Category Archives: Cornhuskers

Texas Men’s Basketball Hits The Hardwood

Believe it or not, while Longhorn nation has been dwelling on the end of a miserable 5-7 losing football season and the departure of several top assistant coaches, the Texas men’s basketball team has hit the court inside the Frank Erwin Center once again, beginning the season in the top 25 along with several other Big 12 teams, including (as of this posting), #3 Kansas, #6 Kansas State, #9 Baylor, #13 Missouri, #22 Texas, and #25 Texas A&M.

New 'Horns on the Hardwood: Tristan Thompson (left) and Corey Jospeth (right)

With some key, youthful additions (see also: Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson), and some key departures (see also: Shawn Williams), head coach Rick Barnes has the ‘Horns off to a strong start, and one that hopefully won’t implode like last season. With shooting guard Jordan Hamilton back to launch three-pointers (averaging 20.0 ppg), work horse Gary Johnson continuing to lead the team in rebounding (7.6 rpg), Thompson adding his big-body presence both offensively and defensively (11.6 ppg, 2.3 bpg), and Joseph chipping in with court presence and ball handling (less than 1.0 on assists-to-turnover ratio), you have to like the game Texas brings to the court each night.

Let’s have a look at the results to-date, as well as what’s coming as we turn the calendar to 2011. The full listing of Big 12 conference schools schedules and their results can be found at Big 12 Sports.

2010-2011 Men’s Basketball Schedule/Results
Monday, Nov. 8 (ESPNU)
Texas (0-0) 83, Navy 52

Wednesday, Nov. 10 (ESPNU)
Texas (1-0) 89, Louisiana Tech 58

Thursday, Nov. 18 (ESPN2)
Texas (2-0) 90, #16 Illinois 84

Friday, Nov. 19 (ESPN2)
Texas (3-0) 66, #4 Pittsburgh 68

Tuesday, Nov. 23 (LSN)
Texas (3-1) 84, Sam Houston State 50

Saturday, Nov. 27 (LSN)
Texas (4-1) 62, Rice 59

Wednesday, Dec. 1 (LSN)
Texas (5-1) 76, Lamar 55

Sunday, Dec. 5 (FSN)
Texas (6-1) 56, USC 73

Saturday, Dec. 11 (LSN)
Texas (6-2) 101, Texas State 65

Tuesday, Dec. 14 (7:00 p.m. CT, LSN)
Texas (7-1) 70 v. North Florida 48

Saturday, Dec. 18 (3:00 p.m., CBS)
Texas (8-2) v. North Carolina

Wednesday, Dec. 22 (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. #15 Michigan State

Friday, Dec. 31 (1:00 p.m. CT, LSN)
Texas v. Coppin State

Tuesday, Jan. 4 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. Arkansas

Saturday, Jan. 8 (2:30 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #4 Connecticut

Tuesday, Jan. 11 (6:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. Texas Tech

Saturday, Jan. 15 (3:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. oklahoma

Wednesday, Jan. 19 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. #25 Texas A&M

Saturday, Jan. 22 (3:00 p.m. CT, CBS)
Texas v. #3 Kansas

Wednesday, Jan. 26 (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN or ESPN2)
Texas v. Oklahoma State

Saturday, Jan. 28 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. #12 Missouri

Monday, Jan. 31 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #25 Texas A&M

Saturday, Feb. 5 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPNU)
Texas v. Texas Tech

Wednesday, Feb. 9 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. oklahoma

Saturday, Feb. 12 (3:00 p.m. CT, ESPN/ESPN2)
Texas v. #9 Baylor

Wednesday, Feb. 16 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN2)
Texas v. Oklahoma State

Saturday, Feb. 19 (12:30 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Nebraska

Tuesday, Feb. 22 (7:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Iowa State

Saturday, Feb. 26 (2:00 p.m. CT, Big 12 Network)
Texas v. Colorado

Monday, Feb. 28 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #6 Kansas State

Saturday, Mar. 5 (8:00 p.m. CT, ESPN)
Texas v. #9 Baylor

Keep an eye out for more basketball coverage in the coming weeks, especially as Texas heads in to the meat of their non-conference and conference play.

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College Football: Week 9 Viewing Guide

This week on “PTI,” Tony and Mike were asked which coach needs a win more, Urban Meyer or Mack Brown. They both have three-loss teams, both have been beaten at home by lesser ranked opponents, and both were preseason top five teams. Their argument came down to which fan base has the crazier fan base with the most unrealistic expectations. Both Tony and Mike chose Urban Meyer as the coach with the most heat at the moment. They’re probably right, though for the wrong reason.

