Jake Shaw reviews this weekend's college action across Texas.
The state lost all its undefeated teams a couple weeks ago.
Now, after another weekend of lit-up scoreboards, only one Texas school can boast just a single loss on its ledger. So it's no surprise that that team, Texas Tech, stands atop the newest Power Poll rankings, the order of which I use to recap below all 12 programs' results from the past weekend.
1) Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas Tech by 2.5
So said I: Texas Tech 31, TCU 23
What actually happened: After rallying to take a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, Texas Tech nearly let the 56-53 win at TCU win slip away. Texas Tech held a 36-26 lead with under five minutes to play, and with a much-improved defense, the Red Raiders appeared to have the win wrapped up. Instead, that defense had some breakdowns, none more punitive than TCU scoring on a 60-yard pass play despite facing a third-and-20. After that TCU touchdown, Tech got conservative, running it three straight times in attempt to drain the clock. That didn't work, and TCU got the ball back with 1:29 and immediately moved the ball down the field with the intent of winning the game in regulation. Past Tech teams (i.e. last year's club) might've folded, but one play showed the difference between 2011 and 2012. TCU, inside the Tech 20 with 47 seconds left, got a huge sack from Dartwan Bush, costing TCU both six yards and a timeout. Backed up, TCU had to settle for the game-tying field goal. Tech would win this in the third overtime, holding TCU to a field goal in the third extra session while scoring a TD of its own. This game shows that even when the defense isn't at its best, it can still make plays when it needs them most. It might also prove that as much as Tech wants to run the ball, its offensive identity remains with the passing game, as the star play and key number prove below.
Star of the game: Of his seven touchdown passes, Seth Doege threw four of them in the fourth quarter or beyond, showing that he can not only put up stats (30-42, 318 yards Saturday), he can perform in the clutch as well.
Key number: 47, the number of rushing yards on Eric Stephens's fourth-quarter touchdown run, accounting for 66 percent of the Red Raiders' 71 rushing yards on Saturday. It was the third time Tech rushed for less than 100 yards as a team this season (62 at Iowa State; 89 against Oklahoma).
What's next: If the Red Raiders really want to get everyone's attention, an upset at Kansas State on Saturday would certainly do the trick. KSU entered the season picked sixth in the conference by the coaches, but it is clearly the team to beat as wins at Oklahoma and West Virginia prove.
2) Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 in SEC)
The mob said: LSU by 3.5
So said I: LSU 20, Texas A&M 16
What actually happened: All the momentum the Aggies had built was suddenly lost in the final few minutes of the first half of the eventual 24-19 loss to LSU. The A&M offense had consistently moved the ball against LSU's Top 10 defense, forging a 12-0 lead it looked like it would take to halftime. But then the mistakes inherent with a freshman running an offense -- albeit perhaps the most talented freshman in the country -- crept up and put LSU in charge. With 4:33 left in the second quarter, LSU intercepted a Johnny Manziel pass, and the LSU offense woke up in time to take it 58 yards for a touchdown. Then, with only 57 seconds before halftime, Ben Malena lost a fumble, and LSU scored five plays later for a 14-12 lead. Those two drives totaled 87 yards of offense; LSU had just 61 yards on the five previous drives. The swift change in fortunes carried over to the second half. Manziel threw two more interceptions, the Aggies lost another fumble, and kicker Taylor Bertolet missed two field goals, including one from a very makable 33 yards out. But it was Manziel's final INT that sealed A&M's fate. LSU scored on the very next play, a 47-yard run that by an untouched Jeremy Hill that gave LSU an insurmountable 24-12 lead.
Star of the game: He took some vicious hits, as most receivers do against LSU, but Ryan Swope played with a lot of toughness and gave Manziel a trustworthy target. Swope led all players with 10 receptions for 81 yards.
Key number: 13, the number of turnovers by the Texas A&M offense in the past three games, including five against LSU, after turning it over just once in the first four games of the season.
What's next: The Aggies should get back on track Saturday, and a likely win on Saturday would deal Auburn its seventh loss of the season, knocking the Tigers out of postseason eligibility and perhaps sealing the fate of head coach Gene Chizik. Afterward comes two straight road games against Top 15 teams, including vs No. 1 Alabama.
