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Monday, August 21, 2006

Texas Football: My 2006 Game-by Game Predictions 

(note: I first began wrting this piece back in 2000 on the now-defunct LonghornFanZone. It's outlandish, hyperbolic and full of inside jokes. But maybe the average Texas fan [or college football fan in general] will like it anyway.)

The 2006 Texas Longhorn Game-by-Game Predictions.

Sept 2 vs. North Texas- Avaya stock goes through the roof as Texas fans, in preparing for the hottest season opener in recent history, buy up every last case of bottled water in Travis County. And after the jubilant offseason that comes from an undefeated, National Championship campaign, Texas fans have little to complain about. Well, except for the 11:00 am kickoff, that is. DeLoss Dodds, who en route to Royal-Memorial Stadium has to wade through throngs of fans protesting the early start, wonders exactly what he has to do to please the Texas faithful. Meanwhile in Moncrief-Neuhaus offensive coordinator Greg Davis smiles at the thought that whatever happens he’ll be no higher than third on the list of things orangebloods will bitch about today (ticket prices being number two). The heat and expense don’t deter Horn fans from early morning reveling, and by 10:40 am the stadium is filled to capacity for the pregame championship ceremony, leaving the 15,000 fans unwilling to pay $80 for a scalped ticket scurrying for a television set, and marking an all-time record for most Texas fans in the stadium prior to gametime. Once underway the Texas offense under redshirt freshman Colt McCoy quickly makes fans forget about Vince Young. No, not really. But the rookie signal-caller does put the game out reach a mere six plays into the season, aided in part by Aaron Ross’ 54-yard kickoff return that starts Texas’ opening drive in Eagle territory. Jamaal Charles drags two defenders for 12 yards on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and McCoy hits Limas Sweed for a 27-yard strike three plays later to set up 1st and Goal from the three. Texas gets the only points they’ll need when McCoy executes a perfect zone read to score the first rushing touchdown by a Texas QB not named Vince since Matt Nordgren dribbled his way to paydirt at Floyd Casey last fall. A vanilla game plan still nets 51 points for the Horns, who throw only two passes in the second half. McCoy and true freshman Jevan Snead both see meaningful playing time, combining for 172 yards through the air. Charles is the real star on this day, though, rushing 18 times for 211 yards and three TDs. By the time Sergio Kindle sacks UNT QB Matt Phillips on the game’s final play, most of the crowd has retreated to the air conditioned confines of the Alumni Center, Scholz, or the University Catholic Center, where some pray for the health of Charles, and for cooler temperatures next week against Ohio State. Texas 51, North Texas 3

Sept 9 vs. Ohio State- By the time game day rolls around for the season’s most anticipated early match-up, more than 5,000 Ohioans invade the Capital City. They sacrifice sweater vests to the football gods on a bonfire of burnt couches, and use their smoldering remains to warm up disgusting Skyline Chili for the pregame tailgate. Meanwhile at our tailgate the Patron makes its season debut, meaning that by the time the 7 pm kickoff rolls around those of us without season tickets will probably be toasty enough to cough up the $300 scalpers are asking for end zone seats. The top-rated Buckeyes want revenge for the whuppin’ Texas laid on them in the ‘Shoe last year, and everyone from Kirk Herbstreit to Kirk Bohls pegs Ohio State to remain Fiesta Bowl frontrunners upon their exodus from Austin. “Texas doesn’t have Vince Young anymore,” the talking heads remind us, though they conveniently forget that likewise Ohio State doesn’t have AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter, Ashton Yobouty, or that other really good DB anymore. Even Lee Corso jumps on the bandwagon, picking the Buckeyes to roll. The Texas defense has other ideas. Michael Griffin introduces himself to Teddy Ginn on Ohio State’s first drive, knocking loose a fumble that Frank Okam recovers at the Buckeye 23. After a Hunter Lawrence FG the Horns get another break when Drew Kelson picks off Troy Smith deep in Texas territory. McCoy leads the Horns on a 12-play drive that ends with him finding freshman Jermichael Finley in the corner of the end zone, and Texas leads by 10. Ohio State gets on the board with a FG, and in the second quarter Ginn atones for his earlier mistake with a long TD reception; however, Charles answers with a 63-yard carry of his own that sets up another FG, and Texas leads 13-10 at the break. The teams swap FGs in the third quarter before Ohio State capitalizes on a Texas turnover to score the go-ahead touchdown. Trailing by four Jevan Snead takes over for the Horns, and leads a drive that puts Texas inside the 10 with 32 seconds remaining. As protection breaks down Snead rolls right, throws across his body and finds (who else?) Sweed in the middle of the end zone for the game-winner! At the postgame tailgate an unnamed OSU fan begrudgingly admits that Texas is still good, seconds before Drew smashes a pie in his face. Texas 23, Ohio State 20

