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Can we start calling Joe Burrow "Superman" yet? Here's a look at what happened in the Lone Star State and with LSU:
SMU 34, Houston 31
The Cougars offense really stunk it up when they faced 16th-ranked SMU in Houston on Thursday night. In all fairness, it was primarily the Houston offense that played horribly, committing three turnovers and 11 penalties for 129 yards. The Cougars also fumbled the ball five times, losing the ball twice. "We lost the turnover battle 3-1," Holgorsen said. "I can deal with that if they weren't bad turnovers. Two of them were bad turnovers. The second thing is that -- what is it three times -- we got into the red zone and had to kick field goals. That's not a winning performance either." SMU quarterback Shane Buechele finished 20-for-30 with 203 yards passing and two touchdowns, leading the Mustangs to a 34-31 victory. SMU improved to 8-0 for the first time since starting 10-0 in 1982, and improved to 4-0 in conference play for the first time since 1986. Houston quarterback Clayton Tune finished 18-of-35 and threw for a career-high 407 yards and two touchdowns. Houston is on the road against UCF on Nov. 2.
LSU 23, Auburn 20
It's a bird… It's a plane… It's Joe-freakin'-Burrow! After taking a hit that sent him flying into the Auburn bench, Burrow immediately jumped up and trotted back to the line of scrimmage to resume his school-record eighth career 300-yard passing performance. Superman… I mean, Burrow, threw for 321 yards and a touchdown, ran for 47 yards and another score, and second-ranked LSU edged No. 9 Auburn 23-20 on Saturday. "If your quarterback shows toughness like that, it can kind of get your team going," Burrow said. "If you lay down on the field and don't hop right back up, it shows your team that you are not really into it." Previously, LSU had not scored fewer than 36 points in a game, but Auburn's locked in defense put pressure on Burrow, sacking him three times. "It was a gut check tonight," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said, praising the way his players stuck together. "They didn't want to be denied." I would be remiss if I didn't mention LSU's defense, which sacked Auburn quarterback Bo Nix three times and held his completion percentage to below 50 percent. "When our defense plays like that, nobody is going to beat us," Burrow said. LSU is off next week before facing off with No.1 Alabama in early November.
TCU 37, Texas 27
Freshman TCU quarterback Max Duggan was exactly what TCU needed on Saturday, throwing for a career-high 273 yards, leading the Horned Frogs to a 37-27 victory over No. 15 Texas. Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw a career-high four interceptions, the first three of which led to 13 TCU points. Duggan, who entered the game with the lowest quarterback efficiency rating, finished with a team-high 72 yards rushing and helped TCU bounce back from consecutive conference losses. "They did a great job in coverage," Ehlinger said. "They got an experienced secondary. They didn't do anything exotic or cut anybody loose. They did a good job of bringing pressure but also being balanced and making it difficult for our guys to get open." Ehlinger was 27-of-48 for 321 yards passing and two touchdowns. I suspect the Longhorns will drop out of the Top 25 after suffering three losses , two of which came in the past three weeks. TCU is at Oklahoma State next Saturday and Texas has a week off to hopefully do some soul searching before hosting Kansas State Nov. 9.
Texas A&M 49, Mississippi State 30
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw for 234 yards and racked up five touchdowns, leading the Aggies to a 39-30 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday. Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher was particularly proud of his team's ability to score touchdowns on each of Mississippi State's three turnovers. "You learn to feed off each other, that's what sports is about," Fisher said. "We capitalized today." Mond had scoring runs of 1 and 12 yards and threw touchdown passes of 16, 19 and 52 yards. The Aggies host Texas-San Antonio next Saturday.
Kansas 37, Texas Tech 34
Kansas overcame an early three possession deficit and the ejection of their team captain Bryce Tornedon for targeting to beat Texas Tech 37-34 on Saturday. With two seconds left to play, Kansas kicker Liam Jones drilled the game-winning field goal for the Jayhawks. "We played our hearts out," Kansas coach Les Miles said. "Early til late. Down to the wire. Final drive. They won a game." Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey connected on 23-of-34 attempts for 271 yards passing. The Red Raiders have a bye week after which they'll face West Virginia on Nov. 9.
