Texas v. Texas A&M

TEXAS LONGHORNS v. TEXAS A&M AGGIES
It’s THAT week, Longhorn fans…

Hide your valuables, lock your doors and horde the Shiner Bock, the Aggies are going to Austin this week, and it’s time for redemption…BIG time. After two years of losing to a sub-par Texas A&M squad, I am psyched up to eat my fair share of turkey tryptophan, sit/nap on my couch, and cheer on the Longhorns to a HUGE victory on senior day.

I would also like to take a minute and laugh. Out loud. At Texas Tech. At Mike Leach. At Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. At all of the crazy Texas Tech fans that stormed the field in Lubbock after beating Texas. My message to them: “65-21.” On national television. What a way to completely blow what was easily the best season in Texas Tech football. Against ou. While I wish the game had been closer for the BCS implications, my Saturday night was phenomenal, and it involved Bob Stoops. Weird feeling, but good.

BCS Ranking Notes
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I know this is top of mind for everyone. Let’s remember that we have to take care of business tomorrow to even have a shot at these scenarios. I can say this: having a week off and seeing some of the BCS chaos continue to unfold, I will spell out for everyone where Texas stands today and what they need to happen to get to the Big 12 title and national championship game. There has been a lot of confusion on this, and while I’m not happy about the following statement, the word of the week is: “Hook ‘Em Sooners” (but not by a lot, please). Note: Texas is currently #2 in the BCS standings (0.9209 out of 1.000), and ou is #3 (0.9125 out of 1.000, only 0.0084 points behind).

“Good” for Texas: If #7 Texas Tech beats Baylor, and #3 ou beats #12 Okie State, then there will be a three-way tie for the Big 12 South Division, and the highest BCS rankings after those games will get the trip to Kansas City to play Missouri for the Big 12 championship title. I am not promising we will be ranked higher in the BCS after this week if ou wins – seriously, it’s mockery at its best.

Good for Texas: If Texas Tech and ou both lose their games this week, then Texas will go automatically go to the Big 12 championship game to play Missouri.

Bad for Texas: If ou loses, and Texas Tech wins, there will be a two-way tie for the Big 12 South Division and Texas Tech would advance to the Big 12 championship game based on their win in the head-to-head match-up with Texas.

Another useful link that breaks down the various Big 12 and BCS scenarios can be found on ESPN here. Honestly, folks, I don’t see us in the Big 12 or national championship this year. While our schedule is, by far, tougher than either Texas Tech or ou’s this year, there is the “human factor” in some polls that make up the BCS, and the USA Today poll is the biggest culprit – they have ou #2 and Texas #4, which is a big difference when talking about thousandsth-of-a-point in total BCS rankings. The unbiased computers in the BCS, however, are keeping us #2 for now…hello voters, there is a reason for that! I think Texas needs to win outright on Thursday – no holding back, I think the ‘Horns need to beat A&M by as many points as possible for BCS “style” points – and ou needs to win a tight game in Stillwater for us to even have a chance. oklahoma’s stock will only go up if they beat the #12 ranked BCS team in the land, and 0.0084 points isn’t that much a lead for us in the BCS. My prediction, if all plays out as I think, is that Texas will play Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Why Oregon State and why the Fiesta Bowl? Bear with me here – first, I don’t think Texas will make it to the Big 12 championship game, I think ou will. I think ou beats Missouri for the Big 12 championship, and they have a high-enough BCS ranking to play in the national championship (my guess is, against Florida). Thus, the second Big 12 BCS designate would be Texas, and typically the Fiesta Bowl takes a Big 12 representative. Now, Penn State is likely heading to the Rose Bowl (or, a BCS bowl for sure), given the Big 10 connections to that game. Unfortunately for one team, the Rose Bowl has Pac-10 connections as well, and if Oregon State beats Oregon this weekend (which is likely), then they will win the Pac-10 because they beat USC head-to-head (that makes me smile). Here’s the kicker – Penn State and Oregon State already played this year (and Penn State won handily), so no bowl game committee would want to have that game again. I predict Oregon State or Utah (given their undefeated season and BCS guarantee) gets in to the Fiesta Bowl and plays Texas. How’s that for a prediction? I hear Arizona’s nice in January.

