Could Mason Fine Join the 5,000-yard club?
Graham Harrell must salivate over the options his offense has this season. Jalen Guyton, one of the most gifted receivers in the country, returns. So does steady Rico Bussey Jr. and the Swiss Army knife Michael Lawrence. Add to that core Kansas transfer Keegan Brewer and might mite Jaelon Dardon and the Mean Green have the most skill talent in school history. Mason Fine will have options, lots of them.
He'll also have a chance to make history.
Twelve men have thrown for 5,000 yards in a single FBS season. Nine of those 5,000-yard seasons came from quarterbacks at a Texas school, four of those nine played in an Air Raid derivative, from the coaching line that Seth Littrell and Harrell descend from. Harrell hit the 5,000-yard mark twice.
Fine threw for a school-record 4,052 yards and 31 touchdowns last year - both considerable jumps in production over his 2016, true freshman, season. He improved his completion percentage four points. You can expect that number to increase again, perhaps to an elite level 67% or more. The x-factor is a rebuilt offensive line, one that ushered far too many hits to Fine in 2017. If that unit can protect even slightly better, the skill talent and Fine's development could make for a historic 2018.
The Benefit of Scheduling In-State
If you read the Roundup you know that we rage against the idea that the powers that be have somehow justified leagues that include the likes of Iowa States, UConns, West Virginias, and the south Miami Mafia.
The numbers bear out that scheduling in-state opponents is a proven way to increase that most precious of all commodities - butts in seats. On average in-state games between conference and non-conference opponents brought in 2,000 more fans than other opponents. Those numbers include UTEP, which endured a winless season where Miner fans justifiably started praying for basketball season by mid-September. Those numbers also don't include the canceled Houston/UTSA game which would've been UTSA highest attended contest of the season.
SMU, which qualified for a bowl game and boasted a squad with the likes of Courtland Sutton, averaged less than 20,000 fans per game. But when North Texas came to town, thanks to proximity, that number rose by almost 5,000 fans. Houston averaged 32,583 fans but saw its two highest attended games when Texas Tech and Rice visited TDECU. UTSA took over Wacker Field when the Runners traveled to San Marcos, almost doubling Texas State's best attendance mark.
If you want to build revenue, schedule in-state, you'll also develop rivalries and move the pulse for your fan base.
A&M Isn't Only Missing Out on Texas
In the same vein, we're once again bombarded with articles on why Texas and Texas A&M don't play anymore, and the shame of it all. Yes, the shame exists, but so do other opportunities. A&M and Texas had one of college football's most storied rivalries, but A&M and Baylor had a righteous level of hate. The Battle of the Brazos created some of the most controversial and colorful moments in SWC history.
For that matter, A&M and Texas Tech hated each other so much they were shoving goal posts in each others cheering sections. Zach Thomas running a pick-six into the end zone at Jones Stadium is seared into the memories of both groups of fans. Even aside from those Big 12 partners, A&M and Houston seem like they'd have a natural attachment given proximity and recruiting interests.
In-state scheduling and rivalries have a lot of meat on the bone for the Aggies, instead, they're content to bring in a Southland team and a directional Louisiana school every year.
Week One Odds
Since it's never too early to start handing your money to a sports book, here are the odds for college football's week one according to Bovada.
Houston -23 at Rice
We can't help but feel like this one is a bit low. Kendal Briles considers anything less than four touchdowns an insult.
Texas State at Rutgers - 18.5
When was the last time Rutgers gave away this many points to an FBS team? Must have been during the Schiano era, you know, before he took the Tennessee job and then got fired on the same conference call.
Texas -9 at Maryland
Who knows if this is enough points but after giving up a 50 biscuit at home to the Terps last year, we wouldn't touch this line.
SMU at North Texas - 3.5
Interesting viewpoint from Vegas. Apparently, they don't believe it's Always Sonny on the Hilltop.
UTSA at Arizona State -17
Betting on Herm Edwards is a shot in the dark. Then again betting against UTSA's offense may justify it.
Mississippi vs. Texas Tech Pickem
Can Kliff stave off the haters and cool his seat by beating a lower tier SEC West team? Vegas doesn't know.