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The Week That Will Be: That’ll Be The Day

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The Horns are big favorites on the high plains, but that is no reason to rest easy.

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

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 8-4 (.667) ($320) ATS 9-3 (.750) SU

Quick Thoughts From Last Week:

SMU Keeps Runnin: The Mustangs were up 34-7 at halftime before rolling to a 65-35 win over North Texas as the offense tallied 710 total yards. SMU gets Stephen F. Austin in their home opener next weekend before Memphis comes to town the following in an all-important American Athletic Conference matchup.

Notre Dame “Tired of Being Nice”, Pitches Shutout: The always douchey Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was video recorded saying that he’s “tired of being nice” and implored his team to get a shutout against that offensive powerhouse South Florida, which they did, holding the Bulls to 231 total yards. The Irish didn’t need a passing explosion to rack up 52 points, they rushed for 281 yards and Ian Book had three rushing touchdowns.

Miami Might Be Good: D’Eriq King’s NCAA record streak of games with a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown ended at 16, but the Hurricanes had no problem dispatching with Louisville as King threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns.

Central Florida Wins...Again: The Knights have now scored 24 points in 40 straight games and 30 points in 39 of 40 games as Josh Heupel’s program keeps up the momentum. One of these days that will get them in a Power Five conference.

Appalachian State Picks A Good Time to Score Their Fewest Points Since 2014: Appalachian State only had 96 rushing yards in their loss to Marshall, also their lowest since 2014. The Thundering Herd’s win over a AP-ranked team was their first since defeating #6 Kansas State in Manhattan in 2003

Oklahoma State Wins….Sort of: Tulsa recorded 14 sacks all of last season but had 6 on Saturday as a patchwork offensive line failed the Cowboys. The Cowboys, despite the presence of Chubba Hubbard in the backfield, only averaged 2.8 yards per carry as sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders was injured on the first series of the game and did not return. Something to keep an eye on.


How about that barnburner of a Big 12 non-conference slate, amirite?

There was Texas defeating LSU by four touchdowns in Baton Rouge, Oklahoma needing overtime AGAIN against Army (after defeating Tennessee so easily), West Virginia making Florida State still look like a trainwreck, Texas Tech defeating Kevin Sumlin again and of course who can forget TCU losing that squeaker to SMU.

None of that happened, of course, because this is 2020 and 2020 is a fun sponge that saps all the fun away, but as of RIGHT NOW we have a conference season to look forward to, why not preview it?

The year was 2007. Kanye West had just released a bumping album called Graduation, and it looked like the Kansas Jayhawks were ascending to the top of college football royalty, as they had just completed a 11-1 regular season (their only loss came at the hands of Chase Daniel and the Missouri Tigers 36-28 in the last regular season game of the year).

The Jayhawks would go on to Miami, where they would defeat #5 Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. The next year the Jayhawks slipped up a bit, falling to 8-5 after losing four games to ranked teams (including three in the Top 8). They still went on to get an Insight Bowl victory over Minnesota.

In 2009 they started the season 5-0 before losing 7 straight to finish 5-7. They decided they just had to fire Mark Mangino to take that next step, so they hired a young coach named Turner Gill to take over. Gill was gone in two years, and Charlie Weis and David Beaty and an uninterested Les Miles later, the Jayhawks are now 21-100 since firing Mangino.

And yes, I know.

Well I just took three paragraphs on the worst team in the conference, so like when watching a game on the Longhorn Network and a very disinterested, almost pissed off Lowell Galindo comes on the TV to tell us about in the interest of time we skip ahead in the action, we think West Virginia and Texas Tech are next up on the ladder. West Virginia because they can’t score (more on that in a bit) and the Red Raiders because they hired Matt Wells, who brought the same crappy defense but not near the offense which has bailed them out over the years.

Kansas State finished 8-5 last season and 46th in S&P+, while TCU slipped to 5-7, but finished 43rd in S&P+.

Huh?

I would expect a bit of a correction this year, afterall in 19 seasons at TCU, Gary Patterson has finished at .500 or below 4 times — the very next season they have a cumulative record of 44-7. I’m not sure they have 8 wins in them this season, but you can’t deny Patterson’s greatness.

Charlie Brewer is back in Waco but Matt Rhule is not, and it remains to be seen how good Dave Aranda will be as a head coach. He could be great, but we could also add him to the pile of great coordinators who just could not make the jump to head coach (at least at this juncture). The question for Baylor will be how good their defense will be — if they can come close to replicating last season’s 18th S&P+ ranked defense (and that seems unlikely due to attrition), then they can compete for the Big 12 title game again.

