Speculation continues to swirl around Tom Herman, who soon could be the ex-Texas coach. Herman recently acknowledged rumors that his job is in jeopardy, and the rumors have turned into reports of Urban Meyer being pursued with a blockbuster offer.
When the end is near for a coach, that qualifies as a distraction. When two players announce decisions to opt out and prepare for the NFL Draft -- as offensive tackle Samuel Cosmi and safety Caden Sterns did this week -- that qualifies as significant subtractions. It all adds up to trouble for the Longhorns, who are out of the Big 12 title hunt and figure to be emotionally flat road favorites Saturday at Kansas State.
Texas blew a 20-10 third-quarter lead in a crushing 23-20 loss to Iowa State last week. Ironically, Cyclones coach Matt Campbell has emerged as a popular choice to replace Herman. Meyer, who was Herman’s former boss at Ohio State, is the top choice. The Longhorns’ remaining games seem to be an afterthought and a secondary story to the coaching search.
Kansas State has lost four in a row, including a two-point loss to Oklahoma State and a one-point loss at Baylor. The Wildcats are chasing a bowl invite and continue to play hard for coach Chris Klieman, who is 10-4 ATS in the underdog role the past two seasons. Texas opened as a 10-point favorite before sharp money showed on the ‘dog.
The pick: Kansas State + 7
RUTGERS (+ 11.5) over Penn State: What are the 1-5 Nittany Lions playing for at this point? While pondering that question, realize that Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano is on the fast track to rebuilding the program and wants this win for recruiting purposes. Starting quarterback Noad Vedral could return, but Johnny Langan and Artur Sitkowski combined to do the job last week when Rutgers won as a double-digit underdog at Purdue.
Indiana (+ 14) over WISCONSIN: The Hoosiers’ Cinderella season did not end when quarterback Michael Penix Jr. went down with a season-ending knee injury. Jack Tuttle, the replacement for Penix, was a four-star recruit who had offers from Alabama, LSU, USC and Wisconsin. Indiana coach Tom Allen, 6-0 ATS this season, is a great motivator and his team is solid on both sides of the ball.
The Badgers have played only three games, including two against weak defenses, and freshman quarterback Graham Mertz had four turnovers against Northwestern.
CALIFORNIA (+ 9) over Oregon: In a 24-23 loss to Stanford last week, the Golden Bears outgained the Cardinal 241-95 in rushing yards and probably should have won the game if not for special-team blunders. Cal coach Justin Wilcox is 13-3 ATS when getting more than four points. Wilcox is the better coach in this matchup, and Oregon looks overrated.
Last week: 1-2