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The Week That Will Be: Til Gabriel Blows His Horn

The unthinkable happened. Again. The good news is there is nowhere to go but up.

Kansas v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Last Week: 3-3 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 32-34 (.485) (-$520) ATS 42-24 (.636) SU

Chalk (Ole Miss +2.5 vs. Texas A&M):

I posed the question last week if Zach Calzada could really win five games in a row and the answer was no. Calzada threw two interceptions, including a pick six with just a few minutes remaining to seal the victory for Lane Kiffin and the Rebels. Ole Miss had more than 400 yards of offense in the first half but the Aggie defense kept them out of the endzone for the most part and tightened up in the second half to get A&M back in the game. One troubling stat for the Aggies offense – they have scored touchdowns on just 47% of their red zone trips, last in the SEC.

Bad Beat (Oklahoma -5.5 @ Baylor):

Well obviously it is Texas losing to Kansas, but more on them in a minute. Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler combined for less than 200 passing yards and completed barely 50% of their passes last weekend as the Bears toppled the Sooners. Williams also threw two interceptions. Baylor rushed for 296 yards to Oklahoma’s 78 and held Oklahoma to 2 of 9 on third down. It was the fewest points for the Sooners since 2014.

“You have to answer for Santino, Carlo…”

The schools hadn’t met since December of 2005. That was probably better for the psyche of the defeated that day, since they lost by nearly 10 touchdowns.

Texas traveled to Boulder, Colorado on an October night for a matchup with the Buffaloes. The Horns were ranked fifth in the country, the Buffs were unranked. It wasn’t much of a game, Colt McCoy found Chris Ogbonnaya on a checkdown on a busted play and Ogbonnaya made something out of nothing, racing 65 yards down the sideline for a 7-0 lead, a lead that the Horns would not relinquish on route to a 38-14 win to move to 5-0.

A matchup of undefeateds with Oklahoma in Dallas awaited the next week. Ogbonnaya would factor into that one as well.

721 miles to the east of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains sits Ames, Iowa.

In the middle of Ames sits Iowa State University, which just the season prior had hired Gene Chizik to run its football program. Chizik had a rough first year as the Cyclones finished 3-9. It was a slight disappointment even in Ames, which hadn’t seen a double digit win football team in well, ever. Dan McCarney had preceded Chizik in Ames, however, and he at least won 9 games once and 7 a handful of times and took them to bowl games, something they hadn’t been to since the days Elvis Presley ran the Billboard charts.

On that same afternoon that Texas soundly defeated Colorado, the Kansas Jayhawks visited Ames. The Jayhawks were riding high the year prior, finishing the season 12-1, including a win in the Orange Bowl. The Jayhawks finished 7th in the country that year (they had been as high as #2 earlier in the year), so this year excitement was high.

That was tempered a bit by a loss to #19 South Florida by three points, but the Jayhawks still sat at 3-1 and ranked 16th in the country. They fell behind 20-0 that dreary afternoon, but they stormed back and held on to a 35-33 win behind the 319 passing yards and three touchdowns from Todd Reesing.

That was the last Jayhawks road conference win until this past Saturday night.

One and a half more years of Mark Mangino. Two years of Turner Gill. Three years of Charlie Weis. Four years of David Beaty. Two years of Les Miles.

And three quarters of a season from Lance Leipold.

157 losses. 56 conference road losses.

Three full presidential terms.

4,788 days.

And now their streak is over.

Saturday was about as close as you can get to Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth on the Jones Beach Causeway.

Look around, this is rock bottom. Oh hey, Nebraska, didn’t see you over there.

We’ve talked about the talent issues ad nauseum here and elsewhere, but Texas has enough talent in their second string to stay within three touchdowns of Kansas in a half.

I believe what we are seeing here is a perfect storm of bad personnel, bad defensive schemes, an average to below average quarterback room and zero vocal leadership in the locker room. Throw that all in a pot and you get bad football stew and apparently a recipe to lose to Kansas for the second time in five meetings.

We all love our University and our city but apparently players get to Austin and unfurl a “Mission Accomplished” banner in their dorm room because no further improvement far too often no further improvement is seen. Senior day is next week at DKR - Texas Memorial Stadium and for about the tenth year in a row it is a senior class that most of us just shrug and shoo out the door like a guest that has worn out their welcome to usher in the new class.

I’m not sure that any of us, including Steve Sarkisian, saw this season going off the rails like this. But here we are.

The good news is that there are recent success stories in one year turnarounds.

Michigan last season was 2-4. This season they are 9-1. Michigan State went from 2-5 to 9-1. And here in our own backyard Baylor was 2-7 and is now 8-2.

All three play outstanding defense. All three have bus drivers at quarterback.

In last year’s season finale in Waco, Baylor was run over by Oklahoma State in a lifeless McLane Stadium 45-3. The Bears appeared to be going through the motions that day, and some wondered if Aranda was in over his head.

Aranda went to work. He saw an offensive staff that had zero chemistry and even worse results (near the bottom in every significant offensive category in the conference) and replaced them with integral parts from a highly successful BYU offense.

Aranda also took that opportunity to examine all logistics of the Baylor program, from how their meetings are run to how practices are run. He also retooled the strength and conditioning program.

Perhaps Nick Saban at Alabama does that top to bottom assessment every year as well, but I’m guessing not many programs bother with it. But with a move to the SEC imminent, Texas cannot afford to wallow another year in the college football abyss.

Steve Sarkisian needs to spend as much time examining his program this off-season as he does the Xs and Os, and perhaps some help needs to be thrown his way in the way of administration as well.

Chris Del Conte is fond of saying Team Texas when someone on social media compliments him for his handling of the Texas program. This off-season needs to be the same all hands on deck mentality for this football program, because when you lose to Kansas in year one of your tenure the initial data points on the overall assessment of your coaching staff are not good.

Whether it is staff changes or coaching changes or coaching philosophy changes or it is more help being brought in as analysts or an entire analytics department is hired – get it done and spare no expense because the importance of this off-season cannot be overstated.

That off-season starts in about 10 days. Louisiana-Monroe visits in 290 days. Alabama comes to town in 297 days. UTSA and Jeff Traylor come to town in 304 days.

“In this world there comes a time when the most humble of men, if he keeps his eyes open, can take his revenge on the most powerful.” – Mario Puzo, The Godfather

Oregon @ Utah -3:

This is the first of likely two meetings between these two schools this season, and Oregon needs to win both to be in the College Football Playoff conversation.

The Ducks had that gigantic win over the Buckeyes in Columbus back in September but have had some weird wins since then and a loss to Stanford that looks really bad right now. You have to wonder if their quarterback play is enough to get it done without another loss along the way.

Former Texas quarterback Cam Rising is the starter in Utah now, and he’s doing a good enough job – 1,752 yards with 14 touchdowns to only two interceptions. He’s also added four touchdowns on the ground. The Utes had two early season losses to BYU and San Diego State but since have won 6 of 7 with their lone loss an 8-point loss at Oregon State.

Utah is usually tough at home, I think they get it done here.

Utah 31 Oregon 24

Arkansas @ Alabama -20.5:

Arkansas hasn’t beaten Alabama since 2006 – not coincidentally the year before Nick Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa. You have to go further back to find when the Razorbacks defeated the Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium – 2003.

Even more problematic for the Razorbacks has been that the last two meetings against the Tide they have only ended up with a combined 10 points – they simply don’t have the firepower to make Alabama guess, and Alabama doesn’t get bullied around.

Arkansas started the season 4-0 and then dropped three in a row and have now won three in a row, but that streak ends in this one, it is just a matter of how much they can score this year.

Alabama clinches a spot in the SEC Championship Game.

Alabama 41 Arkansas 10

Michigan State @ Ohio State -19:

This marks the fifth time that these two schools meet with them both ranked in the AP Top-10. Interestingly enough Michigan State is 3-1 in the previous four meetings, with the two latest wins in 2013 and 2015.

That is the good news. The bad news is that Ohio State has won five in a row in this series, and Michigan State hasn’t scored more than 12 points against Ohio State since 2016, totaling 31 points total in the last four match-ups. Last year’s game in East Lansing was particularly disastrous as Ohio State came out ahead 52-12.

