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The Week That Will Be: Western Union

The Horns come away with a satisfying victory and perhaps something even more.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Texas Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 5-1 ATS 4-2 SU

For the Year: 5 -1 (.833) ($350) ATS 4-2 (.667) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

Notre Dame’s ACC Debut Largely Forgettable: The Irish won with some amount of comfort, but the main question entering the season for Notre Dame was their wide receivers and this game did nothing to appease those concerns. Ian Book completed only 19/31 passes for a respectable 263 yards and a score, and the Irish were without a few that will return later this season, but it is something to keep an eye on.

Miami Rushing Machine: The Hurricanes rushed for 337 yards as a team and quarterback D’Eriq King extended his own NCAA record of scoring both a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown in the same game to 16.

North Carolina Avoids Disaster: The Tar Heels slept through about three quarters of this game as Sam Howell failed to throw multiple touchdown passes in a game for the first time in his career. New Syracuse offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s offense was held to only 6 points, as any team with a competent offense might have been able to pull off the upset on this day. I’m not bitter at all that North Carolina’s late run kept me from an undefeated week in Week 1. Not at all.

Notre Dame Should Have Joined The Sun Belt: The first of three victories by Sun Belt teams over Big 12 opponents occurred in Ames, Iowa, where Matt Campbell’s crew didn’t heed my advice from last week about this tricky Louisiana team. The Ragin’ Cajuns are now ranked for the first time since 1943, while Brock Purdy’s Heisman run is over before it even logically started as he completed less than 50% of his passes for a paltry 145 yards.

The Red Apples Sail: Arkansas State went into Manhattan and won despite nine starters being out due to COVID protocol (someone needs to start a band named this….ladies and gentlemen COVID Protocol will not be signing any autographs tonight due to...well, COVID protocol). To be fair, Kansas State was missing several players as well due to various reasons. One other takeaway from this game, freshman Deuce Vaughn (from Round Rock Cedar Ridge) is going to be a problem as a Darren Sproles starter kit for the next four years.

The Horns Look Like They Used To: Sam Ehlinger set school records for yards and passing touchdowns in a half to start the 2020 season. What a tone.

It took all of one play for the 2020 Texas Football season to feel different, and not just because of the roughly 15,000 in attendance or the fact that this game was scheduled about a month ago. No, it was different because this Texas team actually seems to plan on doing what it is doing.

Quarterback Sam Ehlinger took the snap, faked a handoff, took a quick glance towards Jordan Whittington on the screen and instead fired towards Joshua Moore, who was streaking across the middle. Moore made one guy miss and was gone, 78 yards to the house on the very first play of the young season.

And it didn’t feel like Texas just being better athletes than those from UTEP, it actually felt like perhaps the coaching staff had noticed some tendencies and capitalized on that.

Texas didn’t look back the entire night as they raced to a 59-3 win.

As mentioned, Sam Ehlinger set school records (429 yards passing and five touchdowns in the first half). Last year’s defense might have given up 24 points in this game and UTEP might have hung around until the third quarter.

In this one, UTEP had 121 yards in the first half. The defense was just as dominating as the offense. They looked focused and embarrassed by the production of a year ago, and again looked well coached. We weren’t screaming about missed tackles all night, we weren’t complaining about busted coverages, we weren’t throwing the remote over a running back gashing our linebackers.

I don’t know that Tom Herman could have scripted a better performance from his team.

There was plenty to feel good about, but just enough things to work on as well (the lingering lack of pass rush, just an okay performance running the football).

But, of course, let’s temper our excitement. Beating UTEP was not a goal on the wall of the athletic center (although with the 1-0 mantra everywhere I guess it technically was). Enjoy the moment, never feel bad about a win, but it all goes out the window if they go into Lubbock next Saturday and fall back on bad habits.

But they took care of business, something that some recent teams didn’t necessarily do against weaker opponents (Tulsa 2018, Rice 2015 and Maryland come to mind), which is more than we can say for some fellow members of the Big 12 already this season.

But as mentioned the hard work starts next weekend in Lubbock, and while the Red Raiders might have turned in a weak performance against Houston Baptist, you know the red headed step child always gets up for Texas, large drunken crowd at night or small drunken crowd in the middle of the day.

I might live to regret these words later in the season, but I was most impressed this week not by Sam Ehlinger’s stats or the defense or any of the young freshmen or the resilience of Joshua Moore, no, I was most impressed by the zero positive COVID tests leading up to the game on Saturday.

And that, my friends, is why this year feels different. The upperclassmen leadership of this team didn’t allow themselves or their teammates to be distracted by the beginning of school or the dog days of summer practices.

They were impressive on the field on Saturday, but they were even more so off the field.

That mentality and hard work can take you places.

SMU -14 @ North Texas:

SMU is 4-2 in this series since its resumption in 2014, winning last year in Dallas 49-27 after falling in 2018 46-23. These teams can put up the points.

Mason Fine and his 12,000 yards career passing and 93 touchdowns are gone for the Mean Green. In his place is the duo of Jason Bean and Arkansas transfer Austin Aune, who both saw playing time in the opener against Houston Baptist two weeks ago.

The Mean Green was able to do what Texas Tech could not, defeat Houston Baptist by more than one score, as Bean and Aune combined for 338 yards passing and 4 touchdowns while the team rushed for 360 yards (North Texas only ran for as much as 160 yards once last year, in the loss against SMU).

SMU was a bit shaky in their opener against Texas State two weeks ago, as Shane Buechele threw for 367 yards but also tossed two interceptions. You can fool around on the road and defeat Texas State, but they had better not make a habit out of it.

