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Golden’s Nuggets: Texas has Wildcats right where it wants ‘em — Manhattan

Kansas State is a good matchup for the Texas defense.

Did I really just write that?

Yes, friends, I did.

I know, it’s a scary statement. Maybe not as scary as clowns appearing out of nowhere in parking lots and on golf courses, but given what the Longhorns have done on that side of the ball, it’s scary to think there’s actually some confidence starting to emerge.

Clown talk aside, the Big 12 scoring circus will continue to light up scoreboards on Saturday, but the Horns will actually have a chance to get some stops against the Wildcats, who are the most ball-control oriented offense in this league. The Wildcats aren’t a wide-open offense in the mode of a Texas Tech, a Baylor, or an Oklahoma. Quarterback Jesse Ertz is a go with a shoulder injury and will split snaps with last season’s starter Joe Hubener. Either way, the Horns have a chance to make some noise away from home.

There’s a first time for everything, right?

“We didn’t play well at California, didn’t play well at Stillwater, and even in Dallas we didn’t play well, and we’re going to have to,” Longhorns coach Charlie Strong said Monday. “We always just talk about packing your defense. The defense has to come alive, and we just need to go from the start.”

The Horns have lost five of their last six true road games dating back to last season. Worse yet, Texas is 1-6 all-time in Manhattan. So the law of averages should be in their favor, for whatever that’s worth.

Strong has said before each of the last three road games that Texas needs to pack its defense. Hasn’t happened yet. This would be a great time to take an Iowa State-type of performance to the Little Apple.

“We’re going to embrace the challenge of people saying we have been horrible on the road,” said defensive end Breckyn Hager. “We need to accept this challenge and take advantage of the moment.”

So the Big 12 isn’t expanding after all.

“We committed ourselves to (10 teams) and to each other,” Oklahoma president David Boren said in a conference call Monday. “We want a stronger Big 12 conference. We feel like we’re already strong.”

Was it ever really a serious consideration?

It’s really hard to tell.

I can’t help but wonder if the Big 12 played the media with this expansion talk that ended up being just talk.

Remember the Big 12 media days in Dallas when Baylor’s issues were dominating the narrative? That was up until conference expansion was brought up. And just like that, the worm turned toward a fresher story. Expansion was a hot-button topic and for a few weeks, Oct. 17 became unofficial Big 12 Expansion Day.

Or so we thought.

Does this kill the league? Perhaps. The grant of television rights runs out in 2025, which will allow the two biggest dogs in the league — Texas and Oklahoma — to explore other options and talk to other conferences. That was going to happen anyway, but now that we know the conference isn’t expanding, it should make the other schools pretty nervous about the strength of this league moving forward.

There was a segment of Dallas Cowboys fans that thought rookie quarterback Dak Prescott would struggle at Green Bay, opening the door for Tony Romo to regain his job without incident after the upcoming bye week.

Then Dak and Co. went in and beat the brakes off Aaron Rodgers’ Packers.

It’s a really interesting story line developing here because the NFL has long been a league built on tradition. Along those lines, there are many out there who believe a player should never lose his starting job because of an injury. That isn’t the case here; Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Brett Favre, and Roger Staubach have all said they think Prescott should remain Dallas’ starter.

With this recent surge of success, Jerry Jones has wavered a bit on making Romo the starter when he comes back, and who can blame him? The Cowboys are on the short list of best teams in the NFL right now and Prescott is a big part of that. A winning streak is a delicate thing. I wouldn’t mess with it.

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