Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week 12

Once again, no time for a podcast this week. We'll be back with a vengance next week. I really promise this time.

The Skinny
(Last Week: 5-1; Overall: 36-30)

Central Florida at Tulsa (-1.5)
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (-10)
Lee Greenwood Special: Temple (+3.5) at Army
BYU at San Jose State (+3)
Ohio State at Wisconsin (-2)
Iowa State at Kansas (+5)

Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 33-33)

Ohio State at Wisconsin (-2)
Florida State at Maryland (+31)
LGS: Texas State (+13.5) at Navy
Utah State (-3) at Louisiana Tech
Northwestern at Michigan State (-6.5)
California at Oregon State (-14.5)

West Virginia, TCU struggling to adjust to Big 12

Wet Virginia

A couple of OU’s opponents in the next few weeks are having a rough time in their new home. West Virginia and TCU were expected to make some noise in their inaugural year in Big 12 football. Both schools entered the conference with some impressive credentials, but so far, they’re learning that their new conference brethren are a lot tougher.

West Virginia captured the last two Big East Conference championships prior to its Big 12 arrival. The Mountaineers also won six of the last nine conference titles. They won 77.5 percent (86-25) of their games since 2003. They finished fifth in the AP poll and sixth in the coaches’ poll in 2005. A year later, they were 10th in both polls, and they finished sixth in both polls in 2007.

WVU was thought to be a strong contender in its first year as a Big 12 member. The team returned nine starters on offense and seven on defense. Quarterback Geno Smith was touted as a Heisman Trophy contender. The Mountaineers were voted 11th in both preseason polls and media representatives voted them second in the Big 12.

West Virginia began the season with a 5-0 record, and the wheels have apparently fallen off in dropping the last four straight. The Mountaineers beat Baylor and Texas in conference play, then lost to Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma State. At 2-4, they’re already out of contention for the conference title, let alone second place. They’ve given up an average of 51 points per game in the conference so far.

TCU brought even stronger credentials to the conference. The Horned Frogs came over from the Mountain West Conference where they had won the last three conference crowns and eight since 1994. The Frogs rolled to a 127-35 (.784) record in that time span and were ranked in the top 10 four times—climbing all the way to second in 2010 after a stunning upset over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.

Hopes for TCU in 2012 weren't quite as high as they were for WVU. Although they were picked to finish fifth in the conference, the Frogs were still ranked 20th in the preseason AP poll and 17th in the coaches’ poll. They returned six on offense and five on defense from a year ago.

The Frogs began the 2012 season with four straight wins, but quarterback Casey Pachall was booted from the squad prior to the fifth game. TCU has gone 2-4 without him. However, it’s the Frogs’ defense that stinks, allowing 35 points per outing in that stretch.

It's still their first season, but the new kids on the block are learning some hard lessons about life in the new neighborhood.

Dumpster Fires of the Week: Tar Heels defenseless

Dumpster fire

Tough calls to be made with many schools going all out.

1. North Carolina D

When you see a score of 68-50 between Georgia Tech and North Carolina, you figure it's a hoops score. But no, that was an actual football game. The Yellow Jackets scored on eight out their nine last possessions as the UNC defense apparently hid in a smoldering dumpster rather than tackle anyone.

2. Illinois

In a bad Big Ten, Illinois is the No. 1 smoldering wreck. The Illini have only two wins, one over Charleston Southern, which might actually be a candy bar and not a university. It's clear now why Illinois was trying to raid Penn State for talent. The Illini have none.

3. SEC's spread dominance

The theory that you cannot beat the SEC's elite teams running the spread has taken a hit this season. Texas A&M beat Alabama, should have beaten LSU and could easily have beaten Florida. (That was Johnny Manziel's first game, remember.)

A mobile quarterback, good wide receivers and a good offensive line can put points up on any defense. So, while 255-pound linebackers try to chase Ryan Swope as a slot WR all game, let's think about the six consecutive national championships that the SEC has won:

*Two excellent offensive football teams coaches by Urban Meyer running a zone read spread attack.

*Two titles against badly overrated Ohio State teams. (Ironic in retrospect.)

*One against a Texas team missing its starting quarterback – and we now know how bad Garrett Gilbert is.

*One title with the Platonic archetype of a zone-read spread QB in Cam Newton.

*One title against itself.

I also think the five-week layoff helps defenses prepare for complex offenses and hurts spread schemes, which require timing and playing time to get in sync. (For instance, Urban Meyer has admitted that if Florida had played Oklahoma in 2008 a week after the conference championship games, the Gators would have been completely unprepared for OU's no-huddle offense.)

4. Derek Dooley's orange pants

Derek Dooley just lost a quadruple overtime game to a hapless Missouri team that actually printed up T-shirts after beating Kentucky. Dooley is apparently going to be fired any minute now, so we have to ask: Where do all the horrible pairs of Tennessee orange pants go? Dumpster fire to the rescue.

5.Tommy Tuberville losing his mind

Actually, t's easy to see how almost losing to the Weishawks would drive any coach mad, and Texas Tech somehow gave more than 300 yards rushing to the vaunted Kansas ground game while being dragged to OT.

Oklahoma 42, Baylor 34: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Strange game to review.

OU should have put Baylor away early, but a combo of missed passes and missed tackles allowed the Bears back in the game.

There are some real concerns on defense (especially run defense versus Oklahoma State), and the offense is executing but not dominating.

The Good

*The wide receivers are simply making some great plays for Landry Jones, and he's finding them for key third downs to move the chains. The catch of the day was Justin Brown right before half time. But there were excellent plays by Sterling Shepard, Jalen Saunders and Kenny Stills. That quartet is primed for a huge game next weekend against the swiss cheese-like West Virginia secondary.

*The running back corps – Brennan Clay had a nice game looking again like his high school self. Then, Damian Williams came back in and looked more like his previous self. Add in some nice pass receptions by Clay/Williams/Trey Millard and the excellent special teams plays of Clay and Roy Finch, and the RB corps is a
real asset.

*The return of Patrick O'Hara and his touchbacks are very much appreciated.

*The pass defense overall was in the right place. Baylor WRs were not running free 30 yards behind coverage all night. After last year, that is certainly good.

*A glimpse of our future offense? Was Blake Bell running for 50 yards a preview of our future offense? Defenses are spread out and so focused on our RBs/passing game that a zone read lane opens up like the blocking for Bell?

*Again, the Sooners did a good job covering an onside kick and not creating any late game drama.

The Bad

*This is the fourth game where OU has not forced a turnover in the first three quarters to extend a lead or capture momentum. The DBs are in right place, but just not making plays on the ball or just dropping interceptions – early in the game, OU almost had two or three pick-six, jump-the-route INTs). OU's not stripping the ball or forcing any fumbles. OU cannot continue to lose the turnover battle and win games.

*OU's season-long problems stopping the run out of shotgun/zone-read spread looks almost cost them the game. If Baylor had a functional defense, the Bears' run game success in the second quarter onwards could have really hurt OU. OU's defensive ends and defensive tackles are not getting any penetration, and the LBs are not making tackles.

The Ugly

*Tom Wort's horrible missed tackle in the first half on what should have been a 5-yard loss that put Baylor in 2nd-and-very long turned into a first down and Baylor driving the field, where Wort would blow another tackle on Nick Florence's scramble. That missed tackle was a huge momentum swing.

*Jones' pick into double coverage was bad. He cannot keep making rookie QB throws like this when other receivers are wide open. The back-to-back turnovers could have been deadly.

*Durron Neal's drop killed a drive for OU when the Sooners appeared ready to go up 21-3 and put Baylor away.

Darrell Royal: An Oklahoma legend, too

The man was disheveled—his hair was unkempt, his tie yanked down, dirt was smeared on his white shirt, and sweat glistened on his face. He excused himself from the throng of reporters and went behind the locker room and vomited.

The emotion of defeating his former mentor had churned Darrell Royal’s stomach, yet he composed himself to enjoy the victory. Texas had beaten Oklahoma, 15-14, in 1958, ending the Sooners’ six-game win streak in the series. Royal, in his second year as the Texas coach, had defeated his former coach Bud Wilkinson.