It seems that every year Mack Brown gets another 9-year extension, and is currently on contract until seemingly 2035. The UT boosters, administrators, players, janitors, parking attendants, and field mice love him. The problem is, and always has been – in the eyes of students and alumni at least – offensive coordinator Greg Davis. In the early years of the last decade the phrase “Fire Greg Davis” was as ubiquitous as “Texas Fight” around the Forty Acres. For a time, those cheers quieted as Vince Young and Colt McCoy were able to compensate for poor coaching with superior talent. Today, the cries for Greg Davis’ job are as loud as ever, but are we any closer to his ouster now than we were after five consecutive losses to ou? His supporters can point to this season’s signature win at Nebraska as a point in his favor, and they can fault the inexperience of Garret Gilbert as a reason for the offensive struggles.

After last weekend’s loss, however, even Mack Brown had harsh words for his assistants, saying, “I told them if one of your guys is playing bad, I can change them. If three of your guys are playing bad, I change you.” For a coach known to always take the blame, shielding his players and coaches from criticism, those words carry extra weight and make you wonder if maybe his long partnership with Davis is nearing an end. What would it take? A third straight home loss? To Baylor, no less? Losing out and missing a bowl game? Or, has the damage already been done?

This week Baylor comes into Austin ranked for the first time since 1993, and hoping for their first win over Texas in 12 years. The Bears are also currently in first place in the Big 12’s South division. It’s hard to imagine that a win over Baylor could actually be a signature win on the season, but that is the situation we find ourselves in.

All rankings below are from the current BCS poll. Also, make sure to check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday and prime-time regional games.

The games this weekend stink, so commentary is light, but if you can bear to watch, here’s your Week 9 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 30
12:00 p.m. ET
#17 Oklahoma State at Kansas State (FSN, Comcast Sports)

The next two Longhorn opponents.

#22 Miami (FL) at Virginia (ESPN)
The early games are light on intrigue.

3:30 p.m. ET
#5 Michigan State at #18 Iowa (ABC/ESPN)

One of the day’s better games, and what should be MSU’s last big test.

#6 Missouri at #14 Nebraska (ABC/ESPN)
This game should decide the Big 12’s North division champion.

Florida vs. Georgia @ Jacksonville, FL (CBS)
Has there ever been less hype for this rivalry?

6:00 p.m. ET
#1 Auburn at Mississippi, ESPN2

The top team has fallen each of the last three weeks. Don’t expect that trend to continue, tune in to watch Auburn QB Cam Newton be awesome.

7:00 p.m. ET
#25 Baylor at Texas (FSN)

See how Texas responds to their latest embarrassment.

8:00 p.m. ET
#2 Oregon at Southern California (ABC)

One of Oregon’s final tests en route to the BCS title game.

#11 Ohio State at Minnesota (ABC)
If Michigan State goes down, the top of the Big Ten will be real interesting presuming OSU and Wisconsin continue to roll.

9:15 p.m. ET
Colorado at #9 oklahoma (ESPN2)

The night cap game has ou giving Colorado a send off from the Big 12. Over/under is at 65 points for ou.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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College Football: Week 8 Viewing Guide

If any team earned redemption last weekend it was Texas, both by avoiding a third loss and by beating a top 10 team on the road. Not to mention proving to the Cornhuskers that they weren’t the better team last December 5th. So there’s your parting gift, Nebraska, thanks for playing. The Longhorns will miss their home away from home.

The BCS standings came out earlier this week and with them a lot of analysis and grumbling about who is where. There is really very little we can glean from the poll this early as we still have half the season to play out with some big time match-ups featuring the top ranked teams. Does that mean Texas will rise to the top and play for another BCS title? No, that’s still highly unlikely, but if enough things happen, it’s possible. Let’s entertain some hypothetical outcomes to envision the best case scenario:

First of course, Texas must win out. Looking at the schedule, this could still be difficult. After a challenging game against Nebraska, they play perennial patsies Iowa State and Baylor at home the next two weeks, which should be easy street, but we thought that about UCLA didn’t we? Following those games, the ‘Horns go on the road against K-State, a team Texas historically struggles against, and then top 15 team Oklahoma State comes to Austin. Finally, after a gimme against Florida Atlantic and a short week, they host A&M which is a game never to be taken lightly.

Next, oklahoma has to lose to Missouri this weekend. For Texas to play for the Big 12 title, ou needs two losses and after Mizzou, they don’t face another ranked team until they go to Stillwater on Thanksgiving weekend. The Tigers will be one of the biggest tests for the Sooners, going on the road against a ranked team for the first time this year, and only their second road game period.

Next, Kansas State must beat Missouri and Oklahoma State. Texas doesn’t play the Tigers this year, so the net result of their game against K-State will only benefit Texas if the Wildcats win. Further, if the Wildcats lose that game, they could potentially fall out of the rankings before they play Texas. Either Nebraska or OSU could potentially fall out of the rankings this weekend with a loss.

That will get Texas to the Big 12 title game, though against who is still up in the air. Nebraska is likely to win out, but so is Missouri. After this weekend’s games, it should be a lot easier to predict.

For the rest of the country, we’d like to see Auburn beat LSU and Alabama, but lose the SEC title game to anyone from the East division. Currently, that would be South Carolina. The PAC-10 and Big Ten pose the largest obstacles in Oregon, Michigan State, and Ohio State, all three of whom have few challenging games remaining. And, of course, there’s always the Boise State and TCU problem.

