The Austin Chronicle


By Russ Espinoza, October 18, 2013, Sports

Texas doesn't play this week, which means, for once, it's possible to accurately predict how this Saturday will shake out.

Mack Brown's squad has done little but surprise us all year – and rarely in a good way. 550 rushing yards allowed against BYU? Happened. A throttling at the hands of No. 25 Ole Miss? Yup. That flat, referee-abetted comeback victory against Big 12 cellar dwellers Iowa State? Almost as bad as a loss, to be honest.

Then there was Saturday's truly wonderful 36-20 Red River Shootout victory over No. 12 Oklahoma, which nobody in their right mind could have seen coming. Conservative forecasting, evidently, is futile in the land of the Longhorn.

Bob Stoops' Sooners outscored Texas by 146-58 during their tear through three straight Red River Shootouts, including two successive blowouts in 2011 and 2012 that shoveled the first heaps of coal into the "Fire Mack Brown" furnace.

Brown finally corralled a great win against his Longhorns' great rival Saturday, but its riches may prove fool's gold. Remember, the last team Texas defeated that was ranked No. 12 or higher was No. 5 Nebraska in 2010, an equally improbable victory that somehow kickstarted the worst edition of UT football in a generation. If that Nebraska win proved anything, it's that even a bad team is randomly capable of beating an elite one any Saturday.

The inverse may hold true, of course, and this year's Longhorns have demonstrated how they can go either way. It's quarterback Case McCoy's team while David Ash's recovery from recurring concussion symptoms remains slow-going. Colt's younger brother has been hit-or-miss in his limited career as a starter, going 5-4 but posting a couple of impressive performances along the way. Oklahoma was his signature win.

Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has put his stamp on a side that allowed an average of 491 yards-per-game under departed DC Manny Diaz. By contrast, the Texas defense yielded a 372-yard average in the three games in which Robinson's had a full week to prepare. They gave up only 263 yards Saturday against an undefeated team hellbent on winning the Big 12.

It's said that unpredictability is the mark of a bad team, so who are these guys we're watching? Level with Iowa State, or far greater than Oklahoma? Take a week to talk it over.

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