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The Week That Will Be: Red River Disarray

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Fixing Things With Tom Herman, coming soon on LHN.

NCAA Football: Texas at Oklahoma Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 16-7-1 (.696) ($730) ATS 17-7 (.708) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Florida Might Be Good At least their offense might be good, as Kyle Trask threw for another 4 touchdowns. He now has 10 on the year to only 1 interception. Even better, the Gators only had 53 plays in the entire game. Now that defense...giving up 24 points to a Will Muschamp offense is never good.

Even number year — Fire Malzahn! I can’t keep up with the whimsical nature of Auburn fans, who want to fire their head coach seemingly every year, but Saturday night was ugly for the Tigers, who gave up 288 first half yards to their 81. The game was over midway through the second quarter when the Bulldogs went up 24-0.

How much of that $75 million is still due? Texas A&M tied the ballgame early in the second quarter, but that only seemed to anger Alabama as they put up 21 points in the quarter and had a 35-14 halftime lead from which they never looked back. Alabama quarterback Mac Jones showed that the bus driver label offends him as he threw for 435 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Crimson Tide have now outscored the Aggies 304-131 since 2014.

Brace Yourself — Texas Tech Lost on the Road This game was actually a little more competitive than I thought it might have been, as both teams lost their starting quarterback to injury and neither returned. Super freshman Deuce Vaughn again was the difference for the Wildcats, scoring two more touchdowns. The Red Raiders have now lost 9 of 10 to Kansas State.

Trust the Process We’ll get to Oklahoma later, but from The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Matt Campbell is now 7-7 in his last 14 games against Top 25 teams. Iowa State had won 7 games against Top 25 teams the previous three decades.

Gary Patterson Beats Texas Again.


For the ninth year in a row, the Texas Longhorns enter the annual match-up with Oklahoma in Dallas with a loss. Once again, Texas fans have to hear about “fixing things” before the leaves even have a chance to change colors.

It is beginning to fall on deaf ears.

Tom Herman has done more “fixing” than Chip & Joanna.

They got to work “fixing things” after Maryland. They were fixing things after a home loss to Texas Tech. And after Maryland again. And after TCU last year. After Iowa State. After Baylor. After a bowl win over Utah, when most of the previous coaching staff was scuttled, they were fixing things then, too.

But here we are.

The long standing motto of the Longhorns has been “The winning tradition of the University of Texas will not be entrusted to the timid or the weak.”

Perhaps the new motto should be “maybe next year.”

Sure, it was one of those crazy weeks in college football where 8 ranked teams lost, and 6 of them lost to unranked teams. But this isn’t an anomaly in the Tom Herman era at Texas, the Longhorns now have SIX losses to unranked teams as a ranked team.

SIX. In 43 games coached.

After a rough start, the Texas defense played remarkably well in the second half — with the exception of the Max Duggan touchdown — giving up field goals instead of touchdowns, any Big 12 defense should relish that opportunity.

But this game was lost at two junctures, both by the Texas offense.

The first was with :55 seconds left on the clock in the first half. Sure, Texas had just thrown an interception and given up a field goal. But you and I both know :55 seconds is an eternity in college football (didn’t Graham Harrell have 1:08 in 2008?). You have a senior, what we thought might be a Heisman caliber quarterback going into the game. You have one of the better kickers in the country. You are at home. You’re losing, and TCU gets the ball to start the second half.

That is the opportunity to give the keys to your offense and say go get us some points. Instead, Herman opted to let the :55 burn slowly off the clock. How different is that last drive for Texas if they are down by 1 instead of 4? They don’t hurry up to the 1-yard line and lose the football — they force TCU to use all of their timeouts and either kick a go-ahead field goal or score a touchdown there. Why act like you have a freshman quarterback who needs to be protected?

The second was on the three and out with about eight minutes left when the Longhorns finally got the ball with a lead — and with incredible foreshadowing by Fox analyst Joel Klatt, the Longhorns went nowhere on first down, next to nowhere on second down and threw short of the marker on third down. We all knew what was coming next. The Horns punted, the Horned Frogs got the ball around midfield and the rest was history. Get one or two first downs there and the difference is huge.

