Can't believe how fast the 2016 college football season has flown by as this is the final full weekend of the year, and that means some of the sport's best rivalries are being played. Yet the biggest story around the nation today is that of Charlie Strong.
Somehow, Texas managed to lose at pitiful Kansas on Saturday night in overtime, the Jayhawks' first win in the series since 1938 and their first win over an FBS opponent since 2014. Strong was on very shaky ground as it was, but I think we all knew that loss had to be the final straw for the Texas administration. On Sunday, multiple reports said that Strong was being fired, yet the school would only put out a statement saying he would be evaluated after the regular season. Thus Strong will coach this week's home game vs. TCU, which the Horns need to get bowl eligible at 6-6 (some teams might get an invite at 5-7 if there aren't enough eligible teams).
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At Strong's rather uncomfortable weekly press conference Monday, he said that he speaks with school president Gregory L. Fenves after every game and it’s his understanding “that we will be evaluated after the TCU game.” Strong also said he hasn't been told he's fired. I don't understand why the school is leaving him out to dry here. According to a report from the Austin-American Statesman, Texas players are threatening to boycott the team's game against TCU because Strong is being fired. When asked that Monday, Strong said it won't happen.
It's the right move for Texas as Strong just was never a fit there. I'm sure some of the sportsbooks will release a prop on the next Texas coach this week -- unless it's such a foregone conclusion that it's going to be Houston's Tom Herman. Sounds like it's his job to lose and that Herman will take it. I'm sure Texas will at least call Nick Saban again, but he's not leaving Alabama. If Herman opts to take the LSU or possibly the Oregon job instead, that's really going to make UT look bad. A rumored second choice is Clemson's Dabo Swinney, but I don't believe he's leaving that job until Alabama opens as that's Swinney's alma mater.
I actually think Texas is good value on Friday at -2 against the Horned Frogs as Strong's players will want to win for him.
Here are a few Week 12 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from the last College Football Top 25 (will change Tuesday). These are all games before Saturday as I will address Saturday games on my Friday update story.
No. 16 LSU at No. 25 Texas A&M (+5), Thursday: It's the only NCAA action on Thanksgiving. It could be that both these coaches are gone from their respective programs -- and both schools would certainly want to speak with Herman. Any shot interim LSU coach Ed Orgeron had of keeping the job full-time evaporated in Saturday's 16-10 home upset loss to Florida, which ended with the Tigers stopped on fourth down at the UF 1-yard-line. That loss also likely cost LSU a trip to the Sugar Bowl, although it would have had to win here as well. Will LSU have star running back Leonard Fournette? He wasn't going to play vs. Florida with an ankle injury but got into a skirmish pre-game with some Gators and then did play, although he wasn't effective. Texas A&M has a shot at a major bowl if it can win this game. However, I do believe Kevin Sumlin is in trouble with a loss as the Aggies enter having dropped three of five in yet another late-season fade. It's the final home game for Aggies superstar defensive end Myles Garrett, who probably is the No. 1 overall pick in next year's draft. He had 4.5 sacks in Saturday's 23-10 win over UTSA. Keep in mind that Aggies QB Trevor Knight is out for the season. The Pick: Texas A&M.
Toledo at No. 21 Western Michigan (-9), Friday: I thought the Broncos were set up for a major trap game Saturday vs. Buffalo as 35-point favorites, but they won 38-0. Corey Davis had 13 catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the Mid-American Conference record for career receptions. Davis also holds the MAC records for career yards receiving and touchdown catches. Davis also moved closer to the FBS career receiving record. His 4,987 yards ranks second behind Trevor Insley's 5,005. This will be Davis' final home game and probably as well for head coach P.J. Fleck, who is going to be in demand at some Power 5 programs this offseason. The Broncos are still the only other unbeaten team in the country, and the winner of this one plays in the MAC Championship Game against either Ohio or Miami of Ohio. It will be Ohio if it beats visiting Akron on Tuesday. There is no opening line on that yet because the Zips' starting QB is in question. Miami also plays Tuesday and is -8 vs. Ball State. The RedHawks are trying to become the first team in college football history to start 0-6 and finish 6-0. The Pick: WMU.
No. 6 Washington at No. 22 Washington State (+5.5), Friday: This game lost a bit of luster with Wazzu losing to Colorado on Saturday and probably falls out of the new College Football Playoff Top 25 on Tuesday. But the Apple Cup victor still plays in the Pac-12 title game against either Colorado (if it beats Utah) or USC (if Colorado loses). The Huskies should move up to No. 5 in the new CFP Top 25 with Louisville's loss last week. I guarantee you Washington would like another shot at the Trojans, who dominated UW in Seattle two weeks ago. Washington has won the past three in series. It was 45-10 last year, but Cougars star QB Luke Falk was out injured. if Washington loses here, the Pac-12 will miss the playoff -- and it opens the door potentially for Oklahoma if it wins out. Or perhaps two Big Ten teams. The Pick: Washington.
No. 18 Nebraska at Iowa (-3), Friday: The Huskers will play in the Big Ten title game if they win this game and Wisconsin loses on Saturday at home to Minnesota, which I rather doubt. If the Huskers lose here, Wisconsin is in no matter what. Who will NU start at quarterback? Tommy Armstrong Jr. missed Saturday's win over Maryland with a hamstring injury. Coach Mike Riley said backup Ryker Fyfe broke a bone in his non-throwing wrist against the Terps. Zack Darlington, who moved to receiver in the spring, could be pressed into emergency duty for the Huskers. If Nebraska wins at Iowa, Riley is eligible for at least a $250,000 performance bonus per his contract. Must be nice. The Pick: Iowa.
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