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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Texas Football 2016: The Notre Dame Game 

Week One: Texas (0-0) v. Notre Dame (0-0, #10 AP)
Last Meeting: Notre Dame 38, Texas 3 (2015, @ South Bend, IN)
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads, 9-2
Line: Notre Dame -3.5

Here we are, on the first day of September, veering into the unknown of a new football season. In three days Texas plays host to the storied Notre Dame Fighting Irish, one of the few programs that can claim equal footing with - and in some aspects, even eclipse - the clout and winning tradition that the Longhorns hold amidst the college football elite. These two titans, these icons, will go head to head in front of 100K+ fans.

And I have no idea what to think. Better yet, I don't exactly know where to start thinking. Year Three of the Charlie Strong Era sets off in prime time on ABC against a top-ten team that whipped Texas' ass a year ago, with Strong on a seat that's hotter than an asphalt black top in the searing Texas sun, and the story lines abound.

Let's see how many we can think of in 10 seconds...
That may have taken 12 seconds.

For the record, I think: no matter who starts we'll see Buechele emerge as "the" guy;  Gilbert's offense may take time to sync but it will be miles beyond the boring, sputtering mess of the past few years;  Malik is not yet Derrick Johnson but damn is he fun to watch; if they stay healthy this O-Line could develop into something special;  #teamforeman; and last, but not least, for the love of God please put Bevo back in a prominent place, stop running that awful "I got my game on" video, and please tell Bob Cole to quit with the goofy promo where he calls Bevo "the big guy (or just get rid of Cole altogether).

Keys to Victory

C'mon, if you've read this column in the last ten years (granted that includes the almost-eight years since I last wrote it) you'd know I don't cover X's and O's. Sure, I like to think I possess a high football acumen from my days in the trenches as a Travis Middle School Mustang, but I save the breakdowns for the pros. You can't go wrong with the fellas over at Barking Carnival, and if you haven't read their 2016 version of Thinking Texas Football, then hurry up, finish this column, and go purchase it post haste.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

I don't remember how hot it felt at DKR that day, but I remember feeling drained when time expired. Emotionally drained, mostly, but physically drained as well. So I guess it was your typical September Saturday afternoon in Texas - hot, muggy, and in this case, intense. What else would you expect from a match-up between two top ten college football powers? No. 9 Notre Dame. No. 6 Texas. Texas-sized hype and Texas-sized expectations. Big. Time. College Football.

What do I remember most? Music.

Texas legend Willie Nelson started the day with the Star Spangled Banner, and a few hours later, mere moments after a Notre Dame field goal split the uprights on the game's final play, handing Notre Dame a 27-24 come-from-behind win, that damn song interrupted the silence at DKR.


You're killing me, Aretha.

I vaguely remember the kick. I sort of remember Mark Shultis' shanking the punt that set up the winning Irish drive. I definitely remember the Bryant Westbrook demolishing Notre Dame FB Randy Kinder.

But mostly I remember wincing and slunking in the portable south end zone bleachers, thinking about what might have been. And then hearing the Queen of Soul belt out her most famous ditty.

A little respect oh yeah (just a little bit)
A little respect (just a little bit)
I get tired (just a little bit)
Keep on tryin' (just a little bit) 

 I don't know that the Longhorns earned respect that afternoon. They came up short. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory - a theme throughout that strange season. And it was tiring to watch. But they did keep on trying (you know what happened that December).

I still can't hear that song without thinking of the 1996 Texas-Notre Dame game. And I still can't believe we lost. But should Texas "shock the world" on Saturday, I know damn well what I want to hear blaring from Godzillatron.

They Said What?

“This is Notre Dame and Texas, two of the top programs in the history of college football. I think it’s going to be a sellout crowd. One thing I’m going to ask our fans to do is not sell their ticket to Notre Dame. It’s the hottest ticket out there. I know they can make a lot of money, but this is Texas. It’s oil. It’s cattle. So why would you sell your tickets? Go out and sell a cow. And you can make the same amount of money."
-Texas Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford 
Okay, coach. Given the price of brisket these days, or the cost of a burger at overrated local joints, I think the going rate for cattle may actually exceed the cost of a ticket this week. Unless you're sitting in McConaughey's suite. Speaking of...
"Take the ceiling off."
-Celebrity burnt orange torchbearer Matthew McConaughey
Go read Matt's season opening The Week That Will Be for more on this one (but then come back and finish this column). As always, he nails a great theme, this time centered around Austin's favorite Oscar-winning superfan's life lessons.
"There's not much looking back and going, ‘Hey, we rolled these guys last year.’ This is a totally different team. They're just focused on their itinerary trying to get on the plane."
-ND Coach Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly comes off as a pretty vanilla personality. Maybe part of me just hopes that the Irish come into the game with overconfident swagger.
"For sure. No doubt about it"
-Former Longhorn Ricky Williams, when asked if he would have made the NFL Hall of Fame if marijuana were legal 
I believe it. After his awkward rookie season Ricky busted loose in 2000, starting a string of four consecutive 1000-yard seasons, including a rushing title in 2002. Retirement and suspension killed his prime - both obviously pot-related - and he didn't quite put up pre-retirement numbers over his final five years (2009 saw him drop 1100+ yards on 241 carries, a YPC comparable to his 2002 career year), but he was a beast until the end. 10,000 yards in the NFL makes for a very good career. Sadly, it could have been great.
"First, Notre Dame has to lose."
-Legendary Texas Coach Darrell Royal, on how to win a national championship
Boy, those were days, right?
"Thufferin' Thuccotash"
-Legendary Notre Dame Coach Lou Holtz
I know. That was bad. Fight me.

Feel the Hate Flow... Ranking This Week's Opponent on the Stoops Scale

People love to hate Notre Dame, but I wonder if that hatred is a fading relic from the 40-and-over crowd that remember when DKR's aforementioned quote held a degree of truth. Maybe kids today hate the Irish like we did back in the day, but I wouldn't know. As a child of the 80s, though, with six months until I reach Mike Gundy's threshold for manhood, Notre Dame has not inspired good ol' fashioned, visceral, "love to hate them" hatred from me in, well, decades. Obviously, with any Texas fan, the hatred list starts with Oklahoma, regardless of their success or national standing, and these days it probably continues with some variation of Alabama, Ohio State, and USC, but I could toss out another dozen or more schools before I get to the Irish. Every now and then they raise my ire, but on a scale of one to five I award Notre Dame 2.5 Stoops.

Random Semi-Relevant Entertainment Thought Involving This Week's Opponent

Freddie Steinmark was an amazing young man whose fight against cancer touched countless lives, and Rudy Ruettiger, while a hard worker for sure, wasn't necessarily the underdog hero depicted onscreen. But even with my burnt orange bias fully intact, Rudy is a classic and My All American comes off as a glorified made-for-TV melodrama, destined to run ad infinitum on the Longhorn Network. It doesn't even remotely compare.

"Catholics v. Convicts" it Ain't

The only more cliched t-shirt possibility for this opening weekend of college football would require OU fans incorporating "Houston, you have a problem," into a design. Not your best work, Irish fans. That said, since Texas hasn't beaten Notre Dame since before mankind took "one giant leap," they don't really have to try too hard. 

