American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden weigh in on 10 hot-button Texas, Big 12 and national topics:
1. What would a Texas win over Kansas State mean to the program?
Bohls: I’d like to say a victory will begin the Longhorns on their journey to a Big 12 championship, but they have just three more home games and tough away games against Oklahoma, TCU and Baylor. I just have a hunch this could be Mack’s last stand as David Ash returns and rallies the team to a 24-20 win, which may be more salve than solution for what ails this program.
Golden: It would mean that Brown moves one win closer to earning a stay of execution, if this season continues to spin out of control. This team just needs to get that taste of victory in its mouth before there can be any talk of momentum. Beating Kansas State before the bye week — call it 27-20 — would be huge for a team that hasn’t won in three weeks.
2. What would a Texas loss to Kansas State mean to the program?
Bohls: It’d be hard to overstate the impact of a third consecutive loss, including two straight at home, on Mack’s long-range job security. A sixth straight loss to the Wildcats could send this program on a huge tailspin on the order of a 5-7 season.
Golden: It would mean the Horns will likely finish with six or fewer wins. More important, it would add to the growing belief that Mack’s days are numbered. It’s been nearly 60 years since a Texas team started a season 1-3.
3. Is Texas A&M the 10th best team in the country?
Bohls: The Aggies didn’t deserve to drop out of the Top 10 by scaring Alabama, and I promise you Nick Saban does not want to see them again. An Alabama-A&M rematch in the national championship game is something I could sink my teeth into. Hey, it would be anticipated more greatly than that Alabama-LSU snorefest.
Golden: The Aggies are at least top-8 in my book. They aren’t the 10th best defense in the nation, that’s for sure. But the team that beats A&M will have to score a boat load of points. Like him or not, Johnny Manziel is the scariest playmaker we’ve seen since Vince Young, and he gives the Aggies a fighting chance against any team they play.
4. Is unbeaten Baylor as scary as it looks, or a product of a weak schedule?
Bohls: The Bears’ rise in the polls more reflects having one of the strongest offenses in the country. The Bears rank first nationally in both offense (736.5 yards a game) and scoring (69.5). That said, a friendly schedule that has served up sacrificial lambs like Wofford and Buffalo helps. But the Terriers are 2-1 and rank 11th nationally in rushing, and Buffalo only lost by 20 to Ohio State. Bottom line: I still believe in the Bears.
Golden: It’s hard to tell; Wofford and Buffalo aren’t exactly a murderer’s row of opponents. But quarterback Bryce Petty is making it look pretty easy so far. It takes some ability to average nearly 70 points a game against air. The Bears are an offensive force in this league, and will have to be dealt with.
5. How will SMU’s Garrett Gilbert fare against A&M’s vulnerable secondary?
Bohls: He’ll have some success. After all, Gilbert’s had a week off and ranks fourth nationally with 352 passing yards a game. A&M’s defense did not give a strong account of itself against admittedly the most well-balanced offense in college football, and figures to come back strong.
Golden: He’ll play like he always plays. He will make a couple of nice throws, pass for a touchdown or two, and give up a couple of interceptions and have mediocre numbers at the end of the game. That’s Garrett Gilbert 101.
6. Should Nebraska’s Bo Pelini be disciplined?
Bohls: He should be put on notice for his vulgar rant against Cornhuskers fans because I’m guessing the two-year-old tape released to Deadspin represents his true feelings. He’s the most volatile coach in America, but I don’t think the tape should have been released. I won’t be surprised if he’s gone next season.
Golden: He should be publicly reprimanded by Nebraska’s administration, because that recording was a terrific embarrassment to one of the classiest fan bases in college football. Deadspin was totally within its rights to release the tape. It’s the world we live in.
7. You’ve both picked TCU to win the Big 12. Still sticking with the Frogs?
Bohls: I am not. I’m taking tried and true Oklahoma. Now that Blake Bell seems to be setting in at quarterback behind a very good offensive line and some talented receivers, and the defense has found its footing, the Sooners should rattle off Bob Stoops’ ninth league title in 15 years.
Golden: I don’t like going against my preseason prediction, but the Frogs don’t appear to be the class of this league, especially with the loss of quarterback Casey Pachall. It’s shaping up to be another OU championship, though Baylor and Oklahoma State will have something to say about that.
8. If he were here, what would Darrell Royal do to fix the Longhorns?
Bohls: I think Royal would counsel Mack Brown only if asked, and would tell Mack he should light a fire under his defense by reminding them scholarships are on a year-to-year basis.
Golden: He would sit the older players who aren’t getting the job done. He also would yell at Mack for the lack of fundamentals we’re seeing on the defensive side of the ball.
9. Now that A&M-Alabama’s over, what’s college football’s next great game?
10. How do you feel about fans booing at college games?
Bohls: I understand the right comes with the price of the ticket, but I don’t like it. As much as Mack has struggled lately, I hate that he’s getting booed in his home stadium after everything he’s done for the school. I wish booing was reserved for pro sports.
Golden: Fans who pay their hard-earned money expect a competent product on the field, and when that doesn’t happen, they have the right to boo. I’m not an advocate of booing college kids, by the way. But the millionaire coaches that aren’t getting it done? Those boos come with the salary.
How Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden are picking Texas-Kansas State. So far, Bohls is 2-1 and Golden’s 1-2:
Bohls: Texas, 24-20
Golden: Texas, 27-20