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Golden: Any path Texas has to Big 12 title game has to start with wins in Waco and Ames

Horns play at Baylor Saturday

  • Horns blew double-digit second-half leads to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State

Now or never. 

If Texas can take care of business over these next two weeks, the talk of goals still being in place can actually be taken seriously.

This is the Longhorns' CFP right now. Baylor and Iowa State are two of four teams ahead of the 2-2 Horns in the Big 12 standings, and it they harbor any hopes of being in the conference title game mix in a month, these are must wins.

Bohls:Texas A&M surges with third consecutive win, cracks this AP college football Top 10

The Horns did themselves no favors with no-shows in the second halves against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — the other two other teams ahead of them in the standings —  but they're far from dead. That is, if they fly out of the bye week with a couple of wins. 

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian leaves the field after the loss to Oklahoma State at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Oct. 16. The Longhorns can climb back into the Big 12 race with road wins over Baylor and Iowa State in the next couple of weeks.

Steve Sarkisian said Monday his team is aware of the standings and what they have to do to improve their lot with five games remaining.

"The point that's bigger is us playing well on Saturday," Sarkisian said. "Our idea is if we trust our process and go through our process, we'll get the results we want, whether it's this week, two weeks, three weeks, whatever that is, end of the season. It's one thing to  recognize what may be ahead, but if you look too far ahead you might miss what's right in front of you."

That would be the Baylor Bears, who are one of the league's best turnaround stories under second-year coach Dave Aranda. At 6-1 and 3-1 in the conference, the Bears are off to their best since the 2019 team that began 9-0 and finished as the league runner-up before losing to No. 5 Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.

Quarterback Casey Thompson knows what the numbers are and understands the stakes at play, but is following the Sark script when it comes to what lies ahead.

"I try not to look at the records or standings or anything like that," Thompson said. "The fact of the matter is we have to focus on one week at a time where the records don't matter anyways."

Translation: Before the Horns can think about beating Iowa State, they have to beat Baylor. Makes sense, but the fans can dream, can't they?

Jake Ehlinger, shown taking the field at Royal-Memorial Stadium for the 2019 season opener, died of an accidental drug overdose of what was believed to be Xanax laced with fentanyl, according to a statement released by his family. He died in May at age 20.

Drugs are the enemy: The revelation that 20-year-old Jake Ehlinger died of an accidental overdose of what was believed to be Xanax laced with the powerful opiate Fentanyl is the latest example of our country losing big in the battle against drugs. This one hit close to home. 

Fentanyl is killing our brothers, sisters, sons and daughters with no end in sight and the opioid crisis is creating many more questions with no real answers in sight. According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving heroin, prescription opioids and synthetic opioids like fentanyl are up six times over the last 20 years and those rates are climbing. 

It goes without saying that a drug that's 50 times more potent than heroin is a killer waiting to kill. Worse yet, some  dealers have no problem lacing other drugs with it, unbeknownst to the users.

I would be remiss if I didn't encourage anyone who has a friend or loved one using drugs to do everything your power to urge them to seek treatment if they are acquiring these substances from nonmedical personnel. I wasn't privy to Ehlinger's personal life, but I can't help but feel hurt for his family and for the families of others whose lives have been cut short this way. 

It's frustrating, infuriating and heartbreaking all at the same time.

Iowa State wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson catches a 9-yard touchdown pass ahead of Oklahoma State cornerback Jarrick Bernard-Converse during the second half of the Cyclones' 24-21 home win Saturday. Three plays earlier, Hutchinson's 51-yard touchdown catch was nullified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Garbage call: If the Big 12 has any credibility, then Commissioner Bob Bowlsby will sit the officiating crew from Iowa State’s win over Oklahoma State for nullifying Xavier Hutchinson’s 51-yard touchdown reception with an idiotic taunting penalty.

More: Big 12’s Bob Bowlsby considers Texas, OU’s departure for the SEC a ‘personal betrayal’

If you missed it, Hutchinson hauled in Brock Purdy’s pass at Oklahoma State's 40-yard line three minutes into the third quarter after a defender fell down. The speedster loped toward the goal line, took a peek over his shoulder and as he eased up with the end zone approaching, changed his stride into a bit of a celebratory gait.

It wasn't the high-stepping Deion Sanders finish to a score we've seen dozens of times, but one could tell Hutchinson was excited to score in the league's marquee matchup last week.

The flag for unsportsmanlike conduct should not have happened. Iowa State coach Matt Campbell understandably blew a gasket because it was a bush-league call. Just plain unnecessary. 

“I’ve got to watch my words,” Campbell told reporters after the game. “At the end of the day, those things are going to happen. I don't know if I'm in full agreeance. It's not my place to be in agreeance. Those guys have a hard job.”

Campbell has no interest in being fined, but these refs can’t pull this garbage. They work for a league that took it on the chin earlier this year when it was revealed that Texas and Oklahoma were leaving for the SEC between next season and 2025 so these kind of embarrassing displays will only add fuel to the growing belief that that Big 12 will be a diminished league once the big dogs head east.

Bohls:Jeff Traylor's UTSA Roadrunners may become college football's next big thing

The league is in a fight to maintain its relevance moving forward and the offending crew played a pivotal role in hurting that. The call was almost as bad as that 2015 game when a ref flagged then-Texas coach Charlie Strong for unsportsmanlike conduct after clearly goading him into a sideline confrontation.

As far as Iowa State is concerned. Saturday could have been a game-changing flag with the Cyclones trailing 14-7, but thankfully they kept their composure and tied the game three plays later — on a Hutchinson TD catch, no less.

You just can’t have that kind of incompetence in big-time college football. No official is perfect, but that call was beyond horrendous. 

Fans don't come to see the refs. They come to see the players.

Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa, left, and second baseman Jose Altuve celebrate after the Astros eliminated the Boston Red Sox in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series Friday. Houston will host the Atlanta Braves in Game 1 of the World Series at Houston's Minute Maid Park on Tuesday.

Not the grudge match America wanted: The Atlanta Braves earned the right to represent the National League in the World Series after spending more than three months with a sub-.500 record during the regular season, but I would have loved to have seen the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros in a grudge match given their checkered recent history.

Bohls, Golden:Sure, Oklahoma State is rolling, but are the Cowboys truly a top-10 football team?

The Dodgers made no secret of their disgust with the Astros stealing signals during their 2017 championship run and the Astros made no secret of their intense dislike for the Dodgers, but such is life. The dream matchups don’t always materialize.

Kudos to the Braves for hanging in there during some tough times. They earned it and will have their hands full with the most talented offensive lineup in the sport.

Better yet, the Astros aren’t banging garbage cans or buzzing necklaces (allegedly) this time around.

NFL quips: At several points of Sunday’s Texans-Cardinals game, Arizona’s Christian Kirk was covered by Houston’s Christian Kirksey. Not sure if that’s important, but I like it. ... The fan that returned Tom Brady's 600th career touchdown pass should be commended, but i can think of about 500,000 reasons I would have held on to that ball. ... The Chiefs forgot how to play football.

Enjoy the sports.