 The Parting Shot

It's a young team. It's a team with talent and little experience. It's a team with a new offense and a potential starting QB that was playing in the high school this time last fall. But none of that matters come Saturday. Charlie Strong is coaching for his job - we all know that. I know some Texas fans are rooting for him to fail, and I get the angst, even as I disagree with the sentiment. But this week provides an opportunity to make a statement... to course-correct six years of meandering mediocrity. Expecting a win would be presumptuous, but in my opinion, so would expecting a loss. I think this team battles for four quarters and has a chance to win. It cannot get here soon enough.

Let's shock the nation, baby!



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Texas Football: The Ass Whipping-to-Be 

Week Twelve: No. 2 Texas (10-1) vs. Texas A&M (4-7)
Last Game: Texas 35, Kansas 7; Baylor 41, Texas A&M 21
Last Meeting: Texas A&M 38, (#14) Texas 30
All-Time Series: Texas leads 73-36-5

I'd like to start by observing a moment of silence.




The Texas A&M football program appreciates your respect in their hour of mourning. Sadly, the Aggies are no longer relevant on the national football landscape, thanks to Art Briles and his Baylor Bears.

I must admit that it gives me joy to deride this once-mighty* institution. Though I know good people that still proudly embody the spirit of Aggieland - the kind that don't make excuses for Kellen hard's cheap-shot two years ago, and who don't giggle like schoolgirls when they call Texas' QB "Cart McCry" - the pitiful showing their team exhibited at Floyd Casey Stadium very well may have signified permanent relegation to the Big 12 South's cellar. Permanent or not, that's where the Aggies will end the 2008 season. And any team that needs two garbage-time touchdowns to upgrade from an annihilation to a mere blowout against Baylor certainly deserves it.

More than ten years ago Aggie fans saw Texas' return to prominence coincide with their own team's slow descent to mediocrity. The Southwest Conference's small pond dried up and A&M could no longer match up consistently with Texas or Oklahoma, so a bitter rivalry with Texas Tech formed in that void. In the last few years the Red Raiders have clearly emerged as the second-best Big 12 team from the Lone Star State, leaving the yearly "battle of the Brazos" as A&M's only evenly matched foe. And as Briles looks to build his program in Waco with youthful vigor and a network of high school coaching ties that could help him land the recuits his predecessors could not, the Aggies are moving backward with a recycled has-been at the helm.

It's bleak right now in College Station, where consecutive wins over Texas mark the only positives in two years of decline. And come Thursday night, when Mack Brown's team atones for those embarrassing outings, all will be right with the world.

Whoop on that, you bastards.

*"Once-mighty" = "Brief blip of historical significance registered due to rampant cheating"

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Matt is thankful...

You probably don't care if you're not in our group, but this is my favorite TWTWB of the year.

They Said It...
"When it comes to the current conundrum regarding Texas and Oklahoma -- two teams from the same conference with the same record involved in a three-way tie with another team, Texas Tech, against which they split -- there is no right answer. Period."

CNNSI.Com's Stewart Mandel
Agreed. But I still want to take this opportunity to remind people that Texas beat the Sooners by 10 points on a neutral field, while both Oklahoma and Texas Tech won home night games. Texas also has the most impressive win against non-common opponents (56-31 against then-No. 11 Missouri).
"Texas, you may recall, defeated Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. It was in all the papers, but unfortunately, the BCS computers can't read."
LA Times sportswriter Chris Dufresne
You don't say. Really?
"Discussion doesn’t help us. ‘What if’ doesn’t help us. Winning and playing well helps us. Everybody who votes will be watching that game. Period. Why talk about it? Why discuss it? All we can do is play well and win and if we don’t, it’s not worth discussing."

Mack Brown
Not bad. It's not quite, "put it in two inch headlines," but it sounds like a respectable preface to a lopsided contest.
"It was a very legal hit. Cart McCoy's a pretty good player, but I'm hoping my brother's going to get some more hits on him."

Dallas Cowboys TE Martellus Bennet, a former Aggie, referring to his brother Michael's hit on Texas QB Colt McCoy two years ago, which knocked McCoy from the game.
Damn, Tellus. I was just starting to like you. Hopefully after Jason Witten takes all of your receptions this Thursday, you'll wallow in self-pity while "Cart" McCoy throws for 300 yards on your alma mater's pathetic excuse for a defense.
"We're going to beat Texas 27-24. We're going to upset Texas. Actually it won't even be an upset. We expect to beat Texas — the yellow bellies — every year."

Martellus Bennet
Delusion, holla!
"If you can’t get excited at home before nearly 100,000 people when there are Big 12 championship and national championship implications on the line against your rival, then you ought to quit and do something else."

Mack Brown
A) We're. Not. Ri-Vals. clap clap, clap-clap-clap.
B) Tryptophan + copious amounts of pregame alcohol = potential drowsiness.
C) Considering the level of effort displayed the past two years, I would hope this sentiment has been directed toward the team as well as the fans this week.

With that said, Mack is absolutely right. Get hype, Horns fans!

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Will return...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Will return...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

The resident Husker guy at ShaggyBevo.Com provides encouraging news for Texas fans:
Bob Stoops has never won out following a loss

1999 - followed a loss at ND with losses to Texas, Colorado, Tech and Ole Miss (bowl)
2000 - no losses
2001 - followed loss in Lincoln with 16-13 loss to OSU
2002 - followed 30-26 loss to A&M with 38-28 loss to OSU (a game never really that close
2003 - followed CCG loss with LSU Sugar Bowl loss
2004 - no losses till bowl
2005 - followed up opening loss to TCU with losses to UCLA, Texas and Tech
2006 - followed up loss in Eugene with loss to Texas and Boise shocker
2007 - followed loss to CU with losses to Tech and WVU
2008 - ??????

Just pointing that out
Texas doesn't have to play for the BCS Championship for me to enjoy this season. But if Oklahoma overcomes a loss to the Horns and wins the whole thing then I will be very, very disappointed.

The Things I Think About

Everyone seems to be talking about the scenarios this weekend that will send Texas to Kansas City next week for the Big 12 Championship Game (or to Miami for the BCS title game without playing in Kansas City). I'm not thinking about that.

I'm thinking about a cold, gray afternoon near the top of "The Zone" at Kyle Field, with wind gusts chilling me to the bone. I'm thinking about a sloppy performance against an inferior team. And I'm thinking about a miserable two hour drive home after a loss that never should have happened.

The BCS is out of our hands, no matter how much Texas fans politick. Dismantling the Aggies is well within Texas' control. So for right now, I'm thinking that nothing short of annihilation will soothe the bad memories from last year (or the year before).

For the Record

My one BCS-related thought: to reiterate what I have said for the past seven years, a conference championship should not be used as a prerequisite to playing for the BCS title until all conferences play by the same rules. So, if a team not named Texas goes to Kansas City and loses to Mizzou, Texas absolutely deserves to play for the national title.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Four years ago my friends and I prepared for the T+1 game by attending the Aggies' midnight Yell Practice. Our favorite heckle that night was: "Lost. To. Bay-Lor. clap clap, clap-clap-clap. It's going to be fun reprising that on Wednesday night.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
Make no mistake, it's not revenge he's after. It's a reckonin'.
Yes, I have been sitting on this one all year. It's the sole reason I chose Tombstone in the first place. Brian Orakpo is coming for you, Jerod Johnson. And HELL'S COMING WITH HIM!

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

I cannot, in good conscience, even visit TexAgs.Com this week. I trust that it's ALL deluded.

Ricky Williams Runs to the Hall of Fame!

It was ten years ago this week, and I was 20 yards from him when he scored.


Prediction: MUD. HOLE.



Monday, November 17, 2008

Texas Football: The Kansas Game 

Well... I thought I could get through the whole season...