This space will feature more meta analysis of the state of the BCS in the weeks to come and we’ll highlight the games to watch in hoping some of these scenarios play out.

All rankings below are from the current BCS poll. Also, make sure to check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games. There’s a lot of football left to play, so enjoy the roller coaster. Here’s your Week 8 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 23
12:00 PM ET
#7 Michigan State at Northwestern (ESPN)

Northwestern actually has a chance in this game. They’re playing at home, and they have some advantages on the stat sheet. It might not be enough, but they could give the Spartans a run for their money.

Iowa State at #19 Texas (FSN, Comcast Sports)
Texas returns home and hopes to keep the momentum going. It isn’t their style, but putting up about 60 points and really get that offense in gear wouldn’t be a bad sign.

3:30 PM ET
#6 LSU at #4 Auburn (CBS)

This is the game of the week. Les Miles is getting killed by everyone for the way he’s running this team despite their undefeated record and being three years removed from a national championship. Auburn has hardly earned any credit at all. Something’s going to give.

#13 Wisconsin at #15 Iowa (ABC/ESPN)
#16 Nebraska at #14 Oklahoma State (ABC)
Georgia Tech at Clemson, (ABC/ESPN)

These are your regional games this weekend. Most of the country will not see the Big 12 match-up and it looks to be one of the best of the weekend. On the flip side, most will see how the Big 10 is shaping up which will give some clarity to the rest of the season. Oh, and there’s a dreadful ACC game that no one wants to watch.

7:00 PM ET
#8 Alabama at Tennessee (ESPN)
This is likely to be a drubbing, but Alabama has not played well on the road and a home victory would make the season for Tennessee. Keep an eye on the first half in between the afternoon and later games.

8:00 PM ET
#1 oklahoma at #11 Missouri (ABC)

As mentioned above, Texas needs Missouri to win this game. This ou team has weaknesses, barely surviving at home against Air Force, and eeking out a win over a terrible Cincinnati. Most people don’t agree with ou being at the top of the BCS standings so it’s up to Mizzou to prove them right.

10:15 PM ET
Washington at #18 Arizona (ESPN)

Your night cap game this week features two teams that could stand in Oregon’s way of an undefeated season. Check it out if you’re not passed out by now.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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Week 7 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Nebraska Cornhuskers

There are positives and negatives to having a bye week. On the plus side, when you win going into a bye week, as a player you can go through the motions on the practice field while relishing a few more days rest to recover from lingering or annoying minor injuries. Be assured, Texas has had no such break these past two weeks. If EyesOfTX (and the rest of Longhorn nation) had no break from the mental anguish of the past two losses, then the ‘Horns better not have either. Here’s hoping Texas head coach Mack Brown ripped on both his players and staff behind closed doors for the past 13 days. Two losses? Back-to-back? Think the stuff of “Top Gun” lore: “Two of your snot-nosed jockeys did a fly-by on my tower at over 400 knots. I want some butts! … Dammit, that’s twice!”

Luckily for the ‘Horns, the bye week means they’ve some extra time to try and right the ship. Level their wings. Put their heads on straight. To remember they are football players for one of the most elite college programs in the game. The I-35 bubble in Austin should have a lot of blood, sweat, and even some tears after practice this week. The film room should have cots spread out across the room because players have been spending every waking hour glued to the early-season game tape to find and correct their on-field mistakes.

But, it’s deeper than that. So far this season, the seniors are showing how much they feel entitled. On the field, that’s translating to Maverick’s “crashed and burned on the first one, it wasn’t pretty” lingo. The younger guys can’t buy in to that – there is too much talent and potential among the depth chart. For the ‘Horns, it’s time to step up or turn in their pads because they’ve “lost the edge.” Just because it says “Texas” on the front of your jersey doesn’t mean you deserve to win.

Texas Longhorns v. #5 Nebraska Cornhuskers
2:30 p.m. CT (ABC/ESPN)

Prediction:
Texas 13, Nebraska 45

There is one thing on Nebraska’s mind this week – redemption. December 5, 2009. Just like Texas needed one second back in the upset in Lubbock in 2008, the ‘Huskers want one second back from last year’s Big 12 Championship game. December 5, 2009. There will be no mercy rule, Nebraska is squarely set on putting the wood to Texas on Saturday in Lincoln, the teams’ final Big 12 regular season match-up. December 5, 2009. Make no mistake, this game has been circled on head coach Bo Pelini’s calendar since … December 5, 2009.

Even Nebraska’s marketing department was behind an off-season shot at the Texas game (and later changed) to get Husker fans excited for the upcoming season – called “Red Out Around The World.” Their mantra (and doesn’t this sound kind of familiar): “Come early. Be Loud. Wear Red. (Beat Texas).” They’ve sold out of t-shirts at the bookstore bearing the saying: “All my ex’s live in Texas: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.” The date “10-16-2010” is plastered all over campus. Don’t become ou fans, Huskers…it’s not a good look for you.

