It seems like OU and Missouri are on a collision course for the Big XII championship game this year in Kansas City? I know it's early, and I know teams destined for the national championship game seem to find ways to lose, but these two teams seem almost unbeatable thus far.
OU looked about as dominating as I could have hoped in tearing apart Washington last week. I just loved the opening drive, as OU pounded the ball down the throats of the Husky defense. It was almost as Stoops was saying, "Here we are, and we are going to run it up the middle. Go ahead and stop us." The offensive line has looked scary so far this year, just manhandling the opposing defenses.
I am also having a hard time trying to determine which offensive star has shined brightest through the first three games. The obvious choice would be Sam Bradford who has 12 touchdown passes against just 17 incompletions so far. Nonetheless, I love watching Ryan Broyles play. He is like Mark Clayton reincarnated. Small, fast, good hands, and as agile as they come. I also can't ignore the play of Jermaine Gresham either. It was pointed out on the broadcast after Gresham caught his first TD how well he plays in both the running and passing game. It was his block that sprung Chris Brown for a big gain one play earlier. Then, Gresham was able to line up in the slot and beat the defender for an easy touchdown. I am afraid this year will be the last we'll be seeing Mr. Gresham in an OU uniform.
Following up on last week's column, I had the pleasure of watching the episode of "Hole in the Wall" starring the portly lady friend I mentioned. Safe to say she did not disappoint. Surprisingly, though, her team won! Thank God for Tivo. The Wang household enjoyed many laughs as our friend was pummeled by the wall…. "Oh Crap!"
No OU game this week, so on to the teams in action this week.
Kansas State at Louisville (+3.5)
The Cardinals were able to rebound after a blowout loss in week one to rival Kentucky by blowing out Tennessee Tech two weeks ago. Looks like a visit from a Football Championship Subdivision team is what Steve Kragthorpe's squad needed. Hunter Cantwell appeared much more comfortable in this matchup, throwing for 200 yards and two touchdowns, while the Cardinals added 234 yards on the ground. Louisville still managed to turn the ball over twice against an inferior opponent, though.
Speaking of inferior opponents, Kansas State has begun their 2008 season in typical fashion by blowing out two less-than-stellar opponents in North Texas and Montana State. Hard to take away anything of real substance in these two K-State scrimmages, but Josh Freeman has looked impressive. He has accounted for nine touchdowns in the first two games so far this year after, including throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns in the last game. The defense held Montana to less than 200 yards total offense for the entire game while forcing four turnovers.
We should know a little more about both these teams after Wednesday, but it's hard to forget Louisville's opening week performance...
The Pick: I am going with the Wildcats in this one.
Blatant Homerism: Cards straight up.
West Virginia at Colorado (+2.5)
The Wild Wang won't lie. He loved watching the Mountaineers get rolled two weeks ago by East Carolina. Was it personal? After watching West Virginia end last season with a convincing win over Oklahoma and begin this season by blowing out Villanova, yes, it was personal. Pat White looked very average in throwing for only 72 yards. He was able to rush for 97 yards, but did so on 20 carries. West Virginia was held without a touchdown for the first time since 2001. The WVU defense was unable to force a turnover and looked equally helpless against the run and pass, allowing 143 and 243 yards, respectively.
Colorado looked less than impressive in a 31-24 victory in their last game against Eastern Washington. Freshman phenom Darrell Scott was held to 39 yards rushing, including 22 yards on one carry. It took a fourth quarter comeback in the last two minutes to ensure the Buffs would be able to avoid an embarrassing defeat. Cody Hawkins did look good, though, throwing for three touchdowns. But the defense did allow over 300 yards passing.
The Wang has a feeling the Colorado crowd will be serenading the Mountaineers to a little "country road, take me home" before this one is over...
The Pick: Buffs win straight up.
Baylor at Connecticut (-13)
Remember when UConn needed overtime just to get past Temple? Then remember last week when they held Virginia to 31 yards rushing in a 35-point win? Not many people also remember that the Huskies shared the Big East title last year with West Virginia, losing the head-to-head tiebreaker. Running back Donald Brown torched the Virginia defense for 206 yards on the ground, plus three touchdowns. This after going for 214 yards the week before. Quarterback Tyler Lorenzen was efficient in completing 13 out of 15 passes. Hard to tell what's what here. Is Temple better than people think? Is Virginia just that bad?
Baylor, on the other hand, made good on the Wang's promise last week of an easy cover over Washington State. I don't have the room to get into how bad Washington State is this year, so let's discuss Baylor. Freshman QB Robert Griffin has looked pretty good in his two starts so far this year, leading Baylor to a pair of 40 point outbursts, the first such scoring explosion since 1994. Are the Bears finally better this year? Or, are the two wins just a product of terrible competition?
I like what Griffin brings to the Bear offense, and I am not sold on UConn yet…
The Pick: Two week in a row, Wang likey Baylor.
Buffalo at Missouri (-34)
Oh Boy…. Here we go. Where is Harry Hamlin when you need him? We have a real "Clash of the Titans" to look forward to this Saturday. Buffalo is coming off an improbable comeback victory over Temple. The last-second Hail Mary ended a game that saw three lead changes in the final two minutes. QB Drew Wiley threw for 348 yards and three touchdowns, one of those going to receiver Brett Hamlin. No truth to the rumor, though, that Brett and Harry are related.
