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September 29, 2008

Is UT starting to look special? Find out in the Fix

THREE THINGS …

… THAT GOT BETTER

1. Colt McCoy
- Forget the Crazy Legs and his No. 2 ranking nationally in pass efficiency for a moment. Does anyone doubt what a clutch gamer this guy is? Remember he had four second-half comebacks his freshman year alone, including at Nebraska, at Tech and in Dallas versus OU.

2. Pass rush - We haven't seen a Texas pass rush cause this much havoc since Shane Dronett, Tommy Jeter and James Patton were roaming the 40 Acres in the late 1980s and early 1990s. UT went from two sacks through two games to leading the nation in sacks, averaging four per game, the last two weeks. Brian Orakpo is second nationally in sacks with 5.5 through four games.

3. Punting - Texas didn't have to punt against Rice, but the Longhorns are getting it done thanks to John Gold, who averaged 47 yards on three punts against Arkansas. Duane Akina's punting unit is also providing excellent coverage. Texas is third nationally with a net average of 41.9 yards per punt.


STAYED THE SAME

1. RB running game
- Cody Johnson looked good for a second straight game, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. But Vondrell McGee averaged just 3.0 yards on 16 carries. Coaches said nice things about McGee, despite his numbers. But they have to be hoping this is the week Foswhitt Whittaker returns.

2. Third WR emerging?- Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll made nice plays against Arkansas, especially Kirkendoll who took a 7-yard route and broke tackles to make it a 27-yard play.

3. No plays on kick or punt return - Texas is getting almost no electricity from its kick and punt return units. Doesn't there have to be some shimmy and shake on this team that can create some plays, momentum and field position?


GOT WORSE …

1. A costly turnover -
John Chiles is being remembered more for mistakes than for anything else this season. That has to change. For the second week in a row, he turns it over and the opponent scores. The Q Package up to this point has been like Vin Diesel's acting career - utterly forgettable.

2. Vertical passing game - There haven't been many deep shots, and Dan Buckner and Malcolm Williams have been almost non-existent.

3. Penalties - Cornerback Ryan Palmer was flagged for pass interference and kick-catch interference. Of bigger concern, UT had seven flags for nearly 80 yards - a trend that will prove costly if it continues.


NEXT OPPONENT - COLORADO (3-1)
(6 p.m. CT, Saturday, Folsom Field, Boulder, Colo., Fox Sports Net)

The Buffaloes knocked off West Virginia at home two weeks ago but even then were exposed for their inability to stop the run. West Virginia ran for 311 yards. Florida State followed suit on Saturday in a 39-21 victory over CU in Jacksonville that was never in doubt. The Seminoles ran it 46 times (and threw it only 22 times) for 259 yards on the ground and 5.6 yards per carry. Buffs' QB Cody Hawkins struggled, missing open receivers, suffering four sacks and a costly interception. CU also gave up a 94-yard kick return for a TD. One of the lone bright spots for the Buffs continues to be freshman RB Rodney Stewart, who had 107 yards on 21 carries (5.1 ypc) against Florida State, which has the nation's eighth-ranked rush defense (67.3 ypc).

BIG 12 POWER RANKINGS

1. OKLAHOMA (4-0)


This Saturday: at Baylor (2-2)

Bottom line: The Boomers took it to TCU 35-10 and became the unanimous No. 1 team in college football. OU couldn't run on TCU (36 carries for 25 yards), but the Sooners were slingin' it. Sam Bradford was 19-of-34 passing for 411 yards with TD passes of 24, 76, 55 and 63 yards.

Chip's pick: OU 42, Baylor 17

2. MISSOURI (4-0)

This Saturday
: at Nebraska (3-1)

Bottom line: Mizzou hasn't won in Lincoln since 1978. That's about to change.

Chip's pick: Missouri 44, Nebraska 21

3. TEXAS (4-0)

This Saturday
: at Colorado (3-1)

Bottom line: Crazy Legs McCoy should be licking his chops. Colorado is 87th nationally in run defense, giving up 172 yards per game on the ground.

Chip's pick: Will come later in the week.

