until Texas vs Kansas

Monday, October 31


Young or Bush?

Travis has started a little controversy here. He says the Heisman is Vince’s to lose. The Heisman Pundit, who spends a great deal of time studying the science of Heisman voting, says Bush is the man to beat right now. Much of the disagreement comes over whether or not Vince Young had a “Heisman Moment” on Saturday, with his game-changing 80 yard touchdown run. Student Body Right is arguing that Travis is over-stating the importance of such moments.

We can run in circles debating this, and to be fair, I think all three pundits are making some legitimate arguments. While a “Heisman moment” may not be a prerequisite for winning the award, Vince Young certainly turned some positive attention his way with his sick run (and even sicker total game stats.)

With all that said, this may just be a lesson in Flavor-Of-The-Day-ism. It’s the cousin of What-Have-You-Done-For-Me-Lately-isms, and when the voters send in their ballots, their votes will likely be cast by what these outstanding players do last. If Young has an abysmal game against Texas A&M, or chunks the Big 12 championship game, he can kiss the trophy good-bye. If Bush fumbles away a USC perfect season against UCLA, he’ll be similarly dinged.

So while all the informal polls will show Young and Bush slightly ahead of one another from week to week, in the end it will come down to how these two studs perform at the end, when all are watching. On Friday of Thanksgiving week, Texas gets the spotlight against A&M in the one of the only games available for viewing. Similarly, when USC and UCLA square off at the end of the year, the eyes of the nation will tune in to see these two Pac 10 leaders collide. If Bush dominates the Bruins like he did the Irish, he can win it right then.

The wild card in this race is Matt Leinart, who, should he blow up with amazing stats down the stretch, could steal some of Bush’s thunder and split USC votes. In that case, Young could finish the winner, even, perhaps, without having the most first place votes.

I think Mike Holt said it best, though. At least for Texas, the Heisman Trophy is an afterthought—fuel for debate on blogs like this one. USC’s had their national title. We have not. That’s the real prize and the only one that counts.


ATL Top 25

1. Texas (Barely. Another slip and we’re bumping USC back up)
2. Southern Cal (If defensive improvement sticks, look out)
3. Virginia Tech (Will get their chance to make a case this Saturday vs Miami)
4. Alabama (Utah. State. Shrug.)
5. Miami (The running game is there. The passing is not.)
6. LSU (This team mystifies us)
7. UCLA (Yikes. They keep playing with fire. USC won’t be so kind)
8. Ohio State (Starting to really roll. The offense is clicking)
9. Florida State (Still looking for consistency)
10. Georgia (Shockley loss is so unfortunate; tough, tough break)
11. Notre Dame (Creeping closer to a BCS bowl)
12. Penn State (What a turnaround for Joe Pa)
13. Wisconsin (Calhoun just another great Badger runner)
14. Oregon (Steadily improving)
15. TCU (Our token mid-major vote)
16. Florida (Would not have beaten UGA with Shockley)
17. West Virginia (I guess)
18. Boston College (Not up for VT’s defense)
19. Texas Tech (Decent win against Baylor)
20. California (They don’t look like they can beat USC)
21. Fresno State (Could they challenge USC? No)
22. Auburn (They're going to be good next year)
23. Michigan (Wolverine fans must be frustrated with this team)
24. Colorado (They’re not bad. They’re not good.)
25. Georgia Tech (See: Colorado)


News and Notes from the Weekend

After a wild weekend of traveling, which included missed flights by me and canceled flights by the airlines, I’m back. For those that are interested, the wedding was perhaps the best I’ve ever been to.

On to the notes:

Heismanpundit takes issue with Travis’s “Heisman Moment” post. As much as I’d like to agree with Travis, I think HP makes a good point. I’m not sure enough people saw the game, and I’m not sure that the first half struggles won’t be weighed in against VY.

Not to pile on my good friend Travis, whose contributions to this blog are invaluable, but Student Body Right makes an excellent counterargument as well. I think a lot of us have some vivid memories of Mr. Bush's runs against Notre Dame. I'm not sure I've EVER seen runs like some of those. Hey, we will pat ourselves on the back when we say something people like (or blast others when we think they're wrong), but we also try to point you the readers to other viewpoints, even when they contrast with our own.

consensus picks failed to get over .500 again, going 2-2-1. Thanks again to Andrew and Joe for making guest picks.

*USC’s defense is coming around—scary news for Trojan opponents. It’s not terribly surprising, as Pete Carroll has always been a good defensive coach. If their defense is making plays at the end of the year, it’s going to be awfully tough for anybody—Texas included—to beat them.

*Speaking of which, there cannot be any more lapses like the one that occurred in the first half versus Oklahoma State. The Texas roaring comeback was impressive, but it’s one thing to pound OSU after being down, and quite another to do so against a team like USC, or Virginia Tech.

*The first half slip against Oklahoma State also highlighted the other problem such games create for Texas: the potential erosion of human votes to USC and/or Virginia Tech. If Texas loses ground in the computers, they won’t be able to afford to lose ground in the human polls, too. Texas must impress in their remaining games to keep their place in the BCS title game.

*Teams that impressed me this week: USC, Virginia Tech, Ohio State.

*Teams that made me wonder: Texas, UCLA, Florida State, Miami.

*Speaking of Virginia Tech and Miami, there’s a pretty big game in Blacksburg this weekend. Based on what I’ve seen, Virginia Tech should be the favorite. Miami’s lack of a passing game may hurt them. Still, I expect the Canes to give the Hokies their stiffest test yet. Shit, their only test yet. Virginia Tech still hasn’t beaten an elite team. Here’s their chance.


BCS Rankings Halloween

Texas dropped to number 2 in this week's BCS rankings but is still solidly in front of Virginia Tech. As we all know, if the season were to end today, Texas would be in the Rose Bowl. As long as Texas keeps winning it will be very difficult for Virginia Tech to leapfrog the Horns.

--The computers still love the Horns. Texas is ranked first in all six computers.
--USC and Virginia Tech have the same computer strength.
--Penn State is ranked fifth by the computers but tenth and eleventh in the polls.
--Notre Dame is moving closer to a BCS berth as the 14th ranked team this week, up another place from last week.
--Four Big 12 teams are now ranked in the BCS with Colorado at 22 and Oklahoma at 25.



Heisman Moment

Although not always the case, in many years the Heisman winner has what I call a "Heisman Moment," a signature play that is so great you cannot help but admit that player is the best in all the land.

Vince Young's 80-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma State qualifies as a "Heisman Moment."

The pump fake. The speed. The game-changing momentum created. The proof that he was by far the best player on the field at that moment.

I can't recall a moment like this for Matt Leinart last year, or Jason White the year before. But Eric Crouch's touchdown catch on the reverse pass against OU in 2001 qualifies. Charles Woodson's punt return. Desmond Howard's TD catch. The list goes on and on.

Had Vince struck the pose after reaching the end zone, it would not have been that inappropriate.

USC fans, please help me out here. Admittedly, I have not seen every second of every USC game, since I live in the Dallas market and I don't have ESPN Gameplan.

Does Reggie Bush have a moment like this? I've seen his awesome punt return, but did that change the game and alter USC's season? I know Bush dominated the USC-Notre Dame game, but Leinart stole some of his thunder at the end. Leinart's 4th-down pass was a "Heisman Moment," but everyone seems to have conceded the Trojans' #1 candidate is Bush, not Leinart.

In these eyes, and in many other across the nation, the Heisman is now Vince's to lose.



Road to Pasadena Halloween

We are down to just five unbeatens. And I think only three are for real. Another Saturday with limited upsets. Maybe we shouldn’t rank teams until October. Then we wouldn’t have so many surprises in August and September when teams are still trying to find their true identities. Anyway, USC, Texas and Virginia Tech all win and give us more to talk about for another week.

Tier 1—The Favorites
1. USC—cruised past Washington State at home. Leinart had an excellent game. Could he siphon enough votes from Bush for a Vince Young Heisman victory? Next up those pesky Stanford Cardinal before a tough stretch to finish the season with Cal, Fresno State, and UCLA.

2. Texas—it was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Texas played like two different teams on Saturday night. The Horns suffer slightly in both polls, but will still be in the top 2 in the BCS. Is anyone extremely uncomfortable with Lou Holtz’s pro-Texas babbling on ESPN? Next up a “road” game in Waco vs. Baylor.

3. Va Tech—got a half-statement win on national tv on Thursday night. The Hokies have another huge chance to impress voters and the computers when Miami visits this Saturday. Even if they get past the Hurricanes a perfect season is long from assured. Games with Virginia, North Carolina, and probably Florida State remain before bowl season.

Tier 2—The Contenders
1. Alabama—cruised past Utah State at home, 35-3. Another weak opponent in Mississippi State this week before the Tide face their true tests in LSU and Auburn. Still betting heavily against an undefeated season.