3) TCU (5-2, 2-2 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas Tech by 2.5
So said I: Texas Tech 31, TCU 23
What actually happened: Turnovers resurfaced for the Horned Frogs, and though there were dozens of plays that impacted TCU's 56-53 triple-overtime loss to Texas Tech, ending a game -3 in turnover margin is a good place to start when determining what went wrong. The three turnovers led to 14 Texas Tech points, and it was about the only area where the Red Raiders outplayed the Frogs. TCU had: 28 first downs to Tech's 21; 516 yards to Tech's 389; three punts to Tech's 8; 4.4 yards per rush to Texas Tech's 2.6. Turnovers were killer, but another bothersome trend reappeared as well -- trouble in the red zone. While Tech scored touchdowns each time it got inside the TCU 20, three times TCU had to kick field goals instead of getting six. Sure, Jaden Oberkrom has turned into possibly the best kicker in the conference (he went 6-for-6 Saturday, running his season total to 14-16), but in this game, finishing at least one more drive in the end zone, rather than through the uprights, would've prevented an overtime. Instead, TCU had to rally to score the game's final 10 points, then after scoring TDs in the first two extra sessions, settled for another Oberkrom field goal. Tech, of course, one-upped that with a touchdown to earn the win.
Star of the game: It's hard to ignore QB Trevone Boykin, but because of his two turnovers (he also fumbled as well), I'm siding with Skye Dawson, whose 154 receiving yards accounted for nearly half of Boykin's 332 passing yards. Dawson was also a constant threat in the return game, getting at least 14 yards on three different punt returns.
Key number: 56, the most number of points TCU has allowed under Gary Patterson since 2004, when Texas Tech scored 70 against TCU in Lubbock.
What's next: The Frogs hit the road for two straight weeks, going to Stillwater to face OSU on Saturday, followed by a trip to Morgantown to take on fellow Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. With OSU's QB issues and WVU's defensive issues, both games look more winnable than when the season began.
4) Texas (5-2, 2-2 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas by 11
So said I: Texas 40, Baylor 31
What actually happened: The Longhorns got back on track with a 56-50 win over Baylor -- if giving up more than 600 yards of offense and allowing 50 points is getting back on track. The talk all week before the game was about how much more physical practices were, something that was supposed to change the team's mindset after the blowout to OU. But after this win, it doesn't appear there was much on-field improvement. Texas gave up a ton of yards, missed many tackles, lost a lot of one-on-one battles in the secondary and allowed Baylor to set a season-high with 255 rushing yards. Credit the defense for creating two turnovers, both of which the offense converted into touchdowns, and for tightening up on third downs (Baylor was 3 of 12). But what Longhorn fan felt confident the defense would get a stop if Baylor -- having scored on a 15-play, 94-yard drive with 1:57 left in the game to cut its deficit to 56-50 -- had kicked and recovered an onside kick? Not many. Baylor, with three timeouts left, will insist that its ensuing kick was indeed an onside attempt that went wrong, but it looked more like a pooch. Had Baylor recovered it, based on how the game was being played, the odds were in Baylor's favor to get one final score.
Star of the game: He entered the game with nine rushing touchdowns, seven of them from two yards or less, but all of Joe Bergeron's five rushing touchdowns were longer than those short-yardage situations. Bergeron also finished with a game-high 117 yards.
Key number: 17, the number of seconds it took for Texas to score the opening touchdown, an 84-yard run by freshman Daje Johnson. Last week against OU, Texas's offense didn't score a touchdown until about five minutes left in the game.
What's next: Texas will face a defense nearly as bad as Baylor's, but it won't have to worry so much about the offense of Kansas, which ranks 91st in the nation.
