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Gypsies and SEC Talent Headed For DKR

It’s been less than a month since it began, thankfully for most, and yet the hemorrhaging from the University of Texas football program continues. In the short time since the Longhorns ended their disastrous 5-7 season, head coach Mack Brown has gone from an in-control-of-the-program CEO to looking like Scotty Smalls trying to make friends and play backyard baseball in The Sandlot. In other words, he’s got some work to do…and fast.

Up until last week, the Longhorns had seen four coaches depart since November – offensive coordinator Greg Davis, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, and defensive line coach Mike Tolleson. But, to put a wrapper on 2010, wide receiver coach Bobby Kennedy expectedly resigned on Dec. 30 to make a lateral move to be the University of Colorado’s wide receiver coach. Make that five.

Throughout a tumultuous December, Longhorn fans across the country spread coaching hire rumors as fast as they could drink a bottle of Salt Lick BBQ sauce. They threw around more names than Santa Claus could rattle off reindeer names. And yet the New Year passed with nothing from the halls Belmont. What exactly was Mack Brown doing over there? Had we been naughty and not nice?

Darrell Wyatt

On Monday and Tuesday this week, fans began to get some answers – albeit not quite the names or coordinator-level titles fans were expecting. The first presser of 2011 brought us Darrell Wyatt as the new wide receiver coach and co-recruiting coordinator, and you can watch Wyatt’s introductory press conference here. Wyatt is a Texas-born Kansas State alumnus who is a get-to-the-point coach with credible Big 12 Conference experience and has been both a wide receiver coach, offensive coordinator, not to mention recruiting extraordinaire. The problem might be, he’s a gypsy of sorts – making his rounds year-after-year – to different schools around the country, including Kansas (most recently), Baylor, oklahoma, and Oklahoma State…and those are just his Big 12 Conference stops. In fact, he’s coached at 14 different universities in his 21 years of coaching. That said, Wyatt can downright get kids to come play for him and turn them in to top-tier talent – see also Adrian Peterson (oklahoma), Mark Clayton (oklahoma), Rashaun Woods (Oklahoma State), and Mike Thomas (Arizona). He’s recruited from Texas for most of his coaching tenure, including the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, Houston and East Texas, and Central Texas. It’s an exciting addition, and ‘Horns fans can be assured that Wyatt will turn out as much talent to the next level as former offensive coordinator Greg Davis ruined. Another positive for Wyatt – his youth and energy. Brown’s talked about it, and now it’s coming to fruition – a much-needed addition to the retirement home-bound staff that had been residing in Austin the past few seasons.

Bo Davis

In addition to Wyatt, Mack Brown also announced Bo Davis, who has served as a Nick Saban disciple at LSU, the Miami Dolphins, and Alabama, is joining the Texas Longhorns staff, making a lateral move to become the ‘Horns defensive line coach. During his tenure with the Crimson Tide, Davis has had a top-10 defense year-in and year-out in one of the toughest conferences in the country, and he has had several defensive lineman become all-conference or all-American players. Prior to joining the ranks of Saban’s various staffs across the southeast, Davis spent several years coaching at Galena Park North Shore High School in Texas, including coaching former Longhorn DE Cory Redding, and has relationships with high schools across the state. Given his background as an LSU alumnus and assistant, Davis also brings inroads to the top high schools in Louisiana.

The question now becomes whether Brown is making random hires that he hopes work well together under his tutelage. It seems odd, to this writer anyway, to hire position coaches when the coordinator positions are still up in the air. At least, publically still up in the air. Maybe Brown’s got his CEO house in order, has lined up more than we know behind the scenes, and has everything but signatures on the dotted line. Maybe he’s building a staff based on input from those to-be-named resources.

Rumors are circulating that leading candidates for the offensive and defensive coordinator positions are also in Austin interviewing this week. While many expected Teryl Austin (Florida), Everett Withers (North Carolina), or even former Longhorn Jerry Gray (Seattle Seahawks), to be leading defensive coordinator candidates, it appears as though Brown is after another young, energetic SEC coach instead – none other than Mississippi State’s Manny Diaz. Diaz would be an interesting hire, but to look at what he’s done with a middle-of-the-road SEC team only means he could flourish with the talent in Texas. On the offensive side of the ball, many have considered Boise State or Wisconsin’s coaching gurus to be the focus of the search, and that seems to be more or less true, as the Badgers offensive coordinator Paul Chryst is supposedly the top target. But, don’t rule out the Broncos’ OC, although it sounds like he wants some of his boys (namely, his offensive line coach) to come along for the ride if he signs a contract to come to Austin.