“Let’s don’t put this thing on a personal basis between us and Oklahoma,” Royal told reporters after he returned to the locker room. “I don’t like to see Bud Wilkinson unhappy. The game was hard fought as hell, and, boy, we’re happy now.”

Royal was a former OU star player under Wilkinson in the late 1940s. The Longhorns had defeated the Sooners in 1958 with the help of a two-point conversion, the first year the two-point rule was implemented in college football. Ironically, Wilkinson was part of the rules committee that voted in favor of the new rule.

“I obviously wasn’t very satisfied with my vote,” Wilkinson told reporters after the Texas loss.

Royal did not care for the new rule even though he ordered it after Texas’ first touchdown to take an 8-0 lead.

“I still don’t like it even though it enabled us to win today,” he said. “It’s unfair to the coaches.”

The Sooners roared back and held a 14-8 lead until Texas scored with 3:50 remaining and kicked the conversion, which was worth just one point.

A Sooner bred who became a Texas legend died Nov. 7 at the age of 88. Many believe he was a traitor when he took the Longhorn coaching job in 1957, yet he endeared himself as a Sooner football player.

Royal was born in Hollis, Okla., on July 6, 1924. He lettered for Wilkinson from 1946 to 1949. He was a star on both sides of the ball and on special teams. He intercepted 18 passes in his career, more than any other Sooner. He stole 14 passes his first two seasons alone.

As a quarterback, he led the Sooners to an undefeated 10-0 record and a No. 2 national ranking in 1949. He passed for 509 yards and ran for 189 that year. Oklahoma won back-to-back conference titles (1948 and 1949) with Royal at the helm.

Royal lost only once in 16 starts behind center—a 20-17 loss to Santa Clara in the ’48 season opener. He completed 73 of 167 career passes for 1,130 yards, tossed 13 TDs and 15 interceptions that year. Royal passed only twice in OU’s 42-0 win over Kansas State in 1947, and both passes were touchdown strikes. He also scored two TDs, one on a 96-yard punt return, against the Wildcats. Five games later, he returned another punt 73 yards for a TD in a 60-7 win over Kansas.

Royal returned 35 punts for an average of 15.71 yards per return in his career. He also punted 157 times and averaged 38.45 yards per kick. One of his punts went 81 yards against Oklahoma A&M in 1948.

Although he never scored a touchdown on an interception return, he did return a fumble for the first touchdown in a 27-9 win over Iowa State in 1947.

Royal was named All-American and to the all-Big Seven conference first team in 1949. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 as the head coach at Texas.

He led the Longhorns to three national championships (1963, 1969 and 1970). The 1970 title was split with Nebraska, as Texas got the most votes in the coaches’ poll.

In his 20 seasons at UT, Royal posted a record of 167-47-5 at Texas, which included 109-27-2 in the Southwest Conference. He won 11 SWC titles and led the 'Horns to 16 bowl games (8-7-1).

In 1996, the Longhorns’ stadium was named Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in his honor. A stadium in Texas named for a Sooner.

Oklahoma 42, Baylor 34: Bears hang around in uninspired OU win

Lache Seastrunk

Remember back when Oklahoma relished getting payback? The Sooners would bottle up their pent-up frustrations from the previous season's upset and unleash some fury on whatever squad had the misfortune of having offended them.

The OU squad that took the field on Saturday against Baylor looked about as interested in getting revenge as Lane Kiffin is in playing with fully inflated balls. The Bears, who beat OU for the first time in school history last year, made the Sooners sweat out a 42-34 win.

Even as the Bears' high-powered passing game sputtered, Baylor moved the ball consistently on the ground with its read option concepts. Baylor amassed 263 yards rushing as quarterback Nick Florence and running back Lache Seastrunk both went for more than 90 yards.

Florence used the option threat to freeze OU's defensive backs and take shots down the field. Fortunately for the secondary, he struggled to adjust to the stiff wind sweeping down the plain of Owen Field. Florence misfired on chances to hit streaking receivers on multiple occasions, which prevented the Bears from posing a more serious upset threat.

Offensively, the stats would look solid if not for the fact that Baylor may have the worst defense of any major conference team. The Sooners gained 200 yards on the game, but they demonstrated little ability to routinely line up and whip the Bears' shoddy front seven. OU occasionally snapped off a big run, including back-up quarterback Blake Bell's 55-yard touchdown burst early in the fourth quarter. Still, the Bears got solid penetration at the line of scrimmage and routinely dragged down ball carriers for short gains – 15 of OU's 39 runs went for less than 3 yards.

On a night when Landry Jones lacked his A-game, OU's offense was again saved by a bevy of talent in the receiving corps. The 'Stache spread the ball around to eight different receivers and all over the field. His most frequent target: Justin Brown, whose 6 receptions included a 35-yard TD toss from Jones with 15 seconds remaining in the first half.

More worrisome than the flaws in execution may be the Sooners' demeanor and attitude. Pundits love to fall back on a team's mystical "intangibles" when they can't explain something, but there's a lot of truth in the idea that this OU squad simply lacks a killer instinct. As was the case against Iowa State a week ago, OU let a lesser opponent hang around and had to work far harder for a win than should have been necessary. The Sooners gave the Bears plenty of help, too, as Jones threw yet another flummoxing pick and Damien Williams coughed up the ball once.

That lack of focus among college kids isn't uncommon. The problem is that it's way too common with Bob Stoops' team lately.

Next week, OU travels to West Virginia to take on a pissed off bunch of Mountaineers who have dropped four straight games. An uninspired effort like the one that the Sooners gave Saturday will end any hopes of a BCS bowl game.

Oklahoma-Baylor: What to Watch

Art Briles

Baylor (4-4) at No. 12 Oklahoma (6-2)
Nov. 10, 2:30 p.m.
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
TV: FOX Sports Net
Line: OU -21.5

Baylor is the ultimate Big 12 team from an outside perspective: wide-spread, high-scoring passing offense; defense that cannot stop anyone.

Fortunately for the Sooners, Baylor being scheduled before WVU and OSU ends up working out perfectly for OU.

Five things to watch today:

1. Return game

Baylor is pretty bad on both punt and kickoff coverage. Teams are starting to kick away from Justin Brown, but he could get a return off the Baylor coverage team. OU is again facing a team with a weak kickoff coverage team. Hopefully, OU won't be seeing that team very often.

2. Brennan Clay

Damien Williams has practiced this week, but it would not be a surprise if OU held him back for the WVU game. If Williams does not play, can Brennan Clay run with the kind of authority, speed and power that he showed in Ames? Baylor's run defense is awful and could be gashed for some big-time plays.

3. Getting the passing game going

Baylor's pass defense is awful as well. Landry Jones was really in sync last week with his wide receiver corps, spreading the ball around.

OU's passing could use another game to get in sync before WVU. WVU is just awful in defending the pass.

4. Passing defense

OU's passing defense looked shaky at times versus Iowa State and had a bad game against Notre Dame. Aaron Colvin isn' t playing very well right now.

Baylor will be the best passing game that OU has faced since Texas Tech. It's a nice warm-up prep game for both WVU and OSU coming up.

5. Defensive line

Keep an eye on the pressure from the front four and how often OU can cause pressure without blitzing. OU did not get great pressure against ISU. In fact, the front four has been in a mini-slump since the Texas game. Again, with better passing teams in WVU and OSU ahead, it would be ideal if the OU front four started showing signs of a pass rush.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week 11

Life conspired against a podcast this week. We'll be back next week, yo.

The Skinny
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 31-29)

West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-9.5)
Kansas (+25.5) at Texas Tech
Lee Greenwood Special: Army (+17) at Rutgers
Utah at Washington (-2)
UCLA at Washington State (+16)
Iowa State at Texas (-10)

Blatant Homerism
(Last Week: 3-3; Overall: 30-30)

Baylor at Oklahoma (-20)
Texas A&M at Alabama (-13.5)
LGS: Army at Rutgers (-17)
Oregon (-28) at California
Iowa State (+10.5) at Texas
Tulsa (-2.5) at Houston

Game Preview: Baylor Bears-Oklahoma Sooners

Baylor (4-4) at No. 12 Oklahoma (6-2)
Nov. 10, 2:30 p.m.
Owen Field (Norman, Okla.)
TV: FOX Sports Net
Line: OU -21.5

Series: OU leads, 20-1.


