Tag Archives: Ndamukong Suh

Week 7 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Nebraska Cornhuskers

There are positives and negatives to having a bye week. On the plus side, when you win going into a bye week, as a player you can go through the motions on the practice field while relishing a few more days rest to recover from lingering or annoying minor injuries. Be assured, Texas has had no such break these past two weeks. If EyesOfTX (and the rest of Longhorn nation) had no break from the mental anguish of the past two losses, then the ‘Horns better not have either. Here’s hoping Texas head coach Mack Brown ripped on both his players and staff behind closed doors for the past 13 days. Two losses? Back-to-back? Think the stuff of “Top Gun” lore: “Two of your snot-nosed jockeys did a fly-by on my tower at over 400 knots. I want some butts! … Dammit, that’s twice!”

Luckily for the ‘Horns, the bye week means they’ve some extra time to try and right the ship. Level their wings. Put their heads on straight. To remember they are football players for one of the most elite college programs in the game. The I-35 bubble in Austin should have a lot of blood, sweat, and even some tears after practice this week. The film room should have cots spread out across the room because players have been spending every waking hour glued to the early-season game tape to find and correct their on-field mistakes.

But, it’s deeper than that. So far this season, the seniors are showing how much they feel entitled. On the field, that’s translating to Maverick’s “crashed and burned on the first one, it wasn’t pretty” lingo. The younger guys can’t buy in to that – there is too much talent and potential among the depth chart. For the ‘Horns, it’s time to step up or turn in their pads because they’ve “lost the edge.” Just because it says “Texas” on the front of your jersey doesn’t mean you deserve to win.

Texas Longhorns v. #5 Nebraska Cornhuskers
2:30 p.m. CT (ABC/ESPN)

Prediction:
Texas 13, Nebraska 45

There is one thing on Nebraska’s mind this week – redemption. December 5, 2009. Just like Texas needed one second back in the upset in Lubbock in 2008, the ‘Huskers want one second back from last year’s Big 12 Championship game. December 5, 2009. There will be no mercy rule, Nebraska is squarely set on putting the wood to Texas on Saturday in Lincoln, the teams’ final Big 12 regular season match-up. December 5, 2009. Make no mistake, this game has been circled on head coach Bo Pelini’s calendar since … December 5, 2009.

Even Nebraska’s marketing department was behind an off-season shot at the Texas game (and later changed) to get Husker fans excited for the upcoming season – called “Red Out Around The World.” Their mantra (and doesn’t this sound kind of familiar): “Come early. Be Loud. Wear Red. (Beat Texas).” They’ve sold out of t-shirts at the bookstore bearing the saying: “All my ex’s live in Texas: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri.” The date “10-16-2010” is plastered all over campus. Don’t become ou fans, Huskers…it’s not a good look for you.

Nebraska’s Keys To The Game:
His name is Taylor Martinez. His name is Taylor Martinez. His name is Taylor Martinez. Seriously, Tyler Durden probably knows this kid by now. The barely-past-puberty Martinez leads Nebraska at QB in 2010, and brings the word “amazing” to an offense that was anything but in 2009. With the same basic role players on offense, the infusion of Martinez has helped transform what was a horrific scoring attack last year to one of the best in all of college football this year. Jake Locker, eat your heart out. As a redshirt freshman, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. might have just moved Martinez past Locker on his draft board.

Everyone knows Pelini is a defensive-minded coach, and since his return to Nebraska, he’s shown his ability to craft a defensive juggernaut – even giving the “Blackshirts” nickname back to this year’s squad. But, Martinez is the knight in shining armor for the ‘Huskers 2010 BCS run, running the zone read to perfection. He’s mobile. He’s fast. REALLY fast. Think Looney Tunes’ roadrunner. Get this: the kid is five games in to the season, and he’s already accumulated 737 yards rushing, on 10.8 yards per carry, for 12 TDs. Those are RB stats, folks. A really, really good RB. Passing? Only three TDs. You get the idea. Let’s hope Martinez doesn’t leave Will Muschamp’s Texas defense looking like Wile E. Coyote.

