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The Week That Will Be: Rice Fixes Everything

The Horns find themselves this week seeking the 21st century’s greatest elixir — Rice.

NCAA Football: Texas at Arkansas Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Last Week: 2-4 ATS 3-3 SU

For the Year: 5-7 (.417) (-$250) ATS - (.583) SU

Chalk (Iowa +4.5 vs. Iowa State): Iowa scored 20 points off of 4 Cyclones turnovers as they defeated Iowa State for the sixth straight year. They managed to do it with less than 45 points being scored, meaning this series is now 14-2 the last 16 years for the under. Perhaps returning all those starters for Iowa State just meant that they returned 19 guys that know how to lose to Iowa.

Bad Beat (Ohio State -14.5 vs. Oregon): The Buckeyes lost for the first time in four years at The Horseshoe because they couldn’t stop anybody. They managed to roll up 612 yards at home and lost. Who would have taken that bet last week? Ohio State allowed more than 200 yards rushing in consecutive games for the first time since 2014.

Steve Sarkisian’s Texas honeymoon is over before he even got to try the plunge pool in the Pineapple Suite.

Last week we talked about the opener against Louisiana and how the victory was just about the perfect victory for Texas — a nice, somewhat easy win against a ranked opponent featuring a Texas coaching staff out-coaching another but with enough teaching points to keep the players from getting complacent.

That all went out the window last week in Fayetteville.

I don’t know how many times over the years I have beat the drum in this very column about how every opponent circles Texas on the calendar, but Texas circles one game on its calendar. Saturday was absolutely a trap game for Texas — but they are all trap games at Texas.

The Longhorns came out flat, almost as if they expected to just run over the Razorbacks and were not helped by a coaching staff that seemed to have forgotten everything that worked a week ago and decided to try to fast forward to year 2 or 3 in the rebuild all in one week.

And as a result, the Horns were thoroughly embarrassed by an Arkansas team that will still be struggling to be bowl eligible into November.

Two steps forward, three steps back.

The lowest common denominator media types out there were falling all over themselves to put out their cutesy “Welcome to the SEC” memes and columns, but this wasn’t a talent issue — it was a coaching staff being out-coached and a team that failed to match the intensity of their opponent for about the millionth time in the last decade.

Oh and if we weren’t down enough, now we have a full fledged quarterback controversy on our hands. Those are always fun.

Whether you are Team Casey or Team Hudson (please support whichever one is out there), Steve Sarkisian has botched this quarterback situation from the start. Why wait until late in the game to get Casey Thompson time against Louisiana and Arkansas? And why pull the redshirt freshman you named the starter at the very first sign of adversity, after he was outstanding in game one?

Before the season, when people would ask me who I thought the starting quarterback would be, I always replied that I thought Casey Thompson would start at least the first two-four games because they wouldn’t want to throw a freshman out there in Fayetteville.

But what does changing the quarterback now do? So Thompson has a great game on Saturday and the Horns win by 30, 40 or 50 — what exactly has that proved? Wouldn’t you want to use both quarterbacks as much as possible this week?

Since Sarkisian and the coaching staff did Hudson Card no favors on Saturday, I hope they adjust on the fly this week and produce a game plan that actually takes into account the strengths of their signal caller and an offensive line that appears to be lost.

2012 was the last time that the Horns went through a non-conference schedule unscathed (if you don’t count the one-game non-conference schedule last year). It was also the last year they were 3-0. Far too often this program has been digging itself out of an early season hole where they have to try to redefine themselves before September is even over.

The Horns and Texas fans are used to it — Steve Sarkisian is not.

But now that the honeymoon is over, it is time to get back to work.

South Carolina @ Georgia -30:

Georgia has won 5 of 6 in this series, but it was the Gamecocks that came out ahead the last time in Athens, a 20-17 victory in double overtime. It was a bit of fool’s gold, however, as the Bulldogs outgained them by nearly 200 yards.

The big question in this one is the availability of Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels, who missed Georgia’s blasting of UAB last week. On the other hand, perhaps they don’t need him for this one as Georgia backup Stetson Bennett (who might have injury concerns of his own this week) finished the game 10-for-12 passing for 288 yards and five touchdowns (73, 12, 9, 89 and 61 yards).

If you remember South Carolina has the instability of a coach playing quarterback for them, as Zeb Noland will likely again get the start. The former grad assistant has been mediocre for the Gamecocks, throwing for 335 yards in two games with five touchdowns and one interception.

South Carolina has been decent defensively, but I’m not sure how many points they’ll score in this one as Georgia’s defense has outscored opponent’s offenses 14-3 in this young campaign.

