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Week 9 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Baylor Bears

Two straight losses at home. Offense lacking identity. Coaches and players not being held accountable. When will it change, ‘Horns? It changes this week. Coming off a loss to perennial bottom-dweller Iowa State at home has the attention of both the coaching staff and the players. They lacked energy and enthusiasm last week, and the smelling salts should have emerged for every player and coach in the Texas locker room. If you’re not cutting it, you’re moving down the depth chart or your job is on the line.

Baylor’s leading the Big 12’s South division. Yep, you read that right. Baylor. Those pesky Bears, led by none other than stud QB Robert Griffin, who’s back this season from last year’s knee injury to lead the Bears in to Austin for what they hope will be their first win since, geez, who can count that far back? Texas gets focused this week and scratches out a win. The defense plays up to its standards, and shuts down Griffin in Martinez-style fashion. The offense isn’t great, but improves enough to show some progress and eliminate mistakes.

It’s been a long week, and so EyesOfTX will defer pre-game coverage of Texas v. Baylor to our good friend and football expert Trey McLean at Co-op Gameday.

Texas Longhorns v. #25 Baylor Bears
6:00 p.m. CT (FSN)

Prediction:
Texas 24, Baylor 20

Hook ’em!

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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 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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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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Longhorns in the 2010 NBA Draft

After an exciting season, followed by a huge post-season letdown, the graduates and early departures from the Texas Longhorn men’s basketball team made a stellar showing in the 2010 NBA Draft on Thursday night. In total, 10 Big 12 basketball stars were selected in the first two rounds, with Texas leading the way with three picks.

Both Damion James and Dexter Pittman, who had reached their eligibility with the program, as well as freshman Avery Bradley, made the jump to the NBA, with each of three going in the first 32 picks of the lottery draft and two in the first round. Let’s take a look at where they ended up:

1st/#19 pick – Avery Bradley (Boston Celtics)
Fresh off a disappointing loss to the L.A. Lakers in the 2010 NBA Championship, the Celtics were in need of an infusion of youth, especially with the impending retirement of Rasheed Wallace. With Bradley, head coach Doc Rivers gets a shooting guard who believes in Rivers’ approach to defense, and with some additional time to develop his shooting game, could be a threat on both ends of the floor. Let’s face it, Bradley’s a “coach’s player” – he’ll exceed at whatever his coaches ask of him. He’ll be a nice compliment to Rajon Rondo at the point, and with his speed, can run the floor with the best of them. A nice pick for the Celts, we’ll see how early he gets playing time. ESPN’s Bill Simmons should be stoked.

1st/#24 – Damion James (Atlanta Hawks)
The ‘Hawks finally made an appearance in the playoffs last year. Most of America probably forgot Atlanta even had a basketball team, or they reminisced about the Mogsey Bogues days in the Southeast. What Atlanta gets is another strong personality and work horse in James. He’ll continue to build on a young roster with a lot of depth. With James on board, Atlanta’s defense and rebounding will improve, and let’s not forget James’ scoring prowess. This is a really nice addition for the Hawks.

2nd/#32 – Dexter Pittman (Miami Heat)
Miami had an interesting draft, and they need a lot of help. With Pittman, they’ll get a player who hasn’t even reached his full potential on the basketball court. Under head coach Pat Riley (assuming he’s back at the helm), Pittman will learn how to play as a true center and hone his game to be a defensive presence and add timely rebounding and scoring to a team lacking an identity. He’s another “coach’s player,” and Miami is in need of some roster changes to help take the pressure off of Dwayne Wade. If “Big Baby” Davis is any indication in Boston, Pittman has a chance to make an impact in the starting line-up, or coming off the bench.

Other relevant Big 12 players drafted in the first two rounds of the 2010 NBA Draft:

1st/#6 – Epke Udoh, Baylor (Golden State Warriors)
1st/#11 – Cole Aldrich, Kansas (New Orleans Hornets, traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder)
1st/#12 – Xavier Henry, Kansas (Memphis Grizzlies)
1st/#20 – James Anderson, Oklahoma State (San Antonio Spurs)
1st/#21 – Craig Brackins, Iowa State (Oklahoma City Thunder)
2nd/#47 – Keith Gallon, oklahoma (Milwaukee Bucks)
2nd/#54 – Willie Warren, oklahoma (Los Angeles Lakers)

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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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