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Texas Football: The Baylor Game 

Week Ten: No. 4 Texas (8-1) vs. Baylor (8-0)
Last Week: Texas Tech 38, Texas 33; Missouri 31, Baylor 28
Last Meeting: (#19) Texas 31, Baylor 10
All-Time Series: Texas leads 71-22-4

Last week was tough.

It was a stomach-punch loss that makes it very hard to preview a game this week against Baylor. So forgive me if this seems at all half-assed (because it is).

I understand that I hereby forfeit my right to criticize the team if they put forth a half-ass effort this week.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Robert Griffin is a very good QB. But unless Texas forgets to show up then I have a hard time thinking Baylor can win this game.

The Week That Will Be projects the Bowl schedule...

And I still laugh at lolcats.

They Said It...
There's light at the end of the tunnel. The biggest thing we talked to our players about is that there's no doubt we're disappointed, but it's time to move on and refocus. We've got to go back to work

Texas WR coach Bobby Kennedy
I'm not sure anything else needs to be said.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Will return when Chip Brown posts something new, and when Rod finishes celebrating the Obama win from Tuesday night...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Will return...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

By my count the Horns have faced Baylor only five times previously in the last half-century when coming off of a loss. It last happened 11 years ago, and remarkably was Baylor's only win in those games. As I said earlier this season, John Mackovic isn't here anymore, so I wouldn't worry about semi-recent history repeating itself.

The Things I Think About

As illustrated in this section last week, I'm a fan of odd comparisons. Apparently, so is CNNSI.com writer Ty Hildenbrandt, who compares BCS contenders to WWE Superstars. I'd like to think that Texas fares better than a Mr. Perfect parallel, but it's fun to reminisce.

For the Record

If a guy with only four years of national political experience and a middle name of Hussein can overcome a shoo-in party rival in the primary, then cruise to a landslide win in the general election, then surely Texas can climb two measley spots to earn a berth in the BCS Championship Game.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Eh, you've heard it all before.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
He was quoting the Bible, Revelations. "Behold the pale horse". The man who "sat on him was Death... and Hell followed with him".
I figured a little hellfire and brimstone was appropriate for our good Baptist friends.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Surprisingly, I can't find any posts on the front page of BaylorFans.Com right now that say much at all about this game.

That's probably good.

I Still Think This is Funny

This clip is why BaylorFans.Com is devoid of anti-Texas threads; they're all getting ready to reprise the scene next week against A&M.

Prediction: Back on the Winning Track...



Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Politics: The Day After 

The last few years I've gone from political junkie to borderline apathetic (note the dearth of political posts on here the past few years). Between the Bush Administration's slide into Lame Duckishness and the never-ending campaigning that whittled a dozen bad candidates for president into two, I just couldn't bring myself to care.

Now the election is over, and even though the guy I didn't vote for won, I feel that the next few years won't just be a void of bickering and stagnation, and maybe this nation will begin to heal and move forward.

I'm willing to give Obama a chance and see if he shows himself to be more substance than style. At the same time I'm optimistic that qualified and capable leaders will emerge within my party.

Yesterday I was disappointed in America. Today I feel re-energized.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Texas Football: The Texas Tech Game 

Week Nine: No. 1 Texas (8-0) vs. No. 8 Texas Tech (8-0)
Last Week: Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24; Texas Tech 63, Kansas 21
Last Meeting: (#14) Texas 59, Texas Tech 43
All-Time Series: Texas leads 43-14

Whew! I made it.

Last year I wrote half of my Texas Tech preview, got distracted, and never finished it. I neglected to write further previews for the remainder of the season.

It's now week nine, the Horns sit atop every single poll, and I'm still going.

I mean we're still going.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Graham Harrell is going to pass for 400-plus yards. Texas Tech is going to score 30-plus points. But has Tech's defense really improved enough to ensure that Texas doesn't go well beyond in either category?

The Week That Will Be takes a closer look at the "rivalry" between Texas and Tech
The Red Raiders are a very talented team that is very dangerous, but let’s get real here. They are still Texas Tech, a wannabe program that has never faced the pressure that will face them on Saturday night.

Who do you trust more in a big game? Mack Brown, whose team is now 16-2 against ranked opponents going back to mid-October 2004, or Mike Leach, the drunken malcontent who is fascinated with pirates and picks his kickers from the Chick-fil-A Kick Around the Country contest?

Who would you want as your quarterback? Colt McCoy, who is making video game quarterbacks look ordinary, or Graham Harrell, who had to rally to beat Virginia in the Gator Bowl and threw 9 interceptions in his four losses last year and acts like a petulant punk?

What about your defensive coordinator? Will Muschamp, who has been a coordinator in the NFL and national championship games, as well as the toughest venues in the SEC? Or Ruffin McNeil, where Texas Tech is the big-time for him, and it is seen as a massive improvement that Tech is ranked 58th in the country in total defense?

Let’s face it. If history has taught us anything, in order for Texas Tech to win, Texas has to be an average team that makes mistakes while Texas Tech needs to be perfect. Which one do you see happening on Saturday?
Good stuff, as always. Read the rest here. Even if you don't read the rest, you don't want to miss the Halloween-themed version of the Random Hot Dallas Chick.

They Said It...
"We kind of let them off the hook. We were just a few plays short. We turned the ball over and didn't execute on third down. We were right there. We definitely want this one back."

Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Oklahoma State earned a lot of respect on Saturday, every bit of it well deserved. I remarked after the game that I thought they should move up after the loss. But a statement like this is simply asinine. For every "almost" on the Oklahoma State side, Texas had an "almost" of their own. You can't have it back, Zac. Go take care of business against Texas Tech and Oklahoma, and rest assured that even if you're not in the mix for a conference title, you're a BCS contender.
"We all have an understanding this is something special. This isn't normal. We have a big opportunity ahead of us, and we're ready to make the most of it."

Texas Tech OT Rylan Reed
Not normal? You're telling me.
"If Stafford played in one of those junk offenses, he'd be putting up numbers just like McCoy. I think he's more the pro body type, he's more Matt Ryan. I think he's just a brilliant football player, I really do. He's gonna be an NFL franchise quarterback."

CBS analyst Gary Danielson, comparing Georgia QB Matt Stafford to Colt McCoy
Since when does Texas play in a junk offense? McCoy throws the ball 30 times per game; Stafford throws it 28 times per game. Texas has a higher per-game rushing average. Stafford may have the "pro body type" but his career as a college QB has been underwhelming to date. He's Chris Simms without the big-game meltdowns. And unless he stays for his senior season, Stafford will leave Georgia having not won a conference or national title. McCoy, at least for now, has both of those goals within his sights. This is college football, not the NFL, and Colt has outperformed Matt Stafford to date.
This thing is getting out of control as well. If you want to look like Oklahoma State and copy a fad that has run its course, go ahead, do the blackout thing with you and your sheeple friends.

Lubbock radio personality Ron Hyatt, on the proposed "Blackout" this weekend.

Agreed. More on the "Blackout" later in the column. I do, though, recommend reading Hyatt's post. It's funny seeing someone encourage Tech fans to "act like they've been there before," because: (1) they haven't, and (2) there's no program I've ever seen that less exemplifies that attitude than Texas Tech.
We have their attention this week. They were not happy about not finishing against Oklahoma State

Mack Brown
I must have said 20 times after last week's game that "there's no such thing as a bad win against a top ten team." But I don't set the standards for the guys in the locker room, and apparently the win was far from a good thing in their eyes. Remember when Brown used to say things like "playing OU is like playing your brother"? That Mack Brown no longer exists, and this program is the better for it.
Safe to say that Tech would have to at least get in the 40s, which will be awfully tough to do with Brian Orakpo, Sergio Kindle and Co. harassing Graham Harrell. But what the heck? I'll go out on a limb and predict a 48-45 Tech win.

