Five things we learned in Week 4: The difficulties of missing spring ball and a Group of Five explosion

Courtesy Texas Tech athletics

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Everyone is still unprepared

When we lost spring football, there was talk that teams would lose critical time to prepare for the season. That seemed even more true

Texas A&M leads the group of teams that played well below expectations in their season opener against Vanderbilt. Baylor got off to a slow start against Kansas too, while Texas and Texas Tech took turns being unbelievably sloppy. 

At this point, it’s difficult to know what to expect from any of these teams heading forward. At the same time, that’s one aspect that will make this season more fun than perhaps any others. Teams like Oklahoma, LSU and Texas suddenly seem far more mortal when everyone is walking on black ice. 

That said, give credit to the first-time head coaches – Baylor’s Dave Aranda and UTSA’s Jeff Traylor – who have overcome the lost time and still managed to create a strong product. Against all odds, the Roadrunners are 3-0. 

The Miners are for real!

We said heading into the week that UTEP had an opportunity to validate its first two wins with a good performance against ULM, its first FBS opponent. Who could have ever seen this coming?

UTEP dominated ULM in every way during a 31-6 win. The Miners posted 512 yards and held the War Hawks to 193 yards. They won the time-of-possession battle 40-20. They had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver for the first time since 2009. 

Over the past three seasons, UTEP is a combined 2-34. The Miners are now 3-1 for the first time in a decade. A corner has been turned in El Paso. 

Texas has to ge things together

After dominating UTEP in the first game of the season, we assumed that Sam Ehlinger and the Texas Longhorns looked back and better than ever. After the miserable performance in Lubbock, that looks like fool’s gold. 

The Longhorns needed a historic, furious comeback involving an onsides kick just to force overtime. Against a Texas Tech team that isn’t particularly good on offense or defense, that’s a shocking letdown. 

Luckily, the Longhorns escaped with a win, so they still have a leg-up on Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship race. But if this sloppy, undisciplined team is going to be the one that shows up against TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia the next several weeks, the ‘Horns will be too busy fighting for bowl eligibility to win the Big 12. 

TCU’s got an offensive renaissance...maybe?

The Horned Frogs stuck with Matthew Downing for the entire first half for reasons that are unclear. But when Max Duggan finally entered the game in the second half, the entire complexion of the game changed.

Duggan was virtually perfect in his half of action, completing 16-of-19 passes for 241 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that was not his fault. The offense picked up in a big way, scoring 27 of 34 points in the second half. When TCU used the quick passing game, Duggan stepped up to the plate. 

That said, the playcalling was still bizarre at times. Much of the impressive spacing and movement disappeared completely after the opening scripted drives. If Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie can integrate more of that into the long-term gameplan, Duggan looks ready to take on the load. 

Texas State is the best 1-3 team in America

It’s pretty unbelievable that after such a strong start to the season, the Bobcats only have a 1-3 record to show for it. Texas State has been in every game, even against Boston College and SMU. 

From an eye-test perspective, it’s obvious to see the growth. Five different receivers caught multiple passes against former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley and the Bobcats outgained the Golden Eagles 357-297. Four straight punts to end the game just isn’t good enough. 

The good news? Texas State is 1-0 in Sun Belt play and has a chance to really make some noise with winnable games against Troy and South Alabama coming up. Nonconference is the setup. Can the Bobcats knock it home in 2020?

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