Last Week: 5-1 ATS 6-0 SU
For the Year: 16-14 (.533) ($40) ATS 22-8 (.733) SU
Chalk (Cincinnati -2 @ Notre Dame) With two major conferences playing themselves out of the playoff (ACC, PAC-12), there is a lot of sentiment about why not Cincinnati in the playoff after this win, but I’m not sure this won’t look about as impressive as the infamous “Texas is BACK!” game where Texas defeated a Notre Dame squad that was ranked #10 for that win but finished 4-8. The Irish look terrible. Not 4-8 terrible, but with trips to Virginia Tech and Stanford and home dates with USC and North Carolina on the schedule, this was the first loss of a few.
Bad Beat (Arkansas +18.5 @ Georgia) When you lose only one game last week you have to pick that one, but I’m not sure many saw Georgia defeating Arkansas 37-0 with their backup quarterback. I felt that the Razorbacks would come back to Earth, but to get a shutout and not fancy a back-door cover late is a testament to Georgia’s focus at the moment. The Bulldogs rushed for 273 yards in the win while only allowing a formidable Arkansas attack 75 yards on 29 carries.
The smell of turkey legs mixing with the promising scent of funnel cakes, the taste of beer before the sun even rises over the buildings on the eastern side of the property, 100,000 people with looks on their faces like a 5-year old on Christmas morning.
Texas. Oklahoma. The Cotton Bowl.
Whether both teams enter the contest struggling or if they enter both ranked in the Top 5, or if it is a mixture of both, this game is an all-out struggle for 60 minutes that is enough to make grown men cry.
But enough about Kyler Murray.
Coaching legacies are born. Sure, Bob Stoops won a national championship in his second year at Oklahoma and won a boatload of conference championships, but he also was 11-7 against the Longhorns in his career.
Legends die. Sooner great Gary Gibbs was 44-23-2 in his tenure at Oklahoma, but was 1-5 against Texas. Gone (to be fair he couldn’t beat Nebraska or Colorado either).
Of course Gibbs achieved his primary goal at Oklahoma, cleaning up their image after Barry Switzer was forced out after a series of misdeeds under his watch, culminating with the drug related arrest of his starting quarterback.
Fame is fleeting in college football. With the forever cycle of recruiting and now with the transfer portal, unless you are a star like Trevor Lawrence you are only as your last outing.
We’ll get into the game later. I don’t know what is going to happen on Saturday as this game is notoriously hard to predict, and this year is the hardest to predict in quite some time. But we do know that when the ferris wheel whirls around and the clock strikes 11 o’clock on the Cotton Bowl turf Saturday morning, Casey Thompson will trot out there, looking to make his own mark in the same stadium that his dad played in oh so long ago.
Perhaps Casey Thompson is the quarterback here for the rest of the season, perhaps he is the quarterback for the next season and a half. Or perhaps he is the starting quarterback for the last time on Saturday.
But this is his time to shine.
Randy McEachern. Bubba Jacques. Peter Gardere. Butch Hadnot. Stoney Clark.
Without this game, there is a good chance that none of the above names are remembered except by the most astute Texas fans in your circle.
But with this game, those guys are legends. A piece of Texas lore that we can all recite off the tip of our tongues to the bartender if she gives us enough beers.
Whatever you think of Case McCoy, he left Texas as a winner over Oklahoma, standing tall in the pocket and delivering a dart to a streaking Mike Davis to put a bow on an improbable Texas victory.
Sometimes you don’t even have to win. I remember Sam Ehlinger in 2017 practically willing his team to a victory that proved to be just outside of his grasp. But after that game, you knew he was going to be a starter here until they dragged him onto the stage at graduation.
Of course it is always better to win. Win and that will not only be the first signature win for Steve Sarkisian at Texas, but it will be a signal to Texas high schoolers (and those in New Orleans, too) that there is a new sheriff in town.
Win, and just maybe the quarterback goes down in Texas lore.
No matter what happens the rest of his time here.
Arkansas @ Ole Miss -6:
It is a cruel world – both of these teams were riding high this time last week only to be brought crashing down by the behemoths of college football, with Arkansas falling to Georgia 37-0 and Ole Miss getting whipped by Alabama 42-21 (it wasn’t that close).
Ole Miss is the third of four straight ranked opponents for the Razorbacks, with Auburn awaiting next week (more on them in a bit).
The Rebels had a world of trouble stopping the Alabama run game last week, allowing 210 yards on the ground, but Matt Corral is the most dynamic quarterback that the Razorbacks have seen this year.
Ole Miss 34 Arkansas 21
Georgia -15 @ Auburn:
Auburn had a very inspiring victory in Baton Rouge last week, their first there since 1999, as Bo Nix was running around the field making plays like Tony Romo to the run of 74 yards rushing and 255 yards passing.
But here’s the thing – they had to outscore LSU 14-0 in the fourth quarter to beat…LSU.
Now they must face a Georgia defense that has allowed one touchdown in five games, and only 16 points overall (UAB accounted for another score with a pick six). Sure, they’re not going to keep up that pace all year, but Bo Nix isn’t the guy that will challenge this defense.
The Bulldogs have won 13 of 16 in this series, including the last four. Coming off back to back shutouts of SEC opponents for the first time since 1980, I don’t see much reason to change that thinking.
Georgia 30 Auburn 10
Alabama -17.5 @ Texas A&M:
Do you remember this Summer when Jimbo Fisher thought it would be real funny to say that they were going to kick Nick Saban’s ass?
It was in jest and he meant at some point in the next 100 years, but still, you don’t joke to 1988 Mike Tyson that you are going to whip his ass.