Dallas Morning News sportswriter Tim McMahon, on how many points Tech needs to win this weekend.
Tech is a trendy pick this weekend. Oklahoma State was a trendy pick the week before that, and Mizzou the week before that. They're not bad picks, because each of these teams is damn good. But there's a prevailing thought out there that Texas' ride has to end sooner or later because they can't keep beating good teams like this. It's reminiscent of what people said about OU in 2000 or Ohio State in 2002. And it's asinine. The past three weeks are not going to come into play this weekend. texas Tech is going to have to be the better team, not just the team that caught Texas in a letdown. Anyone that believes differently simply hasn't followed this program closely enough since the Holiday Bowl.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Get ready for a healthy dose of "Texas fatigue."

The fatigue I'm talking about has nothing to do with Longhorn players, who by the reports I've gotten, have responded with energy and fire in practice this week.

The fatigue I'm talking about is starting to come from the national media. Don't be surprised to hear more and more voices doubting Texas.

Why? Not because they see something wrong in Colt McCoy's ability to finish games, or UT's pass defense at 111th nationally. But because Texas fit the mold of everyone's No. 1, and the national media are either bored or disinterested in telling the Longhorn story.

When there's no superstar like Vince Young or Reggie Bush, electrifying audiences or filling up SportsCenter, the national media often starts looking for the Wow Factor.

This Texas team doesn't have a Wow Factor unless you are into great chemistry, incredible leadership, a blue-collar work ethic, a laser-armed quarterback and a fiery, overachieving defensive coordinator.

The hell with the black and white print &.....X's and O's. Let's just play the damn game so we can light up OUR ORANGE TOWER!!!!!!!!

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Will return...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

Barking Carnival blogger Huckleberry has been tracking college football's "Heavyweight Champion" since the preseason. His system, in a nutshell, goes back to the sport's first game between Rutgers and Princeton - in which the Scarlett Knights "won" the championship - and tracks the title holder over the 139 ensuing years. This past weekend Texas claimed the "belt" for the fifth time.

The Things I Think About

I'm going to show my nerdy side here, but if you've read this column more than twice you already know it exists. Texas Tech, this season, is the Charlie Conway of Big 12 football.

Who is Charlie Conway? Well he started out as an awkward Minnesota youth that played pee wee hockey to pass the time. The Gordon Bombay "taught him to fly" and Conway scored the unlikely game-winning goal as his Ducks defeated the evil Hawks for the Minnesota state title. Later, he allowed a pick-up player to claim his roster spot when the Ducks (implausibly) represented the USA at the Junior Goodwill Games, presumably because Conway's leadership meant more than his middling talent level.

Then as the Ducks moved into high school - and jumped the proverbial shark - Conway, the awkward, marginal role player, suddenly becomes the star of the team. Out of nowhere. It just didn't make sense.

Tech has always been that marginal, middling program. Sure, they may score a big goal against an evil Texas or OU, but they're not the conference's star. Yet here we are nine weeks into the season and the Red Raiders are hosting College Gameday and a national prime time game between top ten teams. Texas needs to put them back in their place this weekend.

If you have no idea what all of this means then please go rent The Mighty Ducks.

For the Record

Mike Leach and Mack Brown faced each other for the first time in this series in 2000, a game Texas won, 29-17. Since then the lowest winning score has been 35 points (2006). The teams have both scored 40-plus points twice, and 30-plus points four times.

Also, Mike Leach has won just once.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Without getting into how much I dislike Halloween, I'd like to note that this game routinely fell on Halloween weekend during the SWC years. Since the Big 12 formed it's happened just once, a Texas win two years ago. I began the evening at my buddy Justin's apartment and ended it at a random party where we were a decade older than the average attendee, most of whom were on God knows what, and a good ten minutes after we arrived, so did Austin's finest. In between we visited a gathering that included Flava Flav, Alice and Wonderland, Aileen Wuornos, and the Duke Lacrosse Team. That one was fun until they ran out of beer. It almost seems fitting that this year's game is actually played the day after Halloween, so Tech can take off its Top Ten mask and rejoin reality.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
Sheriff John Behan: We're growing. Be as big as San Francisco in a few years, and just as sophisticated.
Doc Holliday (as a local shoots someone in the street): Very cosmopolitan.
I imagine the mayor of Lubbock and the Texas Tech school president meeting the Gameday crew as they arrive this week and making a similar claim, just as a Tech fratboy runs by, bonging a beer, and giving Lee Corso the finger.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

If the signs on Saturday morning are as bad as the ideas tossed around on this thread, ESPN may not re-visit Lubbock even if the Raiders pull off the upset.

The E-S-P-N and A-B-C anagram signs stopped being original before College Gameday took its first roadie. Even more un-original: the dreaded (insert color)-out... especially when it includes art that resembles a between-rounds mugshot from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out.

Let's Hope for an Encore Saturday Night...

Prediction: The points rain down like black and red tortillas, and the "Blackout" = Epic Fail.



Thursday, October 23, 2008

Texas Football: The Oklahoma State Game 

Week Eight: No. 1 Texas (7-0) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State (7-0)
Last Week: Texas 56, Missouri 31; Oklahoma State 34, Baylor 6
Last Meeting: (#14) Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35
All-Time Series: Texas leads 20-2

I know few people, who don't regard Saving Private Ryan as one of America's great cinematic achievements of the last few decades. It's a heroic tale of bravery, determination and sacrifice, and it features perhaps the best half-hour sequence ever put to film - the Allied invasion at Normandy.

As the Horns head into the real second half of their season, I think about that film and how it relates to Texas' progress toward a potential national title (yes, at this point it's okay to start talking about it).

Mack Brown's squad stormed the beach the past two weeks. They took the machine gun and mortar fire from Oklahoma and kept advancing. They stared down the enemy in Missouri and overwhelmed them. At this point the beach is secure and the Horns are standing tall.

But it's not over.

Captain John Miller's platoon didn't get to call it a day as dusk fell on June 6, 1944. Instead they found a new mission awaiting them - one that would require even more grit than the seemingly impossible one they had just accomplished. And for the film's remaining two hours the soldiers faced one peril after the other before they ultimately fulfilled their objective.

Texas now faces the same task. D-Day is behind them, but perhaps an even more grueling challenge lies ahead. Games against three ranked teams in the next four weeks will test this team's character and desire, as will the rivalry match-up that follows. If the regular season plays out as we all hope it will, the two postseason games afterward will further up the proverbial ante.

