Texas, OU meet in Cotton Bowl for last time as Big 12 foes: Texans look for another road win; Dallas has tough SF

The start of October brings with it the annual meeting between Texas and Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, but this year’s game will have historical significance as it will be the last time these two programs meet at Big 12 rivals.

As many of you know, this is the last year for Texas and Oklahoma to play in the Big 12 as both will head to the SEC in 2024. Both teams won their first four games of the season and the winner of Saturday’s game could be in the driver’s seat to make it back to the Metroplex in early December to play in the Big 12 title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Last year, UT ran roughshod over the Sooners, 49-0, as quarterback Quinn Ewers torched the Sooners for four TD passes. I’m sure OU head coach Brent Venables will remind his charges of that long afternoon in Dallas a year ago heading into this year’s game.

While the ‘Horns and Sooners do battle in Dallas, Texas A&M hosts No. 12-ranked Alabama on Saturday at Kyle Field. Two weeks ago, the Aggies opened SEC play with a dominating 27-10 win over Auburn in a game where starting QB Conner Weigman left right before halftime with a knee injury. Backup Max Johnson filled in admirably passing for 123 yards and 2 TDs. Nick Saban’s team may have saved its season with a 24-10 home win over previously undefeated Mississippi. Jimbo Fisher may have the team to contend for the SEC West title this year, and win over the Crimson Tide would be huge for those hopes.

In the NFL, the Texans hit the road looking for their second straight victory away from home when they visit the Atlanta Falcons. Two weeks ago, DeMeco Ryans picked up his first win as an NFL head coach as his team dominated at Jacksonville and left with a convincing 37-17 victory. The Texans scored a rushing touchdown, two passing touchdowns and a special teams score when fullback Andrew Beck returned a kickoff for an 85- yard score. The win over the Jags could do a lot for this young team’s confidence.

Other key matchups have Baltimore traveling to Pittsburgh in a key early-season AFC North battle, while Jacksonville (losers of two of their first three games) has a tough matchup with the Bills in Buffalo.

Sunday Night Football will feature the Cowboys visiting their nemesis, the 49ers. Two weeks ago, Dallas was upset and shocked by the then winless Arizona Cardinals as Dallas QB Dak Prescott once again struggled in the Red Zone. The vaunted Dallas defense didn’t fare much better as the Cards slashed the Pokes run defense for 222 yards. Things won’t get any easier on Sunday night when Dallas has to face a healthy Christian McCaffrey. In the last two years, SF has eliminated Dallas in the playoffs. Perhaps that will be enough motivation for the Cowboys to show up this Sunday.

Week 5 concludes with the surprising Packers visiting Las Vegas.

In District 14-6A play, Nimitz, which opened league play with a 35-20 win over MacArthur, takes on defending league champion Westfield on Friday evening. Davis, which opened league play with a 56-7 win over Aldine, faces Dekaney on Thursday night, with Aldine facing Spring and Eisenhower taking on MacArthur.

Before we take a look at this weekend’s games, let’s review last week’s record. A 6-6 week brought the season record to 20- 18 (53%). Now, onto this weekend’s games.


Davis vs. Dekaney: Kelvin Chatman’s Falcons take on Dekaney Thursday night at George Stadium in Spring ISD. The Falcons opened District 14- 6A play with a 56-7 win over Aldine High two weeks ago. The Falcons will look for another big night from running back Nicholas Tramble (228 yards, 3 TDs) and wide receiver Treveon Bossier (14 receptions, 203 yards, 2 TDs). Dekaney is led by running back Dylan Jones (560 yards, 8 TDs). My pick, Davis 31, Dekaney 27

Nimitz at Westfield: Cornelius Harmon’s Cougars face Westfield in a key league contest on Friday night at Planet Ford Stadium in Spring ISD. The Cougars opened league play with a 35-20 win over MacArthur, while Westfield defeated Spring, 44-27. The Cougars will look for a big game from QB Albert Brown (664 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receivers Kaden Phillips (10 receptions, 202 yards, 2 TDs) and Ke’lyn Washom (15 receptions, 190 yards, 3 TDs). Westfield is led by QB Taji Atkins (404 rushing yards, 5 TDs). This will be the Cougars first big test this season and if they pull off the upset, they could be the team to beat in District 14-6A. My pick, Nimitz 34, Westfield 31

