Texas’ 50-47 double overtime win over Notre Dame, for many people, was the highlight of college football’s opening weekend. After all, the game was thrilling, and Charlie Strong got perhaps the biggest win of his Texas tenure.
Randy Cross, however, believes the win should come with an asterisk.
“That thing is tainted because they didn’t call the targeting foul in the end zone,” the CBS Sports college football analyst said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “That was complete B.S. The Big 12 should be embarrassed.”
Cross is referring to a third-quarter hit on Torii Hunter Jr., who dropped what would have been a 19-yard touchdown reception. DeShon Elliott laid the lumber on Hunter and probably should have been ejected for targeting. He was not. Later in the drive, Notre Dame had a potential game-tying 36-yard field goal blocked.
The rest is history.
Still, Texas deserves credit for hanging with Notre Dame and ultimately pulling out a win. The Longhorns deployed their two-quarterback system to perfection, with Shane Buechele and Tyrone Swoopes scoring three touchdowns apiece. Buechele, a freshman, threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another, while Swoopes, a senior, rumbled for 53 yards and three scores, including the game-winner.
Some have compared the duo to Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, who helped Florida to a national title in 2006.
“Swoopes obviously is a big, gigantic, physical presence,” Cross said. “Doesn’t necessarily throw the ball that great. Buechele, the kid, he does everything he’s asked to do. He even runs the ball fairly decent. When you’re blessed with a contrast like that, I think it’s an advantage.”
Texas (1-0), ranked 11th in this week’s poll, could be favored in each of its remaining 11 games. How far can Strong carry this Notre Dame win?
“A long way if he can back it up,” Cross said. “I think that’s something that goes with Florida State. I think it’s something that goes no matter who you’re going to mention as far as a big win, including Alabama. Remember: This is a program at Texas that has not had much success, so their first instinct is going to be to sort of lean back and drink it all in and sort of enjoy the pats on the back and everything else. But that isn’t where he’s trying to get that program to.”
Elsewhere around the country, Cross was appalled by the Week 1 play of Josh Rosen, who threw three interceptions in UCLA’s 31-24 overtime loss to Texas A&M.
“I think the kid’s watched too many Brett Favre tapes and highlight packages,” Cross said. “There’s no telling what goes through his mind when he gets pressured and when he moves, but not much of it’s good. Just one week in, he’s almost earned – he’s not quite earned, but he’s almost earned – my tag of an evangelist quarterback: those guys that can make 70,000 people stand up and scream, ‘Jesus.’ I know he had that effect on a lot of Bruins fans on Saturday, especially with that little shovel pass and that stuff down the field. That’s got to be trained out of him. I don’t care who’s coaching him. I don’t care how much they may like him or his parents or his family or his potential. You owe it to the guys that you play with to take care of the ball. If you can’t do that and if you can’t be trusted with the ball, that’s got to effect your ability to be a leader.”
Rosen, considered by some to be the best quarterback in America, took some heat this summer for his outspoken thoughts on politics and the NCAA. Brandon Tierney sees some parallels between Rosen and Johnny Manziel and wonders if we’re going to start seeing some Manziel-like behaviors from the Bruins sophomore.
“I don’t think so,” Cross said. “I hope Jim Mora gets a handle on this because it’s something that can get a little bit out of control, but Johnny Manziel, there was much more to him and much more problems than just somebody that was crying out for attention.”