Nebraska’s Keys To The Game:
His name is Taylor Martinez. His name is Taylor Martinez. His name is Taylor Martinez. Seriously, Tyler Durden probably knows this kid by now. The barely-past-puberty Martinez leads Nebraska at QB in 2010, and brings the word “amazing” to an offense that was anything but in 2009. With the same basic role players on offense, the infusion of Martinez has helped transform what was a horrific scoring attack last year to one of the best in all of college football this year. Jake Locker, eat your heart out. As a redshirt freshman, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. might have just moved Martinez past Locker on his draft board.

Everyone knows Pelini is a defensive-minded coach, and since his return to Nebraska, he’s shown his ability to craft a defensive juggernaut – even giving the “Blackshirts” nickname back to this year’s squad. But, Martinez is the knight in shining armor for the ‘Huskers 2010 BCS run, running the zone read to perfection. He’s mobile. He’s fast. REALLY fast. Think Looney Tunes’ roadrunner. Get this: the kid is five games in to the season, and he’s already accumulated 737 yards rushing, on 10.8 yards per carry, for 12 TDs. Those are RB stats, folks. A really, really good RB. Passing? Only three TDs. You get the idea. Let’s hope Martinez doesn’t leave Will Muschamp’s Texas defense looking like Wile E. Coyote.

Unfortunately, Martinez isn’t the only rushing threat. RBs Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead flank Martinez in the backfield, and are more than capable of providing the power running attack as opposed to Martinez’s sideline-to-sideline flair. Is this bringing back UCLA nightmares yet? It should. On the outside, Martinez has the option to throw to several talented and big wide receivers – namely Niles Paul, Mike McNeill and Brandon Kinnie – but quite honestly, he just doesn’t need to. He’s only thrown for 660 yards on the season with three TDs and three INTs. Will they pass? Yes. Do they think they need to? Probably not. Most impressive is that Nebraska’s offense is built around a very inexperienced offensive line, with three new starters in 2010. Maybe Texas’ Mac McWhorter could take some lessons on how to transform on-paper talent to on-field production? The line has given up seven sacks on the season, and with Texas’ stacked defensive line, the Big Red will have their hands full maintaining their gaps and creating running lanes for Martinez, Helu, Jr. and Burkhead.

This year’s “Suh” in Lincoln is none other than Suh’s cohort in the trenches last year, defensive tackle Jared Crick. He has 23 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the season, and with opponents focused on protecting against Crick, the rest of the defensive line has opportunities to shine in opponent’s backfields. Ironically, the line isn’t their strength – the ‘Huskers bring the #1 pass defense in the country. You’d have to utilize your abacus to add up the number of interceptions they have on the year. With Texas’ lack of a running game, expect Pelini to pressure and contain any semblance of a running game with his front four and have his secondary focus on dropping back in to coverage to track down balls a la Willie Mays.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
Good news. Texas got their butts chewed during the bye week. Bad news. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is probably sitting up in the press box drawing up a “revised” version of the bubble screen to a different running back or wide receiver. Good news. RB DJ Monroe has used the bye week to “learn the playbook.” OK, maybe not, but he’s getting the call to start in the backfield again this week. Bad news. No matter how well the offense plays on Saturday in Lincoln, Texas won’t win Saturday without a big performance by the defense.

Offensively, this game lies in the hands of the Texas offensive line. Nebraska is prone to giving up rushing yards (well, at least more than they do through the air). If the o-line can give QB Garrett Gilbert time in the pocket, provide running lanes for the speedy Monroe, and the wide receivers can run routes beyond the first down markers, Texas does indeed have a shot. It hasn’t happened yet this season, but they’ve had their poor performances to-date rubbed in their face for too many weeks now. It’s time to change. It’s time to define the offense…on the field…on a Saturday. With freshman WR Mike Davis back in the line-up, Texas can take some shots down the field and change the dynamic of the game with big plays and open up the field for the…gasp…running game.

Defensively, Muschamps’ boys have their hands full with Nebraska’s three-pronged running attack. But, like any good football coach will tell you, even “Coach’s” Hayden Fox, beating a running team is all about playing assignment football. It’s about maintaing your gaps in the trenches, and utilizing your linebackers and secondary to clean up the mess. It’s about not making mistakes. It’s about making sure tackles. It’s beating Martinez to the corner with the right angles. It’s about stripping the ball and winning the turnover battle, and the ‘Huskers have put the ball on the ground 18 this year, so it’s possible. Nebraska will get their yards on the ground, but this defense has shown glimpses of being an elite unit. They’ll need every piece of that talent and pride to win in Lincoln.

Texas will also have to overcome a strong Nebraska kicking game, as the ‘Huskers will use every opportunity to pin Texas deep with punter Alex Henery and make Gilbert and company drive the length of the field, which has been a consistent problem this season. The ‘Horns have to eliminate the mistakes in special teams. Expect to see new kick and punt returners, and with a swift kick in the pants, a different attitude to bring some momentum to the Texas sidelines. It’s going to be chaotic and red in Lincoln, but Texas has a long-shot chance at avoiding a .500 start to the 2010 season and redeeming themselves in the eyes of college football’s elite.

