BEVO BEAT

Breakfast with Bevo: Talking about Texas’ Top 25 chances

Posted January 26th, 2014

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Good morning. Breakfast is served.

It’s January 26th: 26 down, 339 to go.

And 50 till Selection Sunday.

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YESTERDAY: The Texas men beat Baylor, 74-60, the third straight win over a ranked team. The Texas women won, too. Li Na became the oldest Australian Open women’s champion in the Open era (32). Jordan Spieth sat one shot off the lead at the Farmers Insurance Classic. Kevin Durant returned to action with a triple double. And Mike Krzyzewski won his 900th game at Duke.

TODAY: Stanislas Warinka stunned an ailing Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open men’s final. Jordan Spieth goes for the win at Torrey Pines (2 p.m., CBS), and if he gets it, he’ll move up to No. 9 in the world rankings. The Spurs and Heat play (11:30 a.m., ABC). Four Longhorns — Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson, Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles, Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo and Ravens kicker Justin Tucker — play in the Pro Bowl (6:30 p.m., NBC). And Paul McCartney performs with Ringo Starr at the Grammys (7 p.m., CBS).

TOMORROW: The new men’s Top 25 basketball poll comes out. Will Texas be on it?

Jan. 26 has a sports history. On this date, the Buccaneers beat the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII (2003); the Packers beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI (1997); the Redskins beat the Bills in Super Bowl XXVI (1992); the Bears stomped the Patriots in Super Bowl XX (1986); Bear Bryant died (1983); for you Olympics junkies, Soviet figure skaters Sergei Shakrai and Marine Tcherkasova were the first to perform a quadruple twist lift, at the Helsinki Olympics (1977); and Pete Rozelle was elected NFL commissioner (1960).

Last year on Jan. 26, the Texas men beat Texas Tech 73-57, snapping a five-game losing streak in Big 12 play. … The Texas women beat Kansas State, the Longhorns’ first Big 12 win of the season. … Baylor’s Brittney Griner broke the NCAA record for career blocks (665).

Today’s sports birthdays: Chargers linebacker Manti Te’o (23), Ravens receiver Torrey Smith (25), Wayne Gretzky (53) and Bob Uecker (79). Other birthdays of note: Ellen DeGeneres (56), Eddie Van Halen (59) and Lucinda Williams (61).

TODAY’S TRIVIA: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o finished second in the 2012 Heisman Trophy voting. Who was first and third that year? (Answer is below.)

TODAY’S LEAD: College football.

Yeah, yeah. We know we’re still 221 days away from the season opener, but football’s been on our brain. It’s been a busy couple of months around here, between Mack Brown’s departure, Charlie Strong’s arrival and the subsequent cleaning house of Brown’s final staff.

National signing day is just around the corner (Feb. 5), and spring football right after that (mid-March). Our own Kirk Bohls — who’s an AP Top 25 voter as well as a Heisman voter — presented readers with his early look at this fall’s Top 25 teams today.

Here are the takeaways:

(1) Texas comes in as Kirk’s No. 24 team. “Too low? Too high? Just a crapshoot with 15 returning starters and new enforcer Charlie Strong in town,” Bohls writes. “We’re expecting instant results from the Longhorns, assuming he finds a consistent quarterback out of David Ash, Jerrod Heard or Tyrone Swoopes and some reliable defensive backs.”

(2) Texas A&M? The Aggies don’t make Bohls’ cut. Such is life in the post-Johnny Manziel world.

(3) No. 1? Kirk likes the Oregon Ducks, even though he acknowledges most others will probably put Florida State at the top.

(4) Nine teams that could become this fall’s Auburn Tigers, off-the-radar schools that could crash the four-team playoff: Central Florida (the George O’Leary Effect), Florida (only one year removed from 12-1), Louisville (that post-Teddy Bridgewater cupbard is hardly bare), Ole Miss (Bo Wallace is back, and the Rebs get Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State at home), North Carolina (won six of its last seven games in 2013), Duke (David Cutcliffe is building something special), Iowa (friendly schedule, lots of offensive returners), Oregon State (Sean Mannion, who threw for a Pac-12 record 4,662 yards, is back) and Notre Dame (11 returning starters, 12 if you count Everett Golson, and Brian Kelly‘s taking over the play-calling).