Sept 16 vs. Rice @ Reliant Stadium (Houston)- After the emotional win over Ohio State some “experts” talk about the of a possibility of a “letdown” from the Horns. Then they remember that Rice has beaten Texas once in the past 39 games, and after checking to make sure that John Mackovic isn’t making a special guest appearance on the Texas sidelines, reality prevails. Oddsmakers set the line at Texas (-68 ), figuring that, well, the Horns won by 67 the last time they played here, and that came against better competition than Rice, who barely edges Katy HS in the Houston Chronicle’s weekly schoolboy rankings. When officials at UltimateBet.Com see large sums of money placed on the Horns by a member from Addison, TX, by the screen name of BigTexRtBoot271, they adjust the line to Texas (-72). The Horns don’t come close to covering, despite 52 offensive points in the first half, because in a bizarre turn of events, Mack Brown does let Mackovic make a special guest appearance. All of the sudden the Horns forget how to tackle (the walk-ons, anyway), and that, combined with Brown’s decision to let the BOFZ flag football team take the field on offense for the final quarter, considerably lessens the beat-down. Texas still does have a chance to cover on the game’s final play, but hometown hero SpaceCity Horn drops a wide open pass in the end zone. Texas 81, Rice 10

Sept 23 vs. Iowa State- Last year I picked Iowa State to win the North. They’ll get no such love this time around – not with a schedule that takes them to Austin, Norman and Boulder. It’s not like they can just go to College Station and dominate Texas A&M, 42-14, every season (attention Texas Tech fans… I think ISU is trying to steal your shtick). Big XII scheduling just isn’t fair, is it? Having to stop Jamaal Charles isn’t fair either, and the Cyclones find that out quickly as the sophomore takes another step toward All-Conference with 231 yards and three TDs. Texas 46, Iowa State 12

Sep 30 vs. Sam Houston State- I’m not dignifying this game with a synopsis. Suffice to say there will be an Astros (and/or Rangers) game on TV that afternoon with far greater postseason implications that won’t cost $45 to watch, and I will be at the tailgate doing just that, along with thousands of others. Texas 76, Sam Houston State 0

Oct 7 vs. Oklahoma @ the Cotton Bowl (Dallas)- Remember when Mack Brown couldn’t beat OU? Remember when Bob Stoops was college football’s resident genius? And remember when an experienced QB (read: Rhett Bomar) was the reason OU wouldn’t let Texas make it two in a row? Well I have two things to say to those sentences: (1) “45-17.” (2) OU Sucks! I’ve written this piece every year since 2001, and this is the first time I get to predict a win over Oklahoma without the crimson cloud of Sooner dominance hanging over my head. I’m not ready for this feeling to end. Neither is the city of Dallas, which worked out a deal to keep the Red River Rivalry in that dilapidated piece of crap known as the Cotton Bowl until 2010. That means Texas fans can look forward to Fletcher’s corny dogs, the Old Mill Inn, and phone calls immediately following the game from Mr. Peabody (as he’s driving through Ponca City en route to Norman), for at least a few more years to come. This year’s 101st edition of the RRR features two teams that at first glance look awfully similar – great RBs, inexperienced QBs, big wins (Texas over Ohio State, OU over Oregon) and undefeated records. But there’s one big difference, literally, with three returning starters on the O-Line to OU’s one. That means Jamaal Charles will have bigger holes to run through than Adrian Peterson, and that Colt McCoy/Jevan Snead will have to pick himself off of the turf less frequently than Paul Thompson, who I’ll admit will elude more defenders than his statue-esque predecessor. I would say that Texas wins easily, but there’s no cause for tempting fate, so I’ll say that a relatively close game swings Texas’ way when Justin Blalock and company finally wear down the Sooners late. Texas 27, Oklahoma 17