Hook ‘em!

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College Football: Week 7 Viewing Guide

Despite Texas’ struggles, this season is beginning to shape up to be something exciting. An upset here or there is just the prescription to cure the fever of the status quo. This week has more games that have the potential to be great.

The rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS poll begins next week. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games.

We’re jumping right into the Saturday games. Pick your spot and settle in. This is your Week 7 Viewing Guide.

Saturday, October 16
12:00 PM ET
Boston College at #16 Florida State (ESPN)

BC is struggling, losing three straight, and now they travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State who just went on the road to beat Miami. Things don’t look good for the Eagles in this one, but the Seminoles are suddenly surging and looking like the legitimate Florida State teams of a decade ago.

#21 Missouri at Texas A&M (FSN, Comcast Sports)
If you haven’t had a chance to see what the Aggies are looking like this year, here’s as good an opportunity as any. They host Missouri, who could be a potential Big 12 North champion if they hold on to the momentum they have now. The road from here gets harder for the Tigers as they face oklahoma and Nebraska in the next two weeks.

Remember to check the coverage maps to see which channel carries the following regional game in your area.

3:30 PM ET
Texas at #5 Nebraska (ABC/ESPN)

For the third consecutive game, Texas plays in the mid-afternoon time slot, but this time the nation is fortunate that both of the regional games will be shown in every market. Nebraska is always a difficult game, and after last year’s Big 12 title game you can be sure they will be looking to prove that they rightfully belong back at the top of the conference. With two weeks to prepare, Texas has a good opportunity to bounce back and take the Huskers down a notch before they defect to the Big 10.

#15 Iowa at Michigan (ABC/ESPN)
The other regional game is a Big 10 match up. Iowa has been impressive all year, stumbling only on the road against Arizona, and Michigan has Heisman candidate Denard Robinson lighting things up. Check in once in a while and see what’s going on with these two teams.

#12 Arkansas at #7 Auburn (CBS)
The afternoon SEC game should be a good one, so consider putting it on your DVR for later.

4:00 PM ET
Brigham Young at #4 TCU (Versus)

If you haven’t seen TCU this year, flip over to this game during breaks in the Texas action to see how they look.

6:00 PM ET
#10 South Carolina at Kentucky (ESPN2)

Kentucky has ruined hopes before, but something says South Carolina knows who the better team is in this game. The Gamecocks made a huge jump in the polls this week, so they should be feeling good.

7:00 PM ET
#1 Ohio State at #18 Wisconsin (ESPN/ESPN3D)

Heading into primetime, we have another Big 10 contest, this one between two of the best in the conference. Wisconsin is one of the only teams that could legitimately stand up to Ohio State and really throw the BCS doors wide open (much to TCU fans’ delight).

9:00 PM ET
Mississippi at #8 Alabama (ESPN2)

Alabama mercifully gets to return home to lick their wounds and rebound after their first loss in almost two years. Don’t count on an upset here, but it’s worth noting Ole Miss has won four out of their last five games against ranked teams.

Thanks to “Lil Pete” for his ongoing contributions to EyesOfTX.

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Week 4 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. UCLA Bruins

Was anyone else stressed out last Saturday? The referees seemed to try to steal the game from the ‘Horns for much of the night, but the defense stepped up in a big way and kept the offense in the game until it was time to catch the plane home. For the ‘Horns, it was the first hurdle in a challenging 4-game stretch that includes the Red Raiders, UCLA Bruins, #8 oklahoma sooners, and #6 Nebraska Cornhuskers. Write in down in the books – Texas moves to 4-3 in the Mack Brown era in Lubbock. And, EyesOfTX’s prediction that Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts would be “injured” at some point in last week’s game comes to fruition.

On to week 4, let’s get to it…

Texas Longhorns v. UCLA Bruins
2:30 p.m. CT (ABC)

Prediction:
Texas 35, UCLA 14

We remember, don’t we Texas fans? It doesn’t matter that both coaches weren’t in their respective coaching positions yet. It doesn’t matter that most of the players in this weekend’s game were 70-pound youngsters the last time these two powerhouses saw each other on the playing field. The score was 66-3. And the ‘Horns weren’t on the winning end of that debacle.

It’s time for redemption. Longhorn fans have waited too long for it, and it’s finally here. It’s time to show UCLA why they’re lucky the ‘Horns didn’t venture West this off-season in the conference realignment. It’s time to jump to 4-0, and get “right” before the showdown in Dallas in October.


