The Wang has to start this week’s column on a sour note, as it was a rough weekend for both OU football fans and the Wang. I don’t need to get deep into the Xs and Os of last week’s OU-Texas battle, but I agree with Homerism in that it was a great game to watch. It appears as if the pollsters agree with this assessment, because OU only fell three spots to number four in the latest AP poll. I have to think this sets up well for Oklahoma so long as they can take care of business the rest of the way. This will be easier said than done, starting this week with a strong KU team.
I find it very hard to believe that one, let alone two, teams will escape this season unscathed. Wang’s biggest worry? Penn State. The Nittany Lions will have an easier road to travel than any other Big 12 or SEC team. What this recent poll tells me, though, is that OU likely sits atop the one-loss column, and since every team will have at least one loss in the end, a national championship bid is still in sight.
As far as my picks go, I wasn’t my usual proficient self this week. A 3-3 record last week was a bit of a let down. Nonetheless, I was still able to gain ANOTHER game on Homerism, who suffered through a 2-4 week.
Time to get back on the right track this week. The Wang knows his readers demand the best, so he will give it to them.
Kansas at Oklahoma (-20)
The Wang likes this game for the Sooners. Let the team get back in the saddle against a strong opponent at home. I would be a bit worried about the psychological state of the team if this was a trip down to College Station to play a terrible A&M team.
Tough to find a whole lot wrong with the play of the Sooners last week, but I will try. I will start by saying that I think the officiating was horrible for both teams. Multiple game-changing calls went against both sides. Some were judgment errors, such as the roughing calls. Some were errors in the failure to utilize replay. All in all, we deserved better officiating for a game of this caliber. Not to say that is the reason OU lost, but it didn’t help things.
Second, OU really needs to work out this special teams thing. Fast. As Homerism noted, the kickoff return for a touchdown was a MAJOR turning point in this game. OU had all the momentum and an 11-point lead, only to see it disappear because, yet again, the team can’t cover a kick. This would be the Wang’s top priority this week and for the rest of the season.
Third, the running game continues to disappoint. I wasn’t sold on the lack of a running game at the beginning of the season but now it worries me. Demarco Murray is a shell of his former self. That knee injury really seems to have put a damper on what may have been a great career. I won’t close the book on him yet, but if his confidence doesn’t return soon, I think it may be lights out. His timid running style on both offense and kick returns just isn’t getting the job done.
Which brings me to my last concern: the offensive line. Hard to blame the entire running problems on the backs, because Texas just manhandled what is supposed to be one of the best lines in the country. Phil Loadholt was overmatched all game, plain and simple. His size seemed to be a hindrance, as his lack of lateral movement allowed the Texas defensive line to be in the backfield all game.
As for Kansas, the Wang is happy he was finally able to solve the Jayhawks, albeit by the slimmest of margins. KU was up by only 2 going into the fourth quarter, but a pair of Jake Sharp touchdown runs in the final frame sealed the cover. The emergence of Sharp in the backfield seems to come just at the right time, as the Jayhawk running game was starting to hit a wall.
Todd Reesing was effective again, topping the 250-yard mark for the sixth time in as many games. The defense was stingy against the Buffalos and allowed only 233 total yards while forcing two turnovers.
I think the Sooners come out hungry in this game, looking to reaffirm themselves as a serious title contender…
The Pick: OU wins, 51-20.
Blatant Homerism: Sooners.
Baylor at Oklahoma State (-17)
Don’t look now, but tied with Texas atop the Big 12 South are the Oklahoma State Cowboys. In what may have been the most impressive victory of the week, the Pokes were able to slow down the Missouri offense just enough to come out of Columbia with an unlikely victory. I have to say that the trio of Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Dez Bryant could challenge the same combination of any team in the country. Despite being ranked in the top 20 and undefeated, OSU came into the Mizzou game as almost two-touchdown underdogs. Hard not to be simultaneously impressed and somewhat bothered by this success. It was only last week that the Wang was calling for the Pokes to prove themselves on the big stage, and that is exactly what they have done here. Congrats on a nice win--now lets see if they can sustain that momentum.
Which brings us to Baylor, a team that continues to look impressive. Baylor enabled the Wang to gain another leg up against Homerism in the battle for those delicious wings last week. A convincing victory over Iowa State snapped a 13-game conference losing streak for the Bears. Something tells the Wang that it will be a while before Baylor sees another such streak. It appears as though coach Art Briles has his team moving in the right direction. Robert Griffin continued his campaign to run away with freshman of the year honors in the conference with an outstanding performance last week, throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Griffin still has yet to throw an interception this season, a nice feat for a first-year player. Griffin added a touchdown on the ground, his sixth consecutive game doing so. Baylor also has avoided a turnover now in four consecutive games.
