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The Week That Will Be : Red River Nightmare

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After a disastrous loss in Dallas, the Horns return home with one goal in mind...getting back to DFW.

Oklahoma v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 1-5 ATS 2-4 SU

For the Year: 17-19 (.472) (-$370) ATS 24-12 (.667) SU

Chalk (Georgia -15 @ Auburn) Well, when you win ONE game last week, you have to pick that one. Auburn wasn’t able to do much against the new #1 team in the country but they did manage to score the first touchdown of the season against the Georgia first-team defense, so they have that going for them.

Bad Beat (Alabama -17.5 @ Texas A&M) These two teams could play again tomorrow with the same betting line and I would still pick Alabama. The loss was Alabama’s first loss to an unranked opponent since 2007, a streak of 100 games. The Crimson Tide had a 19-game winning streak snapped as well. Now the nation’s longest at 14 games? Oklahoma. Sigh.


“It’s the wanting. All life is pain. Pain comes from always wanting things.” – Sal Moltisanti

If you are anything like me, you committed the cardinal sin.

You started to think about how best to celebrate this.

And then there was nothing to celebrate.

Pain.

Texas had arrived. Perhaps a year early.

And then it was gone, as quickly as it had matriculated.

About 100 things had to go wrong for Texas to lose that game – they all happened.

As I filtered out of the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, watching a bunch of morons rushing the field and listening to the PA announcer deride said morons, as I made my way through the horde of people, as I made my way towards friends I had no interest in talking to but no offense because I had no interest in talking to anyone, as I stood in line staring at the crappy calf tattoo of the way too hairy guy in front of me, trying to rehydrate myself on a ridiculously blistering October afternoon, I just kept asking myself:

How? How did that happen?

How did Caleb Williams throw more jump balls than the career of Bennett Salvatore and how did the Sooners catch every single one of them?

How did a running back that hadn’t rushed for 100 yards in two years rush for 217 yards and run untouched to the end zone with no time left?

How did Bijan Robinson run for about a thousand yards in the first half and about three in the second half?

How did anyone think this tattoo was a good idea?

And of course we know why. For the second time this year an opponent was more physical than Texas, and for the second time this year the Longhorns limped home with a loss to show for it.

In general the team that is more physical wins this game, and all you have to do is look at rushing yards – Oklahoma 339 Texas 128 – and know who that was. If Texas is able to run with any modicum of success in the second half we’re all quoting Winston Wolf with Oklahoma State coming to town this week, but once again we’re sitting here wondering how those two lines can be so bad against like competition.

In the second half the Longhorns averaged 11.7 yards to go on third down. This team isn’t built for that.

Mix in some weird decisions for Steve Sarkisian (what was that at the end of the first half, and going for it on 4th and 11?) and there somehow being 142 plays plus special teams and the Sooners only having two penalties – and that’s how that happened.

I don’t know how good Lincoln Riley is feeling this week about his team that gave up 48 points and I don’t know how good Sarkisian would have felt if Marvin Mims wore one larger size shoe and was out of bounds instead of hauling in a touchdown pass and Texas escapes, but I do know that Oklahoma is undefeated in the Big 12 and Texas has one loss.

And I do know I want another shot at them in Arlington.

To do that Texas will have to field a passable defense and they’ll have to travel to Waco and Ames and Morgantown and before all of that they’ll have to take care of business at home this Saturday against Oklahoma State.

The Longhorns control their own destiny. It is up to them if they want to avenge this loss in December (we all know Oklahoma is going to be there) or if they want to spend the holiday season on the Riverwalk again.

Mount up. Take it personal. Be physical.

It’s time to go to the mattresses.


UCLA @ Washington -2:

There were high hopes in Seattle before the season but the Huskies now come off a bye week at 2-3 and facing a crossroads in their season.

The one issue for Washington I see in this game is that their rush defense has been atrocious. They allowed 343 rushing yards to Michigan. 138 to a bad Cal team. And 242 to Oregon State.

Now they face a UCLA rushing attack that averages nearly 200 rushing yards a game.

With Oregon on deck, the Bruins can’t afford to let this one go.

UCLA 34 Washington 30


Kentucky @ Georgia -22.5:

Kentucky is 6-0 for the first time in 71 years, back when their head coach was a young lad by the name of Bear Bryant. While their rushing attack put up 330 yards in their resounding win against LSU last week the strength of this team is their defense, which has yet to allow any team to score more than 28 points this season.

Georgia is of course known for their defense, but their offense has scored 34 points in five straight games, even with backup Stetson Bennett getting the majority of those starts. One oddity about this Georgia offense, despite its potentness it has shown – they have yet to have a back rushing for 100 yards this season.

The Bulldogs have Kentucky and Florida the next couple of games but get past those and it is Missouri, at Tennessee, Charleston Southern and at Georgia Tech left on their schedule. Meaning they could still lose to Alabama in the SEC Championship and get to the college football playoff.

Georgia has won 11 in a row in this series, and in the last two games Kentucky has scored a total of 3 points.

Everyone this week is proclaiming Georgia as having the best defense ever and the next national champs (there is no way that goes awry), but Kentucky is a nice Cinderella story and that’s about it. The clock has just struck midnight.

