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The Week That Will Be: Bear Down

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The Horns return to DKR, looking to get a bad taste out of their mouth.

NCAA Football: Baylor at Texas John Gutierrez-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 1-5 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 18-17-1 (.514) (-$90) ATS 24-12 (.667) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Houston Can’t Stop the BYU Train BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has now accounted for 18 touchdowns to only 1 interception on the season as the (BYU) Cougars erased a 26-21 fourth quarter deficit by scoring the last 22 points of the game. BYU travels to Boise State on November 6th in what looks to be the only game were BYU won’t be heavy favorites the rest of the season.

Mack Brown Loses Big Game...No Way What was I thinking trusting a Mack Brown coached team in a big game? Did I not have 20+ years of evidence? Mack is now 0-10 against FSU in his career.

Clemson Gets Revenge for Cumberland All you need to know about this game and how much of a blow-out it was is that the Clemson punter went in at quarterback late in the game and had more passing yards (13) than Georgia Tech did in the second half (0).

Notre Dame….zzzzzz….sorry…..Wins? I don’t know how excited I would get about a 5-point win over a 1-3 Louisville squad, but the Irish only had 7 possessions on the day, including one that took the final 7:55 off the clock. The Irish seems content on utilizing a power running game (they didn’t have a passing play longer than 18 yards on Saturday, and only have three 30+ yard plays this season), but with road trips to Pitt, Georgia Tech (I know), Boston College and North Carolina and a home date against Clemson left on the schedule, they might want to mix in the forward pass.

Mississippi State Defense 9, Mississippi State Offense 7 That is the tally the last two games for the Bulldogs, as quarterback K.J. Costello was again terrible (99 yards passing, 4.5 yards per attempt, 2 turnovers) against the Aggies. Next up for Mississippi State? Alabama in two weeks. As for the Aggies, they have had a nice turnaround since that Alabama loss, with sophomore Isaiah Spiller rushing for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns in two games.

Alabama Beats Georgia….Again As expected, Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett IV was not enough as the Bulldogs were held scoreless in the second half. For the game, Bennett completed less than half of his passes (There is no way Kirby Smart wants him throwing the football 40 times). Alabama loses Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III and what happens? DeVonta Smith & Jaylen Waddle combine for 16 receptions, 328 yards and three touchdowns in the biggest game of the year. Georgia gave up 40 points for only the fourth time in the Kirby Smart era.


There was little joy in Austin last week — and if you peruse social media or the message boards it isn’t the 2-2 Longhorns or the status of Tom Herman that was causing the most consternation — ladies and gentlemen, it was the Eyes of Texas.

It all came to a head when Sam Ehlinger was pictured singing the song seemingly alone after the loss to Oklahoma. No matter what the truth of the story might have been (Ehlinger said this week the moment was overblown), perception is reality and thus the reality was that Ehlinger, the lifetime Longhorn, was the good guy and the other 80+ guys on the team were the bad guys.

Because you know, this is 2020, where we have no place for nuance and any shades of grey.

It didn’t matter that perhaps Ehlinger was the last on the field due to interviews or because he’s the guy most on the other team want to talk to after the game. It didn’t matter that the picture was poorly cropped and grainy enough to make the Zapruder film look like 4K. It didn’t matter that the band wasn’t there and sitting in for the band that day in the Cotton Bowl was a tape recorder from 1984 and the worst stadium speakers in the Western hemisphere.

I’m no Scott Wilson, but I have done my share of traveling with the Longhorn football team to attend games, from Lincoln to Fayetteville to Oxford to Stillwater to Dallas to Pasadena to New Orleans.

I have been a season ticket holder for the last 15+ years, and have been in my seat at the end for thrilling wins over Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Nebraska and others.

And once that final whistle blows, after jumping up and down and risking a severe ankle injury, there is one thing that enters your mind.

The Eyes of Texas.

The camaraderie and exaltation that is achieved during the singing of that song is second to no other Longhorn tradition — whether it is standing on the field after an improbable win over Arkansas or a big win over Oklahoma or a Big 12 title — those standing there singing that song with you are your brothers and sisters for that moment in time, and you would literally not rather be anywhere else.

That is — until this summer.

Now the tradition and lore of the Eyes of Texas is stained — and it is up to us, the Longhorn alumni and current students — to determine whether the tradition is salvageable or if it needs to be scrapped completely.

I don’t know the answer to that. It is more apparent that nobody does.

