Longhorn Leap - The unofficial official podcast of UT athletics

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Another solid week!  I went 4-2 last week with the only two bets I missed on being totals bets (just slightly off betting the under on that shit show of a Tech/OU game).  Also my bet of the week hit again and is now 3-0 since it’s inception. I definitely had a shaky start to the year, but hopefully I’m starting to find my footing and I have the opportunity to go above .500 for the year with my picks this week.  This week there are several Thursdayand Friday games I like which should get the action started early.  Here are my picks:

Akron @ Buffalo: Buffalo +17.5

Value: 83
Our projection models seem to really like Buffalo this season for whatever reason.  The last time I picked them they squeaked out a cover by a half point, so I guess that gives me some wiggle room to ride with them again.  Akron is a far superior team but are playing their second game in five days on the road and fatigue should be a factor.  Both of Buffalo’s covers this season occurred at home and they generally play better there. The line opened at -16 but has since risen to -17.5 and I expect it will continue to rise a little more before kickoff. Wait for the better number and look for Buffalo to cover against a tired and unmotivated Akron team.
Bet: 1 unit
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Appalachian State vs. Georgia Southern: Over 44.5

Value: 80
I was going to make a joke about this game being a tradition as old as college football but apparently this actually is a rivalry game dating back to 1932, also known as “Deeper then hate”.  Basically both schools represent the backwoods hillbilly demographic from Deliverance and for some reason they hate each other, which I find odd since they’re probably all related somehow.  Anyways this game has been generally high scoring in recent years and would have covered this number the last 4 times these teams played. While both team’s offenses are predominantly run oriented, neither team has had an O/U set this low in any game they’ve played this season.  Look for a competitive, higher then expected scoring game.
Bet: 1 unit  
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Air Force @ Fresno State: Over 53.5
Value: 87
I have to say I’m excited to actually get to bet some overs this week.  Our projections usuallyfavor unders, which can be good bets, but are generally pretty terrible to root for.  Fresno State is fresh off of firing their head coach after losing six straight, including games in which they gave up 48, 45, and 52 points.  Air Force’s last three games have gone over and they should be motivated to play well after an embarassing loss to Hawaii last week.  Our projections like Air Force to win big, but with Fresno State scoring enough to cover the over.
Bet: 1 unit
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Western Kentucky @ FAU: Western Kentucky -21
Value: 83
This is a matchup between the best and worst teams in Conference USA.  Western Kentucky is averaging 40 points per game this season and their starting QB Mike White is throwing for over 300 yards per game and has a 20:5 TD/INT ratio.  FAU on the other hand is 1-6 this season, both in actual record and against the spread.  Their QB, who gives a shit what his name is, has a 4:6 TD/INT ratio and is only throwing for 185 yards per game, which is a problem when you’re playing from behind.  Western Kentucky jumps out to an early lead, followed by FAU’s mistake prone QB turning the ball over trying to play catch up. The hilltoppers top another hill.
Bet: 1 unit
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Auburn @ Ole Miss: Under 63.5
Value: 93 (Bet of the Week)
Our projections finally like a game that will actually be nationally televised – thank god. I was starting to drown in MAC and Conference USA games there for a bit.  Auburn is fresh off a 56-3 ass whooping of Arkansas but is playing on the road which will hopefully help stifle their offense a bit.  Their defense on the other hand is ranked 18th nationally, just held Arkansas to 3 points last game, and has a good shot to limit Ole Miss’ scoring if they can get pressure on Chad Kelly.  Look for a close game that stays below this somewhat sizable total for a SEC rivalry game.
Bet: 2 units
 
Last Week: 4-2
Overall: 14-16-1
Bet of the Week: 3-0

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The Kansas St Preview is here! Topics include Vince Young, Vince Young, and more Vince Young. After the guys stop gushing about VY they get into the upcoming game in the Little Apple. They debate how many personal fouls Kris Boyd will get, which team will have a better yards per carry, and who’s going to win. In the Leap Around the Nation segment they talk about the #1 vs #6 matchup between Alabama and some school from Texas that only has male cheerleaders. They also talk about Dana Holgorsen and and his possibilities of a Red Bull endorsement.

