After watching the University of Texas flounder on the football field over the past 26 years, you're undoubtedly asking yourself ‘what's up with Texas?'
I'll tell you what's up with Texas –
They're an excellent team.
Since Darrell Royal's second and last national championship team in 1969, Texas has flirted with the golden ring but has yet to win another. Fred Akers fielded three exceptional teams (1977, 1981 and 1983) and Dave McWilliams had another (1990) as did John Mackovic (1995). And then came Mack Brown – a good coach who had never won a title matched with a university without an enduring championship record. Indeed, since the departure of Darrell Royal after the 1976 season, Texas became better known for talking about their great football history than adding to it. Mack's record proves that he can win the majority of the games on the Horn's schedule but since moving to Austin he has had two glaring vulnerabilities which have prevented him from winning a conference and/or national title; losing the occasional game that he should have won and losing on a regular basis to Oklahoma.
But 2005 seems to have brought a maturity to Texas football. The offense, led by Vince Young, has been relentless in its effectiveness, both on the ground and through the air. The two major criticisms of Young prior to the '05 season were that he had a tendency to choke when forced to deal with his own errors and that he was only a so-so passer. After a clutch passing performance in Texas' victory over Ohio State in Columbus last September, Young quieted both his own nerves and his critics. And additionally, Texas' coaching (read: Mack Brown and Greg Davis), infamous for its indecisive quarterback decisions and erratic play-calling in critical situations, appears to have found in Young a player able to overcome uneven coaching through sheer athletic ability.
Add to the mix the addition to the staff of defensive coordinator Gene Chizik who has created a monster on the Colorado River, and you have the 2005 Texas squad.
So how will they fare against Southern California if both teams make it to the Rose Bowl as expected? To answer that question we'll have to take a thumbnail look at USC. The Trojans have had the look in 2005 of a great team without an edge. Pete Carroll appears to be facing the same problem faced by other coaches in the midst of marathon winning streaks: Complacency. The Trojans have lacked motivation…fire in the belly, if you will. And fortunately for USC, their talent level and coaching prowess have been enough to get them through both of their close calls in 2005 (Arizona State and Notre Dame). Whether this tendency to win without inspiration will continue for the Trojans against California and UCLA remains to be seen. At this point in the season, USC is analogous to a spear; they are the biggest, longest, strongest spear in the arsenal of college football, but they have lost their edge…their sharpness. They are still powerful enough to lance most foes, but if the aim and trajectory are not just right, they could fail, as they nearly have on two occasions thus far.
If pitted against one another in the Rose Bowl, the thinking here is that USC will probably prevail simply due to experience. Vince and his Horns will learn that playing Southern California in Pasadena is vastly different than playing Michigan in Pasadena last year.
But regardless of which team emerges with the crown, the game should be one to remember.
Saturday, October 29th
Texas Tech (-11 ½) at Baylor Interesting game, here. Baylor has been playing lights out football this season, win or lose. Texas Tech is a one-trick pony, but it's one heck of a trick. When faced with such a situation conventional wisdom dictates that one should take the defense. So the Bears get the nod.
Red Raiders by 6
Georgia at Florida (-4), ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville Georgia's quarterback situation is the story in this one. Richt's Bulldogs are an excellent team, but their canine teeth have been pulled.
Gators by 10
Colorado (-7 ½) at Kansas State If you've been paying attention you'll have noticed that Colorado hasn't been much of a juggernaut on the road this year. They went belly up against an unrepresentative Miami team in Miami, were clubbed senseless in Austin, and only won on the road against Oklahoma State which is comparable to pushing a guy in a wheelchair out into traffic. Snyder's Mildcats, however, have been resilient at home, losing only in a squeaker to A&M.
Bill Snyder by 4
Maryland at Florida State (-17) After beating up on some guy named Duke last weekend, FSU will play the role of extremely rude host to Ralph Friedgen and his Terrapins this weekend. Turtle soup with that Indian fry-bread, anyone?
Pappy Bowden by 27
Iowa State at Texas A&M (-10) We've all seen the Aggie emperor without his clothes on and it isn't a pretty sight. But be that as it may, Franchione's Aggie defense should ride roughshod over the Cyclone's one-dimensional passing attack.
A&M by 21
Missouri (-6) at Kansas Take Brad Smith out of the humble confines of Columbia's Memorial Stadium (you know, someone ought to do a study on exactly how many Memorial Stadiums dot the landscape in this country…) and he handles the ball like a palsied juggler. Although Kansas has a stout defense and Missouri doesn't, Missouri and an erratic Brad Smith should take the day in this time-honored rivalry.
Missouri by 7
North Carolina at Miami (-20) What's that you're saying? N.C. just beat Virginia 7-5? And this is supposed to mean exactly what? I'll tell you what it means…it means about a 34 point loss to Miami.
Tropical Breeze by 34
Michigan (-3) at Northwestern Northwestern has just completed one of the most glorious three-week runs since Gary Barnett was running things. In that time they downed Wisconsin in Evanston and both Purdue and Michigan State on the road. And the Michigan State game was so ugly that John L. Smith is still gagging. And now you'd have me believe that the Wildcats are coming home and are going to lose to Michigan?
Wildcats by 14
Texas (-37) at Oklahoma State Put cut up chicken in pot of boiling water. Boil chicken until chicken is tender, drain. Save the broth from the boiled chicken. In a skillet, melt the butter. Add the boiled chicken and brown on both sides. Serve.
Texas by Mack Brown's IQ divided by Pi
Oklahoma at Nebraska (-1 ½) Although no one will deny the importance of line play in football, the way the lines match up will play an inordinately huge role in this game. The much-maligned Sooner offensive line has shown significant improvement over the past two games but now must face a more seasoned Nebraska defensive line. And how about a touch of controversy? The NU defensive line is coached by John Blake, who still holds the worst record of any head coach in Sooner history (his winning percentage stands at .353, falling just below Gomer Jones' .452). If the Nebraska defense can get to and disrupt Rhett Bomar's rhythm, things could get ugly for the Sooners. It will be up to Stoops and company (are you listening Chuch and Kevin?) to develop a scheme to negate the advantage NU will unquestionably have in experience and noise (in Lincoln). Bottom line: protect Bomar and win.
Oklahoma by 6
Wann Smith has served two years as national columnist for the Pigskin Post, contributed to the College Football News (a contributor to Fox Sports and the Sporting News) and is currently the editor of the College Football Gazette. Smith lives in St. Louis with his family.
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College Football Gazette
You can also contact Wann Smith at email@example.com
Smith's Picks: Week 9
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