again give away a winnable game. What now?

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Texas Ricardo B. Brazziell-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 1-5 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 17-12-1 (.586) ($320) ATS 20-10 (.667) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Vols Lose One Streak, Continue Another One Tennessee’s 8-game winning streak is over, but they did extend their consecutive losses to Top 10 teams to 34 with the loss to Georgia over the weekend. The Volunteers led at halftime, but Georgia outscored them 27-0 in the second half.

Jimbo Totally Worth $75 MM The Aggies have their first win over a Top 5 team at Kyle Field since defeating Oklahoma in 2002 as Isaiah Spiller rushed for 174 yards and Kellen Mond threw for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns. Great win for the Ags, but that Florida defense doesn’t bode well for their future.

Clemson Yawns Their Way to Another Win Miami quarterback D’Eriq King’s Heisman chances ended after completing less than 50% of his passes for 121 yards and 2 interceptions. The Hurricanes, who had been rolling coming into this one, managed only 17 points with 7 of those coming on a blocked field goal attempt. The ridiculous Travis Etienne scored a touchdown in his 39th game, a new FBS record.

Gary Patterson Can’t Beat “Not Texas” Kansas State only completed 8 passes on Saturday and gained only 289 offensive yards but that was enough to send Patterson to 2-5 the week following a Big 12 win over Texas. True freshman Will Howard got the start at quarterback for the Wildcats as it was announced this week that Skyler Thompson is out for the season.

Maybe Iowa State Wasn’t Impressed With Beating OU The Cyclones’ OU hangover lasted all of about 10 minutes as Texas Tech only managed 270 total yards (at one point early in the fourth quarter they had less than 100). Brock Purdy threw for more than 300 yards and Breece Hall had 135 yards as Iowa State improved to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2002 and only the second time since 1950.

Oklahoma Defeats a Hapless Texas. Again. Tom Herman is now 1-4 against Oklahoma, and 11-7 in his Texas career as a ranked team facing an unranked opponent.


You can’t fire a head coach during a pandemic-caused economic downturn.

That was the conventional wisdom heading into this season. I even said it myself in this space about a month ago:

In normal times you certainly could argue it is make or break time for Tom Herman, but take one look at that buyout and of course the fact that we’re in the middle of a economic fallout amid a worldwide pandemic, and I think Tom could go 2-8 this year, be found asleep under the bench during one of those losses and he would still be opening up that beautiful new south end zone project against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns next Labor Day weekend.

And I still think that. Not that Tom Herman deserves another year, but you can make a myriad of excuses like missed spring practices, injuries to offensive skill players, the fact that the university and the athletic department will lose tens of millions of dollars this year, the bad optics of spending tens of millions of dollars to buy out a football coach amid layoffs in the athletic department and university.

We could sit here for quite a while and list all the reasons why not.

But, I ask, if Texas cannot win this year, when?

Herman has admitted himself that this was the year they were targeting, when they would have a senior quarterback, an experienced offensive line, upper classmen up and down the depth chart on defense, and a down Big 12.

But three conference games in, the Longhorns sit at 1-2 and needed a damn near miracle to get that one.

If not this year, when?

I really did not think we would be here 21 months ago when the Longhorns left the Louisiana Superdome after having thumped Georgia, but since that game, Texas is 10-7 and have not defeated Oklahoma, Baylor, Iowa State or TCU. The Texas fanbase has a well deserved reputation as being spoiled and entitled, but just win the games that you should win in that timespan and there is nowhere near the shouts that we have heard this week.

Much like Charlie Strong before him, it appears that Tom Herman is in over his head and has no idea how to right the ship.

Both TCU and Oklahoma were practically begging to get beaten on successive Saturdays, and the Longhorns, being the friendly Texans they are, said no, that is okay, you keep it. TCU had more penalties and gave up more explosives. Oklahoma looked like they were coached by Mack Brown in the Cotton Bowl to start the game.

For seven quarters Alex Grinch has given Sam Ehlinger fits, but Sam came alive on Saturday and the Horns still couldn’t get out of the way and let him guide them to victory. The running backs contributed next to nothing, only 29 yards total. The offensive line surrendered six sacks. His receiving corps did not step up enough. An Oklahoma defense that had given up explosives like Halloween candy did not allow a single play of 30 or more yards.

And here we are.

Mike Yurcich was given an experienced offensive line, a stable of running backs and a senior uber-talented quarterback and this offense still resembles the offense that stumbled through Fort Worth and Ames last season.

And Tom Herman hired Yurcich because he wanted to be more of a CEO-type, to take more control of the entire organization.

Where exactly has that paid off this season? Where is the improvement? If anything this team looks less organized, less disciplined and doesn’t look like they have the foggiest clue of what they are trying to do on game days.

They lack any sort of identity (at least none that you’d want to claim).

Where to from here?

That is a whole other column for another day.


BYU -4.5 @ Houston:

The BYU Cougars enter this one on Friday night looking to start a season 5-0 for the first time since 2008. They bring the nation’s top (by yards) offense to town, led by quarterback Zach Wilson, who is skyrocketing up NFL draft boards after his team’s hot start. Some have him possibly getting into the first round.

The Cougars are 4-0, but they haven’t exactly faced a murderer’s row, defeating Navy, Troy, Louisiana Tech and UTSA (by a touchdown after entering the game as 34.5 point favorites). Give them credit for doing what they need to do, but they have yet to be seriously tested.

Houston, meanwhile, was just overjoyed to actually begin their season last week with a comeback win over Tulane, 49-31, despite committing five turnovers.

This BYU team is for real (they boast an absurd 130 combined starts on their offensive line). Houston might hang around for a couple of quarters, but BYU likely was looking forward to this one last week while sleepwalking through UTSA.