2. UCLA—won again in the fourth quarter at Stanford. Can someone please tell the Bruins when the game actually starts? Late game comebacks are fun to watch but too tough on the stomach. Bruins are correctly ranked below some one loss teams.

Tier 3—Need Help
1. 1 Loss Teams—Best one loss teams in order: Miami, LSU, Florida State, Georgia Penn State, Wisconsin, and Oregon.

2. 2 Loss Teams—Notre Dame: the computers still hate them. A BCS berth may rest in the land of computer code. The Irish should easily win out though. Anyone else shocked by a Charlie Weis’ ten year deal? Ohio State: gets Illinois this weekend after outscoring Minnesota on Saturday. Three more wins and the Buckeyes most likely grab a BCS berth.


Sunday, October 30


The Perfect Storm

It was another scary first half for the Horns against Oklahoma State, as the stars aligned perfectly for the Cowboys and allowed them to open up another big first half lead. But like last year, the large deficit didn't hold, as Texas finished the game with a 38-0 run to win once more.

Still, it was a concerning game. The defense couldn't stop the run in the first half, and the offense was flat. It was partly Texas being bad, and partly Oklahoma State putting everything together for a half. From the great runs, to the Texas mistakes, to the crazy deflected touchdown catch, everything went the Cowboys way for a half. It looked like the perfect storm was gathering that could wipe out Texas' dream season.

And yet, by the end, it was a 19 point victory for the Horns. Had they played with the same focus and intensity at the beginning of the game that they had at the end of the game, they would have won by 50. Why Texas was so flat is a mystery, and Mack Brown and Gene Chizik need to figure out why Texas stumbled out of the gate. There won't be any coming back from down three scores to a team like USC.

We'll discuss this game much, much more on Monday. For now, it's another win, an impressive comeback, and another memorable night for Vince Young. Let's throw this out for discussion in the meantime: does last night's game help, or hurt, Vince Young's Heisman resume?

Saturday, October 29


No worries

In Vince We Trust.

Friday, October 28


Texas BBall Preseason # 3

The 2005-2006 Texas Longhorns men's basketball team opened as the third ranked team in the first ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. Duke sits atop the poll followed by UConn. The Blue Devils received 28 of 31 first place votes. Texas picked up two first place votes with Villanova snagging the other. The Horns play Duke on December 10th in New Jersey and Villanova on January 14th in Austin.

Texas opens the season with an exhibition game against St. Mary's on November 2nd at 7 PM. First regular season game is November 15th against Southern in the Guardians Classic in Austin.

My season tickets just arrived!!



Dropping the ball

I suck. I really, really suck. I pulled a Selvin Young, misread my airline ticket, and thought I was leaving this evening. It was this morning. Ran straight into the pile and fumbled. My suit for Joe's wedding won't be ready until this afternoon, and now I'll be forced to try to Stand By my way to Austin this evening. Cross your fingers...

Oh, also: I suck.


Thursday, October 27


Do your part

I didn't think this was real, but it is. The website www.voteforheisman.com is holding a public vote for the 2005 Heisman Trophy, and the top three players get actual legit votes in the real Heisman balloting. First place gets a first-place vote, second place a second, and third place a third.

At the time of this post, Vince Young is second behind Maurice Drew. You can click here for the current leaderboard.

Please do your part by going to this site and voting for the player you think is deserving. I think it's obvious who we support.

You have to enter a valid email address for your vote to be counted, and you can vote once a week. It's worth it, because this can actually make a difference in the final tally.



Skip Bayless Is (Still) An Idiot

Skip Bayless is an idiot. Go ahead and Google it. You’ll quickly see this is not an original thought of mine. Bayless has made a career out of saying all the wrong things—the things that get under people’s skin. Whatever his motivations, the words “Skip Bayless is an idiot” have their own place in the dictionary. The guy has managed to be called an idiot more times than Jessica Simpson.

I think
Football Outsiders said it best: “Skip Bayless columns are like fish in a barrel.”

Some of Skip's lowlights, just from the last year:

*The Eagles only choice is to get rid of T.O. (Riiiiight.)
*Deion Sanders is more deserving of the best athlete ever than Lance Armstrong (Seriously, he said that.)
*Kevin Garnett is not a man because he didn’t slug Anthony Peeler after Peeler swung at him. (Level-headedness, apparently, is not a quality real men possess. Ron Artest, we can safely conclude, is a REAL man.)
*Lebron James faked the flu to avoid the dunk contest (Bayless offers no real evidence; just wild conjecture—his specialty)

We could go on and on and on. I actually had fun with my little Google search. It’s pleasing to see how many sentences contain “Skip Bayless” and “idiot.”

Today, Skip Bayless is at it again,
dismissing the Longhorns and—this is where it gets retarded—saying that Ohio State could give USC a better game than Texas could. I can’t fathom any justification for that statement, and Bayless doesn’t offer any. It’s just yet another idiotic thing he says that we’ve all come to expect. Personally, I think he should be quite a bit higher on this list.


Texas vs Oklahoma State Preview

Oklahoma State 15 Montana State 10
Oklahoma State 23 Florida Atlantic 3
Oklahoma State 20 Arkansas State 10
Oklahoma State 0 Colorado 34
Oklahoma State 31 Missouri 38
Oklahoma State 23 Texas A&M 62
Oklahoma State 10 Iowa State 37

Average score: Oklahoma State 17 Opponent 28

Wow. That's including the three puff cakes they played at the beginning of the year. Folks, this is a bad football team. I'm not sure how you lose to Iowa State by 27 points. I'm not sure how you only beat Montana State by 5 points.

Is there anything to preview here? Not really. A loss here would be the biggest upset in the last ten years, easily. So, rather than breakdown how much better we are than them, here are a few questions in my mind this week:

*Will Quan Cosby assume the punt returning duties permanently? (He looked great against Tech)

*How healthy is Jamaal Charles?

*How far back has Selvin Young really come?

*Will Texas cover the 37 point spread and move to 8-0 ATS for the year?

*Does Bevo ever get full?

*How nervous will Joe be at his wedding? How drunk will I be?

As you can see, my attention span for this game is limited. I expect nothing short of a total blowout. Anything under a 30 point shellacking will be a disappointment. Joe picked a good weekend to get married, after all.


Horns Increase Lead in Master Coaches Survey

The sixteen former college coaches voted again this week, and once again put Texas in the top spot. This week the Horns received 13 of 16 first place votes to increase their lead over USC marginally.

It's a meaningless poll, but still nice to see Texas getting some love from these former college coaches. The #1 rankings are piling up, and it brings up an interesting question. I was having dinner with my Dad last night and he suggested to me that the Horns should hope to be #2 going into the Rose Bowl (should they get there). My initial reaction was to agree, though I'm not sure it makes much difference. He insisted that the pressure of being #1 is a real factor and that Texas really would be better served coming in at #2, as the challenger to the reigning champion.

It's interesting food for thought, and a potential legitimate justification for why USC should be ranked #1. He agreed with most of my arguments about why many of the justifications you hear for USC being #1 are bogus, but suggested that the pressure of being #1 is a legitimate factor and one that should be considered when ranking teams.

Readers, please chime in with your thoughts on both subjects:

(1) Is Texas better off entering a potential Rose Bowl showdown with USC ranked #2?
(2) Is there a real pressure of being #1 that should be taken into account when evaluating USC?

Wednesday, October 26


College Hoops Preseason BlogPoll Released


The Worst Yet

Ugh, another bad argument. No sooner had I posted my Bad USC Arguments post than I stumble across the worst I’ve seen yet. Boi From Troy and The Wizard of Odds are now boasting about USC being a 6 point favorite. Okay, fine, boast. The problem quickly arises when the two of them take it a step further. First, Boi From Troy:

Personally, I’d go with the oddsmakers at this point in the season, as their livelihoods are on the line when picking teams and the message from Vegas is clear: USC is already a 6 point favorite to beat the Longhorns in Pasadena on Janaury 4.

Next, The Wizard of Odds:

Well, the gambling gods have spoken. Pinnacle Sports has released a line for the Rose Bowl and USC, winner of 29 in a row, currently is a six-point favorite (and rising) over Texas. The choice as to which side to be on is clear as picking a winner from the above fray. How do you plead, Texas? We will now submit Exhibit No. 1, aka the release announcing the Pinnacle lines, as evidence.

The fallacy is especially ironic in the latter case, considering his self-proclaimed title as “The Wizard of Odds.” You’d think someone of that title might understand a little bit about how lines are set and why they move.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have exactly one job: create as much action as possible. Their job is not—in any way, shape, or form—to try to predict the outcome of the game. Their job is to get as many bets in on the game as possible. To that end, they set the line. The guy who set the line might think Texas is going to win by 10. He might think USC is going to win by 21. You certainly don’t know what he thinks by how he sets the line.