But if not, the others waiting their turn on the podium include Oklahoma State and Iowa State, who both had lackluster openers (the Cyclones didn’t even sniff luster).

Matt Campbell! Brock Purdy! Loss! Spencer Sanders! Chuba Hubbard! Tylan Wallace! Should have lost to any team with an offensive identity!

If Campbell can’t win with Purdy at Iowa State you have to wonder if he overplayed his hand and should have taken the number of head coaching jobs he was rumored to be in the mix for the last couple of off-seasons. And if Gundy can’t rebound this year, with the improbable returns of Hubbard and Wallace, and after falling to 15-11 the last two seasons after winning 10 games a season 6 out of 8 years, you have to wonder if this might be his last year in Stillwater. He was already on shaky ice before the events of this off-season, another mediocre year might have the Cowboys itching to move on.

Tom Herman has freely admitted that 2020 was the year that Texas had circled on their calendars. You can come up with your own jokes about the worst year ever being the Longhorns’ year, but here we are, and if the Longhorns aren’t playing in Arlington in December then it has been a disappointing year.

Then, of course, there is the video game like Oklahoma Sooners, who plug in yet another quarterback phenom named Spencer Rattler. The Sooners lost their two best running backs to transfer and opting out, but Lincoln Riley is there so their offense will be fine. The question is whether or not the defensive improvement they saw at the beginning of last year was the future, or if the more of the same defense from the latter part of the year the norm and Alex Grinch will be the bad guy again.

Either way, Oklahoma figures to probably be in Arlington again as well, seeing as how they’ve won five of these in a row.

But hey, this year is different, no?


Mississippi State @ LSU -16.5:

Who the hell knows?

Mike Leach will be very good to great at Mississippi State, but he is installing the complete opposite offense of what the Bulldogs have been running for the entirety of their program, and he didn’t have a spring practice session to install it. Add in a talented but new to this system quarterback (Stanford transfer K.J. Costello, who threw for 3,500 yards and 29 TDs in the STANFORD system in 2018), and it isn’t hard to imagine that it might be mid-season before the Bulldogs even begin to find a stride.

And LSU...wow. Where to begin? Ed Orgeron and Steve Ensminger are back, but that is about it. Dave Aranda is in Waco. Joe Brady followed Matt Rhule to Carolina in the NFL. Joe Burrow is losing games for the first time in Cincinnati. 13 others were drafted in the NFL Draft this spring. 15 others left due to dismissal, transfer or opt-out.

Scott Linehan is now in the Joe Brady role, which is hilarious to Dallas Cowboys fans such as myself. Myles Brennan is the new quarterback. And oh yeah, LSU just replaced all of those guys with a bunch of highly recruited players. They’ll be fine.

But it might take a while.

One hire that I completely forgot about in this nightmare of a year? Bo Pelini is back in Baton Rouge for another tour of duty as defensive coordinator. Expect the defenses to be ahead of the offenses.

LSU 31 Mississippi State 17

ATS – Mississippi State

SU – LSU

Florida State @ Miami -11:

Talk about two programs with two different directions in 2020. Miami has two impressive wins under their belt in this young season and seemingly have a Heisman candidate at quarterback.

Florida State was revitalized with the hiring of Mike Norvell from Memphis last off-season. Then about half of the team threatened to quit over his handling of COVID this spring and summer. Then came their opener against Georgia Tech, where they were supposed to unveil this new and improved Seminoles squad, and instead went out and lost in a brutal game instead.

And now Norvell tests positive for COVID and won’t be around to coach the Seminoles this weekend, as Florida State turns to tight ends coach Chris Thomsen, who was last a head coach for Abilene Christian from 2005 to 2011.

Yikes.

FSU quarterback James Blackman barely completed 50% of his passes against Georgia Tech, and last time I checked, Miami has much better athletes defensively than the Ramblin’ Wreck. Meanwhile, Miami averaged 8.1 yards per play against Louisville.

Yeah, it’s a rivalry game and more often than not this game comes down to a missed field goal at the end, but FSU is going to have to take that “you show most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2” thing and REALLY run with it.

Miami 34 Florida State 20

ATS – Miami

SU – Miami

West Virginia @ Oklahoma State -7:

Against Tulsa last week Oklahoma State looked much like, well, 2019 West Virginia, who featured a pretty solid defense but also the league’s worst offense (how many rushing yards do you think the Mountaineers put up as a team last year? Guess. You can’t guess low enough. I’ll tell you in a couple of paragraphs).