The nation’s No. 1 passing team and total offense will be in Norman Saturday and it’s not OU… Baylor leads the nation with 581.5 yards per game—392.1 of those come through the air on average… Yes, Robert Griffin III is now in the NFL, but quarterback Nick Florence is scorching opponents by completing 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,019 yards with 25 TDs and 11 INTs… He also leads the country in total offense as he has added 279 yards and 5 TDs with his feet… The offensive line has improved, allowing no sacks in the last two games after giving up 13 in the first six… The Bears’ four starting receivers have combined for 171 receptions for 2,777 yards and 21 TDs… Terrance Williams leads that pack and the nation with 71 grabs for 1,340 yards and 10 TDs… Baylor has churned out 189.4 yards per game on the ground… Glasco Martin is the leading runner with 83 carries for 468 yards and 6 TDS… The Bears also rank 6th in scoring with 43.7 points per game.

Baylor’s defense is its weakness as the Bears rank dead last nationally in total yards allowed (527.2 per game)… That breaks down to 97th in rushing defense (200.6 yards per game) and 118th in passing defense, yielding 326.6 yards per game… The Bears have allowed 39.1 points per game to rank 114th in the country in scoring defense… Linebacker Bryce Hager and nickelback Ahmad Dixon lead Baylor with 73 tackles apiece… Dixon also leads the team with 2 INTs… Ends Chris McAllister and Terrance Lloyd have 3 sacks each.

Punter Spencer Roth has averaged 43.8 yards per kick… 10 of his 22 boots have landed inside the 20-yard line, and six times he has nailed punts for 50+ yards… Levi Norwood is the Bears’ punt return specialist with 8.3 yards per return… Antwan Goodley and Darryl Stonum have combined to return 26 kickoffs for an average of 19.8 yards.

Weather will definitely be a factor with high winds expected (20-30 mph) for Saturday… This should be interesting for two teams that like to fling the ball around… It also will affect the kicking game… Working the ball on the ground will be the key… The Bears have gained 4.8 yards per run, but Oklahoma has surrendered 4 yards per carry… The Sooners hopefully have removed the kinks from opening holes last week as Brennan Clay had a career day (24 attempts for 159 yards and 1 TD) versus Iowa State, and they’ll need another top performance against da Bears… If Damien Williams (sprained ankle) is unable to go, Clay will be ready and possibly Dom Whaley will see some action… OU has gained 5.2 per carry, while Baylor has given up 4.7 per tote.

Left tackle Tyrus Thompson did a great job last week replacing Lane Johnson and protecting Landry Jones’ blind side… Johnson remains questionable for this Saturday… Jones had a great day (32 of 45 for 453 yards with 4 TDs and 2 INTs) and he was not sacked and hurried only twice.

OU’s secondary played well, but the unit wasn't consistent last weekend… Interference and holding calls amounted to 61 yards in penalties… Tony Jefferson continued to show his big play ability (9 tackles, 1 INT and 1 pass broken up), but he got away with a couple of hits leading with his helmet.

The Sooners’ defense can’t get complacent if the team gets a lead… After OU took a 35-13 lead last week, the Cyclones drove 75 yards for a touchdown and threatened with another drive, but Jefferson saved the day with his pick.


*OU is 12-3 on November 10th, including 11 straight wins.

*BU is 4-11-1 on November 10th.

*OU and Baylor met once on November 10th, with the Sooners prevailing, 52-21, in 2007.

*Baylor has a turnover margin of +8 in its four victories and -11 in its four losses.

*OU has a turnover margin of +4 in its six wins and -4 in its two losses.

*Baylor has scored 15 TDs on drives of one minute or less; 25 in two minutes or less.

*Baylor has never been ranked coming into a meeting with Oklahoma.

*The Sooners marked a first in school history when they played Baylor in 1973. Three players rushed for more than 100 yards—Joe Washington (113), Waymon Clark (113) and Steve Davis (110) did it in a 42-14 rout of the Bears.

Sooners' bowl scenarios intriguing

Bob Stoops

The Sooners’ 35-20 win over Iowa State raised their record to 6-2 and qualified them for bowl eligibility. If OU keeps winning, a BCS berth is a possibility.

The Sooners have Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and TCU remaining. Win out and it could be interesting. Lose a game or two and it’s off to a bowl with less prestige.

Some of the websites that make projections each week are hinting at some fun match-ups:

*The Sporting News and ESPN’s Brad Edwards have the Sooners playing South Carolina, with TSN projecting the Cotton Bowl and Edwards saying the Sugar. The media loves to put a label on everything, so I can see this being called the “Visor Bowl.” Steve Spurrier versus Bob Stoops. The “Ol' Call Coach” butting heads against his former defensive coordinator.

The Gamecocks are currently 7-2 and have games remaining against Arkansas, Wofford and Clemson. OU and South Carolina have never met on the gridiron.

* and ESPN’s Mark Schlabach have the Sooners playing LSU, but in different bowls. CFN has OU and the Tigers in the Cotton Bowl, but Schlabach has them matched up in the Sugar Bowl.

It would be interesting to see a show of hands of those in Oklahoma who like Les Miles. He coached at Oklahoma State for four years and had the Cowboy faithful full of hope by turning the program into a winner. In the 11 years prior to his arrival in Stillwater, the Pokes were a paltry 48-83-3 with only one winning season and bowl appearance (1997). Miles was 28-21 during his four-year tenure with three winning seasons and three bowl games. He pissed off the Poke fans when he left to take the LSU job in 2005. He hacked off Sooner fans with his arrogance.

Miles won his first two meetings against the Sooners in 2001 and 2002. Prior to the ’03 game, OU was ranked atop all the polls with an 8-0 record and OSU was 14th in the BCS poll with a 7-1 mark. In his weekly press conference, Miles was quoted as saying that OU was the best team in college football “so we’re told." He also added: “Next Saturday two teams are going to play. One is maybe the best team in college football and the other one is a darn good football team. We’re going to play to figure out which one is which.”

The Tigers have Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas remaining on their schedule.

*'s Jerry Palm and Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel have picked the Sooners to meet Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Of course, the media will be all over this with highlights of the 2008 national championship game, which Florida won, 24-14. I think Sooner fans have seen enough of Tim Tebow for a while.

The Gators are currently 8-1 with Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State and Florida State waiting in the wings.

*Jason Kersey, OU beat writer for The Oklahoman, wrote that if OU becomes BCS-eligible, the Sooners could face Kansas State or Notre Dame in a rematch in the Fiesta Bowl. This scenario would be a stretch, since college football’s brass doesn’t like rematches.

*One scenario that has been mentioned would be OU-Nebraska in the Rose Bowl. This would be fun as the media would be all over it with replays of past meetings between the historic rivals. Since the inception of the Big 12, OU-Nebraska lost some of its luster even before the Cornhuskers left for the Big Ten.

The Huskers are 7-2 with Penn State, Minnesota, and Iowa left on their schedule.

BlogPoll: Tide roll up to No. 1


*Alabama's victory over LSU last weekend constitutes the best single win of the year for any team. I don't view the Crimson Tide's overall schedule as being superior to No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Kansas State, but it's strong enough. When you factor in the Tide's level of dominance over every team not hailing from Baton Rouge, it says enough to me about their body of work to elevate 'Bama to king of the hill.

*Oregon looks great and may have the best chance of any team out there to beat 'Bama in the national title game. That schedule just doesn't do much for me.

*I make it a point to respect head-to-head results as best as possible. Specifically, if two teams have similar records and have played each other, I have a general rule that I will vote for the winner. Thus, Georgia has to be in front of Florida, depsite the Bulldogs' clearly inferior level of competition. Same goes for Kent State and Rutgers.

*Even if Ohio State was bowl-eligible, I just don't think the Buckeyes' strength of schedule (Sagarin: 55) really holds up to the leading challengers. That team could be preseason No. 1 in 2013, though.

*While there's no shame in losing to the Nos. 2 and 3 teams in the country, I had to push Oklahoma below LSU and South Carolina, chiefly because both of the Sooners' losses came at home. If OU keeps winning, the Sooners will end up with a top 10-caliber resumé.

Dumpster Fires of the Week: Les is less

As much fun as it has been listing Colorado and Allburned every week here, college football finally presented some other worthy candidates this time around.

1. Les Miles' decisions on Saturday

Can we skip the Mad Hatter moniker and just go with plain mad? Miles' fake field goal call, onside kick attempt and horrible decision to go for it on 4th-and-1 with a horrible play call kept Alabama in the game, allowing 'Bama to escape Baton Rouge with a win when Saban's team was badly outplayed on the field. MIles just wasted the best passing game from an LSU quarterback in three years.

2. Jeff Tedford's Cal tenure

Jeff Tedford is apparently part Kirk Ferentz's complex Ponzi scheme. Tedford makes more than $2.3 million and has Cal on the hook for a nearly $7 million contract buyout. Tedford's Bears have been average the last five years and now have dipped into the world of bad and a losing season.

For those interested, Tedford is selling his home if anyone wants a $5.35 million mansion with a Cal Bears logo basketball court.

Apparently even Tedford knows his gig might be up soon.

3. Tennessee D

So, let's be clear here. An SEC defense – you know, home to the greatest defenses in college football, the only place where real defense is played – gave up 700 yards of offense to Troy. Not the 2004 USC team with Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and a host of NFL players. Troy, as in the school formerly called "Troy State." 

And this "win'" is somehow supposed to save Derek Dooley's job?

4. Mike Patrick and Ed Cunningham

How in the world are these clueless assclowns paid to broadcast football games? Their bias to Iowa State in the game with Oklahoma over the weekend was beyond anything that I have ever heard. Their lack of knowledge of college football and Oklahoma was shocking.

My favorite part was when the Ambiguously Clueless Duo decided that Dan Marino would have been a great fit
in the Oregon spread option running attack. That would be the same Dan Marino who had about -250 yards in his college career.

Everything OU did was bad. Everything ISU did was brilliant. We got in-depth features on the ISU linebacker not playing and how great the Cyclones punter is. Cunningham's insights were so off-target that I'm honestly concerned that they were drinking in the booth.

5. USC Defense

Southern Cal has a defense pretty much loaded with four-star and five-star prospects. USC gets who it wants from California and poaches the rest of the country.

However, Oregon turned USC's defense into something resembling WVU's by scoring at will. The stats are absurd: 730 yards total offense, one punt, more than 400 yards rushing and 300 yards passing.

It's one thing to give up 62 points after a turnover-laden effort with defensive and special teams touchdowns. But Oregon pretty much drove the field for every touchdown. Sometimes, you run into an offense that is a match-up problem either running or throwing the ball, and you just get caught scheme or personnel wise. But a total inability to stop the run or pass? That's sure-fire Dumpster Fire defense.

Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 20: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Oklahoma-Iowa State 2012

Hard to be overly critical with a good road win over Iowa State. Oklahoma seems to be rounding into form on offense for an ending similar to 2010. There are some cracks on defense, but hopefully OU can get improved play from some key guys in this last stretch run.

OU has a significant prize out there to be seized: Most BCS projections have the Sooners in a BCS bowl if they can win out, especially after the second loss suffered by Boise State.

The Good

*Brennan Clay has had a tough OU career, with two terrible head/neck injuries ruining his first two years. He has looked tentative and hesitant at times. He had a bad game against Notre Dame with a couple of drops. However, there have been times this season when finally healthy that Clay has looked like his old self from high school.

Clay had a great game Saturday. He ran with authority, balance and power. He made something out of nothing several times, made guys miss and rarely went down due to the first defender. He had the intelligence to get out of bounds to allow OU to throw deep to get the touchdown before halftime, and he sealed the game with a great run on 2nd-and-16 that led to a makeable third down and Landry Jones ending the game via the victory formation.

*I cannot be the only Sooner fan wondering where OU would be if Jalen Saunders had been eligible from day one and OU had started the season with Saunders in the slot and Kenny Stills and Justin Brown on the outside. Add in a heavy dose of Sterling Shepard and some nice plays by Durron Neal and Trey Metoyer, and it's not a stretch to say that OU probably has the best WR corps in the Big 12. There was maybe one drop from the WRs all game, and they made four clutch catches for TDs. It was a balanced performance by a group that might challenge Bob Stoops' best by the end of the year.

*At times Saturday in the second half, it seemed like Tony Jefferson was the only defender making plays. Jefferson had the interception that helped ice the game. He made numerous big hits (legal hits, as well) and tackles. He's the only playmaker on the Sooner D right now.

*Even without Lane Johnson, the offense put up nearly 200 yards rushing and over 400 yards passing. You cannot do that unless your line is executing at a high level. The OL kept Landry upright all game, with the only real pressure coming from a bust by redshirt freshman Farniok. They provided running room for Clay in the second half and iced the game with a nice blocking effort on 3rd-and-4.

*The defense in the first half was excellent. OU basically stoned ISU, save for some penalties for first downs and field position set up by the two INTs. OU stuffed the run completely and got pressure on Steele Jantz.

*Landry's overall passing was excellent. He distributed the ball and made some great throws on third down.

The Bad

*Aaron Colvin – I don't know what's happened to the guy who dominated the Texas Tech game and was all over the field versus Texas. Colvin is usually in the right spot, but cannot make a play and is attracting damaging pass-interference flags. He needs to get things straight, because the defense badly needs the playmaking Colvin back for the three passing attacks coming up.

*Second-half D (at times) – OU was up 21-6 and seemed to have the game in control. Then, the OU defense gave up a quick, "soft" TD drive to ISU featuring two long runs. It was vaguely reminiscent of the kind of TD drives that Brent Venables' teams had been giving up for years.

OU has been unable to combine offensive and defensive momentum to put teams away.

The Ugly

*Landry's first INT – Landry is still making these kinds of terrible decisions after three years of starting. It was the kind of INT you don't expect your three-year starter to throw.

*Landry's slide – Landry needed to get six yards to move the chains and end the game. I have no idea what he was thinking sliding before making sure he was past the yardage marker. I don't know why he slid to begin with instead of diving for the yardage.

It was the kind of "dumb'" football play from a senior QB that drives OU fans crazy. With that first down, the game is pretty much over, ISU never gets the ball back and Jefferson's INT would never have been needed.

*Just like Colvin's decline in play, all of a sudden, Gabe Ikard is having critical problems snapping the football. It cost OU badly last week versus Notre Dame, killing a great first drive and then making OU's last real attempt to stay in the game a farce.

OU got lucky with a penalty on one of them, otherwise a scoring drive would have ended. The other one nearly gave ISU life in a game that should have been over. It's a real concern that needs a resolution.

Oklahoma 35, Iowa State 20: No letdown, which is good

A year ago, Oklahoma suffered a disappointing November loss to Baylor that essentially ended the Sooners’ hopes of playing for a national championship. The Sooners zombied their way through a win over Iowa State a week later, portending an abominable end to the season.

OU once again played ISU coming off its second loss of the season, but the historical parallels pretty much ended there. The Sooners didn’t give an A+ performance in a 35-20 victory over the Cyclones on Saturday. However, in the wake of last week’s defeat at the hands of Notre Dame, the Sooners looked sharp enough to ease any fears that they have checked out on the season.

OU doesn’t have the best offense in the country – that unit resides out in Eugene, Ore. OU’s performance Saturday offered evidence that the Sooners probably do have the deepest complement of offensive weapons, though.

OU finished the game with 34 first downs and just shy of 600 yards in total offense. Even though he threw two frustrating interceptions, Landry Jones still lit up the ISU defense to the tune of 405 yards passing, completing 32 of 45 attempts. Jones connected with three different receivers on his four scoring passes, and a total of nine players had catches on the day.

The most encouraging development for the Crimson and Cream might have been the play of junior tailback Brennan Clay. With leading rusher Damien Williams limited due to an ankle injury, Clay toted the rock 24 times for 157 yards and a back-breaking touchdown in the second half.

The story on the other side of the ball was Tony Jefferson, who continues to excel under defensive coordinator and secondary coach Mike Stoops. One whiff aside, the junior safety provided tremendous run support in addition to his usually stellar work patrolling the middle of the field. His nine stops once again led the Sooners in tackles, and his interception of a Steele Jantz pass late in the fourth quarter essentially snuffed out any hopes of a Cyclones comeback.

Yes, it was only Iowa St. Beating the ‘Clones won’t get anyone to sit up and take notice.

Still, OU has a great shot at a BCS bowl game if it can win out. Saturday, the Sooners gave no indications that they’re just playing out the string.

Sooners Recruiting Update: Drought season

Bob StoopsStill no new verbals. OU had an interesting month of October with a big win over Texas Tech and dominating performance in Dallas that was witnessed by a host of top Texas 2013 recruits and perhaps an even larger number of 2014 Texas kids. It was easily the best list of recruits OU has ever gotten to Dallas to see OU smash the Horns. Then OU arranged a second grouping of recruits to watch OU lose in the fourth quarter to Notre Dame.

I think OU is close on several kids, but the seal is not broken yet. It’s frustrating for OU fans, but the Sooners have gone through verbal droughts like this in the past.

Verbal Commitments: 11
(Class Size: 24 to 26)

D.J. Ward, DE
6-4, 235, 4.6

Hatari Byrd, DB
6-2, 195, 4.55

Matt Dimon, DE
6-4, 255, 4.8

Dalton Rodriguez, OT
6-6, 255, 4.8

Stanvon Taylor, CB
5-11, 175, 4.4

Cody Thomas, QB
6-5, 220, 4.6

Ahmad Thomas, SS
6-0, 200, 4.5

Jordan Mastrogiovanni, LB
6-3, 225, 4.75

Jordan Smallwood, WR
6-2, 195, 4.55

Austin Bennett, WR
6-0, 170, 4.45

Keith Ford, Texas
5-11, 200, 4.5

Commitment Predictions

QB: Cody Thomas

RB: Keith Ford

WR: Courtney Gardner, Jordan Smallwood, Austin Bennett


OL: Dalton Rodriguez, Na’Ty Rodgers, Christian Morris, Sean Dowling, Josiah St. John

DT: Justin Manning, Toby Johnson, Quincy Russell, Josh Augusta

DE: D.J. Ward, Matt Dimon

LB: Jordan Mastrogiovanni, Mike Mitchell

DB: Stanvon Taylor, Hatari Byrd, Ahmad Thomas, Dominique Alexander, Lamar Robbins

Mid-term players: Gardner, Ward, Johnson, St. John, Russell

Position Updates (Projected Number)

*QB: Thomas has continued his awesome senior year. He’s a one-man gang out there, showing an elite arm and good mobility to be effective in some QB run game action. His upside/ceiling looks elite. He may not get a bump in rankings, but anyone who has seen Thomas play this fall has commented on how awesome he looks. OU has the best HS QB from Texas in this class.

*RB: Ford is having an awesome year. Some fumbling problems, which need to stop, but looks to easily be locking up the label of best RB in Texas. He’s showing power and home run speed.

Is Greg Bryant back in play for OU or not? I think unless Bryant schedules an OU visit soon, this idea is a non-starter.

*WR: OU has two excellent verbals in Smallwood and Bennett. With Derrick Woods redshirting along with the arrival of Courtney Gardner, WR is pretty set. I think the only kid in play is Laquon Treadwell. Treadwell is a special talent that you have to keep chasing if he’s still talking to OU.

Laquon Treadwell (6-3, 190, 4.5) – Treadwell was unable to visit OU due to HS playoffs. Does this visit happen? If Treadwell takes his visits, then a decision could be close to signing day.

*TE: For a while it’s been JUCO Beau Sandland or bust at TE. But previous HS target Mitchell Parsons has decommitted from Colorado and OU could get reinvolved.

Beau Sandland (6-5, 250, 4.7) – Sandland has visited Norman already, but based on interviews it looks like either Nebraska or Arizona State. Stlll the ND game highlighted how much OU needs a power TE who is a receiving threat in the gaps of a Cover 2-type defense as well as giving OU that seventh blocker to run on teams dropping six or seven defenders.

Mitchell Parsons (6-5, 230, 4.6) – A top-flight HS TE who shows great ability to get downfield. Would be a great addition to OU’s young TE corps.

*OL : No Matt Beyer, so OU has one verbal in Dalton Rodriguez, who is not playing OT this fall at all. He’s having a very strong season at DE (like a "why move him to OT?" season), but he’s certainly not bulking up or playing OL.

Since Aug. 1, OU has lost three OL players (Latu, JMM, Dismuke). The number of OLs needed is around five.

While many Sooner fans are clamoring for JUCOs, the reality is that OU will return their nine out of its top 10 OL next fall. JUCO mid-term slots are tight, and any JUCO OT worth a slot is going to want more of a starting opportunity than competing with redshirt juniors who were starters the year before. JUCO OTs/OGs makes much better sense for 2014. (If OU could find an August enrollee at OT who is willing to redshirt or that had three years to play, that would be great.)

What OU needs are HS OT/OG prospects. At a minimum, OU has to sign three OTs and one OG. Anything less is an outright numbers failure at the position. The real concern right now: I’m going to list eight names (three are verbaled to UCLA, one to Duke), and the only one who might be an OU lean is Rob Boyd, who OU has not offered as of yet.

Patton and Kittle need to ABC (always be closing) like madmen this fall and lock down some of these kids. To repeat, OU HAS to get three more OL guys who are HS prospects or this class is a critical failure. Kenny Lacy is off the board completely, but Sean Dowling might be more of a target.

It’s getting critical for OU to get some OL kids verbaled.

Na’ty Rodgers (6-5, 280, 5.0) – Rodgers is an excellent OL prospect who is very physical and athletic. Could easily play inside as well. OU has a connection to his dad, who was at OU for a year before leaving during the Gary Gibbs probation era. Dad is friends with Jamelle Holieway and still talks up OU. The OU-centric OL for the Redskins isn’t hurting, either.

Rodgers just visited for the Kansas St. game, and all signs indicate that OU is firmly in this battle. Rodgers has a big Sooner connection with his dad, and now that he has experienced Norman, it might put OU over the top.

Caleb Beneoch (6-6, 320, 5.2) – Former Michigan State verbal commitment who has decommitted and is now receiving big-time offers from OU and UT. Big, physical body who can play inside or outside. Beneoch visited UT for the West Virginia game and fell back in love with the 'Horns. Despite witnessing the shredding of UT, it looks like he’s back to being a 'Horn.

Rob Boyd (6-4, 290, 5.0) – OU is not offering Boyd. I have no idea why. There’s isn’t a single young interior OL on campus, save for Ty Darlington at center.

Sean Dowling (6-6, 265, 5.2) – Another UCLA commitment OU is after. Dowling has been committed to UCLA since the summer. Dowling visited for the KU game. OU might really be in play for this tackle prospect.

Aaron Cochran (6-7,330, 5.3) – A big RT prospect from California who is still on the OU radar. He is visiting for the Baylor game. Cal, where his brother plays, may not be the leader everyone thinks. Jeff Tedford might be in trouble this year.

Christian Morris (6-6, 295, 5.1) – Another UCLA verbal who has blown up in recruiting. OU has offered and will try and get him on campus. He’s a big athlete who again looks like he could be a great LT/RT.

Sterling Korona (6-7, 255, 5.0) – No offer yet. Beyer’s HS teammate is currently committed to Duke. Korona was a former basketball player who has just recently focused on football. He has a huge frame and wingspan for OT. Excellent athlete, but very raw at OT.

Christian Daimler (6-6,280, 5.1) – No offer yet. Daimler’s senior year film shows a player who is much much improved in pass protection to go along with his physical play in the run game. It’s almost night and day in the quality of his film. His film is the reason why you wait to offer kids as seniors.

Desmond Harrison (6-8, 310 5.2) – A tall, mobile JUCO prospect who could turn into an absolute star. Unreal ceiling. OU has a visit scheduled for the OSU game.