Oct 14 vs. Baylor- Have you seen the ads for Baylor season tickets? They show a river with a few bears patrolling the bank, as salmon occasionally jump out of the water. Then from nowhere a Baylor player comes running up and dives into the water, catching a fish. It’s pretty lame. I heard original version had the WR (Dominique Ziegler?) emerging from the water and performing a touchdown dance, but the wet blankets in the Baylor administration remembered that Baptists don’t dance, so they had it edited. Look for the full, uncut version on You Tube, or for sale from street vendors alongside Valley Mills Road in Waco. Goofy commercials aside, Baylor enters their annual semi-rivalry game with Texas fielding their best squad in a decade. In fact, at 3-3 the Bears are actually thinking “bowl game.” Then reality hits them in the face harder than a full-speed Frank Okam. Needless to say this game gets uglier than John Morris’ play-by-play in a hurry. Baylor’s lone highlight comes in the fourth quarter, when CB C.J. Wilson, a former Terrell Tiger, picks off a Matt McCoy pass and returns it 63 yards, puling the Bears to within 42 points. Then Texas freshman Deon Beasley sticks a dagger in the hearts of the seven remaining Baylor fans with a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Baylor fans take solace in the fact that despite the loss, they’ll most likely be looking at a 5-4 record two weeks from now after wins over Kansas and Texas A&M. Texas 59, Baylor 10

Oct 21 at Nebraska- Whose House? Horns House! The LM makes its triumphant return to the land of corn, hoping for continued domination over the once-proud Huskers. Bill Callahan doesn’t quite know what to expect from his squad, whose 6-1 record includes six lopsided wins over nobodies and one lopsided loss to USC, against the top-ranked Horns. Matt and Drew know exactly what to expect from Nebraska – cold weather, friendly folks, bland Mexican food, and topless dancers that don’t actually remove their tops. From the moment we de-plane it’s a constant barrage of anecdotes and reminiscing about our trip to Omaha/Lincoln four years ago. Suffice to say we pack plenty of Bud Light cans for the pre-game trip to Barry’s. Once the game starts, though, no one’s thinking about 2002, and how Texas needed late-game heroics from Nate Vasher (and a team doctor skilled in popping disjointed fingers back into place). This is a rout from the opening kickoff. By the time the alcohol makes us forget it’s really flipping cold, Jamaal Charles has already eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards. And by the time the sophomore sensation has relegated Ricky Williams’ 1998 performance to just “pretty good” status, we’ve barely cracked open the second flask (yes, I will actually get it inside the stadium this time). From then on it’s just a matter of keeping everyone healthy on the field, and keeping our stash hidden from the cops in the stands. Texas 45, Nebraska 20

Oct 28 at Texas Tech- Speaking of guys who know how to be stealth with the booze, Mike Leach has his Red Raiders riding an eight-game winning streak, and for the second straight year Texas and Tech meet as fellow top ten teams. And this time the boys from Lubbock play their part past the initial thirty seconds. The Texas defense has played lights out all season, but we all know how fired up Tech can be on the plains of Lubbock. And after renovating Jones Stadium to look like, well, a real Division I stadium, this game has the feel of big-time college football. Tech’s talented quartet of wideouts powers them to a 23-13 halftime lead, and when Jarrett Hicks breaks free for a long TD catch midway through the third, the Red Raiders look like they might finally have the inside track to the Big XII championship game. After all Texas can’t come back without Vince, can they? Ladies and Gentlemen… your attention, please. Now playing Quarterback for the University of Texas… Jevan Snead. The cannon-armed true freshman takes over for the Horns, as he did against Ohio State, and guides them to the end zone in just four plays. From there Tim Crowder and Frank Okam make a Graham Harrell sandwich, crunching the Tech signal caller for a big loss on 3rd and 6. Aaron Ross’s punt return sets up a short field for Snead to work with, and after a perfectly executed zone read keeper nets 22 yards, Snead finds Jermichael Finley wide open for six points. Clinging to three-point lead, Tech comes up with three consecutive third-down conversions to nickel-and-dime their way into Texas territory. Drew Kelso, running step-for-step with Joel Filani, denies them a fourth one, and the Raiders settle for a long field goal. With the clock now under three minutes fans across the county brace themselves for the ultimate test of Jevan Snead’s mettle – a two-minute drill with 80 yards between the ball and the end zone. He doesn’t need two minutes. Billy Pittman breaks free on the wheel route that has come to be his trademark, and twelve seconds later Texas ties the game. Hunter Lawrence puts the Horns on top with the PAT, and now Harrell must try to guide a game-winning drive. Graham Harrell is no Jevan Snead. Or maybe it’s Joe Garcia is no Michael Griffin. The Thorpe Award finalist breaks on a sideline route and cruises to the 20, sealing a hard-fought win in West Texas. Texas 34, Texas Tech 33

