The Herald Bulletin

September 21, 2013

Mike Lopresti: Tough times in Texas

The Herald Bulletin

---- — The eyes of Texas need a Kleenex. They must be weeping over what has happened to their Longhorns, and it might only get worse this week. Mack Brown’s seat is getting so hot, you could cook a Texas ribeye on it.

And so we begin in Austin with this week’s Tense 10 — 10 games where there is something for someone prove:

1. Kansas State at Texas: The Longhorns gave up 40 points in losing to BYU, fired the defensive coordinator, then gave up 44 more in being smacked around by Mississippi. What’s Plan C, keelhauling? Brown is 13-2 in Big 12 openers, but that was back when Texas could at least slow down opponents. His team desperately needs a good showing against Kansas State to prevent a freefall, but recent history is not comforting. The Wildcats have beaten the Longhorns the past three years.

2. Michigan at Connecticut: That near-miss with Akron in the Big House last Saturday was just a freak of football nature, right? That’s the general assumption anyway. Another assumption is that the Wolverines will resume standard operating procedure at UConn, since another close call would invoke some pointed questions. This match-up sounds more like a Sweet 16 game in March.

3. Missouri at Indiana: This is the best chance yet for Indiana to show its new teeth as a program. The Hoosiers are No. 6 in the nation in scoring. The Tigers are No. 10. First team to 50 wins.

4. South Dakota State at Nebraska: What are dirtier words in Lincoln — the bleeps heard from coach Bo Pelini in a two-year-old tape that showed up on the internet this week, or the fact the Cornhuskers are 105th in the nation in defense? Unbeaten South Dakota State is one of those FCS teams that can cause the big boys so much embarrassment.

5. Tennessee at Florida: If this is to remain an SEC-worthy rivalry, Tennessee has to start carrying its load. The Volunteers have lost eight games in a row to Florida. But what masochist made this Tennessee schedule? One week, the Vols are mashed 59-14 at Oregon for their worst loss in modern football, and the next they have to travel to Gainesville. That’s jumping from the frying pan to the Swamp.

6. Michigan State at Notre Dame: Not so long ago, the Spartans were No. 1 in the Notre Dame pain-in-the-tailpad rankings, beating the Irish six consecutive times in Notre Dame Stadium. But the Irish have won three of their last four meetings. Michigan State leads the nation this season in total defense, but to resume their role as pests, the Spartans will have to fix one stat: Michigan State has only four first downs rushing its last two games with Notre Dame.

7. Purdue at Wisconsin: The Badgers, who wouldn’t have minded seeing a few Pac-12 officials on the FBI Most Wanted List this week, have to show they have gotten over their fleecing at Arizona State. The Boilermakers have to prove they belong in the same league as Wisconsin. The Badgers have beaten them seven times in a row, the last four by an average of 31.8.

8. Utah State at USC: Lane Kiffin finally chooses a quarterback and Cody Kessler completes 15 of 17 passes. Has the storm over the Trojans passed? Well, maybe. But Utah State, winner of 18 of its last 22 games, is just the kind of upstart that can cause USC more heartache. The Aggies should be inspired by the bright lights. This is their first ABC nationally televised game since 1978.

9. Cincinnati at Miami of Ohio: They have been playing this series since 1888, but it has never been more lopsided, Cincinnati winning the last seven meetings, and the last three by a combined score of 124-17. The burden is on Miami, a proud program that has been shredded for 46.5 points a game this season.

10. Arizona State at Stanford: These are high times in Palo Alto. If Stanford wins, it’ll be the fourth consecutive year the Cardinal will have started 3-0, and that hasn’t happened since 1911. This is the first real test for Stanford’s national title hopes, with Arizona State not only ranked but coming off the gift from the football gods against Wisconsin.