Category Archives: Red Raiders

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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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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Week 3 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

“Grrr. Give me all of your loot! Aarrghh! I’ll sink your ship and bury you on the West Texas plains!” Is that a bit of Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” character, Captain Jack Sparrow? No, it’s… Wait, what’s that? Mike “The Pirate” Leach is no longer the head football coach in Lubbock? Creative blogging FAIL.

Former TTU head coach Mike Leach

[Long pause]

[Cue internal debate consuming EyesOfTX writers on whether it’s worth writing about Texas Tech football from now on…]

[Solution: Shed tear for lack of pre-game comedy and post-game hilarity with Leach; proceed with a quick Mike Leach “roast,” prepare selves for boring ‘ol Tommy “T” in the Big 12!]

Don’t fret. Even though we’ve lost the conductor of the Big 12‘s crazy train, there is still an opportunity to see the man who is as nutty as a PayDay bar. While Leach fully expected he’d be coaching again this season (he’s not) – just not anywhere near Craig James’ son, Adam (and, he’s not) – instead, he’ll be announcing Conference USA football games this fall for CBS Sports. A-maz-ing. In such a good way; honestly, it could be more epic than Obama balancing the budget. One assumes, in this instance, CBS has been setting aside a substantial amount of advertising dollars to pay-off the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) for Leach’s on-air hilarity, vulgarity and general mis-fires. It’s going to happen, if he doesn’t stick he co-anchor or cameraman in a closet first. Who else can’t wait to see this debacle unfold?

Truth be told, even though the mad hatter is no longer in Lubbock, the Red Raiders don’t seem to have lost a step with former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville taking over the reigns.

We’re not big Red Raider fans, so let’s revisit some favorite bone-crushing and hilarious moments:

Now that were amped up, let’s check out this week’s tilt with the Red Raiders.

Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders
7:00 p.m. CT (ABC)

Prediction:
Texas 28, Texas Tech 24

Texas Tech’s Keys To The Game:
You read that right, Tech fans. It’s a 7:00 p.m. Central time kick-off on Saturday, which gives you about an hour from the time you arise from your liquor-induced, beer-goggle, not-so-good-in-the-morning sleep to get to Jones Stadium for the game. Yep, believe it or not, you too are a key to the game – as is always the case in Lubbock.

Texas Tech's Jones Stadium

In six previous meetings between the ‘Horns and Red Raiders in the desolate West Texas desert, the two teams have split decisions (3-3) – with the ugliest scenario playing out for ‘Horns fans two years ago when Texas lost its undefeated and national championship hopes on the final play of the game as TTU wide receiver Michael Crabtree celebrated his TD and early departure to…hold out against the NFL team who drafted him. Oh, where were we? That’s right, Lubbock’s a tough place to play – the ‘Horns haven’t lost to TTU at home in Austin (6-0) in head coach Mack Brown’s tenure. Yet, with a plethora of young talent on the field for Texas, Tubby’s Red Raiders have a chance to score another major upset under the lights in the sandy plains.

Even though the puerile Leach has departed, the collective knowledge of the spread offense hasn’t, and neither have the Red Raiders’ on-field general(s), as seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield return at QB. While Tuberville will instill some semblance of a running attack in Lubbock (you had to think RB Baron Batch was licking his chops upon his new head coach’s arrival), he isn’t stupid and he’ll work with Leach’s leftovers until he recruits players that fit his mold. So, the basketball-style scoring system isn’t quite gone with the red and black, but it’ll get there in the year’s to come. In the meantime, Potts is still going to throw for a million yards, and receivers will be flying over the field so much so that you’ll be trying to swipe them away like they’re gnats drawn to your TV screen.

Potts is the starter at QB, and we all know no TTU gun slinger starts their season slow, as he was spot-on in week one against SMU (34-for-53, 359 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) with his game a tad more efficient in week two against New Mexico (22-for-34, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs). He’s well-versed in the offensive scheme, has good repoire with his receivers, and has the arm to make every single throw in the proverbial book. His downside is mental, more than physical – if he’s under constant pressure in the pocket, or takes a good hit early, his mind just isn’t in the game – many analysts would go so far as to say he “talks himself in to injuries.” We say he’s just a 6’5” pansy who cries when everything doesn’t go his way. That’s a Saturday bonus for Texas, if you’re counting. The offensive line remains a legitimate threat to controlling the line of scrimmage, but no longer will you see four yard splits between each offensive lineman – they’re in a tighter formation, which gives the wide receivers more space off the line of scrimmage in passing formations.