UCLA’s Keys To The Game:
In uncharacteristic fashion for a West coast team not named Oregon, this match-up is all about the running game for UCLA. While the Bruins return an experienced QB in Kevin Prince, he won’t be the one to watch on Saturday. After all, in 3 games, Prince has only thrown for 258 yards (or, 86 yards per game), one TD, and – count ‘em – four INTs. Not the stats you want from the field general when trying to run a balanced offense. In fact, even going in to last weekend, Prince’s job was up for grabs – and he won it back. Not sure what that says about head coach Rick Neuheisal and offensive coordinator Norm Chow’s recruiting in SoCal, but I’ll venture a guess – it sucks.

UCLA RB Johnathan Franklin

Instead, all eyes will be on the two guys that will share carries and line-up in Chow’s “pistol” formation – Johnathan Franklin and Malcolm Jones. The pistol is basically the zone read formation that Texas has “enjoyed” for several years, but instead of lining up next to the QB, the RBs line-up behind the QB. This allows the backs to getting a running start before getting to the line of scrimmage and thus hitting the gaps the offensive line creates with a full head of steam. Can you imagine that? Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis can’t. Franklin (291 yards, three TDs) and Jones (101 yards) will be the keys to UCLA controlling the clock, wearing down the interior of the Texas defense, and keeping Texas’ offense off the field while scoring points.

The Bruins defense – at least on paper – doesn’t look that great. But, don’t be fooled. The secondary can more then hold their own, as can their very physical linebackers, but what those position players bring to the table is off-set by a less than stellar defensive line that can’t help their back seven by putting pressure on the QB or stop the running game. The defense ranks near the bottom of Division I schools in stopping the running game, but this early in the season, it’d be easy to argue that their first game of the year against Kansas State’s Daniel Thomas didn’t help pad their run defense stats. That being said, the opposite will likely be true on Saturday, as the ‘Horns offense can’t put any semblance of a running game together through September. If the Bruins defensive line can’t stop the Texas running attack (can we even call it that?), and then force QB Garrett Gilbert to force throws or make bad decisions, it’s going to be a long day for a secondary who actually does a credible job of holding opponents to a mere 155 yards through the air.


Texas’ Keys To The Game:
It’s a flip of the switch for Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp’s boys this week. Whereas last week the ‘Horns ran a nickel package with an extra defensive back on the field to corral all of Tech’s wide receivers, this week is all about loading up the box and stopping the power running game from the boys in baby blue. The Texas LBs and defensive line – namely that rotation of defensive tackles and defensive-ends-turned-defensive-tackles holding down the center of the line of scrimmage – will have their hands full with Franklin and Jones, but they can’t sit back in third-and-long situations either, as they need to force Prince to throw in to Texas’ highly-touted defensive backfield.

On offense, the ‘Horns need to eliminate some errors – namely, stupid penalties, dropped passes, and turnovers. The coaches and fans alike want to see any kind of consistency in the offensive line’s run blocking, more consistency from the wide receivers corps as a whole, and see Gilbert making smart decisions with the football. The Texas offense is still adjusting to a new QB and offensive scheme, and it’s the last week to test things out and open up the game a bit more than they have before the sooners become top of mind. Repetition and mental acuity are key. Forget about fried Oreos and turkey legs at the Texas State Fair, because next week’s match-up won’t matter if the ‘Horns don’t win this week.

Overall, Texas should win this game going away. The ‘Horns might not score 60 points on Saturday – or hell, in any game this season – but the defense will remain an elite unit, giving the offense time to get settled, and every single player on the burnt orange sideline will battle it out for four quarters. With focus and effort at every position, improvements can be made, and victories are had. Even Neuheisal would bank on that.

Hook ‘em!

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Big 12 Conference: 2010 Football Schedules

The smell of fall is in the air. And that means football. Despite a chaotic offseason of conference reshuffling and “un”shuffling, the Big 12 remains as it has been since it came together in 1996, for one more season anyway. Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence, Nebraska athletic director Tommy Osbourne – you look about as morbid as your team’s offense. And, hey – nearly bankrupt Colorado athletics – Big 12 commish Dan Beebe will take his cool millions off your hands as soon as possible please. All in all, the Big 12 (or “Big 10” next year) will survive. You’re welcome, Kansas, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri…now, if you don’t mind, Texas has a TV network to build.

With Texas coming off a national championship game appearance, oklahoma QB Landry Jones on the Heisman watch list (really?), and Nebraska out for blood in their final Big 12 season, its going to be an interesting year. Let’s take a look at the line-up for the 12 teams who will make their run at the final Big 12 Championship (December 4, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. CT on ABC) and the 2011 national championship, with USA Today’s pre-season rankings listed where appropriate.


Baylor
The return of QB Robert Griffin is a firestarter for the Bears 2010 team. If he can stay healthy, they’ll have a shot at making some noise in the Big 12 South. Regardless, though, the Bears still have a lot of work to do to be a legitimate contender in the South division.