Unfortunately, Martinez isn’t the only rushing threat. RBs Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead flank Martinez in the backfield, and are more than capable of providing the power running attack as opposed to Martinez’s sideline-to-sideline flair. Is this bringing back UCLA nightmares yet? It should. On the outside, Martinez has the option to throw to several talented and big wide receivers – namely Niles Paul, Mike McNeill and Brandon Kinnie – but quite honestly, he just doesn’t need to. He’s only thrown for 660 yards on the season with three TDs and three INTs. Will they pass? Yes. Do they think they need to? Probably not. Most impressive is that Nebraska’s offense is built around a very inexperienced offensive line, with three new starters in 2010. Maybe Texas’ Mac McWhorter could take some lessons on how to transform on-paper talent to on-field production? The line has given up seven sacks on the season, and with Texas’ stacked defensive line, the Big Red will have their hands full maintaining their gaps and creating running lanes for Martinez, Helu, Jr. and Burkhead.

This year’s “Suh” in Lincoln is none other than Suh’s cohort in the trenches last year, defensive tackle Jared Crick. He has 23 tackles and 2.5 sacks on the season, and with opponents focused on protecting against Crick, the rest of the defensive line has opportunities to shine in opponent’s backfields. Ironically, the line isn’t their strength – the ‘Huskers bring the #1 pass defense in the country. You’d have to utilize your abacus to add up the number of interceptions they have on the year. With Texas’ lack of a running game, expect Pelini to pressure and contain any semblance of a running game with his front four and have his secondary focus on dropping back in to coverage to track down balls a la Willie Mays.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
Good news. Texas got their butts chewed during the bye week. Bad news. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis is probably sitting up in the press box drawing up a “revised” version of the bubble screen to a different running back or wide receiver. Good news. RB DJ Monroe has used the bye week to “learn the playbook.” OK, maybe not, but he’s getting the call to start in the backfield again this week. Bad news. No matter how well the offense plays on Saturday in Lincoln, Texas won’t win Saturday without a big performance by the defense.

Offensively, this game lies in the hands of the Texas offensive line. Nebraska is prone to giving up rushing yards (well, at least more than they do through the air). If the o-line can give QB Garrett Gilbert time in the pocket, provide running lanes for the speedy Monroe, and the wide receivers can run routes beyond the first down markers, Texas does indeed have a shot. It hasn’t happened yet this season, but they’ve had their poor performances to-date rubbed in their face for too many weeks now. It’s time to change. It’s time to define the offense…on the field…on a Saturday. With freshman WR Mike Davis back in the line-up, Texas can take some shots down the field and change the dynamic of the game with big plays and open up the field for the…gasp…running game.

Defensively, Muschamps’ boys have their hands full with Nebraska’s three-pronged running attack. But, like any good football coach will tell you, even “Coach’s” Hayden Fox, beating a running team is all about playing assignment football. It’s about maintaing your gaps in the trenches, and utilizing your linebackers and secondary to clean up the mess. It’s about not making mistakes. It’s about making sure tackles. It’s beating Martinez to the corner with the right angles. It’s about stripping the ball and winning the turnover battle, and the ‘Huskers have put the ball on the ground 18 this year, so it’s possible. Nebraska will get their yards on the ground, but this defense has shown glimpses of being an elite unit. They’ll need every piece of that talent and pride to win in Lincoln.

Texas will also have to overcome a strong Nebraska kicking game, as the ‘Huskers will use every opportunity to pin Texas deep with punter Alex Henery and make Gilbert and company drive the length of the field, which has been a consistent problem this season. The ‘Horns have to eliminate the mistakes in special teams. Expect to see new kick and punt returners, and with a swift kick in the pants, a different attitude to bring some momentum to the Texas sidelines. It’s going to be chaotic and red in Lincoln, but Texas has a long-shot chance at avoiding a .500 start to the 2010 season and redeeming themselves in the eyes of college football’s elite.

Hook ‘em!

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It’s Official: Heisman Trophy Finalists

Just days after the conference championships were decided, the Heisman Trophy committee has announced the finalists for this year’s award. This is the first time since 2004, when USC’s Matt Leinart won the award, that five players have been invited to New York City for the ceremony. The award will be given in a ceremony in NYC on Saturday, December 12, and will be broadcast live at 8:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Right now, based on media coverage of the conference championship games and ensuing BCS bowl game announcements, it would appear as though Alabama RB Mark Ingram would be the leading candidate for the award following his stellar performance against Florida on Saturday. He is followed closely by Stanford RB Toby Gerhart, as well as Texas QB Colt McCoy, who all but blew his chances in front of a national television audience as he attempted to lock up the award Saturday night. To round out the five finalists, Florida QB Tim Tebow and Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh will give chase and should be long-shots to win this year’s award.