Georgia 31 Kentucky 13


Iowa State -6.5 @ Kansas State:

Iowa State has won 2 of 3 in this series (including 45-0 last year in Ames) but before that they had lost 10 in a row in this series, with their last win in Manhattan coming in 2004. Before that, they hadn’t won there since 1988 – the Bill Snyder and friends era has not been kind to the Cyclones.

You tell me how good Iowa State is this year. Their wins have come over Northern Iowa, UNLV and Kansas. Brock Purdy ranks 72nd in the country in QBR, throwing only 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions nearly halfway through the season.

Meanwhile Kansas State started the season 3-0 but have lost two in a row since. The difference in those losses was their defense, which gave up 47 points in the three wins but 68 points in their two losses.

The winner of this one will probably who has the running back with the best game – will it be Iowa State’s Breece Hall, who has broken the century mark in three straight games while also scoring two touchdowns each game, or will it be KSU’s Deuce Vaughn, who started the season with three straight 100-yard games but was held to 73 yards rushing against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (although he did have 177 yards receiving in those two games).

Kansas State 31 Iowa State 24


BYU @ Baylor -6.5:

BYU’s NY6 Bowl chances took a blow last week with a loss to Boise State, however a win over Baylor would look solid on the resume if others shall falter in front of them.

The matchup to watch here is the BYU offense (31st in SP+) vs. the Baylor defense (15th in SP+). An added intrigue to that matchup is that new Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes spent the last three years as BYU’s offensive coordinator. He brought with him to Waco offensive line coach Eric Mateos, who was in Provo for two years. They are so familiar with the Cougars offense that BYU spent much of this week changing up their terminology and signals.

Outside of their destruction of West Virginia last week, Baylor has been involved in some tight games. I think that 6 points sounds a bit much for a team that might have been an underdog on a neutral field against this opponent last week.

Baylor 27 BYU 23


TCU @ Oklahoma -13.5:

Well it might be hard to tell who is going to play this week with all the subterfuge between Special Agents Lincoln Riley and Gary Patterson.

If we can hear the game through the theme of Mission Impossible playing over the speakers we will find out that yes, Caleb Williams is the new starter for Oklahoma and yes, of course Max Duggan, Zach Evans and Quentin Johnston are going to play.

The question is, of course, whether it will matter for Private Eye Patterson as Oklahoma has won 7 in a row and 10 of 11 against him, and the games haven’t been particularly close with OU winning by at least 18 points in 4 of the last 5.

The Horned Frogs did bounce back nicely against Texas Tech last week, racing out to a 35-10 halftime lead before winning 52-31. What a concept. TCU was buoyed by 394 rushing yards and both Evans and Kendre Miller had more than 140 yards.

I’m not sure how good Caleb Williams really is and Kennedy Brooks won’t run like Jim Brown every week but once again they’ll probably use Texas as a springboard to finish the season strong.

Sigh.

Oklahoma 38 TCU 21


Oklahoma State @ Texas -4.5:

Mike Gundy is in his 17th year at Oklahoma State and is looking to get his 16th straight bowl appearance. Why you hear rumors and innuendo of Oklahoma State wanting to get rid of him every year is beyond me, that is if you can put up with his OAN viewing habits. Ask the school about 400 miles to the southwest what can happen when you get rid of a coach that is a perfect fit for your school.

Of course there is little talk of that a month and a half into this season because the Cowboys sit at 5-0 and #12 in the Associated Press poll. Never mind that those five wins were by a combined 34 points and the best of the bunch was either Kansas State or Baylor, if the Horns hadn’t played Arkansas and Oklahoma thus far we would be 6-0 and clearing space in that fancy new South End Zone for a crystal trophy.

Part of that success has included Texas in the recent past, but Texas has won two in a row against Gundy and the Cowboys after losing their previous four matchups and 7 of the last 9 – for all of his faults, I suppose we can thank Tom Herman for lifting the curses of Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

It has become recent tradition in this column to make light of Spencer Sanders and his football skills, but he has had the last laugh against Texas at least, rushing for 100 yards against the Longhorns in 2019 and throwing for 400 yards last year. Despite that evidence I will still make the joke that Sanders is once again going as Jekyll and Hyde for Halloween as his play has been erratic yet again this year.

He threw for 82 yards against Boise State, and then 344 against KSU and then 182 against Baylor. But he has cut back on the turnovers, they said so he went out and showed them by throwing three interceptions against Baylor.

And Gundy said this week that his third year starter was “working on his footwork” during the bye week.

Three year starter.

I doubt that Gundy wants to get in a shootout with Texas so look for the Cowboys to run Sanders a lot and to run Jaylen Warren, who has three straight 100-yard games entering this contest.

They would be just fine with another one of those 13-13 OT games again.

Unlike some previous iterations of a Mike Gundy team, this one features a strong defense as Oklahoma State’s defense ranks 8th in the country in SP+ defense after finishing Top 20 last season. Again, they haven’t played the hardest schedule but who they have played they have stopped as they have yet to allow as many as 24 points this season.

You would have preferred a softer landing spot after the heartbreaker in Dallas last weekend but perhaps this is exactly what Texas needs, a strong opponent at home that they can prove their worth against. I expect them to come out pissed off, aggressive and take care of business with comfort.

Texas 38 Oklahoma State 23

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for bills because you blew all your rent buying drinks in Dallas last Saturday night.