American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden address 10 hot-button topics about Texas, the Big 12 and national college football:
1. Will a desperate Texas Tech have enough to overcome Texas?
Bohls: Nope. I’m not going to say the Red Raiders have mailed it in, but they’re bringing postage stamps. The normallyreliable Tech offense didn’t show up against TCU. Texas, meanwhile, is relaxed and feeling slightly empowered as a bowl team and will be emotional on senior night in a 38-17 victory.
Golden: Not going to happen. All you need to know about the Red Raiders is they have scored 34 points or more three times and lost. With the type of defense Texas is playing, I don’t see the Red Raiders saving Kliff Kingsbury’s job Friday. The Horns finish 7-5 with a 42-30 win.
2. Should Baker Mayfield have been suspended for the entire West Virginia game?
Bohls: It would have been drastic, and I can’t see Oklahoma going that far in making a stand about team discipline. It would take major onions to do that with a possible College Football Playoff semifinal spot on the line. But the Sooners’ quarterback needs to sit at least a quarter at the minimum. If it’s much less, the bold move seems more hollow.
Golden: The morality police would say yes, but the football police in Norman would laugh out loud at the idea. He didn’t break the law but did cross the line when it came to trash talk. I fully expect to see him in the second quarter at the latest in what should be an easy Oklahoma win.
3. If you were Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson, would you turn pro early?
Bohls: I would — and I bet he does. As much as I love and prefer college football over the NFL, I favor the benefit of the players above all things. I would not fault a single one for leaving school early so long as he does his homework and has the assurance that he will be drafted. But Jefferson figures to be a third-round pick or later and will be a better pro than a collegian.
Golden: If I were Malik Jefferson, I’d turn pro in the middle of this sentence. His upside isn’t going to get much higher than the first- and second-round grades he’s been getting. He told me that he would sit down with his family after the season. Hopefully they’ll advise him to go pro. Football isn’t forever. Don’t spend another year playing for free.
4. Did West Virginia count as a signature win for Tom Herman?
Bohls: Yes, but a lower-case signature. No caps. Herman got his first victory over a Top 25 team as the Longhorns coach and deserves to celebrate it. The win might require a small asterisk for the injury to Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier, but hey, no one felt sorry for Texas and all its major injuries.
Golden: Heck yeah, it does. The Horns were desperate to make it to a bowl game, and to go into a hostile environment and get the W under whatever circumstances was big for this program. If Texas wins 10 or more games next year, it will look at this year’s West Virginia game as the one that got the turnaround started.
5. If Mayfield is the best player in the Big 12, who’s second-best?
Bohls: Mason Rudolph. The Oklahoma State quarterback is a terrific passer, the second-best quarterback after Mayfield, and should be a high NFL draft pick, in my opinion.
Golden: I’ve been touting Rudolph as a first-round pick since the season started. The Cowboys haven’t been nearly as good as I predicted, but Rudolph will go on the first day of the draft, maybe ahead of Mayfield because he has better measurables.
6. Pick a Top 25 upset.
Bohls: Auburn will knock off No. 1 Alabama. The Crimson Tide are vulnerable because Jalen Hurts hasn’t developed as the passer Nick Saban envisioned. Both defenses are stout, but Kerryon Johnson will break a long run and Jarrett Stidham will throw two touchdown passes to spring the upset of the year, knocking Alabama out of the SEC title game, though maybe not the CFP.
Golden: Stanford’s Bryce Love will run wild, and the Cardinal will take down No. 8 Notre Dame 24-17.
7. Would a win over LSU save Kevin Sumlin’s job?
Bohls: No. I think he’s already gone and knows it. Even a victory over the Tigers would only get him back to the eight-win plateau, if before a bowl game, and I don’t believe the A&M administration considers that to be enough progress over Sumlin’s last several years.
Golden: No. I think the Sumlin era ended a few weeks ago when the Aggies suffered consecutive double-digit home beatdowns to Mississippi State and Auburn. Sumlin won’t be unemployed for long. I can see him landing somewhere like UCLA or Florida.
8. Will Kansas State slip into mediocrity if Bill Snyder retires?
Bohls: How could it not? Mediocrity might be too strong a word, but I don’t think the Wildcats will ever be as good as they’ve been under arguably one of the best 10 coaches ever. That program was built on Snyder’s personality, plan and ability to outwork and outsmart others. That will be hard to replicate.
Golden: Yes, because there’s only one Bill Snyder. Part of his magic has revolved around finding the right fits among the non-blue chippers, a skill that separated him from many other Power Five coaches who have unlimited spending power. Kansas State could suffer a real slip if the administration whiffs on the next hire.
9. What’s your favorite Thanksgiving dish?
Bohls: I’m all about the cornbread dressing. With gravy. My wife, Vicki, makes some of the best dressing ever, and I could eat turkey and dressing every other day.
Golden: My mom Jean’s dressing with a Greenberg Smoked Turkey — an East Texas staple — with fried corn, green beans, potato salad and her famous fried apple pies. Splash that down with a big glass of iced tea or red Kool-Aid in front of the flat screen, and you’re guaranteed to slip into a carb coma before the end of the first quarter.
10. What would happen to the CFP if Alabama’s left out of the Final Four?
Bohls: I honestly don’t think the CFP selection committee has the stomach to answer its critics if it leaves out a one-loss Crimson Tide team after a defeat by Auburn or in the SEC title game.
Golden: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria and, at its worst, a fourth “Ghostbusters” movie. All jokes aside, no one on the committee will have the guts to explain to Saban how his 11-1 Crimson Tide was passed over for a team coached by a mere mortal.