Let’s review some highlights from each of these finalists’ seasons:

Alabama’s Mark Ingram
249 carries for 1,542 yards rushing (6.2 yards per carry) and 15 TDs; 30 catches for 322 yards and 3 TDs

Stanford’s Toby Gerhert
311 carries for 1,736 yards and 26 TDs; 10 catches for 149 yards and 0 TDs

Texas’ Colt McCoy
3,512 yards passing and 27 TDs (12 INTs), good for a 70.5% completion rate; 128 carries for 348 yards rushing and 3 TDs; winningest college QB of all time

This one game says enough about McCoy to summarize the season…

Florida’s Tim Tebow
2,413 yards passing for 18 TDs (5 INTs), good for 65.2% completion rate; 203 carries for 859 yards rushing and 13 TDs

Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh
82 tackles (47 solo), 12 sacks, 1 INT, 10 passes deflected

By far, the Big 12 Championship game against #3 Texas was Suh’s highlight reel for 2009 – 12 total tackles (10 solo) and 4 sacks.

Honestly, so long as former ou RB Billy Sims isn’t on stage yelling “boomer! sooner!” as he did in 2008 when ou QB Sam Bradford won the award, the college football nation should be content with the voter’s decision. As for Eyes Of TX, let’s take a look at the predictions:

Eyes Of TX’s 2009 Heisman Trophy Prediction:
1. Alabama RB Mark Ingram
2. Texas QB Colt McCoy
3. Stanford RB Toby Gerhart
4. Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh
5. Florida QB Tim Tebow

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Saturday in Arlington: What went right, wrong?

With a national title berth on the line, Saturday night’s contest for the Big 12 Championship between the Texas Longhorns and Nebraska Cornhuskers was a game for the ages. While Texas QB Colt McCoy probably lost the Heisman Trophy with his performance, McCoy got his team’s wish of delivering on the chance to play for the national championship in Pasadena leading the ‘Horns to a 13-12 victory. Let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong for both squads on Saturday night in Arlington.

Texas Longhorns
What went right?
Well, not much, really. While the Nebraska defense was superb, Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and his squad’s effort should not be overshadowed. In a game where the Texas offense couldn’t stay on the field, the defense was asked to step up and keep the game within reach and they did. The defense gave up only 106 yards offensively to Nebraska – 39 passing and 67 rushing – and yielded only five first downs the entire game while tallying three turnovers.

The kicking game – and we’re talking the field goal unit only – was the star of the night. Senior kicker Hunter Lawrence was the epitomy of calm on Saturday night, as he was 2-for-2, including his game-winning 46-yard field goal as time expired.

What went wrong?
The Texas offense was absolutely pathetic. In large part, Nebraska’s defense is to blame – they played fantastic across the front four and in to the secondary – as they pressured McCoy all night, and locked down every receiver Texas threw at them. If Texas was going to play Alabama for the national title, the Nebraska defense gave them the best preparation they could ask for, and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban will bring a similar defensive attack in Pasadena. As mentioned, with only 184 yards passing on 20-of-36 attempts and three INTs, McCoy did everything he could to potentially lose the Heisman Trophy race. As expected, the running game was also dominated by the Nebraska front four, gaining only 18 total yards (keeping in mind McCoy’s sacks contribute to that total). All told, the Texas offense gained only 202 yards of offense and 17 first downs on the night. Pure and simple, the offensive line played like a pee-wee team against one of the best defensive tackles in college football. Period.

Special teams continues to be a concern for the Longhorns as well. While there were no game-changing plays in the kicking game, they were far from perfect, as they gave up a big return late in the game that if not for Nebraska’s anemic offense, could have spelled trouble. Combine that with the partially blocked punt, and this group needs to get their edge back. Saturday’s game marks three games in a row where the specials have looked anything but, and it will need to get fixed before the national championship.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
What went right?
Obviously, the defense was phenomenal. The unit racked up nine sacks on the night, with 4.5 from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh alone, and they held Texas to well under their season average in points and yards. More impressive, perhaps, was the effort from their secondary, which covered everything underneath and gave McCoy no where to throw when he was under pressure. They also kept Texas off the field with three key INTs, two of which were more on the receivers than McCoy, but eliminated Texas from getting any rhythm on offense. Despite the loss, the defense earned back the “Blackshirts” mantra of Cornhusker lore on Saturday night.