That line is set based on public perception and what he thinks will generate the most betting action. When a line moves, it does not move because supposed guru is now feeling like USC is going to win by more, or less. It moves because too many people are betting on one side. The line is adjusted to try to create action on the other side.

Lines tell us nothing about what experts think the outcome of the game will be. They tell us what gamblers think the outcome of the game will be. Understand the difference, gentelemen. Especially if you want to proclaim yourself the Wizard of Odds. I suggest the dunce cap might be more appropriate.


Success Defined

What is a successful season? For the past five years, Texas has won nine, nine, eleven, ten, and eleven games. But all five of those seasons were tainted by losses to OU. We have cleared that hurdle this season. We are 7-0 with two victories over top 10 teams and the presumptive favorites for the Big 12 title and a berth in the national championship game. So far we have had nothing but success. Given the scenarios below would the season be successful?

A) Loss at Texas A&M followed by victories in Big 12 Championship Game and in the Fiesta Bowl over Notre Dame.

B) Beat Texas A&M but lose in the Big 12 Championship Game. Receive an at-large BCS berth and beat Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

C) Beat A&M. Win the Big 12 Championship but are left out of the Rose Bowl by the computers. Win the Fiesta Bowl over Penn State.

D) Beat A&M. Win the Big 12 Championship. A berth but a loss in the Rose Bowl to USC.

E) Win out for a 13 – 0 season and a national championship Rose Bowl victory.

I would say A & B are unacceptable at this point in the season. C would be a successful season. D would be successful but difficult to stomach. And obviously E is the goal.

What do you think?



Deconstructing the USC cheerleaders

We’re all well aware that October BCS rankings are about as meaningful as Major League Soccer. Nonetheless, I’m just astounded by all the carping I’m hearing around the country. Most of it is from dinosaur journalists like Tony Kornheiser (who unbelievably manages to be wrong no matter what issue he’s blathering about) and petulant USC fans.

For the record, I have absolutely no problem if you think USC should be ranked #1. They’re a great, great football team, and if you think they’re better than Texas, by all means, you can rank them #1 and be justified. But with that said, I’ve had it with some of the asinine arguments people are pothering. Let’s put some of those to rest.

USC should be #1 because every team brings their A-game trying to gun them down.

This is a partial truth. I have absolutely no doubt that every single team that faces USC has that game circled on their calendar. But for the argument to hold water, it would have to be true that teams get less jacked up to play Texas. How is Texas not the biggest game on every single team’s schedule this year, too? Do you think Missouri, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M will be any less motivated to knock off a giant than the USC gunners are? And what about Ohio State? They spent their entire offseason preparing for the Week 2 showdown with the Horns. It’s a silly argument. Texas is the biggest game on all their opponent’s schedule this year, too. That somehow teams get extra psyched up for USC, as opposed to Texas, is just wrong.

USC should be #1 because they haven’t lost in 29 games.

Huh? Following that logic, Oklahoma should still be in the Top 25, as we’d need to take into account what they’d done the past two years. This is the worst of the USC #1 arguments. What happened last year is irrelevant.

The computers are stupid—they can’t see what I see with my own eyes on the field

No, they can’t see what you see—four, maybe five, games a week. They see them all. Computers are not perfect, but the criticisms I hear of them are American anti-intellectualism at its finest. Or worst.

Texas has a patsy schedule and hasn’t beaten anyone good

I’ve seen two of the highest-caliber college football games I’ve seen in quite some time this year. The first was USC-Notre Dame, and the second was Texas-Ohio State. The latter was a match up of two of the nastiest defenses in the country, playing at a level USC and Notre Dame haven’t even sniffed this year. The former was a match up of two of the most prolific offenses I’ve seen in the college game in a long time (which Ohio State certainly hasn’t sniffed this year). The Big 12 may be down, but Texas is pounding their inferior competition like no other. USC stumbled through Oregon and Arizona State, let Arizona hang in the game, and managed to allow 24 points to… Washington? You can’t punish Texas for their schedule if you aren’t also going to acknowledge that USC isn’t pounding their lesser opponents the way a #1 team should. It’s a draw, at worst.

I could probably go on for a while on this topic, but I’ll let it go for now. There is a justified case for voting USC #1 in the country. Too often, though, you just don’t hear it. What you hear is a bunch of garbage, and today, I’m taking out the trash.



Week 9 Picks: Lack of Consensus Edition

We bring back the weekly picks with two new guest handicappers. Thanks again to Alex and Michael for their picks last week. This week we bring in Andrew Windler, better known on this blog as “The Other Andrew,” and lovingly referred to today as Funniest Commenter Awardee. Also joining in on the picks this week will be Joe Newberry. Why? Because he’s getting married on Saturday, and for Christ’s sake, the man needs a distraction or two.

On to the games. (AW=Andrew Wiggins; TOA=The Other Andrew)

Top BCS Threat Game of the Week
Boston College +13.5 @ Virginia Tech
PB—VT won ugly vs MD last week; BC won ugly vs Wake last week. Hokies should rebound this week. Pick: Virginia Tech
TR— Remember the first rule of college football: All unbeatens eventually lose unless they are really, really good. FSU wasn’t, and they lost. VaTech isn’t, either. Is this their week to lose? Taking the points here is easy. Look into the money line, too. Pick: BC
AW—The Hokies won’t play bad at home. They hold on this week to set up a scary one next weekend. Pick: Virginia Tech
JN—I hate VT. Beamer ball is one of the most hyped clichés in college football. Did you know that Texas has more blocked kicks that VT since 2000? UT (35) VA Tech (32). Pick: B.C.
TOA— I heard Michael Vick has a brother that plays for Va Tech. If that’s true, and I’m not saying it is,
my pick is Va Tech

Consensus: Virginia Tech (3 votes to 2)

Top These Used To Be Good Programs Game of the Week
Oklahoma +1.5 @ Nebraska
PB—Lines like this one hammer home the depth of the Big 12 plunge. I don’t see much offense here.
Pick: Nebraska
TR— While staying home sick from work on Monday I accidentally stumbled upon the Bob Stoops coach’s show, where they went over the highlights of OU’s 2OT win over Baylor. This was classic TV, showing just how far OU has fallen.
Pick: Nebraska
AW—Peterson will play and play well.
Pick: Oklahoma
JN—Bomar gained some awesome experience playing against a great Baylor team… Both teams suck here. Pick: Oklahoma
TOA—If Eric Crouch plays well in this game, he’s a lock for the Heisman. I don’t see how anyone in the Big 12 North can unseat Nebraska (ever!). Pick: Oklahoma

Consensus: Oklahoma (3 votes to 2)

Top Big 10 Game of the Week
Ohio State -4 @ Minnesota
PB—The Buckeye offense is starting to come around. They’ll finish this year like they did last year. Pick: Ohio State
TR— Home dog in the unpredictable Big 10 is too tempting to pass up. Pick: Minnesota
AW—I still think the Buckeyes are the best team in the Big 10. They survive a close one. Pick: Ohio State
JN—I like the home Big Ten getting the points. Pick: Minnesota
TOA—Maroney will be handling both the deep snapping and the punting duties after last week’s debacle.
Pick: Ohio State

Consensus: Ohio State (3 votes to 2)

Top Best Named Game Of The Week
Georgia +4 vs Florida
PB—Shockless dogs face biteless Gators. What gives? Leak looks lost.
Pick: Georgia
TR— No Shockley, no chance for Georgia. Gators big. Pick: Florida
AW—This line should raise some eyebrows. Yeah, Florida seems to own the Dawgs. Yeah, Shockley is out. Georgia’s defense keeps them close. Pick: Georgia
JN—Biggest Cocktail Party EVER!!!! My initial reaction was to go with Florida, which of course means I should pick GA. Pick: Georgia
TOA—They need to rename this The World’s Largest Keg Party. Honestly, how many Cosmos and Mojitos do you think they have at Billy Joe Gator’s tailgate? Pick: Florida

Consensus: Georgia (3 votes to 2)

Top Mismatch Game of the Week
Texas -36.5 @ Oklahoma State
PB—We beat Tech by 35. Les Miles still sucks, even if he’s gone. Pick: Texas
TR— Spread is too high. Mack doesn’t run up the score, and playing on the road, he’ll shut things down once the Horns get comfortably ahead. Pick: OSU (Texas by 28)
AW—I can’t see OSU scoring more than 10. Horns roll, again.
Pick: Texas
JN—Ok. State is horrible this year, but why is the line only 36.5? I think this is a trap. If Vegas thought this was going to be a blowout, the line would be –60. Horns win by 35. Pick: Ok. St.
TOA—Lost in all the gambling madness is the fact that Joe is getting married on a game day. I hope you’re going to put a big plasma screen on the crucifix so it looks like Jesus is watching the game. The Virgin Mary weeps for OSU’s defense.
Pick: Texas

A True Longhorn Fan Wedding

Consensus: Texas (3 votes to 2)

Top Try to Figure Out the Pac 10 Game of the Week
UCLA -7.5 @ Stanford
PB—UCLA refuses to blow anyone out. That said, they’re just getting better.
Pick: UCLA
TR— UCLA can see its perfect matchup with USC from here. Pick: UCLA
AW—Does Stanford have enough offense? No. Do they have any offense? No. Pick: UCLA
JN—Stanford coming off a big win v. Az. St., but UCLA is FO REAL. Pick: UCLA
TOA— Any D-1A team (Stanford) that loses to a D-1AA team (UC-Davis) doesn’t really deserve to be talked about.
Pick: UCLA

Consensus: Mortal Lock of the Week—UCLA (5 votes to 0)


Barnes adds to recruiting class

Rick Barnes’ recruiting class just keeps getting better. Having already landed the #2 prospect in the country in Rockville, MD star Kevin Durant, among others, Barnes yesterday secured a commitment from 6’10” center Matt Hill, of Lincoln, Nebraska. Hill also had scholarship offers from Oklahoma State, UCLA, Gonzaga, Purdue, and Utah, but chose Texas. “I’ve picked a proven program,” Hill said.

