The Week That Will Be: The New Guard

Posted by    |    October 12th, 2017 at 7:00 am

New coaches, same old rivalry

Last Week: 4-2 ATS 5-1 SU

For the Year: 19-17 (.528) (-$10) ATS 28-8 (.778) SU

We learned last week…

· Imagine saying a few years back that Washington State could go into Autzen Stadium and dominate Oregon and it not be much of a surprise. That is exactly what happened, as the Cougars first trip away from Pullman resulted in an easy win over the Ducks.

· It was a terrible drive to end a terrible game, as Miami’s Malik Rosier threw four incompletions in the final minute but it was a touchdown pass with 6 seconds left that clinched Miami’s first win over Florida State in 8 tries.

· Calling that last game a terrible game is an insult to this game, as Michigan State took a 14-3 halftime lead, punted on 8 of their 9 possessions in the second half…and still won. A driving rainstorm did nothing to wash away the stink of this one.

· Aggies everywhere must have been very confused Saturday night, as a Texas A&M win over Alabama would have given Kevin Sumlin an excellent job of returning. As it stands, the Aggies are still 4-2, with at least four very winnable games (@ Florida & Ole Miss and at home against Mississippi State and New Mexico), one very promising game (@ LSU) and one tough opponent, but at home (Auburn). Do they still fire Sumlin if they go 9-3?

· Kenny Hill Jr. scored a touchdown by passing, rushing and receiving, as the Horned Frogs outlasted West Virginia. The TCU defense, which has looked rather formidable thus far this season, showed some weakness by giving up a 64-yard touchdown and a 76-yard touchdown in the span of two minutes in the third quarter. Something to keep in mind as the season unfolds.

· And finally, does Texas finally have a quarterback? Perhaps, but excuse me if I am a little shy to make those proclamations.


Aw, shucks.

As soon as USC kicker Chase McGrath guided the football through the uprights into the cool California air, you felt it, I felt it, we just didn’t want to admit.

Yeah, Texas lost, but…

There are no moral victories at Texas, but…

But there was at least one man that wasn’t having those feelings. What he was feeling kept him awake the entire flight back to Texas.

“We lost a football game that was winnable,” Texas coach Tom Herman said a couple days after the loss. “If we feel there’s complacency about losing … that will never be the case here under our watch.”

If you spend a lot of time listening to Herman, and what Texas fan didn’t have a lot of time this off-season to digest everything that was said, you realize quickly that one of his main tenets – the main principle that his coaching philosophy is built upon – is that your love for your teammate should outweigh your desire to achieve personal goals.

Losing should make your skin crawl – not because winning is more fun – but because you let your teammate down. Time and time again, players are put into win/lose situations and rewarded when an objective is met.

We can talk Xs and Os all we want this week, talk about Sam Ehlinger against a sieve-like Oklahoma defense or Baker Mayfield against a revived Texas front seven, but we all know that this game is more than that – that Bob Stoops didn’t kick Mack Brown’s ass all those years because the ball just bounced his way five years in a row.

Peter Gardere had no business winning all 4 games he started in this rivalry. Tyrone Swoopes found a very useful role late in his Texas career but somehow he came into this game and set the single game record for total yards. Oklahoma won a game in 1996 that they had no business winning, and Texas did the same in 2013.

Texas won’t be the most talented team on the field Saturday afternoon at the Cotton Bowl. They have no Heisman Trophy contender, nor do they have a realistic shot at the playoffs. No Texas player has won a conference championship – Oklahoma’s roster is littered with players that have won multiple. Very few Texas players have played in a bowl game – Oklahoma won the Sugar Bowl this calendar year.

But if that unspeakable trust is strong – if the defense trusts their teammates to be where they are supposed to be, if a quarterback trusts his offensive line to give him the time to get the ball downfield, if a running back is stopped three yards short of the endzone but it pushed past the goal line by his offensive line – then none of those things will matter.

“There is a lot of positive energy in that locker room right now. I’ve had numerous players tell me – Coach, this is as close as we’ve been as a team in a long, long time.

That feels good.” – Tom Herman

On to the games…

Auburn -7 @ LSU:

Speaking of terrible football games, you might have forgotten last year’s game between these two games because you either fell asleep or decided that painting the kitchen cabinets would be a better time investment, as Auburn kicked 6 field goals to win 18-13.

It was Les Miles’s last game as head coach of the Tigers.

The Tigers went out and got Tom Herman, Ed Orgeron, who seems to make a better mascot and recruiter than the actual CEO of a football program, but luckily only a measly $12 million separate themselves from him and an actual head football coach.

Auburn is a bit of a surprise this year, as they have followed up a 14-7 season opening loss to Clemson with four straight victories by a combined score of 168-57, but when you look closer you realize those opponents were Mercer, Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss, who sit at 6-9 and oh yeah they’re f’ing Mercer.

Despite all the flaws of LSU, they still have quite a defense and should be able to slow this down into a mucky, miserable game that no doubt will go as an instant classic because hey, SEC.

Auburn 24 LSU 20

ATS – LSU

SU – Auburn

Texas A&M @ Florida -3:

Is it me or does Florida usually play about 10 games a year in Gainesville? In fact, four of their first five SEC conference games were at home…who makes these schedules?

