After having a slew of bye-weeks during Week 7, Week 8 should be called the early-bird special, as 40% of Texas teams play in games with 11:00 o’clock kicks. With ten games on tap this weekend, not a single one features a Texas team playing a fellow Texas team. With the Texas versus the nation record just one game below .500, look for the Lone Star State to make a push in the wins column.
For game of the week, there are several intriguing options. Of course, there is another top-25 match up as Texas A&M travels to The Grove to face a struggling #24 Ole Miss team. If the Rebels best player, Robert Nkemdiche, can’t go after suffering a concussion last weekend, it will make Ole Miss’ chances of winning slimmer. On the other hand, this will be our first glimpse of the Ags in a true road game this season and there will be questions of how they’ll play (specifically, Kyle Allen) after the loss to ‘Bama.
Kansas State versus the University of Texas is also a possibility. K-State will be looking to save a rapidly sinking season, as injuries have decimated a once strong squad. Meanwhile, Texas has had a bye-week to rest and progress after notching the ‘Horns biggest win of the Charlie Strong-era. A win here and UT could find themselves on the way to a strong finish.
However, for Game of the Week, I’ll go with Texas Tech at #17 Oklahoma. I still contest that Texas Tech is the best unranked team in Texas, but they tried hard to prove me wrong last weekend. The Red Raiders ultimately counted on a touchdown from the worst defensive unit in the country to seal their victory against the Big 12’s worst program, Kansas. Meanwhile, Oklahoma responded to a loss in the Red River Showdown my decimating K-State 55-0.
While that final score is impressive, it is even more impressive when you consider the circumstances. Just one week ago, the Snydercats took TCU to the wire (a game K-State likely should have won) while OU fell to UT. This Friday, OU was delayed for four hours in the airport, having to switch planes four times and missing their pre-game walkthrough before finally making it to Manhattan. None of that mattered as Stoops and the Sooners dominated Snyder and the Cats from whistle to whistle.
If Tech can pull off a massive upset this weekend, it would validate the Red Raiders and help improve team moral after losses to their first two ranked conference opponents, TCU and Baylor. It will be a tall order in Norman, but if Tech can push the game to a shootout, it will come down to who has the ball last. Those are odds that an Raider fan will take.
My record last week was a petty 5-2 while Texas FBS programs went 4-3 in games against teams from outside the state. As always, make your own picks to beat me and win a free Texas Sports Hall of Fame package. You can make picks by Tweeting at us, messaging us on Facebook or emailing me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, October 24
#21 Houston (-21) @ UCF, 11:00 AM, ESPNEWS
UCF is currently 0-7, however, minus games against Stanford, South Carolina and Connecticut, ever other game has been decided by two scores or less. Hardy and the Cougars continue to roll, having easily dispatched every team they’ve faced with exception of Louisville and Tulsa (both away games). This one won’t be close as the H-Town Takeover continues – Houston wins 48-20.
Kansas State (+4) @ UT, 11:00 AM, Fox Sports 1
A rash of Wildcat injuries have pushed Texas to being favored in this game – a game the Longhorns almost certainly would have been underdogs in just a few weeks ago. While Bill Snyder can’t recall a team that has suffered more injuries to important players (I imagine TCU fans would have an argument there), the Wildcats have started to return some of the previously missing pieces. Unfortunately, at this point in the season, the lack of consistency in the starting lineup likely means this team won’t be able to gel. UT and Charlie Strong should win this game, but don’t ever count Snyder out – UT wins 24-21.
Army (+10) @ Rice, 11:00 AM, FSN
Haven’t had the opportunity to watch Army this year? Don’t worry you’re not missing much. In fact, the line in this game should tell you all you need to know. Now 2-5, Army picked up their second win of the year last weekend against Bucknell. That being said, the Black Nights have fought in every game being within a score of knocking off teams like Penn State and Wake Forest. In fact the only game Army has had no chance of winning was the Duke match up they lost 44-3. This weekend won’t be that lopsided, as defensive-minded Army face offensive-minded Rice in a battle of philosophy – Rice wins 31-24.
Iowa State (+36.5) @ #2 Baylor, 11:00 AM, ESPN
Undoubtedly, the biggest question mark on this Bears’ squad is the special teams unit. I have mentioned their struggles in past weeks, allowing long returns and placing the defense in tough positions. Their ineptitude was in full display against West Virginia. In the fourth quarter, with the Mountaineers put away, the Bears’ special teams allowed WVU to recover an on-side kick and return a kick for a touchdown. Regardless, the Bears are currently the best team in the Big 12 and in the state. Baylor will want to shore up their special teams before tougher competition when one ST mistake could cost them a game. The Bears will roll this weekend – Baylor wins 65-27.
