The Monday after: Nothing has changed in Texas under Steve Sarkisian, who can’t seem to fix the program’s problems

As I watched TCU beat Texas 17-10 in Austin on Saturday night, two thoughts went through my head. The first, and more trivial, thought was, “I can’t believe it’s only 17-10.” A game hailed as the biggest Big 12 of the season should be an offensive shootout because it featured a TCU team , which seemed to know no other way; Instead, it was a defensive exchange of blows. Both lines of defense dominated the evening and the game became a war of attrition.

The second, much more relevant question was, “What’s different about Texas?” When you see what coach Sonny Dykes has accomplished at TCU, it’s not hard to see a difference with the Horned Frogs. Last year’s TCU team looked miserable, as did its coach, Gary Patterson. It was a program that clearly needed a reset after a long, successful run. And it got one. Dykes — who, incidentally, was reportedly on the verge of becoming a Texas coach — revived the program. With Saturday’s win, the Horned Frogs are 10-0, earning a spot in the Big 12 Championship and putting themselves in position to play for a national title.

In other words, TCU is everything Texas thinks it is or should be but hasn’t been since Colt McCoy was eliminated from the BCS Championship Game in 2010 with a 37-21 loss to Alabama. Steve Sarkisian is the third coach Texas has approached since Mack Brown retired in 2013, but 22 games into his tenure, I haven’t seen much evidence of it on the field.

There have been many recruiting successes off the field. The Class of 2022 in Texas finished sixth nationally, and the Class of 2023, which includes Arch Manning, is currently fifth. However, Texas has always recruited well. Charlie Strong also had top 10 courses. Tom Herman had a couple of top five classes. Talent recruitment has never been Texas’ problem, turning those stars into victories that have proven elusive. That should fix Sarkisian.

After Saturday’s loss to TCU — low on the recruit ladder but looking set to win anyway — Sarkisian is 11-11 overall and 7-9 in the Big 12. Tom Herman went 13-9 in his first 22 games but was successful 9-6 in the Big 12 and went to a bowl game in his debut season. And after going 4-0 against ranked teams and losing to Oklahoma in his first season, Herman started his second season with three wins against ranked teams, including a 48-45 win over No. 7 Oklahoma (No. 22 USC and #17). TCU were the others). After Saturday’s loss, Sarkisian is 6-2 against ranked teams, with wins coming last week against Kansas State and in the 2021 opener against Louisiana. Like Herman, Sark beat Oklahoma in his sophomore season, but the Oklahoma that defeated Herman was a top-10 team that finished 12-2 and made the college football playoffs. The Oklahoma Team Sarkisian Beat is 5-5 and can’t make a bowl.

Looking at the performances alone, there are more reasons to question Sarkisian. Quarterback Quinn Ewers looked spectacular before he left injured in the first quarter of a near-fuss over Alabama earlier this season, but he hasn’t been nearly as impressive since his return. In the four games since he ripped Oklahoma apart for 289 yards and four touchdowns, Ewers has completed just 49% of his passes for 5.92 yards per attempt with seven touchdowns and four interceptions. Against TCU, he was 17 of 39 with an interception. His receivers haven’t done him many favors, but Sarkisian is said to be a quarterback guru and scholar of the game. Ewers is considered one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country. Put the two together and these shouldn’t be the results.

It’s possible that Texas will find out in Kansas this weekend, win the last two games on the schedule and then win a bowl game to start 2023 with momentum. Then we’ll spend the off-season talking about how Arch Manning will be the answer, and this will be the season that Texas finds itself in. You know how we do it every off-season.

What’s different in Texas? I do not know. It all looks the same to me.

Best conference of the week

As I stayed up into the wee hours watching UCLA lose to Arizona 34-28 just hours after Oregon fell to Washington 37-34, I knew what history would be like as the sun rose: The College Football Pac-12 playoff hopes were hanging by a thread, with USC – a team without a win over a ranked opponent – ​​as their only hope. However, I’m one of those freaks who doesn’t believe that the CFP is the most important thing in sports, nor do I need it to give meaning to games. Instead, watching all this, I thought the Pac-12 is having an incredible season.

I don’t care if the CFP does it. Granted, I don’t get paid if it does, so I can put it much easier than that. While some will see the 2022 season as a failure for the conference if canceled, I see it as an incredible success.

