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Friday, September 30, 2005

Texas Football: Avoiding Misery in Missouri 

I had planned to write a preview before each Texas game this Fall, but the pre-Rice post was lost in a Blogger error (I forgot the cardinal rule of Blogger -- alwasy copy the post before publishing), and I didn't feel like writing it again.

It didn't matter. Texas steam(roll)ed Rice and went into the bye week with a 3-0 record.

College football has gotten interesting the past week. USC looks unbeatable, LSU showed just how big-time Les Miles isn't, and Ohio State and Tennessee look like one-loss teams that plan on sticking around to see what happens in the BCS race. Throw in Florida, Virginia Tech and Florida State, and there are quite a few teams with legitimate Pasadena aspirations.

Of course until they lose Texas is a no-brainer for a Rose Bowl berth. They'll hope to continue that in Colombia, Mo., tomorrow morning.

Missouri comes in as the classic "trap" opponent. Along with Iowa State they're probably the best team in the Big XII North, and they have Brad Smith, who is as dangerous a dual-threat QB as you'll fine north of Austin. But they're far from a complete team. New Mexico showed that a few weeks ago.

Still, Texas comes off of a bye and plays an early game (today's AA-S covers their lackluster early-game performances in recent years) a week before heading to Dallas to try and erase five years of futility against OU. Kansas caught Texas napping in a similar situation last year and almost knocked the Horns from BCS contention.

So... what to think about this game?

I'm not an expert on Mizzou, but I do know that (a) Brad Smith is dangerous; (b) the Tigers gave Texas a run for their money last season in Austin; and (c) Texas has a history of hiccupping on the road against teams they should beat.

But come on... this isn't the same Texas team that lost to Stanford in 2000, Arkansas in 2003, and struggled at home against Oklahoma State three years ago or Missouri last season. This is the team that didn't quit against Michigan and proved that history didn't matter three weeks ago in the Horseshoe. No matter how much the Horns are licking their chops for revenge next week, Mack Brown won't let his team lose focus tomorrow.

Mizzou will keep it close early. Smith will make a few plays and Texas' running game might come out sluggish. But if they don't dominate from the outset (they might, but I'm not looking for it to play out that way) expect the Horns to make something happen late in the first half and open up a big lead in the third quarter. Final score: Texas 38, Missouri 13.

On other games of note, here are a few more predictions:

Michigan State over Michigan.
Florida over Alabama.
Iowa State over Nebraska.
Notre Dame over Purdue.

And my upset of the week...

Arizona State over USC.

Just kidding. But the Devils will give'em a game.


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