Stock photo of concept Traffic sign for Winners or Losers. Photo concept made for advertising / promotion, bussines reports, editorial, books, brochures, posters, multimedia, websites, presentations, etc.

Stock photo of concept Traffic sign for Winners or Losers. Photo concept made for advertising / promotion, bussines reports, editorial, books, brochures, posters, multimedia, websites, presentations, etc.

Finally a good week!  Like Jon Snow after that big tittied red witch gave him a hair cut and laid hands on him, I am back from the dead. I went 4-1 last week and nailed my bet of the week (which is 2-0 since I introduced it 2 weeks ago). As much as I would like to bask in the glory of a good week, I unfortunately have to continue making picks.  Here is what is on deck this week:
Oregon @ Cal: Under 87.5
 
Value: 87
I get that this spread should be high – both teams are high scoring and have atrocious defenses.  But my god 87.5 is a lot of points.  Oregon has been really struggling and has yet to put up more than 33 points in any road game this year. Moreover, only one of their last five games (all relatively high scoring mind you) would have had enough points to cover this mammoth number.  Expect lots of points, just not enough to go over.
Bet: 1 unit
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UMass @ South Carolina: UMass +20.5 (Bet of the week)

 
Value: 90
Call me crazy, but favoring a South Carolina team that has yet to score more than 20 points in any game and ranks 126th in total offense this season by three touchdowns seems a little off.  I recognize that the UMass Minutemen are a bad team who’s mascot sounds like a euphemism for premature ejaculation, but South Carolina is so offensively challenged that I don’t see them being able to score enough to cover a large spread. South Carolina wins, but UMass covers.
 
Bet: 2 units
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Central Michigan @ Toledo: Toledo -10.5
 
Value: 80
Toledo is a crazy 55-53 loss to BYU away from being undefeated and has averaged nearly 46 points per game over their last 4 games. Meanwhile, their QB Logan Woodside has thrown at least 4 TDs in five straight games. CMU on the other hand has won their last two but required triple overtime to put away NIU and barely squeaked out a 24-21 at Ball State.  Look for Woodside to continue to light it up and for the Rockets to roll.
 
Bet: 1 unit
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Colorado state @ UNLV: Colorado St +2.5
 
Value: 83
This line opened as a pick but money has come in on UNLV to increase the spread to -2.5, which is a good thing. I have a soft spot in my heart for Colorado State after leading them all the way to the national championship in NCAA07 on Xbox.  They have not achieved that kind of success since but are coming off a competitive 28-23 loss to ranked Boise State.  Our predictions models like the Rams as the superior team and to pull of a mild upset on the road.
 
Bet: 1 unit
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Illinois @ Michigan: Illinois +36.5
 
Value: 83
Will Jim Harbaugh be a dick and run up the score?  He’s obviously capable of it after beating Rutgers 78-0 in the Wolverines last game. He also still drinks a giant glass of milk with his steaks and used to play baseball alone as a kid because no one liked him.  So overall a pretty weird guy. However, Illinois is also coming off a 24-7 win against Rutgers and should be able to sustain at least a few drives against this tough Michigan defense.  I’ll take the points.
Bet: 1 unit  
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OU @ Tech: Under 84
 