I think the Pokes may be in for a letdown game after the big win, and I really like how Baylor is playing…
The Pick: Give me the Bears and the points.
Missouri at Texas (-5)
As impressive as Texas looked last week, Missouri looked equally unimpressive. Many here know how the Wang felt about the Tigers heading into the game with Oklahoma State, and obviously my enthusiasm was a bit premature. Despite throwing for almost 400 yards, Chase Daniel finally looked human, throwing 3 interceptions in the second half. Leading rusher Derrick Washington was held to just 11 yards on 8 carries against the stingy Poke defense. The Missouri offense had multiple three-and-outs after going 49 straight possessions without doing so. Hard for the Wang to pin down whether OSU is that much better than expected or if Missouri was a bit overrated.
As far as Texas goes, I’m not going to sit here and blow sunshine up the Longhorns’ asses. We all know they played an excellent game and deserved the win, but I am not going to take it any further. My only warning is to be careful with that number one ranking; it seems to be a curse more than a blessing in college football these days. I will say congrats to Colt McCoy, who vaulted into the Heisman lead after a terrific outing.
I have been riding the Missouri wave all year, so why stop now? Maybe this is just me knowing OU needs a Texas loss here…
The Pick: I will take the Tigers straight up.
Texas Tech (-20.5) at Texas A&M
Thank God for the Aggies. Otherwise, the Wang may have suffered his first losing week with last weekend’s games. My strategy to pick against A&M no matter what has paid off again. will continue to do so until this plan fails.
This comes despite a somewhat lackluster performance by the Red Raiders last week against Nebraska. Tech needed overtime last week to defeat a Husker team that the Wang is not too fond of. The defense allowed 29 first downs and 357 passing yards in a game that should not have been this close. It took a colossal mistake by quarterback Joe Ganz in overtime to secure the win for Mike Leach’s squad. Graham Harrell’s 284 passing yards were his lowest total since 2006.
But, they get to play Texas A&M this week, a team that appears to be the panacea for whatever ails a college football team this year. (Don’t forget, I’m a physician.) Quarterback Jerrod Johnson did throw for 419 yards and no interceptions, but the Aggies were forced to play from behind all game. Running back Jorvorskie Lane finally made an appearance this season with a second quarter touchdown run, making him the all-time career leader at the school. Yet, this is the only ray of sunshine in an otherwise cloudy season for Mike Sherman…
The Pick: No shocker here, as I will take Tech.
Kansas State at Colorado (-3)
Kansas State last had the good fortune of matching up against Texas A&M last week, and the Wildcats took advantage. Josh Freeman had a big day, rushing for almost 100 yards and four touchdowns and throwing for more than 200 yards in the process. Hard to get a good feel of the Wildcats so far this season, as their only wins have come against some pretty pathetic competition. They have been beaten in the two times they have stepped up to face a decent team. I do like Josh Freeman, who so far this season has both rushed and thrown for 12 touchdowns each. The defense is a concerning, though, as they have allowed some big numbers and give up an average of almost 30 points per game. That average includes big wins over North Texas and Montana State.
Colorado put a bit of a scare into Kansas last week, as they played the Jayhawks close into the fourth quarter in Lawrence. It appears quarterback Cody Hawkins has taken a step back in his development. He had another subpar performance last week, completing only eight of his 22 passes, with two interceptions. He was replaced late in the game by freshman Matt Ballenger, so it will be interesting to see how long Cody’s leash is with dad sitting on the sidelines.
This game comes down to home field advantage for the Wang, seeing as I am not that high on either team…
The Pick: Colorado.
Nebraska at Iowa State (+7)
After starting the season 2-0, the poor Cyclones have dropped their last four in a row. While they were able to keep games against Iowa, UNLV,and Kansas close, they were blown out last week by Baylor. It is hard to get real excited about anything with this team, whose best asset appears to be the ability to lose games in multiple ways. They were managed 10 points against the Bears, including a late and meaningless touchdown. Austen Arnaud threw for just 176 yards on 41 attempts, and the ground game churned out a whopping 81 yards. I think Baylor just made Iowa State the new Baylor.
Nebraska, on the other hand, showed the Wang a little something, hanging close with Texas Tech on the road after a bad loss the week before against Missouri. The Huskers showed some fight going into the fourth quarter down two touchdowns, as they forced overtime with just 29 seconds left on the clock, thanks to a game-tying Joe Ganz touchdown pass. They successfully moved the ball to the tune of almost 500 total yards and held a two-to-one edge in time of possession .
I am afraid ISU may be looking ahead to next week’s big game against Texas A&M in the Big 12 “Toilet Bowl”…
The Pick: I am going with Bo Pelini and Nebraska here.