October 6, 2008

It's Texas-OU week ... enough said in the Fix

THREE THINGS …

… THAT GOT BETTER

1. Explosive play from a running back
- Chris Ogbonnaya had a touchdown run of 13 yards and a 51-yard run that killed some CU momentum. (Not to mention his tracking down CU's Jalil Brown after a 57-yard interception return that prevented a TD. CU later missed a field goal despite having first down at UT's 16.)

2. Run defense - This was UT's first big run defense test and the Longhorns aced it. Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott were non-factors as CU had 21 rushes for 1 yard through three quarters. UT is No. 3 nationally in rush defense (51.8 ypg).

3. Fewer penalties - Texas had been averaging nearly eight penalties for 80 yards per game but had just two against CU (Christian Scott was flagged for a late hit, and UT was offsides on a kickoff in the fourth quarter).

… THAT STAYED THE SAME

1. Hunter Lawrence continues to be steady
- Lawrence moved to 4-of-4 on field goals with a season-long 46-yarder in garbage time in the fourth quarter.

2. Pass rush was it's usual, unreal self - The pass rush has been so effective, it's become expected that big numbers will go up. UT's big number this game was six batted passes at the line.

3. Quan and Jordan keep carrying the passing game for wideouts - Quan Cosby had nine caches for 71 yards, and Shipley had four for 47 yards and a TD. (Hope Dan Buckner and Brandon Collins - the only other two WRs to catch a pass vs. CU - are ready to step up against OU. Paging Malcolm Williams …).


… THAT GOT WORSE

1. Offensive line struggled to adjust
- McCoy was sacked three times, was under pressure most of the night, and the running game went nowhere until the second half. UT coaches and McCoy said it was because Colorado hadn't shown blitz all year, then blitzed like crazy. Adjustments have to come more quickly than they did Saturday night.

2. Turnovers - Colt McCoy came into the game with 14 TD passes and one interception. He left with two more TD passes and two more interceptions. One of his turnovers was the result of TE Peter Ullman not hanging onto a ball that went right through his hands. Another was a bad pass by McCoy. Texas will have to play a clean game against OU, which capitalized on two huge UT turnovers last year.

3. No vertical passing game - With so much blitzing, it seems there should have been at least one shot down the field. Not so much. Greg Davis says he has a handle on who can stretch the field - the fans just haven't seen it yet.


NEXT OPPONENT - OKLAHOMA
(11 a.m. Saturday on ABC at the renovated Cotton Bowl with a new capacity of 92,000)


The Boomers have beaten Tennessee-Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Washington, TCU and Baylor by an average of 36 points. Sophomore QB Sam Bradford is second nationally in pass efficiency with 18 touchdown passes and three interceptions. Running back DeMarco Murray is averaging 5.1 yards per carry (85 rushes for 431 yards). Jermaine Gresham may be the best tight end in the country, and OU has three receivers who can get deep - Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Ryan Broyles.

On the offensive line, NFL scouts think right tackle Trent Williams may be the best of the bunch. (Sergio Kindle will be lined up on Williams in most pass-rush situations.)


On defense, OU will get after quarterback with better players than Colorado had on defense Saturday. Linebackers Ryan Reynolds and Travis Lewis anchor this defense, but ends Auston English and Jeremy Beal make a ton of plays. In the secondary, safety Nic Harris is a senior and lines everyone up. Cornerback Brian Jackson (6-1, 190) is playing with a lot of confidence.

On special teams, OU is struggling a bit. Punter Mike Knall has just a 37.1-yard average, and OU is among the nation's worst in net punting with a 31.7 yard average. OU is also struggling to cover kickoffs, giving up an average return of 24.2 yards. Kicker Jimmy Stevens is untested with just one field goal of 36 yards at home against Cincinnati.


BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

1. OKLAHOMA (5-0)

This Saturday
: Texas (5-0)

Bottom line: OU is outscoring teams 103-3 in the first quarter. That's not a surge. That's a tsumani.

Chip's pick: Will come later in the week

2. MISSOURI (5-0)

This Saturday
: Oklahoma State (5-0)

Bottom line: This will be the most entertaining game outside of the State Fair of Texas

Chip's pick: Mizzou 44, Oklahoma St. 31

3. TEXAS (5-0)

This Saturday
: Oklahoma (5-0)

Bottom line: This game will be all about Greg Davis and Mack Brown coming up with a gameplan on offense that will give players as much confidence as the gameplan Will Muschamp is going to give his defense.

