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The Week That Will Be: Wayward Sons

The Horns have been dust in the wind for a month — it is time to get it right.

Texas v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 29-31 (.483) (-$490) ATS 39-21 (.650) SU

Chalk (LSU +28.5 @ Alabama):

The good news for Alabama is that they won, keeping alive their hope for reaching the SEC title game. The bad news is that they had more penalties (9) and almost had as many sacks on Bryce Young (5) as they did rushing yards (6). That is their lowest output in school history for a non-bowl game. Their streak of scoring at least 30 points ended at 34 games as well. But they won.

Bad Beat (Auburn +4.5 @ Texas A&M):

Texas A&M’s defense held Auburn to 4 of 16 on third down attempts and 1 of 3 on fourth down. They also sacked Bo Nix four times, held the Tigers to 3.2 yards per game and scored the only touchdown of the game. If only the Aggies had a competent offense…

Remember how when Joshua Moore pulled in a 48-yard touchdown pass from Casey Thompson to go up 28-7 near the end of the first quarter against Oklahoma we dared to dream?

We dared to dream that Texas was going to defeat Oklahoma, always a treat in itself and one that hadn’t been realized in two years. We dared to dream that Texas was going to be in the catbird seat in the Big 12 race – effectively up two games on Oklahoma. We dared to dream that the Steve Sarkisian era was not only going to be wildly successful, but that it was a year ahead of schedule.

But yet sitting here a solid month and a few days later, Texas still hasn’t had a win since before that game.

It was easy to dismiss Oklahoma as it happens and this team just wasn’t ready to win yet. And then Oklahoma State happened and while it certainly wasn’t a good thing we talked ourselves into the Big 12 still being in sight. And then Baylor. And now Iowa State.

Remember back in that first quarter in Dallas when football was fun?

Football isn’t fun these days, and a bump in the road on the way to football riches now suddenly finds the car in the ditch and careening towards the lake at the bottom of the hill.

We’ve talked about the talent issues on this team, and if you are reading this website you are smarter than the FS1 broadcast in that you don’t rely purely on recruiting rankings from yesteryear to tell you how much talent is on this team.

You look at the roster and you look at the individual players and you look at the talent on the other team and you see the disconnect, a disconnect without a great quarterback to cover it all up.

But you also know that this team is more talented than 4-8 or 5-7 or 6-6, also.

And yet Texas can’t keep firing coaches and expecting a magic elixir, either.

Yet someone (or more) will likely be the fall guy for the 2021 season, but don’t look for it to be at the coordinator level. You can’t judge a coaching staff by the first year (and half of that a COVID year at that) but the initial data points are not all good.

Credit Sark for scheming themselves to leads. Let’s be honest, I know life as a college football fan is very binary and things are either really good or really terrible, but leading Oklahoma 28-7 and leading Oklahoma State 17-3 and leading Baylor 21-10 are accomplishments. No, we’re not going to give moral half victory trophies and throw parades for that, but we can see that the potential is there – it just doesn’t have a closer.

So where do the Longhorns go from here?

Everyone’s answer appears to be portal, portal, portal. And more portal. But the portal won’t be the answer to everything that ails this team, some of it will have to be home grown talent, and talent that is developed from one year to the next, which has been a rarity in these parts for the past twelve years.

And some of it will have to be evolution in the coaching staff. You hear it in business all the time, if you are the smartest man in the room, find another room. Texas needs to become Alabama West with the former head coaches as analysts, and the support staff needs to be the size of your first class in the UTC.

Forces need to align to make Texas the most attractive in terms of NIL.

And a plan needs to be laid out to join the SEC and how to prepare the program to be a SEC program. At this point hopefully in 2023 at the earliest.

I believe that the pieces are in place at levels from the Board of Regents down to the University President to the Athletic Director to the head coach to turn this ship around, but this is a tougher rebuild than any of us realized.

I’m tired of it. You’re tired of it. You have to go to Thanksgiving dinner in a couple of weeks and get grilled about this thing. Bo Davis is damn sure tired of it.

But as Davis so gently put it this week, if you don’t have the stomach for it, get out, because it is going to be nothing but hard work that gets Texas out of this abyss.

Vince Young isn’t walking through that door. But the next one just might be.

And this program needs to be prepared for it when it happens.

Michigan -1 @ Penn State:

Penn State comes into this one hoping to play the spoiler role with their Big 10 championship chances looking slim. With a win here or later in the season in their matchup with Michigan State, they can keep other teams at home if they can’t go themselves.

Quarterback Sean Clifford broke out of a mini slump in a win against Maryland last week, throwing for 363 yards and three touchdowns after throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions during their three-game losing streak prior to that win.

He’ll have to face a Michigan defense in this one that comes into this game allowing 17 points or less in 7 of their 9 games this year.

The Wolverines haven’t won in State College since 2015, but they’ll do it here.