Red Raiders' WR Lyle Leong

The wide receivers are the key the offense’s production, and the team might as well hire octamom-gone-bachelorette human-being manager Kate Gosselin to keep up with the ongoing rotation. In Lubbock, she’d fit right in for more than a few reasons. There are two wide receivers, however, that stand out as top targets for Potts – his high school teammate, Lyle Leong (16 catches, 217 yards, 5 TDs), and Detron Lewis (9 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD). Regardless of the top target, all those receivers have good hands, agility and the ability to find and sit down in zone coverage to give Potts plenty of space to get them the ball and rake in yards after the catch.

The defense will, once again, provide a test for Texas – if anything, Tuberville has brought a renewed sense of passion on the defensive side of the ball. So far this year, Tech has amassed nine sacks – something even Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would be proud of – and they will be looking to prey on the young Longhorn QB meat. Everything with the Tech defense funnels to the nose tackle and middle linebacker, and they will largely decide the outcome of Texas’ offensive production on the night. Running inside, and looking for the hot route underneath the linebackers will get Texas in a lot of trouble early.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
It’s time for Texas to show the world they’re the #5 team in the country. They need to show some emotion and decide they want to win this game. This is the upset game of the week across the country, and the Las Vegas spread dropped from Texas by seven points, to Texas by three points – practically overnight – which means a lot of fans think Tech’s got a shot, especially after seeing Texas play these past two weeks. Frankly, the Red Raiders might not be so full of themselves this year.

Texas, first and foremost, needs to have an offensive game plan that can allow QB Garrett Gilbert to settle in early. Emotions will be high, the environment will be threatening. If offensive coordinator Greg Davis is listening, no bubble screens or dinky-dump stuff – we’re not in peewee leagues anymore. Give Gilbert the easy throws early to help him establish a rhythm. Give him a dose of the running game to help keep Tech honest, but push the ball outside where the receivers have a chance to block downfield for the running backs, and you’ll keep Tech’s defensive strengths playing chase from sideline to sideline. Most importantly, the ‘Horns need to put points on the board when they have opportunities, keep their defensive teammates on the sidelines, and if they’re ahead, eat as much clock as possible to keep the Tech offense at bay.

Texas DB Chykie Brown

On defense, it will be as important as ever for the ‘Horns defensive backs to keep the wide receivers in front of them, put pressure on Potts with the front four to create poor throws and mistakes, and make good tackles. Fundamental football, right? Easier said than done, but Muschamp can usually muster a way to the backfield with his schemes, especially with the depth he’s got at defensive end. The defense just needs to help the offense stay in the game and not let things get out of hand. It’ll be a tough task, but then again, so is keeping Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi away from a hot dog eating contest.

In special teams, Texas has a decided advantage with the points team, as Tech’s kicker looked downright awful against SMU in week one. One could’ve wondered if Tuberville had kept the student Leach “drafted” out of the stands to kick for the team two years ago on scholarship. So, a extra point or field goal block is a possibility for the ‘Horns. Field position will also be key, and if Texas finally decides to shy away from the rugby-style kick, P John Gold could go head-to-head with Tech’s Jonathan Locour in a kicker’s dual.

It’s going to be a battle on Saturday, and the Vegas odds are toying with me. Perhaps Kevin Spacey’s behind the curtain pulling strings. Who knows?! But, since EyesOfTX has never picked against Mack Brown and Texas football since this blog’s inaugural post, we’re not starting now. Barely. And, let’s double-down on an incredible blog post that includes football, Mike Leach, two Oscar-worthy actors, Kate Gosselin, hot dog eating contests, pirate verbiage, basketball, Las Vegas, pansies, gnats, and beer googles. Your winnings for reading this far? That PayDay bar sounds about right.

Hook ‘em!

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Filed under Big 12, Conference USA, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Red Raiders

Thoughts: Week 1 in College Football

It was an exciting five days of college football to open the 2010 season, and more frequently than not, additional beverages, food, DVR space, and beverages (and perhaps a brief nap) were needed to keep pace with the torrent of games hitting the airwaves. It was a football nirvana that exists only once a year, and that is nearly orgasmic for any college football fan…no matter your allegiances.