Only time will tell, but as the college bowl season wraps up and the recruiting window opens up again leading in to Signing Day in early February, it’s due time to name some coaching talent and get them in Austin and on the road solidifying what is and could still be the #1 recruiting class in 2011.

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It’s For Real, ‘Horns Fans

It’s about time. No one ever wants to see wholesale changes in a coaching staff, especially one that has been together as long as Mack Brown’s Texas Longhorns staff. But, after the first losing season for Texas football since Brown’s arrival in 1997, it is time for some change.

Early reports indictate that several coaches have either resigned, or at a minimum told their players that they won’t be returning next season. The key departure (good or bad depending on your alliances) is offensive coordinator Greg Davis, who has been with Brown for all 13 years at Texas, not to mention his tenture at North Carolina and Tulane before coming to Austin.

In addition, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter, defensive line coach Mike Tolleson, have confirmed they are resigning, and wide receiver coach Bobby Kennedy is rumored to also be leaving the staff (although that has not yet been confirmed). That leaves a lot of holes to fill on the coaching staff, but they were all areas where the Longhorns have struggled the past 2-3 years. You can find more on the departures here, and it appears as though Mack Brown will not try to fill the positions until after the bowl season concludes. The resignations will also not be effective until August 31, 2011, when each of the coach’s contracts expire, although they could leave sooner if they are hired away by other teams.

Who are the likely candidates to fill some of those roles, you ask? Let’s pontificate, based on some rumors circulating Longhorn nation. Keep in mind, current defensive coordinator and future Texas Longhorns head coach Will Muschamp will also have some pull in hiring the new coaches, so he might help Brown and the staff dig in to SEC coaching talent as well. No doubt, with some top coaches departing, the ‘Horns will have some money to spend in the off-season to get top-notch talent.

Dana Holgorsen (Oklahoma State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach): Lead the nation’s #1 offensive juggernaut in 2010, and made a former Major League Baseball pitching prospect one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. It could be tough to grab Holgorsen, though, as he’s an in-conference coach, and Cowboys alum and millionaire Boone Pickens has plenty of money to donate to keep a winning staff together in Stillwater.

Bob Bostad (Wisconsin running game/offensive line coach): When you think of the Badger’s offense, the first thing that comes to mind is a stout running game that is based on the success of an offensive line that can run block with the best in the counry year-in and year-out. The downside is Bostad hasn’t called the plays and would have to learn on the fly or defer to another member of the current Texas offensive staff (see also: Major Applewhite). Would be a solid hire as an offensive line coach, but that might not be the type of “promotion” or long-term growth opportunity that is attractive to a successful assistant coach.

Major Applewhite (Texas running backs coach): A natural progression for Applewhite, and more the likely one of the reasons he took a demotion from previous roles to come to Texas in the first place – to be Greg Davis’ replacement. As a former quarterback, he can help groom future talent, and he’s also called the offensive plays for Rice and Alabama (under none other than Nick Saban) in previous stints. He’s young – yet experienced, more than capable, repsected by the players, has name recognition and in-roads to Texas-state talent, and it is a guarantee that he wants the job.

Mark Helfrich (Oregon offensive coordinator): As much as EyesOfTX despises all things Ducks, this might be a great hire. Helfrich has only called the plays for the “Zeroes” for two years, but their offense has been prolific during that time – and he’s got the Ducks playing in the national championship game the year after his starting quarterback transferred and his best running back went off to The League. Not bad. This one comes down to how much Nike, er…Phil Knight, er…the university is willing to pay to keep him around.

Bryan Harsin (Boise State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach): This would be an interesting hire, but might be difficult given Harsin’s a Broncos graduate. It’s hard to get talent out of Boise, as head coach Chris Petersen has a well-oiled machine under his helm. The question remains whether Boise State talent can climb up the rungs and be successful at the next level – see also: former head coach Dan Hawkins, who floundered in his attempt to translate his success in Boise to Boulder and the Universityof Colorado.

Stacy Searels (Georgia line coach): There is some history with Searels and Will Muchamp, and the SEC connection might help draw him to the Lone Star State. While Searels has seen success at Georgia in previous years, the past several years have been struggles for the Bulldogs. Is that what Brown and Muschamp want to bring to town?

We’ll see how things pan out, but expect some big changes in the next month or two.

