Week two of the college football season took everything we knew about the Texas teams and threw it out the window.
Both of the state’s flagship programs dropped big losses against high-profile opponents in the afternoon and evening on Saturday. A new challenger has emerged for a conference championship crown after a big non-con game. Another got some sweet revenge.
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Here are five things we learned during the second week of football.
The big guns have some work to do
Let’s put the discussion to bed – Texas was more impressive in its performance against the No. 6 Tigers than Texas A&M was against the No. 1 Tigers. But still, both programs proved that they have some work to do to reach the elite level.
Getting diced up for nearly 500 passing yards is unacceptable for Texas, a university that prides itself on the “DBU” moniker. Maybe Joe Burrow has just taken the elite step, but there’s a decent chance Texas plays five games against better quarterbacks heading forward. Those cornerbacks better get up to speed quickly.
Texas A&M was flat across the board offensively, averaging 4.2 yards per play and 2.0 yards per rush against the defending national champs. Quarterback Kellen Mond didn’t even show flashes of the star play that kept the Aggies in the game against Clemson last season.
Luckily both programs have plenty of opportunities remaining. The Longhorns face off against Oklahoma later in the year, and could have another shot in the Big 12 title game. Texas A&M has a murderer’s row of Alabama, Georgia and LSU left. There’s time to make improvements... but not that much time.
This time last year, SMU was in the process of getting stomped by a combined 133-55 in its first three nonconference matchups. Easily the worst was a 46-23 thrashing at the hands of UNT.
What a difference a year makes. SMU jumped out to a 21-0 lead over North Texas in the first quarter alone, and never looked back. Transfer quarterback Shane Buechele was electric with 292 passing yards and three touchdowns, easily outdueling our top quarterback in the state, Mason Fine. After throwing for 444 yards last season, Fine was held to just 152 this year.
SMU easily could have struggled and lost the first two games of the season against UNT and Arkansas State. This is a different team. Suddenly, the schedule looks pretty dang open. Road games against Houston, Memphis and TCU will be tough...but is there another obvious loss on the schedule? There’s a huge opportunity here for SMU.
The bottom tier isn’t that big
Last season, there was a real pecking order at the bottom of the state. UTEP and Rice rounded out the bottom, Texas State and UTSA trailed close behind. Those four teams will probably be at the bottom until further notice, but the gap between them is changing.
Rice looks dang serious about competing with top level teams this year. The Owls gave Wake Forest a strong fight, and primarily lost because they just were out-athleted. Seeing Army take Michigan to double-overtime only makes Rice’s performance on the road in Week 1 that much more impressive. Texas State outplayed Wyoming for the entire game. Once Gresch Jensen cleans up mistakes, the Bobcats can win some games.
UTSA took a step back against Baylor after an impressive performance against UIW in the opener, but there’s still plenty of upside. At this point, UTEP appears to be the only true bottom-feeder in Texas college football. The bottom tier finding some footing is good news for the state of the state.
Top QBs, where are you?
Heading into the year, we named Mason Fine and D’Eriq King our top two quarterbacks in the state. On Saturday, both struggled in a major way.
SMU had a phenomenal game plan and managed to combine pressure and strong coverage to take Fine out of the game. He passed for just 152 yards in the crushing loss. The last time Mason Fine was held to that total in a healthy regular season game? Oct. 22, 2016, as a freshman against Army.
King has been fairly pedestrian since Dana Holgorsen took over as head coach. In two games, King has completed just 54.7 percent of his passes for 306 total yards on 5.8 yards per pass attempt. Even against FCS opponent Prairie View A&M, King passed for just 139 yards, a touchdown and an interception on 5.3 yards per attempt.
We had a lot of excitement about these two quarterbacks heading into the year. Both had dark horse Heisman campaigns going this offseason. But through two games, the duo is at risk of getting passed up by arguably the entire group of Power Five returning starters. This isn’t what we hoped for.
Heat is a killer
When was the last time we saw this kind of heat affect football games in the state of Texas?
During the Baylor game, Charlie Brewer was pulled after an apparent burning sensation on his feet, and thousands of fans waited up under the concourse instead of watching on burning bleachers. Players before North Texas/SMU didn’t even warm up outside until late because of intense heat. There might have been some flopping on Saturday night in Austin, but LSU players were dropping like flies because of cramps.
Most teams at this point have moved to turf fields because of the ease of upkeep, but the downsides become painfully obvious during weekends like this. The turf keeps getting warmer throughout the day, and really does pose a safety concern. At some point, college teams are going to have to find a way to deal with it.
- Texas Longhorns
- Baylor Bears
- SMU Mustangs
- Texas A&M Aggies
- Texas Tech Red Raiders
- TCU Horned Frogs
- Houston Cougars
- North Texas Mean Green
- Rice Owls
- Texas State Bobcats
- UTSA Roadrunners
- UTEP Miners
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