Obligatory reminder: The SMO does not deal in logic or reason. It is a 100 percent emotional overreaction to the game preceding it or the game following it. Do not counter with statistics or figures because chances are I haven’t looked at them nor do I probably even understand them.
I decided to hold on the SMO this week for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to do it on Sunday and then I forgot about it until yesterday.
Second, I wasn’t sure I needed to be overly optimistic about Texas beating a bad San Jose State team — in the same way I wouldn’t expect an overly optimistic column about my driving abilities if I beat a sixth grade student in a parallel parking competition.
Texas did what Texas was supposed to do.
This week, Texas has arguably its biggest game of the season — a 2006 Rose Bowl rematch with the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Coliseum. Texas and USC fans have had this one circled for years — and revenge is on the mind for a lot of folks in California.
Every Texas fan remembers where they were on Jan. 4, 2006. They remember the Michael Griffin interception. They remember the Vince pitch to Selvin Young. They remember Reggie Bush foolishly trying to lateral the ball after a 50-yard run — a fumble Texas recovered.
Texas fans remember the fourth-and-two — a play that still haunts LenDale White. And, of course, they remember fourth-and-five — when Vince Young anointed himself the greatest college football player of all-time.
The Trojans opened as 17-point favorites this week. The line has dropped since then — but not by much. Vegas still expects USC to win by two touchdowns.
But here’s the thing: Texas is going to beat USC on Saturday. I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. Here’s how and why.
Texas will win on the ground
The Achilles heel of this Trojans team is its run defense. The Trojans have allowed 216 rush yards per game this season — and will potentially be down players on the defensive side of the ball Saturday.
Texas wasn’t able to make Chris Warren a factor in the Maryland game — and it cost them. On Saturday, against a bad San Jose State team, Warren looked elite. He rushed 16 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Warren is the key to Texas beating USC.
While Kyle Porter has struggled this year, the freshmen running backs — Daniel Young and Toneil Carter — both looked really good. Granted, it was against bad competition, but it was still a positive look for the RB unit.
Additionally, Texas will incorporate Wildcat packages that should help the Horns move the ball down the field. Against Maryland, both Jerrod Heard and Lil’Jordan Humphrey had success rushing the football out of the Wildcat. Because the Trojans have to respect Heard’s ability to throw the football, they will have their hands full with Texas’ rushing attack.
Run the football. Control the clock. Keep the defense off the field. If Texas can do this, they can win.
Tom Herman is MENSA
One thing we all seem to forget is that Texas coach Tom Herman is in a fraternity of certifiable geniuses the likes of which we rarely encounter in our normal day-to-day lives. While some coaches look at game film and see Xs and Os, Herman’s mind opens like Russell Crowe looking at an equation-covered chalkboard in A Beautiful Mind.
Herman’s four, sometimes even five-dimensional play concepts that he is constantly drawing on coffee napkins or neglected hallway whiteboards have to be dumbed-down exponentially by offensive coordinator Tim Beck in order for coaches and players to even understand what is going on.
Herman has been sitting on his brilliance — not wanting to reveal anything in film for USC coach Clay Helton and his cronies to prep for — because he knows winning this game will change the perception about Texas football — just as it did last time.
I have no doubt in my mind that Herman and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando (MENSA status: undetermined) will craft and execute a perfect game plan to counter USC star quarterback Sam Darnold and running back Ronald Jones.
Herman is 6-0 against AP Top 25 teams. This time next week, Herman will be 7-0.
I deserve this
Come on. I deserve a big win. I’ve been such a good fan for too long not to have this. I don’t ask for much as a fan — can’t we just beat USC please?
The last two years, I’ve made two big road trips to Texas games. The first, a drubbing in South Bend when Notre Dame wrecked the Longhorns 38-3.
Last year, I traveled to Berkeley and — alongside thousands of stunned and tired Longhorns — saw the Cal Bears upset Texas 50-43.
Third time is a charm though. On Friday morning, I will board a 5:30 a.m. flight to Los Angeles — a city pleasantly described to me as “Houston, but with Austin’s traffic.”
I’m due for a big Texas win. I will be there Saturday. Texas owes me this one.
Historically, Texas as an underdog against USC in Los Angeles has almost always worked out favorably
If you go back to all the times Texas has traveled to Southern California as an underdog to play a highly touted USC team with a Heisman caliber quarterback and national championship hopes on the line, the Longhorns have actually fared pretty well. I expect this game to be no different.
Texas wins a hard fought back-and-forth game in Los Angeles, 41-38.
Each week, we check in with Greenville Pat for one thought about Texas football and five picks for this week. It might be time to start fading Greenville Pat because he finished last week 0-4-1 — one game was canceled.
“Texas will cover.”
Pat’s Picks (2-7-1)
Clemson -3 v. Louisville
Texas +15.5 v. USC
SMU +18 v. TCU
UNC -10 v. Old Dominion
Central Michigan +10 v. Syracuse
SMO Picks (7-3)
Clemson -3 v. Louisville
Baylor +14.5 v. Duke
UL Lafayette +24 v. A&M
Tennessee +4.5 v. Florida
Mississippi State +7.5 v. LSU
UPDATED FULL SEASON SMO PREDICTION
MARYLAND (scrimmage) - Score not recorded
SAN JOSE STATE - Blow out victory
@USC - PROGRAM DEFINING WIN ON FOURTH DOWN CONVERSION
@IOWA STATE - Stop bringing this one up
KANSAS STATE - WIN
OKLAHOMA - WIN (Buechele plants the flag at midfield)
OKLAHOMA STATE - WIN
@BAYLOR - WIN
@TCU - WIN
KANSAS - IT’S ANYONE’S GUESS
@WEST VIRGINIA - WIN
TEXAS TECH - WIN
“Texas is back, folks.”