4. OKLAHOMA ST. (4-0)

This Saturday:
Texas A&M (2-2)

Bottom line: The Cowboys' lead the nation in rushing (340.3 ypg) and are going to have some fun running on A&M's 115th-ranked rush defense (227.5 ypg).

Chip's pick: Oklahoma State 42, Texas A&M 14

5. KANSAS (3-1)

This Saturday:
at Iowa State (2-2)

Bottom line: Quarterback Todd Reesing and the nation's sixth-ranked passing offense prove to be too much for the Fighting Gene Chiziks.

Chip's pick: Kansas 27, Iowa State 10

6. TEXAS TECH (4-0)

This Saturday:
at Kansas State (3-1)

Bottom line: This has the feel of one of those games where K-State QB Josh Freeman plays like he's facing the Longhorns.

Chip's pick: Texas Tech 41, Kansas St. 38

7. COLORADO (3-1)

This Saturday:
Texas (4-0)

Bottom line: Darrell Scott isn't even the best freshman RB on his own team.

8. NEBRASKA (3-1)

This Saturday:
Missouri (4-0)

Bottom line: Huskers couldn't run (25 carries for 55 yards) or stop the run (206 yards allowed) in a 35-30 loss at home to Virginia Tech.

9. BAYLOR (2-2)

This Saturday
: Oklahoma (4-0)

Bottom line: Love Robert Griffin's attitude. He says Baylor isn't afraid of OU. I believe him. But what about the rest of the Bears?

10. KANSAS ST. (3-1)

This Saturday:
Texas Tech (4-0)

Bottom line: The offense is tearing it up (averaging 47 points per game) led by QB Josh Freeman. But a defense full of JUCOs just hasn't gelled yet, and teams are gashing the Wildcats on the ground for an average of 206.5 rushing yards per game.

11. IOWA ST. (2-2)

This Saturday:
Kansas (3-1)

Bottom line: Cyclones need to continue their recent run on forcing turnovers (13 - six fumble recoveries and seven INTs in four games).

12. TEXAS A&M (2-2)

This Saturday
: at Oklahoma St. (4-0)

Bottom line: If the Aggies couldn't put away Army - one of the worst teams in college football - at home, what will this team do on the road?

COAST-TO-COAST

THE TOP FIVE

1. Oklahoma
- Sam Bradford is only a sophomore folks.
2. Alabama - Nick Saban's defense is a scary group.
3. LSU - If QB Jarrett Lee avoids mistakes, his lines will help carry him
4. Missouri - Chase Daniel seems to be on a mission.
5. Texas - Confidence is definitely growing

THE PICKS

Oregon at USC
- The Ducks might want to, well, duck.

Chip's pick: USC 34, Oregon 13

Oregon State at Utah (Thursday) - The Mountain West owns the Pac-10 this year.

Chip's pick: Utah 23, Oregon St. 21

Florida at Arkansas - Bobby Petrino's Razorbacks have great timing, don't they?

Chip's pick: Florida 38, Arkansas 17

Auburn at Vanderbilt - The Commodores are making people forget Lionel Ritchie. Sorry. How about - Who needs Jay Cutler? UPSET SPECIAL No. 1

Chip's pick: Vandy 21, Auburn 17

Ohio State at Wisconsin - Nailed it last week when I said Wisconsin would lose to Michigan. This one could go overtime.

Chip's pick: Ohio State 24, Wisconsin 21 OT

Penn State at Purdue - Senior QB Daryll Clark getting it done for the Nittany Lions, but here's UPSET SPECIAL No. 2.

Chip's pick: Purdue 28, Penn State 24

Illinois at Michigan: The booing resumes in Ann Arbor

Chip's pick: Illinois 31, Michigan 21

Clemson at Wake Forest - Tommy Bowden's farewell tour continues.

Chip's pick: Wake Forest 28, Clemson 20

Pittsburgh at South Florida (Thursday) - The Bulls are for real. And even if they weren't, they're playing Dave Wannstedt.

Chip's pick:South Florida 28, Pittsburgh 17

ONE FINAL THOUGHT
As we remember the great Paul Newman this week and all of his epic movies - Cool Hand Luke, The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid - remember, too, that he gave us one of the all-time sports movies - Slapshot. Even if you don't like hockey, this is a must-see if for no other reason than the Hanson brothers.




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