Scout.com ranked Hill the #74 prospect in the country.

Tuesday, October 25


Another #1 ranking

Texas is gaining ground in just about every poll. They picked up votes in the AP, Coaches, and Harris Polls. They moved up a spot (for now) in the BCS. And now, in the granddaddy of them all, they’ve pushed ahead of USC into the #1 slot in the FanBlogs.com poll.

Next up? The
BlogPoll, which will be released tomorrow. We’ll check in on that one tomorrow.


Texas Quarterback Name Game

In honor of incoming quarterback Colt McCoy, as well as former quarterback legend Major Applewhite, it’s time to have a Texas quarterback naming contest. It’s pretty tough to beat Colt McCoy, but we’ll throw out a few nominations of our own and invite you to offer your own.

Texas quarterbacks we’d like to see:

Whip McGee
Clayton Bronco
Buddy Winchester
Hoot McCormick
Chris Simms
Davey Sergeant
Bucky Cartwright
Irwin M. Fletcher (we wish)


UT Gameday

Buried somewhere on MackBrown.com is this video, where David Thomas and Michael Huff "kick it" with Chris Fowler for about 20 minutes last Friday on the Gameday set.

Click here to watch the video.

Fowler talks at great length about how Gameday has become what it is now, how much Corso goes through to set up his headgear pick, and why Fowler loves Austin so much.

He also tips ESPN/ABC's hand as to how they're going to promote USC/Texas.

This is a great watch.



Vince: I'm staying

From the Dallas Morning News:

"I just stay humble and tell people I signed to play here, and I'm playing here," Young said. "I'm coming back [next year]. That decision, I'm not thinking about it right now. I'm worrying about Oklahoma State and sending our seniors out with a bang. You've got to leave that decision open. But right now I plan on coming back."

Also from the link:

Of his Heisman pose on the sideline with teammates after a third-quarter, 75-yard touchdown pass to Billy Pittman on Saturday, Young said, "I kind of regret it."

"I don't want people thinking I've got an ego. I was just playing with some of my teammates, who were like, 'Let me see it.' I just gave them a little taste, not the whole thing."

Young said he won't strike the Heisman pose again -- unless he wins the trophy.

"If I won it, I'll strike it all the time," he said, laughing.


Dropping the Hammer: The Interview

No, we’re not talking about Tom Delay, folks. All Things Longhorn is pleased to bring you a brief interview with Warren St. John, author of the best-selling book, Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer: A Road Trip into the Heart of Fan Mania.

St. John is a reporter for The New York Times, author of Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, and a blogger about Alabama football and college football in general
. Besides being an outstanding writer, Warren is an astute observer and a rabid college football fan, dating back to his childhood watching Bear Bryant football teams.

To give him his full due, consider the following: Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer, a book that chronicles the depth of college football fandom, is ranked the #1 book on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s list of “Best College Sports Books Ever.” For those that have read A Season on the Brink, you know that’s a high honor. You can read more about the book or purchase a copy here

Icing on the cake for us Horns fans: our beloved Major Applewhite is a huge fan of the book, and even provided an advance comment for the title. Applewhite said, “Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer is a deeply intriguing and wildly entertaining observation of big time college football fans. It uncovers the often strange measures we true Orangebloods go to in supporting our 'Horns, and explains the bond we have with one another by simply flashing the hook'em.”

Warren St. John sat down with All Things Longhorn to answer a few questions.

ATL: Alabama is off to the first 7-0 start in some time. What's different about this year's team?

Warren St. John: Well from a fan's perspective, the most obvious difference is they're winning. Bama's been playing with a half a deck for a while, which hasn't helped. But I think the main reason they're winning is defense. It's not often that Bama holds Florida and Tennessee each to 3 points.

ATL: How much has the Prothro injury hurt the offense? Correspondingly, can they remain unbeaten without him?

WSJ: We're beginning to find out and it doesn't look good. The offense misses his sure hands badly. Unless some of Alabama's younger receivers step up, it's going to be hard to beat LSU and Auburn.

ATL: Have you had a chance to see Texas play this year? What is your opinion of the Horns?

WSJ: I have; watched the OU game in full, and have seen lots of highlights. I think Young is looking unstoppable right now. And the defense is playing big too. I'm a big fan of Mack Brown's.

ATL: The Downtown Athletic Club has invited you to vote in this year's Heisman trophy race? Who do you vote for, and why?

WSJ: It's unoriginal but I have to say Reggie Bush. He's one of the most phenomenal players I've ever seen.

ATL: The SEC's BCS representative will be?

WSJ: I think Bama is going to do it. They're playing in that weird zone where things just happen for them. And they're incredibly confident, but not cocky. If they drop one, it will still be cool to see the possibility of a Bama/ND or Bama/Penn State bowl game.

ATL: The national champion will be?

WSJ: This will sound like pandering, but I think it's the 'Horns year.


Top of the world

I know that things may change sooner or later (probably sooner), and the computers may drop us a bit after we take out the trash over the next few weeks, but as of today, I cannot tell you how great it feels to be able to say this:

We're #1!

From the fine folks at MackBrown-TexasFootball.com: The last time the Longhorns were ranked No. 1 in either The Associated Press or Coaches Poll was Oct. 8, 1984. That week, Texas was No. 1 in both major polls.

It's been over 21 years. Everything has changed so much since then, and for a while I have to admit I was skeptical if the Longhorns would ever return to the top of the college football world.

Now they have.

Yes, the national championship game looms large down the road, as does the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 3, which should bring home Mack Brown's first conference championship. But this week should be a celebration of the Texas Longhorns and their return to glory.

Remember, 4-7 was not that long ago. Rout 66 still burns. I think Quentin Griffin just scored again. But those demons now are long gone.

USC can talk 29 consecutive wins and all that jazz, but for the 2005 season alone, the Texas Longhorns have been the best team in all the land, as the current BCS ranking reflects.

Even if the unthinkable happens and the Horns stumble before the Rose Bowl, I am so proud of the team and the program to have achieved this milestone. The 2005 season has already been a success, as evident by the checklist at the bottom of this blog. Reaching #1 in the rankings is just another accolade earned along the way.

And now, the journey to the national championship continues ...



Looming Computer Problems?

The national pundits are starting to come around. Texas picked up first place votes in both polls that go into the BCS on Sunday. We even picked up two first place votes in the AP poll, not that it matters. We are even number one in the latest BCS rankings. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline, Pat Forde of ESPN, and Lee Corso of ESPN College Gameday already have the Horns in the Rose Bowl. The computers love us. The pollsters love us. The Rose Bowl officials want us. This is the best Texas team most of us have seen in our lifetime. Is there any reason to worry? Bear with me. There is a small one. Consider this the ATL Devil’s Advocate.

The BCS computers really love us. Right now our six computer rankings are first, first, first, first, first, and second. And at least for a week, Texas is the number one overall team in the BCS. If we keep winning and winning handily, it is extremely doubtful that pollsters would drop us to number 3 behind Virginia Tech. Lucky for us, the polls account for 2/3 of the BCS number. So, we should have a mathematical advantage over Virginia Tech in at least two of the three BCS components for the rest of the season. We could however suffer from this point forward in the computers.