What went wrong?
The offense. If Texas’ offense was pathetic, the only word to describe the Nebraska offense is inept. Here again, the Texas defense played a large role in inhibiting the Cornhuskers to put up any points, but when your offense is geared to the run, and that is the Texas defense’s strength, you’ve got to try some different things offensively. The Cornhuskers’ offense managed only 1.93 yards per snap, and their stout running game had no back carry the ball more than seven yards on a single carry. Yikes. Early on, the Huskers tried to use play-action to tee up the long pass, but the Texas defensive backs came up with two big INTs when QB Zac Lee looked downfield. Lee can play better, but his Saturday night should leave all Big Red fans wondering his future at the position.

Moving Forward
In the end, a highly-desired BCS controversy was averted, and TCU and Cincinnati can sit back and think back to just how close they came to making their run for a national championship. Early BCS projections (although the final announcements will come 5:00p PT on Sunday) have Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl facing Florida, while TCU and Boise State would match-up in the Fiesta Bowl, the first time a BCS bowl outside of the national championship game would host two undefeated teams. To round it out, Iowa (most likely) or Penn State would play Georgia Tech (ACC champ) in the Orange Bowl, and Oregon (Pac-10 champ) and Ohio State (Big 10 champ) will play for the Roses in Pasadena.

In the coming weeks, post-season awards will be won and lost, and bowl games will decide the fate of many schools 2009-2010 seasons. Come late Saturday night, however, McCoy and his team won the best post-season award of all – the Big 12 Championship and a chance to play for the national title.

Hook ‘em!

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Game Preview: Big 12 Championship – Texas Longhorns v. Nebraska Cornhuskers

December 5, 2009
7:00 p.m. Central
ABC

Texas’ 2009 “fourth season” is about to come to close exactly where the team wanted to be – in the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington on Saturday night. Head coach Mack Brown’s mantra this season has been “one game at a time” and focusing on splitting up the season in to four, three-game chunks to keep the team moving forward and delivering on their goal of reaching the conference and national championships. Check.

Last week, Texas showed some weaknesses – in particular, on the defensive side of the ball – and luckily, the offense and Mr. Heisman-hopeful carried the ‘Horns to a hard-fought victory in College Station. Things need to improve this week in order for the ‘Horns to tackle what might be their second-toughest opponent on paper in the Big 12. Don’t think the team isn’t locked on this game, though – if you saw or heard defensive coordinator Will Muschamp after the A&M game, you know the ‘Horns will have their act together defensively come Saturday night. Offensively, QB Colt McCoy has one last game to make his case for the Heisman Trophy in the two-horse race against Florida QB and the media-generated God-like figure Tim Tebow.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 38, Nebraska 17

Nebraska Cornhuskers (9-3)
At the beginning of the season, Eyes Of TX predicted Nebraska would win the Big 12’s North Division. In hindsight, it was surprising who they were competing with for that title, and how close it really was down the home stretch. At 9-3 on the season, the Cornhuskers started the season inconsistently, but in the last five games, they’ve shown that they deserve their spot in Arlington on Saturday to play for the conference championship.

Don’t let Bo Pelini’s squad fool you – they worked hard and earned this game with Texas. Their three losses – to Virginia Tech, Iowa State, and Texas Tech – were all different in their own right. Visiting the Hokies, they had a chance to win in the closing minutes and fell just short. Playing Iowa State at home, they had one of the most disastrous games a college football fan has ever seen (with eight turnovers), and they still only lost 9-7. Against Tech, well, anything is possible with this Red Raiders team this year, and the Cornhuskers caught them on a good week of football. Net-net, Pelini will not let his defensive-minded team roll over for this game. They will be amped up, ready to play against the odds, and potentially upset the ‘Horns the same way the James Brown-led Texas team did in the inaugural Big 12 Championship game in 1996 (when they were also three TD underdogs).

The mediocre Nebraska offense is based on and led by the running game, and we’ll start there. The Huskers bring two stud running backs to attack the stout Texas run defense in Roy Helu, Jr. and Rex Burkhead. Helu, at a solid 6’2” 215-pounds, is the lead back who is an inside threat with the speed to occasionally break runs to and up the sidelines. He’s tallied more than 1,100 yards rushing on the year, and many of those yards have come after contact, while his 5.4/yards per carry average has led him to 10 TDs on the season. He can also be an outlet for the Nebraska QBs, as he’s also caught passes for more than 149 yards on the season. Generally, however, you can expect to see his touches coming primarily in the I-formation with his feet attacking the Texas defense north-south. The Huskers second running threat is 5’11” 200-pound freshman Burkhead. Burkhead is the speed back, and he’s been successful in the offensive scheme running and catching the ball as a supplement to Helu’s grunt work in the inside. The Cornhusker’s success – both running and throwing the ball – lies directly on these two backs.

