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Saturday Night Review

It's not terribly fun to talk analytically about a team that's struggling, and if there were things from last Saturday's loss to OU we can build on, (1) it's mid-October, and (2) we lost to UCLA the week before. (3) At home. (4) By a lot.

Which is one of the many reasons I have so much respect for Brian Cook of MGoBlog. Texas is 3-2, a year removed from the national championship game, and here I am moping about, avoiding the blog like it's a chore. Michigan lost to Appalachian State, and then many, many others, in a much uglier, and sustained, crash. And yet Brian kept plugging away, through thin and thin. 

Michigan lost today, but their future looks bright once again, and there appear to be lessons for Texas fans. I don't know how much more any of us can take of the Greg Davis in-fighting -- it is what it is -- but take a few minutes to read this piece by our good friend Scipio Tex. Maybe the most maddening thing about Greg Davis is that he is neither what his fiercest critics caricature him to be, nor aware enough of his own misapprehensions to avoid fueling justified calls for his head.

What makes it interesting is that Mack Brown apparently has decided to hitch his wagon to this particular horse. I don't know if it's important enough to qualify as a tragedy, but the elements are all there. That, and Mack has done everything else so well that it's all but impossible he could fall far enough that his accomplishments were anything but appreciated.

In any event, we face Nebraska this week, a team I've been following closely all season, and who provide as firm a data point as is imaginable that the threat of a running quarterback is exponentially more valuable to the college game than it might seem on paper.

More thoughts on the match up with the Huskers, plus other late night ramblings, after the jump...

A round of applause.  Sometime last week, this site received its 20 millionth page view. Ironically, in terms of content this past week was anything but memorable, but it is a milestone nonetheless, and I want to thank all of you who have been reading, as well as all of the amazing folks who contribute content at this site -- whether on the front page, or in the Fan Posts/Shots.

In the same vein, right now isn't exactly the best stretch we've seen from Mack Brown, but as the team falls out of the Top 25 for the first time in a decade, it's worth pausing from the disappointment to stand and offer a round of applause.

On both counts, I'm grateful to be a part of something so outstanding. Thank you, BON community. Thank you, Mack Brown and Texas.

Onward and upward.

Perspective: South Carolina 35 Alabama 21. A few comments related to this game. First, tying into the previous section, I was driving this morning when I heard on the radio that in South Caolina's entire history of competing in collegiate football, they have exactly one 10-win season (in 1984, for the curious).

We're all frustrated with the way Texas's season is unfolding, but lest anyone be confused about what Mack Brown has done for Texas football, let that sink in a little bit. As far as I'm concerned, the negativity is about wanting Mack Brown to be the absolute best he can be and get the absolute most out of his career at Texas that he can. If it's fair to say that those of us who are vocal with our criticisms need to better communicate that which motivates us, those who would step up to "defend" Mack Brown need to understand that they're tilting at windmills. This isn't about suggesting Mack Brown is a failure; it's about insisting that he has proven he can do better, and that we hope he does so once again.

Second, I have to admit that it was a little therapeutic to see Alabama lose, if only because they seemed to vault ahead of us as the red hot program that could do no wrong. There's a tendency to over-glorify coaches -- to assume them to have transcended the usual boundaries -- only to find, in retrospect, that no one really conquers this sport. Texas fans have seen it up close and personal with Mack Brown, who stumbled after reaching the pinnacle in 2005, and nearly again following 2008-09, and we're seeing it at last this year with Nick Saban, who won 19 consecutive games before finally succumbing. Both coaches are amazing, in different ways, but it's comforting to realize that it's not just our guy who eventually fails to win them all.

It wasn't long ago that Nick Saban's Crimson Tide lost to Louisiana-Monroe, and though it's clear he's now got that program to a place where that won't ever happen again, he's not perfect. No one is, and it just hammers home the way this sport works. What matters is how you evolve.

Taylor Martinez, Safety, USC.  Did you know that Pete Carroll recruited Taylor Martinez to play safety at USC? That's the fact I find myself tossing to people who ask me about Texas' chances to stuff Nebraska in Lincoln next week. Not that Texas fans are particularly cocky right now, but there's a tendency to downplay Martinez against Texas, the first superior defense he'll face this year. I guess my point is that if we shut him down, it will be because we're both fast and disciplined, not because he's a lightweight waiting to take his first real punch.

I'm traveling to Lincoln for this game, and though it's not going to be the Clash Of The Titans that I hoped for, it's still an enormously important game for Nebraska, and I'm excited to see if our defense rises to the occasion. (I won't pretend to have any insight as to what our offense might do.) On that front, the UCLA game -- otherwise horrible -- was something of a blessing, giving us a good look at what it's like to defend a relentless, multiple rushing attack. Nebraska's is much better, but we're likely better prepared for it than we would have been without playing UCLA. We'll need to be disciplined, we'll need some tackles-for-losses, and we'll need to make Taylor Martinez pass the ball.

Ultimately, I suppose my feeling about this game comes down to whether our offense takes a step forward. If it doesn't, my sense is that even if Nebraska isn't especially effective offensively, it can stick to its guns, which should be enough to put points on the board. But if we put some points on the board, that puts pressure on Nebraska to do more than just rush the ball against us.

I wouldn't necessarily worry as a Nebraska fan if the Huskers are one-dimensional because they're running the ball 80% of the time. I'd worry if they're forced to be balanced.

Go Boise. Though I certainly understand rooting against Boise State if and when the Broncos potentially posed a threat to taking a beloved's spot in the BCS Championship game, I'm far less inclined to share in the disdain when they pose no direct threat to our own.  And please, spare me the argument that they may not be one of the two best teams in the country. That the system often pits a consensus top two against one another is not the same thing as saying that it is the system which divines who the top two might be.

In truth, there are years when we know which two teams we want to play for the national championship, and years when narrowing it to two teams is a sheer consequence of having the system we have. There is a lot of football yet to be played, but this may be just such a year, and unless sending Boise State to the national championship game offends some notion of justice -- unless they get the nod over some other undefeated team that defeated a clearly superior schedule -- I, for one, think we should be rooting for it.

Here's the thing: If you think Boise State doesn't deserve it because you don't believe they're one of the two best teams in the country, then you should be against any system that could send them to the national title game. That is, you should be for a playoff, in which the consensus top teams get to battle it out on the field, rather than some wacky system that rewards all sorts of wacky things, some rightly and some wrongly.

Most importantly, if a Boise State or TCU sneaks into the national championship game, it doesn't matter what you think of those two football teams, because it's suddenly an indisputable fact that you have to deal with them. The big boys can deal with them with a playoff, or they can deal with them by playing them heads up during the regular season, but either way, the resulting situation is an improvement.

And that's why I'll be rooting for Boise State. I think it would be good for the sport, and arguments that their ascension would validate an easy path to the national title game entirely miss long the odds as they are. It would be an unlikely, and welcome, rude interruption.

Geaux Dawgs!  Last but not least, let us spend a moment thanking Mssrs. Miles and Richt for fantastic performances this weekend. LSU defeated Florida on the road 33-29, while Georgia looked good in destroying Tennessee 41-14 in a must-win game.

If today represents a trend, the Will Muschamp paranoia train will be a much smoother ride the rest of this season. Unless you're worried about Urban Meyer's health...

Aw, crap.