It's time to fulfill your objective, men, and it starts this weekend with Oklahoma State.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Burnt Orange Nation's PB includes a great analysis of Texas' statistical rankings in his weekly mailbag.
With Texas in the top spot, the mainstream news cycle inevitably will morph from "Look at Texas!" to "Let's try to identify Texas' warts!" Which is fine. Just don't blink when the pundits do a lazy job with the actual analysis. Here are the relevant facts:

1. Texas ranks 112th in FBS football with 275 pass yards allowed per game.
2. Texas ranks 74th in FBS football with 6.9 yards per pass attempt allowed.
3. Texas ranks 73rd in FBS football with a QB Rating allowed of 125.7.
4. Texas ranks 2nd in FBS football with 40.1 pass attempts faced per game.
5. Texas ranks 2nd in FBS football with 1.9 yards per rushing attempt allowed.
6. Texas ranks 3rd in FBS football with 25.3 rush attempts faced per game.
7. Texas ranks 38th in FBS football with 4.9 total yards per play allowed.
8. Texas ranks 22nd in FBS football with 58% of red zone chances resulting in TDs allowed.
9. Between when OU took a 35-30 lead and when Chris Ogbonnaya put Texas up 28-0 against Misssouri, Sam Bradford and Chase Daniel combined to complete just 9 of 23 pass attempts (sacks/rushes included) for 71 yards, 0 TDs, and 1 INT.


1. Teams can't run on Texas. Teams are playing from behind against Texas. They are passing often. The cumulative passing stats are going to be high.
2. The rate statistics are notably better than the cumulative stats.
3. There is some strategery at work here, as well: Texas is playing bend-don't-break defense, avoiding big passing plays as much as possible and making teams earn TDs in the red zone.
4. This group is improving. Game to game, quarter to quarter. I keep saying it, but it's worth repeating: We're a tougher out each week.

It doesn't take an overly rational person to get that Missouri's final point total wasn't indicative of the fight - or lack thereof - that they put up against Texas (see Deluded/Rational Thoughts, below...) But PB makes an excellent point about Texas' strength in stopping the run.

Oklahoma State may very well have the best running game of any team Texas faces this season, but they're going to have to prove they can run the ball against a stout Horns defense as much as Texas is going to have to prove they can stop a very effective OSU passing game.

The Week That Will Be, Brought to You by the Number Seven...
Seven. The name of a pretty good Brad Pitt movie. The number of Mickey Mantle, and perhaps the name of George Costanza’s daughter out there somewhere. The number of deadly sins. Designer jeans. The magic number on slot machines.

A magic number indeed. In baseball, teams talk about “magic numbers” when they are counting down the end of the regular season, and their magic number is a combination of how many wins they need and how many losses they need by their closest opposition to win the division or wild card.

But in college football, without a playoff system, the Longhorns now have a magic number of 7.

Jordan Shipley said this week that they don’t give you awards for being 7-0, but go 7-0 again this year, and we’re talking about a special team, and a special program.

And does anyone want to bet against this group of guys getting the job done? The chemistry and focus that this team appears to have is truly special.

Focus. We’re rolling downhill now.

Go check out the rest, as you don't want to miss Matt's Mid-Season Awards.

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"This is a different Texas than I've seen the last couple of years. Colt McCoy is a Heisman Trophy candidate right now."

Barry Switzer
There you have it folks; Fifty percent of former coaches who won both a National Title and a Super Bowl have publicly placed McCoy among the nation's best...
"I haven't seen everybody, but I don't think there is anybody above [McCoy] right now. I'd have to look to see if there is anybody else right now, but I haven't seen anybody that's above him that's for sure."

Florida QB Tim Teabow
...As have one hundred percent of reigning Heisman winners.
"We were expecting more of a dogfight. We're still looking for our best game and that wasn't it."

Texas DT Roy Miller
The entire country was expecting more of a dogfight last week, and we're all expecting one on Saturday. But the dogfight in the Cotton Bowl took a good three years off of my life, so if the Horns want to jump out to another big lead and cruise to an easy win over a good opponent then I'm perfectly willing to wait another week or two for Texas' best game.
"We're a blue-collar team and nobody takes things for granted. It doesn't matter where we're ranked. You can throw that No. 1 ranking out the window, and we have to go back to work."

Brian Orakpo. If I have to tell you that he's a Texas DE then please stop reading right now and go to TMZ.com
He says the right things off of the field, and he does the right things on the field. He's quite possibly my favorite current Longhorn.
"We decided we're going to get one of those ear pieces we see y'all wearing where we just get the network and it's $25 bucks and we get a two-for-one deal and we're going to spread them out. Either that or we're going to go to the Verizon network and have that horde of people standing right there by us so we can hear and say, 'Can you hear me now?'"

Oklahoma State co-offensive coordinator Gunter Brewer, on communicating in what promises to be a boisterous DKR.
In twenty years of attending Longhorn games - close to one hundred home games in all - I've never experienced anything like last Saturday. A Texas home crowd legitimately made a difference in a game. The 98,000 people in attendance were not just loud, they were consistent.
"When was the last time the Cowboys played in an atmosphere like that?
No one is talking about Texas and OU in the national title, but it’s a real possibility. Sports writers and coaches didn’t want to see [Michigan and Ohio State in 2006] again because it had just taken place at the end of the season. But with Texas and OU, there will have been enough time between the two games that voters might be OK with it."

Richard Billingsley, developer of one of the six computer polls involved in the BCS formula.
Good Lord.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Coming soon...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

This one really is unbelievable, and comes courtesy of the Unofficial Colt McCoy for Heisman website.
Chew on this for just a minute; as of right now Colt has 12 touchdown passes at DKR Stadium and only 14 incompletion's for the season.
I've done some crazy stuff on video games and never even come close to a stat like that. Take away a few drops and batted down balls, and the man has thrown more home TD passes than incompletions through four games.

The Things I Think About

Apologies, first off, for somehow deleting this week (if you enjoyed its absence then EABOD and DIAF).

As I watched Brian Orakpo dominate All-Big 12 candidate Phil Loadholt, I contemplated how my boy 'Rak would stand up to the standard-bearer for Longhorn DEs, Tony Brackens. As blasphemous as it may sound to those of us over the age of 25, I honestly think Orakpo could go down in the annals as our best-ever DE (note: I understand that I'm omitting from the discussion guys like Shane Dronett, Cory Redding and the great Hub Bechtol).

So since I haven't played a down of football since helping pave the way for Quincy Deavers to score TD after TD for the Travis Middle School 8th grade B Team, I posed this hypothetical to two of my favorite former Longhorns, "Sir" Rod Walker and Stonie Clark.

Rod's politically safe answer would have earned kudos from Barack Obama or John McCain. Since he knew Brackens and has never met Orakpo, he gives the nod to the Longhorn Legend. Stonie, though, noted that Tony used to "take a play off sometimes," and that Orakpo does not. What say you, the reader?

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

In 2005 my friends and I had an absolute blast in Stillwater. In 2007? Not so much. We can start with the Best Western Inn, which apparently doesn't enforce their non-smoking policy. I was also perplexed to learn, after going out in Oklahoma City in 2005, that every bar in Stillwater is apparently a pool hall, one of which proudly displays the Cowboys' recent calf judging national title. The bouncers, for the record, became increasingly less amused when I said: "I'm a Man; I'm 30," every time one asked me for my ID. Eskimo Joe's was not quite as fun the second time around either. Finally, there was the game. Texas stunk it up for three quarters, and in keeping with the high school atmosphere one might expect in Stillwater, the PA announcer and scoreboard display referred to Texas only as the "Visitors."

Then Jamaal Charles decided he was a man; he was 21.

Texas 38, Oklahoma State 35.

Whose House? Visitor's House!