(5) Kirk’s top five: Oregon, Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State and Alabama. In his early Top 25, there are seven SEC teams, four each from the Pac-12, Big Ten and ACC, and three from the Big 12. Oklahoma is the highest-ranked Big 12 team, at No. 10.

Keep in mind, it’s only January. A lot can, and will, happen between now and mid-August, when Bohls’ official Top 25 preseason ballot will be due.

Also, today, our own Kevin Lyttle gave his own sneak peek at the 2014 season. His early Heisman candidates are all quarterbacks — Florida State’s Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Baylor’s Bryce Petty and UCLA’s Brett Hundley. Best non-conference matchups? Oklahoma State vs. Florida State (Aug. 30, Arlington), LSU vs. Wisconsin (Aug. 30, Houston), Virginia Tech at Ohio State (Sept. 6), Michigan State at Oregon (Sept. 13) and Texas vs. UCLA (Sept. 13, Arlington).

So, what else is being written out there about the Longhorns?

Men’s hoops: Texas 74, No. 24 Baylor 60. In Waco, even. The Longhorns won their fifth straight, including — for the first time in school history — three consecutive wins over Top 25-ranked teams (then No. 8 Iowa State, No. 23 Kansas State, No. 24 Baylor).

Isaiah Taylor scored a season-high 27 points and Cam Ridley finished two points shy of a double-double.

Texas improved to 16-4. The Longhorns won 16 games last SEASON. The Longhorns also improved to 5-2 in Big 12 play, good for second place in the standings, and our own Cedric Golden wrote that, surprising as it may sound, Texas is again a force in this Big 12 race. And here’s how the other side covered the game (the Waco Tribune-Herald’s game story).

A fourth straight win over a ranked team — this, by the way, is the very first time Texas has faced four straight ranked teams anyway — won’t come easy. Texas’ next game is Saturday against No. 8 Kansas (3 p.m., Erwin Center, ESPN).

Golden and Brian Davis covered Saturday’s game for us. We asked each for their takeaway after the game:

Golden’s take: No lobotomy-free follower of Texas basketball would have realistically picked the Horns to do what they’re doing through 20 games, but they’re doing it in a business-like fashion that belies what anyone expected in the preseason — 16-4 with three consecutive wins over Top 25 teams? No way anyone saw that coming. All of a sudden, Saturday’s home game against Kansas has become the second biggest sporting event of next weekend. The Horns will actually be ranked, with a chance to knock off a fourth straight ranked team while making a huge statement in the first half of league play.

Davis’ take: When Cam Ridley opened the game with a catch-and-flush dunk, you knew it might be a long day for Baylor. The Bears had four unforced turnovers before the first media timeout. The Longhorns did what winning teams do — they beat a bad team. Now, it’ll be interesting to see how Texas responds to being ranked in the AP Top 25 with Kansas coming on Saturday.

Will Texas be ranked when Monday’s Top 25 poll comes out? Probably. Lyttle, who’s a Top 25 voter, had this to say when we asked him about the Longhorns’ prospects:

“There are games involving Top 25 and potential Top 25 (teams) every Sunday, so I don’t work on the poll until Sunday nights. Last week, I had Texas 25th. I accounted for one of their five points. They’ll get a lot more support this week, obviously.

“Based on how I’ve seen the poll work, I’d guess they’ll check in somewhere around No. 20, 21, 22. For me, they’ll be in the 17-20 range. Kansas and Oklahoma State remain Top 10. Iowa State’s overall body of work keeps them around No. 14-15, and Oklahoma won at Texas and has the same record, so the Sooners have the edge. Baylor will definitely drop out of the poll — never to be seen again this year, I’m guessing — and Kansas State is likely to slip out of the poll as well. FYI: I did not have Baylor or Kansas State in my Top 25 last week.”

