Bohls, Golden: On statement Saturday, there's no way Texas struggles against Rice. Right?
American-Statesman columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden weigh in on 10 topics of interest from this week's college football slate of games:
1. Will Texas struggle at all against Rice?
Bohls: Not even for a single series. I’ll be absolutely stunned if the Horns don’t come out on fire from beginning to end. If not, Steve Sarkisian might wonder if he bought a round-trip ticket from Tuscaloosa. This is a statement Saturday, and Texas must answer last week’s humiliation at Arkansas with an emphatic victory at home on the order of, say, 48-17.
Golden: No, because the Horns have a healthy dose of early season deration and understand that some really tough games are upcoming. They'll rally around quarterback Casey Thompson and hand the Owls a 41-17 loss.
2. Who will have the better stat line: Texas' Casey Thompson or Texas A&M's Zach Calzada?
Bohls: I’m going with Thompson’s stat line; his whole career is on the line. If he wants to secure the job permanently, he needs to produce 320 yards passing and three touchdowns and another 40 yards rushing and one score. Calzada will improve greatly on last week’s impromptu performance and put up big numbers on New Mexico to the tune of 250 yards and two touchdown passes, although the Aggies will go wild with their run game.
Golden: Thompson is dynamic with his feet and will find some nice running lanes on the scramble, so I expect his line will be bigger. He'll throw for 275 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another. Calzada will throw a TD against New Mexico, but the 38-14 win will be dominated by A&M's running backs.
3. Do you believe Urban Meyer when he says there's no way he'd take the USC job?
Bohls: In this rare instance, yes. He would be excoriated nationally for ditching the Jaguars this quickly even if he might be a bad fit for Jacksonville. I think Meyer will figure it out but eventually decide his style works better in college and then will return to that level. Michigan, maybe? We kid.
Golden: I never say never with this guy. He’s a college coach by trade, so it won’t surprise me if the Trojans make a real run at him after they've spent 2021 under interim coach Donte Williams.
4. Which Top 25 team will get upset this week?
Bohls: Out on a limb, but I say Indiana will take a stand and halt Cincinnati’s path to the College Football Playoff with a 27-24 win. The Hoosiers are 1-1 but have been totally unimpressive, so here’s Michael Penix Jr.'s chance to show he’s the same guy who exploded onto the scene last season and Indiana's to show a terrific Bearcats team it’s not quite ready for prime time.
Golden: No. 23 BYU is a handful at the house and will take down No. 19 Arizona State on a late field goal.
5. Which FCS team will knock off an FBS team this week?
Bohls: There won’t be one. Surely you don’t expect Oregon to have a letdown and let Stony Brook — a 42-point underdog — shock the world. I do like the Delaware Blue Hens and their stud running back Dejoun Lee, but Rutgers is enjoying its renaissance too much to slip up now.
Golden: Murray State played really well in the first half against Cincinnati last week and will topple Bowling Green by a touchdown.
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6. Does Florida stand any chance against Alabama at the Swamp?
Bohls: Zero. Maybe less. The Gators’ quarterback issues make this a bad matchup this early in the season for an opponent as formidable as Alabama, even if redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson was highly impactful in very limited action last week. This game will be over in the third quarter. Watch the Tide romp.
Golden: I'd like to say yes after watching Richardson do his best Vince Young impersonation with 115 yards on four carries against South Florida, but the Tide just seem like a team ready to run away and hide from the rest of the country. They’re 20 points better than Florida and will prove it Saturday.
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7. Is Iowa State, which was picked to finish second in the Big 12, not as good as we believed in July?
Bohls: I think that’s safe to say. Cyclones coach Matt Campbell had best figure this out quickly or risk doing severe damage to his national reputation as possibly the next Matt Rhule. It’s possible he just coaches better as a perpetual underdog. He sorely needs to upgrade his team’s performances quickly to maintain Iowa State’s status as a top-tier Big 12 team.
Golden: The general feeling was that Brock Purdy returning as the most experienced quarterback in the league would make the Cyclones a sexy pick to battle Oklahoma for the conference crown, but Purdy has yet to throw a touchdown pass through the first two games. He’s struggling, as is running back Breece Hall, who fumbled late near his own end zone against Iowa. The Cyclones are talented but aren’t playing up to that talent. Second place is there for the taking.
8. After the firings of Randy Edsall and Clay Helton, which coach now has the hottest seat?
Bohls: I think it’s getting very, very warm in Baton Rouge. On the heels of last year’s 5-5 season at LSU and an internal Title IX investigation on campus, Ed Orgeron can ill afford a disastrous seasons. I don’t think he'd survive going 7-5.
Golden: Scott Frost’s last name belies the warmth on his backside because the Huskers are below average at best. Saturday’s road trip to Oklahoma will do little to ease the frustrations of Nebraska fans who are similar to Texas' in that they long for the days when their Huskers were players on a national level.
9. With four new teams coming in, how should the Big 12 handle the Texas-Oklahoma situation?
Bohls: Just as it is. Expand, expand, expand. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby should stick to his guns and force the Longhorns and Sooners to pay their total freight and fork up more than $80 million apiece or offer $100 million if they want to skedaddle in 2023. I’m told by sources that there is little chance they will join the SEC next year, even though they want out immediately. Smart for the Big 12 to grow by four and even smarter if they continue to add to their numbers and invite Memphis, UNLV, Boise State and Tulane to get into new television markets before the AAC counterattacks with its own invitations. Bowlsby can’t think so much of a pie cut up into too many pieces as of a strong conference with solid members and a viable future even if the Big 12’s annual take of about $37 million gets reduced by half.
Golden: Why not milk this next year or so for all it's worth and play as a 14-team league until those big dogs head east? It would create some real excitement in the conference and give the old members a chance to stick it to the Horns and Sooners while pocketing some nice coin and increasing the chances of the league maintaining its Power Five status.
10. What coach would you like to have met — and what would you ask him?
Bohls: Well, since I’ve met ’em all except Knute Rockne — Bear Bryant, Joe Paterno, John McKay, Tom Osborne, you name ’em, because I’m old — I’ll pick Woody Hayes. I’d ask him if he thinks players are too soft these days. And how his uppercut is doing.
Golden: I’d love to sit down with the late Paul “Bear” Bryant and ask him about the 1970 loss to USC and the domination of running back Sam “Bam” Cunningham — who died Sept. 7 — and why it took that performance to finally persuade him to fully integrate his team with Black athletes when he and other legends such as Texas’ Darrell Royal could have done so much earlier.