American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden weigh in on 10 hot-button Texas, Big 12 and national topics:
1. Will another BCS coach get fired before the season’s over?
Bohls: I think Nebraska could announce late in the year that it’s parting ways with the tempestuous, volatile Bo Pelini after all of his four-loss seasons and his two-year-old emotional rant that was made public last month.
Golden: Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe has put up four straight losing seasons, and is 21-33 since 2009 and 12-22 in the ACC. After revitalizing the program with a couple of bowl appearances, including the Orange Bowl in 2006, it’s been all downhill for the Deacons. Grobe could be on the move soon.
2. Who’s better: Alabama or Oregon?
Bohls: The Ducks, quite frankly. They have toyed with their opposition and haven’t even been challenged for a half. Granted, they haven’t played anybody close to the quality of Texas A&M, which Alabama beat and almost blew out had T.J. Yeldon not fumbled at the Aggies’ goal line.
Golden: Wrestling great Ric Flair famously said, “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” The Ducks are playing lights out, but Alabama is still the boss team in college football until they’re knocked off the top of the mountain. It’s Bama until someone big enough and bad enough says different.
3. Which Big 12 team has the best chance of springing an upset Saturday?
Bohls: TCU, over Oklahoma. TCU has been hard to figure out, but no other Big 12 favorite should be in much danger. TCU has struggled to find a consistent offense without Casey Pachall, and trust me, SMU is no barometer for success. SMU’s awful. The Frogs flat out blew their game against Texas Tech with some help from some highly questionable officiating. But TCU has still not steadied itself. This is the last chance for the Frogs to make this a great season.
Golden: Kansas State, over Oklahoma State. I can’t help but wonder if the Cowboys aren’t still reeling. Kansas State travels to Stillwater with a no-nonsense offense that can give the Cowboys real problems, especially if they’re still suffering from their Morgantown hangover.
4. Who are your top three Heisman candidates — as of now?
Bohls: Believe it or not, but Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is at the top of my list. He’s thrown for a nation-leading 21 touchdowns with only two interceptions. You’re supposed to win the award on the field, and he’s earned top consideration. He’s also the only FBS quarterback with more than 2,000 passing yards (in five games). I’ve got Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel second and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater third.
Golden: I’m digging what Bridgewater is putting down so far. He’s thrown 14 touchdowns against only one interception. Manziel is second on my list with a real chance to repeat because he remains the most electrifying athlete in college football. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd has only nine touchdowns, but his 163.3 quarterback rating speaks for itself. Plus he has his signature win, over Georgia.
5. What’s your one-word description of USC’s handling of Lane Kiffin’s firing?
Bohls: Ill-timed. (Should have done it in the offseason.)
6. Which of the three remaining Big 12 unbeatens will be the last to fall?
Bohls: Baylor. The Bears should be 7-0 for their Nov. 7 showdown with OU. Baylor has obliterated everyone in its path, and yes, it’s not a murderer’s row. But the Bears catch West Virginia at home today, then go to Kansas State, then host Iowa State and then travel to Kansas. Anyone want to bet against the Bears going unscathed through that slate?
Golden: Baylor. The Bears won’t be tested for another month, till they meet Oklahoma. The Sooners could actually lose to Texas (don’t laugh), and Texas Tech will finish with multiple losses, as its last five games are against teams who played in bowls last season.
7. Besides OU, what’s the toughest game left on Texas’ schedule?
Bohls: The obvious answer is always the next one. Texas can lose to anyone. Yes, anyone. Has anyone forgotten the near loss at Kansas last year? Of course, the next one after OU is a road trip to TCU, which spoiled Texas’ Thanksgiving last year and will be itching to repeat that win.
Golden: The regular-season finale, at Baylor. The Bears score touchdowns in their sleep and the Waco crowd will be stoked for the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium.
8. Who’s the most over-rated team in the Top 20?
Bohls: I just don’t trust No. 13 South Carolina. And with quarterback Connor Shaw on the mend from an injured shoulder, the Gamecocks don’t inspire a lot of faith. Steve Spurrier controls the media — or tries to — so he will squelch any negativity. South Carolina also is without suspended receiver Shaq Roland and his 20-yard average per catch. The Gamecocks should escape Kentucky, but could have problems long-term.
Golden: No. 7 Louisville has an All-American candidate at quarterback, but hasn’t been tested yet. Wins over Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky and Florida International aren’t enough to justify that ranking.
9. Pick one upset this weekend.
Bohls: I’m taking No. 15 Washington over No. 5 Stanford. Washington is one of the most offensively-balanced teams in the country, with quarterback Keith Price completing 72 percent of his passes and Bishop Sankey leading the nation in rushing. Call it Huskies, 24-20, to go 5-0.
Golden: Minnesota will shut down the Big House with a win over No. 19 Michigan. The Wolverines barely got past Akron and UConn, and the Golden Gophers won’t be intimidated in a hostile environment.
10. Will Texas State post a winning record this season?
Bohls: Yes. The Bobcats were impressive in their rain-delayed rout of Wyoming, a team that put up more than 600 yards on Nebraska in Lincoln. Freshman Tyler Jones has a maturity and presence beyond his years and could be something special for Coach Fran’s Bobcats.
Golden: After the way the Bobcats worked Wyoming, yes, it’s a distinct possibility. Jones is a stud, but I’m even more impressed by junior David Mayo and the stingiest defense in the Sun Belt. A team that’s allowing only 18 points per game and 2.3 yards per rush will be in every game.