If Nebraska is smart, they keep the ball in the hands of the backs, and allow their QBs Zac Lee and Cody Green to supplement their efforts while eliminating mistakes from the playcallers. There has been some back-and-forth at the QB position this season, but Lee’s managed to maintain the starting job, and he is the more adept passing threat. Lee has completed 60 percent of his passes for 1,931 yards and 13 TDs, although he’s thrown seven INTs, and has been under the microscope all season. Let’s be honest, his role on Saturday will be to help control the clock, hand the ball of to his stable of backs, make timely throws, and keep the Texas offense off the field. After the A&M game, the positive for the Texas defense is that they can count on Lee always being in the pocket to throw the ball as his running ability is limited – especially after an injury to his ankle/knee last week against Colorado. He’s accounted for less than 100 yards rushing this year, and has no rushing TDs to his credit – in other words, Nebraska let those position players do the work, and they do it well. If the Huskers do decide to run the option, they will use Green, who is more of a dual-threat QB using his feet to move the chains. As alluded to above, Lee is the better passer, as Green has only completed 56 percent of his passes on the season, so Texas can expect to see Green primarily coming in to the game for rushing plays. On Saturday, Nebraska’s passing threat will completely be dependent on the rushing attack, as they are most efficient when they get opposing defenses to bite on play-action.

The wide receivers for Nebraska are solid, but not spectacular – and, they don’t have to be in Pelini’s offensive scheme. Their leading receiver is Niles Paul, who at 6’1” 215-pounds is a sizable target for Lee or Green downfield. He leads the team with 649 yards receiving, while scoring three TDs. The bigger threat, especially in a play-action offense, is the tight end and the Huskers have a good one in 6’4” 240-pound Mike McNeill. While he’s the third leading receiver on the team with 237 yards receiving on the year, he is their red zone threat, with a team-leading four TD catches. There are other playmakers, but those two will be the keys for the Texas secondary. It will be important for the ‘Horns to chip block McNeill at the line of scrimmage on play-action, and the safeties to key on him downfield, to throw off the timing of the legitimate QB-TE tandem.

The Nebraska offensive line doesn’t have any big names to shout about, but they do their job by creating a huge push off the line of scrimmage and creating running lanes for the backs to work their way downfield. Led by center Jacob Hickman, the line will need to create holes for the running game, and give Lee time to throw in the pocket on passing downs, and play-action plays could help slow the Texas pressure. While solid, they do give up 1.5 sacks/game, and expect Muschamp to dial up pressure when Nebraska is forced to throw.

Overall, the Huskers’ offense ranks mid-pack in the NCAA, and is 92nd in total offense with 334 yards per game, good for only 11th-best in the Big 12. They take a further step backward in pass offense, ranking 93rd nationally. But, in scoring offense (72nd) and rushing offense (64th), they show off some of their strengths. While not mind-blowing offense statistics, when their defense is holding opposing offenses to well under their season-averages, the offense just has to be good enough, and they’ve proved they are capable by winning nine games on the year.

The defense is the strength of this 2009 Nebraska team, hands-down, and they are led by Eyes Of TX’s Heisman candidate in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The future NFL first-rounder (and potential top pick) is the kind of all-around tackle that controls the line of scrimmage, scares the daylights out of QBs and RBs, and is legitimately a one-man show on the defensive side of the ball. Check out this stat line (and remember he’s doing all of this at nearly 300 pounds): 70 tackles, 7.5 sacks, 10 passes deflected, 17 quarterback pressures, a fumble recovery and an interception. Whoa. The Texas offensive line should be worried about just Suh, but because of his abilities, the rest of the defensive line benefits as well. Suh’s sidekick on the line is Jared Crick, who has contributed 65 tackles and leads the team with nine sacks. Between Suh and Crick, this will be the toughest inside match-up for the ‘Horns offense this season outside of oklahoma. The defensive ends aren’t anything to shake a stick at either, although they provide more run support than pass rush, tallying six sacks and 16 tackles for a loss this season. It will take a legitimate group effort from the ‘Horns offensive line to keep the Nebraska front four at bay.