Value: 87
This is basically Oregon at Cal southwest.  Two teams with bad defenses who can put up lots of points.  However, Tech looked so horrible at home against WVU last week that their head coach literally had to apologize to their fans and alumni.  I realize this is a night game in Lubbock so the Tech fans will be drunk off their asses throwing tortillas and what not, but I’m not sure Tech will be able to recover from such a poor performance to score enough to cover this number.  As an aside, Baker Mayfield is grade A dickhead and I hope he does terrible.
Bet: 1 unit
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Last week: 4-1
Overall: 10-14-1
Bet of the week: 2-0
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2-2 never felt so good.  I normally don’t like celebrating mediocrity (i.e. Aggie football) but after going 1-7 the previous two weeks, I’ll take the .500 record and hitting my bet of the week.  Hopefully this signals a turning point in the season, because otherwise I will run out of money soon.
Here are this weeks picks:

Duke@ Louisville: Duke +35.5

Value: 80
Friday night special pick!  This line opened at +27.5 and immediately was bet up before leveling off where it is now.  I always feel a little dirty wagering on Duke because it feels like I’m supporting the type of guys who’s rich dad helped them get out of a DWI conviction in high school, but this is simply too many points.  It’s not that Louisville isn’t capable of running up the score, it’s whether they’ll have the motivation to do so.  Look for Louisville to jump out to an early lead, then for Duke to score late in garbage time for the backdoor cover.
Bet: 1 unit
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San Diego State @ Fresno State: San Diego State -17
Value: 83
Friday night double header special!  This line opened at SDST-17.5 and has been oscillating around -17 since then.  My expectation is that money will eventually come in on SDST and this will be bet up to -19 or so by game time.  Fresno State comes into the game having lost 7 of their last 8 games and despite losing their last game, our prediction models like SDST as the clearly superior team.  Look for the Aztecs and star running back Donnell Pumphrey to run wild.
Bet: 1 unit
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Western Michigan @ Akron: Under 68.5
Value: 90 (Bet of the Week)
Western Michigan is ranked for the first time in program history which is quite an accomplishment for their coach, PJ Fleck.  He’ll like reward their fans by leaving for a better job as soon as he possibly can, but let’s ride the happy sentiment for a while at least.  Western Michigan is a solid defensive team – 2nd in the conference and 23rd overall in the nation,  which should help limit some Akron’s scoring chances.  It should also help that Akron’s starting QB is currently out with a shoulder injury.  I expect Western Michigan to win handily and limit Akron’s scoring enough that the game still goes under.
Bet: 2 units
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Ball State @ Buffalo: Buffalo +10.5
Value: 90 
I’ve had to watched as much MAC football as anyone in the country this year, which mostly consisted of me screaming at the TV as another wager goes down in flames.  But this is my kind of pick – got to love an underdog getting a large amount of points at home.  This line opened at -9 but money has steadily come in on Ball State, probably because Buffalo is 1-4 both overall and against the spread this year.  However, Ball State is just 3-7 ATS itself in it’s last 10 games against losing teams and 1-4 ATS in it’s last 5 conference games.  Our prediction models like Buffalo to keep it closer then expected at home.
Bet: 1 unit
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Iowa State @ Texas: Under 70
Value: 93
Here is where math and common sense seem to be at odds.  As discussed at length on the podcast, Texas’ defense has been an abortion this year.  Other then UTEP, no one has scored less then 45 points on us all year.  And it’s not like Iowa State hasn’t been able to the score points – they’re averaging 39 points per game in their last 3.  But despite all that, all three prediction models heavily favor the under and I’m obligated to report that.  Money will continue to come in on the over considering both team’s propensities for shoot outs so if for some crazy reason you decide to bet this, it’s best to wait for a better number near kickoff.
Bet: 1 unit
Other bets I like this weekend:
Georgia -14 over Vandy
FAU @ Marshall under 68.5
UMass +14.5 over LaTech
Last Week: 2-2
Overall: 6-13-1

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The Cyclones are coming into town so the Leap had to do some quick research to find out what their team is like. Topics include Matt Nordgren news, Kirk Herbstreit’s full-blown aggie comments, ISU’s QB who transferred from an unusual school, and Lil’Jordan news. In the Leap Around the Nation segment the guys talk Tennessee/Alabama, Ole Miss/Arkansas, the amazing hair coaching matchup between Kingsbury and Holgorsen, and Ohio State/Wisconsin. Lastly the guys give their opinions on which games to tease.

