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Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Sooners have bullied Cyclones

Roy Finch, Oklahoma-Iowa State 2011

Big brothers always like to pick on their little brothers to show them who's boss around the house. That’s the way it seems with Oklahoma and Iowa State.

The Sooners have roughed up the Cyclones 69 times in 76 meetings. Little brother occasionally gets in a lick (five wins for ISU) to keep big brother in check. A couple of times they came to a draw (1936 and 1981), and both brothers went to bed with no clear outcome in their tussle.

As conference opponents with at least 20 bouts, OU has whipped Iowa State more times than any other team has defeated its conference brethren. In the 85 years of sharing the same conference, big brother has 40 blue ribbons, and little bro has none. ISU got a couple of conference titles a century ago when it won the Missouri Valley Conference back-to-back. But since being adopted into the household shared with OU, little bro hasn’t even sniffed a crown.

OU's Record Against Conference Opponents

Team Years OU's Record
Baylor 1996-2011 15-1-0 (93.7%)
Washington-St. Louis 1920-27 7-0-1 (93.7%)
Iowa State 1928-2011 69-5-2 (92.1%)
Oklahoma State 1958-2011 44-9-1 (82.4%)
Kansas State 1920-2012 67-17-4 (78.4%)
Kansas 1919-2012 65-17-5 (77.6%)
Missouri 1920-2011 63-19-4 (73.6%)
Arkansas 1915-19 3-1-1 (70.0%)
Colorado 1950-2010 37-16-2 (69.1%)
Texas A&M 1996-2011 11-5-0 (68.7%)
Texas Tech 1996-2012 11-6-0 (64.7%)
Texas 1915-20; 1996-2012 13-8-0 (61.9%)
Drake 1920-26 3-2-0 (60.0%)
Nebraska 1921-2010 45-37-2 (54.8%)

The Cyclones came closest in 2004 when they tied Colorado with a 4-4 record in the Big 12 North division, but the Buffaloes went to the championship game because they beat Iowa State, 19-14. By the way, the Buffaloes were bullied, 42-3, by big brother (OU) in the title game.

Little brother might have some tricks up his sleeve to trip up his older kin when they brawl this week. Head coach Paul Rhoads has had a signature upset the past three years of his coaching career at ISU. In 2009, ISU scored a 9-7 win over Nebraska in Lincoln. In 2010, the unranked Cyclones stunned No. 22 Texas, 28-21, on the Longhorns’ home turf. A year later, Iowa State upset 19th-ranked Texas Tech, 41-7, in Lubbock, and three weeks later shocked No. 2 Oklahoma State, 37-31, in Ames. Rhoads’s 2012 team hasn’t pulled off an upset so far this year.

Big bro was roughed up last week by a bully from another block (Notre Dame). Will OU come out ready to beat the crap out of the 'Clones, or will ISU catch the Sooners licking their wounds?

History Lessons: Who is Jack Trice?

Jack TriceThe Oklahoma Sooners will meet Iowa State Saturday at the Cyclones’ Jack Trice Stadium. Trice was the first African-American athlete at Iowa State. He played football for the Cyclones in 1923, but that was short-lived.

The Cyclones traveled to Minneapolis to meet the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers on Oct. 6 that year. There was no integration in that day, and Trice was not allowed to lodge with his teammates, so he stayed at another hotel. He also was not allowed to eat it in the hotel’s dining room, so he dined in his room. After supper, he wrote a letter to himself:

“To Whom It May Concern: My thoughts just before the first real college game of my life: The honor of my race, family and self is at stake. Everyone is expecting me to do big things. I will. My whole body and soul are to be thrown recklessly about the field tomorrow. Every time the ball is snapped, I will be trying to do more than my part. On all defensive plays I must break through the opponents’ line and stop the play in their territory. Beware of mass interference. Fight low, with your eyes open and toward the play. Watch out for crossbucks and reverse end runs. Be on your toes every minute if you expect to make good. Jack”

After the game’s second play, Trice came to the sideline complaining of a sore shoulder. It was later discovered he had broken his collarbone. He insisted that he was okay and continued to play. He attempted to make a tackle in the third quarter by throwing a roll block thus knocking down two Minnesota players. When Trice tried to get to his feet, two Minnesota players trampled him as they headed downfield. The Gopher players stepped on his abdomen and chest. Trice staggered to the sideline and did not return to the game. He was taken to a Minneapolis hospital. The doctors declared him fit to return to Ames with his teammates on the train.

Two days later, he died from hemorrhaged lungs and internal bleeding throughout his abdomen caused by injuries from the game. Iowa State cancelled classes two days later for a memorial service. About 4,000 students and faculty members attended the service on Oct. 16, 1923. His casket was draped in cardinal and gold, Iowa State’s school colors.

Trice left behind a widow, Cora, who later remarried and never returned to Ames.

Iowa State has the only Football Bowl Subdivision institution named for an African-American. In 1984, the field was named Jack Trice Field, and in 1997, the stadium was named in his honor.

Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Notre Dame fans

Tough loss. It's easy to overreact to it.

But Notre Dame made plays all game, as did its young quarterback. All in all, ND pretty much played its best game of the year. ND is much better on defense than anyone OU has played, including KSU. ND's running attack is as good as anyone in the Big 12, including KSU.

The Good

*Jalen Saunders' role in the offense will continue to grow. Landry Jones has already developed a quick rapport with him, admittedly at the expense of developing Sterling Shepard, Trey Metoyer and Durron Neal. The only downside is that Saunders' conditioning is not quite ready for the pace of OU's no-huddle offense.

*Landry didn't play badly from a ball-protection standpoint. He made some nice throws and certainly wasn't the reason that OU lost the game.

The interception wasn't his fault – whether there was pass interference on the play is debatable.

*The offensive line was able to protect long enough to give Landry time. Now, ND did not go for an all out pressure approach, but overall Landry was protected, save for one bust that led to the sack.

*For the most part, OU won't play anyone else that is able to execute "the blueprint" for beating the Sooners. Doesn't mean OU will win out, but the weaknesses will be less obvious against the bad defenses/spread offenses of the Big12.

The Bad

*OU was unable to force ND out of its base defense or run the ball effectively. In fact, the number of runs called was probably too high.

*Aaron Colvin and Demontre Hurst had their first really bad games. Colvin got worked, and Hurst gave up the bomb in the fourth quarter. The average Irish wide receivers outplayed the elite OU CBs.

*ND's passing game was helped greatly by the fact that ND was in 2nd-and-five all night. OU's nagging weakness in run defense reared its head again.

*OU is very vulnerable to being spread out against a mobile QB running the zone read with two or three WRs or a flexed-out tight end. OU's defensive tackles are good, not great. They were being pushed around all game. OU's defensive ends don't play the run well. Finally, OU's linebackers against a power running game are vulnerable to being blocked. OU's lack of size at MIKE was again a problem.

The Ugly

*Two bad snaps by Gabe Ikard. One was due to a very late change of play at the line. It killed OU's first drive where the Sooners were moving at will through the air, effectively ending the first series and OU's chance to grab a lead
to put the Irish on their heels. Down 10 late in the game, the second bad snap killed OU's fleeting chance at a magic comeback.

*I'm sure Bronson Irwin did hold on Blake Bell's disallowed TD run. But there was holding going on all night by both OU and ND. It was a very "ugly" call in terms of timing.

The Unknown

*Could OU have used the Belldozer more to change up the ND defense and run the ball more?

*Should OU have thrown the ball more out of its base look?

*Should OU have gone downfield more?

*Where were the throws to Trey Millard down the seam?

Sooners' struggles rooted in relationship to the run

Manti Te'o
No running allowed.

Of Oklahoma’s 76 offensive plays in its 30-13 loss to Notre Dame, the Sooners threw the ball 52 times. For you non-math majors, that means OU took to the air on nearly seven of 10 plays against ND.

It actually has become a pretty common trend in OU’s losses. Already a pass-heavy offense, OU is winging it around even more even more so than usual in its defeats. Take a gander at the run-pass ratio in losses in the last four years.

Run-Pass Balance in Losses (2009-12)

Year Opponent Runs Passes % Pass Season % Pass
2009 BYU 31 26 45.6 51.7
2009 Miami 42 30 41.7  
2009 Texas 22 49 69.0  
2009 Nebraska 29 58 66.7  
2009 Texas Tech 26 36 58.1  
2010 Missouri 25 50 66.7 52.3
2010 Texas A&M 44 60 57.7  
2011 Texas Tech 25 55 68.8 55.4
2011 Baylor 36 51 58.6  
2011 Oklahoma St. 33 50 60.2  
2012 Kansas St. 27 43 61.4 55.0
2012 Notre Dame 24 52 68.4  

Of course, against an opponent like ND, when you’re running for about half a yard per attempt (0.6 yards per carry), throwing has to look mighty tempting to offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. And therein lies the rub.

All the offensive pyrotechnics produced in the passing game in the last few years have masked the fact that the Sooners can’t run the ball with any kind of consistency. That lack of faith, or interest, in the ground game has morphed into an aerial addiction, a crutch for OU to lean on when the going gets tough – and even when it doesn’t.

As ND and Kansas State have shown this year, the irony is that while OU is rolling up gaudy statistics, its offense is becoming easier for competent defenses to stop.

The defensive strategy employed by both the Wildcats and Irish is actually pretty simple:

-Count on your defensive line to disrupt the run.

-Loosen up your linebackers to help defend the pass and clog up throwing lanes.

-Keep receivers in front of you.

-Bait the quarterback into mistakes.

In practice, it may look as though offenses are cruising, as OU often did against the Irish. However, it’s a classic bend-but-don’t-break scheme designed to minimize big plays at the expense of conceding yardage underneath. It puts the onus on the offense to be disciplined and execute long, sustained drives. It also means hoping to force the O to settle for field goals instead of six points in the red zone, where there's less real estate to work with. Add it all up, and that’s how Landry Jones can throw for 356 yards and OU can come away with just 13 points for the game.

OU is learning the hard way that this approach to slowing down the spread can neuter a high-flying Air Raid team. The bottom line: It all hinges on a spread offense’s ability, or lack thereof, to force the defense to honor the run.

Unfortunately, the Sooners either can’t run effectively enough to do so or they've just stopped trying. Take that as an indictment of OU's offensive scheme or its implementation. Either way, the last four years make a compelling case that OU will remain a cut below the national elite unless Bob Stoops and his staff truly dedicate themselves to establishing an effective ground game.

BlogPoll: Irish rise to No. 1

Notes:

*Maybe it's overexuberance following Notre Dame's impressive win over Oklahoma, but, to me, the Fighting Irish have assembled the best body of work in the country. The difference between ND and Kansas State? KSU's cupcake wins versus Missouri State and North Texas.

*Louisville presents a real problem. The Cardinals have some decent wins, but nothing really stands out. Their best win looks like either North Carolina or Cincinnati.  The Cards are living on the edge, having won five of eight games by a touchdown or less. A loss or two can't be far behind.

*Despite Louisville's undefeated record, I ranked Oregon State ahead of it. Week in and week out, the Beavers have played a dramatically superior level of competition – Sagarin ranks Oregon St.'s schedule as the ninth-toughest in the country; the Cards come in 99th.

*Mississippi State should feel lucky that it didn't get penalized even further for gaming the system.

*Probably the homerism in me, but I can't penalize Oklahoma too severely for losing to two of the best teams in the country.

*That clump of Big 12 teams at the bottom doesn't exactly rev my engine. Hey, that's what happens when you have to rank 25 teams.

Notre Dame 30, Oklahoma 13: Stop me if you've heard this one before

Start with an underwhelming running game. Mix in a mediocre defensive line. Add some bizarre cases of brain lock.

It’s not a new story in Soonerland. (At this point, I could put these post-loss wrap-ups on autopilot.)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish superbly executed coach Brian Kelly’s equally superb game plan Saturday night, leading to a frustratingly familiar 30-13 Oklahoma loss.

On defense, ND didn’t do anything exotic, sticking primarily with its base scheme. Instead of getting fancy, ND’s beefy defensive front simply worked over OU’s offensive line to keep the Sooners’ run game in check. OU’s inability to consistently move the ball via the ground freed up the Irish secondary to focus on limiting big plays through the air. When OU’s receivers had the ball in their hands, ND’s tackling was dead-solid perfect.

Offensively, the Irish limited their mistakes to a handful of foot faults. Kelly took advantage of the Sooners’ middling front four to get just enough from the running game – including a 66-yard touchdown burst from Cierre Wood – to set up effective play-action passing from precocious redshirt freshman Everett Golson. As has been the case in the past with mobile QBs, Golson hurt the Sooners with his legs, too, rushing for 64 yards on the night.

Toss in two FUBAR snaps from Gabe Ikard to Landry Jones, and the night was complete.

That’s the book on OU. Simply put, opponents have little reason to respect OU’s running game and every reason to attack the Sooners’ front four. Bill Snyder and Kansas State penned the previous chapter, and Kelly and the Irish added their own verse at Owen Field Saturday night.

If the Sooners don't change up the story, the ending won't change up anytime soon.

Best Case, Worst Case: Notre Dame

Brian Kelly

After three outstanding performances by Oklahoma, this test against the Fighting Irish will be the best and last chance for the Sooners to make an impact on the national stage. A big win Saturday will put OU on the map for teams vying for a BCS title shot should there be at most one undefeated team left standing at the end of the season (and, of course, the Sooners win out).

One of those teams that must lose is Kansas State. Thanks to the Sooners' charitable donations to the Wildcats back in September, the Sooners must hope that the Wildcats lose twice or Texas Tech wins the rest of its games, thus forcing a three-way tiebreaker. The latter scenario bodes well for the Sooners in the "he who loses last, loses worst" BCS formula. Neither scenario seems very likely.

So let's put the hypotheticals away for now and focus on the game at hand. Much has been made of the Irish's rushing defense that has yet to allow a touchdown and is ranked 15th in the nation (106.7 ypg). No team has rushed for 150 yards against the Irish, including the 13th (Navy) and 18th (Michigan) ranked rushing teams in the nation.

The Sooners have scored 20 rushing touchdowns and average 200.5 yards per game on the ground (33rd in the nation). To go along with that, the Sooners will bring in the best passing offense that the Irish have faced this season in Landry Jones and his bevy of talented receivers. The Sooners have scored 44.7 points per game (5th nationally), and the Irish allow 9.4 points per game (2nd nationally).

Unstoppable force versus immovable object? I say, not so much.

Best Case

The Irish are tough, no doubt, but they haven't seen as potent an offense as the one they'll see Saturday in Norman. If Josh Heupel continues to spread the ball around, the Irish will not be able to contain the Sooners.

This is also the best defense the Irish will face. Notre Dame is ranked No. 100 in passing offense. They'll have to run – often. It won't be enough. Sooners keep the machine humming, and OU takes down the undefeated Irish, 33-15.

Worst Case

We can always see a return of the Sooners from the first three games. Notre Dame has a pass rushing that could bring some heat on Landry jones. Irish linebacker Manti Te'o is no joke. Notre Dame could keep the Sooner defense guessing, switching between quarterbacks Everett Golson and Tommy Rees.

All of that must happen for Notre Dame to win. I just can't see it happening. It's a grind-it-out game, but OU shows its toughness and the Sooners prevail, 24-21.

Oklahoma-Notre Dame: What to Watch

Everett GolsonNo. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) at No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1)
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
Oct. 27, 7:15 p.m.
TV: ABC
The Line: OU -10.5

Hard to quantify how big a game this is for Oklahoma. Win this game, and OU puts itself squarely into the conversation about the best one-loss football team in the country and creates massive momentum for a long stretch run in November with only two home games.

Notre Dame is something of an enigma this year, winning games in the same manner that they lost games last year. Big early wins came over teams that look pretty average this year in Michigan and Michigan State.

OU has faced a similar team to ND in Kansas State (although ND does not have a QB anywhere near as good/experienced as Collin Klein), but ND has not faced anyone who has a QB as talented/experienced in the passing game as Landry Jones.

This seems like a classic matchup of strength versus strength. Keep an eye on...

*Special teams edge

With both capable of fielding defenses that will make life tough on the offenses, special teams will play a factor here. Hitting field goals and getting points from outside the red zone will be big. OU appears to have the edge at kicker.

The return game will also play a big role, especially if both teams are punting frequently.

OU has a big edge here over ND on kickoff return defense (27th for OU, ND is 93rd) and kickoff returns (OU is 3rd, ND is 96th). On punt returns, OU is 6th in punt return yardage, while ND is 111th. In defending against punt returns, ND has the big edge over OU.

So far ND has not show big-play ability in the return game, while OU has big-time playmakers on both kickoff and punt returns.

Hidden yardage and points could swing this game.


*How does ND match OU's personnel?

What does ND do when the Sooners go to their big set (Trey Millard, Aaron Ripkowski, Damien Williams and two wide receivers) and their spread look (three WRs, Millard and Williams)? ND could keep its talented front seven in the game for OU's power look, but can the LBs keep up with Williams and Millard in space as receiving threats? Can OU run with success out of that formation against the strength of the ND front seven to set up play-action strikes to OU's WRs?

More likely, OU will try and spread ND out and force the Irish to decide between keeping their LBs on the field versus playing more DBs. Can ND keep up with OU's WR depth if OU goes to three or four WRs the whole game? Can ND defend the run when spread out that much to cover the OU WRs?

Watch out for Jalen Saunders to have a big game finding gaps in an ND secondary that's focused on Kenny Stills and Justin Brown.


*Power running

If there's a nagging weakness to the OU defense, it is in stopping a power running game. KU had a little success last week running the ball, and KSU has had the most success. ND will go with mobile QB Everett Golson, but don't expect Brian Kelly to expose him to any QB run game action after his concussion.

ND's best bet for a win is having success lining up and pounding its three good RBs between the tackles, then taking big shots downfield off play action against the OU corners, killing the clock and keeping thei defense rested.

If Mike Stoops can keep ND in third-and-long, the Irish are in big trouble.


*Ball security

Can Golson or Tommy Rees keep from turning the ball over? Last year, the Irish were turnover machines. They seem to have stopped that, but OU's pressure defense could put Golson or Rees in spots where INTs or fumbles can happen. Golson needs to extend plays with his mobility without making critical mistakes. For a young QB in his first real road game, it's a tough assignment.

If OU has established any kind of multi-possession lead in the 2nd half, Golson/Rees will be in a tough spot to bring the Irish back. Turnovers late could turn a close game into a blowout.


*ND's interior pass rush

OU's offensive tackle grouping has already handled Texas' vaunted defensive ends on the outside pass rush, but ND probably has the best interior defensive line play that OU has faced to date. One sure way to disrupt Landry Jones is pressure up the middle. However, if ND has to blitz to bring pressure, then the ND secondary could be facing a long day.

OU's WR-QB combo is miles ahead of anything that the Irish have faced this year.

Podcast: Picks Trying Not to Suck and Notre Dame Preview

The Skinny and Homerism get together for their weekly podcast to give their college football picks against the spread. Once they're done, they delve into the huge match-up between the Oklahoma Sooners and Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Skinny and I hit on:

*Our favorite picks for the week, including Arizona-USC, Texas Tech-Kansas State and TCU-Oklahoma State.
*The strength of Notre Dame's front seven.
*OU's ability to test the Fighting Irish secondary.
*Whether or not the Notre Dame offense can keep up with the Sooners.
*Mack Brown's comments on the burdens of the Longhorn Network.

(Subscribe to Blatant Homerism's Podcast through iTunes. Please rate and review the show if you get the chance, too. Thanks.)

Game Preview: Oklahoma Sooners-Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Brian Kelly

No. 5 Notre Dame (7-0) at No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1)
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
Oct. 27, 7:15 p.m.
TV: ABC
The Line: OU -10.5

Series: 10th meeting; Notre Dame leads 8-1, including 6 straight

GAME OUTLOOK

The Sooners face another powerful running team Saturday when Notre Dame comes to Norman for the first time in 46 years…ND is 38th nationally in rushing with 193.9 yards per game and running back Theo Riddick leads the way with 451 yards (4.7 per carry) and 3 touchdowns… His best game came last week versus BYU when he rushed 15 times for 143 yards, but no TDs.

Everett Golson will start at quarterback after suffering a concussion a two weeks ago … He hasn’t put up Heisman-type numbers, completing 79 of 135 (58.5 percent) of his passes for 968 yards with 4 TDs and 3 INTs… Tight end Tyler Eifert leads the receiving corps with 319 yards and 3 TDs.

Defense is Notre Dame’s strongest suit, allowing only 9.4 points per game (No. 2 nationally) and no rushing touchdowns… The D also is ranked 6th in total defense, yielding 280.7 yards per game… The Irish have sacked the quarterback 19 times and forced 17 turnovers… Linebacker Manti Te’o leads the defense with 69 tackles, 4 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries… End Stephon Tuitt has 8 sacks and 8 quarterback hurries.

Special teams may be the weakest link for the Irish… Punter Ben Turk averages 40.9 yards per kick… Kyle Brindza has hit all 14 PATs, but only 11 of 14 field goals… George Atkinson leads the team with 19.4 yards per kickoff return, and Davonte’ Neal has only 2.8 yards per punt return…

Landry Jones has improved in managing the offense the past three games… He and the receivers are now in a good rhythm, which will be important against ND’s pass rush… OU’s offensive line has also improved protecting Jones, and this game will be the most critical in keeping him off his butt…. The Sooners’ offense is 5th nationally in scoring (44.7 points per game) and 17th nationally with 488.2 yards per game… They must mix up the game plan versus the Irish defense.

Stacy McGee’s reinstatement to the team will add depth and experience to the defensive tackle rotation… He’s been practicing all season… Javon Harris has really improved since a year ago and leads the team with 4 INTs (two last week versus Kansas)… He is second  on the team with 34 tackles… Tony Jefferson, his backfield mate, leads the team with 48 tackles…  OU’s defense is no slouch either, giving up 15.3 points per game (12th nationally) and is 15th in total yards (302.5 per game)… A closer look reveals that OU’s first-team defense has yielded 205.8 yards and 6.7 points per game.

Special teams has been an asset for the Sooners this year as evident by a 90-yard punt return and 100-yard kickoff return versus Kansas… This was a first in OU history to have a punt return and kickoff return for touchdowns in the same game… Tress Way continues to kick good punts (42.8 average), and only six of his 24 punts have been returned for a 5.3 average… Oklahoma had good kickoff coverage last week, allowing KU just 16.2 yards per return.

This is Notre Dame’s first true road game since going to Michigan State on Sept. 15… The Sooners must shut down the Irish’s running attack and force them to be one-dimensional… ND will try to keep the chains moving and milk the clock with its ground game a la Kansas State… The ND defense may succeed at shutting down OU’s running game, but if Jones and his speedy receivers continue their rhythm, it could be curtains for the Irish… OU has a more balanced attack… Defense and turnovers will be the spotlight in this game…. Much attention will be on how well the Belldozer performs versus the Irish defense that hasn’t yielded a rushing TD all year… The team that best protects the pigskin will win.


ETC.

*The Irish are 4-0 in Norman.

*Bob Stoops lost his only meeting with Notre Dame (1999).

*ESPN College Gameday will be in Norman this week; OU has been featured as part of Gameday 28 times, third most behind Florida (34) and Ohio State (30).

*OU has a 19-8 record when Gameday is present; Notre Dame has a 9-11 record.

*This will be Gameday’s 7th appearance in Norman; OU lost its first Gameday appearance in Norman in 1994 (Colorado), but has since won five straight at home when Gameday was present.

*ND is 5-7 on the road with Gameday’s presence.

*OU is 9-3-1 on October 27th.

*ND is 14-3 on October 27th.

*OU and Notre Dame met once on Oct. 27, and the Sooners won their only game in the series on that date.

*OU is 10-6 versus top 10 teams in Norman, including three straight wins.

*Bob Stoops is 15-10 (60 percent) versus top 10 teams; 9-8 (53percent) versus top five teams.

*Brian Kelly has faced only one top 10 team while at Notre Dame, beating No. 10 Michigan State this year.

*Kelly was Cincinnati’s head coach when the Sooners beat the Bearcats, 52-26, in 2008.

Dumpster Fires of the Week: Heisman flyers on fire

1. Geno Smith's Heisman campaign

I hope WVU didn't spend a bunch of cash in marketing materials for the now derailed Smith Heisman campaign
like bobbleheads or DVDs. Smith's gone from Heisman frontrunner to maybe not invited to New York.

2. WVU defense

A reliable source told me that an ex-Big 12 defensive coach told them that WVU might have the worst pass defense that he had seen in the last 25 years of major college football. If that's not a dumpster fire well...

3. Boston College/ACC

It's a toss-up here, but we're going with Boston College as our ACC Dumpster Fire representative. Save for Clemson and FSU, the entire conference is awful.

But we focus on the Golden Eagles, who got blown out 38-7 by the Rambled Wreck from Georgia Tech. BC is 1-6 with only a win over Maine and looks to be shopping for new coach.

4. Iowa

Penn State beat Iowa 38-14 and ran up nearly 500 yards offense in crushing the Hawkeyes. It's one thing to lose to the rebuilding/depleted Nittany Lions, but getting dominated? Kirk Ferentz is apparently running some complex long-con Ponzi scheme on the Iowa program with his $3.8 million salary.

5. "Allburned"

At a certain point, a team is on the Dumpster Fire list so long that it goes from smoldering pile of garbage to
simply smoldering ashes.

Allburned, as they will now be known here, somehow lost to Vandy. There are some  weak non-conference games coming up for the Tigers, but so are games with Bama and Georgia.

Notre Dame holds the historical edge on OU

It has been 46 years since Notre Dame’s gridiron gang last rolled onto Owen Field. Lyndon Johnson was in the White House, The Beatles stopped touring and the Vietnam War was being broadcast into our living rooms.

The Fighting Irish held a 4-0 record and had ascended to the top of the national rankings. The Sooners were 10th in the AP poll also with a 4-0 record, which included an upset over Texas. That victory snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Longhorns, and, suddenly, head coach Jim Mackenzie was a savior in the Sooner Nation.

The Irish overpowered Oklahoma, 38-0, and the crimson faithful fell back to earth from Cloud Nine. OU and Notre Dame met only twice in the next 33 years (1968 and 1969). They had met seven times in a span of 14 years before that. Two of the most storied football programs in college football history have met a total of nine times.

Since 1936, the modern era of awarding national championships, Notre Dame has won the crown eight times; Oklahoma seven times. The Irish have had seven Heisman Trophy winners; the Sooners have had five. Notre Dame boasts 184 All-Americans; OU claims 153. The Irish have 50 enshrinees in the College Football Hall of Fame; the Sooners have 22.

Once, in 1949, both teams were ranked one and two nationally in the final Associated Poll in 1949, with (you guessed it) Notre Dame on top. That year both teams defeated their opponents by an average score of 36-8. The Irish held a 10-0 record and OU did better with an 11-0 mark, which included a 35-0 victory over ninth-ranked LSU in the Sugar Bowl. The Irish did not play a bowl game that year. As a matter of fact, they didn’t play in a bowl game for 45 years (1924-1969). The school’s brass didn’t want athletics to outshine academics. But financial incentives got them back in the postseason beginning in 1969.

Still, there were plenty of opportunities for the two to meet up in a bowl game, but it never happened.

The first time OU and Notre Dame met was in 1952 in South Bend. Bud Wilkinson led the Sooners to a 5-0-1 record and fourth place in the AP poll. The Irish were 4-1-1 and ranked 10th under Frank Leahy. About 9,000 Sooner fans made the trip and NBC televised the game nationally.

Notre Dame came out on top, 27-21, but it was the game that vaulted OU’s Billy Vessels to all the way to the Heisman Trophy. He rushed 17 times for 195 yards and scored two touchdowns – one on a 62-yard run and the other on a 28-yard pass. Both teams battled to a 21-all stalemate through the first 46 minutes. Notre Dame capitalized on an Oklahoma fumble for the final tally.

The top-ranked Irish came to Norman a year later for the season opener for both squads. The Sooners were ranked sixth. Notre Dame did one point better than the previous year with a 28-21 victory. The Irish scored off OU errors—two fumbles, a blocked punt and an interception.

Oklahoma had a chance to tie the game with 5:11 remaining. Merrill Green intercepted an Irish pass on the OU 40. The comeback hope died two plays later when Notre Dame’s Johnny Lattner intercepted Buddy Leake’s pass.

Oklahoma returned to South Bend in 1956 and crushed the Irish, 40-0, en route to Bud Wilkinson’s third national championship and second straight.

Notre Dame brought a dismal 1-3 record to the fray. Irish quarterback Paul Hornung won the Heisman Trophy that year, but his performance against the Sooners was anything but stellar. He completed eight of 13 passes, but Oklahoma intercepted four of his throws—twice returning them for scores.

OU halfback Tommy McDonald, who finished third in the Heisman voting that year, was a menace to the trophy’s winner. Hornung also punted in the game. He already had one blocked by Steve Jennings that set up a 13-0 lead late in the first quarter. Early in the second period, McDonald smashed through the line and blocked Hornung’s kick that propelled OU to a 19-0 advantage.

Nine minutes later, McDonald intercepted Horning’s pass and flew 55 yards for a 26-0 lead. The Irish threatened to score early in the third quarter, but Clendon Thomas tipped Hornung’s pass and McDonald was there to clutch the pigskin at the OU 17. The Sooners marched 83 yards for a 33-0 lead.

Oklahoma’s final tally in this romp came early in the fourth period when Thomas stole Hornung’s pass and sailed 35 yards to pay dirt.

The Irish were embarrassed. They suffered their first shutout in five years, 26 years on their own turf. They returned to Norman a year later with vengeance on their minds. The Sooners, 7-0 and ranked No. 2, sought their 48th consecutive victory on the state’s golden anniversary. The Irish were unranked with a 4-2 record. Oklahoma had not lost a game since dropping that game to Notre Dame in 1953.

Defense ruled the first three quarters of the match-up. OU drove 45 yards on its first possession to the Irish 13, but turned the ball over on downs. The Irish threatened with a drive to the Oklahoma three-yard line, but David Baker intercepted a pass to end the threat.

Notre Dame drove 80 yards in 20 plays and milked 13 minutes off the clock for the winning score. On fourth-and-goal at the OU three, the Sooners stacked the middle of the line expecting the play to come straight up the middle again. Quarterback Bob Williams instead pitched wide to halfback Dick Lynch, who scooted around right end and across the goal line for a 7-0 lead with 3:50 remaining.

Oklahoma returned the kickoff to its 39. Wilkinson put in his alternate unit, believing a fresh set of legs could move the ball downfield more effectively. Passing moved the Sooners to the Irish 24, but Notre Dame intercepted Dale Sherrod’s pass in the end zone to end the threat.

Four years later, Sooner fans were chomping at the bit this time for revenge for ND breaking OU’s record 47-game win streak. It was the season opener for both teams and neither was found in the rankings. Coach Joe Kuharich led his Irish to a 19-6 victory in South Bend.

Notre Dame took a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter, and the Sooners answered with a 75-yard drive to even the score. Halfback Jackie Cowan scored on a four-yard run, but Karl Milstead misfired on the conversion.

Irish halfback Mike Lind scored touchdowns in the second and fourth periods to put the game away.

The Irish came to Norman in 1962 for their season opener, but it was the second game for the Sooners, who had scored a thrilling win over Syracuse the week before. Again, neither team was ranked, but Notre Dame extended its winning streak over Oklahoma with a 13-7 victory.

The Irish took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards in 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Oklahoma later swept 58 yards in 10 plays to tie the game with 38 seconds left in the first period. Paul Lea scored OU’s lone touchdown on a one-yard run.

The Irish took the second-half kickoff and marched 89 yards in 19 plays for the final tally. The Sooners had a chance to possibly win the game when John Flynn recovered Daryl Lamonica’s fumble on the ND 34 with 2:27 remaining in the game. Norman Smith threw an interception on the next play to squelch any comeback effort.

When both teams met in 1966, the Irish scored all of their points in the second and third quarters, cashing in 17 of those points off Oklahoma turnovers. OU’s deepest penetration was a drive to the ND 27, but Mike Vachon missed a field goal.

The Sooners returned to South Bend in 1968. Jim Mackenzie died of a heart attack in the spring of 1967 and Chuck Fairbanks took over as the Sooner skipper. He led OU to a 10-1 record and No. 3 ranking in ’67.  OU was ranked fifth and Notre Dame fourth in the season opener for both teams. Oklahoma quarterback Bob Warmack tossed three touchdown passes, and the first two gave the Sooners a 14-7 lead in the first period. The Irish scored four touchdowns in the middle quarters en route to a 45-21 victory.

The two teams did not meet again for 31 years. Bob Stoops, in his first year at OU, led the Sooners to a 3-0 mark and a No. 23 ranking before heading to South Bend. The Irish, coached by Bob Davie, were unranked with a 1-3 record. The Sooners blew a 16-point lead in a 34-30 loss.

Notre Dame drove 76 yards for a 7-0 lead on its first series. OU answered with Brandon Daniels’ 89-yard kickoff return to tie the game. Daniels returned five kickoffs for a school-record 229 yards in the game. Josh Heupel’s three TD passes helped OU to a 30-14 lead through the first 35 minutes. Then the Sooner defense went AWOL, giving up three touchdowns and 314 yards the rest of the way. Notre Dame drove 98 yards for the winning touchdown.

The Irish return to Owen Field’s sacred soil bringing an 8-1 series record, which includes five straight wins. They are currently undefeated and ranked fifth in all polls. And, Sooner fans are still chomping at the bit for a victory over them.

The Longhorn Network: Must Flee TV

Mack Brown

Texas coach Mack Brown revealed his latest theory yesterday behind his team’s struggles. Mack has seen Bevo’s enemy, and it is us – or them.

In sum, Mack says his program is “overexposed.” The Longhorn Network is broadcasting Texas’ secrets out to the college football world. If that’s not bad enough, he’s spending too much time filming shows and segments for the network and not enough time coaching. (Must... resist... urge... to... snark.)

Mack is right to be worried about the LHN, but not for the reasons that he thinks.

Texas athletics has become a high-profile joint venture between the Lone Star State's flagship school and ESPN, the world's dominant purveyor of sports entertainment. It’s amateur (wink, wink) athletics’ version of “The Truman Show,” and every decision made by Texas’ athletic department has to be viewed through the prism of Nielsen ratings.

Mack Brown

Unfortunately for Mack, people aren’t tuning in for volleyball. Access to his team is the LHN’s most precious commodity. Coaches shows, practices, behind-the-scenes footage, a handful of live games – that’s the lifeblood of the network. ESPN knows that as well as anyone; the Texas administration does, too. That’s why all that access is written into their $300 million contract.

It’s generally not good business for someone in Brown’s position to so publicly criticize one of your employer’s major partners. But unless the suits in Bristol take Mack’s complaints personally, do they really care? They know that Texas' football coach has no choice but to get on board if the school wants to see the network succeed.

Which brings us to an even bigger problem for Mack regarding the LHN: UT football is far from must-see TV right now.

Casey WalkerThe Longhorns currently sit at 5-2. They suffered a humiliating loss to rival Oklahoma two weeks ago and at times have appeared inept on both sides of the ball. For UT’s proud fan base, it hasn’t been the kind of season that you want all-day cable access to.

Even for the most powerful brand in college sports, the LHN already has a limited target audience. A football team that is perpetually 8-5 or 9-4 won’t generate the level of demand needed to entice cable providers to sign up.

Maybe it really is a Catch-22: You can’t sell the LHN without a good football team, but you can’t have a good football team with the LHN. (Don't think Mack's criticisms won't cross the minds of potential coaching candidates in the future.) But after sacrificing a lot of goodwill to get the LHN off the ground, does that sound like an idea DeLoss Dodds would be willing to accept?

Mack may still enjoy enough support from the right people around Austin to keep his job for now. At some point, though, the business realities of what it takes to sell the LHN will have to set in.

In other words, if Texas doesn’t start winning soon, “The Mack Brown Show” is facing cancellation.

BlogPoll: Kansas State climbs closer to the top

Notes:

*Same as it has been for the last few weeks: Alabama is the best team in the country based on the eye test, but the Crimson Tide haven't accumulated the same body of work as some of the other contenders. Beating the tar out of Mississippi State this weekend would help boost their case, of course.

*Consider me a believer in Texas Tech. Coordinator Art Kaufman has transformed the Red Raider D into a solid unit, while the offense has plenty of firepower. Fending of a rapidly improving TCU team in its own house spoke well of Tech's resiliency. They'll need it if they want to win in Manhattan this weekend.

*With the way Oklahoma is playing right now, the Sooners are probably one of the three or four best teams in the nation. That loss to KSU will probably end up haunting them for a while. From a resume standpoint, a big win this weekend over Notre Dame would firmly establish the Sooners as the top outfit with one loss.

*I'm either being too harsh with Ohio or too generous with Mississippi St.

*Coming up with the final few teams was a challenge this week. Among the squads that just missed the cut were Louisiana-Monroe and Northwestern.

Thoughts on the ballot? What did I get wrong? (Keep in mind that I vote based on body of work, not how good I think a team may be.)

Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly and The Scary

The Kansas State loss gets more frustrating every week, but all OU can do is continue to execute at a high level and win out. It's a year where you'd love to have a conference championship game, but OU won't get that chance.

Now back to the Kansas game. There's no great category today, not when playing hapless Kansas. OU was surgical and executed at a very high level. No way OU could maintain the emotion of the Texas game, but the Sooners were still very, very good.

The Good

*Landry Jones' third straight game of effective game management and possession protection was his best passing game of the year.

OU needed to work on its passing game big time with ND approaching. ND's only real weakness to date appears to be handling an elite, complex passing game. That's what OU showed Saturday night. Landry was demonstrating his NFL arm all night, including elite-level passes to Kenny Stills in the end zone and a rope down the sideline to Sterling Shepard.

*The first-team wide receiver corps, which right now is Shepard, Jalen Saunders, Justin Brown and Stills. Landry is very close to getting really in sync with these guys – almost where he was a year ago with Ryan Broyles, Stills and Jaz Reynolds. That's saying something.

Stills is back outside, Brown is the big flanker and Saunders/Shepard are providing speed and finding ways to get open in space from the slot.

*Offensive line did a great job keeping Landry protected, and when OU ran the ball, the running backs and Belldozer got 17 carries for 6 yards an attempt. Landry was "sacked" once on a grounding call. The OL is playing as an efficient, cohesive unit.

*OU's offensive execution was excellent. OU only generated 400 yards in total offense, but the Sooners went 190 yards in two returns for touchdowns. Two turnovers set up OU in short yardage.

OU scored on its first eight possessions. You cannot ask for much more from your first-team offense.

*OU's defense did a good job forcing turnovers and forcing punts. KU came in with a run, run, and run again game plan. OU did a good job overall, even though KU's midget RB James Sims got too many yards at times. Safety Javon Harris did a great job playing centerfield, picking off two passes.

*Special mention to Brennan Clay. Clay's finally healthy and did a great job getting in shape in the offseason. After
two injury-mired seasons where he looked tentative and unsure, he's starting to look like the all-purpose, four-star RB OU signed out of San Diego.

*Second special mention to Roy Finch. Finch has disappeared from OU's base offense with the surge of Damien Williams and heavy usage of the two-back look of Trey Millard and Williams. Give Finch every bit of credit for still making a great play on his kickoff return. He's never looked faster or like more of a threat.

The Bad

*Justin Brown, just call for a fair catch if you need to. Cannot afford that fumble on a punt return.

*OU's back-up WRs didn't do Blake Bell any favors. Trey Metoyer made a move for a bigger play on a catch instead of driving north and getting a first down. Then Lacoltan Bester dropped a sure first down. Bell's last pass to Durron Neal was probably more a case of good coverage than Neal dropping a pass.

It would have been nice to see Bell lead a scoring drive.

Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7: Sooners on a tear

About a month ago, a tough loss to Kansas State raised questions about where Oklahoma was headed. Three games later, Sooner fans have their answer.

Since falling to what has turned out to be a damn good K-State team, OU has played like one of the best teams in the nation. Even if Kansas is one of the worst squads in the country, that level of execution was still on display for the Sooners on Saturday night in a 52-7 victory over the Jayhawks.

KU offered little resistance as the Sooners scored on their first eight possessions of the game. OU went up and down the field, primarily powered by the arm of Landry Jones (19-28 attempts, 291 yards, 3 TDs). Eight receivers caught passes, led by Kenny Stills’ six receptions for 90 yards and a score.

On the other side of the ball, stopping KU running back James Sims (28 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD) proved to be more of a challenge than the score would indicate. OU’s D forced three turnovers, though, and got timely stops that kept Kansas off the scoreboard until late in the contest when the back-ups had taken over.

The win sets up a blockbuster primetime game with undefeated Notre Dame next weekend that probably has the suits at the Worldwide Leader popping bottles.

The hype machine will be in full swing for a contest featuring two of college football’s elite programs that will have direct implications on the national championship race. The Fighting Irish have an unblemished record after stringing together a series of gutty wins.

If the same OU team that has been sporting the crimson and cream the last three weeks shows up for ND, the Irish will need a whole lot more than guts to come away with a win, let alone stay competitive.

Oklahoma-Kansas: What to Watch

Charlie Weis

Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) at No. 9 Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1 Big 12)
Oct. 20, 6 p.m.
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
TV: FOX Sports
Line: OU -35

It's Kansas, so Oklahoma should be able to execute at a high level and pound the Jayhawks.

KU does not present a lot of problems on either side of the ball, but here are some things to track.

1. Fullbacks

Does OU continue using its offensive formation of two fullbacks (Trey Millard, Aaron Ripkowski/Jaydan Bird) and one running back with two wide receivers that had such great success against Texas? Or, in preparation for a powerful run defense look from Notre Dame, will OU work on its sets with three and four wide receivers?

2. Defensive Line

The OU front four has had two great weeks of football. However, they had a great game last year versus Texas and then struggled after that. Will we see the same level of attack from David King, R.J. Washington, Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland when they're removed from the Cotton Bowl?

3. Focus

After a huge win over Texas last year, OU played a lackluster game against KU in Lawrence (committing three turnovers while forcing none). The Sooners then dropped a rain-delayed game in Norman to Texas Tech with a terrible defensive effort and a super-slow start by the offense.

Some letdown is understandable after a big win like the one that the Sooners scored last week, but OU needs to be hitting from an execution standpoint against KU on Saturday night. Dominate the action on both sides of the ball and continue the momentum for the ND game.

4. Empty the Bench

This is a game where OU can/should jump out to a big lead early. If so, it would be an ideal spot to sit starters and let the young back-ups get as many reps as possible, especially on defense.

OU does not have any more bye weeks. Every series that Tony Jefferson, Walker, Aaron Colvin. King, etc. are not out on the field saves their legs for the bigger match-ups coming up.

5. Big Plays

Several players seem close to making some huge plays. Keep an eye out for a big return by Brennan Clay, a punt return for a touchdown by Justin Brown, a long TD run from Millard and maybe a long TD pass to Jalen Saunders.

Game Preview: Oklahoma Sooners-Kansas Jayhawks

Charlie Weis

Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) at No. 9 Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1 Big 12)
Oct. 20, 6 p.m.
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
TV: FOX Sports
Line: OU -35

103rd Meeting: OU leads 69-27-6, including 7 straight

GAME OUTLOOK

Charlie Weis’ inaugural season at Kansas has started out with a win over South Dakota State, an FCS Division school, and losses to Rice, TCU, Northern Illinois, Kansas State and Oklahoma State… Except for the K-State game, the Jayhawks have kept the losses close, losing by a combined 27 points to four opponents.

Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist is KU’s starting quarterback… He has completed 88 of 178 passes (49.4%) for 1,088 yards with 3 TDs and 7 INTs… Weis may use two QBs as Michael Cummings came off the bench and engineered two TD drives in the fourth quarter versus OSU last week…  Daymond Patterson, his top receiver, has 19 grabs for 160 yards but no TDs, but he is questionable (concussion) for Saturday… The 'Hawks rank 49th nationally in running the ball with 179.3 yards per game and 9 total TDs… James Sims, Taylor Cox and Tony Pierson each have rushed for more than 300 yards… KU’s offense is 84th overall with 377.7 yards per game and 109th in scoring offense with 19 points per game.

The defense is ranked 91st in total yards (433.7 per game) and 77th in scoring defense (28 per game)… Linebacker Ben Heeney and safety Bradley McDougald lead the team with 50 tackles each…McDougald and cornerback Tyler Patmon each have 2 interceptions… Heeney and end Toben Opurum each have 4 tackles for loss…. The Jayhawks average only one sack per game.

Ron Doherty pulls double duty as punter and placekicker… He averages 40.5 yards per punt, but has hit only 5 of 10 field goals and 11 of 12 PATs… Tre’ Parmelee leads the team in kickoffs with a 22.9 yard average, and KU has averaged 10 yard per punt return.

The Sooners are back in the championship saddle after awesome performances the last two weeks… The offense is ranked 9th nationally in scoring, 21st in rushing yards and 32nd in passing yards… Damien Williams’ presence gives the Sooners a running attack to balance the passing game, which will be vital the rest of the way… Williams and fullback Trey Millard have stepped up as receiving weapons to a great receiving corps…  Jalen Saunders’ becoming eligible is another weapon for that corps… The front wall has been solid in protecting Landry Jones, allowing only one sack in two games after yielding 8 in the first three games.

Casey Walker’s presence at defensive tackle has improved the defensive line by plugging gaps, which is important in stopping the run mentality… He was missed the first two games… Against Texas Tech and Texas, the Sooners have given up 3 yards per carry… The starting secondary has combined for 92 tackles & 6 INTs… Linebackers Tom Wort and Corey Nelson have 19 tackles each, and Wort leads the team with 3.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage… Jaydan Bird, Aaron Franklin and Frank Shannon have been tremendous in backing up Wort and Nelson…. Bird scored the Sooners’ first safety of the year (with Tony Jefferson’s assist) when he tackled Texas’ Joe Bergeron behind the goal line.

