Prediction Column – Year One, Week Six
Last week was another solid week of college football. It’s hard to imagine, but we are already to Week 6 and a clearer picture of each team is starting to materialize. There are still plenty of questions to be played out on the field, but the fog of war is slowly fading.
The biggest disappointment thus far is the state of Texas’ record against the rest of the country. Now solidly below .500, the record would be worse if not for Texas A&M and Houston’s eight combined wins over out of state competition. The good news is undefeated Baylor, currently the strongest looking team in the state, has yet to play an out of state team, a trend that ends this weekend.
While there aren’t any outstanding match ups this week for FBS Texas teams, we still must have a Game of the Week. Kansas State-TCU looks like a potentially interesting matchup, but for history’s sake, I’ll go with the Red River Rivalry. While reports out of Austin show steady backing for Charlie Strong, an embarrassing loss to the Sooners would do more damage to his career than anything that has happened thus far. On the other hand, the Longhorns continue to show flashes of ability and with an early kick/rivalry game, anything could happen. Perhaps the ‘Horns right the ship and keep this season from unraveling further.
Thursday, October 8
SMU (+25.5) @ UH, 7:00 PM, ESPN 2
The lone SWC-rematch of the week, we have a national spotlight on two programs in the process of rebuilding. After Week 3, both looked to be in great shape. The Cougars were undefeated and SMU had battled with Baylor and TCU two of the best teams in the state. Now after Week 5, things have changed drastically. U of H remains undefeated while SMU is 1-4 with their only victory over a terrible UNT squad. Both teams have explosive offenses led by excellent dual-threat QBs, Matt Davis at SMU and Greg Ward Jr. at UH. Problem is SMU’s defense is atrocious, if averages play out over the course of the season, SMU will allow opposing offenses to gain approximately 7,200 yards. Houston adds to SMU’s total yards allowed while continuing the march to an AAC title – UH wins 52-28.
Crazy prediction of the week – Greg Ward Jr. ends the season as a Heisman Finalist
and makes the trip to New York . . .
Saturday, October 10
UTEP (+14.5) @ FIU, 11:00 AM
I must admit, I am pretty surprised by the early line on this one. I guess most people are looking at how the Miners were exposed versus the Roadrunners last weekend. On paper this game couldn’t be a more even matchup. Average points per game? UTEP 23.2, FIU 21.4. Average total yards? UTEP 356.8, FIU 356.6. That’s right, each team has played five games and their average total yardage is separated by .2. With both teams sitting at 2-3, this one feels more like a toss-up than the line implies. However, in a straight-up pick, I’d have to agree – FIU wins 31-17.
#3 Baylor (-45) @ Kansas, 11:00 AM, FOXS1
The hardest part of this game will be covering the spread. Even for an offensive juggernaut like Baylor, 45 points is hard. With money on the line, I would never take the gamble, but here I’ll say Shock follows up last week’s 200 yard performance with 250 yards and three scores – Baylor wins 63-17.
#10 Oklahoma (-17) @ UT, 11:00 AM, ABC
I though the early kick might give the Longhorns some magic last week. Instead, the Longhorns found new ways to self-embarrass on special teams. After missing an extra point and blowing a punt to lose in back-to-back weeks, it seemed impossible to think the STs would be able to find new lows – well, they did. Early in the first quarter, a snap over the punter’s head lead to a safety which was followed by the ensuing kickoff going out of bounds allowing the Horned Frogs to start at the 50 and put the game out of reach in the first quarter. Despite the emergence of Jerrod Heard, the most impressive thing about this Longhorn squad is the level of incompetence displayed each week by the special teams unit. Look for the ‘Horns to come out on fire with the season on the line, playing their biggest rival. At the end of the day, the Sooners are too talented and Austin native, Baker Mayfield, torches UT with five scores – OU wins 45-24.
Rice (+4) @ FAU, 1:30 PM
All Owl everything. These teams have had incredibly similar seasons. Rice is 1-3 and has produced a solid offense that puts up nearly 30 points per game. Unfortunately, the Owl defense allows opposing teams to score just north of 40 points per game. Florida Atlantic, also 1-3, has averaged 24 points offensively, but their defense has allowed the opposition to tally an average of 32.8 points. You can ask any coach (or any person) and they’ll tell you it’s hard (impossible) to win when your defense allows more points than your offense can score. Which Owls will win? I’ll take the Texas variety – Rice wins 34-28.
Iowa State (+12.5) @ Texas Tech, 2:30 PM
Red Raiders bounce back from two losses and the sun shines in Lubbock again. ‘Nough said – Texas Tech wins 52-24.
Portland State @ UNT, 4:00 PM
The Mean Green’s season is off the tracks and there isn’t much to believe it might ever get back on. Right now the lone bright spot on the season has been the success of senior Carlos Harris. At a mere 5’ 8” 185 pounds, Harris has 27 receptions for 412 yards and three touchdowns this year. Keep in mind that UNT’s leading passer has only 700 passing yards and three passing scores – in other words, Harris is doing A LOT with almost no help. As the season continues its downward trend, FCS Portland State notches their second win over an FBS program – Portland State wins 31-17.
Texas State (+3.5) @ Louisiana Lafayette, 6:30 PM, ESPN3
The line favors the Ragin’ Cajuns, but surely that’s people looking at where the game is being played. I can’t imagine the Bobcats would be the underdog at home. While Texas State’s defensive numbers look abysmal, the Bobcats have played two offensive powerhouses in Houston and Florida State (both away games for State). In case you missed it, Houston actually beat Texas State in a much more convincing fashion than the Seminoles did. Paraphrasing Davy Crockett, “The line may go to hell and I will go with Texas State” – Texas State wins 35-24.
Louisiana Tech (-10) @ UTSA, 6:30 PM
The Roadrunners notched their first win last week, but will now have to face a tough Louisiana Tech squad. Surprisingly enough, these two teams had a shared non-conference opponent – Kansas State. While I picked the Roadrunners to upset the Wildcats, in perhaps my worst pick of the year, UTSA fell 30-3 in San Antonio. Literally, the next week, Louisiana Tech took on Kansas State in Manhattan and nearly pulled the upset I was hoping for from UTSA, before ultimately falling 39-33. Operating behind a strong season from Florida transfer Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech has emerged as a strong team on both sides of the ball. This week the Roadrunners’ bowl hopes all but evaporate – Lousiana Tech wins 42-31.
#2 TCU (-9) @ Kansas State, 6:30 PM, FOX
The Horned Frogs just turned in their most impressive performance of the season with their 50-7 humiliation of the Longhorns. Coming into the season, almost every prognosticator picked TCU to have the conference’s most dangerous defense. Of course, injuries have plagued the unit and they have struggled. In fact, the Big 12’s best defensive team (statistically) thus far is West Virginia followed closely by Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma. As for total yards allowed, TCU actually ranks as the fourth worst team in the conference with only Kansas, UT and Texas Tech below them (on an unrelated side-note, of the seven worst defensive teams, as far as yards allowed, four hail from the Lone Star State – 121. UTEP, 125. UT, 127. Texas Tech and, worst in the country, 128. SMU [note the worst team and the second worst team have played both TCU and Baylor]). Ultimately, TCU takes care of business but the Snydercats play a tight one – TCU wins 37-31.
My Record This Season
My All-Time Record
Texas v. the Nation This Season
*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)