HD Roundtable: What's Most Intriguing?

Question: What are you most looking forward to as high school playoffs begin and the college football season comes down to the final few weeks of the regular season?


William Wilkerson’s Take

Believe it or not, I really am intrigued to see how the Longhorns finish off this season more so than anything else going on in the football world.

Texas has a TON to play for, not only as it pertains to this season but also how it could effect recruiting.

Who would have ever thought a month ago that, while a bit of a long shot, the Longhorns could finish the season with eight wins? You over there, yeah, put your hand down.

Texas would have to run the table, which would include wins at Oklahoma State, vs. No. 4 TCU and then in a bowl game (A&M anyone?), but anything is possible I suppose.

UT simply qualifying for a bowl game would be big enough. Getting that extra month of practice would be huge for not only the younger players trying to make their way on to, or up the depth chart, but also for guys like Daje Johnson and Andrew Beck. Johnson needs to become a bigger part of Texas’ base offense in order to get max value and Beck could always use more snaps at tight end or H-back as he plans on being a big part of this offense moving forward.

If Texas can get to a bowl game and win that would do a world of good in recruiting with so many crucial battles seemingly coming down the stretch. The longer you can stay on the field and give guys like Malik Jefferson, Kris Boyd, Holton Hill, Ryan Newsome, etc., a chance to come watch you practice or play, the better Texas’ chances are going to be to get them into this 2015 class.

So even though Texas won’t win the Big 12 or go to a marquee bowl game, what lies ahead is still as intriguing as anything else going on in my opinion. Heck, I didn’t even talk about what these next few weeks could mean for Tyrone Swoopes and his chances of keeping the starting QB job next season, which Shawn Watson said would become an open battle in the off-season.

If Johnathan Gray continues to run like he has the last two weeks will he look harder at the NFL?

Does Texas have a kicker on this roster it feels comfortable enough in not to take one in 2015?

If Jordan Hicks is granted another season, will the way this season ends impact his decision on whether or not to return?





Chip Brown’s Take

A funny thing happened on the way to a four-team college football playoff: more games seemed to matter last weekend - almost in a Round of 16 or Elite Eight kind of way.

In the past, people would say the final month of the season, or even the entire season, was a playoff.

They also said having a playoff would diminish the regular season. But last weekend felt like the early rounds of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, when you want to be in Las Vegas to watch all the games at once in a sports book.

You had ... Baylor at Oklahoma ... Notre Dame at Arizona State ...Kansas State at TCU ... Alabama at LSU ... Ohio State at Michigan State and Oregon at Utah.

Not to mention the almighty upset in college football that seems to happen every week - Florida upsetting Georgia or last week's whopper: Texas A&M going to Auburn and taking down the team that always seemed to find a way to win over the past two seasons.

Everyone was on Twitter or texting with a can-you-believe-this? vibe.

Last weekend's magic was mostly the result of the schedule, the mere fact big-name teams that happened to be up in the rankings were colliding on the same weekend.

This weekend, the playoff games are: ... Florida State at Miami ... Mississippi State at Alabama ... Nebraska at Wisconsin ... Ohio State at Minnesota ... Arizona State at Oregon State.

We can only hope the energy and drama experienced last weekend will continue.

Thanksgiving week, the playoff contenders will be involved in more, high-stakes games: ... TCU at Texas ... Florida at Florida State ... Michigan at Ohio State ... Mississippi State at Ole Miss ... and ... Auburn at Alabama.

You can feel the level of anticipation and excitement building for this four-team showdown because more schools have a chance to get in the dance. And because there is a real, win-or-go-home consequence happening right now in college football.

I can't get enough.





Jason Higdon’s Take

What’s not to love about college football?

Just this one weekend coming up I can’t decide what I am most looking forward to checking out. I could go with Mississippi State, the No. 1 team in America, playing at Alabama. Or the return of Todd Gurley as Auburn travels “Between the Hedges.” Or how about one of the fiercest rivalries that I can remember growing up in Florida State at Miami.

Anytime LSU and Arkansas get together strange things go down.

Can the Longhorns keep it going on the road taking on Oklahoma State? Texas is at 5-5 while Oklahoma State comes into the game at 5-4 on the year.

How anyone cannot talk about Steve Spurrier returning to the place he built this weekend is beyond me. Can Spurrier drive a stake in the coffin?

Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Vanderbilt could not finish off Will Muschamp and the Gators.

South Carolina is 4-5 on the year with numerous fourth quarter meltdowns and would love nothing more than to take care of the Gators on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.





Gabe Brooks’ Take

The few people around these parts who know me well know that I adore college football and pro basketball above all else.

However, for six weeks late in the fall every year, Texas high school football is right up there. I love football. I love jacket weather. And I love the sun setting just after 5 p.m. The Texas high school football playoffs combine all of those.

Driving to high school venues all over the state and seeing teams in numerous classifications really puts you in tune with the original notion of "Friday night lights." And it's not some contrived, melodramatic TV show, or a half-truth movie starring Bad Santa, though I do love me some Billy Bob.

(I will admit that the thing I love most about H.G. Bissinger's book is that big bad Permian traveled deep into my native woods early in the season and lost to an Odell Beckham, Sr.-led Marshall, the alma mater of my dad and two of his brothers.)

Having grown up on the completely opposite side of the state as the community and program depicted in that historic book, I can attest that many of the same themes can be found on the eastern side of the state. That's what I love about the Texas high school football playoffs, especially for one-team towns like the one in which I grew up. You're rooting interests and passion for the program transcend race, class, gender, politics, religion, and every other perceived difference that people like to use as an excuse to dissociate with their fellow man.

I love seeing the same surnames span generations of a football program. Nobody is surprised when they see Tatum has a Hodge or an Overstreet or a Blackmon on the team. Or Kilgore with a Colbert or a Jackson or a Shepherd. And Carthage most assuredly has a Pope or an Allison or a Gates. That's especially noticeable at these one-school towns who shut down every Friday as long as their teams are alive in the postseason.

I'll definitely keep a keen eye on the final month of the college football regular season, but the real treat for me in the coming weeks will be seeing the uniqueness of the fanfare of all of the high school teams and towns I'll cover during the one-of-a-kind Texas high school football playoffs.





Nick Castillo’s Take

As the season comes to a close, I’m looking most forward to the first college football playoff. The playoffs are supposed to be our proverbial savior from that wretched BCS system. But I think there is going to be more chaos with the playoffs than there ever were with the BCS.

I look forward to seeing how the rest of the season shakes out and who gets selected to play in the semifinal games. I am also interested to see the fallout that takes place after some teams don’t get in despite good resumes.

While I may be a bit skeptical about the playoffs, I am genuinely looking forward to seeing those games. I think there will be three great games in January that will leave us wanting more.




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