Before we look ahead to week two, let’s take a look at some highlights and lowlights, as well as some perspectives on the ‘Horns after their 34-17 win over Rice in Houston.

Of the “contenders,” no team lost in week one that shouldn’t have. While Virginia Tech might argue, it was clear Boise State was the better team throughout Monday’s contest. You saw it here first, Boise State will play for the BCS National Championship in January 2011.

FBS schools Jacksonville State and North Dakota State made some noise with victories over BCS conference teams Ole Miss and Kansas, respectively. Not the way Turner Gill wanted to re-load in Lawrence…give him time, though.

sooners QB Landry Jones

oklahoma struggled. And we loved every minute of their metal-row-stadium-seat-squirming in Norman. While RB Demarco Murray looked in mid-season form, QB Landry Jones played mediocre at best. If you’re Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis, the ‘Horns throw the ball on every play against the sooners and run up the score in October at the Cotton Bowl.

Don’t read much in to Oklahoma State or Texas A&M’s victories in week one. The Cowboys might as well have played the local high school’s JV team for a more competitive match-up than they had with Pac-10 bottom-dweller Washington State. And the Aggies – who did show more defensive prowess in their new 3-4 scheme than at any time in 2009’s campaign – had less rushing yards on more carries (55 carries for 192 yards) against a lesser opponent than did Texas against Rice (46 carries for 197 yards). Yep, you read right.

The Tuberville era began in Lubbock, and despite the victory, QB Taylor Potts didn’t look that spectacular and the defense was mediocre at best against SMU’s defense. All-in-all, it wasn’t a performance to write home about. What did look familiar was the half-empty stands at Jones Stadium from the third quarter through the end of the game – with the game’s outcome still in question. Time for the afternoon drunken pass out in the West Texas plains.

While Kansas State eeked out a victory over recognizable-name UCLA at home on Saturday, it was unimpressive. UCLA is dragged down by head coach Rick Neuheisel (“Hey Rick, who do you have in the national semifinals of the 2011 NCAA tourney bracket?”), so they basically don’t count. Plus, the Wildcats remain a big question mark without the legs of RB Daniel Thomas. Yep, he’s a stud.

The ‘Horns, while racking up 197 rushing yards, looked unimpressive and flat on offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to reset fans’ expectations of the running game – it’s not going to change overnight – but it did look better than any point last year. But, it was also Rice. The defense hasn’t missed a beat – they looked solid (after the first series in a base scheme) – but need to hold on those picks for TDs. Solid, but unenthusiastic…there is work to be done. Rice is going to rebound big time from last year’s 2-10 record, they looked solid in a week one game against a top contender.

Finally, it’s 12:24 a.m. Pacific time and ou still sucks. Week two represents a big weekend for a lot of the top 25 – perhaps determining 2010 BCS legitimacy – so rest up, my legions, and get focused.

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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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The Big 10 Switcharoo

Let’s get one thing straight – Eyes Of TX is no prognosticator. No reading minds here. The tarot cards have long since been packed away. No gypsy headdress tucked in the closet. Along with that (or perhaps not along with that) was the lack of a math degree from the 40 Acres. But, if one does the old school arithmetic, the Big 12 and the Big 10 have now officially switched places.

With Colorado heading west to the PAC-10, and Nebraska heading east to the Big 10, the remaining Big 12 conference universities were left to their own devices to decide their fate and that of the conference as a whole. Eyes Of TX has long predicted – for right or wrong – that Texas would be the deciding factor in the conference re-alignment race. And, indeed that was the case these past few weeks. Apparently, orange runs in our blood, and our blood is the Big 12 glue.

In the event you’ve been dodging tumbleweeds in nowhere America, Texas (and the remaining Big 12 schools) decided last week to decline invitations from other Division I BCS conferences and keep the conference together. For the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri, the decision was a dream come true – no one wanted them. They were scared for their monetary lives. They had a vested interest in keeping the conference together, latching on to any hopes of the Big 12 staying alive, and locking in the powerhouse universities like Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma on their schedules for years to come.