The linebackers, like the secondary, are dependent on the front four being productive and disrupting opposing offenses. When the offensive line isn’t getting to the second level, the linebackers are great at cleaning up and taking advantage of the gaps to get in to the backfield to create momentum-killing tackles for a loss. They also have the ability to cover sideline-to-sideline, although Texas’ speed should prove overwhelming over four quarters. The secondary is more than capable of making McCoy make more than one read in the pocket. In particular, safety Matt O’Hanlon has the ability to watch the QBs eyes and make big plays down the field to get the Nebraska offense off the sidelines. Overall, the Huskers secondary has snagged 16 INTs on the year, and O’Hanlon has five. Pelini also likes to use his corners and safeties to bring additional pressure, and it’s fair to say, McCoy and the Texas running back corps will see some looks they haven’t seen all season long. Picking up the blitz and blocking downfield will be paramount to helping the Texas offense break some plays open.

The Nebraska specials have the benefit of Alex Henery, a kicker with a leg developed by some branch of the military for all intents and purposes. He is 16-of-20 on field goals this season while not missing any extra points, and as a punter, he averages 42.3 yards per kick. The way Texas has played on special teams, Henery’s leg could pose field position problems all day long. The Huskers kick coverage is mediocre on both punts and kick-offs, so there is some potential for Texas to take advantage, especially if Jordan Shipley and Marquise Goodwin can hit some holes.

#3 Texas Longhorns (12-0)
For the ‘Horns, it’s time to go out and take what is rightfully theirs. They’ve fought through adversity all year long – sickness, injuries, lapses in the offense and defense – and they are still in a position to go undefeated and play in the national championship game in January. The focus needs to be Nebraska this week – no looking ahead – because Pelini’s team will be ready to spring the upset and earn a BCS trip they feel they deserve.

On offense, the key is the offensive line. Nebraska’s defensive line will give the ‘Horns trouble all game long, and the smallest lapse or hesitation will give the Huskers the opportunity to capitalize. If the offensive line can drive off the ball, and Greg Davis can keep the defense guessing (in other words, throwing downfield and giving up on the bubble screen already), then Texas has a shot both running and throwing the ball. While all Texas fans want McCoy to stay healthy and avoid big hits, his production in the running game was critical in last week’s win and could prove valuable again this week if the Nebraska defense over-pursues in pass rush or the defensive ends crash down on the zone read. With the emergence of WR Malcolm Williams in addition to Shipley, the Huskers will have to commit to eyeing them. That opens the door for James Kirkendoll and TE Dan Buckner to get their opportunities. Nebraska will look to control the clock and keep McCoy and the offense on the sidelines, so when they get their chance, they’ll have to make the most of it.

The defense needs to come in with a chip on their shoulder, and they will if Muschamp has anything to say about it. They were absolutely embarrassed in College Station, although the Aggies top-10 offense is nothing to ignore when looking at the stats. Missed tackles and coverage assignments were prevalent last week, and in order for the ‘Horns to stifle the Nebraska offense, things need to get fixed…fast. The good thing is, those starters know it – and they’re a proud bunch who wants to go back out and prove that they just as stout as Pelini’s squad. The play of the defensive line will be key in stopping the run, and the secondary will need to play up in run support, while not being fooled with play-action passes. If the line can keep the linebackers clean, expect Rod Muckelroy and Keenan Robinson to have big stat days. Keep your heads, and make sure tackles. Gang tackle, as they say, especially against Helu, who is a big back that keeps his legs churning through the interior of the line.

This is Texas’ game to lose. If they game plan correctly, the offense can have a hey-day in Arlington on Saturday. If the offensive line doesn’t play up to snuff – and Suh and Crick will make plays – it will be a long day for McCoy and the pass-happy Texas offense. The special teams has had three horrible weeks in a row, and they need to figure out how to tackle all over again to be effective. Get it fixed. This is the shot the ‘Horns have wanted for 365 days. No asterisks. Make it happen, and Texas fans will be enjoying the sun in Pasadena in January.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 Nebraska Cornhuskers Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts

Hook ‘em!

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An Assortment of College Sports Updates

We’re more than halfway through the fall, which means football and volleyball are nearing their end and basketball is more than on the horizon. Let’s take a look at some headlines across the Big 12 and state of Texas college sports.