It reminds me of the Iowa State game last year in Ames where the Longhorns tried to milk a lead with about 4 minutes left when one or two first downs would have made it really difficult for the Cyclones. Instead the Longhorns punted and Iowa State kicked a field goal to win and burned down Ames that evening.

For the second straight week, the Longhorns committed double digit penalties (I know), but this continues a disturbing trend of Tom Herman Texas teams that finished the season in the 100’s in the national rankings for penalties committed.

Undisciplined. Relying on a quarterback to be perfect to win (and he was anything but perfect, through three quarters a remarkable 43% of his passes were deemed uncatchable — Ehlinger’s accuracy is a dreadful 46.9% on throws less than 10 yards downfield, the last two years he was at 70%).

Saturday was the perfect opportunity to take control of the Big 12 race — leaving TCU at 0-2 with the tiebreaker with a chance to send Oklahoma to 0-3 this week and own the tiebreaker over them as well.

But now, the Longhorns find themselves in all too familiar territory — fighting the other middle teams trying to reach the top of the conference by the end of the year, with zero control of their own destiny.

In a year where patience is running thin, Longhorn fans have just about had it — we’re famous for being entitled, but I think all of just would just settle for being undefeated on Columbus Day again.

Maybe next year.


Tennessee @ Georgia -12.5:

The big question for Georgia last week going into the match-up with Auburn was the question at quarterback — well former walk-on Stetson Bennett answered those at least for a week, throwing for 240 yards with a touchdown (including a very impressive 8/11 for 111 yards and a touchdown on third down).

The Bulldogs have a trip to Tuscaloosa looming next week, but they certainly cannot afford to overlook the Tennessee Volunteers, who currently are tied (with Notre Dame) for the nation’s second longest winning streak at 8 games.

Of course none of those victories were against a team on the level of Georgia, who have defeated the Vols three straight times in this series by a combined score of 122-26.

The win streak ends, but the Vols keep it close.

Georgia 28 Tennessee 21

ATS – Tennessee

SU – Georgia

Florida -7 @ Texas A&M:

With the really odd way that the SEC schedules their conference games, this is Florida’s first trip to College Station since the Aggies’ very first game as a member of the Southeastern Conference in 2012. Texas A&M’s quarterback that day was a redshirt freshman named Johnny Manziel. The Gators won 20-17.

I doubt they missed that trip too much.

There is a lot of hype around the Gators this season, and for good reason as they are coming off a 11-2 2019 season where their only losses were to the eventual national champion LSU and #8 Georgia.

The Gators are off to a hot start this season, led by quarterback Kyle Trask, who has thrown for 10 touchdowns to only 1 interception in two games thus far. Trask’s favorite target is tight end Kyle Pitts, who has 12 receptions for 227 yards and 6 touchdowns.

Trask is a Texan, from Manvel, Texas, and comes from a family of Aggies (he is even named after Kyle Field, I’m sure this isn’t the first time you are reading this this week and it won’t be the last).

I’m thinking the family won’t be too happy with Kyle by Saturday evening.

Florida 38 Texas A&M 24

ATS – Florida

SU – Florida

Miami @ Clemson -14:

It is seemingly a new era for Miami football, and they had better hope so, as their last two games against Clemson have not gone well. In 2017 they lost 38-3 in the ACC Championship game, and in 2015 they lost 58-0 in Miami.

Ouch.

Clemson has started the season like they usually do, beating teams as a matter of routine, but not necessarily handily, as they have started 0-3 against the spread. They are not struggling by any means, and when Trevor Lawrence is completing 73% of his passes, you can see that they are accomplishing exactly what they want to accomplish, but they are not that team in Vegas that you want to bet the house on.

One more note, Travis Etienne now has a touchdown in 38 games in his illustrious Clemson career (why did he come back again?). That ties a FBS record.

That record likely falls Saturday night and gets shattered as the season progresses.

Clemson 38 Miami 24

ATS – Miami

SU – Clemson

Kansas State @ TCU -8.5:

Much has been made of TCU’s record against Texas since joining the Big 12, but perhaps it says something about them (or their leadership) that their record in the game immediately following a win over Texas is 2-4 in the Big 12 era.

I understand that Gary Patterson and the Horned Frog faithful love beating Texas, but there are 8 other teams in the conference.