Critical games – @ #7 TCU, @ #4 Texas, Texas A&M, #8 oklahoma

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Sam Houston State
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Buffalo (FCS)
September 18 – 3:30 p.m. CT – @ #7 TCU (Versus)
September 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ Rice (CBS CS)
October 2 – TBA – Kansas
October 9 – TBA – Texas Tech (@ The Cotton Bowl, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – @ Colorado
October 23 – TBA – Kansas State
October 30 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
November 6 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State
November 13 – TBA – Texas A&M
November 20 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
November 27 – BYE


Colorado
It’s the last straw for head coach Dan Hawkins. And, the last chance for the Buffaloes to make some noise in the Big 12. Will it happen? Doubtful. Hawkins can’t even decide whether or not to let his mediocre QB son guide the end of his Colorado coaching career.

Critical games – Colorado State, #21 Georgia, @ #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 1:00 p.m. CT – Colorado State (@ Invesco Field, Denver; The Mtn)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ California (FSN)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Hawai’i (FCS)
September 25 – BYE
October 2 – 6:00 p.m. CT – #21 Georgia (FSN)
October 9 – TBA – @ Missouri
October 16 – TBA – Baylor
October 23 – TBA – Texas Tech
October 30 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
November 6 – TBA – @ Kansas
November 13 – TBA – Iowa State
November 20 – TBA – Kansas State
Friday, November 26 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ #9 Nebraska (ABC)


Iowa State
It’s year two of head coach Paul Rhoads program, and there were some bright spots in 2009, including the win at Nebraska. While Iowa State plays with less talent than most Big 12 teams, their coach brings heart that can make miracles happen.

Critical games – @ #10 Iowa, #24 Utah, @ #8 oklahoma, @ #4 Texas, #9 Nebraska

Thursday, September 2 – 7:00 p.m. CT – Northern Illinois (FSN)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ #10 Iowa (ABC)
September 18 – 11:00 a.m. CT – Kansas State (@Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)
September 25 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Northern Iowa
October 2 – TBA – Texas Tech
October 9 – TBA – #24 Utah
October 16 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
October 23 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
October 30 – TBA – Kansas
November 6 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
November 13 – TBA – @ Colorado
November 20 – TBA – Missouri
November 27 – BYE


Kansas
It’s the first season for new Jayhawks coach Turner Gil, and with the loss of the key components of the offense, it might be a long season. But, Gil had a major turnaround at Buffalo – so, it’s possible he could keep Kansas on track. The problem – you’re playing in the Big 12 now, not the MAC.

Critical games – #17 Georgia Tech, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – North Dakota State (FCS)
September 11 – 11:00 a.m. CT – #17 Georgia Tech (FSN)
Friday, September 17 – 7:00 p.m.CT – Southern Mississippi (ESPN)
September 25 – 6:00 p.m. CT – New Mexico State (FCS)
October 2 – TBA – @ Baylor
October 9 – BYE
Thursday, October 14 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas State (FSN)
October 23 – TBA – Texas A&M
October 30 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 6 – TBA – Colorado
November 13 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
November 20 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 27 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Missouri (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)


Kansas State
A lot of uncertainty surrounds Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in 2010. No matter their pre-season question marks, the team always makes a statement during the year. Add in several no-name non-conference games, and they’ll start strong until they reach the bulk of their Big 12 schedule. ‘Horns fans be warned – history isn’t on Texas’ side against The Purple.

Critical games – #9 Nebraska, #4 Texas

September 4 – 2:30 p.m. CT – UCLA (ABC)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Missouri State
September 18 – 11:00 a.m. CT – Iowa State (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)
September 25 – TBA – Central Florida
October 2 – BYE
Thursday, October 7 – 6:30 p.m. CT – #9 Nebraska (ESPN)
Thursday, October 14 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas (FSN)
October 23 – TBA – @ Baylor
October 30 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 6 – TBA – #4 Texas
November 13 – TBA – @ Missouri
November 20 – TBA – @ Colorado
November 27 – TBA – @ North Texas


Missouri
QB Blaine Gabbert’s healthy, but off-season drama has decimated the Tigers before the season even gets started. Several DUIs have key players suspended, and star RB Derrick Washington was charged with felony sexual assault and has been kicked off the team permanently. No doubt, head coach Gary Pinkel was on the receiving end of the shocker this summer.

Critical games – #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Illinois (@Edward Jones Stadium, St. Louis; FSN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – McNeese State
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – San Diego State
September 25 – 1:00 p.m. CT – Miami (OH)
October 2 – BYE
October 9 – TBA – Colorado
October 16 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
October 23 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
October 30 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
November 6 – TBA – @ Texas Tech
November 13 – TBA – Kansas State
November 20 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 27 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Kansas (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)


Nebraska
There’s been lots of hype about the improvements to the Huskers offense in 2010. It remains to be seen, honestly. But, the one game that matters to the Huskers in their final Big 12 season is Texas. With the loss of their biggest piece of their defensive line to the NFL, will Jared Crick fill the hole? Oh, will “Suh” become synonymous with Husker tears….”suh, suh, suh”?

