Welcome back, faithful readers, to this week's version of Buffalo Wild Wang's weekly Big XII picks. Safe to say it has been a good week for the Wanger. The Bills sit alone atop the AFC East after starting the season 3-0. The birth of little Wangette, Version 2.0, is quickly approaching. And finally, television watching is reaching a peak as college football, the NFL, new episodes of "The Office," new seasons of both "The Amazing Race" and "Survivor," and the new MTV Real World/Road Rules challenge all fight for a spot on the Wang's Tivo.
Glad to see Abe back on the challenge. Unfortunately, Abe has vowed NOT to fight anyone this year, ruining the only reason he should be on a challenge in the first place. Also good to see Derrick back for more fun. I like to compare Derrick to Brett Favre. Every time you think you have seen him on his last challenge, he shows up again a year later. The new "Survivor"-type rules for this challenge are sure to offer some can't-miss television moments.
Luckily for the Wang, there was no OU game last week--urologically saving lives would have prevented me from watching the action. Without a game to review, on to the picks...
TCU at Oklahoma (-17.5)
I think Mario Puzo said it best when he wrote in his best selling 1969 novel, The Godfather, that "revenge is a dish best served cold." No need to rehash that fateful September day in 2005, but that's not to say it has been forgotten. TCU comes into Norman looking to repeat its major upset of the then seventh-ranked Sooners. Stoop's Troops have had an extra week to prepare for this game, and I think its safe to say that Bob has reminded these guys a few times what happened in the last visit.
While "power" conferences such as the Big East and the Pac-10 continue to limp through the season, the Mountain West has quickly started to make some noise on the college football landscape. Three teams have started the season 4-0 and find themselves ranked in the top 25 of both major polls. TCU was able to sneak in at #24 this week after dismantling SMU 48-7 last week. Quarterback Andy Dalton has yet to throw a touchdown pass this year, but he has managed to avoid big mistakes, throwing only one interception. His damage comes mainly on the ground as he has rushed for five touchdowns while averaging more than five yards per carry. Leading rusher Ryan Christian also carries an impressive 4.6 yards per carry average to complement Dalton.
What may be most impressive about this TCU squad, though, is the defense. This game promises to be a classic battle of the immovable object vs. the irresistible force. This year's OU squad leads D-I football averaging 54.7 points per game (side note: three of the top five scoring teams in the country reside in the state of Oklahoma), while TCU boasts one of the nation's top defenses, giving up only 7.8 points per game. Last week against SMU, the Horned Frogs allowed only 210 total yards for the entire game, 218 of them coming through the air. Yes, that means the defense held SMU to a total of negative eight yards rushing for the game. Let's not forget this team held Adrian Peterson to a measly 63 yards with a 2.8 yards per carry average in the upset.
I like Oklahoma coming off the bye week here, and I like the fact that the team has had a week to rest and prepare for this game. A blowout here against a solid top 25 team could really send a message to the rest of the country. While I am sure there was some game-planning for upcoming games against Baylor and Texas this week, the majority of the time was spent on TCU, because this is a solid team that has the capability of pulling off another upset. The problem is this year's Oklahoma team is better than the 2005 version. Most importantly, the quarterback position isn't a question mark, with Sam Bradford playing again this year at an unbelievable level. There are few, if any, holes and weaknesses in this year's team on either side of the ball, and the Wang likes what he has seen thus far...
The Pick: Revenge will be the theme of the weekend and OU gets it here, 38-10.
Blatant Homerism: Sooners.
Army at Texas A&M (-28)
Do I have to do this? Really?
Quick quiz: What team can we find to play Texas A&M to ensure the Aggies are four touchdown favorites? Got it--Army.
Yes, Army has started the season 0-3 by losing each game at home by an average margin of 21.7 points per game. The three losses have come against the likes of Temple, Akron, and New Hampshire. The offense has managed to score a total of 20 points so far this season. The passing game is nonexistent, and the running game barely averages 3 yards a carry.
But it's not like the Aggies are much better. Texas A&M has fallen to 0-2 at home after a blowout loss last week to Miami. QB Jerrod Johnson's stats don't look terrible after throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns, but his team was playing catch-up the entire day. Running back Mike Goodson has been about the only bright spot this year, as he leads the team in both rushing and receiving. I have to think Mike Sherman is beginning to second guess his decision to take this job. The pressure in College Station will only get worse.
A&M is bad, but Army is worse. The Aggies need someone to beat up on, and I think this is the team to do it...
Colorado at Florida State (-5.5)
After two blowout victories to start the season, there was talk that Bobby Bowden's Florida State Seminoles might be on the comeback trail to college football dominance. That all went away after last week's game against Wake Forest. Nothing went right for FSU, as they were only able to manage three points while turning the ball over an astounding seven times. The quarterback combo of D'Vontrey Richardson and Christian Ponder completed a whopping 33 percent of their passes for 118 yards. The running game could only muster 108 yards. The defense did keep Riley Skinner and the Wake offense out of the end zone, and something can be said for that. Nonetheless, the overall performance was putrid.