Our next three opponents are bad. Actually, they are horrible. We will likely be favored by more than 35 points in each of our next three games. Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Kansas have a combined 1-11 record in the Big 12. According to the latest
Sagarin Elo-Chess rankings (the ones used for the BCS), our next three opponents are the 12th, 9th, and 11th best teams in the Big 12. Also, according to Sagarin, our strength of schedule is currently 30th. USC’s is 24th and Virginia Tech’s is 55th. All six BCS computers value who you play and who you beat. Some use the date and location of the game as well. Some don’t. Our computer strength and lead over Virginia Tech is likely to slip. It won’t matter if we win our next three games 150-10. The computers will be judging our whole season that will now include very bad teams. As we slip, Va Tech is likely to rise, if they keep winning. The Hokies play Boston College, Miami, Virginia, and North Carolina to close the season. Current Sagarin Rankings of those opponents 17, 12, 43, and 40 respectively. Our last four are ranked 81, 53, 64, and 29. And don’t expect A&M to stay that high. They should beat Iowa State at home to go 6-2. But then the Aggies travel to Lubbock and Norman before we visit to end the season. A&M will most likely be 6-4 with one win coming over Texas State. Virginia Tech could also be helped by an ACC championship victory over Florida State more than Texas would be with another victory over Colorado or Missouri.

So what does this all mean? Likely, nothing. Texas should win out, including the Big 12 championship game and remain a solid number two in the polls. Given that it would be very difficult for Virginia Tech to jump us in the BCS. BCS expert Jerry Palm said the other day that Va Tech would have to average two spots ahead of Texas in the computers for it to be close. Currently, Va Tech is about two spots behind us in most computer rankings. And if USC and/or Va Tech drop a game, which is not that unlikely, then Texas can book nonrefundable tickets for Pasadena. But if all three win out, there is a small chance Texas would be headed to the Fiesta Bowl. More likely, Virginia Tech would be this year’s Auburn only adding kindling to the playoff fire. Georgia and Alabama have outside shots of winning out. But without Shockley, I don’t see Georgia doing it. And I still think LSU is better than Alabama and will represent the SEC West.


Monday, October 24



Texas is your new #1 team in the BCS, folks. The week two rankings, released moments ago, have Texas ahead of USC by the slimmest of margins, thanks to a #1 ranking by every computer ranking system used in the formula. Texas’ computer rankings will dip as they play out the remainder of their schedule against weak competition, but for one week at least, the Horns are #1. Virginia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, and UCLA all sit a good distance behind front-runners USC and Texas.


USC-Texas watch

A nifty little USC-Texas tracker box on Turkey Talk, a Virginia Tech sports blog.


Longhorn Fan Rooting Guide, Week 9

Horns fans, it’s time to start our selective cheering, as the quest for a Rose Bowl berth gains focus. Up this week, a slew of games to take an active interest in:

Group One: Remaining Unbeatens
Root for STANFORD over UCLA

That last one may have you scratching your heads, but we’re on record saying we want a piece of USC. We’re not changing our tune now. Virginia Tech has an outside chance of passing Texas, so a loss from them against BC this week or Miami next week would be nice. The SEC teams have a tough hill to climb, as they aren’t likely to close the human voter gap enough to give Texas a scare. UCLA and USC cannot both remain undefeated, so we’re not too concerned there, either.

Group Two: Big 12 Madness
Root for TEXAS A&M over IOWA STATE

From here on out, we’ll basically be rooting for all the teams that Texas has beaten, or will play in the remaining games. Of particular interest to Horns fans should be Colorado and Texas Tech. If those two can finish strong, the Texas victories over those two teams will be worth more.

As painful as it is to root for the Aggies and Sooners, we've got bigger fish to fry this year, Horns fans. So sack up, swallow your pride, and do it. Then take a long, hot bath and scrub yourself clean of the filthiness you're feeling.

Group Three: Others
Root for RICE over UTEP

Horns fans need to pull hard for Ohio State to win out, as the higher they climb in the polls and BCS standings, the more the Texas victory bolsters the Horns resume. Next time you see a Buckeye fan, raise your Horns in the air, laugh uncontrollably, and then quietly say, "Hey, I hope you beat Minnesota this week."

Back to Hornsblog Home Page


Even computers bullish on Horns

The Longhorns were ranked #1 by five of the six computer rankings used in the BCS formula, allowing them to leapfrog USC to the top spot in the BCS by the slimmest of margins. Texas remained ranked #2 by Jeff Sagarin’s computer ranking in the formula used by the BCS, but in his rankings that take margin of victory into account, the Horns are ranked #1.

A stellar week for Texas and further momentum for their push to the Rose Bowl. If Texas continues to blow out their competition, they're headed to Pasadena. The chances of Texas being this year’s Auburn are growing slimmer by the week.



Weekend Picks Recap

It wasn’t a bad week of picks for ATL. Travis Richmond broke the bookies, going 5-1 against the spread. Andrew Wiggins struggled again, going 1-5 against the spread. Drew's poor record was surprising, however, as he went a perfect 9-for-9 in the ESPN College Pick ‘Em league. Guest contributor Michael Holt went 3-3 against the spread, while guest contributr Alex Ernst (1st place in the Pick ‘Em league) went 4-2. Peter Bean went 3-3, and the consensus picks broke even as well, also at 3-3. The ATL Mortal Lock of the Week, Texas -16.5 over Tech, was an easy win. Texas is now 7-0 against the spread on the year.


Vince Young's Pro Future

This guest article is contributed by the authors of TripleOT, an all-sports blog that you can read here.

General pro scout consensus has our pride and joy, Vince Young, converting to a wide receiver when he enters the 2006 or 2007 pro draft (hopefully the latter, for Colt McCoy's sake). While this isn't something new (think Antwaan Randle-El, Matt Jones, or Hines Ward), it may come as a surprise to the Longhorn faithful.

As pro scouts look at Vince Young's performance through last year's Oklahoma State game, we can't really blame them for wanting to convert Young. Can any reader really remember a phenomenal pass or passing performance before the Oklahoma State comeback last year? Since then, however, Vince has been proving that he can do it through the air just as easily as he does it on the ground. Sure we know of Vince's great runs since then, especially the Kansas run and those ridiculous Michigan runs, but we now have some memories of Vince going through the air, such as his pass to Limas Sweed to win the Ohio State game. More importantly, the pro scouts now have memories of Young winning it with his arm, and that's going to help him immensely come draft day.

The way Vince is playing of late, NFL teams would be foolish not to breed him into a pro QB. Not to only compare black QBs with black QBs, but this was really the best comparison I could come with: Vince is showing the obvious physical gifts of Mike Vick, but the absolute grit and determination of Donovan McNabb. Is there any doubt that Vince Young could succeed in Atlanta's run-first offensive set right now? Heck, with the right talent around him, Vince Young could easily run a West Coast offense as successful as Steve Young – dropping back for a short pass but always threatening to take off towards the endzone. Regardless of what position Young is drafted, he has the critical factors that will lead him to success on Sundays – immeasurable physical talent and that drive that you can see in his eyes that leave other coaches awake at night. So enjoy it while you can Longhorn faithful, we're being graced here by rare talent.


Mandel Praises Entire Texas Team

SI.com's Stewart Mandel introduces America to Vince Young's supporting cast in this excellent article. Mandel gives an excellent overview of all the contributors to Texas' remarkable run this year, concluding with a prescient thought:

Mack Brown says, "The team is enjoying the ride. I told them, 'You don't get in this position many times in your life."

And you certainly don't get in this position by being a one-man team.

Oh so true. Even when Vince Young isn't his best, this Texas team is playing excellent football. Next up: Oklahoma State.


Road to Pasadena Oct. 24th

Six unbeaten teams now remain. This Saturday felt tame compared to the last one with nearly all the top teams marching on. Only Michigan State and Virginia were toppled. Texas dominated a “top 10” Tech team while Virginia Tech struggled in the first half against an unranked Maryland squad on national tv. The computers and polls will love the Horns this week. More BCS stuff to come.

Tier 1—The Favorites
1. USC—won handily out west against the terrible Washington Huskies. If you didn’t see it, you are not alone. This one was on opposite our game as part of ABC’s regional telecast. Only Pac 10 land got this feed. Four of their last five are at home, including Washington State this weekend.

2. Texas—still hasn’t played in a close game in the second half since Ohio State. Just as we all thought, Texas gave up yards but not points and easily avoided the Gameday curse. No real challenges until January for the Horns. However, we must continue crushing opponents and impressing voters. Next up: at Oklahoma State.

3. Va Tech—allowed Maryland to stay close for awhile before turning it on in the second half. Marcus Vick made some uncharacteristic mistakes in the first half. Disaster looms if the Hokies’ turnover woes continue in the upcoming weeks vs. Boston College and Miami.

4. Georgia—survived in Athens against the bad Arkansas Razorbacks. The health of QB DJ Shockley will determine the rest of the season. I don’t see Georgia beating Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech without him.

Tier 2—The Contenders
1. Alabama—proves that kickers matter. For the second straight week, the Crimson Tide win with a field goal. The road gets easier for Bama with Utah State and Mississippi State upcoming. The season ends with LSU and Auburn though. 9-2??

