The College Football Notebook

November 25, 2010 7:10 AM

Texas Battles For A Bowl

TexasTexasAM.jpgTexas hosts Texas A&M in tonight's college football action (8 ET, ESPN) and the roles have been reversed between these two programs. It's the Aggies hoping to enhance their bowl position and technically stay alive for the Big 12 South title. Texas, at 5-6 has to win just to make it to a bowl game. A&M has been coming on strong. The play of Ryan Tannehill at quarterback and Cyrus Gray running the ball has gotten a lot of attention. It's interesting to note that neither one was even projected to start when the season began--Jerrod Johnson was coming off a fabulous year at quarterback and Christine Michael was getting the carries in the backfield. But Mike Sherman, with the season slipping away at the midpoint made changes and they've paid off. The bigger payoff has come from an improved defense that was on display during last week's 9-6 win. Now the question comes whether they can win on the road against an archrival.

The Longhorns haven't played well this year, to say the least, but the history books are filled with examples of lesser teams than this one coming up big with a bowl bid on the line. After playing for a national title a year ago, the 'Horns are 5-6. Let's remember that they did beat Nebraska when Garrett Gilbert stepped up and made some plays with his feet. That's going to be the key tonight and I'm going to pick Gilbert to do the same and get the team's sixth win.


Texas isn't the only program playing do-or-die football this week. Colorado has won two straight since the firing of Dan Hawkins and at 5-6 goes to Nebraska on Friday (2:30 ET, ABC). Rodney Stewart is running the ball well and Nebraska is missing wide receiver Niles Paul with an injury. Still, the Cornhuskers have too much to play for themselves--the Big 12 North title--they have the versatile Taylor Martinez both running and passing and if they can get Roy Helu Jr. established on the ground this one shouldn't be all that close. Let's call it for the Cornhuskers 31-14.

Georgia faces the potential end of the Mark Richt era, as they are at 5-6 and hosting Georgia Tech on Saturday night (7:45 ET, ESPN). In truth, Richt may be fired win or lose. The Bulldogs have to find a way to stop the Yellow Jackets' option attack--given that Tech runs the ball almost every play holding them in the 200s for rushing yardage counts as a shutdown performance and the low 300s is manageable. The Jacket defense is very vulnerable and freshman quarterback Aaron Murray should make some plays to A.J. Green and keep the points rolling for the Bulldogs. Richt earns the program a bowl bid, even if he's not around to coach in it.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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