Josiah St. John (6-6, 310, 5.2) – Just visited for the ND game. He has an OU offer. OU will definitely be in the JUCO OT's final three.

Clay Rhodes (6-5, 280, 5.1) – OU evaluated Rhodes in spring, but he verbally committed to Missouri before OU offered. OU has evaluated Rhodes based on his play this fall and offered. He has not decommitted from Missouri.

*DT: OU is still in a holding pattern on Manning and Toby Johnson.

Manning saw OU smash UT in Dallas and saw the ND game. Manning seemed ready to decide, but will probably hold off for couple more weeks. Johnson is still talking about taking some final visits in December. OU managed to get Greg Gilmore on campus for the ND game. OU appears to be trailing LSU and Florida, but the Sooners did everything possible to close that gap.

While the senior DTs have done a good job this year, OU’s defense really appears to need that playmaking DT who plays in the opponent’s backfield. Manning or Gilmore could be that guy in the near future, while Toby Johnson is the best bet for an immediate impact guy at DT for 2013.

Justin Manning (6-3, 280, 4.9) – Demarcus Granger’s younger brother. He looks faster and more explosive than his brother. OU needs to lock him up. He looks like he’s going to be a big time dominating DT. He’s talking about taking his time. Apparently the timing of OU’s offer annoyed Manning. He still seems pretty excited about OU and was annoyed that he missed the OU spring game. He could be the next great Sooner DT. He’s easily the best DT in Texas.

DeAsian Richardson (6-3,285, 4.9) – Like Manning, it’s easy to see Richardson being able to play both DTs spots for the Sooners. Your typical big, mobile, physical SEC-region DL. Richardson verbaled to WVU, but an OU visit is still on the schedule. I could really see OU flipping Richardson if that visit happens.

Greg Gilmore (6-4, 285, 4.8) – Next to Manning he’s probably the best bet for an impact freshman DT.

Josh Augusta (6-5, 280, 4.8) – This name has been listed before and removed. Augusta indicated he didn’t want to leave the area, but now he is talking about visiting OU again. So raw, but such a high ceiling and upside.

Toby Johnson (6-3, 300, 4.9) – Might be the best JUCO DT in the country. From Georgia originally, but not placed in JUCO by any school. OU’s never offered a JUCO DT this early. SEC schools are the biggest challenge for OU as Johnson might want to return to that region. He’s visited Norman, and Jackie Shipp is certainly pulling out every stop to get Johnson. A coaching change at Tennessee could really help OU land Johnson. Also, Shipp needs to convince Johnson that the OU 4-3 scheme is ideal for him to excel, as opposed to UGA’s 3-4 scheme where he would be forced to play DE.

Quincy Russell (6-4, 310, 5.0) – Former UT verbal who had grade issues and went JUCO. UT seems uninterested in resigning him, and OU is evaluating him at DT. Russell has amazing athletic ability for his size, but still continues to disappear for stretches.

Maquedias Bain (6-5, 290, 5.0) – A huge DT prospect who could also end up on the OL. Bain is set to visit for the OSU game. He could easily be an OL guy as well.

Deadrin Senat (6-2, 300, 4.9) – An FSU verbal who has decided to reopen his recruiting. Senat may end up back at FSU, but he would be a great interior anchor for the OU DL. As long as he is open, I can see OU staying involved.

*DE: Does OU need one more DE? Bobby Jack Wright struck three-star gold with Charles Tapper and Michael Ouonha, who are both on campus and look like future elite DEs. Dimon is having a great senior year so far, and D.J. Ward will be enrolling early, giving him a huge chance to be a factor at DE next fall. OU just hosted Dimarya Mixon, and it would not be a huge surprise to see him switch to OU. He also might be a DE/DT hybrid like David King or Frank Alexander for OU.

Dimarya Mixon (6-4, 255, 4.75) – Could be a DE, but he could also outgrow DE and move to DT like Adrian Taylor. Or like David King be a big DE on running downs and move inside as a pass rusher on third-and-long. Still verballed to ASU, but he saw both the UT and ND games recently.

Randall Gregory (6-6,235, 4.6) – A JUCO DE whom OU offered earlier in August. Gregory is a placement by Purdue, but he’s now decommitted. He’s a got a huge wingspan and excellent speed. Does OU need a JUCO DE?

Torrodney Prevot (6-3,210, 4.6 ) – He’s verbaled to USC, but has a trip to Norman scheduled. Some question if he’s an OLB or a DE. Supposed to visit OU for the OSU game. His rating might be in a bit of a decline.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (6-3, 220, 4.6) – OU just offered this kid, per Twitter traffic. His teammate Torrodney Prevot who is committed to USC is more highly rated, but some folks who have watched their first games lately think Ogbonnia looks better than Prevot. His offer list in the last week has exploded. He’s verbaled to OSU right now. Another witness to OU abusing UT for the second year in a row.

*LB: This position in preseason looked like it needed more numbers, but overall things seem okay with the young LBs Frank Shannon, Aaron Franklin, and Eric Striker looking pretty good. In addition, OU is barely playing any three-LB formations. OU could definitely use another HS LB, though. The ND game and the Sooners' struggles against some power running teams would seem to indicate that OU needs an upgrade at LB to a more physical every-down presence.

E.J. Levenberry (6-3, 235) – Okay, he’s verbaled to FSU and didn’t seem to have any real interest in OU after Brent Venables left for Clemson. However, Tim Kish and Bob Stoops went back to Levenberry. Levenberry is the kind of physical frame OU wants in an every-down LB. He visited for ND, but this is looking like a case where he will stay with FSU.

Devante Bond (6-3, 230, 4.6) – JUCO star from Pierce Community College. Kish will need to figure out if this JUCO addition makes sense, but it would be the ultimate insurance against an injury to Corey Nelson or Tom Wort (who is starting to show a tendency for being hurt). The only problem is that I’m not sure Bond can play MIKE LB for OU.

D’vante Henry (6-5, 215, 4.5) – Westmoore grad who was an amazing athlete with bad academics. He’s apparently a mid-term graduate and has had productive years in JUCO. The upside is very high, but needs to add some weight to his frame. Enrolling early would allow for that development over winter and summer.

Mike Mitchell (6-4, 225, 4.55) – Is he a DE or big OLB? OU is probably trying to figure that out as well. He has visited OU unofficially already in August. An official visit during an upcoming home game before he decides is very likely.

Dominique Alexander (6-2, 195, 4.55) – The most recent in-state offer, Alexander is having a great senior year as a playmaker on defense. He’s very similar to Eric Striker. LB or safety? OU will worry about that later.

Jordan Evans (6-3, 205, 4.6) – Every year it seems that there’s an in-state prospect who comes on strong his senior year and forces OU to re-evaluate its stance. Evans could be the kid this year. Son of Sooner DT Scottie Evans (too bad he’s not 6-4, 290 like his dad), Jordan as a junior was only 6-1, 180. He’s now added nearly 30 pounds and grown two inches. He had a great Sooner summer camp and has started his senior year with big plays on defense. He probably has the frame to carry 225 pounds easily now.

*DB: Three down, two or three to go.

Why does OU need three safeties in this class? The back-up behind Tony Jefferson is Jesse Paulsen, a senior walk-on. The backup behind Gabe Lynn is Julian Wilson, who is also the primary dimeback. OU’s playing five DBs all the time and six DBs on third-and-long almost all the time, so OU needs to reload the secondary numbers. Mike Stoops has a great three-player class going and just needs to get some official visits from his remaining targets.

Mike right now appears to be have improved as a recruiter significantly since his last tenure at OU. Both Foreman and Harris visited for the KSU game, and both kids enjoyed their visit. It sounds like OU might be close on Foreman to getting a verbal. Harris is rumored to be a big-time Gator lean, but in a weird coincidence, Harris’ dad was coached by Bob Stoops at UF. So, there’s a family connection there.

OU appears to have dropped L.J. Moore and Johnny Johnson due to concerns that both really want to stay out west. And Cole Luke in a surprise chose ND.

Mike appears close to fine tuning this final list.

Tyler Foreman (6-2, 195, 4.5) – Does OU need a third big safety? Foreman visited for KSU, and OU appears to be out in front. Distance may become an issue.

Lamar Robbins (6-3, 185, 4.45) – One of the top big CBs in Florida. Very similar to OU CB Gary Simon. Mike has made great progress in getting him to consider OU. OU fans should be loving the thought of an OU secondary loaded with top DBs from Florida and California. Robbins is giving indications that OU leads and is just waiting for the official visit to verbal. Was supposed to visit for ND, but got derailed due to weather.

Marcell Harris (6-2, 208, 4.55) – The best safety on the board. Big hitter would be an ideal strong safety for OU. He has family connections back to Florida, so he’s likely a Gator, but he has visited UT and OU.

Leroy Clark (5-11, 180, 4.45) – A smaller DB, but he apparently has an OU offer and is very interested in the Sooners. On film, he’s a fast, agile slot WR, punt returner and CB.

Podcast: Picks Trying Not to Suck and Notre Dame in Review

The Skinny joins BH for their weekly handicapping podcast, covering some of the week's biggest games. Then, they delve into Oklahoma's disappointing loss to Notre Dame.

Skin and I touch on:

*The overall psyche of the program and Sooner Nation.

*OU's inability to run the ball in big games.

*Does Bob Stoops need to consider changing up his offense/staff?

*The Sooners' scheduling philosophy.

*And more.

(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-Iowa State Cyclones

Steele Jantz
I call this one "Blue Steele."

No. 12 Oklahoma (5-2) at Iowa State Cyclones (5-3)
Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, Iowa)
Nov. 3, 11 a.m.
Line: OU -12

Series: OU leads 69-5-2, including 13 straight wins


Iowa State has run 296 passing plays and 294 running plays – you can’t get more balanced than that… Quarterback Steele Jantz leads the Cyclones’ aerial attack by connecting 125 of 188 passes (66.5%) for 1,219 yards with 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions for a 133.5 rating… Jantz was benched for a couple of games after a lackluster performance versus TCU in the fifth game… Jared Barnett was not impressive replacing him, so Jantz was reinstated to the starting role versus Oklahoma State two games later… Aaron Horne is the leading receiver with 34 catches for 316 yards and 2 TDs… Chris Young is second on the squad with 27 receptions for 293 yards… Wide receiver Josh Lenz and tight end Ernst Brun have each scored four times and pulled in 18 passes each… Shontrelle Johnson is the leading rusher with 343 yards on 82 totes and 1 TD… ISU is 87th in total offense (369.4 yards per game) and 83rd in scoring offense (25 points per game).

The Cyclones’ defense will be without one of their starting linebackers Saturday… Jake Knott will be sidelined the rest of the year with a shoulder injury that required surgery Monday… Knott, a two-time Big 12 defensive player of the week this year, leads the team with 79 tackles, six behind the line of scrimmage, and 2 INTs… Fellow linebacker A.J. Klein is second on the team with 67 stops… Klein was named the Big 12’s co-defensive player of the year in 2011, sharing the honor with OU’s Frank Alexander.

The secondary is solid… Free safety Jacques Washington leads the team with 3 INTs and is fourth with 51 tackles… Strong safety Durrell Givens is third with 52 stops, and he has 1 INT and 5 fumble recoveries… The defense is ranked 37th versus the run (135.1 yards allowed per game), but 101st versus the pass, yielding 267.4 yards per game…. ISU ranks 26th in scoring defense, giving up 19.8 points per game.

Punter Kirby Van Der Kamp has averaged 42.9 yards per kick, and 21 of his 49 boots have landed inside the 20-yard line… Horne is the punt return specialist and has an average of 17.7 yards per return, but no TDs… The Cyclones average 15 yards per kickoff return—Jarvis West leads the way with a 19-yard average, but no scores.

Tackle Lane Johnson and halfback Damien Williams both suffered ankle sprains and are questionable for the Sooners this week… This would be horrible news versus a big opponent, but their back-ups (Tyrus Thompson and Dominique Whaley) are capable of taking care of business if necessary.

The Sooners should bounce back with a win over the Cyclones… A win last week might have made this a tougher game for Oklahoma to be fired up about, but a loss to Notre Dame gives the Sooners more incentive to play well this week… Landry Jones now has another weapon at his disposal—Jalen Saunders, who tied Ryan Broyles’ school record of 15 receptions in a game last week… Jones should have a tremendous day versus the Cyclones’ weak pass defense.

OU’s defense is ranked 11th nationally in pass defense (167 yards per game) and 16th in scoring defense (17.4 points per game)… The secondary should be able to lock down the receivers, taking away Jantz’s aerial game, thus forcing ISU to run the ball, which is not its strength.

The Cyclones’ two home losses were tight contests… Texas Tech held a 14-13 lead going into the 4th quarter, but outscored ISU 10-0 in the final 15 minutes… Kansas State escaped with a 27-21 victory… If it comes down to the fourth quarter, OU will need to find a way to win, which it failed to do versus Kansas State and Notre Dame.

The Sooners still aren’t bowl eligible… If they play with a purpose, they should get a big win over the Cyclones… If not, they might have to wait another week to qualify for the postseason.


*OU owns a 33-2-1 record in Ames, including 20 straight; the last time the Sooners lost in Ames was in 1960.

*OU is 12-3 on November 3rd, including nine straight wins.

*ISU is 7-7-1 on November 3rd.

*OU and ISU have met twice on November 3rd with each getting a victory on that date (ISU 13-0 in 1938 and OU 34-17 in 1973).

*Since 2004, OU is 20-0 coming of a loss.

*This game will be telecast to about two-thirds of the nation.

*ISU quarterback Bret Oberg tossed 4 TD passes and scored two more in a 43-40 loss to the Sooners in 1989.

*ISU linebacker Chris Moore recorded 27 tackles in a 38-0 loss to OU in 1986, according to ISU’s record book.

*OU’s Wahoo McDaniel kicked a 91-yard punt versus Iowa State in 1958, which was aided by a 35-mile-per-hour wind. The Sooners won that game, 20-0.

*Steve Owens rushed for 248 yards on 53 carries and scored 4 touchdowns to lead the Sooners to a 37-14 win over ISU in 1969.

*Ryan Broyles caught 15 passes in a 52-0 win over the Cyclones in 2010.

Dumpster Fires of the Week: All hail "Allburned"

dumpster fire

There's one unstoppable, raging dumpster fire threatening to engulf all challengers for the rest of the year.

1. Allburned

When you give up 63 points to Texas A&M at home after holding LSU to 13 points earlier in the year, your team has completely quit. I'm not sure how Gene Chizik survives this dumpster fire of a season.

2. Colorado

Oregon dropped 70 on the Buffaloes without even trying. In fact, the Ducks spent most of the third and fourth quarters trying not to score more points.

The only remaining drama in this dumpster fire is whether Jon Embree survives the ongoing disaster.

3. Texas

UT is having a bad season, but at least the offense was scoring points against bad teams while the defense was giving up points and yards at a record pace. However, when the vaunted Kansas defense and the fighting Weishawks require that UT call upon back-up quarterback Case McCoy to win a game, the UT offense has truly reached a new nadir.

David Ash looked awful in this game, and the UT offensive line failed to convert a 4th-and-goal at the 1.

4. Tyrann Mathieu's draft stock

The Honey Badger just got busted for marijuana possesion along with three former LSU teammates.

Why Mathieu didn't already declare for the NFL draft and lock down an agent and training program after his explusion from LSU is just crazy. Now, Mathieu has severely hurt his NFL draft status after showing that his treatment program with John Lucas in Houston is doing no good - a serious red flag for any NFL team that drafts him.

5.  Dave Christensen's career

A thousand apologies to Dumpster Fires of the Week readers. How this epic meltdown from the Wyoming coach missed the top five last week is a crime.

We're going to be seeing this one on Sportscenter for years down the road. Unless the FCC intervenes. The sheer number of f-bombs  along with the line "Look at me, Mr. Fucking Howdy Doody!"

Christensen has been suspended and is probably going to be fired. 

Defending the Oklahoma State Juggernaut

Brandon Weeden
It has become a bit of a punchline among Sooner fans, but the Oklahoma State Cowboys truly are one of college football's team on the rise. In fact, you could argue that aside from Oregon, no major program in the country has enjoyed the same level of sustained gains on a year-to-year basis as OSU in recent years.

If the 2011 team isn't the Pokes' best ever, it has to be damn close. OSU's calling card is its high-powered offense, so let's take a look at what OU is dealing with in the latest edition of the Bedlam Rivalry.

Scouting Report

Graybeard Quarterback

The good news for the Sooners: Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys' AARP quarterback, will not beat you with his legs. He has decent enough feet in the pocket, and when he steps up there, he's typically throwing strikes. He's not an extend-the-play, elusive signal caller by any stretch, though.


The rest is mainly bad news. Weeden has a live arm that enables him to make all the NFL-caliber throws. He's accurate, too. Despite his "escapability," or lack thereof, he doesn't panic much in his drops.

Not Just Justin

Led by All-American Justin Blackmon, who's apparently making his final appearance in Stillwater, Weeden has a strong receiving corps to throw to. Blackmon can use his imposing size to outmuscle defenders and attack the ball on any number of routes.

OSU's other pass catchers are solid, providing complementary pieces to Blackmon. Josh Cooper and Tracy Moore definitely won't blow anyone away with their raw ability, especially when compared to their top-flight teammate. They will, however, bite you in the ass if your defense ignores them to stop Blackmon.

Underrated Running

The passing game puts up big numbers, but OSU runs the ball far more efficiently than it is generally given credit for. The Pokes rank second nationally in Rushing S&P+ and are sixth in the country on standard downs, according to Bill Connelly's S&P+ numbers at Football Outsiders. OSU is averaging more than 5 yards per carry, with sophomores Joseph Randle (5.82 YPC) and Jeremy Smith (6.58) leading the way.

OSU's running game feeds off of its vaunted passing attack. It is much better leveraging what the defense is doing to slow down the pass than it is working in a vacuum, but that's why it's operating at such a high level this season. Catch-22.

Game Plan

Looking at the Football Outsiders numbers, OSU's offense presents a conundrum. There is a relatively significant discrepancy between the S&P+ rankings (fourth overall) and Brian Fremeau's drive-based FEI+ (24th).

It could be that FEI+ uses a greater discount factor in this case than S&P+. The FEI+ ranks the overall strength of the defenses faced by OSU 66th in the country. If that is the case and it's simply a matter of quality of competition, OU has the most defensive talent of anyone the Pokes have faced since Texas. So there's that.

Setting all that aside, what's the best way to slow OSU's offense down?

On a meta-level, the Cowboys' big-play ability sticks out more than anything else. Roughly 20 percent of the Pokes' drives average at least 10 yards per play, good for 12th in the country. On the other hand, at just more than 15 percent, OSU ranks 46th in Fremeau's "methodical drives" stat, which reflects drives of 10 plays or more.

That screams "umbrella coverage," especially when you consider the Sooners' penchant for giving up big passing plays.

OU generally loves to cheat on early downs to stop the run. The danger in that is that Weeden will use that aggressiveness to beat the Sooners off of play-action. If I'm Bob Stoops, OSU's backs don't scare me nearly as much as Weeden hitting Blackmon time and again one on one on fade routes with no safety help.

This seems like a good occasion to break out the three-man front that OU used with greater frequency earlier this season. That gives OU a chance to get personnel better-suited to stopping the pass on the field and could minimize the loss of Ronnell Lewis. I'd ease up on early downs a bit and try to encourage the Pokes to nickel and dime down the field. On passing downs, rather than relying on the down linemen to get pressure, I'd run delays and zone blitzes at Weeden from different angles on the field.

I realize what I'm advocating here isn't that exciting, and it's not particularly exotic, either. It is, however, at least the start of a solid plan for potentially slowing OSU.

OU won't be able to shut down the Pokes – get that out of your head right now. Keeping the score manageable, however, isn't too tall of an order.

Reality Rankings Top 10: Week 13

"You wanna crown them, then crown their ass!"

It looks like the brainwashed media will most likely crown an SEC team as BCS Champion. It's hard for people to think logically sometimes. They parrot the same lines about SEC superiority, it bounces within the bubble and forms an environment of epistemic closure. Pretty soon, bias becomes reality, and everyone marches in lockstep.

Yeah, the SEC has had the last five BCS champions, but what does that have to do with this year? Alabama has dominated within the SEC bubble, but who on the outside have the Crimson Tide been tested against? The fifth-best team in the Big 10, Penn St? Kent St.? Have they faced a truly elite passing offense?

Oklahoma St. has one loss, like Alabama, but has done it with the fifth-toughest schedule. Alabama's strength of schedule is ranked 24th. These facts fall by the wayside because of one argument: The Tide played LSU tough. "Tough" defined as not being able to kick a field goal and holding a merely above-average LSU offense to 9 points.

Unfortunately, there aren't many other teams stepping up to the plate. Stanford is worthy with one loss and a better win (USC) than Alabama's best win (Arkansas), but for some reason it's sacrilege to even to consider Stanford.

If only Oklahoma would have handled its business. It's my opinion, but I'm confident that the full-strength OU team that destroyed Texas and Kansas St. would give anyone from the SEC a nightmare beyond their belief.

Here are this weeks' rankings not participating in SEC circle jerks:


1. Louisiana St. (Last week: 1) – Destroyed No. 3 Arkansas, 41-17. I see no way possible that the Tigers do not make the BCS title game, even in this wacky season. It would take them getting beat by more than 20 in the SEC championship, and I think that is close to impossible. BCS title game chances: Almost certain. Would they deserve it? Yes. They've shown very little weakness all year.

2. Oklahoma St. (3) – Cowboys have five wins over teams with winning records. Perhaps would be undefeated without the big distraction of the plane crash that took the lives of the Cowboy family. BCS title game chances: Possible. Computers are not an issue and should place them above 'Bama with a Bedlam win. In order to convince the voters, will likely need a impressive win against OU and a Virginia Tech loss in the ACC championship to have a decent shot. Would they deserve it? Absolutely. OSU offense would give any defense all they could handle.

3. Alabama (2) – Easy victory in the Iron Bowl against Auburn. Maybe you guys don't realize this, but the Crimson Tide have only three wins against teams with winning records, and that includes a 7-5 mediocre Auburn team. 'Bama's best win is probably Arkansas, which has only two wins against winning teams and struggled against the likes of Navy at home. BCS title game chances: Probable. Would they deserve it? Hell no. Their resume is highly overrated by the swooning media. And you know what? They already had their shot at home against LSU and blew it.

4. Stanford (5) – Beat Notre Dame, 28-14. BCS title chances: Virtually impossible. Without any more games the computers and voters have no reason to improve their standing. LSU would have to lose by more than 30 points and OSU must lose to even give the Cardinal a sniff. Would they deserve it? Barely. Stanford opponents are 70-75, but the Cardinal won't beat themselves and have the muscle to run against the SEC.

5. Houston (6) – Impressive 48-16 win over Tulsa. On par or better than what OU, OSU and Boise St. did against the Golden Hurricane. BCS title game chances: None. Even with a win in the Conference USA championship game, there's too much resistance by the voters, and the Cougars' computer rankings are way too low. Would they deserve it? Yes. Any undefeated team in the FBS does.

6. Boise St. (7) – Broncos' opponents have a cumulative record that is one of the best (71-55) and have seven wins against FBS teams with a winning record. That's more than anyone in the top 10.

7. USC (10) – Crushed Pac-12 championship participant UCLA, 50-0. Beat Oregon 38-35 last week to overtake the Ducks in the Reality Top Ten.

8. Oregon (8) – Look to be Rose Bowl-bound after taking care of business in the Civil War and drawing UCLA in Pac-12 championship.

9. Virginia Tech (9) – Will take on Clemson in the ACC championship game in an attempt to avenge the Hokies' only loss. Extremely weak resume won't allow them to pass Stanford in the computers and makes them undeserving of BCS title shot.

10. Oklahoma (-) – Six wins against opponents with winning records. However, only team in top 10 with a loss to a team with a losing record (5-7 Texas Tech).

Dropped from rankings: Arkansas (4)