Buechele will be Buechele, but I foresee a SMU defense that gave up 24 points to Texas State continue to have some issues here as North Texas gets that always popular back door cover.

SMU 41 North Texas 28

ATS – North Texas


South Florida @ Notre Dame -25.5:

While it might not have been pretty, Notre Dame won their seventh consecutive game on Saturday, which was also their 19th straight home win (the second longest in school history). They also have won 25 straight against unranked opponents, which South Florida enters this contest as despite their mighty impressive 26-7 win over The Citadel last week.

The Bulls rushed for 302 yards but only threw for 100, and while it might be somewhat easy to be physical with The Citadel, they’ll need to have success through the air to defeat the Irish.

South Florida is trying to rebound from a 4-8 season last year, and while that is not impressive, what is even worse was their performance in the bigger games on their schedule, as they lost to Wisconsin, SMU, Memphis and UCF by an average margin of 35 points.

Notre Dame will be tired of hearing how they slept through the opener by the time Saturday rolls around.

Notre Dame 45 South Florida 17

ATS – Notre Dame

SU – Notre Dame

Miami @ Louisville -2.5:

Louisville rebounded from 2-10 in 2018 to a respectable 8-5 last season, but one of those losses was a thrashing at the hands of Miami, who won 52-27 in Miami. Louisville actually outgained the Hurricanes in that one, but turned it over three times and had an astounding 14 penalties that sealed their fate.

Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham threw for 343 yards last week in a 35-21 victory over Western Kentucky, including completions of 70 and 63 yards. That victory was more decisive than it looked, as WKU had two gift touchdowns on Louisville special teams gaffes (which could be a one time thing or a trend, we’ll see).

The Hurricanes have won just 2 of their last 7 road games, but those teams didn’t have D’Eriq King under center for them. I’m not sold on Miami being back, but they should have enough to win this one.

Miami 34 Louisville 27

ATS – Miami

SU – Miami

Charlotte @ North Carolina -30:

Look, you are probably busy, and it says something about the quality of play this week that this made the Top 6 game of the week.

Edit — Game Canceled.

North Carolina 45 Charlotte 13

ATS – North Carolina

SU – North Carolina

Tulsa @ Oklahoma State -23:

A lot of people have Oklahoma State making their first ever appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game, and with good reason as they return 19 starters, including QB Spencer Sanders, RB Chuba Hubbard and WR Tylan Wallace and have added all-conference guard Josh Sills as a transfer from West Virginia.

Sanders will need to take his game to the next level, however, as for everything nice there was (2,065 yards passing, 16 touchdowns, 628 yards rushing in only 10 games), the rest was just bad (11 interceptions and 7 fumbles). Tim Rattay was brought in to help Sanders, and if he accomplishes that, watch out.

These two teams met in Tulsa last season, a game that saw Tulsa leading at halftime before eventually falling 40-21. Baylor transfer Zach Smith is back at quarterback for Tulsa after throwing for 3,300 yards last season.

The Cowboys should ride in this one.

Oklahoma State 48 Tulsa 24

ATS – Oklahoma State

SU – Oklahoma State

Houston @ Baylor -4.5:

Perhaps the best thing about college football in this weird time of coronavirus, except for the fact that we have it at all? This game wasn’t on the schedule 7 days ago.

Memphis has about everybody in Memphis except for Elvis Presley in, all together now, COVID protocol, while Baylor was supposed to play Louisiana Tech last weekend but they had to cancel due to the same issues.

So, in a rare instance of college sports figuring it out, these two athletic directors had a light bulb go off over their head and here we are.

Dana Holgorsen’s first year in this tour of duty at the University of Houston was odd, as the Cougars had respectable showings in their season opener at Oklahoma and their third game against Washington State, then all hell broke loose. Several players, including quarterback D’Eriq King, decided to opt-out before opting out was popular. King said the right things about coming back this year, just wanting to take a redshirt year, yada yada yada and then we turn the TV last week and see him quarterbacking Miami.

Well, a lot of the other players that opted out last season did keep their word and returned to Houston, so all in all, 83% of the roster comes back this year...just not the most important one.

Clayton Tune ended up starting 7 games for the Cougars last season and mostly underwhelmed, throwing 11 touchdown passes to 9 interceptions. I think Andre Ware put up 11 touchdown passes in one game back in the day.

Matt Rhule gave up his McMansion and lifetime membership at The Silos to bolt to Charlotte in the NFL, so everyone was really excited that Baylor was going to be terrible again, then they went and got the defensive coordinator at LSU, the defending national champion.

As my 8-year old son is fond of saying, “dang it.”

Dave Aranda is that defensive coordinator’s name, and Larry Fedora (ex North Carolina head coach/Texas offensive analyst) is his offensive coordinator. Time will tell if this coaching staff will work out, but the star power is there to start.

Charlie Brewer is back at quarterback for the Bears, and as long as he can stay on the field he is very effective (3,100 yards 21 touchdowns/7 interceptions). Baylor might struggle at first on defense as they are replacing 11 of their top 15 in defensive production from last season (on a squad that finished 18th in S&P+ defense), but they feature a bevy of upperclassmen in the replacements, so don’t expect a mammoth slide defensively.

The question is, how good will Baylor be out of the game with no spring practice? And how good will Houston be with some good pieces but no star?

Baylor 31 Houston 23

ATS – Baylor

SU – Baylor

Edit — Houston @ Baylor postponed. Oh boy.

Since we had two games from this article canceled between publish yesterday morning and now (sigh), we’ll sub these games instead.

UCF -7.5 @ Georgia Tech

Appalachian State -5 @ Marshall.

You can’t go wrong picking road favorites, right?

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for better football games.