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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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College Football: Week 6 Viewing Guide

Well, last week was once again unfortunate. So, as Longhorn fans hope for another 10-win season and a respectable bowl invitation, we can still enjoy the best games each week. Texas is mercifully off this week, but there’s plenty else to keep you entertained.

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

Settle in for some indifference! Here’s the Week 6 viewing guide.

Saturday, October 9
12:00 PM ET
Indiana at #2 Ohio State (ESPN/ESPN3D)

Ohio State is easily rolling along through their schedule. Don’t expect an upset, but this is an opportunity to see one of the best teams in the country.

3:30 PM ET
#1 Alabama at #19 South Carolina (CBS)

Alabama looks unstoppable based on the way they’ve dominated so far this season. Yet they struggled the last time they went on the road against a ranked team, needing a second half comeback to pull off the win against Arkansas two weeks ago. You can bet the Ol’ Ball Coach picked up some pointers he hopes to exploit.

Check the coverage maps to see where to find which regional game will be on in your area. The regional games this week include:

#11 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (ABC)
If you can catch it in your area, A&M facing Arkansas at Cowboy Stadium should bring back Southwest Conference memories.

#17 Michigan State at #18 Michigan (ABC/ESPN)
Michigan hosting Michigan State will finally be interesting again, especially with one of the most exciting QBs in the country under Rich Rodriguez’s tutelage.

Clemson at North Carolina (ABC/ESPN)
Once again, ACC country gets a horrible game in the mid-afternoon regional lineup.

7:30 PM ET
#8 Auburn at Kentucky (ESPN2)

Auburn is yet another SEC team that’s rolling right along and looking like a legitimate threat to Alabama’s hopes for SEC domination this season. Auburn will be looking for a little payback going to Kentucky having lost to the Wildcats at home a year ago.

#12 LSU at #14 Florida (ESPN)
Urban Meyer should have asked Nick Saban for a safe word in last week’s throttling. Either the wheels have fallen off or the Gators will be looking to make a statement against unbeaten LSU.

We also have a pair of regional games in the prime time slot:

8:00 PM ET
#23 Florida State at #13 Miami, FL (ABC)

The history in this game makes it intriguing to watch every year. This is the rivalry that brought us “Wide Right” and Jenn Sterger. Both teams are on the upswing for the first time in what seems like forever so it’s nice to finally have some meaning in it once again. If you’re east of the Rockies, this will be your game.

Southern California at #16 Stanford (ABC)
For those on the West Coast, you get the PAC-10 matchup. Both teams took their first loss last week, and the memory of the drama following last year’s Stanford win is surely fresh in everyone’s mind.

10:35 PM ET
San Jose State at #21 Nevada (ESPNU)

Your night cap game this week gives you a look at suddenly surging Nevada. Could they pose a legitimate threat to Boise State later this year? Take a look for yourself.

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

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College Football: Week 4 Viewing Guide

Last week’s viewing guide went to press too late to make it online, but it’s back and there are some great games to tune in for this weekend. The rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS rankings begin in mid-October. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games.

If you’re like Eyes Of TX, forget the countdown to Monday Night Football, you’ve been looking forward to Saturday. Now, grab a frosty mug and pour yourself an manly drink, you deserve it. Let the week 4 viewing guide lead your way. Cheers!

Thursday, September 23
#19 Miami (FL) at Pittsburgh (7:30 PM ET; ESPN)
Finally, a decent Thursday night game. Can the Hurricanes recover from the tsunami that occurred in Columbus in week 3?

Friday, September 24
#4 TCU at SMU (8:00 PM ET; ESPN)
Take this opportunity to see TCU in prime time with nothing else to distract you. And remember, there’s a frying pan on the line.

Saturday, September 25
Bowling Green at #21 Michigan (12:00 PM ET; ESPN2)
The early games this week are a little soft, but Michigan (or at least their QB) is showing promise for the first time in years.

Central Florida at Kansas State (12:30 PM ET; FSN, Comcast Sports)
Tune in to see one of Texas’ future 2010 Big 12 North opponents in K-State.

#1 Alabama at #10 Arkansas (3:30 PM ET; CBS)
This is the game of the week. Alabama has their first difficult road game in what seems like years and Arkansas has a chance to prove that they’re among the elite of SEC teams.

For the regional ABC/ESPN games below, check the coverage maps to see where you can find it in your area. Of note, Texas hosting UCLA is one of your regional matchups this week and won’t be shown in the mid- and south Atlantic regions.

