Another crazy weekend of college football is over. It’s hard to believe but we are a quarter of the way through the season. Without question the biggest game of last weekend was Charlie Strong and the Longhorns creating the signature win of his tenure so far. No one believed in the Longhorns (including myself) as they went into the game as three score underdogs. The craziest part of the whole thing? I nailed the Longhorns’ final point total at 24. UT won a Red River game with 24 points. Someone could have given me a Back to the Future glimpse of the final score and I still wouldn’t have believed it. A score that low hasn’t won the Red River Showdown since 2009 when the ‘Horns won 16-13.
This weekend has a substantial drop in quantity of games. After having just Texas A&M on a bye last week, this week sees five Texas teams on byes – Rice, SMU, Texas State, UT and UTEP. However, what the weekend lacks in quantity it more than makes up for in quality. In two key match ups, a totally dominant-looking Baylor will face the first semblance of a defense the Bears have seen all season while Texas A&M looks to avenge last year’s nightmare game against Alabama in a top-ten showdown.
The Game of the Week, of course, has to go to the Aggie-Tide matchup. Last year’s game was the Marianas Trench of lows for Texas A&M, but this year’s team seems to have tougher stuff. History has shown that teams led by upperclassmen quarterbacks play substantially better than those led by underclassmen. Upperclassmen have more time to learn and understand an offensive system while building relationships with their teammates – not to mention the natural maturation that happens to young men over that period. Kevin Sumlin has built a 33-11 record at Texas A&M and has yet to have a meaningful snap taken by an upperclassman quarterback.
Sumlin has never feared starting youth – whether Johnny Manziel, Kenny Hill, Kyle Allen or, even at Houston, Case Keenum, Sumlin has put faith in young men throughout his tenure. That being said (omitting the collegiate freak that was Johnny Manziel) Sumlin’s best seasons by far were Keenum’s junior and senior seasons (2009 and 2011 due to an ACL tear in 2010). Over those two years, Sumlin and Houston posted a record of 22-5 compared to a record of 13-12 in Sumlin’s other two seasons at Houston (one with underclassman Keenum, the other without Keenum due to the aforementioned injury). Kyle Allen has showed maturity and ability well beyond his years so far this season – can he keep it up against a powerful Tide defense?
My record last week was 8-2 while Texas FBS programs went 5-4 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 or messaging us on Facebook.
Thursday, October 15
Western Kentucky (-31) @ UNT, 6:30 PM, CBSSN
I knew a struggling North Texas program would lose to FCS Portland State last weekend. What I did not know was that the Mean Green would be humiliated. The 66-7 loss came as UNT was outgained 670-198. The embarrassment cost UNT head coach Dan McCarney his job and offensive coordinator Mike Canales has been tabbed as his interim replacement. Canales is coming into a less than ideal circumstance (putting it mildly) and will have to face a very strong Western Kentucky team on national TV in his first game. We all hope to see a UNT resurgence, but it won’t be in this game – WKU wins 55-6.
Friday, October 16
#24 Houston (-18) @ Tulane, 8:00 PM, ESPNU
Tom Herman’s Cougars have finally entered the polls, the first Houston team to be ranked since 2011. Still undefeated, the Cougars are one of four Texas teams who have yet to see a loss this season along with Baylor, TCU and Texas A&M (there are only 16 undefeated teams in the entire country). Greg Ward continues his quiet Heisman campaign as he is up to 1302 yards passing with eight touchdowns and only one interception. On the ground Ward has 79 carries for another 554 yards and 11 scores. The Cougars continue the march under Friday Night Lights – Houston wins 48-21.
Crazy prediction: “Houston makes it to the final week undefeated and face Navy
for the AAC West crown. Cougars win and play Temple in the AAC title game.”
Saturday, October 17
Texas Tech (-31) @ Kansas, 11:00 AM, FOXS1
Tech responded well to adversity. Clearing losses to TCU and Baylor from their minds, the Red Raiders overwhelmed Iowa State easily covering the spread. That will be harder to do this week (due to the higher number), but they manage – Texas Tech wins 63-17.
WVU (+21) @ #2 Baylor, 11:00 AM, FOX
No team has looked more dominant than the Bears have this season. The Baylor GangGreen defense continues to improve each week and the offense is humming. The scary part? The Bears haven’t topped out yet. Art Briles’ has one main goal for his quarterbacks – take care of the football. Seth Russell has been a great quarterback, but he has shown a penchant for turning the ball over with five interceptions through five games. That stat would be more meaningful if WVU’s Karl Joseph were still healthy (Joseph had five interceptions through four games before tearing his ACL).
The turnovers have left the defense to deal with a short field in several situations, but the Bear defense has responded well frequently forcing field goal attempts instead of touchdowns. Baylor has had similar struggles on kick coverage, again putting the defense in poor situations, but again, the Bear defense has responded. In fact, West Virginia, a more respected defense than Baylor’s, has allowed 342 yards per contest. The Bear defense has allowed an average of 363.
West Virginia will struggle on defense without the leadership and talent of Joseph, but this will still be the best defense Baylor has faced by far. Watch as the Bears continue to grow and develop – Baylor wins 55-24.
#10 Alabama (-4.5) @ #9 TAMU, 2:30 PM, CBS
It’s the showdown of the week. The Aggies have had an extra week of rest and preparation as the Crimson Tide roll into College Station. Alabama has already lost a regular season game this year as they fell to Ole Miss in Week 3. The Tide haven’t lost multiple regular season games since 2010. While many view Alabama as on a down turn, the truth is they are still the program every other college team measures themselves against (much like an Urban Meyer Florida or a Pete Carroll USC).
Many people see this year’s 5-0 Aggie start as the same unfounded hype as last year’s 5-0 start. Reaching a top ranking of #6 in 2014, the Aggies went from 5-0 to losing three straight. The lowest of the low came when Sumlin and Texas A&M travelled to face Saban and the Tide. The Aggies were absolutely shamed 59-0. However, the 2015 Aggies have shown some important differences from the 2014 version. Most think the Aggies are still a year away from realizing the best the Sumlin era has to offer. My gut says the same thing. I’m going to ignore my gut (nothing bad ever came from that). In a heart stopper for any TAMU fan (the stadium would likely rather see the Aggies go for it), the game is won on a Taylor Bertolet kick – TAMU wins 38-35.
UTSA (+7.5) @ Southern Mississippi, 6:00 PM
UTSA fought the good fight last weekend falling on a late field goal. While it was a win against the spread, it wasn’t the type of win Roadrunner fans were hoping for. This week won’t bring back the sunshine. The loss will cause the Roadrunners to face Week 8-Week 12 looking to go undefeated to reach bowl eligibility. A tall task for any program – USM wins 42-28.
#3 TCU (-21.5) @ Iowa State, 6:00 PM, ESPN2
Is it just me or is TCU a house of cards? The Horned Frogs cost me a loss when I picked Tech in an upset a few weeks ago. However, with each passing week, I grow more certain that this TCU team will see multiple losses in conference. They almost certainly will fall to the Bears in what promises to be a fiery game in Fort Worth. A smart pick would be the Frogs losing in Stillwater or Norman or both. Regardless of what happens, this team will win the award for being the most resilient team in the country this year. That said, in the stunner of the weekend, Iowa State pulls the first card – Iowa State wins 34-31.
Made in week six: “Greg Ward Jr. ends the season as a Heisman Finalist and makes the trip to New York . . .”
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)