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It has become the prevailing notion that when it comes to your favorite sports team, you need to be patient with the coaching. It seems that sports fandom culture has morphed into two categories; intelligent knowledgeable fans who know better than to call for a coach’s head (generally this is the type of person who values advanced metrics when thinking about football, loves betting on home underdogs, might wear prescription-less glasses, and probably wear skinny jeans) and impatient moronic unknowledgeable fans who want to fire a guy at the first sign of struggle (this type person values how much “heart” a team displays, blames refs for being biased against his or her team every game, might watch games at their neighborhood Chili’s, and probably wears a T-shirt that’s tucked into jorts). However, what if there are shades of gray? What if one blanket notion isn’t correct in every instance?

 

After Charlie Strong’s first season when the Longhorns went 6-6 at the end of the regular season (6-7 after the humiliating loss in the Texas Bowl to Arkansas where the Horns’ offense amassed a measly 59 yards of total offense) every Texas fan I know, including myself, cited how Nick Saban went 6-6 his first year at Alabama (the Tide finished 7-6 with a six-point victory over Colorado in the Independence Bowl). The fact that Strong and Saban finished the regular season with the same record gave the fan base hope that soon, just like Alabama, Texas would be back to prominence. Hope was alive and patience was preached and accepted.

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Then the 2015 season came and with it was the much anticipated opener vs the Fighting Irish in South Bend. With the entire country watching the Horns were blown out of the stadium only conjuring up 3 points and 163 yards of offense. Afterwards, Charlie Strong removed play calling duties from Shawn Watson, a man who most Texas fans didn’t want Charlie to bring over with him from Louisville. The rest of the ’15 season was a fiasco with few wins but more losses. The next blowout loss came just four weeks later when TCU stomped Texas 50-7. The Horned Frogs were up 47-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter before taking their foot off the peddle. That was the first time I, an unabashed Charlie apologist, began to doubt if he was the right choice for Texas. I didn’t feel good about it because I genuinely admire and like the guy. However, the evidence was mounting that our football team was not well coached. We were making special teams mistakes every game, the penalty yardage was accumulating, and there didn’t seem to be improvement in any phase of the game. Then when all hope was seemingly lost, we beat OU. It was Charlie’s signature win and I was extremely pleased I didn’t voice my inner doubts about him being the man to get Texas back. Seeing Charlie smile wearing the Golden Hat was a moment I’ll never forget. We followed it up with another win vs Kansas State at home, a team that Texas has struggled with since the inception of the BigXII. It seemed like things were heading in the right direction and that our patience was paying off. Unfortunately, the 2 game winning streak snapped the following week in Aimes, Iowa. Texas lost 24-0 to a team with significantly inferior talent and finished the season with a 5-7 record.

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Charlie was now 3 games under .500 in his 2 years at Texas. However, uncharacteristically Texas fans were demanding patience with Strong. Everyone understood that Mack Brown left the program devoid of talent and in a state of disrepair. Everyone understood that it would take time for a team littered with underclassmen in the 2 deep to play consistently well. Strong and Texas closed the recruiting season with an emphatic bang heard over the college football world. Texas was again winning recruiting battles with Baylor, the Aggies, and out of state poachers like Stanford. Longhorn nation was optimistic that soon the recruiting victories would turn into on the field victories.

 

The 2016 season started as did the 2015 season, with a matchup vs Notre Dame. This time it was at the friendly confines of DKR Memorial Stadium and the home crowd was abuzz with the thought of a program turning victory in the national spotlight on a Sunday night when no other team was playing. Texas pulled out a thrilling double overtime win and most proclaimed Texas was back. It had happened. Texas was a national power again. I definitely fell into that camp. Notre Dame was terrific last year and they were preseason number 10. Yeah Texas gave up 444 yards to them but who cares? We won! Aggies complained about how UT went from unranked to number 11 in the polls. However, it made all the sense in the world to Texas fans. Notre Dame was a good team, our offense looked great, Charlie is a great defensive mind so no worries on the 444 yards given up, and our recruiting classes were proving their mettle. Our patience was rewarded!