2. UCLA—won again at home. Am I the only one who isn’t taking this team seriously? Their rise in the polls will continue with games against Stanford and Arizona the next two weeks. Holiday Bowl anyone?

Tier 3—Need Help
1. 1 Loss Teams—Best one loss teams in order: Miami, LSU, Florida State, Boston College, Penn State, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

2. 2 Loss Teams—Notre Dame will likely grab an at-large BCS berth if they win out, and the computers don’t hold them back. Only one tough game remains against Tennessee in two weeks. Ohio State ran away from Indiana Saturday morning. The Big 10 is nuts but the Buckeyes should win the league if they win out.



Texas 52 Texas Tech 17

Texas Tech outgained the Longhorns in total yards, had 29 first downs to Texas’ 21, owned the time of possession 36:01 to 23:59 and passed for 369 yards. They also lost, 52-17.

Texas did what great teams do, smothering inferior competition in every way that mattered, dominating with big plays and an overall deflating defense. It was just another sign that this year’s Texas team is special and a notch above previous years’ Longhorn teams.

You can read a recap of the game
here or check out the box score here, so we’ll just touch on some of the important notes from the game:

*Vice Young threw two interceptions early in the game, but this year’s maturation showed itself once again as he rebounded to perform solidly after the two mistakes. Young finished 12-22 for 239 yards and two touchdown passes.

*Billy Pittman has emerged as a legitimate stud. Pittman turned his three catches into 138 yards, including two touchdowns, one for 75 yards. With Aaron Ross ailing, Pittman also handled the punt return duties, and while Ross has been solid this year, Pittman easily outperformed him. The switch should be permanent.

*ATL whipping boy Selvin Young was quietly effective, gaining 77 yards on 16 carries. He wasn’t Jamaal Charles, but he did what was needed of him and found the end zone twice.

*All Points Bulletin: Any university seeking a head coach should put Gene Chizik at the top of their list. Horns fans are just hoping we get a national title out of him before he takes over somewhere. The man is really, really good at what he does. In fact, all our offensive weapons aside, he’s the number one reason why I think we’re the favorites to win it all.

*Texas Tech coach Mike Leach pulled a Mack. Looking like the old Mack Brown against a top five team, Leach got conservative in the first half, electing to try to draw Texas offsides when his team was driving in Texas territory, instead of going for it on 4th down. Playing not to lose against a team that’s better than you is a bad idea. Trust us, we did it for years.

*Texas crushing win, coupled with Virginia Tech’s lackluster win over Maryland should move the Horns even more comfortably into the #2 spot in the polls and BCS standings. Only a Texas stumble can derail the Horns train to Pasadena at this point.


Wiggins' Gameday Notes

Texas exposed the previously undefeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 52-17 on Saturday afternoon. There's really no other way to put it. One one side of the field was the best team in the country and there was a top 20 team on the other. This was another no-contest. Don’t let the arrival of Gameday and their top 10 ranking fool you. This was the neighborhood pickup game between big brother and his friends vs. little brother and his friends. You can play all afternoon and the youngsters are never going to win.

That said, give Mike Leach credit. The Red Raiders compete with Texas, OU, and A&M every year and occasionally spring a huge upset. They simply don’t have the talent to win, though. Coaching can only get you so far. You have to have the pl,ayers, too. Tech lands west Texas and Dallas high school products who are of no interest to Texas or OU. So, when you don’t have the talent, you have to come up with another way to win. Mike Leach has done so: a gimmick offense.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: Tech had eight more first down, gained 468 yards (24 more than Texas), and dominated the time of possession 36 minutes to 24. Hodges was 42/64 for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Looking at only those stats, some would have thought Tech won, and no one would have predicted a 35 point blowout loss. But that is exactly what happened.

Last week, Texas played the best team from the Big 12 North, Colorado, and the game was over after the first quarter. This week, we played the next best team in the Big 12 South, and the game was over after the second quarter. Tech will continue to beat non conference pansies by 50+ points to start the year. They will continue to beat teams without solid defenses in the Big 12. They will continue to put up mind boggling statistics as long as Mike Leach is the head coach. And they should easily finish 10-1 with a long shot at a BCS berth. But until you focus on all three aspects of football--offense, defense, and special teams--there is no way Texas Tech can compete on a national level. Tech didn’t lose by 35 points because of their offense. They lost because they couldn’t stop Texas’ offense and they couldn’t execute in special teams. Their first punt went 19 yards. Their second was returned inside the 15 yard line. And their last before halftime was blocked leading to another UT touchdown and realistically ending the game.

Texas is the best team in the country, and made Tech look silly for much of the afternoon. The Horns are the only team in the top 10 nationally in offense and defense. I don’t care how many games USC has won in past seasons: this season Texas is the best team. We have the best offensive line in the country, the best quarterback, and the best freshman running back. We have a smothering defense with stars like Wright, Harris, and Huff who are all up for national awards. And our special teams are improving. Greg Johnson’s kickoffs are deeper and higher, and, consequently, our kick coverage has improved. Pino has been solid with field goals and extra points and McGee is solid enough punting when our offense happens to get stopped. USC may have a slightly more explosive offense, but overall the Horns are better. Let the debates rage.


ATL Top 25

1. Texas (Won by 35 despite subpar game)
2. Southern Cal (Offense still nation’s best)
3. Virginia Tech (A notch below TX, USC)
4. Georgia (Shockley injury could be fatal)
5. Alabama (Defense keeping Tide alive)
6. Miami (Game vs GA Tech postponed)
7. UCLA (Another great Pac 10 offense)
8. LSU (Les Miles STILL sucks)
9. Ohio State (Offense coming around; look out)
10. Florida State (Beat Duke; hooray)
11. Boston College (Big game vs Va Tech this Thurs)
12. Notre Dame (Rolled over BYU)
13. Penn State (Ron Zook sucks)
14. Wisconsin (The Big 10 is weird)
15. Oregon (Got by Arizona)
16. TCU (Only one loss for Horned Frogs)
17. Florida (Big game vs GA this week)
18. West Virginia (The Big East is baaad)
19. Texas Tech (Exposed by Texas defense)
20. Fresno State (Can they challenge USC?)
21. Northwestern (Nice to see them playing well)
22. Tennessee (Squeaked by Auburn)
23. Auburn (Heartbreaker)
24. California (Don’t look like they can beat USC)
25. Minnesota (See: Wisconsin)

Friday, October 21


Parting Shot

Checking out for the weekend boys and girls.

this video. Stupid Techies.

Hook 'em Horns!


Inside the Numbers: Texas Defense Edition

*43.6—percent of Texas’ opponents drives that are three plays and out

*16—number of sacks recorded by Texas’ defense this year

*11—number of games it took the UT defense to record 16 sacks last year

*147.7—yards per game passing allowed by the Texas defense

*8—number of opponent drives starting inside the Texas 40 yard line

*2—number of touchdowns scored by opponents on those drives

*240—total yards allowed per game by Texas defense (#3 nationally)

*11—turnovers forced by Texas’ defense this year

*3—number of those turnovers returned for scores

*63—points scored off those 11 turnovers

*19—points allowed by Texas’ defense on Texas’ 10 offensive turnovers

*14—points per game allowed by Texas defense

*46.3—percent of opponents’ pass attempts completed

*67.4—percent of Vince Young pass attempts completed

*0—losses by Gene Chizik defense-coached teams in last two season

*0—percent chance of Texas Tech winning

Hook ‘Em Horns! Beat Texas Tech!!


Duke vs Texas tickets

Ticket information for Duke-Texas hoops game on 12/10 can be found here.


Smoke and Mirrors: Texas Tech Edition

ESPN Gameday is coming to town. The pundits are devoting thousands of words to the game. It’s a game featuring the #2 and #7 teams in the College BCS standings. And yet, here at ATL, we’re just not that worked up.

It’s a must-win, as they all are, but it’s so hard to envision Texas Tech even covering the spread in this game, let alone winning it. For one thing, Texas Tech’s 6-0 record is largely window-dressing. They haven’t beaten anyone in the Top 25. Christ, they haven’t even played anyone in the Top 25. They’ve beaten three mediocre teams from the Big 12 North (Kansas, Nebraska, Kansas State), and three colleges you’ve never heard of.

While Texas’ schedule hasn’t been particularly brutal, it’s been nothing like the Cupcake City that Tech has scheduled. The only reason Tech has gotten as much love as they have is that they play a crazy pass-attack offense predicated on fast scores and 200 throws a game. Well, when you play for 60 minutes against Appalaichan Florida International Tech for the Blind, it’s no wonder you win 80-10.

What is mystifying, however, is why some people have bought into the hype. For the seventh straight game, Texas is being underestimated, this time courtesy of other people’s fascination with shiny objects. In this case, Tech is a Lamborghini. Unfortunately for them, they’re entered in a Monster Truck steel cage death match with a ten ton truck. Does anyone really think Tech can gimmick their way to a win here?