While not ideal, in the grand scheme of things, we could be in the shoes of one of my best friends. He grew up in Austin all of his life, was and is a die-hard Longhorn fan, but he chose to go to college at Alabama. He has suffered through some tough years of ‘Bama football recently, and the ‘Horns have always kept him afloat during those re-building seasons. This year, can you imagine being him? What if Alabama beats Florida for the SEC championship, and earns their #1 ranking for the post-season trip? What if Texas miraculously gets to the Big 12 championship game and then the national championship? He called me yesterday and said, “Tell your Texas Exes group that if that scenario occurs, my head will explode. I won’t know what to do.” For his sake, I hope that doesn’t happen, and I hope his season ends well for one of his two favorite teams.

The Recap: Texas v. Kansas
Final Score: 35-7
It’s been a couple weeks since the KU game, so I’m not going to dive in to the details of the game. In tough weather conditions, Texas looked pretty good. The offense was clicking for most of the game, the running game looked pretty good, and the defense was in Kansas QB Todd Reesing’s face all day long. My hat’s off to the second-team defense that held the Jayhawks’ starters on the goal line for more than four downs toward the end of the game…well done, I like to see that there is no drop off between first- and second-team. All in all, a solid performance against a team who earlier this season was very highly ranked – Texas absolutely controlled this game start to finish.

Links:
ESPN: “Texas QB McCoy burns Kansas for two TDs to set season record”

This Week
Eyes of TX’s Prediction
Texas 59, Texas A&M 10

Texas A&M (4-7)
Hey, you know how the Aggies pretend to be the military, but they’re really not? Imagine how exciting it must have been for them to have the REAL Army visit them this fall in College Station for a football game. Do you think the Black Knight players just laughed at those morons in the Core? I hope so. Unfortunately, the Aggies got the last laugh, as they beat Army (barely) for one of the Ags four wins this year. Sad. But, for the record, I’ll still pick a Marine in a water gun fight, while any Aggie would cower in a corner. The Aggies are fake. They think they’re better than everyone else, and that they have traditions that no one else has (um, because they’re stupid traditions). Let me be clear: basically, Texas A&M is just a cult based in College Station instead of Waco. This year, they’re coached by a new head ding-dong, Mike Sherman, formerly of NFL fame. Obviously, his “NFL winning” ways have not rubbed off on this team…yet.

Starting with the offense, this Texas A&M offense is bad – they rank 11th in the conference and 73rd in the country in total offense averaging 349 yards per game. After “Texas-killer” QB Stephen McGee got hurt earlier this season, replacement sophomore QB Jerrod Johnson, while young, has thrown for 2,373 yards and 20 TDs. Coupled with 10 INTs, however, and you start to see an opportunity for this Texas defense. Here’s the opportunity – Texas A&M has given up 33 sacks this year. That is a horrendous total, and it means this offensive line does nothing for giving Johnson time to throw and leads to bad decisions and poor throws. Despite the shoddy offensive line play, Johnson is big, strong and athletic and has led them to a 24th national rank is passing offense. Their receiving corps are led by freshman WR Ryan Tannehill (the third string QB) with 52 receptions for 813 yards for five TDs in only five games this year. On the other side, another freshman – WR Jeff Fuller – has caught 45 balls for 549 yards, but he leads the team with eight TD receptions. They’ll rarely play on the field at the same time, but both are capable of helping A&M move the ball down the field. The third receiving threat is TE Jamie McCoy (another former QB, weird), and he has 40 catches for 477 yards and five TDs – you’ll see him line up as a slot receiver as much as you’ll see him at TE, and he could be trouble in play-action if A&M gets the running game going. Yes, I know, odd that I’m talking about A&M and leaving the running game until the end of the offensive analysis. Despite having two great returning running backs in Mike Goodson and Jorvorskie Lane (who has probably gained another 15 pounds since last year; how does he not lose weight running around all the time?), running the ball is not the focal point of the offense and they actually rank dead last in the conference – and the entire NCAA (108 teams) – in rushing offense per game with only 98/yards average. Goodson’s been hurt this season, but I expect him to play with Lane leading the way as his FB. Freshman RB Cyrus Gray is a clone of Goodson, and I expect him to get some snaps this game as well…he is small (5’11) but quick.