UCLA at #7 Texas (3:30 PM ET; ABC/ESPN)
What could have been an annual game, is now just another good non-conference match-up. With a soggy forecast expected in Austin, the running game could be even more important to the ‘Horns success in week 4.

Eastern Michigan at #2 Ohio State (3:30 PM ET; ABC/ESPN)
Coming off a solid win against Miami, the Buckeyes get to beat down on the worst team in the MAC.

Wake Forest at Florida State (3:30 PM ET; ABC)
It’s a regional treat of two unranked ACC teams. Time for another beer.

#8 oklahoma at Cincinnati (6:00 PM ET; ESPN2)
This is ou’s final tune up before the Red River Rivalry next weekend if you care to see how they look. It’s also their first road game of the season. Cincinnati has dropped off considerably since former coach Brian Kelly jumped to Notre Dame, so don’t expect much of a fight.

#12 South Carolina at #17 Auburn (7:45 PM ET; ESPN/ESPN3D)
Both of these teams have exceeded expectations so far this season and despite their middle of the pack rankings, either team could play a huge part in determining how the SEC championship is decided. With the SEC champ as a presumptive entrant into the BCS title game, everything that happens among the big boys of that conference is important to keep an eye on.

Oregon State at #3 Boise State (8:00 PM ET; ABC)
A few weeks ago, this was a must-watch game, but now the luster has worn off of Boise State thanks to Virginia Tech’s BCS suicide. Expect the Broncos to handle the Beavers easily and try to put up a big score in the hopes of winning style points.

#22 West Virginia at #15 LSU (9:00 PM ET; ESPN2)
Due to the staggered kickoffs of the prime time games, you should be able to check in on all of them when your game of choice is on a break. This one should provide some intrigue as the night goes on, unless LSU has run away with it before half time.

#5 Oregon at Arizona State (10:30 PM ET; FSN, Comcast Sports)
Your night cap this week has the top five-ranked Ducks going on the road for their first conference game. Both of these teams have put up some big points, and ASU stuck with #11 Wisconsin last week losing by only a point on the road, so there is long-shot the Sun Devils could give Oregon a tough time in the Valley of the Sun.

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

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College Football: Week 2 Viewing Guide

Whew! The first week of the college football season has come and gone – thank you for five straight days, college football gods! – and with it, so are most of the cupcake teams that pad the schedules of the big boys early in the season. Tell the JV team to go put their summer dresses back in the closest.

That said, there were more than a few surprises in week one – Jacksonville State’s win in Oxford over a stunned Ole Miss squad (Do you think troublemaker QB transfer Jeremiah Masoli felt “robbed” in this one?), North Dakota State’s barn-burner over Turner Gill’s debut for the Jayhawks, oklahoma struggling against the Aggies of the not-Big 12 – Utah State (which always makes ‘Horns fans smile), not to mention the epic battle at FedEx Field between Boise State and Virginia Tech on Monday night.

With week two through the end of the season, fans will get more important and impactful games, and definitely more watchable contests. Let’s hope for plenty more thrilling nail biters from here on in – heck, ESPN’s deemed this weekend “Monster Saturday.” Maybe that refers to the IV drip of Monster energy drinks you’ll need to get through this week’s line-up. Yum, breakfast.

As always, the rankings listed here are from the AP poll until the BCS poll begins in mid-October. Check your local listings for channel availability, and also these coverage maps for the mid-Saturday regional games. Let’s get to it, shall we? Here is your college football week 2 viewing guide (all times Eastern):

Friday, September 10
#23 West Virginia @ Marshall (ESPN, 7:00 p.m.)
West Virginia is the only ranked team in the Big East and Marshall didn’t put up much of a fight against Ohio State last week. But, this is an in-state rivalry, and the coaches have a long history, so it’s somewhat compelling for a Friday night game.

Saturday, September 11
San Jose State @ #11 Wisconsin (ESPN, 12:00 p.m.)
Wisconsin is heavily favored and taking on San Jose State at home. Cupcakes gone, right? Maybe a game against a wheel of cheese (fitting for the state of Wisconsin) follows a cupcake; EyesOfTx isn’t even mad. Let’s face it, as one of the best in the Big 10, they’re worth keeping an eye on.

#22 Georgia @ #24 South Carolina (ESPN2, 12:00 p.m.)
This should turn out to be a more interesting matchup in this time slot. Both of these teams could be dangerous opponents to the other top teams (i.e. Alabama, Florida) in the Stuck-up Elitist Conference…er, SEC…as the conference schedule progresses.