Aldine at Spring: Cirilo Ojeda’s Mustangs face off against the Spring Lions on Thursday night at Planet Ford Stadium in Spring ISD. Both teams dropped their league openers two weeks ago, with Aldine losing to Davis, while Spring fell to Westfield. The Mustangs are led by running back Rory Hernandez (179 yards, 3 TDs), while Spring is led by running backs Ahran Ogbar (472 yards,) and Delonte Henderson (395 yards, 2 TDs). My pick, Spring 26, Aldine 20

Eisenhower vs. MacArthur: Odell James Eagles take on Wayne Crawford’s Generals on Friday night at George Stadium in Spring ISD. The Eagles dropped a tough 28-19 decision to Dekaney to open league play, while the Generals fell to Nimitz to open their district season. Ike is led by quarterback Jared Guter (416 yards, 2 TDs). My pick, Eisenhower 30, MacArthur 21


Oklahoma vs. Texas: The Longhorns and Sooners meet for the final time as Big 12 foes and once again, the State Fair of Texas will be the drop back when these two bitter rivals meet in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian has his team ranked No. 5 in the nation, while OU head coach Brent Venables has the Sooners sitting at No. 14 in the land. Last year, OU finished 6-7 and many Sooner fans believed this was a make or break year for Venables. So far, so good in year No. 2. OU won its first four games heading into last Saturday’s game against a struggling Iowa State team. The Sooners have gotten solid QB play from Dillon Gabriel (1,227 yards, 12 TDs) and wide receivers Andrel Anthony (21 receptions, 371 yards, 1 TD) and Nic Anderson (8 receptions, 223 yards, 4 TDs). The UT secondary will have to play well to slow down that trio. But UT has some weapons of its own in QB Quinn Ewers (1,033 yards, 9 TDs/0 interceptions), running back Jonathan Brooks (379 yards, 3 TDs), tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders (12 receptions, 268 yards, 1 TD) and wide receiver Xavier Worthy (19 receptions, 252 yards, 3 TDs). Look for the UT defense to be the difference maker in this one as the ‘Horns continue to roll. My pick, Texas 34, Oklahoma 20

Alabama at Texas A&M: This is a big one for Nick Saban and his No. 12-ranked Crimson Tide. Two years ago, ‘Bama was upset at Kyle Field 41-38, but Saban rallied his team to a spot in the CFP title game, where it lost to Georgia. This year’s team is up and down, but did pick up a big win two weeks ago when it defeated Mississippi 24-10. Alabama has struggled at QB and in the offensive line. Two weeks ago, Saban went back to Jalen Milroe (674 yards, 6 TDs) at QB and he played better in the Ole Miss win. Running back Jase McClellan (263 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Jermaine Burton (8 receptions, 185 yards, 2 TDs) need to have big games against a pretty solid A&M defense. The Aggies will hope to have starting QB Conner Weigman (979 yards, 8 TDs) back for this game after he sustained an ankle injury two weeks ago in the win over Auburn. Backup Max Johnson stepped up in a big way with 123 yards and 2 TDs, so head coach Jimbo Fisher has a capable backup should Weigman be out. A&M will also look for big days from running back Amari Daniels (234 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receivers Evan Stewart (22 receptions, 307 yards, 3 TDs) and Ainias Smith (18 receptions, 272 yards. This could be Fisher’s deepest team in his six years in Aggieland. Look for the Ags to pick up a huge win in the SEC West on Saturday. My pick, Texas A&M 26, Alabama 24

LSU at Missouri: Brian Kelly takes his No. 13 ranked Tigers to Columbia to take on the surprising No. 23-ranked Missouri Tigers on Saturday. Mizzu won its first four games behind QB Brady Cook (1,073 yards, 7 TDs), running back Cody Schradel (403 yards, 2 TDs) and wide receiver Luther Burden III (32 receptions, 504 yards, 3 TDs). LSU has one of the best dual-threat QBs in Jayden Daniels (1,297 passing yards, 12 TDs/193 rushing yards, 2 TDs). He also has a bigplay wide receiver in Malik Nabors (32 receptions, 523 yards, 5 TDs) and a capable running back in Logan Diggs (253 yards, 1 TD). Look for the Tigers to win this one thanks to its defense and big-play linebacker Harold Perkins (3.5 sacks). My pick, LSU 32, Missouri 23