The big question here is Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson’s health. Thompson left the victory against Texas Tech last week and returned to the sidelines with a sling on his arm, but X-rays were clear, so he might be able to give it a go this week.

If Thompson can’t go, it will be talented true freshman quarterback Will Howard who suits up. Howard, the nation’s 19th rated pro-style quarterback as a high school senior, came to Kansas State as their most heralded quarterback recruit since Josh Freeman in 2006, and it was easy to see why as he completed 7/12 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown in emergency duty last week, his first action of the season.

TCU comes in reading the headlines and struggles here, but I think they pull out a small victory.

TCU 30 Kansas State 27

ATS – Kansas State

SU – TCU

Texas Tech @ Iowa State -12.5:

Iowa State has won four in a row against the Red Raiders, beginning with that 66-10 whipping back in Ames back in 2016 — each win has been by at least two scores, with the closest being by 9 points.

The big question here is the health of Tech quarterback Alan Bowman, who had to exit last week’s loss against Kansas State after a hit to the leg. X-rays were negative but I’m sure it didn’t feel good on Sunday morning.

If Bowman can’t go, it will be Utah State transfer Henry Colombi, who filled in admirably for Bowman last week, but is the back-up for a reason. The Cyclones will have to fight off a hell of a hangover, but they should win this one, and they should win comfortably.

Iowa State 35 Texas Tech 24

ATS – Texas Tech

SU – Iowa State

Texas vs. Oklahoma -2:

Let’s get all the milestones out of the way first. Oklahoma last week lost their second consecutive regular season game for the first time since 1999. The Sooners are now 0-2 in the Big 12 for the first time since 1998. They are unranked for the first time since one week in 2016. And they enter this game unranked for the first time since 2005.

Let’s start with the Texas defense — the Longhorns found their pass rush against the Horned Frogs, pressuring Max Duggan several times. The Sooners’ offensive line has not been good thus far in 2020 as youth and some missed time caused havoc on that unit in the first three ballgames. They are averaging just 3.6 yards per rushing attempt through three games and have allowed 9 sacks. The Longhorns must pressure Rattler, who has shown a propensity to have happy feet and make big mistakes when faced with pressure.

But, the trick here is to not let Rattler get free. Rattler is not a rusher — he has rushed for less than 20 yards on the year — but shows a propensity to find receivers while on the run. Keep him in the pocket and take away his first read, and good things should happen.

Offensively, Sam has to be better. Simple as that. The receivers need to make more than the routine play, and the offensive line HAS to be able to open running lanes.

Ehlinger will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t been good enough this season, as noted earlier. There were rumors of him not being 100% last week, but that is rarely a viable excuse in college football. If I am Texas, I am utilizing all 6’7” of Jared Wiley in the middle against Oklahoma’s smallish secondary — their biggest starter is 5’11” in that secondary — feed Wiley and Brennan Eagles all day on short passes in the middle of the field.

The explosives will be there — Texas has thrived on them, OU has given them up (Iowa State had 6 passing plays of 20 yards or longer). Texas simply cannot afford to be afraid to attack Oklahoma’s weaknesses this week...even if there is 55 seconds left on the clock.

It is not going to be a fun road for whoever loses this one — not only in their email inboxes but on the gridiron. The Longhorns end the month of October with match-ups against Baylor and at Oklahoma State, while the Sooners are on the road to TCU and Texas Tech. Win or lose, these teams very well might drop another one the rest of the month.

Texas has covered 7 years in a row and 11 of 15 since 2005 — but they are usually a bigger underdog coming into this game recently.

He didn’t look good last week, but I just keep coming back to the experience of Sam Ehlinger in this game. This TX/OU game is a lot different from any other, but Ehlinger has proven his mettle in this game — lifetime he is completing 62% of his passes for 802 yards and 3 touchdowns to ZERO interceptions (unjinx), and has rushed for an additional 6 touchdowns, including at least one in each of his three career starts against Oklahoma.

I’ve gone back and forth on this game more times this week than a tennis match, but despite my head saying there is no way the Sooners can be 0-3 in the conference, the Longhorns send the Sooners to 0-3 in the Big 12.

Texas 37 Oklahoma 31

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the 2021 Texas State Fair.