AROUND THE BIG 12: The times, they are a-changing at Baylor when it comes to football recruiting, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune-Herald. And Baylor’s baseball team, 27-28 last season, opened spring practice. Texas’ next men’s opponent, Kansas, beat up on TCU, 91-69. Here’s how that game went, told from the perspectives of the Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Kansas City Star. The Star also ran a Jayhawks notebook, topping off with senior forward Tarik Black‘s ankle injury that forced him to miss the game. Will he be right for Texas? The Star-Telegram’s Gil Lebreton, meanwhile, is asking how in the world the Jayhawks have managed to lose four games because they’re that good. The Oklahoma State men beat West Virginia on Saturday, but it was a bad afternoon for Cowboys star Marcus Smart, who ended up apologizing to his teammates. John E. Hoover of the Tulsa World also wrote about Smart’s day, saying the Cowboy’s too good to behave like that. The Daily Oklahoman also broke down the Sooners’ recruiting class that Bob Stoops is shaping.

COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 10 DAYS. Here’s a quick recap of what’s going on, thanks to updates from various outlets out there. Thank you, Bobby Burton (@BobbyBurton247) of 247Sports, Max Olson (@max_olson) of ESPN.com and Jeff Howe of 247Sports (@JeffHowe247).

Schertz Clemens OLB/DE Kolin Hill de-committed from Notre Dame — on the same day Texas made him an offer. Hill tweeted about it Saturday. Lakeland, Fla. defensive tackle Chris Nelson (a former Strong commit at Louisville) and Fort Bend Travis cornerback Chris Nelson — who’s been a Texas A&M pledge since last year — were in Austin on Saturday, visiting Texas. Two Longhorns pledges were making visits elsewhere as well; Abilene Cooper receiver Lorenzo Joe was at TCU and Houston Lamar safety John Bonney was at Baylor. Fellow UT pledges Armanti and D’Onta Foreman of Texas City were supposed to visit Missouri, but didn’t (bad weather).

On the local front, Dripping Springs kicker Matthew Wylie committed to Massachussetts on Saturday.

AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: What else is going on around UT athletics?

Football: Mike Davis had three catches for 20 yards in Saturday’s Senior Bowl. His South team beat the North, 20-10.

Men’s basketball: Beat No. 24 Baylor on Saturday, 74-60. The Horns (16-4, 5-2) host No. 8 Kansas (15-4, 6-0) on Saturday (3 p.m., Erwin Center, ESPN).

Women’s basketball: Beat West Virginia on Saturday, 66-63. Nneka Enemkpali scored 15 points and had a career-high 21 rebounds. Here’s our game story. Next up is 10-10 Kansas — which upset No. 7 Baylor last week — on Tuesday in Lawrence (7 p.m.).

Men’s tennis: No. 20 Texas beat No. 15 Vanderbilt on Saturday, 4-0, to advance to the championship round of the ITA Kick-Off Weekend. The Horns play No. 19 Wake Forest today (2 p.m.) in Nashville for a spot in the ITA indoor national championship in Houston on Feb. 14. The Longhorns have yet to drop a point in all four dual-match victories this season.

Women’s tennis: No. 17 Texas beat No. 23 Auburn on Saturday, 4-1, to advance to the same championship round of the ITA Kick-Off. The Longhorns (2-0) play No. 22 Rice today (1 p.m., Penick-Allison) for a spot in next month’s ITA indoors.

CLIFF CLAVIN’S LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS: Impress your friends. Three things of note that have happened on Jan. 26:

On Jan. 26, 1998: President Clinton, wagging that finger, denies on camera ever having “sexual relations” with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

On Jan. 26, 1997: Astrologer Jeane Dixon, who once famously predicted John F. Kennedy’s assassination, died. We don’t know if she saw that coming.

On Jan. 26, 1992: Boris Yeltsin announced that Russia would stop targeting U.S. cities with nuclear weapons. Whew.

TODAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: The top three vote-getters for the 2012 Heisman? (1) Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, (2) Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, (3) Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein.

By the way, we got an email Saturday from former Statesman staffer John Maher, who saw yesterday”s Breakfast trivia question on kicker Lou Groza. Maher let us know that back in 1950, Groza led the NFL in field goal percentage — and so did his brother, Alex Groza, in the NBA.

TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 6. The number of national championships won by Bear Bryant.

TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 41. The number of days after Bryant retired that he died, of a heart attack. He once said he would die if he ever quit coaching.

TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 323. Career victories for Bryant. That still ranks third all-time, behind Bobby Bowden (377) and Pop Warner (336).

OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.

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