There are still some significant games left that will directly impact the race for the conference title and the image of the national championship. That hasn’t been the case with the Pac-12 lately! As the final two weeks of the regular season begin, five teams have chances to win the conference. That includes two more games between top-20 teams this weekend, which will serve as semi-finals in the Pac-12 race. This has led to greater national interest in the league when it is in the market for a new TV deal. These are all good things!

Granted, it’s not ideal that two of the five teams in the league that catch your eye go to the Big Ten, but we’re trying to make the best of a sticky situation here, folks.

“Holy Crap” toss of the week

Speaking of the Pac-12, while there were plenty of incredible moments in Washington’s upset victory over Oregon, nothing blew me away more than this throw from Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. I haven’t taken a physics class in a long time. but I’m pretty sure that was impossible at the time.

One Man Wrecking Crew of the Week

In his first season at LSU, Brian Kelly beat Alabama and won the SEC West with a win over Arkansas on Saturday. Still, one could argue that his most significant win with the Tigers came in early February. At this point, Kelly and the LSU staff managed to dissuade Harold Perkins Jr. from his involvement with Texas A&M.

Perkins, who was battling the flu, was an absolute monster against Arkansas on a day when his team needed him to be one in every way. He finished with eight tackles, set a school record with four sacks and forced two fumbles – the second of which sealed the game in the final minutes.

Statistics of the week

The Big Ten West race comes after Purdue’s victory over Illinois and Iowa’s victory over Wisconsin. Now four of the division’s seven teams are 4-3 in first place, with a confusing tiebreaker picture. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but the nerds are telling me that Iowa is the closest I’ll come to winning the division, which would be really incredible given where the Hawkeyes were just a few weeks ago.

Even more incredible is how Iowa beat Wisconsin on Saturday. The Hawkeyes beat the Badgers 24-10 despite averaging just 2.15 yards per game on offense. Now stop for a moment and think about how bad the Iowa offense has been all season. It’s guided to that very column urging Kirk Ferentz to fire his son.

Well, what if I told you that 2.15 yards per game was Iowa’s worst performance of the season? It was. The previous low was 2.68 yards per game in the 10:54 loss to Ohio State. And yet Iowa won. By 14 points. That was a rarity even for Iowa.

It is the third-lowest yards-per-play by a team that has won by at least 14 points since the 2007 season. What’s more remarkable is not only how many times this has happened over the past 15 years, but that it’s the first time in a game involving Iowa.

catch of the week

That’s just disrespectful in so many ways. And for Braden Lenzy, who makes it against the Navy on Veterans Day weekend of all days!

The darkest juke of the weekend

That’s a juke from someone being the first to get into the weight room and the last to get out. It’s the son of a real coach. Deceptively agile. Real gym rat of an ankle breaker.

Bowl Eligible Team of the Week

Since UConn is independent, it’s not technically key just because it got its sixth win, but I don’t care. UConn has won six games in a season for the first time since 2015. Jim L. Mora took over a team that was 1-11 last season and 4-32 as of 2018, and he already has the Huskies at 6-5.

I was one of many who raised a suspicious eyebrow when Mora was hired, but he’s proving to be a miracle worker at Storrs. The Huskies are getting a 3-6 Army roster this weekend to finish out the regular season. They’re currently 10-point underdogs, but given Army’s three wins over Villanova, Colgate and Louisiana-Monroe, it’s not ridiculous to think they could finish 7-5. Even if they don’t, we have a billion bowl games. There must be a place for the huskies. You have earned it.

Most uncomfortable highlight of the week

This is…this isn’t where you want to get hit with a helmet and thrown into the air. If I were to rank the parts of my body I want to take this shot at in a power ranking, it definitely wouldn’t make the top 20. I could choose it over a knee, but even then it depends on the contact angle on my knee.

My thoughts are with Alante Brown and his future children.

College football playoff projection of the week

No difficult projection this week. I suppose it’s possible that the committee will move TCU up a spot after beating Texas, but based on what we’ve seen of it over the years, it doesn’t seem likely.

  1. Georgia
  2. State of Ohio
  3. Michigan
  4. TCU

See you next Monday after!