And that is the issue.

It is easy for alumni and boosters to say just get over it, the song has done far more good than bad, that nobody even knew there were any nefarious origins until this summer, after the song had been sung a million times at sporting events, at graduations, at weddings, a lone bugle playing it at a funeral.

The song can’t just be swept under the rug, there is too much good that has come of it, they say.

But just as the tradition must be respected, so must the feelings and concerns of those that have raised legitimate questions about it.

Who are we to tell anyone what they can and cannot be offended by?

This issue clearly isn’t going away — and although the instant gratification society we live in today demands answers NOW and OMG, EPIC FAIL, it isn’t an issue that can just be swept under the rug and told to forget about it. All we can do is educate and listen.

And listen some more. And more. And even more.

No, Tom Herman or Chris Del Conte or Player A absolutely cannot demand that everyone stand around and sing that song.

And apparently the band can’t be made to play it.

Intimidation and patronizing won’t help.

Traditions are borne from organic actions, so if this one is to continue, it is the players that will ultimately decide the fate of this tradition — the “picture” in Dallas was terrible optics, if nothing else.

If we trust these players (across all sports) with the reputation of the University of Texas and to be role models to our sons and daughters, then we must respect them and trust them that they will find their way here, too.

Guidance, not intimidation.

“I can’t give you the answers. You gotta make the answers.” — Coach Taylor, Friday Night Lights


Cincinnati @ SMU -2.5:

What an interesting game.

Cincinnati enters this one with a 3-0 record, mostly off unimpressive opponents, unless you had Austin Peay, Army or South Florida in the playoff, but are also coming off consecutive 11-win seasons, so we can respect their track record.

Meanwhile, SMU is 5-0 for the first time since 1982, but three of those wins have been decided by a touchdown or less — they are winning...but have been fortuitous to be undefeated thus far.

Shane Buechele keeps leading the SMU stampede, throwing for 1,710 yards with 12 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions in those five wins. He’s lost weapons along the way, but he just keeps producing.

Cincinnati, on the other hand, is winning with defense, as starting quarterback Desmond Ridder has only thrown for 597 yards with 6 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in three games, but their defense ranks 5th in the country in S&P+ defense.

The Bearcats are looking to go to a major bowl after 22 wins the last two seasons got them to the Military Bowl and the Birmingham Bowl, but my question here is, if SMU does manage to keep scoring as they have — can Cincinnati keep up?

These two teams have split their last two meetings, with Cincinnati winning in Dallas two years ago 26-20 and SMU winning 31-28 three years ago, but I have a feeling this is the game where the Mustangs put it together and don’t mess around all game.

SMU 34 Cincinnati 24

ATS – SMU

SU – SMU

Nebraska @ Ohio State -26:

It still fries my grew up watching Tommie Frazier brain to see Nebraska as a four touchdown opponent to anyone, but when 2016 was the last year that the Cornhuskers finished with more than 5 wins….here we are.

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields was not kind to the Cornhuskers last year, as he accounted for four touchdowns in the 48-7 Ohio State win. Even worse news for the Cornhuskers is that this year’s game shifts to Columbus, where Nebraska is winless in five trips. Recent years have not been kind to Nebraska, but they entered this game last year at 3-1 only to suffer a humiliating defeat and then went on to lose 5 of 7 after that loss.

The quarterback for the Cornhuskers is expected to be junior Adrian Martinez, who enjoyed a record-setting year in 2018 only to see a drop-off last year. He had off-season shoulder surgery this year, but he’s still the best option Nebraska has as he has 21 career starts and 5,817 yards of total offense.

It is nice of the Big Ten to join the party, the chips and dips are on the table here, the keg is out back. Make yourself at home, but not tooooo comfortable.

Unless you are Ohio State, and they can pretty much do what they want to do in this conference.

Ohio State 45 Nebraska 17

ATS – Ohio State

SU – Ohio State

Michigan -3 @ Minnesota:

10-14.

That is Jim Harbaugh’s record against ranked opponents as head coach at the University of Michigan, for which he is getting paid $7.5 MM annually.

Ouch.

Michigan has won two in a row in this series, and an absurd 41 of 45, but only one of those came against super coach P.J. Fleck, who led the Gophers to a 11-2 record last season (their best record in 115 years) and a program-record for Big Ten wins while finishing 10th in the country, their highest ranking since 1962.

