Texas winning Saturday is both the worst and best for the Big 12

If the Longhorns are truly back, it has great longterm implications for the Big 12. Short term? Not so much. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The University of Texas holds the immediate and long-term future of the Big 12 in its hands on Saturday. Not bad for a university that's underperformed to their standards for almost a decade. 

It's simple, really. Texas wins, they're back, and the Big 12 has to realize the burnt orange powerhouse is going again. If the Longhorns lose, well, then the Big 12 can win a national title this year. Both can't happen. 

A win for Tom Herman and company would be the signature win in his short time at the helm of the program. He's likely been disappointing to most in his time at Texas. He's had three really ugly losses, two to Maryland and one to Texas Tech last year, but he's played good teams close. Last year's Texas team loses to USC and to TCU but this year's team handled both of them. Herman turned in the fourth overall recruiting class last year and is on schedule for a top class again. 

There is steam and a win against Oklahoma would show, truly for the first time in the Herman era, Texas is back. A win over the Sooners would also keep them in the hunt for a Big 12 title as well. If you think Texas can beat Oklahoma, they can beat West Virginia at home. Having the burnt orange machine back would be a great development for the conference. Two legitimate title contenders year in and year out hasn't been the case in the Big 12 for a long time. Knowing the winner of the Red River Rivalry game has a shot at the national championship each year is something the conference luminaires have to have been dreaming about. 

Now, about those national title hopes. Texas winning would be a disaster for the Big 12 this year. Oklahoma has the only true shot to make the playoff out of the Big 12. West Virginia and the Sooners play in the final week of the regular season and if both are undefeated they will rematch a week later for the Big 12 championship. Now, the Mountaineers may beat the Sooners once but they aren't beating them two weeks in a row, especially with the championship game in Arlington. So it rests on the Sooners and the Sooners alone because one-loss Oklahoma is out of the picture. So would one-loss Texas and West Virginia. So only undefeated Oklahoma can represent the Big 12 and Texas could ruin all that Saturday. 

Regardless of the outcome. Texas back or Oklahoma still alive for a title, Saturday feels like a big-time matchup again. It feels like the game matters more than just a rivalry game. There are conference-wide and nationwide ramifications from the Texas State Fair this weekend. It's been a while since we could say that. Now, which do you want to see? Texas back or Oklahoma's title hopes to stay alive. 

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5 observations from the Ravens win over the Texans

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Let's be honest; the Texans were not going to beat the Ravens. Baltimore has better players, a better quarterback and a better coaching staff. (And oh, a better kicker). All of that was on display in the Ravens' 33-16 win.

The Ravens move to 2-0, while the Texans dropped to 0-2 after facing the AFC's two best teams.

The Texans will still likely contend for a playoff spot, but nothing the last two weeks indicates they are anywhere near contending in the AFC. A look at five things from the Ravens win:

1) Oh, Brien...It did not take long for Bill O'Brien's goofy coaching to rear its ugly head. Down 3-0 at their own 34 as the first quarter was running out, O'Brien chose to go for it on fourth and one. The play was predictably blown up, the Ravens quickly scored to make it 10-0, and the Texans were instantly in a hole against a superior opponent. You can't give points away against the Ravens. They might have scored anyway with a punt, but there was no stopping them with a short field.

2) Some positives on defense. Despite the score, The Texans looked much better on that side of the ball against an explosive offense. J.J. Watt had two sacks, the team had four total, and they kept Lamar Jackson from destroying them. Seven of the points were scored by the Ravens defense, and O'Brien's gaffe led to seven more. The Ravens wore them down in the fourth quarter, but they played well enough until then to keep the team in the game had the offense been better. They did not force any turnovers, however, and that was one of the differences in the game. They were also blown off the ball on a fourth and one in the fourth quarter that led to the Ravens' 30th points and could not stop the run at all in the fourth quarter. But that's what the Ravens do with a lead, and the Texans offense gave them no breaks by being unable to stay on the field.

3) The difference between real contenders...The Ravens were just so much more skilled on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they focused on taking away the run. David Johnson averaged 3.1 yards per carry. Will Fuller had as many catches as you did. The Ravens forced two turnovers on just really good football plays. The Texans don't make plays like that. They might against lesser teams, but if your goal is to compete with the best, it's just not good enough.

4) Deshaun Watson needs to be better. His numbers looked so so on the surface (25 of 36, 275 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception). He was sacked four times and added 17 rushing yards on five carries. He did not make plays late when they needed one here or there to maybe get back in the game. With his big contract, it's time for Watson to stop being close to elite and take the next step. His interception was more of being fooled by Marcus Peters than throwing a bad ball, but the Texans were just 3 of 9 on third downs. Throw in the ill-advised fourth down play, and they were just 3 of 10 extending drives. Give the Ravens a lot of credit, but again, to compete with the best, you have to be better than that.

5) Now what? The Texans travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who have not been impressive in their two wins. Still, it's hard to see Houston as anything but serious underdogs. They are last in the AFC South, and have a lot of work to do. The defense showed some promise at times, but will have to continue to improve. The offense has a long way to go. They match up better with the Steelers than they do the Ravens and Chiefs, but that does not mean they can win. If you were hoping they would give you some indication they can be more than just also-rans, they failed to do that on any level against either the Chiefs or Ravens.

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