We sure as hell don’t. Texas contained Tech last year, and Gene Chizik will do the same this year. Cody Hodges is going to get hammered to the ground just the way Joel Klatt was last week, and he’s going to get real uncomfortable real quick after a few of those vicious blows.

Throw in the fact that Texas Tech’s pass-happy offense means more possessions for the opposing team, too. Does anyone really want to stake any money on Tech being able to contain the Texas offense? Vince Young dominated Tech last year, and he’s only better this year. Seriously, somebody please explain to us how Texas Tech can win this game. We don’t see it happening. The only real suspense on Saturday will be watching to see if Lee Corso dons a Bevo mascot head when he picks Texas.

Our official prediction is a Texas blowout, 58-20. Feel free to chime in with your own predictions for Saturday’s “Game of the Week.”


Street Wins TSN AL Rookie of the Year

Former Texas’-current Oakland Athletics closer Huston Street was named The Sporting News’s AL Rookie of the Year on Friday. Horns fans were not surprised to see Street transition smoothly to the big league level, but few could have predicted he’d be this successful. For those that aren’t baseball fans, let’s put this in perspective a bit.

Mariano Rivera, who everyone knows, had a truly dominant season. He’s likely to receive a number of Cy Young votes, and could very well finish in the top three. To give you an idea of how good Street was this year, let’s turn to
Baseball Prospectus’s advance metric for measuring pitchers’ value, VORP (Value Over Replacement Pitcher). Rivera managed an outstanding 32.3 VORP, second best among all relievers in the American League. The only relief pitcher with more VORP was Street, with 33.3.

VORP increases the more innings you pitch, so dominant starters can rack up higher VORP easier than relievers. That Street accumulated a 33.3 VORP in just 78.3 innings is remarkable, and a testament to how good he was when he was on the mound. Congratulations to Huston Street.

Even using traditional metrics, Street was outstanding, going 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA, with 72 strikeouts and 23 saves in 78 innings.


Leach likes to swordfight

Apparently Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is not only an aspiring weatherman, but he's also into all things pirate. He even bought himself a real pirate sword that he'll swing for you while making funny faces.

I swear I am not making this up.

This report on Leach appeared on a local Lubbock television station, and you can view it here. (Look under featured video for "Mike Leach & His Pirate Sword.")

Where should we even begin with the double-entendres ...



Yeah, we said it, so what?

If there is anyone who still don't believe this is a different Texas team, one that talks smack and backs it up, just read these comments from Texas defensive tackles coach Mike Tolleson:

Coach Tolly on the game plan for this week: "We're gonna kick their ass! That's what we're gonna do!"

Coach Tolly on Texas Tech's impressive offensive numbers: "They haven't played the University of Texas yet."

Tolleson made these comments to the Austin Longhorn Club on Thursday.

Someone needs to buy this man a beer on Saturday.


#1 vs #2 Showdown Looms for Horns

There’s nothing quite like a #1 vs. #2 showdown in college sports, Horns fans. I hope you’ve been saving your money and are already making your travel plans for this year’s big showdown. No, no—I’m not talking about a potential USC versus Texas Rose Bowl showdown. That would be next year. No, this time we’re talking about college hoops and the December 10 contest between preseason 1-2 Duke-Texas.

Ten years ago, when Tom Penders was still flailing around the courtside and Texas was busy not playing defense, you would have been hard pressed to find many Horns fans who could have envisioned Texas becoming one of the elite programs in the country. Somehow, Rick Barnes has done just that, doing what Mack Brown has done so well—getting the state’s top talent to stay at home.

It started with T.J. Ford, the charismatic point guard that took Texas to the Final Four and awakened many Austin sports fans to the joys of college basketball. Ford is still my favorite UT athlete of all time, though Vince Young has charged up that list to a close #2.

Ford wisely (given his health concerns) bolted for the NBA, but his legacy remains, luring top basketball players both in-state and around the nation to Austin to play for Barnes. This year’s group is deep, talented, and gaining experience. And people are noticing. Should they win the Guardians Classic, they’ll likely enter the December 10 showdown with Duke in East Rutherford, New Jersey undefeated. Duke, too, will likely be unbeaten.

I’ll be heading up to the Meadowlands to watch the game, and I hope some of you Horns fans can make the trip, too. If it’s cheaper for you to get to Washington—fly on in and you can drive up with me. Hell, let’s get a whole caravan. We’re all dreaming of the Rose Bowl, but the football team’s not the only team with a chance for glory this year. The dream of the Ultimate Trifecta is still alive. The baseball team did its job. The football team is still in the race. And the basketball team, believe it or not, has the talent to go to the Final Four. Would you rather be a sports fan of any other university? Me neither.


Thursday, October 20


Take the points!

Sportsbook.com just posted odds on a Texas-USC Rose Bowl, and USC is a 6 and 1/2 point favorite.

Considering I think the Horns would win that matchup straight up, I'd be more interested in the money line.

Take this news with a grain of salt, though, since the same site has this to say about Texas' game this weekend:

From their press release:

In a battle of the undefeated, the 10th ranked Texas Tech Red Devils, 6-0, roll into Austin to battle the 2nd ranked Texas Longhorns, 6-0, for first place in the Big 12 South division. Sportsbook.com lists the Longhorns as -15 point favorites, but the Red Devils boast the highest scoring offense in the nation and will not be easy to beat. The Longhorns' 3rd ranked defense will be in tough against a Red Devils' passing attack that is logging 472.33 yards per game.

"Everyone will be watching the battle for Texas because of the huge implications it will have on the national championship picture", said Peter Childs, Oddsmaker, Sportsbook.com. "The Longhorns and Red Devils are apt to put on a high-scoring offensive display."

You have to watch out for those Red Devils.



Drawing the line

This rant comes after my email inbox was bombarded with mp3 files of the USC Trojan band by this hack job, Julie Ellis. You can read her worthless sales pitch here

Dear Ms. Ellis,

I went to your company’s website, and saw your little sales pitch. I guess I shouldn’t be terribly surprised, considering you’re a USC fan, and you’re operating out of Costa Freakin’ Mesa, California (what a hellhole). Can I be honest with you? I mean, apparently we’re on a friendly enough basis where you can bomb my email inbox with mp3 files of the USC Trojan band, so I’ll take the liberty of assuming that you’re up for a little constructive criticism.

For one thing, the thing is written at about a 9th grade level. In Costa Mesa, that may be considered a compliment, but I assure you, in this context it is not. Seriously, it’s the most unimaginative hack job I’ve seen in quite some time. But beyond being painful to read, and well beyond the issue of whether I’d ever consider taking a loan from someone with a business pitch as bad as this one, it’s got some basic errors that you should really consider fixing.

The message opens with: “You know what it takes to succeed. Hard work, sacrifice and dedication. Which has in turn allowed you to buy a house and make it your home.”

Julie, I hope you’re a better loan officer than you are a writer! Your first sentence is fine, but the next two are what we call ‘fragments’ – they aren’t complete sentences. Second, hard work, sacrifice, and dedication don’t allow you to buy a house. Money does. I know lots of hard working, dedicated folks who sacrifice a lot, but can’t afford a home. And I know a hell of a lot of lazy, selfish bums who are home owners. I’m splitting hairs a bit, but hey, you picked this fight.

Look, I know you patted yourself on the back for sending a Longhorn fan the Trojan fight songs via email. I guess I’ll pat myself on the back for being so annoyed by it that I’m taking the time to deconstruct your worthless sales pitch.

So as I sign off here, let me offer my own sales pitch to the homeowners of Costa Mesa, California who might need a loan: Don’t choose ASAP Equity. If they can’t be bothered to write something even remotely compelling, or at the least grammatically correct, then they probably aren’t to be trusted with money.


The Magnificent Seven

Fanblogs offers a tidy breakdown of the seven remaining unbeaten teams in college football, their remaining schedules, and their most challenging tests. Critical reading for the BCS addicted/afflicted.


Masterful Voting by Former Coaches

We’re inching up in the coaches poll. We’ve gained a little ground in the Harris Poll. We picked up one vote in the Blog Poll. Despite USC playing in several close games, the fact remains that Texas isn't gaining much ground. Voters seem content voting the Trojans #1 until they lose (which is understandable).

Well, almost all the voters. One group of voters has changed course. I speak, of course, of the coaches that are voting in the
Master Coaches Survey—a poll consisting of 16 former college football coaches, including 10 Hall of Famers. This week, for the first time, Texas was voted #1, receiving 10 of the 16 first place votes. USC checked in at #2 with six first place votes.

Say what you will about a poll that includes R.C. Slocum among its ranks; it’s still nice to see the Horns atop at least one poll besides our decidedly partisan
ATL Top 25.