5) Baylor (3-3, 0-3 in Big 12)
The mob said: Texas by 11
So said I: Texas 40, Baylor 31
What actually happened: When scoring 50-plus points isn't enough for a win -- as was the case in the 56-50 loss to Texas as well as the loss at West Virginia -- it forces the offense to be perfect. The Bears almost were on Saturday. They put up 607 yards on the Texas defense, including rushing for 255 yards, a season-high and the most since gaining 232 against Sam Houston State. Nick Florence also did his part through the air, passing for 352 yards and combining for four TDs. But the offense turned it over twice -- both leading to Texas touchdowns -- and with Baylor's defense, that's often all it takes. That slight bit of imperfection creates a razor-thin margin of error for the team overall. Baylor gave up 525 yards to the Longhorns, who converted on a whopping 10 of their 16 third downs. Amazingly, that 62 conversion percentage by Texas is actually better than the Baylor defense's season average of 63.46 percent. That should say it all. Phil Bennett came to Baylor to turn a bad defense around, but in two years, the numbers across the board are all worse. Compared to the previous defensive coordinator, Bennett's defense is giving up 27 more rushing yards per game, 100 more yards through the air and seven more points per game. And Baylor's ability to force turnovers -- the Bears had 10 in the first three games -- is suddenly gone. Baylor has forced zero turnovers in the three Big 12 losses. Until the defense can get some stops, there's little Florence and the offense can do to compensate. Still, despite all the defensive ineptitude, Baylor still had a chance to upset Texas. After making it a 56-50 game, Baylor's attempt at an onside kick was pooched way too far down the field. Texas recovered and ran out the clock, getting two first downs on the ground while forcing Baylor to burn all three of its timeouts.
Star of the game: Despite the one interception (likely the fault of a receiver for running the wrong route), this may have been Nick Florence's best game, and he's had some excellent outings. He passed for 352 yards and two scores, but he also ran for some tough yards, rushing for 69 yards on 11 carries, including a season-high two touchdown carries.
Key number: 124, Baylor's national rank in total defense out of 124 FBS teams. Baylor also ranks dead last in scoring defense.
What's next: Half of the schedule remains, but the season may truly be on the line Saturday in Ames against Iowa State. Baylor needs three wins to get bowl eligible; if the Bears can't win Saturday, they will be hard-pressed to get three more against the teams remaining on the schedule.
6) SMU (3-4, 2-1 in CUSA)
The mob said: Houston by 5.5
So said I: Houston 38, SMU 28
What actually happened: SMU scored on a pick six just before halftime, then rode that momentum to a 31-point third quarter to beat Houston 72-42, scoring the most points in school history. Three of SMU's touchdowns came on interception returns, while Kevin Pope turned one of his two fumble recoveries into another touchdown. At one point in this game, SMU would've led 28-14 on defense/special team scores alone. That's what happens when you create nine takeaways. But it helped that the QB Garrett Gilbert, despite two more INTs, had one of his better games of the season, throwing for 265 yards and a season-high four touchdowns. Zach Line, meanwhile, rushed for at least 100 yards for the second straight game and the fourth time this season, gaining 113 yards and two TDs on 22 carries. The game turned late in the second quarter when, tied at 14, Gilbert threw a touchdown pass with 2:22 left in the half. SMU scored on a pick six on Houston's ensuing drive, then returned a fumble for a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the second half. After an SMU field goal, another pick six gave SMU a 45-14 lead and 31-0 scoring run that covered less than five minutes of game time.
Star of the game: Of SMU's six interceptions, the first one was the most important. Taylor Reed intercepted David Piland and returned it for a touchdown with 1:31 left in the first half for a 28-14 SMU lead, and the Mustangs never looked back. Reed added another interception later in the game and had five tackles and a TFL as well.
Key number: 19, the number of combined turnovers forced by SMU in the games against Stephen F. Austin and Houston. The Mustangs have added six more turnovers in the other five games, giving the unit a national-best 25 total takeaways, three more than the next best team (Boise State).
What's next: SMU had a chance to ride the momentum of a win over UTEP against the worst team in CUSA but failed to beat Tulane. Here's another shot; on Saturday SMU hosts Memphis, which has just four wins over the past three-plus seasons.