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"The Cowboys are finished, you understand?"
Truthfully, even a Missouri-like annihilation of OSU won't "finish" them. But Wyatt Earp's most famous outburst was Muschampian in its intensity.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

An appropriately named poster at Orangepower.com wonders, "If we beat Texas..."
We will finally get some "real" respect and "real" NC talk. Right now we are "the most overrated team in the top 10" and "don't have a solid win yet" (per sooner fans after Mizzou getting killed at Texas). I was just thinking about our team and realized:

1. We have the best special teams unit in Big 12
2. We have the best rushing game in the Big 12
3. We have arguably the best receiver in the Big 12
4. We have arguably the best TE in the Big 12
5. We have one of the top QB's in the Big 12
6. We have the most underrated defenses in the Big 12

When you start listing these things out- it looks pretty impressive.

Don't know if we can win at Texas, but I certainly give us a chance.

BTW- about the Texas-Mizzou beatdown, if you watched the game, Texas played a flawless first half. One of the most impressive games I have ever seen. If they played that way against OU they would have won by 30. Mizzou is still a solid top 15 team.
He (or she) is right about that last part. Actually he (or she) is right about a lot of them. But of the six points listed, you don't have to merely play Devil's Advocate to swing it back in Texas' favor.

Jeremy Maclin is every bit as good as Dez Bryant, Sam Bradford was better than Zac Robinson and an underrated defense still doesn't pose the threat that Oklahoma did. Remember what happened to them?

Still, I wouldn't label I'm Ur Huckleberry's post as delusional. However, fellow poster, t1m0thy, offers two gems:

Re: No. 5
True. Once again, not just in the big 12, in the country. And if he outplays McCoy like he did Daniel, the last time he faced the leading heisman candidate, ESPN can't pretend he doesn't exist anymore.
Re: No. 6
Also true. We have arguably the best defense in the big 12. Never thought I'd hear myself say that this year, but it's true. Texas's D (who nobody can talk about enough) held Missouri to 31 points IN AUSTIN. Ours held Missouri to 23 points IN COLUMBIA. No arguing that.
The first is laughably speculative. It reminds me of the time many years ago - probably after an OU loss, when these types of asinine debates were commonplace - some random LonghornFanZone.Com poster argued that Mack Brown was the more successful Texas coach than John Mackovic because "in two or three years he'll have just as many conference titles" as his predecessor.

The second is such an egregious misrepresentation of the facts that I cannot believe that he could type it without feeling like a complete moron. The game had long since lost any semblance of competition before Mizzou found its way to the end zone.

I couldn't find myself in this video, but maybe you can...

That had to have been taken within 10-15 feet of our group.

Prediction: If Texas trails at the halftime, offer the nearest OSU fan pre-emptive condolences.



Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Texas Football: The Missouri Game 

Week Seven: No. 1 Texas (6-0) vs. No. 11 Missouri (5-1)
Last Week: Texas 45, Oklahoma 35; Oklahoma State 27, Missouri 23
Last Meeting: (#2) Texas 51, Missouri 20
All-Time Series: Texas leads 15-5

The most ubiquitous gesture in sports is not the "Hook'em" sign, at least not outside of Austin, Texas (or, in its modified form, College Station, Texas, or Norman, Oklahoma). No, the most ubiquitous gesture in sports is something a little simpler: a single raised digit.

You see it almost every time a camera person pans through a throng of fans; it doesn't matter if it's News 8 Austin gathering highlights from the High School Game of the Week or ABC covering two top ten teams on Saturday night in prime time. The sentiment remains the same.

"We're number one."

But how many teams get to actually say they're number one? Watch any game this weekend and invariably after a big play a fan of Ball State, or TCU, or Vanderbilt will flash their index finger toward the camera. But those teams aren't number one. They're not going to be number one.

The Texas Longhorns, on the other hand, are the number one team in the country.

It's early, yes. But that's a moniker to be worn with pride. More than one hundred teams play in the Football Bowl Subdivision and every single one of them is looking up at the Texas Longhorns this week, including the team that could have owned that spot themselves if not for a loss against Oklahoma State.

It's a target; it's a bullseye. It's also a barometer for where this team stands right now, and where they want to stand when this season ends. Our Texas forefathers knew what it was like to possess something the enemy wanted. Their response?

Come and Take It.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin may be the best QB-to-WR combo in the country (or they may be the third- or fourth-best in the conference) but no matter who you put in or atop that group, they're included, and it doesn't take long to call roll, if I may be so bold as to paraphrase Coach Royal.

Texas kept Oklahoma at bay by pressuring Sam Bradford without having to resort to blitzes. If Brian Orakpo and company can duplicate that against a line that probably isn't as stout as the one they faced in Dallas, then even a few Daniel TD passes won't let Missouri escape Austin with a win.

Matt sands the floor with this week's The Week That Will Be
These Longhorns, and specifically Colt McCoy = Daniel LaRusso.

Colt McCoy and the Longhorns enjoyed a stellar beginning to the 2006 season, when it appeared that they were a cinch to repeat as Big 12 champions and go to another BCS bowl game. But then one night in Manhattan, Kansas they ran into Johnny Lawrence, and they were shown no mercy by the Wildcats that night or the Aggies the game after that.

Johnny made the Longhorns life hell in 2007, as Kansas State once again tripped up the Horns, as did Oklahoma and Texas A&M. Then Mr. Miyagi came to their rescue.

As I touched on last week, Will Muschamp and Major Applewhite were brought in to reverse the tide, to stop the senseless losses to the Wildcats and Aggies of the world, and make the Longhorns a tougher team, both physically and mentally.

The Longhorns went to work. And not work in Spring and Summer. And not after a nice breakfast. Their waxing on and waxing off was nearly 100 percent participation in off-season workouts that began at the ungodly hour of 6 AM. Their painting a fence was several recruits (among them phenom safety Blake Gideon) registering early in the Spring semester so that they could hit the ground running. Their sanding the floor was seniors on the team taking on a leadership role, as many of them were old enough to have sniffed a national championship run in 2005, but young enough that now they wanted hardware that they could truly call their own.

Through the training in the Karate Kid, Daniel LaRusso not only learns karate from his teacher, but also learns life lessons, such as balance and the importance of not only physical strength, but the strength of the mind as well.
The Karate Kid came out in 1984. Texas last played a regular season game in 1984. Hmmmm... Do you think Mr. Miyagi could use that hand-rubbing healing technique on Blaine Irby?

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"It's nice now. Our goal is not to be No. 1 in October. It's to be the No. 1 team at the end"

Texas OL Adam Ulatoski
Football players can't say, "Come and Take It." That's why guys like me write columns that few people read.
"I don’t think anyone knows who’s No. 1 right now. If I was voting, I would’ve (voted) Alabama at No. 1."

Mack Brown
Of course we don't know who is really number one right now, but half of the fun of following college football is yapping about who's overrated and underrated (note to readers: don't yap about this with SI.com columnist Stewart Mandel [see below]). And of course Mack Brown would have voted Alabama number one, because as Shakespeare said in Henry IV, "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown." Football coaches can't say, "Come and Take It." That's why guys like me write columns that few people read.
"Uncomfortably long."

Christopher Ainley, Longhorn Band cymbal player, with regard to the length of time Colt McCoy's fourth quarter two-point conversion pass hung in mid-air before Quan Cosby nabbed it.
Try looking at it from the top row on the upper deck, where you can't get a handle on exactly how high it bounced.
"The Oklahoma game was the end of the first half of the season. It’s over. Bury it."

Mack Brown
This one is reminiscent of a quote we'll all remember from the spring of 2005: "Rose Bowl's over, y'all." That's not going to stop fans from enjoying the biggest conference win in Brown's tenure, but the team has to be forward-looking, and if nothing else, Brown and his team are saying the right things.
"I'm well aware that Aggies don't consider Texas Tech a rival. I reckon that might make losing 10 of the last 13 games against the Red Raiders easier to stomach."

