Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns are on a roll. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images
The college football landscape was shaken this past weekend when Texas took down Big 12 goliath OU. The No. 7 Sooners strolled into the Cotton Bowl with high expectations going against the No. 18 ranked Longhorns but found themselves upset by 3 points when the clock hit zero. While many people believed that Texas would be no match for Oklahoma’s electric offense, UT came through on both sides of the football and proved to the nation that this year’s team is the real deal. The Longhorns hit the game-winning field goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock to defeat the Sooners 48-45 and take home bragging rights until these teams face off again next year.
While West Virginia still sits atop the Big 12, this victory makes Texas a very real competitor for the Big 12 championship title. After this gut-wrenching loss, Oklahoma will go into their bye week with a chance to regroup, but a few other Big 12 favorites will be back in action.
Must watch games week 7:
Texas Tech vs. TCU
This is a matchup fans have had their eye on for a few weeks now. The Red Raiders and the Horned Frogs will both come into this matchup with a full week of rest and preparation. Both teams come into this game with 3-2 records but very different stories behind them. Texas Tech started the season off slow with many question marks surrounding their team but have found some momentum and hope behind young quarterback Alan Bowman. While TCU on the other hand, started the season hot and look to be a real competitor before losing two straight games to Top 25 opponents and are now looking for a fresh start midway through their season. This game will hold significant value for both programs and could very well determine the direction of the rest of their season.
Baylor vs. (9) Texas
While Baylor is looking significantly better than years past and now sits with an impressive 4-2 record, they will be going up against arguably one of the hottest teams in the nation. Texas has burst onto the scene in 2018 with three consecutive victories of Top 25 ranked opponents. With their most defining win over Oklahoma this past weekend, the Longhorns have jumped nine spots in the national rankings from No. 18 to No. 9. UT is looking like an unstoppable machine midway through the season and has been consistently performing at a high level on both sides of the football. While nothing is ever for certain in college football, the Bears will have to hope for a lot of things to go their way this Saturday if they are to have any chance of taking down the red-hot Longhorns.
(6) West Virginia vs. Iowa State
The Mountaineers are the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 12 and will be extremely difficult to beat with quarterback Will Grier throwing the ball the way he has been this season. Grier has nearly 2,000 yards through the air, with 21 touchdowns and a 71% completion percentage. With that said, we have learned through the last couple years that Iowa State is a team that plays up to its competition and is always capable of completing a big time upset. While things have not gone the Cyclones way so far this season, they lost by just 3 points to a very talented TCU team two weekends ago, and just recently defeated a tough Oklahoma State team 48-42. There is no doubt in my mind that Iowa State will show up on Saturday with every intention of altering the college football landscape in a big way.
Players to watch week 7:
Texas QB Sam Ehlinger:
It would be nearly impossible not to list Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger as a must watch player this coming weekend, after his historic performance in the Red River Showdown. Ehlinger scored five total touchdowns vs. the Sooners, with over 300 yards passing and 72 yards rushing. As the Longhorns continue to build confidence on the offensive side of the ball the sky's the limit for UT’s young quarterback, and he will look to keep the ball rolling against Baylor this Saturday.
Baylor WR’s Jalen Hurd & Denzel Mims:
If Baylor hopes to have any chance of challenging the Longhorns this coming Saturday, they will need big performances out of their two star receivers. Hurd and Mims have truly separated themselves this season as the explosive playmakers for the Bears offense and will look to give the UT secondary trouble. In their last two games, Hurd and Mims have combined for 443 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns off 39 receptions. Needless to say, these dangerous athletes will get plenty of opportunities to impact the game and will demand serious attention from the Longhorn defense.
Iowa State QB Brock Purdy:
After a disappointing 1-3 start the Cyclone’s decided to make a change at the quarterback position, which paid off in big fashion with a 48-42 victory over Oklahoma State. Freshman quarter Brock Purdy took full advantage of his first collegiate start with five total touchdowns and over 400 yards of total offence. Purdy threw for four touchdowns on 318 yards passing and ran for another touchdown on his way to 84 yards rushing. Purdy will have another big test vs. No. 6 West Virginia in his second collegiate start but could have a serious impact with his dual threat abilities.
“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.