Make no mistake, the coronavirus runs from P.J. Fleck.

One thing the Gophers haven’t done is beat Michigan in Minneapolis, in fact they haven’t done that since 1977. But this Gopher team could actually be better than last year’s team, as redshirt junior Tanner Morgan returns for Minnesota — he holds the distinction as the best quarterback not named Justin Fields in the Big Ten after throwing for 30 touchdowns last season.

Joe Milton is the quarterback for Michigan this year, and while he might look like Vince Young, he is no Vince Young. I just don’t see how the Wolverines go into Minneapolis and come away with a win over an experienced Minnesota squad in Week 1. To me, the wrong team is favored.

Minnesota 31 Michigan 24

ATS – Minnesota

SU – Minnesota

Iowa State @ Oklahoma State -3.5:

Oklahoma State has been a problem for Iowa State, who has only won one of the last eight games against the Pokes — but that one win was two years ago in Stillwater, 48-42.

Spencer Sanders is likely back at quarterback for the Cowboys, but who really knows as they are trying to be all cagey about it, but he gives them the best chance to win, so expect him to start.

The key to this game is Iowa State running back Breece Hall, who only had 76 yards rushing for the Cyclones last year, while Brock Purdy had an astounding 62 pass attempts — that isn’t the way Iowa State wants to win games. if Hall can run here, Iowa State can control the tempo, but if Purdy is forced to do too much — well it will be 1 of 9.

Oklahoma State 38 Iowa State 31

ATS – Oklahoma State

SU – Oklahoma State

Oklahoma -6.5 @ TCU:

Speaking of problems with one team, Gary Patterson has pissed down his leg when it comes to the Oklahoma Sooners, as TCU has lost six in a row to Oklahoma, with only three of those being a one-score game — they have largely been uncompetitive against the Sooners in the Big 12 era.

But hey, beat Texas and it keeps the boosters at bay, that’s all Gary cares about.

Max Duggan, who looks like the college career reincarnation of Doug Flutie against Texas, was dreadful against the Sooners last year, completing only 7 of 21 passes for 65 yards with no scores and an interception — although he did pitch in 92 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Horned Frogs did hold Jalen Hurts to 145 passing yards — but allowed the Sooners to rush for 366 yards.

It doesn’t matter. Sooners win and cover. They don’t lose to Gary Patterson.

Oklahoma 45 TCU 31

ATS – Oklahoma

SU – Oklahoma

Baylor @ Texas -9:

Although Baylor was a thorn in the side of Texas in the middle of last decade, the Horns had actually won four in a row against the Bears before last year’s 24-10 Baylor win in Waco. That game was an uneven affair for Sam Ehlinger, who finished averaging 5.4 yards per pass attempt and an interception to no touchdowns. However he did chip in 79 of the 191 rushing yards the Longhorns rolled up that afternoon.

The last two Texas/Baylor meetings have been low-scoring, with only a combined 74 points scored — Ehlinger was injured and missed most of the 2018 match-up, so this hasn’t been a memorable pairing for him during his time at Texas.

The two biggest questions concerning Baylor have been: A.) Can they keep Charlie Brewer on the field for an entire season? and B.) How good will the defense be after losing a ton to graduation from possibly the conference’s best defense last year?

The first question we haven’t really answered yet, as Baylor has only played two games due to COVID postponements. Though Brewer did somehow survive six sacks by the Mountaineers, so that is promising.

And I’m not sure that you can answer the second one quite yet when Baylor’s opponents in those two games were the league’s worst offenses, Kansas and West Virginia.

Due to the COVID tribulations the season has been a bit of a disjointed effort for the Bears, as they had two kick returns for scores against Kansas as Brewer only threw for 142 yards. Against West Virginia, the team only rushed for 27 total yards on 33 carries.

The Texas defense should be able to get some pressure on Brewer, and the Bears don’t have a ton of weapons to be feared, but as they failed to do against TCU with Max Duggan, they have to keep Brewer in the pocket and respect his running ability. He ran for only 344 yards last season, but will do it in spots, as the Longhorns found out last year when he rushed for 75 yards against them.

This should be a game that the Horns win handily. Baylor may very well continue on the path that Matt Ruhle laid out for them, but they haven’t practiced much, haven’t played much and have a brand new coaching staff.

Which of course means it will be a close one.

Texas 34 Baylor 27

ATS – Baylor

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for some of that great vintage Texas gear.