American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden address 10 hot-button topics about Texas, the Big 12 and national college football:
1. What are the expectations from Texas’ quarterbacks?
Bohls: At press time, I expect Shane Buechele to sit out with his bruised shoulder and true freshman Sam Ehlinger to make his first college start. Ehlinger might be Orange Jesus. He does not lack for confidence. You just know he’s planning on getting in that huddle and not coming out for the next, what, 51 games. That’s just how much bravado he brings. I expect to see about 45 Longhorns running plays. Call it Texas, 48-21.
Golden: Just win, baby. Whatever it takes to get the dub. I expect the Horns to pretend they’re the 1965 Green Bay Packers. Run it left, run it right, run it up the middle. Chris Warren III will eat his Wheaties and tote it 26 times in Texas’ 42-27 win, Tom Herman’s first with the Longhorns.
2. Is this a must-win game for the Longhorns?
Bohls: I’d call it a must-win game for this season, but this season only. Mack Brown reminded us on our podcast this week that he started out 1-2 and ended up staying for 16 highly successful seasons. A loss Saturday would make even a bowl invitation an extremely uphill climb, not to mention bringing down the wrath of Longhorn Nation.
Golden: Yes, a thousand times yes. You’re telling me Texas would survive an 0-2 start against two teams that finished under .500 last season and will be ready for the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU? The Longhorns better win on Saturday and win big. They could use a confidence boost.
3. Can Oklahoma upset Ohio State?
Bohls: Yes, it can. The Buckeyes looked beatable against Indiana, and Baker Mayfield is a much better passer than J.T. Barrett. The difference will be which offensive line is more physical and pass-protects better. I see this game as a toss-up, but a rookie coach in this atmosphere worries me. Ohio State, 27-24.
Golden: Yes, the Sooners can. Mayfield is better than Indiana’s Richard Lagow, who threw for 410 yards against Ohio State last week. But the Sooners won’t win. The Buckeyes left Norman last fall with a 45-24 win over an OU team that featured Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook. They’re in Columbus this time. Buckeyes by 10.
4. Gary Patterson says TCU isn’t carrying the league banner against Arkansas. Is he right?
Bohls: No. Every Big 12 team carries the banner of the conference, and the league needs every big out-of-conference win — not so much for bragging rights and recruiting but to embellish the credentials of the eventual Big 12 champion.
Golden: I have to disagree with the Little General. TCU and the Oklahoma schools are the conference’s best bet to make a real statement nationally, and a win over an SEC and/or a Big Ten big dog would do wonders for a conference that could really use a signature moment early in the season.
5. Pick one Top 25 upset by an unranked opponent.
Bohls: Give me the Hogs over the aforementioned Horned Frogs by a field goal, 31-28. Arkansas’ Austin Allen is better than TCU’s Kenny Hill.
Golden: Arkansas will hold serve at home over TCU.
6. Which ranked team looks the most overrated?
Bohls: No. 22 Florida. The Gators looked pretty overmatched against a Michigan team that lost nine defensive starters from 2016, including Jabrill Peppers and I think the guy who irons Jim Harbaugh’s khakis.
Golden: No. 21 South Florida. Quinton Flowers is a talented quarterback, but Charlie Strong’s Bulls have been plagued by some all-too-familiar special teams problems.
7. What school would be a great fit for Mack Brown, who says he’s interviewed for three or four jobs?
Bohls: Personally, I’d love to see him at Texas A&M. But I could see him return to North Carolina if the Tar Heels tire of Larry Fedora. My guess is Mack’s done coaching.
Golden: Mack knows his way around the Big 12, and Bill Snyder can’t coach forever. I’m sure a lot of Kansas State fans would much rather have Brown than Snyder’s son, who could be in line to replace his old man.
8. Is Florida State cooked as far as the CFP goes?
Bohls: Yes. The Noles are done with Deondre Francois’ season-ending injury. They have a national championship-caliber defense and one of the nation’s best secondaries, but the first true freshman quarterback to start there in 22 years (James Blackman, who went from fourth string in August to No. 1 now, is 6 feet 5 but weighs only 185 pounds) is likely to stub his toe along the way, especially in the vastly improved ACC.
Golden: Yes. I hated to see Francois go down against Alabama because the Seminoles’ title hopes went down with him. Tough break for Jimbo Fisher. Francois was poised to have a huge year.
9. Washington State’s Mike Leach says it’s likely that aliens do exist. Is he right?
Bohls: Of course, Leach is. Some of them are probably here already among us. How else can one explain Alex Jones?
Golden: Ha-ha. Good question. I’d say there has to be another world out there somewhere with life, and if there are aliens, can they persuade Leach to stop tweeting about Texas Tech owing him money?
10. Is Kevin Sumlin a good coach?
Bohls: I don’t really know. I think he’s an excellent recruiter. He was pretty good in Houston and was real good as long as he had Johnny Manziel and first-round draft choices on his offensive line inherited from Mike Sherman. Since then, I am uncertain and have been having thoughts that he might be better suited as a coordinator somewhere. Somewhere besides Texas A&M. I doubt he’ll last past midseason if he loses at least two more games before those Alabama-Florida back-to-backers. The list of possible candidates would start with Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Maryland’s D.J. Durkin and Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente.
Golden: Yes, he is. What did the Aggies expect when they left the Big 12 for the SEC?