Eyes Of TX, though, has had mixed feelings about the conference-formally-known-as-the-Big-12 and its impact on the ‘Horns. In part, Texas may miss out on a longer term opportunity – what if this new conference doesn’t work out, and those conferences so willing to extend invitations this spring are no longer interested down the road after getting shunned the first time around? Will Texas’ brand recognition still help them out of a desperate situation 5, 10 or 20 years down the road if the “new” conference doesn’t work out? On the other hand, if Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe’s plan is legit, and the league can expect a $7-10 million bump in their next TV contract, maybe its worth it. Of course, Texas made sure that the teams with the most exposure got the most dollars in their pockets – for that we can all be thankful. Add to that the fact that Texas will get what they so desperately desired (and other conferences weren’t willing to allow) with the university’s own TV network – an additional $3-5 million in revenue. Now you’re talking SEC-type money. But, without a conference championship game (which they won’t play with only 10 teams), that is lost TV revenue as well. Of course, none of the future TV money is guaranteed today. It’ll be another year before those negotiations begin in earnest.

The fact of the matter is, the “new” Big 10 is expecting to bring in a significant amount of revenue from a new TV contract when they’re losing the Denver television market (Colorado) and a marquee brand name in Nebraska. There is as much fuzzy math involved here as there is with trying to lower the government’s deficit. It’s not adding up on this writer’s abacus.

On the plus side, Texas fans will still get their annual rivalries with oklahoma and Texas A&M. But, the draw of potential PAC-10 match-ups would have made that Texas sweet tea a little sweeter than Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor on a consistent basis.

For now, until TV money is guaranteed, Eyes Of TX has to believe the move to keep the Big 12 together was a selfish move by Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and the powers that be. They seem to have missed out on a huge opportunity by joining forces with the PAC-10 and competing head-to-head with the “new” Big 12 and the SEC, hell, even the ACC who just locked in to a lucrative TV deal this past year. Perhaps the money comes, perhaps Eyes Of TX gets to see more games in the Pacific Northwest based on the Longhorns’ forthcoming television network. Perhaps the league falls apart.

It remains to be seen, which reinforces the idea that there are no mind readers here. What do you think?

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NCAA Conference Re-Alignment Begins…

There’s been a lot of talk about conference realignment in the college ranks – even more so in the last week, given the Big 12’s deadline to Nebraska and Missouri to make a commitment to stay or go in the conference by this Friday.

Yesterday, all eyes were squarely on the Cornhuskers, as athletic director Tom Osbourne was deflecting questions like only a former politician-hopeful can, was he referred to leaving the Big 12 and joining the Big 10. In public relations terms, he confirmed nothing. Of course, the kicker was that the Big 10 claimed they hadn’t even extended invitations, but nonetheless Nebraska was chomping at the bit, akin to inviting themselves to the party in high school. Would Nebraska be the surprise team to make the first move? If so, who would follow the Big Red Machine?

Well, hold your horses. The PAC-10, meanwhile, had swung the doors wide open earlier this week when they approved expansion, even going so far to say the group didn’t need to reconvene before extending invites to prospective teams – in other words, they already had a good sense for who they wanted on board. Rumors flew – just Colorado? What about adding six teams, or nearly the entire Big 12 South division? Would Texas, and thus A&M, go? Who would be the odd teams out if the Big 12 disintegrated only 15 years after its inception?

Today, the dominoes started to fall, but not with the universities initially thought to make the first move. The PAC-10 offered, and Colorado accepted. With it, Colorado brings to the Premier Athletic Conference (yes, that’s really what “PAC” stands for) a football program in shambles, an athletic budget in more need of an economic stimulus package than the government’s, and a typical 6-year graduation rate (at least that’s what they told EyesOfTX at a campus visit 10+ years ago). In fact, earlier this week, the NCAA released their academic progress reports (APRs), and Colorado was one of the schools that made the “naughty” list. It’s not a good start to help the PAC-10 keep up their academic standards. Where are Stanford and Cal to stand up and complain about that? Will this academic debacle lead to another Dan Hawkins lecture YouTube sensation?