This week’s regional games on ABC/ESPN2 are unfortunately two of the better games of the day. Check the coverage maps to see which game is on which channel in your area:

Iowa State @ #9 Iowa (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.)
The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is always intriguing and Iowa has really come on as a serious contender. But, head coach Paul Rhoads has Iowa State headed in the right direction, and they’re also one of the Longhorns’ Big 12 North opponents this year; worth scouting if you can pull your eyes away from the oklahoma-Florida State game.

#17 Florida State @ #10 Oklahoma (ABC/ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.)
In the other regional game, ou hosts Florida State and “new” coach Jimbo Fisher – can anyone remember when Bobby Bowden wasn’t the coach of the Seminoles? oklahoma QB Landry Jones was mediocre last week, who had a closer game than expected against Utah State, although RB DeMarco Murray had a field day as one of the conference’s top backs in week one. Gag. FSU, on the other hand, looked better than expected in their opener. This will be a telling game, will have BCS implications, and is definitely a must-watch.

#12 Miami (FL) @ #2 Ohio State (ESPN/ESPN3D, 3:40 p.m.)
Here’s another great game in the mid-afternoon slot. We get our first look at the Buckeyes, and Heisman-hopeful QB Tyrell Pryor, on the national stage. Both teams feature highly-touted quarterbacks, with Miami’s Jacoby Harris leading the way for the Hurricane offense. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, four players were injured in the week one against Florida A&M and won’t play in Columbus.

Wyoming @ #5 Texas (FSN, Comcast Sports, 7:00 p.m.)
Texas had a slow start against Wyoming in the altitude of the high plains last year, before taking a 3 point lead just before halftime in to a rout in the second half, but playing in Austin should be a different story. Hopefully, the Longhorns broaden the playbook, get remaining jitters and hitches out of the system, and fine tune the details in a win before starting conference play at Texas Tech next week – luckily, offensive-minded Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen’s offense is a perfect litmus test for the ‘Horns highly-ranked secondary.

More importantly than the game, however, EyesOfTX offers its condolences to the family and friends of Wyoming linebacker Ruben Narcisse who lost his life earlier this week in a car accident. Best wishes for a quick recovery to the other three Cowboys players who were hurt in the incident.

#18 Penn State @ #1 Alabama (ESPN, 7:00 p.m.)
A decent consolation if you’re not able to get the Texas game. Both teams cruised to victories last week, including Penn State’s true freshman QB debut, but both better be ready for this brutal challenge. The Crimson Tide playing at home with a bevy of veterans looks to be an easy favorite on paper (despite being without Heisman Trophy winner RB Mark Ingram, who continues to recover from knee surgery), but Penn State is a team you can never count out. Head coach Nick Saban doesn’t have an easy return to the BCS title game, as the Nittany Lions are the first of six ranked opponents Alabama faces this year.

#7 Oregon @ Tennessee (ESPN2, 7:00 p.m.)
A third top 10 team playing in this slot will get you burning up your remote. Oregon has to carry the Pac-10’s “legitimacy hopes” this year, so going on the road against an SEC team will be a barometer for the rest of their season. Is Tennessee the best SEC barometer? Probably not, but its better than Vanderbilt. Under a new head coach, the Vols aren’t the cream of the SEC crop, and they have some key injuries, but they played well last year against some of the top teams even with “crazy Lane” Kiffin as coach. Oregon, meanwhile, comes off a dismantling of New Mexico, in which their back-up running back had five TDs. At halftime. And, they return their starting RB – the “other La” – LaMichael. Let’s look for two things: 1) How well the Zeroes play away from Autzen, at a real college football stadium; and, 2) What crazy uniforms they bring to play against the always-conservative SEC.

#25 Stanford @ UCLA (ESPN, 10:30 p.m.)
The nightcap game this week is a Pac-10 showdown at the Rose Bowl. Stanford comes in with a fresh top 25 ranking to their credit, and the Bruins – expected to finish in the bottom three of the conference – reeling from an opening game loss to Kansas State (well, to Wildcats RB Daniel Thomas, really…not sure the rest of KSU’s team showed up). UCLA comes to Austin in two weeks for redemption game for the Longhorns after the never-forgettable 66-3 beat down in the late 1990s at home, so now is the time to see what the ‘Horns will be up against in a key non-conference match-up.

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

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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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