College Football: What to Watch

New Texas A.D. doesn’t expect 'monstrous' changes

Updated: 2013-11-08T03:13:29Z

By BLAIR KERKHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Is Mack Brown safe at Texas?

New athletic director Steve Patterson was introduced on Thursday and said a broom wasn’t needed.

“I don’t anticipate monstrous changes to the department,” said Patterson, who spent the previous 18 months as Arizona State’s athletic director. “I think we need to keep doing what we do well and find places where we can grow.”

Speculation on Brown’s future swirled after the Longhorns’ two-game losing streak in September knocked them from the national championship picture. But Texas rides a five-game winning streak into Saturday’s game at West Virginia, and finds itself in the strongest position to win a Big 12 title since 2009.

Texas president Bill Powers said that Brown’s future, or that of men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes, wasn’t discussed during the interview process.

“I don’t see this as an organization that’s over in the ditch,” said Patterson, who has worked in the NBA and NFL and takes over for DeLoss Dodds around Dec. 1. “It’s a great place that has had tremendous success for a long time. I just hope to continue to grow that.”

Saturday’s SEC games

•  Auburn at Tennessee, 11 a.m. on ESPN: Before the season, Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon were seen as the league’s top backs. South Carolina’s Mike Davis came on strong, and now Auburn’s Tre Mason is the next big thing. He rushed for 168 yards and four touchdowns against Arkansas last week and has 921 yards this season, carrying the load for the SEC’s top rushing offense.

•  Vanderbilt at Florida, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC plus: Another week, another season-ending injury announced by the Gators, this time offensive tackle Tyler Moore is out after suffering a fractured elbow in a scooter accident. Patton Robinette, who opened the year as Vanderbilt’s third-team quarterback, starts for the second straight game. The Commodores haven’t won in Gainesville since 1945, or anywhere against Florida since 1988.

•  Missouri at Kentucky, 11 a.m. on ESPNU: Will James Franklin play for the Tigers? The Mizzou quarterback has missed the last three games becuase of a shoulder injury, and if he’s ready to go, look for him to play. Mizzou leads the SEC in sacks (27), interceptions (17) and turnover margin (plus-15).

•  Arkansas at Mississippi, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): The Razorbacks want to keep things deliberate. The Rebels want to run and should be able to play this game at their pace. Arkansas’ losing streak is up to six games and has lost the past three by a combined 139-24 score. It appears freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche will be back for the Rebels after missing the past two games because of a hamstring injury.

•  Appalachian State at Georgia, 11:30 a.m., no TV: This isn’t the NCAA champion and Michigan-beating Appy State. The Mountaineers are 2-7 and shouldn’t provide much resistance. Gurley, who was ill and injured during last week’s victory over Florida, is expected to play.

•  Mississippi State at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): The Aggies need plenty of help to win the SEC West, but they’re in the thick of BCS at-large consideration. Wouldn’t a major bowl love to have the game’s most dynamic player? It’s A&M’s final home game, which means it’s probably Johnny Manziel’s final game in College Station. Like most of the Aggies’ foes, the Bulldogs should score but not enough to keep up.

•  LSU at Alabama, 7 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): It’s not the game we thought it might be in the preseason, but it should be a good one. LSU isn’t in the national championship picture and has seemed listless in the last couple of games. But the Tigers will be up for this one. This is a trench warfare game, but look for LSU and quarterback Zack Mettenberger and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to test the Crimson Tide’s thin secondary.

Saturday’s Big 12 games

•  TCU at Iowa State, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC: The Horned Frogs had great success on the road last season. Not this year as TCU seeks its first road victory. Both programs are desperate for a reversal. The Frogs have lost three straight, the Cyclones five in a row, and they’ve gone about it in different ways. TCU’s having trouble scoring and Iowa State can’t seem to stop anybody.

•  Kansas State at Texas Tech, 11 a.m. on ABC (Chs. 2, 9): What a difference Tyler Lockett and Tremaine Thompson have made. The wide receivers missed time earlier this season, but their return has coincided with the Wildcats’ turnaround that’s produced two straight victories. The Red Raiders, after starting 7-0, have lost two in a row, but tight end Jace Amaro keeps putting up the big numbers. He has 79 receptions for 1,035 yards.

•  Kansas at Oklahoma State, 3 p.m. on Fox Sports 1: It has taken more than half a season but the Cowboys’ offense is rolling. Quarterback Clint Chelf and running back Desmond Roland have Oklahoma State in high gear, helping the Pokes to 110 points in the past two games. For Kansas, it’s the same story, trying to keep things close for as long as possible.

•  Texas at West Virginia, 6 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): The Longhorns make the first trip to West Virginia in the program’s history and they feel like they owe the Mountaineers after last season’s 45-41 loss in Austin. If it comes down to a field goal, West Virginia could have the edge. Josh Lambert has made 10 of 12 field goals in league play. Some of the league’s top running backs will be featured: Texas’ Johnathan Gray (90.5 yards per game) and Malcolm Brown (four touchdowns against Kansas) and West Virginia’s Charles Sims (83.8).

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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