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College Football: Week 9 Viewing Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The next two Longhorn opponents.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See how Texas responds to their latest embarrassment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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College Football: Week 8 Viewing Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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College Football: Week 7 Viewing Guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Week 2 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Wyoming Cowboys

One week is in the books, and by the look of the Longhorns on the sidelines at Reliant Stadium last weekend, they couldn’t be more relieved. Unless they were the oklahoma sooners or the LSU Tigers. Texas wins handily, 34-17, but it’s not without some work to be done heading in to week two. For college football fans everywhere, it was a fun five days of college football to open up the season.

Everyone says that a team improves the most from week one to week two, and ‘Horns fans across the nation who have lambasted the team since Saturday want to see some changes. Let’s be clear, nothing was awful, and Rice was a much improved team from their 2-10 season a year ago. But, the coaches need to get the guys back in front of the tape and fix some issues before an emotionally-charged Wyoming team comes to town.

Here are some quick thoughts on the ‘Horns in week one:

QB Garrett Gilbert looked solid – no mistakes, no sacks, a few missed throws, and some lasers that NFL scouts would get excited about. He finished 14-of-23 for 172 yards, with no TDs and no INTs.

The running game isn’t quite we expected after the pre-season hype. Maybe offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to reset expectations for Longhorn nation. Starting RB Cody Johnson (15 rushes, 59 yards) looked good early, but apparently sprained an ankle on the second play of the game. Tre Newton (18 carries, 61 yards, 3 TDs) was the most productive in the red zone, and Fozzy Whittaker (9 carries, 51 yards) had the most “excitement” potential.

The offensive line blocked better for the run than they have in the past, but there are improvements to be made on blocking the back side of a running play. They didn’t give up any sacks. Continue to block downhill, boys, and finish those blocks downfield.

The secondary looked solid, but gave up some poor plays for TDs at the end of the half and the game. CB Chykie Brown looked as lost as Michael Oher staring at balloons in “The Blind Side.” Plus, they should have had two more “pick-sixes.” On a positive note, safety/nickel back Kenny Vaccaro looked ridiculous and was all over the field.

The defensive line was spectacular – they controlled the line of scrimmage and made key plays to pressure Rice’s QB all game – whether sacks or poor throws. Someone still needs to step up to fill the DT spot next to Kheeston Randall.

The player of the game was definitely LB Keenan Robinson, who tallied six total tackles, an INT, and a fumble recovery returned for a TD – good enough to be co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

Alright, enough about last week, let’s focus on head coach Dave Christensen’s Wyoming Cowboys and week two.

Texas Longhorns v. Wyoming Cowboys
6:00 p.m. CT (FSN, Comcast Sports)

Prediction:
Texas 52, Wyoming 17

Wyoming’s Keys To The Game:
Wyoming head coach, formerly of Missouri Tigers offensive coordinator fame, enters his second year in Laramie, and while his Cowboys gave Texas a run for their money for one half of football in 2009, he’ll want to bring his work-in-progress, high-powered spread offense to DKR-Memorial Stadium with an upset on his mind. Let’s face it, he’s had enough of a bashing from the ‘Horns during his days in Columbia.

Wyoming QB Austyn Carta-Samuels

To lead his spread attack, Christensen has entrusted sophomore QB Austyn Carta-Samuels (a.k.a. ACS), who saw some time in last year’s contest replacing their starter, going 7-for-12 for 68 yards. Against a sub-par Southern Utah team in week one, ACS was 26-for-32 for 319 yards, with three TDs and one INT. He’s a solid QB in that he has decent speed, a good arm, and makes good decisions – but, against a stout Texas defensive line, ACS could struggle to find time to get the ball to receivers. Expect to see him roll out to avoid pressure, and complete short passes to keep the offense on the field and producing positive yards in minimal increments.

Their top receiver is the returning David Leonard, who has the size to create plays for himself downfield – he’ll be the focus for ACS in the passing game. Wyoming typically runs an offensive scheme with four wide outs, but none of the other WRs pose a major threat – they’ll do what their asked, but nothing spectacular. The running game is even more anonymous, and given they only ran for 36 yards on 25 carries last week against a D-II team, Christensen won’t work on the team’s running game against the ‘Horns. Rather, those backs will be used for pass protection, or slip screens out of the backfield to keep the Texas linebackers honest.

On defense, they struggle – even though they have some talent on the field. They gave up 24 first downs to Southern Utah last week, including 191 yards rushing and 193 yards passing. The Cowboys defense kept their team in the game just enough to win, 28-20. The expectation is that they’ll focus on stopping Texas’ running game – like everyone else, they know Texas is keying its offense early in the season on rushing yards – and force Gilbert to throw the ball downfield and convert first downs and points.

If the Texas defense performs up-to-snuff, the Cowboys are going to have a hard time in Austin – especially in front of a home-opener crowd that has 70,000 more screaming fans than War Memorial Stadium can hold in Laramie. Rumor has it they’ve been pumping crowd noise in to their practices this week – but, perhaps that shouldn’t be their focus.


Texas’ Keys To The Game:
Keep it simple, but grow the offense. In week one, the ‘Horns looked solid. Nothing spectacular, but they went out and did their business. Head coach Mack Brown chastised the team in his post-game news conference saying they didn’t seem excited. With the youth on this team, it was probably nerves, but it’s the regular season and time to get jacked up. Not in the “get you arrested” kind of way, either.

With week two, Will Muschamp’s defense will see their first Big 12-like offense, and the secondary will be put to the test. Tackling in the open field to prevent yards after the catch will be key, and coverage schemes will be criticized from both sidelines – most importantly for Texas, keep the opposing man in front of you. Time of possession will be key for the Cowboys – they’ll want Gilbert and the Texas offense on the sidelines as much as possible to stay in the game – so the ‘Horns defense needs to force turnovers or push hard for three-and-outs. This week, Vaccaro might very well take a Wyoming receiver’s helmet home with him, if S Christian Scott doesn’t first.

Texas RB Tre Newton

On offense, the ‘Horns need to keep working on the running game – Newton is expected to get the start – and the offensive line needs to finish their blocks to spring the quicker and faster backs, including Whittaker. But, expect to see offensive coordinator Greg Davis open up the playbook with Gilbert this week, and WR Malcolm Williams to have another solid day…the spark was lit last week. If the offense can get on the field consistently and is balanced and successful the ‘Horns should be able to eclipse 200 yards rushing and 200 yards passing on the day.

All-in-all, the ‘Horns can’t look past Wyoming at the Texas Tech game…it’ll get here soon enough. Go out and handle business, have fun, continue to create chemistry on both offense and defense, and make some plays on special teams!

Hook ‘em!

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Big 12 Conference: 2010 Football Schedules

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Critical games – #9 Nebraska, #4 Texas

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


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

Critical games – #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska

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


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

Critical games – @ Washington, #4 Texas

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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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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