The Crimson Tide are going for their 20th win in a row in this prime-time affair in College Station, but perhaps equally impressive is that the Tide have scored 30 or more points in 31 straight games, tying UCF’s FBS record.
I don’t think they’ll have an issue scoring that many against the Aggies on Saturday as they have scored that many in 7 of the 9 meetings between these schools since A&M joined the SEC. That includes last year’s 52-point effort in Tuscaloosa, the best win loss on the schedule for the Aggies in 2020.
Defensively Alabama was able to hold Ole Miss and Heisman candidate Matt Corral to less than half of their season average, what will they do against what has so far been a very overwhelmed Zach Calzada?
The Aggies have a good running game and their defense is better than those 52 points last year showed, but that will only do them well enough for so long before Alabama overwhelms them.
Maybe next year, Jimbo.
Alabama 44 Texas A&M 21
Penn State @ Iowa -2:
The first one to 9 might win this one.
Every week you think Iowa can’t keep generating turnovers, and then every week they generate turnovers. Four against Iowa State. Three from Indiana. SEVEN from Maryland last Friday night.
Spencer Petras has been very average thus far this season but was able to generate five total touchdowns in that game, although it was hard not to score when Maryland kept giving them the ball in their side of the field.
Penn State is now 5-0 after last season starting the year 0-5 (first team since Tennessee in 1989 to accomplish such a feat). They have been winning football games with stingy defense and improved play from quarterback Sean Clifford thanks to the tutelage of Mike Yurcich.
This game is in Iowa City which is good news because then we won’t be subjected to that creepy-ass white out in State College, but I think the better quarterback play from Penn State gives them the edge here.
Penn State 21 Iowa 17
TCU -2 @ Texas Tech:
Here is an oddity in this rivalry – Texas Tech hasn’t beaten TCU in Lubbock since 2013.
The Red Raiders were a 7-point underdog last week in Morgantown and came away with the win, although they had to hold on tight in the second half after racing out to a 17-0 lead in the first half.
Texas Tech seems a bit rejuvenated by the play of quarterback Henry Colombi, who entered play after an injury to Tyler Shough in the Texas game. Colombi managed to throw for 324 yards and 3 touchdowns in that blowout loss but also had some success against West Virginia last week, throwing for 266 yards.
You have to wonder if TCU was improved last week against Texas because they are a better team than they showed through the SMU game or if they just like to get up for Texas and nobody else.
These teams are quite similar – TCU is ranked 48th in the SP+ rankings while Texas Tech is ranked 51st (Tech offense 31 TCU 32, TCU defense 59, Texas Tech 74). You would think a steady diet of Zach Evans would be in store this week, but TCU hasn’t shown a willingness to use him as a workhorse quite yet.
Texas Tech 31 TCU 27
Texas vs. Oklahoma -3 (Dallas, TX):
Hell I don’t know, you tell me.
I don’t think anything would shock me in this game. Texas by 24? Sure. Oklahoma by 3? Why not? Texas by 3. For sure. Oklahoma by 24? After Fayetteville, why not?
The one thing that might shock me is if Bijan Robinson only gets 5 carries again like he did last year (thanks Tom). Oklahoma’s defense is aggressive and features a lot of movement up front which can fool undisciplined offensive lines.
Tulane had 100 yards rushing on 32 carries. Nebraska 95 yards on 38 carries. West Virginia had 68 yards on 29 carries. And Kansas State had 100 yards on 27 carries.
Of course none of those teams had Bijan Robinson.
But no, we can’t pencil in Robinson for 200 yards and figure it out from there. Casey Thompson is going to have to be a LOT better than he was against TCU. In fact he’ll have to have his best game of the year, because Alex Grinch’s Oklahoma defense isn’t Texas Tech or Rice.
That means completing those passes up top that he has missed all season. But he’ll also need to complete those 8-yarders to extend drives on third down. And those crossing patterns behind drooping linebackers and in front of the safeties.
And if he can’t get it done, Hudson Card will need to cement himself in Texas lore.
Oklahoma’s offense has been so bad this season that I am almost wondering if they are sandbagging in order to beat Texas like they are coached by Gary Patterson. Of course by bad we mean relative to Lincoln Riley’s previous offenses, not bad compared to Kansas State or anything.
Spencer Rattler had his best effort of the season last weekend in Manhattan, competing 22 of 25 attempts for 243 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, but Rattler has been nowhere close to what he was hyped to be coming into the season, mainly because of his inability to stretch the field (sound familiar?). Rattler is only competing 3 of 12 passes with two interceptions on passes 20+ yards downfield this season as teams are daring Oklahoma’s running game to beat them and thus far they have struggled (again relatively speaking) to do so.
But make no mistake, Riley and the Sooners will be ready for the Longhorns on Saturday so the Texas defense will have to be the best they have been all season as well. This isn’t Henry Colombi we’re facing anymore.
Oklahoma has won three in a row in this series and now 5 of the last 6. Of course since Mack Brown and Bob Stoops departed this series has been a lot closer. Since 2014 the average margin of victory is less than 6 points per game, while Stoops won 11 Red River Shootouts by an average margin of victory of 21 points.
Again your guess is as good as mine on this one, and anyone who likes their money probably stays away from this one completely. But of course we can’t do that here.
My brain says that Oklahoma’s offense probably plays their best game of the season and that the -3.5 isn’t enough to contain them. But my heart says that Oklahoma has defeated one opponent this year with a winning record (Kansas State at 3-2), and they have looked terrible for most of the season and that they have real problems on the offensive line and with a running game that hasn’t been up to snuff thus far.
When in doubt, get the good mojo going.
Texas 38 Oklahoma 33
For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for fried gumbo, Fletcher’s Corn Dogs for breakfast and of course a crappy domestic beer in a wax cup.