 

It’s hard to believe that was just 5 weeks ago. Since then (when playing power 5 conference teams, so excluding the UTEP game) Texas has given up exponentially more yardage to opponents each week. 507 yards to Cal, 555 yards to Oklahoma State, and 672 to Oklahoma. Charlie’s overall record at Texas now stands at 13-17.

 

Red McCombs, one of Texas’ most high profile boosters, made his feelings on Charlie clear when Texas hired him in January of 2014. He said the decision to install Strong as the head coach was a “kick in the face” in a radio interview. He didn’t think it added up that Strong was our head coach but thought that he was “a fine coach” and “would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator.” Many deduced that McCombs’ thoughts and feelings were racially charged as Strong was the University’s first African-American head football coach. It made the majority of the fan base like Coach Strong even more.

 

The issue of patience came to a head last Saturday on College Gameday when Kirk Herbstreit said the environment at Texas was a cesspool while referring to the boosters and fan support. He said Texas’ culture chased away Mack Brown and it would chase away the next guy too. Herbstreit even went on to say that he didn’t know who would even want to coach at Texas. I honestly believe that he said those comments because he was pandering to the Aggie faithful in College Station, because his remarks have absolutely no basis in reality. The program is in the state it’s in because UT didn’t fire Mack Brown soon enough. When it was clear the game was passing him by, Texas stuck by Mack and in doing so the program suffered. That’s when it was a cesspool. When UT hired a qualified Black head coach and Red McCombs said his demeaning feelings about it, that’s when it was a cesspool. When Strong had to come into a scenario where he had to kick many players off the team for various behavioral issues, that’s when it was a cesspool.

 

Longhorn nation’s issue with Charlie has never been an issue of support. We love the guy. No one is on Red McCombs side when it comes to Charlie Strong, and McCombs certainly doesn’t speak for the whole fan base. Are Texas fans happy with Charlie’s 13-17 start?  Hell no. In episode 5 of Longhorn Leap (subscribe on iTunes!) my cohost, Chris Myrick, told me some troubling stats about Charlie’s first few seasons on the 40 acres. In Strong’s first 29 games at UT (through the OSU game this year), he lost 10 of those games by 15 points or more. For context Myrick stated how Mack Brown didn’t lose his 10th game by 15 or more until the 2009 National Championship, which was his 154th game. So the issue is not just the record. Sure the record is bad; however, the main problem is in the details. The special teams have been a mess for 3 years now, the defense is giving up yards at an alarming rate, and fundamentals like tackling and committing penalties have all been long standing issues under Strong. I have been a Charlie Strong apologist for years but I don’t want to turn into the emperor with no clothes who doesn’t acknowledge the current state of things.

 

Charlie has been told by the administration that he will not be fired during the season. He’s earned that through his hard work in what was probably a no win situation taking over the mess Mack left behind. Hopefully he earns the opportunity to continue as head coach after this season. However, if he does not it won’t be because the fan base didn’t support him. It won’t be because we think like Red McCombs and believe he shouldn’t have been hired in the first place and it definitely won’t be because we didn’t have patience. I think of myself as the “intelligent” fan who preaches patience, but there are always shades of gray, and hopefully burnt orange. Hook’Em.

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It was a rough ending to the ou game, but the guys still managed to put themselves together enough to talk about it. Topics include the almost record breaking ineptitude by the defense, D’Onta Foreman’s greatness, and Shane Buechelle calling the ‘Texas-ou game’ the ‘ou-Texas game’. Finally, in the leap around the nation segment, the guys talked Washington’s blowout over Oregon and who Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer remind them of.