Colorado, on the other hand, is coming off a nice win against an obviously overrated West Virginia team last week in overtime. It was a freshman running back who did a lot of the damage for the Buffaloes again, but not highly rated Darrell Scott. Rodney Stewart put up 166 yards on the ground last week. The defense did give up over 300 yards rushing against the Mountaineers, but held Pat White to just 43 yards passing. ho here thinks White will soon become the next Brad Smith of the NFL? his is a tough game to call considering it is being played in Jacksonville.
I am not yet sold on FSU, who has proved playing at home doesn't necessarily translate into playing better football...
The Pick: Wang likes the Buffaloes.
Arkansas at Texas (-27.5)
The Wang does not like Bobby Petrino. The Wang also does not like Texas. The Hogs have not exactly looked like world beaters so far this year after squeaking out victories over Western Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe. Then, they were blown out last week by Alabama. Arkansas has a tough stretch of games after traveling to Austin, including match-ups against Florida and Auburn. The Bobby Petrino magic hasn't rubbed off on an offense that is averaging just 23 points per game. Casey Dick was harassed all day and threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Alabama was also able to gain over 300 yards on the ground against a suspect Arkansas defense.
Texas made a loser out of the Wanger last week, demolishing Rice 52-10. Colt McCoy continues to impress with both his arm and his legs after throwing for 329 yards and four touchdowns and adding 83 yards and another score on the ground. The Texas defense also answered the bell, holding Rice to just 17 yards rushing. The pass defense still has to work out some kinks before going up against OU after allowing 300 yards through the air.
The Wang isn't going to be fooled twice. This is a rivalry game against an inferior opponent; an opportunity Texas won't let slip away...
The Pick: I got the 'Horns.
Troy at Oklahoma State (-17)
The Sooners will not be the only team from Oklahoma looking to exact some revenge this week as Troy makes its way to Stillwater. It was last year when the Trojans laid a beating on the Pokes, 41-23, in a game that was never close. Troy was coming off two blowout losses of its own at the time, and OSU fans were SURE last year was the year of the much talked about Poke turnaround.
This year, Troy comes in at 2-1 after losing last week to Ohio State 28-10. Troy was able to hang with the Buckeyes and went into the fourth quarter down only four points. The offense wasn't able to put up much of a fight against Ohio State, accumulating only 318 total yards on offense and converting on 33 percent of their third downs. Sophomore quarterback Jamie Hampton has proven to be a duel threat so far this season, running for about 40 yards per game. The defense was able to hold Ohio St. to 309 yards of total offense, but Terrelle Pryor was able to make the throws when they counted. I don't think I am going out on a limb here by saying that a Beanie Wells-less Ohio State team doesn't have the offensive firepower of Oklahoma State.
The Pokes continue to put up big numbers, albeit against teams such as Missouri State. Nonetheless, Zac Robinson currently sports a robust 179 passing efficiency rating, and Kendall Hunter leads the Big XII in rushing by a healthy margin. The Pokes have the kind of team this year that has to worry Sooner fans as a potential stumbling block on the road to the BCS championship game...
The Pick: I like the Pokes to continue putting up big numbers here and cover.
Virginia Tech at Nebraska (-7)
An intriguing match up this weekend in Lincoln as the Hokies invade Nebraska. The Huskers sport an impressive 23-6 record in night games at Memorial Stadium. The Virginia Tech passing game has been horrendous this year and doesn't figure to get any better this week, as Nebraska returns Anthony West and Rickey Thenarse to the starting secondary from injury. Add that to the fact that the quarterback play has been woefully inconsistent ,and starter Tyrod Taylor is dealing with an injured ankle. We may be looking at a long day for Tech. The Nebraska run defense is allowing just 77 yards per game on the ground thus far, but the competition hasn't quit measured up to what they will see Saturday night.
Look for Virginia Tech to force QB Joe Ganz to throw the ball in order to put points on the board, as the run defense seems particularly strong this year. If Tech is able to slow the Nebraska run attack and get some good pressure on Ganz, as I suspect they can, Nebraska will have problems.
The Wang expects a good tight game here with the Huskers pulling out a close one thanks to home-field advantage…
Louisiana-Lafayette at Kansas State (-20.5)
The Kansas Sate running game hit a wall last week in their loss to Louisville, when they were only able to rush for 30 total yards. The rush defense didn't help the cause either by surrendering an astonishing 303 rushing yards. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Ragin' Cajuns rank second in the Sun Belt Conference in team rushing, averaging just over 250 yards per game. Lafayette is coming off an impressive win over Kent State in which they gained almost 700 yards total offense, thanks in large part to dual-threat quarterback Michael Desormeaux.
This game does not interest the Wang...