Arkansas State 38, Texas State 14
Arkansas State quarterback Marcel Murray ran 22 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns to help the Red Wolves beat Texas State 38-14 on Saturday night. Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt completed 15-of-27 passes for 146 yards-passing, a touchdown and two interceptions for the Bobcats.
Southern Mississippi 20, Rice 6
The Owls were held to only 8 yards rushing and 131 in the air as Southern Mississippi destroyed Rice 20-6 on Saturday. The Golden Eagles had a season-high eight sacks, led by Jacques Turner with 3 1/2.
“Another one!”- DJ Khaled
That's the first thing that came to mind when I heard the news of Tytus Howard being shut down for the season because of a knee injury. They've had more injuries on the offensive line this season than Nick Cannon has Father's Day cards. Almost every member of the offensive line has spent time on the injury report. Howard went down in the same game in which Juice Scruggs was finally on the active roster. He missed the first 10 games due to a hamstring injury. The irony of next man up has never been so in your face.
The other thing that came to mind was the soap opera As the World Turns.
Howard had just signed an extension this offseason. So did Laremy Tunsil and Shaq Mason. They drafted Juice Scruggs, and signed a few guys too. Those moves, along with other holdovers, were expected to fill out the depth chart. Then a rash of injuries struck. At one point, only one of the original five guys expected to start was playing! In fact, they beat the Steelers 30-6 with that backup offensive line!
One can't have the expectation of backups to perform as good as the starters. They're professionals and are on an NFL roster for a reason. However, the talent gap is evident. One thing coaching, technique, and preparation can't cover is lack of ability or talent. The Texans have done a good job of navigating the injury minefield this season. While the Howard injury will hurt, I have faith in the guys there still.
As of this writing, the Texans are in the eighth spot in the AFC playoff picture. The Steelers, Browns, and Colts are all in front of them at the fifth through seventh spots respectfully. They've beaten the Steelers already. They play the Browns on Christmas Eve and their starting quarterback is out for the season. The Colts are relying on the ghost of Gardner Minshew to steer their ship into the last game of the season vs. the Texans with a possible playoff trip on the line. The Broncos and Bills are the two teams immediately behind them. They play the Broncos this weekend. Even though they're on a hot streak, this is the same team that got 70 put on them by the Dolphins. The Bills are the old veteran boxer who still has some skill, but is now a stepping stone for up & comers.
To say this team should still make the playoffs would be an understatement in my opinion. I believe in them and what they have going on more than I believe in the teams I listed above. That includes teams around them in the playoff race that aren't on their schedule. The one thing that scares me a little moving forward is the sustainability of this line. When guys get up in age as athletes, it becomes harder to come back from injuries. The injuries also tend to occur more frequently when it's a knee, foot, ankle, shoulder, elbow, or another body part critical to blocking for C.J. Stroud.
I know they just re-signed three of those guys and drafted one they believe can be a starter, but depth and contingency plans are a way of life in the NFL. We see how important depth was this season. Why not plan ahead? Don't be surprised if the Texans spend valuable draft capital on the offensive line. By valuable, I'm talking about first through third or fourth rounders. Those are prime spots to draft quality offensive lineman. Whether day one starters or quality depth, those are the sweet spots. The only guy on the two deep depth chart for this offensive line that wasn't drafted in one of those rounds was George Fant, who was an undrafted rookie free agent. While I highly doubt they spend any significant free agency dollars on the group, I'm not totally ruling it out.
The bottom line is, this team will be okay on the line for the remainder of this season. The only way that doesn't happen, more injuries. Stroud is clearly the franchise guy. Protecting that investment is a top priority. I don't care about a number one receiver, or a stud stable or singular running back if the quarterback won't have time to get them the ball. If the pilot can't fly the plane, you know what happens. So making sure he's happy, healthy, and has a great crew is of the utmost importance.