Blogging about college football by an Oklahoma Sooners fan.

Guest Column: The Lone Wang-er Rides Again

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.

Even more frustrating was what happened during this week’s Bills game when a large collection of balloons that were released during pre-game festivities wreaked havoc on the local power grid. These balloons apparently found there way to nearby power lines, causing a complete power outage at Ralph Wilson Stadium for a large portion of the first half. No scoreboard, no sound, no on-the-field-electronic equipment—nothing. First-hand accounts from fans at the game brought tales of urinating in complete darkness, all thanks to a bunch of balloons. 
You may be asking, why do you care what happened at the stadium, Wang? Well, when the power went out at the game, so did the radio feed. So as the Wang was sitting in his living room, staring at his blank HD TV, his radio feed suddenly vanished. After a few puzzling minutes, the announcer could be heard once again, this time with a bit of a muffled voice. He explained to the fans the circumstances of the power outage and what had been happening on the field during the absence. Then, he explained how he was able to broadcast to the listeners with no power. He was calling into the station on his cell phone…Yes, faithful Homerism readers, the Wang was forced to listen to this week’s Bills game via a cell phone conversation over the radio. Only in Buffalo…

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. 

I don’t want to see a kickoff returned for more than 30 yards. I want to see every extra point and reasonable field goal made. Yes, I think a 30-yard field goal for a major college football team is reasonable.
I want to see Quentin Chaney step up again for Manny Johnson and prove he truly is a starting-quality receiver playing a backup role. 
Finally, I would like the offense to continue with the up-tempo, no-huddle style. I love when the team comes to the line and rattles off play after play. The team loses its advantage with this style of play when it gets to the line and stalls, waiting for the play to come in. No more standing around. Let's get to the line and get the ball snapped. It’s time for the Sooners to bust out old tapes of Jim Kelly orchestrating the “K-Gun” offense of the early 1990s.
It’s time that train gets back on track... 
The Pick: OU wins big, 51-10.
Blatant Homerism: KSU.
Oklahoma State at Texas (-13)
Another week, another huge game for the Texas Longhorns, as Mike Gundy and the top 10- ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys come to town. 
Homerism recently spelled out his roadmap to an OU/Texas BCS championship game. That formula called for Texas to go undefeated leading up to the championship game. I have to agree with this assessment insofar as a one-loss Texas team would spell doom for the Sooners. On the other hand, as long as we are wishing here, why not wish for a two-loss Texas team and a Sooner trip to Kansas City this December? A closer look at Texas’ schedule proves that this isn’t so far-fetched. Granted, if Texas continues to play at the level they are at now, an undefeated regular season is inevitable. But it will be hard to sustain such a high level of play for the remainder of the year.
A loss this week at the hands of the Pokes would help, but as I said, a one-loss Texas team won’t help a thing. Which brings us to road trips to Kansas and Texas Tech, both losable games for the Horns. All this may be a moot point, though. With the way Colt McCoy and the rest of the 'Horns are playing, they will continue to be two-touchdown favorites the rest of the way.

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.

OSU gained almost equal yards on the ground and through the air. This balance seems to be the Poke’s biggest asset. The unheralded OSU defense held Baylor to just 42 yards rushing on 31 attempts and 204 total yards on offense. In the process, they forced the first Baylor turnover in four games.
Also, the Baylor game drew more than 50,000 fans to the newly renovated Boone Pickens Stadium for the third straight game, a new Oklahoma State record!!! 

Texas is good but the Pokes can keep it close... 

The Pick: Give me OSU plus the points.
BH: Texas.

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. 

There is so reason why this top 10 team should go into halftime losing to someone like Texas A&M. In reality this was an 11-point, hard-fought win, given that Tech scored a meaningless touchdown as time expired. There's no one thing I can put my finger on, but my medical opinion is that Tech is about to start a rough four-game losing streak...

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... 

The Pick: I will take the Tigers.
BH: Mizzou.

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...

The Pick: I will take the Bears here.
BH: Nebraska.

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!