Jacksonville at Buffalo: After playing in London the week before, the Jaguars visit Buffalo on Sunday. Two weeks ago, the Jags were upset at home by the Texans, 37-17, while the Bills rolled at Washington, 37-3. The Jags were expected to contend for the AFC title this year, but a 1-2 start has many Jaguars fans scratching their heads and wondering what’s gone wrong. QB Trevor Lawrence (736 yards, 3 TDs/2 interceptions) has struggled and must play better if the Jags are going to turn things around. He’ll need big days from running back Travis Etienne (205 yards, 1 TDs) and wide receiver Calvin Ridley (12 receptions, 173 yards, 1 TD). The Jags will have their hands full with the Bills defense, which forced four turnovers and recorded six sacks in the route of the Commanders. Jacksonville’s defense will have its hands full with Buffalo QB Josh Allen (728 yards, 5 TDs) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (25 receptions, 279 yards, 1 TD). It looks like it will be another long day for the Jags come Sunday. My pick, Buffalo 34, Jacksonville 16

Baltimore at Pittsburgh: A big one in the AFC North pits the Ravens against the improved Steelers. Two weeks ago, Baltimore lost in OT at home to Indianapolis, while the Steelers gritted out a 23-18 win at Las Vegas. Once again, the Ravens rely way too much on quarterback Lamar Jackson (608 passing yards, 2 TDs/193 rushing yards, 2 TDs). Head coach John Harbaugh needs to get him some other weapons. This week, Jackson will face an improved Pittsburgh defense that likes to bring the heat. On offense, the Steelers have gotten steady play from second-year QB Kenny Pickett (689 yards, 4 TDs) and second-year wide receiver George Pickens (13 receptions, 238 yards, 1 TD). Pittsburgh needs to get its running game going as running back Naji Harris has been inconsistent thus far. This should be a defensive battle, with the Steelers ‘D’ making one or two more plays than the Ravens. My pick, Pittsburgh 16, Baltimore 13

Houston at Atlanta: The young Texans look for their second straight road win when they visit Atlanta on Sunday. Like Jacksonville, Atlanta will be coming off a trip to London, so fatigue could be a factor for the Falcons. Two weeks ago, in their win at Jacksonville, rookie QB C.J. Stroud (906 yards, 4 TDs/0 interceptions) had another solid game. Rookie WR Tank Dell (15 receptions, 251 yards, 2 TDs) had a big day with five receptions for 145 yards and a TD. Atlanta loves to run the football with rookie RB Bijan Robinson ((213 rushing yards/14 receptions, 103 yards, 1 TD). If the Houston defense can slow down Robinson and force a turnover or two from secondyear QB Desmond Ritter (553 yards, 2 TDs), the Texans just might pull off another road win. My pick, Houston 23, Atlanta 21

Dallas at San Francisco: The Cowboys heads to San Francisco to take on the 49ers on Sunday Night Football and if their run defense plays like it did against the Cardinals two weeks ago, it could be a long Sunday night for Mike McCarthy’s team. In the inexplicable loss to a winless Arizona team, the Dallas run defense allowed 222 rushing yards. If things don’t improve by Sunday night, SF running back Christian McCaffrey (353 yards 3 TDs) could have a field day against the Pokes. The Dallas secondary lost its top corner when Traveon Diggs was lost for the season when he suffered an ACL injury at practice two weeks ago. That unit also played poorly in the Arizona loss. If they don’t improve, SF QB Brock Purdy (736 yards, 4 TDs) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (17 receptions, 247 yards, 1 TD) could have big nights. The Dallas offense must produce better in the Red Zone and that falls on QB Dak Prescott (647 yards, 3 TDs). Look for running back Tony Pollard (264 yards, 2 TDs) and CeeDee Lamb (19 receptions, 273 yards) to pick up their games in front of a national TV audience, but it won’t matter as the SF defense will have the final say in this game. My pick, San Francisco 24, Dallas 20

Green Bay at Las Vegas: Week 5 concludes with the Packers visiting the Raiders on Monday Night Football. Two weeks ago, GB QB Jordan Love (655 yards, 7 TDs) led the Packers to an 18-17 win after trailing 17-0 in the fourth quarter. Love ran for a TD and passed for another to lead the Packers to a 2-1 start. Love has found new playmakers at wide receiver in rookie Jayden Reed (9 receptions, 148 yards, 2 TDs) and Romeo Dobbs (11 receptions, 127 yards, 3 TDs). Look for the Green Bay offense to continue rolling against a suspect Raider defense. The Raiders will need a big night from QB Jimmy Garoppolo (709 yards, 5 TDs) and wide receiver Davante Adams (25 receptions, 322 yards, 3 TDs). Adams had a huge night in Vegas’ 23-18 loss two weeks ago against the Steelers as he grabbed 12 passes for 172 yards and two TDs. My pick, Green Bay 33, Las Vegas 23