All told, this the beginning of the end for the Big 12. With Colorado out, and Nebraska apparently on the brink, the bricks are crumbling. Even TMZ is now reporting from a source that Oklahoma State is heading to the PAC-10, and are just waiting to make the official announcement. What we know from football coach Mike Gundy is that we should talk to him, because “…he’s 40 and he’s a man…” Who else is in line? Will Texas and Texas A&M hold out as long as possible, to see if other bidders (like the SEC, perhaps?) come calling or get something locked up sooner than later?

Who’s “out” in all of this? The biggest loser from the Big 12 might very well be Kansas, followed by Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State – maybe even Missouri, as the Big 10 sounds like it’s gone cold it’s thinking for the Columbia crew. Let’s take a look at some specifics:

Kansas
Are Kansas and Kansas State a joint deal, similar to Texas and Texas A&M? Could the Jayhawks end up in Conference USA, or even the Big East (as that conference potentially try to fill gaps from Big 10 thieves as well)? Kansas will likely look for a conference that has strong basketball ties, so that probably rules out the Mountain West. If KU ends up anywhere other than a top 4 conference, it will be sad day for the history of their basketball program akin to North Carolina being part of the Southern Conference and playing Appalachian State and Citadel every year. Sad. It’d also be a tough day for football coach Turner Gill, who in EyesOfTX’s opinion, deserved a chance to make a name for himself in a big-name conference after building a great program at Buffalo. Gill might be bringing his new team right back to a mid-major conference.

Baylor
Baylor’s another big loser in this discussion, especially given they’re on the brink of reviving their athletics program from a years-long fallout from incidents from the men’s basketball program. With their football team on the rise, and both men’s and women’s basketball making significant impacts in recent years, a move to a new, lesser-known conference could be both good and bad. Wait, why aren’t they in the “Big 12 South” package that PAC-10’s exploring? Quite honestly, rumors have been circulating that Cal-Berkeley has major issues with the religious affiliation of the university, and secondly, Baylor lacks the political prowess in the Texas state legislature to drive a deal these days (like they did when the Big 12 was formed).

For a new conference affiliation, however, Baylor’s got to see the good: they might finally be able to compete in football. Let’s face it, although they had a lot of hype this last season, Baylor football is a bottom-dweller of the Big 12 (and South division specifically) every year since the league’s inception. In a new, less-“loaded” conference, they have a chance to put themselves on the map and go bowling for the first time in many, many years. The bad: they lose the clout of being in a major conference for the first time since pre-Southwest Conference days, not to mention they still aren’t allowed to dance on campus.

Iowa State
Quite honestly, EyesOfTX will miss the opportunity to get the Cyclones on the field so long as Paul Rhodes is coach – he seems like a good guy who’s passionate about where he’s at and brings the best to that program. It’s an exciting time for football in Ames. But, what’s the best move for ISU? Get the Big 10 to come calling…especially if the conference is now cold on Missouri. Plus, it makes sense given their in-state and Big 10-affiliated Hawkeyes are causing trouble in Ann Arbor and Columbus these days.

Missouri
They talked a big game early, and now it looks like it just all might backfire. All signs pointed to the Big 10 initially having some interest in Missouri, but now that well seems to have dried up – something BP could only wish for in the Gulf of Mexico. With Nebraska on the horizon for the Big 10, and as that conference continues to mull over Notre Dame, Syracuse, Rutgers, and Pittsburgh, the Tigers all of the sudden appear in the rear-view mirror. Now’s the time for M-I-Z-Z-O-U to start a nice courting relationship with the SEC.

What about the conference affiliations with bowl games? Well, the Big 12 will definitely give up some nice deals for post-season play if it indeed goes away, but a new conference affiliation also might benefit from a majority of Big 12 schools bringing those bowl games to the negotiating table with the new conference(s). Right now, the Big 12 has a total of eight bowl game affiliations, including: Fiesta/BCS, Holiday, Cotton, Alamo, Texas, Yankees Stadium (new), Insight, and Independence. Compare that to the PAC-10’s six-game (and weaker) bowl pull: Rose/BCS, Alamo, Holiday, Sun, Las Vegas, and Emerald. Both conferences are nearing bowl game negotiations – supposedly with the Big 12 in 2012, and PAC-10 in 2013. Perfect timing for conference re-alignment news.

Lots of moving parts…it will be interesting to see what plays out through the weekend. Expect more blockbuster news later today or Friday, as more conferences and teams get antsy so as not to get left in the dust. Texas, where you headed?

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