Bohls, Golden: Is Texas about to turn the tables on TCU's recent control of the rivalry?
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 TCU's recent domination of Texas continue?
Bohls: Absolutely not. Steve Sarkisian wasn’t here for those recent Horned Frogs beatdowns, and this isn’t the same TCU team that has gotten its way with Texas. Sure, Gary Patterson’s bunch was looking ahead, but a decent but hardly great SMU ran all over his defense, and so should the Longhorns in a 38-21 romp.
Golden: Much has been made of TCU having won seven of the last nine meetings, but the Longhorns are on a different level of focus in Sarkisian’s first year. The much maligned offensive line has a great day on the road and Bijan Robinson runs wild in a 34-24 win.
2. Is Casey Thompson the Big 12's best quarterback right now?
Bohls: At this point, I would say yes, even with such a small sample size of only two starts. No one’s playing any better than the Texas junior, unless someone wants to put Baylor’s Gerry Bohanon a touch above him with a 73% accuracy rate that’s eighth in the nation and a win over Iowa State, but those two have been far and away the cream of this crop.
Golden: For me, he is. Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and Iowa State’s Brock Purdy have struggled at times but Thompson has been the most consistent of the Big 12 signal callers. He’s producing in efficient fashion with 10 touchdowns, only two interceptions and a passer rating of 207.15 which would rank No. 2 in the country behind Coastal Carolina’s Grayson McCall if Thompson had enough passing attempts.
3. Will new kid on the block Arkansas upset Georgia?
Bohls: Uh, the Hogs meet reality. I picked Arkansas to beat Texas and Texas A&M, but this Georgia defense is a different animal altogether, allowing just 69.5 yards a game on the ground. Kirby Smart will force K.J. Jefferson to try to beat Georgia through the air, and that won’t happen — he’s completing just 58% of his throws. I've got Georgia winning big at 34-14.
Golden: The Hogs are one of the best feel-good stories in all of college football behind good guy head coach Sam Pittman, but my preseason national championship pick Bulldogs are too talented on both sides of the ball to get caught slipping. Georgia wins going away 42-21.
4. Will Ole Miss' Lane Kiffin become the first Saban assistant to beat his old boss?
Bohls: Is this a joke? Saban assistants don’t beat the master. It just doesn’t happen. Now, the Rebels are vastly improved, averaging about 300 yards or more rushing and passing and have had just two turnovers, but is that more a product of weak opponents or Ole Miss strength and Matt Corral prowess? Alabama will take down the feisty Rebels 48-35.
Golden: Alabama hasn’t been this vulnerable in quite some time, and fans remember last season’s 63-48 shootout at Vaught-Hemingway, but Ole Miss won’t come close this time. Roll Tide by three touchdowns.
5. Does Cincinnati have to beat Notre Dame to have any shot at a College Football Playoff spot?
Bohls: It absolutely must — and will. Luke Fickell’s team has this last great opportunity to audition for the CFP selection committee. No other team left on its schedule moves the needle with no ranked team left to play, unless SMU jumps into the Top 25. The Bearcats have forced eight turnovers in the last two games alone and know what’s in front of them, and they will upset an overrated Irish team 27-24.
Golden: Abso-freakin’-lutely. Notre Dame moved up to No. 9 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 10 in the coaches' poll. Can you say signature win? It’s what Cincy needs to harbor any hopes of getting into the CFP. An impressive win over the Irish would be a huge checked box.
6. Pick a Top 25 upset.
Bohls: Maryland might be the surprise team of college football and will knock off No. 5 Iowa. The Terps (4-0) are riding high behind the passing tandem of Taulia Tagovailoa (No. 7 nationally with 294 passing yards a game) and receiver Dontay Demus Jr. (leads the Big Ten) but also a defense paced by lineman Sam Okuayinonu that has 16 sacks.
Golden: No. 14 Michigan's defense has given up only 47 points all season, but Wisconsin rallies late at home for a 27-24 win.
7. What team outside the Top 25 will be ranked Sunday?
Bohls: Take your pick between Texas and Maryland. They’ll both crack the Top 25 after wins Saturday.
Golden: The Longhorns have been knocking on that door for a while, and they'll bust through after the TCU win.
8. Rate the Power Five conferences — in order.
Bohls: The SEC remains the king with the best two teams in the country, while every other league is a pauper in comparison. I’d put the Big Ten at No. 2 with strength from Penn State, Iowa, Michigan and eventually Ohio State. In truth, the other three might all be tied for last, but I’ll award No. 3 to the Pac-12 because its best team (Oregon) beat the Big Ten’s best (Ohio State, maybe) with the Big 12 fourth and the pitiful ACC fifth. The ACC has three ranked teams, all 23rd or below, and Clemson is no longer Clemson.
Golden: 1. SEC. 2. Big Ten. 3. Big 12. 4. ACC. 5. Pac-12.
9. Who's the most underrated college coach in America?
Bohls: I love offensive-minded Dave Clawsen at Wake Forest. He’s a great developer of talent and gets very little credit, but his teams are well-coached, are disciplined and play hard. After him, I’d offer up SMU’s Sonny Dykes, who came very close to getting the Texas job before the money men intervened.
Golden: Clawson often gets overlooked because he coaches in the ACC with men like Dabo Swinney and Mack Brown, but he has quietly led Wake Forest to four winning seasons over the past five years, with the lone blip coming in the pandemic-plagued 2020 season. Wake is 4-0 and surging with a 2-0 start in the ACC.
10. Has the targeting rule worked?
Bohls: Yes, to an extent. But it should be modified. The rule has worked beautifully to make coaches and players more safety-conscious, but it remains the most punitive rule on the books with absurd ejections, often of a defense’s best player. I’ve always preached to make it a cumulative penalty with three such flags forcing a defender to miss the rest of that game and the next one. Immediate ejection is too harsh and can sway the outcome of a game, and no rule should have that big of an impact.
Golden: To a point. Players have been more careful about helmet-to-helmet contact and blowing up defenseless receivers across the middle, but having those who are whistled get thrown out of the game or, worse yet, making them sit for the first half of the next game is just too punitive. A 30-yard penalty for targeting and disqualification after a second infraction in the same game makes more sense.