Bohls, Golden: Will that Texas loss to OU change everything (for good or bad)?
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 an OU hangover cost Texas against Oklahoma State?
Bohls: It will in the early going, but Steve Sarkisian will have done enough to coach the Longhorns up to survive a tough test against a worthy Oklahoma State team that has the nation’s 12th-best rush defense. I look for a tremendous effort from the Texas defense in a 35-28 win.
Golden: There was very little time to decompress after such a brutal bad beat, but the Horns have the requisite locker room leadership to regain their senses in time to hand the Cowboys their first loss. Oklahoma State hasn't faced an offense with this potency, and it will show in Texas’ 31-24 win.
2. How will Texas compensate for the loss of slot receiver Jordan Whittington?
Bohls: I think Joshua Moore found himself in the OU loss and will play better the second half of the season to give Texas an Option 2 after Xavier Worthy, who might even make a bid for All-American honors. But Casey Thompson will look a little more often to tight ends Jared Wiley and Cade Brewer and to Marcus Washington, who came very close to making a career-best catch against the Sooners and will be the main guy replacing Whittington, who might be back for a Big 12 championship game and bowl game.
Golden: Marcus Washington is plenty good enough to step in and give an able assist to Worthy and the resurgent Moore. I’m done pounding the let’s-get-the-tight-ends-more-involved bell. It’s up to Thompson, Bijan Robinson and those good receivers to make this thing go.
3. Do you expect a post-Alabama letdown for Texas A&M at Missouri?
Bohls: I don't. The 3-3 Tigers are clearly a second-tier SEC team that has struggled to find any consistency at all this season. Missouri is awful on defense, ranking 122nd nationally in scoring (37.5 points a game), 129th in yards (498 per game) and a ghastly 130th and dead last in rushing (288 ypg). A&M will splatter the Tigers.
Golden: Not at all. The Aggies turned the corner as a program, and even if they don’t play at as high a level in Columbia as they did in knocking off No. 1 Alabama, it will still be enough to beat the Tigers by double digits.
4. Any chance Kentucky knocks off Georgia?
Bohls: No chance. The Bulldogs have a generational defense that's allowing 5.5 points a game. While Mark Stoops might rival Luke Fickell and Kirk Ferentz for national coach of the year honors, the Wildcats are missing two defensive linemen and just don’t have enough offensive firepower to hurt Georgia.
Golden: Maybe in basketball season. But it ain’t happening Saturday. The Bulldogs are the best team in the country, and Kentucky just isn’t equipped to stay with them for four quarters. The Bulldogs have given up 93 points all season, and they won’t give up more than 21 at home.
5. Which of the 13 remaining unbeatens will go down this weekend?
Bohls: A whole bunch will, among them undefeated Kentucky and Oklahoma State.
Golden: I see Oklahoma State falling at Texas and Kentucky losing to Georgia.
6. Are people sleeping on Baylor?
Bohls: Yes, we are. Dave Aranda is getting it done in Waco with a 5-1 team that's one of just three Power Five teams ranked in both scoring offense (17th) and defense (22nd). Did you know the Bears are a plus-14 in turnover margin in Aranda’s 15 games there? They’ll beat future Big 12 member BYU Saturday.
Golden: Of course, they are. Blowouts of Texas Southern and Kansas didn’t turn any heads, but a 31-29 win over Iowa State put the Bears in the spotlight. Aranda didn’t get to know his team during his first spring season because of COVID-19 last year, but he has the Bears in the mix in 2021.
7. Which Associated Press Top 25 team do you just not believe in?
Bohls: I have serious misgivings about No. 22 North Carolina State despite its 4-1 record. Yes, its defense is top-notch, having allowed one rushing score all year. But the Wolfpack have been on the road once before Saturday’s trip to Boston College and fell by two touchdowns to Mississippi State, and they just beat Louisiana Tech by a touchdown in their last game.
Golden: I'm not a huge fan of No. 19 BYU. The Cougars have a talented running back in Tyler Allgeier but have shown a tendency to give up big plays in the passing game.
8. Who's the best quarterback of an unranked team?
Bohls: I think Mississippi State’s Will Rogers is special. He has great command of the offense, terrific presence and great accuracy with a 76% completion rate. He’s thrown 14 touchdown passes — the most of any Bulldogs quarterback through five games, even better than Dak Prescott’s 13 in 2014 — with only two picks and particularly shines in the fourth quarter.
Golden: Mack Brown has hit on some hard times in North Carolina, but he has a really talented quarterback in Sam Howell. At 6 feet 1, 225 pounds, he reminds me in physical stature of Baker Mayfield. He hasn’t played as well as expected this season, but the talent is there.
9. What would you do if you were Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler?
Bohls: I’d transfer. He’s clearly not ready for the NFL, and I wonder if he might be the next Josh Rosen, who flamed out of the league after trials with four NFL teams. But if I were Rattler, I’d be the good soldier the rest of this season, be ready if called on to help a team that might well reach the College Football Playoff and then transfer to a place like Houston or SMU or UCF, where he can better prove himself for the next level.
Golden: I would fight like hell to win my job back. It isn’t a certainty that Caleb Williams will maintain the level he displayed against Texas. Rattler isn’t finished in Oklahoma.
10. If you were a ref, would you call everything by the book or let some things slide?
Bohls: I wouldn’t have the strictest interpretation of the rule book because those kinds of refs call everything, interject themselves into the action and rob the players of a chance to dictate the outcome of the game. If a ball carrier is running down one sideline and a teammate holds a player 40 yards away, I’d not flag that. Let ’em play.
Golden: I would call holding if it’s holding. It’s a slippery slope, and to try to pick and choose which penalties to call would put even more pressure on the officials. If it’s a penalty, call it. Imagine players realizing they can get away with infractions away from the play. That scenario would make it easy for the officials to lose control of the game.