Dallas Morning News columnist Tim McMahon
I include this because it's always fun to have a laugh at Texas A&M's expense. And I like McMahon's stuff.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon...

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Coming soon...

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

By now everyone knows that on Saturday Texas will pay its first game as the country's top-ranked team since 1984. So instead I'll throw out two facts that you probably also know, but that probably aren't wuite as top of mind.

(1) Mack Brown has not lost in the week after OU during his tenure on the Forty Acres.

(2) Texas has won all three home games in 2008 by the same score: 52-10.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

2004 didn't hold quite the same magic as 2005. But as Texas prepared to meet Mizzou on a beautiful fall Saturday, my second favorite sports entity prepared to meet a Missouri-based team 120 miles east of here. The St. Louis Cardinals took a 2-1 series lead into Game Four of the 2004 NLCS, and though I had tickets for the Horns' game I sported my Astros gear during the tailgate. Two random Mizzou fans meandered into our corner of the lot and asked if they could partake in the bountiful spread before them, and being the hospitable Texans we are, we happily obliged. Then one of them, the cocksucker, saw my shirt and made an unpleasant remark about the great Craig Biggio. I held my tongue, and ultimately I got the last laugh that afternoon when both Texas and Houston triumphed (we won't discuss the events of Game Seven a few days later). But even four years later I hold little regard for "the best fans in baseball," so for at least a portion of this weekend's tailgate, you can recognize me by looking for this shirt:

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"Live every second, live right on through to the end."
Doc Holliday uttered this one from his deathbed. Texas is more alive now than they've been at this point in most of the hundred-plus years they've fielded a football team, but the sentiment rings true.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

A thread at TigerBoard.com asks posters to "Name two of the main things that come from Texass." Overlooking, for a moment, the asinine modification of our great state's name, I think his hopes for someone to reset one of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman's more famous lines fell flat. Most of the replies went a different direction, and this guy hit it on the head. No one heaps praise on Missouri women. And speaking of Missouri, since it's easily modified into "Misery," perhaps "bluesox7" should show some respect when referring to the Lone Star State.

I could go for an encore of this showing...

After the 2005 NLCS I remember watching a great video of two douchebags crying big, fat tears after the Astros clinched the pennant in Busch Stadium's final game. Try as I might, I could not locate that video, so you'll have to watch a relatively ho-hum video of a relatively ho-hom Horns' blowout.

The one I couldn't find went something like this... "boo hoo... the Cards' lost... boo hoo... my uncle used to bring me here when I was six... boo hoo... I love this team... boo hoo... I miss when my uncle used to touch my pee pee... boo hoo."

For the record, Albert Pujols had nothing to do with Brad Lidge's decline in 2006 and 2007.

Prediction: I opt to sleep in instead of visiting the GameDay set.



Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Texas Football: The Oklahoma Game 

Week Five: No. 5 Texas (5-0) vs. No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0)
Last Week: Texas 38, Colorado 14; Oklahoma 49, Baylor 17
Last Meeting: (#10) Oklahoma 28, (#19) Texas 21
All-Time Series: Texas leads 57-40-5

It's Texas.

It's OU.

It's the State Fair of Texas; it's the Cotton Bowl, and the expectation of 92,000-plus fans; and it's a battle of Top 5 teams with Heisman Trophy candidates.

Do you really need any more buildup?

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Throw out conventional wisdom; this game will be won by the team that wants it most. A sign hangs in the locker room at Neuhaus-Moncrief center that reads: "The Pride And Winning Tradition Of The University Of Texas Will Not Be Entrusted To The Weak Or The Timid." If everyone on the Texas sideline, coaches and players alike, heeds that message, then the Horns can win this game.

Matt fires up the Texas faithful (and gives a subtle grammar lesson) in The Week that Will Be
So what does that meandering, quick jaunt through the history of Texas/OU tell us?

Youth wins.

Young Wilkinson beat old stodgy Texas. Young Royal turned the tables. Young Switzer did what Royal and his replacement Fred Akers better. Young Stoops beat Mack Brown with fresh new schemes and by being one of the first to use the spread offense which would become a staple in college football in this decade.

Hell, Vince Young turned the tables on Stoops.

Texas fought complacency for a good two years after their national title, until finally the team turned over a new leaf and brought a new attitude to its (what’s up now Drew) Holiday Bowl match-up with Arizona State last year. Texas was the more aggressive team. Texas was the hungrier team. Texas was the angrier team.

So what did the Longhorns do in the off-season? Did they rest on their laurels and pat themselves on the back? Nope.

They fed the fire.
Give him some love at his blog

They Said It (the "Texas-Sized" version)...
"We're 26th in the country at rushing, and at the same time, I'm not happy about it. I'm not happy about the consistency. That's my biggest complaint right now"

Greg Davis
Coincidentally enough,
that's also the biggest complaint right now from the thousands of Orangebloods that don't get paid $450,000 per year.
"Greg Davis has coached 40 quarters of Red River Rivalry. At least half of those have been from a fetal position."

Barking Carnival blogger ScipioTex, in his game preview.
As stated before, I'm not the world's biggest critic of Greg Davis. But it doesn't take a "hater" to look at our point totals against the Sooners over the past decade and see that we've often underperformed in this game. From 2000 through 2004 our offense's highest output was 17 points (Rod Babers' interception return in 2004 accounted for 7 of our 24 points), culminating with the program's only shutout in the past three decades in the final of those five games. But even sans Superman the past two seasons, Davis' offense has been good enough to win. So while Scipio's sentiment rings true, it's not indicative of recent years, much less forward-looking.
"Here's an early guess that neither team will run for 100 yards."

Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls
The oft-criticized Bohls seems to pull comments like this from the same place that most message board users pull statistics in their supporting arguments. He may be right this week. Does this faze Coach Youtube?
Stats are for losers. I like winning games

Texas Defensive Coordinator Will "Boom" Muschamp
I guess not.
"We've already been tested by guys like (Baylor quarterback) Robert Griffin and (Washington quarterback Jake) Locker. So yeah, we've been tested and we've responded every time. Colt can do damage with his legs, but we don't plan on allowing him to do that."

Oklahoma DT Adrian Taylor

Robert Griffin has been fun to watch so far and Jake Locker had his moment in the spotlight, but neither of those guys comes close to Colt McCoy in terms of the threat they pose to a defense. In his first two years McCoy turned to his feet mainly when the play broke down. This year the Texas coaches have developed more designed runs for him, so he's not simply getting happy feet. In fact, McCoy's poise has been his biggest strength through five games. Unless Greg Davis turtles this weekend Colt is going to get his yards, regardless of whether or not the Sooner defensive players "plan on allowing him to do that."
"Actually, Tech fans ought to want UT to roll off wins the next three weeks over OU, Mizzou and Oklahoma State. Just imagine how much hype a showdown between the undefeated Horns and Red Raiders would get Nov. 1 in Lubbock. If that scenario unfolds and Tech protects its home turf, we might be talking about the top-ranked Red Raiders."

Dallas Morning News columnist Tim McMahon
, in a piece discussing why Texas Tech and Oklahoma State should cheer for Texas this weekend.
His point is valid: a Texas win, given their remaining schedule, opens up more possibilities for Tech or Oklahoma State to make a run at the division title. Something about that last sentence though, seems to me as unholy as it is unlikely.
"I'll feel all the energy, as the grass shakes beneath my feet."