The Buckeyes are coming off a demolishing of Purdue as they scored on their first eight drives of the game (seven touchdowns). C.J. Stroud has now passed for at least 300 yards in six of his last seven games.

That’s the offense. On defense the Buckeyes gave up 481 yards and 31 points to Purdue. Most of that was in garbage time, but with Ohio State’s defensive troubles earlier in the year, that is something to keep an eye on in this game.

Kenneth Walker III comes into this game seeking his 8th 100-yard effort of the season but comes into this one nursing a sore ankle. They’ll need every bit of him to knock off the Buckeyes.

Ohio State has won 28 straight Big 10 games. They’ll get 29 here.

Ohio State 31 Michigan State 20

Baylor PK @ Kansas State:

Baylor has owned this series of late, they have won three in a row (the Wildcats were one of two victories the Bears had last year) and 7 of 9.

But Kansas State has won four games in a row since starting conference play 0-3. Their best victory in that timespan was Texas Tech, but give them credit for defeating who is on the schedule. In fact, if they win this one and win at Texas next week, they are a bowl win away from finishing the season with 10 wins.

K-State is winning games like they usually do, with efficient quarterback play (Skylar Thompson has completed 74% of his passes during this streak), a strong running game (Deuce Vaughn at least 100 yards in three straight games) and a tough defense (32nd in the country in SP+ defense).

Enter the Spiderman meme here, because Baylor is winning games with much the same formula, although Gerry Bohanon now has six interceptions in his last four games after not throwing one in the first six games of the year. But Abram Smith has rushed for at least 125 yards in four straight games and their defense is ranked even higher in SP+ (15th).

Baylor plays much better at home but they get the win here with a little more defense than the Wildcats.

Baylor 24 Kansas State 17

Iowa State @ Oklahoma -3.5:

Every year I look at the all-time series record between these two in amazement – Oklahoma leads 77-7-2. They met twice last season with Iowa State winning in Ames in October, sorry Brocktober but the Sooners of course won the Big 12 title game in Arlington in December when Brock Purdy threw three interceptions, including one in the waning moments inside the Oklahoma 10-yard line.

Both teams are coming off losses and both are desperate for a win. Oklahoma needs a win to stay relevant in the Big 12 race, while Iowa State needs a win to avoid their fifth loss of what was supposed to be a much better season.

It has been close lately, with the last six meetings between these two all decided by 10 points or less. This one will be close, but in Norman I give the Sooners the edge.

Oklahoma 28 Iowa State 23

Texas @ West Virginia -2.5:

I can give you a whole lot of stats here, and I will out of obligation…

The Mountaineers started the season with a loss to Maryland (how embarrassing is that), then won over some school named Long Island University (I think they advertise on Channel 55 during Gomer Pyle reruns) and Virginia Tech. They hit some stumbles in conference play, sitting at 2-5, just like your Longhorns.

West Virginia is a dreadful offensive team that has scored only 140 points in 7 conference games, and that was with the very unexpected 38 point outburst against Iowa State in Morgantown. Jarret Doege threw for 370 yards that day, which was about 15% of his season output. He also has nearly as many interceptions (10) as touchdowns (13), and yes that is only 13 touchdowns despite starting 10 games.

Running back Leddie Brown is their offensive star, but only has 109 yards rushing in the Mountaineers’ current two-game losing streak. He also has three fumbles in his last three games.

Defensively they rank 54th in the country in SP+ defense, but their defense isn’t as good as last year when they finished first in the conference in scoring defense and total defense. They did hold Oklahoma (and Spencer Rattler) to 16 points and held Texas Tech to 23 points, but gave up 45 to Baylor and 34 to Kansas State just last weekend.

So yes, this is a very winnable game for a replacement-level team. But as we found out last week we have to factor in giving a shit for the Longhorns, and you are free to judge for yourself what that will be sitting at 4-6 with a noon local time start in the mountains of West Virginia, a thousand miles from home.

Can they win? Will they win? Sure. No.

West Virginia 28 Texas 24

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for basketball season.