(Semi) Crazy prediction of the week: ““Baylor wins their third straight
Big 12 crown while going undefeated and making the National Championship game. . .”
UNT (+29) @ Marshall, 2:30 PM, FSN
There were new signs of life by the UNT offense this past weekend, as the Mean Green posted 28 points against a strong Western Kentucky team. As much as I’d like to see UNT pick up a win this season, it may not be until their final game of the season – Marshall wins 41-20.
The Red Raiders were up 20-0 at half, only to squander their lead. While there were multiple reasons for that, in my opinion, the biggest by far was the loss of Le’Raven Clark. Clark, a 2014 All-Big 12 first-team selection, is arguably the Raiders most important player. The 6’ 6” 308-pound tackle did score a two-point conversion for the Raiders in the game, but would eventually go down in the second quarter and leave for the game. While the Raiders ranked third in the Big 12 in sacks allowed, Tech allowed five sacks to Kansas and struggled to create offensive consistency.
If Clark isn’t able to return this week, the Raiders have almost no chance of upsetting the Sooners. Oklahoma will be the best defense Tech has played to date. While the Sooners have allowed over 300 yards per game to opposing offenses, Oklahoma has only allowed those yards to translate to 18.8 points per game. Tech will have to play lights-out to pull off this upset on the road. Unfortunately, the Raiders are probably a year of development and maturation away from being able to win a game like this – Oklahoma wins 49-38.
Should I mention in 2007 Tech upset #3 OU 34-27?
Then four years later, Tech did it again in 2011 upsetting #3 OU 41-38 and snapping the Sooners 39-game home win streak?
Now its 2015 and another four years have passed. . .
SMU (+12) @ USF, 3:00 PM, ESPNEWS
A total lack of defense continues to hamper what is an exceptional offensive attack. USF is a solid team and will be too strong for the Mustangs to topple on the road – USF wins 38-31.
#15 Texas A&M (+4.5) @ #24 Ole Miss, 6:00 PM, ESPN
In their second straight ranked match up, the Aggies will face their first true road contest of the year. While the Aggies look like the stronger squad and have the better résumé, Ole Miss will be looking to right their season as they have lost twice in the last three games. A&M almost needs this win. The Aggies want to prove they aren’t overrated, that last week was an aberration and, perhaps most importantly, that their season won’t spiral out-of-control as it did a year ago.
Ole Miss will likely be missing their most important player, Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a concussion while playing on offense last weekend against Memphis. However, with one star possibly out, another star returns. Rated by many as the best tackle in football, Laremy Tunsil is set to return for the Rebels this weekend after sitting out the first seven games during an NCAA investigation. His return couldn’t be timelier, as Tunsil will have the primary responsibility of neutralizing Myles Garrett. If Nkemdiche also plays, the Rebs will be hard for the Aggies to top on the road.
It will take a total team effort from Texas A&M, but a win here will prove the Aggies are developing into a SEC West force. Allen will have to shake off his costly mistakes from the Bama game and the A&M o-line will have to play their best. In true Sumlin fashion, the Aggies take care of business on the road – Texas A&M wins 35-27.
Florida Atlantic (-6) @ UTEP, 6:00 PM, American Sports Network
This game is hard to pick. It will be a competitive match up as both teams are almost equally bad. UTEP is 2-4 while FAU is 1-5, however, Florida Atlantic can claim a conference win while the Miners cannot. All things being even, I’ll take the home team and, more importantly, the Texas team – UTEP wins 31-27.
South Alabama (+3) @ Texas State, 6:00 PM, ESPN3
Like many Texas teams this year, Texas State has established a solid offensive attack, but struggles due to an exceptionally poor defense. The Bobcat offense is averaging nearly 460 yards per game while scoring an average of 34 points per game. However, those numbers are immediately negated as the Bobcat defense surrenders 573 yards per game while allowing almost 50 points per game. South Alabama has been no stud, but with a school abbreviation of USA it’s hard to pick against the Jaguars. USA turnovers are the difference – Texas State wins 42-35.
Made in week six: “Greg Ward Jr. ends the season as a Heisman Finalist and makes the trip to New York . . .”
Made in week seven: “Houston makes it to the final week of the regular season undefeated and face Navy for the AAC West crown. Cougars win and play Temple in the AAC title game. . .”
Made in week eight: “Baylor wins their third straight Big 12 crown while going undefeated and making the National Championship game. . .”
My Record This Season
My All-Time Record
Texas v. the Nation This Season
*Division I FBS Texas teams
(These are solely the opinions of Ryan Sprayberry and do not represent the thoughts or beliefs of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame)