Did Texas really go there?
“They’re still Baylor,” Longhorns wide receiver John Harris said earlier this week. “We’re still Texas.”
If Harris is referring to the colors and logos on the uniforms of the teams that meet in Austin on Saturday, he’s correct. If’s he’s comparing the strengths of the programs and believes Texas is the dominant one, he’s living in a different world. Maybe 2005.
Yes, Texas leads the all-time series 75-25-4. In the Big 12 era, the Longhorns won 13 of the first 14 games, and in the year the Bears won, 1997, Texas fired its coach.
From 1999-2005, the Longhorns won by a combined score of 362-38, with four shutouts in the seven years.
But Baylor has won three of the last four, and last year’s 30-10 victory in Waco clinched the Bears’ first Big 12 championship.
Baylor coach Art Briles publicly didn’t know what to make of the comments.
“I mean, what am I supposed to say,” Briles said. “We’re still Baylor. TCU is still TCU. Oklahoma is still Oklahoma. I’m not sure what it means.”
It means Briles will use that comment as motivational sentiment not just this year but every year Baylor meets Texas. It means the Longhorns can change coaches but not their swagger.
▪ Florida at Tennessee, 11 a.m., on SEC Network: Remember when this was the SEC regular-season game of the year? At least it should be competitive. Look for Vols quarterback Justin Worley to post big numbers. The Gators pass defense has been leaky. But one thing that hasn’t changed as the programs look to regain footing is Florida’s dominance. The Gators have won nine straight.
▪ Texas A&M at Mississippi State, 11 a.m., on ESPN: The Aggies get another upstart. After a stirring comeback victory over Arkansas, Texas A&M visits Mississippi State in a battle of unbeatens. The Bulldogs lead the nation in red-zone defense. They’ve surrendered only two touchdowns and two fields goals in nine opponents’ trips inside the 20. Two of the SEC’s better quarterbacks battle: The Aggies’ Kenny Hill Jr., and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott.
▪ Alabama at Mississippi, 2:30 p.m., on CBS (Ch. 5): If any program can survive a regular-season loss and maintain national championship aspirations it’s Alabama. It happened in 2011 (LSU) and 2012 (Texas A&M). Last week, the Tide was outstanding against Florida, especially on the offensive side with 645 yards of offense on 87 plays.
▪ Vanderbilt at Georgia, 3 p.m., on SEC Network: The Bulldogs should be fine here. They’ve got the home field, perhaps the nation’s top running back in Todd Gurley and the Commodores. Vandy is struggling under first-year coach Derek Mason. Georgia also has a trump card — revenge. Vandy won this meeting last year.
▪ LSU at Auburn, 6 p.m., on ESPN: Can LSU go to school on Kansas State? The Wildcats never seemed to be out of place on defense and slowed Auburn’s potent offense. Mississippi State’s success on offense against LSU started with the running ability of quarterback Dak Prescott. Auburn has a similar quarterback in Nick Marshall. The Tigers are going with Brandon Harris over Anthony Jennings at quarterback. Auburn’s a tough place to make a career first start.
▪ South Carolina at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m., on SEC Network: Do the Gamecocks fall even deeper? Kentucky is a triple overtime loss away from being 4-0 and ranked. The Wildcats broke their 17-game SEC losing streak against Vanderbilt last week, and the Wildcats are feeling confident. Who knows what South Carolina is feeling? The Gamecocks were blown out by Texas A&M, beat Georgia, and played wonderfully and terribly in the loss to Missouri.
Big 12 games
▪ Iowa State at Oklahoma State, 11 a.m., on Fox Sports 1: Where’s the Cyclones rushing attack? Iowa State is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and running backs Aaron Wimberly and DeVondrick Nealy picked up 17 yards in 12 attempts last week against Baylor. “There is no rushing attack,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “We need to do a better job of blocking.”
▪ Baylor at Texas, 2:30 p.m., on ABC (Ch. 2, 9): The Bears lead the nation in scoring offense, total offense and plays per game. Texas is coming off a shutout of Kansas, and the Longhorns were solid defensively against a UCLA team that hung 62 on Arizona State. The Baylor-Texas game was tied at halftime last year before the Bears pulled away in the second half.
▪ Oklahoma at TCU, 2:30 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): The Horned Frogs and their new Air Raid offense are getting off to great starts. They’ve outscored opponents 73-7 in the first half this season, but TCU hasn’t faced a defense this good. The Frogs have lost both of their Big 12 games against Oklahoma because the Frogs haven’t put together much offense. How about the Sooners’ red-zone offense? They’ve punched in touchdowns nearly 80 percent of time. It helps to have a running back like Samaje Perine barreling into the end zone.
▪ Kansas at West Virginia, 3 p.m., on Fox Sports Net: Hello, Clint Bowen. The Jayhawks’ new coach replaces Charlie Weis, who collected his lone Big 12 victory against the Mountaineers last season. After playing one of the nation’s toughest September schedules, including Alabama and Oklahoma, the Mountaineers had last week off.
▪ Texas Tech at Kansas State, 6 p.m., on ESPNU: A tall task for the Red Raiders. The Wildcats weren’t burdened by the Auburn loss, smashing UTEP last weekend. Now comes the league opener, and Tech has to stay disciplined. The Red Raiders are one of the nation’s most penalized teams (105.5 yards per game). In the 45-35 loss to Oklahoma State, they were flagged 16 times for 158 yards.