Week 4 is over and after a day of rest, it is time to turn our attention to Week 5. However, let us take a moment to look back on last weekend’s games. The “Game of the Week” lived up to the hype and produced the classic shootout everyone was expecting. While Tech fell after a phenomenal play by TCU’s Aaron Green, it was a battle that was fun to watch the whole way.
Texas A&M did not look nearly as sharp as they have in the past few weeks offensively. The defense played another great game and ultimately sealed the deal. The monster-super sophomore-mega grinder Myles Garrett almost sealed the win by himself in regulation, oh and he was being held while doing it. Ultimately the Aggies would earn their victory, in almost an exact repeat of last year’s game. With the victory, Texas A&M has beaten Arkansas for four years in a row (the first time in more than 80 years) and the Aggies won their conference opener in back-to-back years for the first time since 2004-05.
In my final reflection of Week 4, how about Baylor? The Bears, for the first time this season, looked absolutely dominant. Against a Rice team that hung with UT in Austin (and likely should have beaten the ‘Horns), the Bears cruised to victory in style. The Owls offense put up 28 on Texas while managing only 17 against the Bears. That total would have most certainly been less if the Baylor kickoff team hadn’t allowed a massive 63-yard return in the first quarter that saw Rice start only 24 yards from scoring. Offensively, the Bears were everything you would expect of a Briles-led team. If Shock and the Bear O-line continue to gel while Russell sharpens his passing, this team will be very, very difficult to knock off.
Now, let’s see what Week 5 has in store. There are several great games making it hard to choose a “Game of the Week.” Houston versus Tulsa should be a solid matchup and Baylor-Tech has the makings of another classic. I’m even tempted to consider UT-TCU. 11:00 AM kickoffs have produced some bizarre games so far this season and the ‘Horns have to be boiling after two botched kicks cost them consecutive games. However, in a boring and predictable move, I’ll take the only game showcasing two ranked teams, #21 Mississippi State versus #14 Texas A&M, as the “Game of the Week.”
Saturday, October 3
Texas (+17.5) @ #4 TCU, 11:00 AM, ABC
The ‘Horns are in danger of this season spiraling completely out of control. The only two games on the Texas schedule that look like certain wins are Kansas and Iowa State and the Longhorns have been anything but great when playing the Cyclones in Iowa over the last few years. Texas needs five more wins if they want to make a bowl game. The good news is Texas has looked much improved in Weeks 3 and 4 compared to Weeks 1 and 2. However, twice the Longhorns have needed the defense/special teams to score 14 points to even keep them in the game. How long is that a sustainable model? As much as I think the Horned Frogs might suffer from a hangover after the Tech game, they take care of business in this one – TCU wins 45-31.
Houston (-8) @ Tulsa, 11:00 AM, CBSSN
Houston might be the best unranked team in Texas (our friends in Lubbock would definitely disagree). The Cougars are currently undefeated as undersized QB phenom, Greg Ward Jr., has propelled the Houston offense to wins against a tough Louisville team on the road and against Texas State, a school UH had only beaten once in their entire history. Tulsa will look to give Houston their first loss in an early game in Oklahoma. After a six TD performance against Texas State, Ward follows it up with five more against Tulsa – Houston wins 52-35.
Texas Tech (+14) versus #5 Baylor, 2:30 PM, ABC/ESPN2
A week after Texas A&M’s come from behind victory over Arkansas, we have another great matchup at AT&T Stadium. The big question here is how Tech will respond to a heartbreaking loss. After all but wrapping up a win against TCU last week, the Red Raiders won’t have any time to dwell in the past. Baylor finally looks to be firing on all cylinders after a decimation of a talented Rice team last week. Baylor hasn’t forgotten the two point escape they posted against Tech last season. They won’t make the same mistake twice – Baylor wins 59-35.
Western Kentucky (-7) @ Rice, 2:30 PM
Last week was miserable for Rice. Down 42-10 to Baylor at halftime, the Bears put in subs early in the second half. It didn’t matter as the Bears still outscored the Owls 28-7 after the break. The Hilltoppers of Western Kentucky bring a strong squad to Houston – they’re only four points from being undefeated. Will Rice still be demoralized after the loss in Waco? Or will the Owls look to bounce back and show they still have fight left? I’ll go with the Owls to post a big victory at home – Rice wins 42-38.
East Carolina (4.5) @ SMU, 3:00 PM, ESPNEWS
What happened. Celebrating the school’s 100th Anniversary in a Homecoming game against a talented, but still FCS-level squad, SMU allowed one of the biggest upsets of the weekend falling to James Madison. This team looked nothing like the one that challenged Baylor and TCU. While the Mustangs won the turnover battle and time of possession, the Mustangs allowed the Dukes to pile up an eye-popping 729 yards of offense. While Matt Davis and Courtland Sutton continued to build on their electrifying chemistry, the SMU defense has allowed over 720 yards THREE times this season. No offense can overcome that. East Carolina lost a close game to Florida in the Swamp but has looked underwhelming otherwise. After a 1-3 start, SMU absolutely, 100% needs this win. Good news is they get it – SMU wins 42-31.
UNT (+14.5) @ Southern Mississippi, 6:00 PM
This season has been hard for the Mean Green so far, but I don’t know that anyone saw the complete and total destruction that was waiting in Iowa City last weekend. The bad news is the only good thing that will come from this weekend’s trip to Hattiesburg is a less lopsided score – USM wins 42-16.
#21 Mississippi State (+7) @ #14 Texas A&M, 6:30 PM, SEC Network
Game. Of. The. Week. Need I say more? The Bulldogs only loss this year was to LSU. In fact, State only lost to the Tigers by two points, the only time this season LSU and super-sophomore Leonard Fournette have been held below 30. Texas A&M has a much more balanced offense and more explosive players than the Tigers. If the Aggies can win this game they will be undefeated and have a week of rest before a powerful Alabama squad comes to College Station. Last year, the Bulldogs beat Texas A&M by 17 and sent the Aggies’ season into a tailspin. So far this year, Miss State is allowing SEC offenses to score an average of 19 points while the Bulldog offense is scoring an average of 18. Kevin Sumlin has coached the Aggies in 44 games and only five times has his offense been held under 20 points. They won’t be held under 20 this weekend – Texas A&M wins 35-21.
UTSA (+1.5) @ UTEP, 7:00 PM
The spread says it all. This game is a toss-up. The Miners are 2-2 with a weak offense and an even weaker defense. The Roadrunners are 0-4 with a weak offense and an even weaker defense. Logic, history and everything I know about football says take the home team in this one. But where’s the fun in that? – UTSA wins 35-31.
My Year-to-Date Record
My All-Time Record
Texas v. Non-Texas Opponent Record (Year-to-Date)
*Division I FBS Texas teams
(These are solely the opinions of Ryan Sprayberry and do not represent the thoughts or beliefs of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame)