Even the greats have off nights. What makes them great is their ability to come back the next night and dominate. And that’s exactly what the Wang has planned after a disappointing performance last week.
A quick update on the CBS situation developing here in Buffalo. The Wang was again forced to take in the Bills game this past weekend via radio thanks to the ongoing dispute between the local CBS affiliate and its parent company. For the past two weeks, we have been treated to a barrage of college sports coverage instead of regularly scheduled CBS programs. This is great if you are a fan of Memphis women’s soccer, Stanford volleyball, or ironically enough, Tulsa football, but not so great for the average Western New York viewer.
A quick rundown of last week’s OU game:
The Wang made a few points after the Texas game regarding flaws I had seen in the Sooners during the loss. Let's go back and see how the team responded this week against Kansas in these areas. After all, a championship team stands out by its ability to improve from week to week.
My first gripe came with the special teams. Mike Knall’s 37.2 yards per kick average isn’t great, but Kansas was unable to return a punt all day. Whether this is a function of a short kick or great coverage I am not sure, but it is promising nonetheless. After allowing a 42-yard return on the first kickoff, the OU coverage team actually performed quite well. Take out that one return and Kansas doesn’t even average 14 yards a return for remaining five kickoffs. Couple this with Matt Moreland finding the end zone for a touchback a few times, and the Sooners maybe on to something. Now Jimmy Stevens… Let's just say he still needs some improvement. I sure hope he has things figured out by the time OU needs a field goal at the end of a close game.
My next complaint regarded the running game. I think the Sooners showed their greatest improvement here. OU rushed for over 200 yards as a team, including 175 combined yards from Chris Brown and Demarco Murray. Don't forget the 8 yards added by Matt “No One Wants to Catch the" Clapp. Murray had a few decisive and powerful runs that hopefully point to an increased confidence level that he can carry the rest of the season.
What about the offensive line? Kansas does not boast the same kind of defensive line that Texas does, but they are still a top 20 team with good athletes up front. The previously mentioned 200 yards rushing and zero sacks allowed are a drastic improvement from the Texas game and a sorely needed shot in the arm for this crew, who were beginning to garner an appropriate “overrated” label.
As the great Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” The Wang likes what the Wizard of Menlo Park has to say here, and so he will try once more for a perfect week of Big 12 picks.
Oklahoma at Kansas State (+19)
The Wang felt last week’s Kansas State/Colorado game would be a close one and that the game would be decided on home-field advantage. Unfortunately for the Wang, the home field was good for just one point--not the three needed for the Colorado cover. Kansas State again failed to impress me and to this point in the season has shown me no real reason why I should be confident with what they put out on the field. Josh Freeman is a serviceable quarterback and Brandon Banks, standing just 5’7”, is a nice player with some big-play ability. Yet, all in all, there just isn’t anything to get excited about the Wildcats. Head coach Ron Prince already sits on the hot seat. With the next three games coming against OU, Kansas and Missouri, that seat ain’t getting any colder.
This will be a good week for the Sooners to continue building on the phases of the game I've already discussed. The Wang wants to see a continued improvement in the ground game, with Demarco Murray building on the confidence from last week. I also want to see another dominating performance from an offensive line that should have a decided advantage all game.
Another week, another huge game for the Texas Longhorns, as Mike Gundy and the top 10- ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys come to town.
The Pokes are finally garnering the national respect they deserve. Just another typical day at the office for Dez Bryant last week against Baylor, catching 11 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns. The Wang likes Bryant as the midway leader for the coveted Biletnikoff award.
Texas is good but the Pokes can keep it close...
Texas Tech at Kansas (-1)
The Wang came away impressed with Kansas after the Jayhawks stayed close with the Sooners through three quarters. Todd Reesing appears to be the real deal, even if he is a little cavalier with the ball at times. Then again, so is Brett Favre. Dezmon Briscoe also appears to be a stud at wide receiver, as OU had no answer for him the entire game. I also like Jake Sharp at running back, and I am thankful that he only carried the ball 12 times last week. The quick and shifty running style he employs is just the type that has given OU trouble over the years.
On the other hand, the Wang isn’t so high on the Red Raiders. Yes, Graham Harrell threw for 450 yards and three touchdowns. Yes, the offense put up almost 600 total yards. Yes, Michael Crabtree caught two more touchdown passes. But I just don’t see the dominating style of play from this team that I have seen from Texas, OU and OSU.
The Pick: I want Kansas in this one.
Colorado at Missouri (-22)
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. And, oh, how wrong was the Wang about Missouri? Coming off a rough loss against Oklahoma State, I thought the Tigers would be out to prove themselves as national title contenders against Texas. Finding themselves down 35-3 at halftime, those hopes became a distant memory. Missouri looked overmatched on both sides of the ball all game. It didn’t shock the Wang that Texas was able to move the ball so easily. Yet, the way the Texas defense completely shut down Chase Daniel in the first half was stunning. Texas held the Tigers to just one first down on their first four possessions, and most of Daniel’s 318 yards came in the second half once the game was already decided. Missouri could only muster 30 yards rushing, thanks in large part to the deficit they faced almost from opening kickoff.
The Wang had a feeling last week that Cody Hawkins would soon see his playing time diminish despite being the son of the coach. This came to fruition last week in a one-point Colorado win over Kansas State, as Hawkins split time with freshman Tyler Hansen. Hansen actually sparked the Buffalo offense with the game's only touchdown pass and 86 yards on the ground. Running back Rodney Stewart continues to put up big numbers for the Buffs, rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown.
This is an awfully big number for a team that has looked quite pedestrian in the last two games. Nonetheless, I don’t think very highly of Colorado, no matter who is under center. The Wang is thinking Missouri comes out angry and beats up on an inferior opponent this week...
Baylor at Nebraska (-11)
Baylor was a real disappointment last week. I thought the Bears had turned the Big XII corner and could possibly give the Pokes a good game. After jumping out and scoring the first touchdown, Baylor could do little more the rest of the way, as OSU scored the next 34 points. Robert Griffin did set a freshman record for most passes thrown without an interception to start a career. This may be more of a commentary on the state of the Oklahoma State Cowboys more than anything, so I am not giving up on Baylor yet. I still like the direction this team is moving in, and I think the future is bright in Waco.
Nebraska had the fortune of playing Iowa State last week and took full advantage of the situation with a convincing 35-7 win. The Huskers ran for 220 yards as a team, and Joe Ganz passed for 328 yards in the balanced Nebraska attack. The defense held the Cyclones to a season-low 218 total yards of offense. Bottom line is Nebraska took care of business in a game in which it was clearly the superior team.
I am beginning to have a change of heart with this Nebraska team, but I still like what Baylor is doing this year...
Texas A&M at Iowa State (-3)
The Aggie well has run dry for the Wanger after A&M was able to cover the spread against Texas Tech. Prior to last week’s results, I would not have even thought twice about this game. Yet, Iowa State came out last week and looked deserving of the title of “Worst Team in the Big XII,” while A&M was showing some fight against Tech. I have said it before and I will say it again: there is nothing to like with this Iowa State team that has dropped five in a row. It is hard for the Wang to point to even one thing the Cyclones do that is above average, let alone well.
That being said, it is equally hard to find what the Aggies do “best.” I guess they did lead Tech at halftime last week. They also forced three Tech turnovers. Jerrod Johnson attempted 39 passes without throwing a pick. That’s enough for me.
The Pick: With a complete 180 degree turn--drumroll please--the Wang will take the Aggies!