Michigan 30 Penn State 23

NC State @ Wake Forest -2:

Things were looking rosy last week this time for Wake Forest – they were 8-0 and had cracked the top-10 of the College Football Playoff rankings. Then they ran into North Carolina and were dealt a 58-55 loss. Those pesky non-conference games.

The loss was a setback for the Demon Deacons, but I’m thinking they’ll still take where they are, as they were just 4-5 last year and haven’t lost less than 5 games in Dave Clawson’s previous 7 seasons in Winston-Salem. But they have had some success there as they are seeking their sixth straight bowl game.

North Carolina State has won 6 of 7 and come into this one having held their last two opponents to 27 points combined. They’ll have their hands full in this one, as Wake Forest sophomore quarterback Sam Hartman is producing as well as anyone in the country, with 2,873 yards, 27 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

This one will go a long way towards deciding the ACC Atlantic – Wake gets the win.

Wake Forest 34 NC State 28

Texas A&M -2.5 @ Ole Miss:

The same Aggies that struggled against Colorado and lost to Arkansas and Mississippi State in very lackluster fashion all of the sudden have managed to win four straight and stand in position to go to their first SEC Championship game if they win out (@ Ole Miss, @ LSU) and Auburn upsets Alabama in the Iron Bowl…not outside the realm of possibility.

The Aggies managed to dominate a SEC West game last week they didn’t score an offensive touchdown…but that was against and up and down Bo Nix, can they do the same against Heisman candidate Matt Corral (2,527 yards 16 TD 2 INT plus 528 yards 10 TDs rushing) ?

Texas A&M has only allowed a total of 31 points in their three wins since Alabama but they’ll have a tougher test in this one as they’ll face an Ole Miss offense that opened the season by scoring at least 42 points in their first four victories…but have failed to score more than 31 since (3-1 in that span).

The Rebels have been dealing with injuries on the offensive side of the ball – mainly with their interior line and wide receiver. If they can run the ball, they have a chance to beat the Aggies. If not – then Matt Corral will have to go hero ball, and we’re not entirely sure he is healthy enough to do that right now.

But eh, Zach Calzada can’t win five in a row, can he?

Ole Miss 37 Texas A&M 28

Iowa State -10.5 @ Texas Tech:

Iowa State’s chances of winning the Big 12 improved last week with the loss by Baylor…but will go right back down again if they drop another road game.

There probably isn’t much concern there, the Cyclones have won five in a row in this series, and all five of those have been by at least 9 points.

Texas Tech has a new man in charge as Joey McGuire will take the reins in Lubbock. McGuire led Cedar Hill High School to three state championships, 12 consecutive playoff appearances and a 141-42 record. He has a chance to be a great hire for the Red Raiders…but won’t help them much this game.

Iowa State 41 Texas Tech 30

Oklahoma -5.5 @ Baylor:

There was a time, from 2011 to 2014, in which Baylor won three of four from the Sooners. Since then, the Sooners have won all 7 matchups. For the most part, however, they have been mostly close games, especially in Waco, where the margin of victory in the last three games there has been 3, 8 and 10 points.

Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Wiliams has been the belle of the ball lately in college football. All he has done has thrown for 1,189 yards and 14 touchdowns with only one interception to date. He has also run for 288 yards and 4 touchdowns.

He’s done so well, in fact, that the Sooners are 3-1 ATS with Wiliams under center after compiling a 1-4 record ATS with Spencer Rattler.

Baylor had a major setback on their way to the conference championship game last week when they lost to a bad TCU team, allowing them to amass 562 yards. That is an aberration for them but they cannot afford to get into any shootout with the Sooners.

I would expect Baylor to come out and try to slow and make the Sooners get impatient. With that comes low scores.

Oklahoma 31 Baylor 24

Kansas @ Texas -30.5:

Thank the lord for a date with Kansas, right?

But then you remember that Kansas has won only one game against Texas since the formation of the Big 12 and that was in 2016. That was in Lawrence, you say, but remember in 2019 that Texas needed a last second loooooong field goal to win by less than those three points.

Texas enters this game with a 4-game losing streak, but the Jayhawks line up on Saturday holding an 8-game losing streak, tied for the longest in the nation with Arkansas State and Florida International.

There are questions about which quarterback Texas will play (or if they will play both), there are questions about the health and status of Bijan Robinson and there is the question of which wide receiver (if any) will step up and fill the gap left by the departure of Joshua Moore to the transfer portal.

This might shock you but Kansas doesn’t feature much offensively. Their starting quarterback, Jason Bean, might miss this game with an injury and if he does he won’t get a chance to add on to the 6 touchdown passes he has on the year.

If he doesn’t go it will be talented sophomore Jalon Daniels under center. Daniels played in a number of games last year, throwing 152 passes with only one touchdown pass.

Somehow their defense (ranked 125th of 130 FBS teams in SP+) is worse than their offense (ranked 118th).

I mean I’m trying to come up with ways Texas doesn’t cover here but they are that bad.

Texas 48 Kansas 13

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Wurstfest.