Lessons from the Rose Bowl... Errr... Comment War

Well, our open letter to USC sparked a nice little comment war. 445 comments in all—not a bad turnout. And we certainly learned a lot from all the comments. To sum:

*In the last three years, USC has won 0, 1, 2, or 3 national championships, depending who you ask.

*There are a LOT of people who definately don’t know how to spell.

*There are an equal number of people who strongly believe that the best line of attack is another man’s sexuality.

*There are a lot of SEC fans who apparently thought USC referred to the Gamecocks, not the Trojans.

*George Bush is a pretty unpopular dude.

*So is Arnold Schwarzenegger.

*Laguna Beach is awesome.

*Laguna Beach is NOT awesome.

*Best comment exchange:
USC fan: “You Texans are as dumb as your horses.”
Texas fan: “My horse is smarter than your honor student.”

*Worst comment exchange:
USC winner: “Hey Texas fans has Pujols ball landed yet????? Houston.....we have a problem!!All you yahoo's out in Texas enjoy that big WHINE.....oops I mean win against OU (OVERATED UNIVERSITY) because the rest of the ink you will be getting in another big game will be how SC smack daddied you.............” [sic]

Texas winner: “Hey California, does your catcher know how to tag a runner out on a third strike?”

Many of the comments were amusing, some were even informative, but too many were just tasteless rants by seemingly pre-adolescent fans. Fortunately, life is not a Jim Rome Smack Down death match. If Texas and USC can get to the Rose Bowl, it will be settled on the field.

Until then, we’ll keep on jawing… right clones?



Be careful what you wish for

Here's a "Leachism" from Texas Tech's game notes:

Leach on "Running up the Score:"
"The interesting thing about football is that football is the only sport where you quit playing when you get a lead. In golf, you keep trying to score well when you're ahead. In basketball, they don't quit shooting when they're ahead. In hockey, they don’t quit shooting when they're ahead. In boxing, you don't quit punching when you're ahead. But in football, somehow magically, you're supposed to quit playing when you're ahead. Well, I don't subscribe to that. I don't do it like that."

Fine, run up the score against overmatched opposition. Have your QB throw for 650 yards like you're playing a video game. But don't expect anyone to take your team seriously as an offensive machine just because you pad your stats every week.

Imagine what kind of stats Texas players would have if Mack thought this way. Texas would beat Rice and Louisiana-Lafayette 120-0.

Since this is the way Mikey thinks football should be played, just once I'd like to see Mack keep his foot on the gas late in the game. He didn't against Oklahoma, and I doubt he will on Saturday. But I know he could, and deep inside I bet there's a part of him that would love to give Mikey a taste of his own medicine as payback for all the coaches who had to watch Tech throw deep with the game out of reach.

Tech is a joke.



Mostly Dumb with a Chance of Showers

Watch Texas Tech coach Mike Leach give the weather report on the local Lubbock television station.

Now try to imagine him coach football. (We're laughing, too.)



Blue Ribbon Slots Texas at #2

Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook, the most comprehensive college basketball publication in the world, returns for its 25th season bigger and better in 2005-06. Most importantly to Horns fans, this year's preseason rankings have Texas slotted in at #2, their highest BRY preseason ranking ever.

This year's annual is shipping October 25th, so order your copy today, Horns fans.

Wednesday, October 19


Selvin Young To Start

Mack Brown announced on Wednesday after practice that Selvin Young will start at tailback against Texas Tech. He will have more information about Jamaal Charles on Thursday. Here is what he said about Selvin.

"Selvin gets better every time he goes out there. We felt like since he broke the left ankle last year and he sprained the right ankle this year that he is having to go back and get confidence pushing off both ankles again. When he has worked so hard on the right one, the left one got weak again so he has had to go back and rehab. There were four times Saturday where he looked like the old Selvin to me when he planted and really made a great run. He played fantastically without the ball, so what we have to get him to do is to get the confidence back that he can plant on either ankle and turn up field and be aggressive. He has looked better this week than he did last week. He will start the game."

What does this mean for the Horns? The game was already more likely to resemble a track meet than a football game. Now without our star tailback, Tech may be able to key more on our passing game. Colorado made a conscious decision last Saturday to stop the run. They loaded up near the line of scrimmage and dared VY to beat them through the air. We all know how that turned out. Will Tech scheme their defense similarly? Probably, and it won't matter. Texas Tech's defense is not good enough to prevent us from scoring. So, if they load the box, it could be Colorado all over again. If Tech takes advantage of not seeing Charles in the backfield, VY and Selvin will have success on the ground. We would love to see Jamaal in the staring lineup, but ATL is not worried as long as we have Vince Young.


Here's to Brent!

Joining ESPN Gameday and Cold Pizza in Austin this weekend will be good old Brent Musburger, who will be calling the game for ABC. While we hope Brent doesn't have too much fun in Austin, as he is apt to do, his presence will allow those of us watching at home to have quite a bit of fun.

For those who have never heard about it, here is the classic Brent Musburger Drinking Game.

(For even more fun, here's an audio clip of Tony Kornheiser reading the rules on his radio show.)

Brent Musburger Drinking Game


Play at your own risk. It is conceivable your whole party will be passed out with 8 minutes remaining in the 1st quarter.

*Note: Partner is spelled "Pardner," because that's the way Brent says it.

Rule #1: "The Pardner." A person is picked to be the Pardner at the beginning of the game. The first time Brent says "Pardner," the Pardner has to take 1 drink, and then picks someone else to be the Pardner. The next time Brent says it, the new Pardner has to take 2 drinks, and then pick a new Pardner, and so on and so on. The Pardner must wear a special "Pardner" hat.

Rule #2: "Folks." Everyone drinks 1 when Brent says "Folks." However, if Brent says "Hold on Folks," everyone must drink once but the first person to drink has to finish their drink for not holding on.

Rule #3: "It's a foot race!" Whenever Brent says "It's a foot race" everyone has to finish their drink. The first one done becomes "That Man" and gets to punch the Pardner in the arm.

Rule #4: "There's that man again." After someone becomes "That Man," they get to give away 3 drinks to someone of their choosing the next time Brent says "That Man." That person then becomes "That Man." If Brent says "That Man" before "It's a footrace," The Pardner becomes That Man. If The Pardner becomes That Man first, he gets to punch the new That Man in the arm twice after giving away the 3 drinks. There must also be a special hat for "That Man."

Rule #5: "Dr. Pepper." Every time Brent says "Dr. Pepper" everyone has to yell out "I'M A PEPPER!" and take 2 drinks. Afterwards, each person must give out a satisfied "AAAAAAAHHHHH!", as if in a Dr. Pepper commercial. Anyone who fails to do so must drink again.

Rule #6: "Jack Arute." Whenever Brent says "Our ol' buddy Jack Arute" everyone has to say "AROOOOOOT!" Last one to do it has to do a shot. If everyone does it simultaneously, the Pardner must do a shot.

Rule #7: "In the college game." Whenever Brent says this little gem, everyone must say "Shut the **** up Brent", drink 2, and punch the Pardner in the arm.

Rule #8: Mentioning a Big 10 school during a Big 12 game. Whenever Brent does this, the first person who names the Big 10 school's mascot gets to make somebody drink for 11 seconds, since there's 11 schools in the Big 10.

Rule #9: Calling a touchdown before the player actually scores. For example, during an interception return, Brent says "It's a touchdown!" before the player actually scores. In this case, everyone must start drinking and continue to drink until the player actually does score. If by some odd event, the player does NOT score, everyone must finish their drink.

Rule #10: "Gary, my man." Whenever Brent says "Gary, my man", the Pardner gets to choose someone to be Gary. From that point on, that person must be referred to as "Gary, my man" until the game is over. "Gary, my man" gets to give away 5 drinks the rest of the game any time Brent says "Gary, my man". If someone talks to "Gary, my man" without calling him that, they have to do a shot. If there is someone playing the game actually named Gary, that person is automatically "Gary, my man."

Rule #11: "The Major." If Brent has a pet nickname for one of the players during the game, for example calling Major Applewhite "The Major", everyone must drink 5 anytime Brent uses this nickname. However, "Gary, my man" does not drink but gets to give away 5 drinks since this person already has a nickname of their own.

Rule #12: "John Saunders." The first time Brent quips with John Saunders, everyone must drink 1. The next time, everyone must drink 2, and so on and so on.

Rule #13: In the booth. Whenever there's a camera shot of Brent in the booth, the Pardner must make a toast to Brent. After the toast, everyone must drink 1.

Rule #14: "My Friend." Every Pardner gets to choose a "Friend." The friend must always get up to get the Pardner another drink (since the Pardner will be doing quite a bit of that). However, when Brent utters "My Friend" the friend gets to punch the Pardner in the arm for making him get up so much.

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