RB Darrell Scott Transfers From Colorado
After being the top running back recruit in the class of 2008, Darrell Scott chose to attend Colorado over Texas, following his cousin to Boulder with the hopes of bringing Colorado back in to the national discussion. After disappointment throughout his college tenure (much of that due to injuries), Scott is expected to transfer to UCLA, and back to his southern California roots. Once again, he’ll be following his cousin, who transferred to UCLA the year after Scott got to Colorado. Did CU “buy-off” Scott during recruitment process by using his family members as the bait? Hm, brings up some interesting recruiting tactic questions, doesn’t it? Eyes Of TX is happy Scott has stayed far from Austin, or on the sidelines during the ‘Horns football games against the ‘Buffs.

#2 Texas Volleyball Loses to #8 Iowa State, But Rebounds Strong
After dropping only six games in 21 matches this season, the #2 Texas volleyball team had their first slip-up of the season, losing to Iowa State three games-to-two in early November. Despite the loss, the ‘Horns have rebounded for two more match wins, despite dropping another game against Texas Tech at home (the first game they’ve dropped at home all season). If the ‘Horns continue their strong play, they are legitimate contenders to face #1 Penn State in the post-season.

College Football Awards Watch
Heisman Trophy
The race for the best player in college football is once again dominated by offensive players. Some players – like Florida QB Tim Tebow and Texas QB Colt McCoy – were expected to be in the 2009 discussion, but others have surprised the football legions over the course of the season. Other top contenders for this year’s award include Alabama RB Mark Ingram, Houston QB Case Keenum, Clemson RB C.J. Spiller, and Boise State QB Kellen Moore. If Ingram continues his pace, he should be a lock for this year’s award, although since votes don’t have to be cast until after the conference championship games, Tebow, McCoy, and Ingram could give voters a final look in those games Dec. 5 weekend.

Biletnikoff Award
This should be a lock for Texas WR Jordan Shipley, honestly. The award, given to college football’s top wide receiver, is loaded with tier-two talent, but Shipley has already eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving on the year, and with 20 more catches could set the Texas single-season record for receptions. Another Big 12 nominee is Kansas WR Dezmond Briscoe, but with the Jayhawks mid-season debacle, he seems to be a long-shot to be this year’s award winner.

Wuerffel Award
The Wuerffel Award, given annually to a college football who displays exemplary community service, combined with academic and athletic success, will be awarded in February 2010. Texas WR Jordan Shipley is the only Big 12 representative, among 12 finalists.

Lombardi Award
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, and TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes were named as three of four finalists for the Lombardi Trophy, given to the country’s best lineman – on offense or defense. The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 9. Surprisingly, most of the award winners in its history have come from the Big 12 Conference (or previously the Big 8 or Southwest Conferences).

Thorpe Award
Oklahoma State cornerback Perrish Cox, Texas safety Earl Thomas, and Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey have all been named as semifinalists for the Thorpe Award, given to the country’s top defensive back. The Big 12 and SEC both have three semifinalists up for the award this year. The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 10.

Lott Trophy
Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Texas defensive end Sam Acho, and TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes are among eight semifinalists for the Lott Trophy, given to the country’s best defensive impact player based on athletic performance and personal character. The award finalists will be announced Nov. 24, and the winner announced on Dec. 13. Of note, a Big 12 player has never won the award in its five-year history.

Texas Safety Christian Scott Bowl Game Eligible?
There is speculation that Texas safety Christian Scott, who was suspended by the NCAA this fall for lack of progress against his degree, may become eligible for the ‘Horns bowl game in January. Head coach Mack Brown said he has been discussing the case with the NCAA, and if Scott does well academically this semester, it is a long-shot possibility he could play – although he confirmed it was a unique circumstance for the NCAA to consider. Scott has continued to practice with the team, and he was battling with starting safety Blake Gideon in fall camp, so his services could be helpful in the post-season.

More ou Football Injuries
The rash of season-ending injuries for the oklahoma sooners football continues, as three more starters will be out for the season. Players affected by the injuries include offensive lineman Brody Eldridge (neck), defensive end Auston English (ankle tendon), and offensive tackle Jarvis Jones (fractured heel). English is expected to have surgery in the near-term. With the season-ending injuries to quarterback Sam Bradford and tight end Jermaine Gresham, ou has been hampered throughout the season, although they remain one game shy of becoming bowl eligible.

