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September 30, 2009

College Football Fix: Texas, the Big 12 and beyond

UP NEXT UP FOR TEXAS

Opponent:
Colorado

When: Oct. 10, 6:15 p.m.

TV: ESPN or ESPN2

SCOUTING COLORADO: The Buffaloes play at West Virginia on Thursday night and will have to show they can slow down a running back like Noel Devine, who is averaging 106.7 yards per game on the ground. Colorado gave up 305 yards rushing in a 54-38 loss at Toledo.

Toledo!

The Buffs are dead last in the Big 12 in rushing defense (103rd nationally), giving up 183 yards per game on the ground. The big concerns coming into the year for CU were defensive line and receiver. They still are.

"We've said this from the get-go, bringing along our wide receiver corps and bringing along our D-line," Dan Hawkins said Monday. "We said that before camp, and I still think that's where we're trying to get some emphasis going."

During losses to Colorado State and Toledo, CU looked totally deflated, and Dan Hawkins looked lifeless on the sideline. But the Buffs bounced back with a 24-0 victory over Wyoming. In the losses, QB Cody Hawkins threw four interceptions and only five TD passes. Against Wyoming, Cody Hawkins had no turnovers.

"It's always difficult at that position because you want him to complete 100 percent and hit every pass," Dan Hawkins said of his son's play at QB.

"I think he did a nice job, particularly against Toledo, made some really good throws. Missed a few throws as well. But we put a lot on him. He handles a lot.

"He has to do a lot at the line of scrimmage, and I think he does a nice job of leading. And in spots where we don't have a lot of experience, he gets them going in the right spot. You always want your quarterback to play better because he's the focal point of your offense. But much like our whole offense, I think we've gotten better as the time's gone on here, and that would include him."

RB Darrell Scott is averaging 6.62 yards per carry but has only 13 carries this season. RB Rodney Stewart (38 carries for 165 yards, 4.34 ypc, 2 TD) is getting most of the work.

Hawkins feels like his team is heading in the right direction coming off the Wyoming victory and a bye week.

"I think we're getting some cohesiveness going," Dan Hawkins said. "I've always liked our guys. They're positive. They pack their lunchbox every day and come to work. They've done a nice job of hanging in there and battling. I think they're starting to see some of the fruits of that labor. Hopefully, we can continue some momentum here."

BIG 12 RANKINGS

1. TEXAS (4-0; Last week: 1)

Last week:
Beat UTEP 64-7
Next up: Bye
Bottom line: Longhorns will get some rest for their wounded and work ahead on Colorado, and teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.


2. OKLAHOMA (2-1; Last week: 3)

Last week:
Off
Next up: At Miami
Bottom line: Does Sam Bradford play this week? Early indications are he'll try. Miami has shown it struggles to stop the run. Is OU good enough on the offensive line to run the ball on the Hurricanes. The OU defense up front is as good as any in the country. The secondary is suspect, but Miami QB Jacory Harris struggled to throw against Virginia Tech last week. Sooners should win this one.

Prediction: OU 28, Miami 20


3. OKLAHOMA STATE (3-1; Last week: 3)

Last week:
Beat Grambling 56-6
Next up: Bye
Bottom line: The Cowboys get an extra week to prepare for a road trip to Texas A&M.


4. NEBRASKA (3-0; Last week: 4)

Last week:
Beat Louisiana-Lafayette 55-0
Next up: Bye
Bottom line: The Huskers have an extra week to prepare for a trip to Missouri. The Tigers beat the Huskers 52-17 last year in Lincoln. We'll see how far this Nebraska defense has come under Bo Pelini soon enough.


5. KANSAS (4-0; Last week: 5)

Last week:
Beat Southern Miss 35-28
Next up: Bye
Bottom line: The Jayhawks have the nation's No. 9 scoring offense and get an extra week to prepare for a homecoming game against Iowa State on Oct. 10. Maybe fights with the basketball team are good sparring for the football team for Saturdays.


6. TEXAS TECH (2-2; Last week: 6)

Last week:
Lost at Houston 29-28
Next up: New Mexico
Bottom line: Texas A&M pounded New Mexico 41-6, so even without OT Brandon Carter (suspended) and a disgruntled LB Marlon Williams, Tech should be OK in this one.

