Texas is back in the college football spotlight and has created a three-team race for the Big 12 title

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.


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Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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