Critical games – @ Washington, #4 Texas

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Western Kentucky (FSN PPV)
September 11 – 11:30 a.m.CT – Idaho (FSN PPV)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ Washington (ABC)
September 25 – TBA – South Dakota State
October 2 – BYE
Thursday, October 7 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas State (ESPN)
October 16 – TBA – #4 Texas
October 23 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State
October 30 – TBA – Missouri
November 6 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 13 – TBA – Kansas
November 20 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
Friday, November 26 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Colorado (ABC)


oklahoma
My mother always said, “When you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” I didn’t listen to my mother. “ou sucks!”

Critical games – Florida State, #4 Texas, @ Oklahoma State

September 4 – 6:00 p.m.CT – Utah State (FSN PPV)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Florida State (ABC)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Air Force (FSN)
September 25 – TBA – @ Cincinnati
October 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas; ABC)
October 9 – BYE
October 16 – TBA – Iowa State
October 23 – TBA – @ Missouri
October 30 – TBA – Colorado
November 6 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
November 13 – TBA – Texas Tech
November 20 – TBA – @ Baylor
November 27 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State (ABC)


Oklahoma State
It’s a rebuilding year for head coach Mike Gundy. While you could say they lose star WR Dez Bryant, really they lost him last year due to former pro Deion Sanders (Thanks, Neon Deion!). But, they have to replace QB Zac Robinson and several other players on both sides of the ball. Maybe we’ll find some new ‘Poke to humiliate this year – just make sure it’s someone 40 or older (it really never gets old).

Critical games – #9 Nebraska, @ #4 Texas, #8 oklahoma

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Washington State (FSN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Troy
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Tulsa
September 25 – BYE
Thursday, September 30 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Texas A&M (ESPN)
October 2 – BYE
Friday, October 8 – 8:00 p.m. CT – @ Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN2)
October 16 – TBA – @ Texas Tech
October 23 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
October 30 – TBA – @ Kansas State
November 6 – TBA – Baylor
November 13 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
November 20 – TBA – @ Kansas
November 27 – TBA – #8 oklahoma (ABC)


Texas
The legacy is gone – QB Colt McCoy, the winningest QB in college football history, is fighting for his NFL life in Cleveland. The best hands on the team (again) – Jordan Shipley – is now in Cincinnati with the NFL’s Bengals. But, the future remains extremely bright for head coach Mack Brown’s Longhorns. The 2010 defense could be the best Brown’s ever had, and growing-up-in-front-of-us QB Garrett Gilbert was supposedly picked off only once in fall practice – in other words, he’s money (but not in the oklahoma sense of the word). The running game? Supposedly it exists in the form of a redefined RB Cody Johnson.

Critical games – Texas Tech, #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska, @ Kansas State, Texas A&M

September 4 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Rice (@ Reliant Stadium, Houston; ESPN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Wyoming (FSN)
September 18 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ Texas Tech (ABC)
September 25 – TBA – UCLA (ABC)
October 2 – 2:30 p.m.CT – #8 oklahoma (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas; ABC)
October 9 – BYE
October 16 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
October 23 – TBA – Iowa State
October 30 – TBA – Baylor
November 6 – TBA – @ Kansas State
November 13 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 20 – TBA – Florida Atlantic
Thursday, November 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – Texas A&M (ESPN)


Texas A&M
Will this be the year the Aggies turn it around? It seems an ongoing discussion every off-season. If the Ags win their first game, the 12th Man will be praising QB Jerrod Johnson for the Heisman. Gag me now. More exciting than the football team in College Station – shooting baskets from the third deck of the stadium.

Critical games – #8 oklahoma, #9 Nebraska, @ #4 Texas

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Stephen F. Austin
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Louisiana Tech
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Florida International University
September 25 – BYE
Thursday, September 30 – 6:30 p.m. CT – @ Oklahoma State (ESPN)
October 2 – BYE
October 9 – TBA – Arkansas (@ Cowboys Stadium, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – Missouri
October 23 – TBA – @ Kansas
October 30 – TBA – Texas Tech
November 6 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
November 13 – TBA – @ Baylor
November 20 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
Thursday, November 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (ESPN)


Texas Tech
What? No more “Pirate?” The Tommy Tuberville era begins in Lubbock, and there’s no telling what fans can expect. Better defense? That’s Tuberville’s M.O., so we’ll see. Regardless, the offensive juggernaut might continue – if they can find a QB. The off-season had last year’s two starters – Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield – benched or injured for a true freshman. Perhaps the running game returns (thanks to Tubby’s SEC roots)? Will it come together, or are the Red Raiders starting all over? The only “known” is that they’ll remain in a tight race for the Big 12‘s most classless fans.

Critical games – #4 Texas, @ #8 oklahoma, Houston

Sunday, September 5 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Southern Methodist (ESPN)
September 11 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ New Mexico (The Mtn)
September 18 – 7:00 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (ABC)
September 25 – BYE
October 2 – TBA – @ Iowa State
October 9 – TBA – Baylor (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – Oklahoma State
October 23 – TBA – @ Colorado
October 30 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
November 6 – TBA – Missouri
November 13 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
November 20 – TBA – Weber State
November 27 – TBA – Houston

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