Quarterback Spencer Sanders went down on the first series of the game, and while he was wearing a boot earlier this week Mike Gundy was coy about his availability, saying that the injury didn’t look too serious, which when a college coach says that you always have to wonder if he means not too serious as in he won’t miss a game or he’ll miss two games or if the leg requires amputation, but hey, he has another good leg and they are doing wonders with 3D printing these days.

If Sanders can’t go, it will be junior college transfer Ethan Bullock or true freshman Shane Illingworth under center for the Cowboys. Bullock last week looked as if he had spent too much time in Stillwater’s many pool halls and Illingworth barely practiced due to, all together now, COVID protocols.

In other words, it remains to be seen if either one can be good enough to give Chuba Hubbard some actual running lanes.

West Virginia is led onto the field by Jarrett Doege, the younger brother of former Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege, who played in four games last year starting three, throwing for about 800 yards and 7 touchdowns to 3 interceptions.

879 yards last year. That’s how much they rushed for as a team. I’m no ESPN analyst but they need to surpass that this year.

The West Virginia defense should be able to give the Cowboys some trouble (the Sills brothers are back for about their tenth year of college football), but you have to think the Cowboys will be better on offense this week, no matter who the quarterback might be.

Oklahoma State 34 West Virginia 21

ATS – Oklahoma State

SU – Oklahoma State

Iowa State -3 @ TCU:

Despite winning two out of the last three in this series, Iowa State hasn’t won in Fort Worth since 2012. If they don’t reverse that this week, they’ll fall to 0-2 for the first time since well, 2018, but the second loss that year was to #5 Oklahoma by 10 points so it felt kinda like a win.

This team goes as Brock Purdy goes, and was anything but Purdy against Louisiana two weeks ago, but he does get tight end Charlie Kolar back this week, who had 51 receptions for just about 800 yards and 7 touchdowns last year.

Max Duggan will be available for this game for TCU, but it will likely be Georgia transfer Matthew Downing who gets the start at quarterback for the Horned Frogs as Duggan missed the majority of summer practice after undergoing a medical procedure.

I think this one will be a defensive, low scoring game. And in those, I lean towards the more experienced (and better) quarterback.

Iowa State 23 TCU 17

ATS – Iowa State

SU – Iowa State

Kansas State @ Oklahoma -28:

Kansas State shocked the Sooners 48-41 in Manhattan last year behind Skylar Thompson’s 4 touchdown passes — the Wildcats know they can beat the Sooners, but two years in a row? That hasn’t happened since KSU defeated Oklahoma five times in a row from 1993-1997.

It seems Thompson has been at KSU that long as he’s back for the Wildcats this year, the hope for KSU is that their larger receivers can take advantage of the smaller Oklahoma secondary.

Of course who knows who shows up for Kansas State, or if they show up at all, as a whopping 40 players missed the Arkansas State loss two weeks ago. 12 of those players returned, and then 10 more went out on COVID protocol. It’s like an elementary school word problem.

We got our first look at Spencer Rattler two weeks ago against FCS-West when he threw for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Wildcats secondary will be a stiffer test, but this isn’t going to happen two years in a row.

Oklahoma 42 Kansas State 20

ATS – Kansas State

SU – Oklahoma

Texas -17.5 @ Texas Tech:

This is the most points Texas has ever been favored by in Lubbock — and you have to wonder what the line would have looked like before Texas rolled against UTEP 59-3 and Texas Tech struggled with Houston Baptist before coming out on top 35-33.

2008 was the last time that the Red Raiders defeated the Longhorns in Lubbock. In fact, Texas Tech has only won 2 out of the last 11 in this series, but I don’t think I have to remind Texas fans that those games are rarely easy.

Alan Bowman is back at quarterback for Texas Tech after missing most of 2018 and 2019 with a slew of injuries including a partially collapsed lung. His primary target will be WR T.J. Vasher, who has enjoyed some success against Texas, scoring three touchdowns in three career games. The Red Raiders will have the services of SaRodorick Thompson, who will play this week despite being arrested earlier in the week. If you are wondering how, all you need to know is that it is Texas and the guy ran for 118 yards in the Houston Baptist win.

Sam Ehlinger has terrorized the Red Raiders, completing 62% of his passes for 899 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in three career games against Texas Tech. He has also pitched in 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Both of those interceptions came in the 2017 loss in Austin.

That will continue on Saturday in Lubbock as Ehlinger will enjoy another successful win over the Red Raiders, but that line just seems too big for a game in Lubbock (and ripe for a back door cover if they do get up early), even if it is mid-afternoon in front of 25% capacity at Jones Stadium.

Texas 38 Texas Tech 24

ATS – Texas Tech

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the Houston Cougars season opener.