Friday, September 19, 2014


Game Day

A move of panicked desperation

9/11/2013

FIRST DOWN:

It isn’t so much that Texas gave up 40 points and 550 rushing yards to BYU — although it sure as hell didn’t help matters — as it is the fact that Mack Brown was building toward 2013, that this was supposed to be the year, circled on the calendar in burnt orange.

Over the previous two seasons, the embattled Longhorns football coach played loads of freshmen and sophomores to try and whittle the rough edges off, to build up experience, to buy himself some time. Ergo, UT returned 81.5 percent of their letterwinners from 2012, the eighth-highest mark in the Football Bowl Subdivision. The ’Horns returned 92.3 percent of their yardage from the previous fall, also eighth-best in the land. They ranked 12th in the nation in percentage of tackles returning (83.3) and No. 1 in terms of career starts by their returning offensive linemen (124).

So it stands to reason that when you give up 259 yards on the ground to BYU sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill, when you convert on just five of 17 third-down opportunities and run the ball at a clip of 3.4 yards per carry, folks in Austin are going to get a little cranky.

Brown let defensive coordinator Manny Diaz go Sunday in an effort to toss a sacrificial lamb into the angry, waiting arms of the masses, a move dripping of panicked desperation. Meanwhile, the Longhorns keep playing as if they want to get someone else fired. You just can’t help wondering if that someone is Brown himself. …

Martini Fest

Think about it: Baylor is averaging 735 yards of total offense per contest. SEVEN. THREE. FIVE. According to the Big 12’s Wendell Barnhouse, during a 70-13 rout of Buffalo in Week 2 of the campaign, the Bears averaged a point every 10.7 seconds and ran a play every 14.6 seconds. …

Ain’t history fun? On Sept. 7, Notre Dame, USC, Texas and Florida all lost on the same weekend for the first time since Sept. 11, 1976. …

Anything’s better than losing to North Dakota State at home to open the season, but few coaches in the FBS, to this day, smooth off the rough edges between Week 1 to Week 2 the way Kansas State coach Bill Snyder does. Since Snyder returned to the sidelines in 2009, K-State is now 5-0 in its second home tilt, with an average victory margin of 33 points — including a 48-27 win over visiting Louisiana last weekend. …

OK, fine, what the hell: Again, Iowa State beats Iowa; again, Paul Rhoads offers up the greatest postgame interview/celebration/locker-room speech in the history of the organized football; and again, Hawkeye fans start doing the math on Kirk Ferentz’s buyout clause, only to break down in tears after the first $10 million. Meanwhile, Northern Iowa faithful proudly anoint their men as state champs.

 

THE BIG EIGHT:

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight.

TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT

1. Ohio State (2-0) / at California

2. Oklahoma State (2-0) / vs. Lamar

3. Michigan (2-0) / vs. Akron

4. Oklahoma (2-0) / vs. Tulsa

5. Baylor (2-0) / Idle, vs. La.-Monroe on Sept. 21

6. Wisconsin (2-0) / at Arizona State

7. Nebraska (2-0) / vs. UCLA

8. Northwestern (2-0) / vs. Western Michigan

 

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State: Hey, Mack Brown is getting crushed in some circles for not getting him to come to Austin in the first place — and who are we not to pile on?

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: Great. Now he’s got the Aggies’ president doing goofy “show me the money” gestures.

3. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina: Two tilts, six tackles, and just one sack. Clowney’s interviews have gotten more interesting, but his game keeps going the opposite direction.

 

SET YOUR TIVO:

The games you won’t want to miss.

1. UCLA at Nebraska, ABC, noon: Are the Blackshirts really, truly, honest-to-God back on track? We’ll find out soon enough. The Bruins haven’t won in Lincoln since 1948, and are 1-4 all-time in Big Red Country.

2. Alabama at Texas A&M, CBS, 2:30 p.m.: How long do you think Nick Saban has been waiting to get the chance to make Johnny Football choke on his mouthpiece? On the other hand, if Manziel can pull of the magic act two years running…

3. Wisconsin at Arizona State, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.: The Badgers have looked like world-beaters out of the chute, but it was against a set of stiffs, and strange things happen sometimes when Bucky travels west. To wit: The only other time UW played in Tempe, the Badgers were smoked, 55-7.

 

THE HOT SEAT: MACK BROWN, TEXAS

We’d warned you that Provo was going to be a tricky little trip, didn’t we? If hiring Greg Robinson back is the answer, kids, the number of questions on your plate is getting a little too scary to count. Losing to the Cougs won’t be what sticks a fork in Mack Brown. Losing six in a row to a Kansas State team that couldn’t handle North Dakota State is going to be what sticks a fork in Mack Brown. CV

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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