Anyways, the extra point that the Gators missed last week would have been no good in any stadium, as they fell 17-16 to LSU. The Gators have been dreadful on offense, only throwing four touchdown passes all season. The rushing attack hasn’t been much better, as the Gators leading rusher, Malik Davis, only has a little over 400 yards on the year.

The Aggies had just 71 yards on 40 carries against Alabama, but they should be able to have some success against a Florida defense that has given up more than 200 rushing yards to Michigan and LSU this year.

Add to all of that the fact that Florida has several players injured or suspended and the Aggies look like the more dynamic team here.

Texas A&M 31 Florida 24

ATS – Texas A&M

SU – Texas A&M

Utah @ USC -13.5:

Utah enters this one coming off their first loss of the season against Stanford last week, while USC got back to winning by knocking off Oregon State and sending Gary Andersen off the edge in the process.

The Utes were the team that saw Sam Darnold first last season, as Utah scored a touchdown with 16 seconds left to knock off the Trojans in Salt Lake City. In fact, since Utah joined the Pac-12, the home team has won five of six in this seris.

The Trojans have dealt with more than their share of injuries on the offensive line, wide receiver and front seven, but if they get past this one unscathed, a trip to the Pac-12 championship is likely in the offering with just Arizona State, Arizona, Colorado and UCLA left on their conference slate.

USC is well tested, as they have already faced three Top 30 S&P teams, while Utah has largely skated until last week. Starting quarterback Tyler Huntley is injured, but the Utes do have battle tested Troy Williams waiting in the wings.

USC 31 Utah 24

ATS – Utah

SU – USC

Texas Tech @ West Virginia -3.5:

This one features very similar teams, as we’ll see two of the country’s best offenses paired with solid but certainly not great defenses.

In fact they are so similar that their quarterbacks are basically having the same year, as Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier has thrown for 1,740 yards and 16 touchdowns while Texas Tech’s Nic Shimonek has thrown for 1,811 and 14 touchdowns.

West Virginia held the Red Raiders to 379 yards and 17 points in Lubbock last season, but this appears to be a much more balanced Tech team, as they ran for 313 yards and 4 touchdowns against Kansas last week. Their defense is also much better this year, as not only are they first in the Big 12 in turnover margin, but the 14 turnovers gained this season are already one more than it collected in the entire 2016 campaign.

Home field advantage will be the difference here, because although the Red Raiders have played well this year on the road, they generally are much tougher to face in Lubbock.

West Virginia 38 Texas Tech 31

ATS – West Virginia

SU – West Virginia

TCU -6 @ Kansas State:

With Oklahoma dropping one to Iowa State last week (hahahaha), the Frogs look like the Big 12’s best chance at the playoffs, as no losses on the season looks a lot better than a loss to Iowa State.

It won’t be easy, though, as Kansas State racked up 495 total yards, including 336 (6.6 ypc) rushing yards, last year in a 30-6 victory in Fort Worth last season. It was the first time that TCU has been held without a touchdown in a decade.

Jesse Ertz ran for a career high 170 yards in that one, but he certainly looked banged up against Texas. Backup Alex Delton looked more than capable, however.

TCU’s defense has stepped it up this season, but they’ve looked more vulnerable in their last couple of games. KSU pulls off the upset.

Kansas State 28 TCU 24

ATS – Kansas State

SU – Kansas State

Texas vs. Oklahoma -8:

And here. We. Go.

Texas enters this one looking for their first signature win of the Tom Herman era, while Oklahoma is simply looking to show that their loss to Iowa State last week (hahaha) was only a fluke and that Lincoln Riley can sufficiently rally the troops after a tough week.

How bad was that loss to Iowa State? Well, other than it being just the second loss to the Cyclones since the Kennedy administration, the Sooners were up 14-0 ten minutes in to the game and were up 24-10 at home…and lost. Iowa State scored on their final five possessions of the ballgame, leading people to the conclusion that the Sooners game against Ohio State was the aberration, and they are the same old Sooners who haven’t fielded a decent defense since the first time Mike Stoops was around these parts.

Baker “Uncle Rico” Mayfield was apparently so shaken by Iowa State’s win (hahaha) that he felt the need to return to his high school roots to prop up his confidence, as he was eager to point out that Texas freshman Sam Ehlinger never did beat Lake Travis High School.

Yes. That seriously happened.

While Mayfield was wearing his high school letter jacket last Saturday night, Ehlinger was racking up the third highest yardage total for a quarterback in Texas history, as his 487 total yards trailed only Jerrod Heard’s 527 and Vince Young’s 506.

Chances could be there against an Oklahoma defense that has not only been exposed in the last two weeks (giving up nearly 1,000 yards to winless Baylor and Iowa State’s backup quarterback), but also comes into this one with a rash of injuries.

I think this one comes down to how well Texas can contain Mayfield. Will it be the 2016 Mayfield, who threw for 390 yards and 3 touchdowns (and rushed for another), or will it be the 2015 Mayfield, who was held to 211 yards on 28 attempts, had 18 rushes for -5 yards and was held to one touchdown?

The Sooners haven’t lost two regular season games in a row since Bob Stoops’ first year in Norman (1999), when Oklahoma lost to a bad Notre Dame team, and then lost to…

Texas.

There is something satisfyingly symmetrical about that.

Texas 31 Oklahoma 28

ATS – Texas

SU – Texas

For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for Fried Fruit Loops, Fried Chicken Noodle Soup on a Stick, a corn dog and a beer in a wax cup.