Prediction: Tech 56, New Mexico 17


7. MISSOURI (4-0; Last week: 8)

Last week:
Won at Nevada 31-21
Next up: Bye
Bottom line: QB Blaine Gabbert is No. 9 nationally in pass efficiency and has yet to throw an interception (11 TDs, zero picks) in 144 pass attempts. Next up for Gabbert will be trying to solve Nebraska's defense in Columbia on Oct. 10.


8. TEXAS A&M (3-0; Last week: 9)

Last week:
Defeated UAB 56-19
Next up: Arkansas (in Jerryworld)
Bottom line: The Aggies' offense LEADS THE NATION in total offense, averaging 574.3 yards per game. But these numbers have come at home against New Mexico (0-4), Utah State (1-2) and UAB (1-3) - teams with a combined 2-9 record.

Let's see what A&M can do against another dog of a defense from Arkansas, which ranks No. 102 in scoring defense (32.3 ppg) and No. 119 in pass efficiency defense. Can A&M get to 4-0? Who knows but take the over.

Prediction: Arkansas 41, Texas A&M 38


9. BAYLOR (2-1; Last week: 7)

Last week:
Beat Northwestern (La.) State
Next up: Kent St.
Bottom line: With Robert Griffin out for the season, BU now turns to senior QB Blake Szymanski, who set records at Baylor before Griffin arrived. Only problem is Szymanski hurt his shoulder last week and is day-to-day.

Prediction: Baylor 31, Kent State 14


10. IOWA STATE (3-1; Last week: 10)

Last week:
Beat Army 31-10
Next up: Kansas State (in Kansas City)
Bottom line: RB Alexander Robinson has run for 100 yards in three straight games and is No. 11 nationally averaging 113.3 yards per game. He'll have a good test against K-State's No. 17 rush defense, giving up 91.5 yards per game on the ground.

Prediction: Iowa St. 20, Kansas State 17


11.COLORADO (1-2; Last week: 11)

Last week:
Bye
Next up: At West Virginia
Bottom line: The Mountaineers can run the ball, and Colorado has yet to show it can stop the run.

Prediction: West Virginia 31, Colorado 17


12.KANSAS STATE (2-2; Last week: 12)

Last week:
Beat Tennessee Tech 49-7
Next up: Iowa State (in Kansas City)
Bottom line: Kansas State ran for 296 yards last week against Mack Brown's brother Watson Brown, who coaches Tennessee Tech. If K-State can keep the chains moving on the ground, Wildcats have a chance to take down Iowa State.


THE TOP TEN

1. ALABAMA -
The defense is really good, and the power running game gives the Tide a play-action offense that Texas and Florida don't have.

2. TEXAS - Longhorns appear to have a dominant defense that will now be tested by some running teams the next two games.

3. FLORIDA - If QB Tim Tebow bounces back from this concussion on Oct. 10 against LSU, his fans will lobby for a statue of him over the Vatican.

4. OKLAHOMA - The front seven on defense may be the best in the country. Miami is about to find out.

5. USC - With Matt Barkley back, the Trojans can take a big step toward their eighth straight Pac-10 title with win at Cal this week.

6. VIRGINIA TECH - The Hokie defense completely flustered Miami QB Jacory Harris last week.

7. OHIO STATE - Jim Tressel is conservative because his defense is usually lights out - like this year.

8. LSU - Tigers probably should have lost to Mississippi State last week and probably will lose at Georgia this week.

9. MIAMI (FLA.) - Miami gets the benefit of the doubt for its wins over Florida State and Georgia Tech … for one more week.

10. HOUSTON - Beating Oklahoma State on the road and Texas Tech at home along with Case Keenum … it's time to give the Coogs some love.


THE PICKS

Auburn at Tennessee (-2)

Auburn 31, Tennessee 30

USC (-4.5) at California
USC 31, Cal 17

LSU at Georgia (-3)
Georgia 24, LSU 20

Washington at Notre Dame (-13)
Notre Dame 31, Washington 28


THE BOTTOM LINE LOCK OF THE WEEK

Georgia Tech - minus 5 ½ at Mississippi State


Florida State NEWS

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