Special teams continues to be solid for the Sooners… Tress Way averages 42.5 yards per kick… Michael Hunnicutt has connected on 25 of 27 PATs and 7 of 8 field goals, all 7 after missing the first versus UTEP… Justin Brown averages 16.3 per punt return, and OU averages 26.6 yards per kickoff return, led by Brennan Clay’s 29.7 average.

The Sooners cannot afford to take Kansas lightly and look ahead to Notre Dame next week… The Jayhawks have been contenders in each of their losses, but could not finish off their opponents… They held a 24-13 lead over Rice in the third quarter, before losing 25-24… KU trailed TCU, 10-6, at halftime, but couldn’t muster a point in the second half… The Hawks held a 23-13 lead early in the fourth quarter against North Illinois, before dropping a 30-23 decision… KU trailed Kansas State 21-14 through the first half but lost 56-16… Kansas scored 14 unanswered second-half points to overcome a 20-0 deficit to Oklahoma State.

Look for the Sooners to continue to click on all cylinders versus the Jayhawks and for the substitutes to see some action again… Stop the run and do not underestimate the pass… Execute on offense and this could be a rout.

ETC.

*OU owns a 35-12-2 series lead in Norman.  

*This week is homecoming—OU is 73-20-4 (77.3%) versus homecoming opponents; Kansas has been a homecoming foe 22 times and OU leads 15-6-1.

*OU holds a 78-18-8 overall record in the game following Texas; 29-3-3 when the opponent was Kansas.

*Stoops is 7-0 versus the Jayhawks, which is the current win streak in the series.

*Stoops is 13-0 the week after Texas with an average score of 39.8-14.5.

*OU is 12-3 on October 20th.

*KU is 6-9-2 on October 20th.

*OU and KU have met on October 20th five times; OU leads 4-1.

*Charlie Weis never played college football.

Putting Oklahoma's defense under the microscope

Mike Stoops

Mike Stoops’ return as defensive coordinator has the Sooners near the top nationally in total defense and scoring defense rankings. OU is 14th overall, giving up only 300.2 yards per game, and 20th in scoring defense, yielding 17 points per game. But let’s get out the microscope to take a more magnified view of the Sooners’ first-team defense.

*The first string played the entire game against UTEP in the opener. The Miners scored only on a blocked punt and rolled up 272 yards.

*The first-teamers played through two-and-a-half quarters against Florida A&M and gave up 10 points and 165 total yards.

*The first string played the entire game against Kansas State, yielding 17 points and 154 total yards. The Wildcats scored once on a fumble return against the offense.

*The first string gave up 13 points and 272 yards against Texas Tech through three quarters before taking the day off.

*Texas managed only 150 total yards on the Sooners’ first defensive unit and didn’t score a point. The Longhorns scored on a blocked extra point attempt, an interception early on and put up a couple of garage touchdowns against the Big Red’s reserve defense.

With that in mind, the first-string defense has yielded 8 points per game and 202.6 yards per outing. Alabama leads the nation, giving up 181.2 yards and 7.5 points per game. LSU is second in total defense, allowing 219.6 yards per game. Notre Dame is second in scoring defense allowing 8.67 points per game. The microscope hasn’t focused on the first-team defenses at Bama, LSU and Notre Dame.

But taking a closer look at the Sooners’ first-team defense, it could be the second best in the country.

Reality Rankings: Fatality edition

Mack Brown, 2012 red River Shootout

Fifty-one rushing plays. Three hundred forty-three yards rushing. Eight touches for Trey Millard for 164 total yards.  (It took three years to feed the best fullback in the nation.) It's like the Sooner coaches listened to the masses.

Whether they actually did or not, the outcome was absolute devastation in the Red River Shootout that I didn't think was possible. Everything the Sooners needed to do, they accomplished. Everything they needed to shore up, they did. Even the supposed weak link, the offensive line, dominated Texas.

OU dominated a football program backed by the richest athletic department in the nation. The Sooners dominated a team that owns the heart of the most talent-laden state in the country. They dominated a team that consistently pulls in better athletes than 97 percent of all other programs.  Defensive stats before the Stoops brothers pulled the first team midway through the fourth quarter: 140 total yards, 9 first downs, 0 points allowed. Utter. Domination.

It was like OU was playing air. Gripe about Stoops all you want, and I have done it as well, but he straight up owns Mack Brown's soul. If the Sooners played every game like they play the Red River Shootout, he'd have five national titles at least.

Nothing calms the seething masses like a beatdown of Texas. I often wondered what would keep Bob Stoops around if he never won another national title. I've found the answer: Thorough reaming of the Burnt Orange Nation.

Will this dominant victory finally vault the Sooners into the Reality Rankings?

1. Alabama (1) - Tide keep rolling over mediocre competition. Best win is against a team that beat Air Force by six (Michigan). Worst performance: Trailed against a team that Texas rolled by 35 (Ole Miss).

2. Notre Dame (3) - Leapfrogs Florida by getting a hard-nosed victory over a very solid Stanford team for the Fighting Irish's best win of the season. Worst performance: Needing a last-minute drive to beat 3-3 Purdue.

3. Florida (2) - Best win: Knocking off LSU by holding the Tigers to eight first downs and 42 yards rushing. Worst performance was this week, trailing early to a 2-4 Vanderbilt team.

4. Oregon (4) - Oregon keeps winning, but like Alabama, has only played mediocre competition. Best win was a 49-0 shutout of underrated Arizona. Worst performance: Lethargic second half in 42-25 win against 4-3 Fresno State.

5. Kansas St (6) - Wildcats continue to buckle down and win when they have to. This week, they handled their business against a tough Iowa State team. Again, they will not lose to a lesser team this season. Best win: OU at Norman. Worst performance: Trailing early against 3-4 North Texas.

6. LSU (-) - Tigers return to the Reality Rankings with a hard-fought win over South Carolina for their best win by far of the season. Worst performance: No, not their loss, but struggling to beat 1-5 Auburn.

7. South Carolina (8) - Gave the Tigers all they could handle at Baton Rouge. Almost had their best victory in years. Best win: Pummeling then-No. 5 Georgia. Worst performance: Struggling against 2-4 Vanderbilt.

8. Oklahoma (-) - The latest two dominating wins puts the Good Guys in the Reality Rankings for the first time this year. Best win: Aforementioned destruction of the universally hated Longhorns. Worst performance: Fumbling away home game to Kansas St.

9. Ohio St. (7) - Best win: 63-38 pasting of Nebraska. Worst performance: Allowing 2-5 Indiana to rack up 481 yards in a 52-49 win.

10. Oregon St (9) - Like Ohio St., not a huge amount to brag about, but going undefeated does mean something. Best win: At 5-2 UCLA. Worst performance: Struggling against 2-4 Washington State at home.

Dropped from rankings: West Virginia (5), Florida State (10)

Jay Norvell