If you’re thinking you’ll be disappointed if Texas doesn’t make the Big 12 or national championship, consider how you’d feel being on the Texas A&M defense each week. Check out these stats: 1) they are 11th in total defense in the Big 12 (giving up 455 yards per game); 2) they are last in the conference in scoring defense (giving up 36 points per game); 3) they are 11th in the conference in rush defense (giving up 219 yards per game); 4) they are 10th in the conference having given up 51 TDs to opponents this season; and, 5) they have a conference-worst 13 sacks on the season. That is pathetic. The Aggies run a 4-2-5 defensive scheme, which means they have tried to adapt to playing the multiple spread offenses in the Big 12 by putting more DBs on the field. Even still, their linebacker play is what makes or breaks this defense, and they’ve been mostly broken all year as evidenced above. MLB Matt Featherston (89 tackles) and OLB Alton Dickson (85 tackles), with back-up Von Miller playing occasionally, lead the team in tackles respectively, and while they can stuff the gaps in the line, neither is outstanding in pass coverage. Hey, Texas…opportunity! Otherwise, the front four has DE Michael Bennett returning as a force on the outside of the defensive line, and he has 11 tackles for a loss this season. In the secondary, they are solid but not great. Arkeith Brown and Jordan Pugh are the starting CBs, and between them they have 12 pass break-ups and two INTs. Their freshman safety, Trent Hunter, has three INTs and 58 tackles this season…he’s been playing better the longer the season has gone on. The special teams are good – the lead the league in net punting yards, and their place kicker has yet to miss a FG or extra point this year. Their coverage on kicks, however, is not nearly as good and Texas has a chance to get some big gains in the kicking game on both punts and kick-offs.

All in all, expect A&M to try and do some things different by having some tricks or fakes, and they will try to get to McCoy to hit him whenever they can (hopefully not late hits, as in years past), and try to force Texas to run – rather than throw – the ball. It won’t happen. This Aggie team is not good, and there is no way they should even come close to giving Texas a run for its money in this game. If they do, we don’t deserve to be playing for any kind of championship. I expect the ‘Horns to win this one in a blowout. Hook ‘em, and let’s keep our fingers crossed for an ou victory and a BCS miracle. I think Texas v. Florida in the national championship sounds really nice, although it may be a pipe dream.

Texas A&M Game Links:
Trey McLean’s “From The Stands” Newsletter
Hex Rally Photos
ESPN: “Big 12 rivalry games have history, plenty on the line”

Texas Basketball Notes
Basketball season has already begun, and the ‘Horns were off to a great 3-0 start. That ended last night in the year’s first meeting of top 10 teams, as Texas lost to Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational by one point, 81-80. Texas trailed, but was close, most of the game and with under a 30 seconds to play, Notre Dame’s big man hit a long distance bank-shot 3-pointer to go up by one, and AJ Abrams missed a half-court shot at the buzzer. The ‘Horns rebounded, however, to beat Oregon handily in the consolation game, 70-57, for third place in the tournament.

Texas is looking good early this season, but has a tough schedule, including current #11 UCLA, #22 Villanova, #6 Michigan State and #19 Wisconsin for non-conference games, not to mention #13 oklahoma and #23 Kansas in conference play. The next nationally televised game will be against UCLA on Thursday, December 4 at 6:00p PT (on ESPN2).

Resources
Texas Exes Alumni Association Web site: http://www.texasexes.org/
Texas Exes Membership Department: 1-800-369-0023 (for membership card requests)
Texas Exes Puget Sound Chapter Web site: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/texas_exes_puget_sound/

Hook ‘em (Sooners)!

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