IT's Houston game picks

IT's Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and the reasoning behind those picks, in this week's game between Texas and Houston.

IT's Picks:

Pearle -- I originally thought Texas would completely steamroll the Coogs, but after the tragedy of last week, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen. Will either side be fired up to play football? Will the fans go crazy in some kind of cathartic purging, or will they sit subdued, wondering if they are safe? Does any of it even matter any more, really? Well, I think it does, because college football is one of those uniquely American experiences that bring joy to so many in our country. The site of Texas lining up against Houston will tell us that we are still here, we are still strong, and we have a lot to be thankful for. It will help us to start patching up the gaping hole in our hearts, to move forward a little, and to obscure for several hours the memories of the images of New York, Pennsylvania and Washington. We aren’t gonna forget those images, ever, but we have to move on at some point. This game will help us reconnect with the feelings of joy and excitement we used to know before the darkness fell on 9/11. It’ll just be good to see the Texas Longhorns playing football again. Texas 45, Houston 13.

Ross -- I originally wrote the following almost two weeks ago for the North Carolina game edition of the Inside Texas newsletter: "After the Horns wrapped up and sent packing the visiting Tar Heels last Saturday, several Texas players said they believed this UT team showed heart by whippin' North Carolina. And, just I predicted in this space last week, heart did not allow the Horns to lose on Cole Pittman Memorial Dedication day. I think an even bigger test, though, will come on Sept. 22 at Houston. This upcoming assessment won't necessarily be an EKG as much as a measure of this team's mental toughness. Face it, this game could be easy for UT to overlook. The Cougars are not a good football team, and the top five Horns are on a collision course for top five Oklahoma in Dallas just two weeks later. This is the kind of game that has sent Texas tumbling in the past, and a stumble at Robertson Stadium would probably be the worst ever. But that's not going to happen to this team, at least not this week. Yes, the Houston offense will occasionally burn the Texas D, but as it has done in the first two games, the defense will not surrender enough points to put the Horns' slow-startin', conservative offense in jeopardy. And the Longhorn defenders should add to their INT total and to their points-scored streak in the Bayou City. Texas 45, Houston 14." The events of the past week-and-a-half make my writing of those words seem to have taken place in another lifetime. I don't foresee last week's terrorist attacks or their aftermath having an effect on the outcome of the game. A couple of other things that have taken place, though, may. First, Houston yanked almost half of the Longhorn ticket allotment earlier this week, and then, as if to simply inflame an already angry team, at least a couple of Cougar players ran their mouths (intelligent discourse it was not) about what they planned to do to Texas in general and Chris Simms in particular. S-T-U-P-I-D, particularly coming from players on a B-A-D football team. Despite Mack Brown's protestations to the contrary, the Horns will look to humiliate Houston, and rightfully so. Mental toughness remains an aspect of the overall picture in this one, but heart has reemerged, I believe, as a factor, for the Longhorn players. Add in the fact that this is the team that last year looked to deliberately injure Shaun Rogers, and we have what should be a blowout of the magnitude of the last game Texas set out to prove a point, Texas Tech in '99. That one ended 58-7. And that's my amended pick: Texas 58, Houston 7.

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