7) Houston (3-4, 2-1 in CUSA)
The mob said: Houston by 5.5
So said I: Houston 38, SMU 28
What actually happened: The Cougars have nobody to blame but themselves for the 72-42 loss to SMU last Thursday night. Because of an apparent concussion to starter David Piland, two more UH quarterbacks tried to rally for a win, but like Piland, each of them threw two interceptions, giving the Cougars six on the night. Half of those were returned for touchdowns, and UH also fumbled away the opening kickoff of the second half that SMU returned for a score. All told, Houston lost the ball nine times, but the most important loss from this game may be Piland. He's listed as day-to-day, and if he can't go, expect senior walk-on Crawford Jones to get the start this weekend. Yes, he threw two picks, but he eventually started moving the offense in the second half, throwing for 252 yards and 3 TDs. Obviously, it was too late to make an impact in this game by that point, but the experience should help him going forward if Piland doesn't return to the lineup. Lost in this blowout was the breakout game for WR Deontay Greenberry, a highly-regarded freshman who posted season highs in receptions (6) and yards (94).
Star of the game: His streak of 100-yard rushing games ended at three, but Charles Sims did reach that mark receiving (7-114, 2 TDs) and also added 54 yards and two more scores on the ground.
Key number: -10, Houston's turnover margin on the season after giving it away nine times against SMU. Houston is +1 in the three wins and -11 in the four losses.
What's next: Houston had won six straight and 9 of 10 overall against SMU before Saturday. It will try to keep a similar streak going against UTEP, which Houston has beaten twice in a row and five of the last six times.
8) North Texas (3-4, 2-1 in Sun Belt)
The mob said: Louisiana-Lafayette by 4
So said I: Louisiana-Lafayette 23, UNT 20
What actually happened: If it seems like a long time ago, it was -- UNT beat Louisiana-Lafayette, 30-23, a week ago tonight on a televised game on ESPN2. The Mean Green gave fans in attendance and the nation's cable subscribers their money's worth, rallying from a 14-point deficit in the second half by outscoring La.-Lafayette 24-3 over the final 21 minutes. UNT beat the Cajuns in just about every meaningful category, putting up 143 more yards of offense, collecting 10 more first downs and winning the turnover margin 3-0. Still, it was a tied game at 23 when UNT gained possession with 3:01 left. One minute and three plays later, UNT scored from 78 yards out, then forced a fumble on ULL's first play on the ensuing drive, allowing UNT to take over and run out the final 1:49.
Star of the game: If there were a closer role in football, Antoinne Jimmerson would be the leading candidate for UNT. He typically gets more touches in second halves, as was the case last Tuesday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Jimmerson scored booth his touchdowns in the second half, including his 78-yard reception that held up as the game winner. Jimmerson finished with 141 yards on a combined 10 touches.
Key number: 0, the number of sacks allowed by North Texas for the fourth straight game. The UNT offensive line has only given up three sacks on the season, all of them coming in the loss to No. 4 Kansas State.
What's next: The Mean Green travel to Middle Tennessee State, a team it crushed 59-7 to close the 2011 season, its second straight win in the series after losing the previous four.
9) Texas State (3-3, 1-0 in WAC)
What actually happened: Texas State sat the weekend out fresh off the 38-7 win over Idaho, the best performance by the Bobcats since the season-opening win over Houston.
Key number: 34, the number of tackles for loss given up by Texas State this season, the 29th best number in the nation and third in the state behind Baylor and Texas.
What's next: The Bobcats had their second bye week of the season, giving them the time and practice they will need for what is easily the toughest three-game stretch of the season. Texas State travels to San Jose State Saturday, then goes to Utah State before facing Louisiana Tech at home. Those three teams are a combined 17-5.
10) UTEP (2-6, 1-3 in CUSA)
The mob said: UTEP by 14.5
So said I: UTEP 30, Tulane 13
What actually happened: In its first game facing bowl elimination, UTEP responded with a 24-20 win, though it wasn't the kind of effort that makes reaching the postseason seem possible. Still, you have to give credit to the UTEP defense. Had it played like it did in the first half -- when it gave up 17 points on Tulane's 257 yards of offense -- UTEP wouldn't be bowl eligible today. Especially not after UTEP lost QB Nick Lamaison, who had an excellent first half (11-16, 157 yards, 2 TDs) before leaving the game with a hamstring injury. UTEP, up 24-17 at that point, didn't score again after Lamaison left, but the UTEP defense allowed just one fourth-quarter field goal to preserve the win. UTEP also grabbed its only takeaway of the game in the second half, a fumble recovery that ended a Tulane drive at the UTEP 25. And Tulane's final two drives to attempt to take the lead netted just 10 yards of offense. As good as the defense played, however, the uncertainty of Lamaison -- coupled with a UTEP's struggles running the ball (24 carries for 77 yards) on Saturday -- add to the uphill climb necessary to make the postseason.
