Eye on Saturday: A look at this weekend’s top college football games
Seattle Times college football reporter
On the occasion of Saturday’s annual Texas-Oklahoma game, the 108th in the Red River Rivalry, consider the curious case of Mack Brown.
The Texas coach has 239 career wins, worth 10th place all-time, and the names immediately ahead of him are Lou Holtz, Tom Osborne, LaVell Edwards and Frank Beamer. The first three are in the College Football Hall of Fame, and Beamer probably will be.
Yet Brown is considered, to put it inelegantly, a dead man walking if he doesn’t beat Oklahoma.
Most would say he’s been a credit to the game, he’s a people person and good with the media, but the situation is code blue among the burnt orange. Brown is 25-18 since the start of the 2010 season, and for a program that has its own TV network, that isn’t good enough.
Moreover, Oklahoma has put some reverberating beatdowns on the Longhorns over the years — 63-21 and 55-17 the past two — and given the Longhorns’ fragile state, a lot of people are expecting it to happen again.
Texas is 3-2, the Sooners 5-0. Brown’s 153 wins at Texas are second only to the legendary Darrell Royal’s 167, but it would be a major upset if he can get those last 14.
The best of Saturday’s college games, chronologically:
Missouri (AP No. 25) at Georgia (7), 9 a.m., ESPN: Speaking of hot-seated coaches, Mizzou’s Gary Pinkel, Don James’ old protégé, has made a nice comeback, starting 5-0, although the schedule hasn’t been the most demanding. This begins a string of Georgia-Florida-South Carolina, which will better define the Tigers.
Georgia (3-1), led by SEC career passing leader Aaron Murray, is beat up from having played three Top 10 teams. Saturday is Uga’s anniversary of the first game played at Sanford Stadium in 1929 against Yale, in which it says seats went for $3 and programs for 50 cents.
Actually, that sounds high. But maybe SEC football was a tough ticket even then.
Oklahoma (12) vs. Texas at Dallas, 9 a.m., ABC: Case McCoy, whose brother Colt was 3-1 for Texas in this game, starts in place of David Ash. Thanks to what BYU did to the Longhorns, they’re No. 117 against the run, which you suspect Oklahoma probably knows.
Florida (17) at LSU (10), 12:30 p.m., CBS: Fetching matchup between LSU’s suddenly robust offense against a Gator defense that has held 12 straight SEC opponents to 20 points or fewer. QB Tyler Murphy is completing 72 percent since taking over for injured Jeff Driskel for Florida (4-1, 3-0). A loss would pretty much end LSU’s (5-1, 2-1) SEC championship hopes.
Northwestern (19) at Wisconsin, 12:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2: Oddly, this is a collision of teams whose last game was a loss to Ohio State. And for the Wildcats (4-1), it’s the fourth time in five games they’re playing a first-year coach.
Wisconsin is one of three teams in the country (joining Baylor and LSU) who have a back averaging 100 yards rushing (Melvin Gordon) and a receiver averaging 100 (Jared Abbrederis). It’s homecoming at Camp Randall, which means State Street will be lively.
Baylor (15) at Kansas State, 12:30 p.m., Fox: While you’re tuned in to Oregon-Washington, switch to this during commercials and you’ll see about three touchdowns. Baylor averages 70.5 points a game, its starting offense has scored on 31 of 36 drives (with two punts, an interception and two fumbles), the Bears average a crazy 19.9 yards per pass completion, and the quarterback, Bryce Petty, has a celestial 229.6 pass-efficiency rating.
Oregon (2) at Washington (16), 1 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Not that anybody reading this gambles, but think about this: Oregon has beaten Washington nine straight times, it has covered the spread in all nine, and the average cushion above each cover is 7.4 points. No wonder UW fans are so grumpy.
Stanford (5) at Utah, 3 p.m., Pac-12 Networks: Utah, of course, doesn’t have to play any Pac-12 road games this year. Actually, it only seems that way; after three in a row to start the season, the Utes will be on the road for four of their next five.
These are two programs with almost no history. It’s Stanford’s third visit to Salt Lake City. The last was in 1995, the first in 1902, when blitzes weren’t as sophisticated.
Oregon State at Washington State, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU: Say hi to FBS’ Nos. 121st- and 122nd-ranked rushing teams, with only Connecticut beneath them. Funny thing, though; both throw it so well that they’re a combined 8-3, while none of the 10 next-best rushing teams have a winning record.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org
About Bud Withers
Bud Withers gives his take on college sports, with the latest from the Huskies, Cougs, and the rest of the Pac-12.
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