I think by now everyone who reads these pages knows how I feel about Missouri. I will agree with Homerism in that I am not quite sold on the defense yet, but the offense looks unstoppable. Chase Daniel was able to pile up 400 yards passing and four touchdowns touchdowns, all before leaving in the third quarter. I think it's safe to say Jeremy Maclin is completely healthy after catching six passes for 172 yards and three scores. Nevada was able to pick up 180 yards on the ground last week against the Tigers' suspect defense.
Hard one to call here, since I'm confident the Bulls can put up some points. At home, though, I think Missouri is good for at least 55 points and the cover...
The Pick: Mizzou.
Miami (Fl.) at Texas A&M (+4.5)
Despite falling by 23 points to Florida, the Wang came away impressed with the Hurricanes. Coach Randy Shannon seems to have things moving in the right direction in Miami. Robert "Don't Call Me Brett" Marve made his first career start at quarterback and managed only 69 yards passing. But, when you consider last year's starter was just benched at Baylor of all places, Miami fans can't be too disappointed. Miami was able to stay close for three quarters with the Gators and made them earn a tough win. Moral victories are often said to be for losers, but something can be said about the way Miami played in their last game.
On the other hand, we have a real disaster brewing down in College Station. After an inexplicable loss to Arkansas State in the opener, A&M was able to squeak out a victory in their last game against mighty New Mexico. Starting QB Stephen McGee went down early with an injury, and his status remains up in the air. But backup Jerrod Johnson performed admirably when called upon in tossing three touchdown passes.
While Miami may not have turned the corner quite yet, they are closer than the Aggies are...
The Pick: Miami.
BH: The U.
Rice at Texas (-30.5)
Texas needed two fourth quarter touchdowns to break open a relatively close battle with UTEP in its last game two weeks ago. The Miners were within two possessions heading into the final period before a Colt McCoy TD pass and defensive touchdown widened the lead. McCoy was again impressive, passing for 282 yards and four touchdowns. He seems to be more comfortable this year with an improved offensive line. Texas remains a team in the Big XII no one seems to talk about much with the emergence of OU and Missouri, but this may be Mack Brown's best team since the national championship run.
Rice is 2-1 so far this year, with their only loss coming last week to a better-than-expected Vanderbilt team on the road. The Owls were still able to rack up more than 400 yards in total offense, and they were quite balanced in doing so. So far, Rice has been able to gain more than 400 yards offense in each of its three games, while averaging 45 points per game.
What am I getting at here? Texas will win this game and it likely won't be close. But Rice will score some points. And this spread is huge...
The Pick: I am taking Rice here.
Sam Houston State at Kansas (no line)
What can I say about Sam Houston State? They haven't played in three weeks. Their mascot is a bearkat, and, no, I didn't spell that wrong. Their one win this year came against a school called East Central, which I would have told you was a high school in Tulsa, Okla., prior to researching for this column. Oh yeah, their quarterback is a guy named Rhett Bomar.
Kansas lost a tough matchup at South Florida last week on a last-second field goal. Todd Reesing was able to rally the Jayhawks from a 14-point fourth quarter deficit, only to see a freshman kicker win the game as time expired. Both quarterbacks combined for over 700 yards passing, and the KU running game never got going. The Wang came away impressed with a KU team that could have gone away quietly once the Bulls went up by two TDs. They don't call them the Fightin' Manginas for nothing...
The Pick: The Fightin' Manginas take down the Fightin' Bomars this week.
Massachusetts at Texas Tech (no line)
A couple things you can take away from the Massachusetts game last week. First, they allowed only 85 yards passing; could be a good sign heading into this week against Tech. Second, and probably more important, they got blown out by James Madison.
It was business as usual for Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree last week as Texas Tech rolled over SMU. Harrell threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns, while Crabtree made eight catches for 164 yards and three touchdowns. You would think this would leave head coach Mike Leach pleased, but not so. "Still not good enough," Leach said after the game. Too many poor throws and dropped passes for Leach's liking. Tough to ask for much more than 700 total yards offense, but Leach is right, insofar as small mistakes won't cut it against OU and Texas.
I think the Minutemen will live up to their name this week, as that's about as long as this game will be close...
The Pick: Tech in a blowout.
Iowa State at UNLV (-2.5)
Well, at least Iowa State covered the spread last week. In doing so, they were able to put whopping 5 points on the scoreboard, including 2 given to them at the end of the game. This leaves Iowa State still looking for its first road win under Gene Chizik. Not a good stat as they travel to Sin City. Two Iowa State QBs combined for three interceptions without finding the endzone, and leading rusher Alex Robinson averaged barely over three yards per carry on the ground.
UNLV, on the other hand, is coming off an impressive upset victory over Arizona State in Tempe. UNLV had lost 21 of its last 22 games coming into this game, but a Phillip Payne touchdown toss with 18 seconds left sent the game into overtime, where Kyle Watson kicked the game winning field goal. A blocked ASU field goal proved to be the difference for coach Mike Sanford's squad. UNLV used a balanced attack and mistake-free football to upset a Sun Devil team that may have been looking ahead to its next game against Georgia...
The Pick: Iowa State's road woes continue. Give me the Runnin' Rebs!
BH: Iowa State straight up.