BYU 41 Houston 27

ATS – BYU

SU – BYU

North Carolina -8.5 @ Florida State:

Boy, Mack really seems motivated out in Chapel Hill, no?

Hmm.

Anyway, despite these two teams being in the same conference for about 30 years, they haven’t met on the gridiron since 2016 (a 37-35 North Carolina win), hadn’t met before that since 2010 (a 37-35 North Carolina win...not a typo), and have only played each other three times since 2004.

North Carolina comes into this game coming off a high scoring affair against a depleted Virginia Tech squad, 56-45, a game in which Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell threw for 257 yards and 3 touchdowns and was quite efficient on the day, only throwing 5 incompletions in 23 attempts.

Mack’s Tar Heels boast the nation’s 5th best offense in the S&P+ rankings, and play a beleaguered Florida State team that gave up 52 to Miami and 41 to Notre Dame — what a mess they are.

North Carolina 37 Florida State 24

ATS – North Carolina

SU – North Carolina

Clemson -27 @ Georgia Tech:

Georgia Tech enters this one with a one-game winning streak, which came last Friday night with a 46-27 victory over now 1-3 Louisville.

Clemson enters having won 25 consecutive conference games.

I already mentioned the absurd Travis Etienne earlier in the column, and I’m still wondering why he is still in college and not toting the rock for say, the Jacksonville Jaguars this fall….oh. Etienne averages 9.2 yards per touch this season, and Clemson isn’t even playing him that much, as he is only getting 49% of the running back carries this year for the Tigers.

Clemson has won 5 in a row against Georgia Tech, with a combined score of 101-35 the last two years. I don’t see why that should change much.

Beware Clemson — they tend to let off the gas so as a result they are only 1-3 ATS this year. I hate going against that much talent but fortune favors the bold, right?

Clemson 41 Georgia Tech 17

ATS – Georgia Tech

SU – Clemson

Louisville @ Notre Dame -17:

The games you have to pick when the Big 12 has a light schedule and LSU/Florida was canceled. Geesh.

As mentioned above, Louisville has limped to a 1-3 start this season, and with Notre Dame, Florida State (I know), Virginia Tech and Virginia the next four for them, it might get a lot uglier for Papa John’s darlings.

These teams met last year in Louisville as Notre Dame won 35-17, but the Irish seem a bit off this year, sleepwalking through a win over Duke in the season opener and allowing a bad Florida State team to put up 26 in South Bend last week. Kyren Williams and five-star freshman Chris Tyree combined for 9.6 yards a carry against the Seminoles, but Ian Book was again fairly pedestrian, throwing for 201 yards and two touchdowns.

They’ll need him to win through the air at some point. But not this week.

Notre Dame 44 Louisville 21

ATS – Notre Dame

SU – Notre Dame

Texas A&M -6.5 @ Mississippi State:

The Aggies had the emotional high of a win over #4 Florida, but now they have the perfect trap game against a Mississippi State team that has not looked very good since week one.

Texas A&M broke a three-year losing streak to the Bulldogs last year at Kyle Field, coming out on to 49-30, but before that, two of those three Mississippi State wins were by more than two touchdowns. They don’t fare well against this team.

And of course, thus enters Mike Leach, the new head coach at Mississippi State, and the old head coach at Texas Tech, where he went 7-3 against the Aggies the Red Raiders’ head man.

The Bulldogs are a bit of a mess in the first year under Leach, which is probably to be expected going from a run based offense to the Air Raid in the middle of a weird year all around for college football, but to defeat the defending national champions and then not put up an offensive point last week for the first time in his head coaching career is peak Mike Leach weirdness.

I mean my goodness they had 70 pass attempts and zero offensive points. That is hard to do.

The Aggies will be without WR Caleb Chapman, who had a breakout game last week against the Gators, putting up 9 receptions for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns, but was lost for the season with an injury in the process.

I’m going to make two within the game bets here — I’m going to bet that Kellen Mond can’t replicate this great performance last week against a sneaky good Bulldogs defense, and that Mike Leach scores some points this week.

Mississippi State 28 Texas A&M 24

ATS – Mississippi State

SU – Mississippi State

Georgia @ Alabama -6:

There was no word on press time if the Crimson Tide were going to have Nick Saban coach from the press box ala Hugh Freeze or if they will wheel around a computer on a cart like your teacher had in high school to coach the team from there, but I am sure they will figure out something.

Kirby Smart is 47-12 as the head coach at the University of Georgia, but he is 0-2 against Alabama, with both of those losses coming in post-season, high intensity games. They were both close but no cigar for Saban’s former assistant, just like the others.

Alabama toyed with Ole Miss before winning their 93rd consecutive game against an unranked opponent (insert mind blown emoji here), even after giving up 647 yards and 48 points to Lane Kiffin’s squad. This continues a disturbing trend for Alabama after giving up 46 to LSU and 48 to Auburn and 44 to Clemson the year prior.

But they boast the nation’s #1 S&P+ offense as Mac Jones is actually putting up BETTER numbers than Tua Tagovailoa was at this point last season.

I need to stop, that is just depressing me.

They’ll face the nation’s #1 S&P+ defense from Georgia next week, however they’re relying on a former walk-on quarterback to guide through them this year. Stetson Bennett has yet to throw an interception and completed a pass to 9 different receivers against Tennessee on Saturday, but it remains to be seen if this kid can go out and win a game of this caliber.

Likely not.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before...Alabama wins.

Alabama 27 Georgia 24

ATS – Georgia

SU – Alabama

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the new book “Singin’ Solo” by Sam Ehlinger, due in book stores next week.