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NCAA Football: Week 6 Viewing Guide

NCAA FootballAre we really already halfway through the season? It’s week six in the college football season, and this is when things get interesting as conference play is in full effect and the national rankings have begun to sort themselves out. Of course, “now things get interesting” only relates if you’re not a Big 12 Conference fan.

There are a great set of games to check in on this weekend, so here’s your week six NCAA football viewing guide.

Thursday
#21 Nebraska 27 at #24 Missouri 12
If you missed this game on Thursday night, here’s a quick recap – a near-tsunami came through Columbia, Missouri, on Thursday night and it wasn’t either team’s offense for the first three quarters. Special teams mistakes and the punting game were the outcomes of heavy rain, but in the fourth quarter, Nebraska found some magic and scored three TDs in just over 3 minutes to seal the victory. As Eyes Of TX expected, this puts Nebraska and Kansas in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 North title. If you haven’t been watching Nebraska, you should begin thinking about defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh as a Heisman Trophy candidate – he is unbelievable.

Saturday
12:00 PM ET
#17 Auburn at Arkansas, ESPN
Auburn has entered the top 25 with a 5-0 record. Arkansas isn’t likely to stand in their way to a rise up the rankings, but Ryan Mallett – whether he sticks with football or pursues a Major League Baseball career – has the potential to keep the ‘Hogs close. This is a nice way to kick off a great afternoon and see what’s going on in the SEC.

3:30 PM ET
#3 Alabama at #20 Mississippi, CBS
Alabama has been gaining ground on Texas in the polls and Ole Miss was positioned in the top 5 only a few short weeks ago before being exposed at South Carolina. The Rebels could redeem themselves with a victory at home, or the Tide could make a case for themselves as the best team in the country. Either way, this is must watch.

Wisconsin at #9 Ohio State, ABC/ESPN
ABC has a quad-fecta of regional games Saturday afternoon so check your listings for what’s available to you. Wisconsin enters this game unbeaten and unranked, sitting at the top of the Big 10 standings – yet they are still unranked. That is hard to fathom given Washington was ranked earlier this season, but we digress. Tyrelle Pryor has the potential to use his legs to win this one for State, then again, everyone has been saying Pryor can run and Eyes Of TX has yet to see it on display. Maybe Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to come to town and breathe some life in to the Ohio State offense. It will be interesting to see what both of these teams are made of this week.

#13 Oregon at UCLA, ABC
Oregon still has a lot to prove after their opening week loss to now #6 Boise State, but could make a case for themselves as the best team in the Pac-10. They’ve looked solid the past few weeks, including a beat-down of then-#6 California,and their quarterback could be back from this match-up. Neuheisal’s already got bets on the outcome of this game, from what we hear.

Baylor at #19 oklahoma, ABC
ou is floundering, and Baylor has never beaten the sooners, but there’s no time like the present. After the close loss to Miami last week, the sooners desperately need a win in their final lead up to the Red River Shootout, but Baylor hasn’t had a team as likely to pull off an upset of a top 25 team in a long time. Unfortunately, that Baylor team had a healthy Robert Griffin, and he’s out for the season. ou quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to start his first game since the week one injury, so we’ll see how his recovery has gone over the course of the game.

UConn at Pittsburgh, ABC/ESPN
This game rounds out the four top for ABC and doesn’t add much to the conversation, but the game is on TV whether you like it or not, so you might as well be aware. If anything, it’s a good opportunity to get a chuckle at Pittsburgh head coach Dave Wannstedt’s moustache.

7:15 PM ET
Colorado at #2 Texas, ESPN
Hopefully, Texas isn’t looking ahead to ou weekend in Dallas. The ‘Horns should be able to put this away early, as Colorado continues to struggle through a four quarter game. Coach Dan Hawkins club just can’t seem to get it together, and with the ‘Horns bye week and the offense hitting its stride against UTEP, this is another scary match-up for the ‘Buffs. On a positive note, if this game gets out of hand early, it allows us all to check out what’s happening in Baton Rouge.

8:00 PM ET
#1 Florida at #4 LSU, CBS
CBS has the game of the week with this top 5 showdown. The storylines for this game don’t need repeating here, this week is all about what takes place in Death Valley. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has been dealing with the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered against Kentucky, and his play tonight is a game-time decision. If Tebow sits this one out, Eyes Of TX believes there is a huge opportunity for an upset.

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