Nov 4 vs. Oklahoma State- I will bet any amount of money that we don’t have to come from behind again in this one. I will bet slightly less money that Texas Jeff finally got tired of waiting at the Home Depot and has found his way to DKR for this one. Texas 48, Oklahoma State 12

Nov 11 at Kansas State- The last time Texas ventured to Manhattan to face the Wildcats it took a clutch leap from Marcus Tubbs to block a potential game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter. The last time Texas ventured to Kansas, period, it took the most amazing 25-yard scramble in the program’s history to keep hope alive. Something tells me that we won’t need Roy Miller to go Karch Kiraly on the pigskin, or Jevan Snead to break a LB’s ankle, this time around to eke out a win. I’d make up some stats here, but it’s getting late and we’ll all be far too drunk by the time Matt McCoy gets into the game to even care what the score is. Texas 38, Kansas State 10

Nov 24 vs. Texas A&M- By this point in November we’ll already know one prominent Aggie’s fate; but of far greater importance to those at DKR is the future of Texas A&M head coach Dennis Franchione. Texas fans make their opinion known with a number of “Four More Years” banners strategically placed around the stadium, as well as with thousands of burnt orange buttons bearing the same motto. Aggie fans groan at the thought of Franchione’s continued leadership even more than Democrats (and some Republicans and Independents) groan at the thought of Rick Perry’s new lease on the Governor’s Mansion. After all under Perry at least 50 percent of kids can pass the TAKS test; Texas A&M has to upset Texas – for the first time this century, mind you – just to have won 50 percent of their games in four years under Fran. As another sort-of Aggie used to say (or at least Dana Carvey would say when impersonating him), “Not gonna do it.” There are those within the Aggie community that would have you believe that Texas A&M’s 11-point loss in 2005 was some sort of moral victory. There are many that would have you believe that coming into 2006, Stephen McGee is the South’s best QB. Those deluded Aggies forget that: (a) They still lost by ELEVEN points, and (b) McGee probably suffered severe head trauma from all the licks he took that afternoon. I heard he attended Troy AIkman’s QB camp in the offseason, just to borrow prescription Motrin to deal with the Post Concussion Syndrome. McGee does come out fired up… until Michael Griffin knocks him back to 2005 on the first play from scrimmage, an option keeper to the strong side. A play later Robert Killebrew goes Bobby Boucher on the sophomore, and by the second quarter McGee is begging for a morphine drip. Things begin to really get out of hand in the second half, when a disgruntled Corps Turd tries to brandish his saber on Franchione. Tempers eventually cool, but it doesn’t matter, because the Horns are still red hot. Snead leads Texas to touchdowns on six consecutive possessions and Jamaal Charles pretty much wraps up Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Big XII with 185 yards on 21 carries, and three TDs. The streak extends to seven. Texas 51, Texas A&M 15

Dec 2 vs. Nebraska (Big XII Championship; Kansas City)- For the third time the Horns and Huskers find themselves vying for a conference title. For the first time Texas is clearly the better team. With the Horns established as three-TD favorites, Nebraska QB Zac Taylor tells a local reporter, “Maybe we’ll win by three TDs.” No, not really. This one plays out exactly how you’d expect it to, if you expect Texas to roll. And if you don’t expect that then this game plays out in no way like you expect it to play out. And with that, I’m starting to feel played out. Texas 37, Nebraska 16

Jan 8 vs. Notre Dame (BCS National Championship; Glendale, Ariz)- I don’t care of you don’t think ND is going to be here (or if you don't think Texas will be here); it’s my fantasy prediction. Could you imagine a better finale that Texas vs. Notre Dame? Send a volley cheer on high, shake out the thunder from the sky! Give’em hell, give’em hell, make’em eat s---! You’re talking Bobby Layne and Paul Hornung. Joe Montana and James Street. Glenn Davis and Earl Campbell. Doc Blanchard and Ricky Williams. Joe Theisman and Vince Young. The Irish and the Horns!!! College football does not get any better. Arizona is neither big enough nor glamorous enough for this game, but there’s nothing we can do about it, so we may as well head to Phoenix, grab our plastic surgeon buddy Cory and his stable of “friends,” and about twelve eigthballs of Colombia’s finest for this party (just kidding). I have nothing more to say than I really want to see this game happen. Texas-USC was special. Texas-Notre Dame would be historic. No prediction here, except to say: if we win, Beverly’s first LMFZ post on January 9, is, “How many games do we lose in 2007.” Kidding, Bev… you know we love ya… Hook’Em!


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