Last week, BookMaker came through with a prop on who will replace Les Miles as the LSU coach for next season. Now I'm hoping that or another site puts out a prop this week regarding Charlie Strong's future at Texas and who might be UT's coach next season. I don't see how it will be Strong.
Everyone thought Strong was safe after Texas' 50-47 double-overtime win over Notre Dame in Week 1. But now we know the Irish aren't all that great and we certainly know there's a major problem on the defensive side of the ball for the Longhorns. On Saturday, Texas (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) lost its second straight game, 49-31 at Oklahoma State, the third time this year the team has given up at least 47 points. Texas athletic director Mike Perrin pledged to look at "all facets" after the game.
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ESPN reported that the school will not fire Strong during the season. That could easily change this Saturday if UT loses to No. 20 Oklahoma in the annual Red River Rivalry (Showdown, Shootout, whatever name they are giving it these days) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. OUopened as a 10.5-point favorite on BetOnline and if the Sooners cover that, Strong might be canned immediately. UT already has 10 losses of 18 points or more in three years under Strong.
The coach did make a change on Sunday. He used to be a defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida and he will take over the defense going forward after demoting coordinator Vance Bedford, one week after supporting him. The Horns had two weeks to prepare for Oklahoma State and put four new starters in the defensive lineup yet allowed those 49 points and 555 yards without forcing a turnover. Texas ranks last in the Big 12 in scoring defense at 38.3 points per game and second-worst nationally in takeaways, having forced only one turnover in 228 plays. Toledo is the only FBS team without a defensive turnover yet.
To make matters worse this week, both of Texas' top running backs, Chris Warren III and D'Onta Foreman, left that loss with injuries and their status is unclear for Saturday. Arguably Strong's biggest win was an upset of No. 10 Oklahoma 24-17 last year. UT hasn't won back-to-back games in the series since 2008-09. This will be the fourth straight season Texas is unranked in the matchup. If Texas does fire Strong, no question that Houston's Tom Herman would be at the top of the school's list just as Herman is at LSU.
Here are a few Week 6 opening lines that caught my eye. Rankings from AP poll and games Saturday unless noted.
No. 3 Clemson at Boston College (+16.5): This game is Friday night. I took the then-No. 5 Tigers to beat No. 3 Louisville on Saturday in Death Valley and they did in a thriller 42-36. In a way, that was the best possible result for the ACC as if both Clemson and Louisville run the table, they both might get into the College Football Playoff; Clemson for sure will. Deshaun Watson threw his name back in the Heisman race by throwing for 306 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 91 more yards vs. the Cardinals. He hit Jordan Leggett on a 31-yard TD pass with 3:14 left for the winning points. Clemson had only one drive longer than three minutes out of 16 possessions. It had five touchdown drives that lasted less than a minute and three that lasted 26 seconds or less. This game seems to scream trap for Clemson, however. BC basically had a scrimmage on Saturday in beating Buffalo 35-3. An upset here would get Coach Steve Addazio off the hot seat. The Eagles lost 34-17 at Clemson last year. The pick: I'm taking the points but holding off to see if it gets to 17.5.
No. 9 Tennessee at No. 8 Texas A&M (-6.5); The game of the day. I can't tell if the Volunteers are luck or good or both. They are starting to remind me of Auburn in 2013 when every lucky bounce seemed to go the Tigers' way as they won the SEC title and barely lost to Florida State in the final BCS National Championship Game. Auburn beat Georgia that season on an incredible desperation TD pass. That's exactly what UT did on Saturday in winning at Georgia 34-31. The Dawgs took a 31-28 lead on a 47-yard TD pass from Jacob Eason to Riley Ridley with 10 seconds left. But an excessive celebration penalty forced UGA to kick off from its own 20 and a good return from Evan Berry put UT in a position where QB Josh Dobbs would be able to throw it into the end zone. He did and Jauan Jennings caught a 43-yarder with no time left to take total control of the SEC East Division. Based on win probability, Tennessee's comeback was the fourth-most-improbable win by a Power 5 school in the past 10 seasons. It's the fourth time that Tennessee has rallied from a double-digit deficit to win this season. Texas A&M is no stranger to starting 5-0 as it has the last two seasons as well but then fallen apart. The Aggies warmed up for this one with a 24-13 win at South Carolina. Don't take A&M coach Kevin Sumlin off the hot seat quite yet, though. This team could easily still lose four regular-season games. It's the first meeting between these schools as SEC members. The pick: Texas A&M.
No. 5 Washington at Oregon (+8.5): I guess the University of Washington is back among the nation's elite. No team was more impressive in Week 5 than the Huskies, who destroyed defending Pac-12 champion Stanford 44-6, ending Christian McCaffrey's Heisman hopes by limiting him to 49 yards rushing on 12 carries and 30 receiving yards on five catches. The Cardinal had just 213 yards as they were simply pushed around (QBs sacked eight times) in their worst loss in nine years. It was Washington's biggest win over a Top 10 team ever. UW jumped to No. 5 in the AP poll this week, the first time ranked in the Top 5 since 2000. If the Huskies win this game, the Pac-12 North race is all but over already. They haven't beaten the Ducks since 2003, but these programs are trending in very opposite directions now. Oregon is 2-3 following a blowout loss at Washington State -- allowing 651 yards -- and Coach Mark Helfrich is in major trouble. Looking at the rest of the schedule, the Ducks might not even reach a bowl game. Nike boss Phil Knight won't stand for that. The Ducks will have another set of amazing uniforms on this week that say Webfoots on them as an homage to their first nickname. The pick: I can't not take Oregon getting that many points at home even though I think UW does win.
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