Chip's pick: Will come later in the week

4. OKLAHOMA STATE

This Saturday
: at Missouri (5-0)

Bottom line: The Cowboys are playing with a ton of confidence. If OSU's defense could get to Chase Daniel, this one could be interesting. But no one has gotten to Daniel.

5. TEXAS TECH (5-0)

This Saturday
: Nebraska (3-2)

Bottom line: Going to Kansas State and hanging a 58-28 victory on the Wildcats was impressive - even if Mike Leach went for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29 and failed with a 14-7 lead early in the game.

Chip's pick: Tech 38, Nebraska 28

6. KANSAS (4-1)

This Saturday
: Colorado (3-2)

Bottom line: Jayhawks got a wakeup call on the road last week at Iowa State, falling behind 20-0, and were hard-pressed to get out of Ames with a 35-33 victory. Jayhawks come out with a little more intensity this week.

Chip's pick: Kansas 28, Colorado 17

7. COLORADO (3-2)

This Saturday
: at Kansas (4-1)

Bottom line: Getting after Texas' offense and sacking Colt McCoy three times will be good preparation for facing KU's Todd Reesing.

8. NEBRASKA (3-2)

This Saturday
: at Texas Tech

Bottom line: From Chase Daniel and Jeremy Maclin putting a 52-17 beatdown on the Huskers in Lincoln last week to going on the road to face Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. At least the Big Red knows what's coming. Bo Pelini needs to find a way to keep this one from being a blowout or his team's confidence could be irrevocably shaken.

9. KANSAS STATE (3-2)

This Saturday
: at Texas A&M (2-3)

Bottom line: Josh Freeman and the Wildcats' offense are going to have to carry K-State's defense all season long.

Chip's pick: K-State 31, Texas A&M 27

10. BAYLOR (2-3)

This Saturday
: Iowa State (2-3)

Bottom line: The Bears will get a good test from the Fighting Gene Chiziks' defense, but Robert Griffin keeps bowl hopes alive for the Green and Gold.

Chip's pick: Baylor 27, Iowa State 24 in OT

11. IOWA STATE (2-3)

This Saturday
: at Baylor (2-3)

Bottom line: When you've got a Top 25 team down 20-0 in your stadium (Kansas), you have to close the deal. You just have to.

12. TEXAS A&M (2-3)

This Saturday
: Kansas State (3-2)

Bottom line: A&M found new ways to compound its misery last week at Oklahoma State - by giving up two interceptions for touchdowns and a punt return for a TD. Aggies play their best game of the season and still lose to K-State.


COAST-TO-COAST

THE TOP FIVE

1. Oklahoma
- They've earned it by outscoring opponents 103-3 in the first quarter
2. Missouri - The Tigers' offense has plain and simply been unstoppable
3. Texas - The Longhorns' defense is the sure thing, now it's time for the offense to step up
4. Alabama - The Tide ate some poison cheese last week and nearly lost to Kentucky
5. LSU - QB Jarrett Lee won at Auburn. Can he lead the Tigers to victory in The Swamp?

THE PICKS (11-2 last week, including Vanderbilt's upset of Auburn)

LSU at FLORIDA - This game is just a little too big for Jarrett Lee, and the Gators escape in a thriller.

Chip's pick: Florida 27, LSU 24

TENNESSEE at GEORGIA - Phil Fulmer finds himself more and more looking at Monster.com.

Chip's pick: Georgia 31, Tennessee 17

ARKANSAS at AUBURN - Bobby Petrino keeps catching SEC opponents coming off a loss.

Chip's pick: Auburn 24, Arkansas 13

PENN ST. at WISCONSIN - OK, OK, I finally believe the Nittany Lions are for real.

Chip's pick: Penn St. 27, Wisconsin 20

CLEMSON at WAKE FOREST (Thusday) - Tommy Bowden's farewell tour continues.

Chip's pick: Wake Forest 28, Clemson 20

NOTRE DAME at NORTH CAROLINA - Charlie Weiss goes head-to-head with a real head coach.

Chip's pick: North Carolina 31, Notre Dame 20

ARIZONA ST. at USC - The Trojans have already had their meltdown game.

Chip's pick: USC 31, Arizona St. 28

ONE FINAL THOUGHT

This Texas-Oklahoma game has the feel of 2004 to it. Texas had a scrappy defense led by Greg Robinson that played out of its mind against the Sooners, but Mack Brown didn't trust Vince Young to do much in the passing game - so they had a really conservative game plan and got shut out, 12-0. UT must learn from those mistakes and allow Colt McCoy and the offense to be aggressive and make some plays. Being aggressive with Colt is also how UT came back to win the 2006 game in the second half.


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