Georgia 34 South Carolina 10

Auburn @ Penn State -6.5:

Bryan Harsin might have been a bit of a surprise hire for the Auburn Tigers this off-season, with one of the curiosities being his lack of experience in the Southeastern Conference. Harsin tried to remedy that by bringing in SEC stalwarts Mike Bobo and Derek Mason as his coordinators.

The Tigers have rolled through two games, but your local high school has probably had a tougher schedule. Despite that soft schedule, quarterback Bo Nix has been pedestrian thus far this season.

Auburn is trying to turn the tide on a 2020 that saw them lose to four out of the five ranked teams they played last season. I’m not sure this is the place to get one.

Penn State 27 Auburn 23

Alabama -15 @ Florida:

The Crimson Tide have won seven in a row and 11 of 13 in this series, with Florida’s last win coming in 2008. Most of these games have not been close, either, with eight of those wins by 14 points or more. Florida coach Dan Mullen is 0-10 against Nick Saban going back to his days at Mississippi State.

Due to always odd SEC scheduling this is the first trip for Alabama to Gainesville since 2011, and the first true road game for new Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, who has thrown for 571 yards with 7 touchdowns and zero interceptions through two games.

Florida is attempting that always fun dual quarterback system with Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. Jones has thrown 4 interceptions through two games while Richardson last week became the first Florida quarterback since Tim Tebow to put up 150 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. Richardson could be limited this week with hamstring tightness, however.

Alabama smells your uncertainty.

Alabama 38 Florida 17

Oklahoma State @ Boise State -4.5:

Oklahoma State entered this year as a sleeper pick to win the Big 12, but they have largely slept walked on offense in one-score victories over Missouri State and Tulsa. The Cowboys lost a lot to the NFL but this is year three of the Spencer Sanders experiment and he hasn’t seemed to have made any progress.

Add to that the fact that the Cowboys are only averaging 2.7 yards per carry thus far this season, and it doesn’t inspire confidence that they can go on the road into an environment where weird things happen and pull out a victory.

But Oklahoma State is being mentioned as a possible Big 12 sleeper due to their defense — which finished last season 18th in the country in SP+ and returns a large majority of their defensive starters back. The hope is that the defense can win these types of games until the offense comes around.

Oklahoma State 27 Boise State 23

Nebraska @ Oklahoma -23:

Oklahoma had a lot of questions after a week one squeaker win over Tulane, but of course everything was fixed last week with a 76-0 victory over Western Carolina.

Perhaps Texas should face more teams like that.

Nebraska started their season with a disheartening loss at Illinois but have followed that up with two victories — albeit over Fordham and Buffalo. No matter the opponent, what the Cornhuskers are doing defensively is impressive, they have now held 7 straight opponents to less than 400 yards.

But Oklahoma is a step up from Fordham and Buffalo. Scott Frost is 0-7 against ranked opponents at Nebraska, and the Cornhuskers haven’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2016.

Oklahoma 41 Nebraska 17

Rice @ Texas -24.5:

There was a time earlier this year that Rice being tied with Arkansas headed to the fourth quarter was impressive — until we learned that the Razorbacks were laser focused on Texas all off-season and spent the bus ride over to the stadium reading a national magazine’s Rice preview to prepare for that game.

The Owls followed up that good showing in Fayetteville with a 44-7 loss to Houston, so Texas does luck out in that Rice is likely devastated about losing out on the Bayou Bucket yet again. They only managed a measly 212 yards against the Cougars, only completing 9 passes and with Rice quarterback Luke McCaffrey (yes from that family) throwing a third of that to the other team.

Get your bingo cards out because again Rice returns all starting offensive linemen (as did Louisiana and Arkansas), but unlike those other two squads, that isn’t always a good thing. Their high mark going back to last season in points scored is 34, scored in a double OT loss to Middle Tennessee State.

Defensively they are not bad, finishing 54th in the country last year in SP+ defense. A deep secondary that returns every starter from last year leads a defense that allowed less than 19 ppg last season. They can also get after the quarterback a little bit as they have five sacks this season after only getting 7 all of last season. The question is can they get off the field after allowing Arkansas and Houston to convert nearly half of their third down attempts thus far this season.

It is a win win, Texas gets a nice confidence boost heading into conference play and Rice gets a nice check.

Texas 41 Rice 16

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for future offensive linemen NIL deals.

“My friend Richie, he has the disease of alcoholism. And he came to me … and he told me, and I’m the kind of guy that likes to look at the bright side of things. So I told him, I said, ‘Richie, it’s true that you have a disease and everything, but I think you’ve got the best one.’” — RIP Norm Macdonald