American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden address 10 hot-button topics about Texas, the Big 12 and national college football:
1. Who’s the best team in the Big 12 right now?
Bohls: Oklahoma State, which is one bad call and a most unlikely Hail Mary away from being 3-0 and probably in the Top 10. Mason Rudolph is the best quarterback in the league, if it’s not Pat Mahomes. James Washington is the Big 12’s premier receiver. When the Cowboys get past Baylor this weekend, they’ll show they’re the best team.
Golden: West Virginia isn’t a sexy choice, but the Mountaineers are a good mix on both sides of the ball. Skyler Howard has a nice command of the offense, and the defense has given up only 37 points in two games, including only 11 in the opener against Missouri.
2. Who’s the best college team in the state of Texas?
Bohls: Houston. Because of its decisive win over Oklahoma, a road victory over Cincinnati and the best offensive player in the state, quarterback Greg Ward Jr. The Cougars have a small edge over Texas A&M, which has two solid wins over UCLA and Auburn.
Golden: Texas A&M, by a hair over Houston. The Aggies have enough offense to be in every game, and pass rushers Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall put enough heat on quarterbacks to take the heat off the secondary, which has been burned in the past.
3. Does this bye week come at a good or bad time for Texas?
Bohls: An awful time. A team with any pride can’t wait to get back on the field to get that sour taste out of its mouth. Two weeks of soul searching could breed doubts, if not coordinator changes.
Golden: It’s the worst-case scenario. The Horns needed to jump back on that horse after the lost weekend out West, but now they’re forced to stew while other teams like Florida State get a chance to redeem themselves after crushing losses.
4. Which highest-ranked Top 25 team will lose this weekend?
Bohls: No. 11 Wisconsin, which will fall on the road to No. 8 Michigan State. No Irish hangover for the rugged Spartans.
Golden: No. 12 Georgia, which won’t make it out of the Grove without a loss. Ole Miss gets Georgia with a 10-point win.
5. What’s the Big 12’s best path to making the CFP?
Bohls: West Virginia going undefeated. But that would take some doing because the 2-0 Mountaineers catch BYU and the Cougars’ tough defense on Saturday and have road games at Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech. And they’d need to be unbeaten because a win over Missouri isn’t much of a signature win.
Golden: West Virginia would have to run the table, which isn’t happening. Oklahoma losing two of its first three games crippled the league’s chances of making it to the Final Four.
6. How good is Louisville, really?
Bohls: Damn good. Lamar Jackson is the early favorite to win the Heisman Trophy after producing 18 touchdowns in three games and mauling Florida State. Bobby Petrino’s a flake but a good coach, and the Cardinals could all but wrap up the ACC’s Atlantic Division title next week if they beat Clemson on the road. Louisville’s loaded with athletes and speed.
Golden: Good enough to beat any team in the country. As long as Lamar Jackson is healthy, the Cardinals are a tough out.
7. Is Baylor missing anything?
Bohls: Quality offensive and defensive lines. Baylor had one starter back from those two units and will take a while to gel. Baylor hasn’t looked close to the level it’s been at the past few years, maybe because of all the distractions and stress. I can’t imagine how burdensome that is for the players.
Golden: Art Briles. He was the spread whisperer and gave the Bears that extra piece of arrogance that had defenses running scared most Saturdays. Briles was arguably the best play-caller in the business for many years. And his son, Kendal, is a talented offensive mind but far from the level of his father.
8. Who’s in bigger trouble: Texas or Oklahoma?
Bohls: The Longhorns, because their defense looks horrible and confused, their quarterback isn’t big and physical, and they face two tough teams in Oklahoma State and Oklahoma on consecutive weekends. The Sooners are out of title contention, but they get TCU and Texas next and are already on Plan B for their season goals.
Golden: Texas, because its secondary was exposed by an unranked team. There’s no shame in losing to top-10 teams, as OU did to Houston and Ohio State, but the Horns have a real problem on the back end of that defense that needs to be fixed ASAP, especially with games coming up against five of the nation’s top 23 passing offenses.
9. Who’s easier to root against: Jim Harbaugh, Nick Saban or Bobby Petrino?
Bohls: Harbaugh. He seems borderline crazy. Saban gets grudging respect for all his jewelry. Petrino’s a terrific coach. So, Harbaugh.
Golden: Harbaugh. His reaction to Colorado’s mock depth chart was as funny as a three-casket funeral procession. He takes himself too seriously, so it doesn’t bother me to see Michigan lose these days.
10. Pick one team that’s on the rise.
Bohls: Miami. Sure, the Hurricanes haven’t played anybody yet, but they’ve taken care of business. The Canes may be back.
Golden: San Diego State. Since losing at Penn State in the fourth game last season, the Aztecs have reeled off 13 straight wins, second behind only Alabama.