Star of the game: Had Lamaison played the entire game, he might've wrapped up MVP honors, but in his absence UTEP's top defender on Saturday, defensive back Drew Thomas, gets the award after leading the team with 15 tackles, including 1.5 TFLs.
Key number: 28,000, the additional revenue in dollars made by UTEP this weekend after it decided to sell beer for the first time in the 99 years of Miner football.
What's next: Both starting quarterbacks are in danger of missing the game between UTEP and Houston. Nick Lamaison hurt his hamstring in the win over Tulane, while UH's David Piland was knocked out of the loss to SMU with a concussion.
11) Rice (2-6, 0-4 in CUSA)
The mob said: Tulsa by 20.5
So said I: Tulsa 41, Rice 20
What actually happened: Rice was a ninth Tulsa punt away from winning, but a breakaway run by Tulsa in the final minutes set up the one-yard winning touchdown in Tulsa's 28-24 win over Rice. The Owls' maligned defense played its best game of the season, albeit against a Tulsa offense missing starting QB Cody Green as well as one of its top running backs. When Chris Boswell kicked a 35-yard field goal with 9:55 left, it looked like Rice could capitalize on Tulsa's notable absences. By that point, Rice had forced Tulsa to punt it eight times and needed just one more to seal the upset. Instead, Ja'Terian Douglas broke off a 75-yard run, getting Tulsa down to the Rice 5 yard line, and the Golden Hurricane scored two plays later. Rice lost a fumble on the next possession, allowing Tulsa to gain possession and run the clock out.
Star of the game: Freshman running back Luke Turner had just four career carries before Saturday, so consider his 15 carries for 102 yards his personal breakout game.
Key number: 113, Rice's national ranking when it comes to giving up runs of 10 or more yards to opponents. The 75-yard run by Tulsa that set up the winning touchdown was the 49th time a team had rushed for at least a 10-yard play against the Owls' defense.
What's next: Rice has been a disappointment so far, but it pales in comparison to what's going on at Southern Miss, who Rice will host on Saturday. Southern Miss won CUSA last year but is winless this year in seven games.
12) UTSA (5-2, 1-1 in WAC)
The mob said: San Jose State by 11
So said I: San Jose State 34, UTSA 20
What actually happened: Saturday may have been the 18th game in UTSA's brief history, but the 52-24 loss to San Jose State might've been UTSA's "welcome to the Football Bowl Subdivision" moment. Never before had UTSA lost a game by four touchdowns, but SJSU did that on Saturday and even led by that 28-point margin after just one quarter. UTSA had used last year and the first half of this season to gently dip its toes into FBS waters, but it has taken a full plunge these past two weeks against Rice and San Jose State, and the next two weeks see the schedule get even more difficult. In UTSA's defense, it played Saturday without starting QB Eric Soza, out with an injury, though Ryan Polite's play might've created a QB controversy. Polite did throw an interception, but otherwise he was pretty solid. However, he did have one lost fumble, one of UTSA's uncharacteristic six turnovers. The Roadrunners only had one in the previous four games against FBS opponents.
Star of the game: Despite his two turnovers, Ryan Polite was otherwise very good in his first career start, throwing for 302 yards and 2 TDs while leading the team with 44 rushing yards.
Key number: 2, the number of times Roadrunner QB Ryan Polite was sacked on Saturday, after UTSA had allowed just one single sack in the previous four games against FBS opponents.
What's next: If one were to rate the strength of each of UTSA's opponents, it would likely go 3) San Jose State 2) Utah State and 3) Louisiana Tech. Unfortunately for the young Roadrunners, they play those three teams in that order. UTSA hosts Utah State this weekend before hitting the road to Louisiana Tech on Nov. 3.
Grading My Predictions
Last week straight up: 6-2
Last week against the spread: 4-4
Season straight up: 56-19
Season against the spread: 32-29
Jake Shaw is a special contributor to TexasFootball.com