Longhorns LB Sergio Kindle
I include this for one reason: it reminds me of something the Ultimate Warrior would have said when cutting his pre-match interview back in the heydey of the WWF. And in that vein, wouldn't you love to see those old school WWF-style promos replace the boring pregame/halftime sideline interviews, where a coach basically says nothing of consequence to some softball-lobbing sideline reporter? Give me Brian Orakpo in the locker room with Mene Gene Okerland, going off on a tirade about how much OU sucks, punctuated with: "Whatcha gonna do, brotha, when the largest arms in the Big 12 crash down on YOU, Sooners! YEAAHHHHH!"

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Ahhhh, we are DAYS away from the single best sporting event on this planet. October brings two things: perfect weather and TEXAS Vs. OU!

For Longhorn fans, I believe “Wheeler’s Texas / OU Preview” perfectly describes how we feel. For ANY fan, “The Tunnel”, written by a former Longhorn player, really provides the imagery that we fans will never truly understand.

Now that the Cotton Bowl has expanded to 92,000, I am pretty sure that a few folks on this thread may actually have heart attacks when the Horns take the green field, covered with the giant State of Texas flag, hearing Smokey the Cannon and then “Texas Fight!”.

For the record (I have considered this thoroughly) I believe the teams are too evenly matched to predict a winner. OU supporters will suggest that their pass defense and running games are superior. After close inspection, I am not sure I buy it…they don’t run well either, Murray has lost a step since the injury. As for pass defense, they have competed against only a single team in the top 50 in the nation in passing offense (Cincy).

Texas does not run the ball well either, but we have played 4 teams ranked in the top 50 in passing offense. Stats mean nothing…I am simply suggesting that these teams are evenly matched. Ask Hawkins about our pass D…he went 13 or 33 for 116 yards in a HUGE home game. As is always the case in this game, turnovers and special teams will win it or lose it. Period.

But what fun is it without picking a winner?!

Texas - 31
Land Grabbers - 28

Texas wins on the heels of an absolutely crazed defensive effort, thanks in part to Coach Boom.

Hook ‘em By God!

(Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

Stonie's Stone Wall

Note: Stonie Clark wrote the following last year and I deemed it an instant classic. So as with "Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus," which finds its way into newspapers nationwide each Christmas Eve, I'm reprinting it before every Texas-OU preview I write. If you don't want to head dirctly to the Cotton Bowl immediately after reading it then go sell your tickets to someone not in a coma.

As a 17 year old freshman, I remember guys like Lance Gunn and Peter Gardere standing up in the locker room talking about how big a rivalry Oklahoma was for 'us'. They talked about fans throwing things at you and spitting on you. Little old ladies talking like sailors and giving the horns down sign two inches from your face. I remember thinking, "I just want to play some football. Make a name for myself and these rivalries belong to the school, not me."

By my junior year at UT, I was as much a part of this rivalry game in my heart and soul as any Longhorn before me and was about to become associated with it for the rest of my life.

1994. Cotton Bowl. Red River Rivalry. 17-10 Texas. 4th and Goal. Ball on the Texas 1 yard line. I had heard the stories of Peter the Great. Cash, with the one handed touchdown catch. Bubba Jacques scooping up a fumble and returning it for a touchdown in a tight TX-OU game. When the center snapped the ball, their line zone blocked right. It was we refer to as a misdirection play. I was able to see Thompson handing the ball to James Allen on a statue of liberty play. Immediately I changed direction and headed toward the ball carrier. My teammate, Robert Reed had forced James Allen back inside and as he reached for the endzone, I hit him. It was a trainwreck. That God for making me a train. I rolled about 340 at the time and being run over was never a concern of mine. In some of the pictues of the play, my feet were actually in the endzone when I made contact. The hit was pure and the celebration started.

Cotton Spryer. Peter the Great. Bubba Jacques. Kerry Cash... Stonie Clark.

We all see Oklahoma has some vulnerabilities, and hopefully this week our coaching staff was able to identify some of those and put together a game plan that puts our guys in a position to win. That's all that can really be asked of the coaching staff. The rest has to be the guys wanting to be great. Wanting to be remembered. Have they dreamed and visualized making plays in this game? Do they want it so badly that the tears stream from their faces as they walk down the tunnel? Are they screaming inside because of the liquid fire running through their veins and up their spine? Folks, I save exaggerations for more important things like penis size and what age I actually was when I started losing my hair. This is real. This is TX-OU.

(Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

Betcha Didn't Know

Unless Mizzou flattens Oklahoma State this weekend in their battle of big-time WRs (Jeremy Maclin v. Dez Bryant), Texas will play their next four games against ranked opponents (#1 Oklahoma, #2 Mizzou, #17 Oklahoma State, #7 Texas Tech). Texas has not played four straight games against ranked opponents during Mack Brown's tenure.

Brown's Texas teams have played three consecutive ranked teams only twice before:

L- #2 Oklahoma
W- #17 Kansas State
W- #17 Iowa State

L- #24 A&M
L- #3 Nebraska
L- #24 Arkansas

You would need to go back to 1979 to find a stretch this brutal in a Longhorns schedule. In a seven-week span Fred Akers' team faced the following:

W- #5 Mizzou
W- Rice
W- #3 Oklahoma
L- #10 Arkansas
W- Texas Tech
W- #5 Houston

I took all data from Mack Brown-Texas Football, which reflects rankings at the time the game took place, not where the teams ultimately finished.

The Things I think About

Since the time I arrived at work on Monday morning I've thought about on thing only: this game.

By the way, it's now 8:50 AM on Thursday morning and OU still sucks.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

I took a day trip with a large group of friends earlier this year to the Texas Hill Country to visit a handful of wineries. It was enjoyable, being that we spent the entire day drinking and that we also travelled in one of those sweet stretch Hummers. It was less-than-enjoyable, however, when the subject turned to National Signing day, which loomed the following week. At the time reports indicated that super-stud Darrell Scott would likely spurn the Horns for Colorado (he ultimately did), and the coupld of Sooner fans on board cackled with delight as they proclaimed that Mack Brown could no longer even earn recruiting accolades. They continued to bash the Horns and talk about how ugly this game could get. Almost eight months later, Sooner fans continue to hold little doubt that they're going to emerge unscathed this weekend. If for no other reason, I'd like Texas to win this weekend so that when we once again venture out to the Hill Country I can reply to their Sooner ramblings with two two-word responses: "OU Sucks" and "Scoreboard, bitches."

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
Sherman McMasters: Where is he?
Doc Holliday: Down by the creek, walking on water.
Wyatt Earp did the unthinkable in the lead-up to this exchange, charging the Cowboys, who had him pinned down in a cross-fire, and mowing them down. It was the act of a man that knew he would make something happen or die trying. It was heroic. This weekend we just need someone - Colt McCoy? Jordan Shipley? Cody Johnson? - to step up and make something happen. This is Texas-OU, where heroes are born.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

I don't give Sooner fans credit for much, but even despite their annoying, fate-tempting overconfidence, and their general disregard for the fact that their team owes much of its historical success to rampant cheating, they use Photoshop quite well, as evidenced below (from the College Gameday Signs thread at Soonerfans.com):

How about an SAT-style analogy?

Brian Robison : Rhett Bomar :: Brian Orakpo : Sam Bradford

Prediction: I bypass the chicken fried bacon (and the ensuing triple bypass) for corny dogs and maybe a fried grilled cheese sandwich.



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