2:30 in the afternoon games, I have decided, is by far the perfect time for a college football game to be played. If you're lucky enough to be one of the thousands in attendance, it's just enough time to consume your favorite adult beverage on your tailgate, or inside your gazebo, to be able to cheer on your team in the correct fashion. If you're one of the unlucky (or is it lucky? I haven't decided. Sometimes the drive out of the stadium can be a nightmare. Multiply that by 10 if it follows a loss) to watch the game from home, it's still plenty of time to listen to the gameday crew get you amped up, but not quite nervous because your game doesn't follow immediately after the 'experts' make their picks. I was part of the latter this past Saturday. I made my way to my seat (couch) in time for Cowboy Troy to explain to me after his 'Blue 32, down set...' cadence that College Gameday was indeed next. I, along with the rest of the Sooner Nation, had been waiting on this game with nervous anxiousness since the final seconds ticked off the clock in the season opener vs Utah State. I was happy Saturday had finally arrived, and even more thankful I could watch some other games before my tunnel vision/random yelling at nobody in particular/throwing things/wife wondering who the bleep did she marry/normal OU watching kicked off in the second slate of games. I watched the two hours of arguing, casual team name dropping for the approval/disapproval of the fans in Tuscaloosa with great delight, and made a mental note of Mark May and Desmond Howard's 'FSU to break OU's home winning streak' pick. I can't say I blame them for the pick after the first week of games but I reserve the right only to me to make negative comments/picks against OU without backlash! (according to rules I just made up because I'm writing the article) As 2:30 neared, I geared up for what I thought would be a great re-match of the 2001 Orange Bowl, and possibly an undecided game entering the fourth quarter. What I got was the exact opposite. A 47-17 mugging in front of 85,000+ fans, and me scratching my head (in a good way) more than I did after the Utah St. game.
Bob Stoops had said early in the week at his press conference that he didn't show everything on offense or defense against the Aggies, and brought the wrath of several writers (including me) and on sports radio for breaking the unwritten rule of coach speak. I had hoped he wasn't just trying to boost his teams confidence and really didn't have anything more. Whatever the reason he felt the need to say it, he was right. On OU's first drive, everything looked different, more crisp, more in tune with past Sooner teams. The defense did allow four first downs and a touchdown on FSU's opening drive, but only allowed 5 more first downs over the next 2 1/2 quarters, and held Ponder to 113 yards on 11/28 passing, forcing two picks out of the Heisman candidate hopeful. The Sooners ended up scoring on their first four drives, and by halftime, most were wondering if we would 'hang half-a-hundred' Barry Switzer style before it was over. Ryan Broyles continued to show his leadership snagging 12 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, but this time he wasn't alone. Big catches from other receivers calmed nerves that maybe Landry Jones didn't have anywhere else to go with the ball. Demarco Murray ended up only getting 51 yards on the ground with two touchdowns, but ran his overall total to over 100 showing off his receiving skills. Landry Jones ended up going 30/40 for 380 yards and tossing 4 touchdowns, completing 14 in a row at one point and coming in second only to Sam Bradford for most passing yards in a half with 321. But what does this all mean? Obviously a win is a win, whether it's by 1 or 30, but I, like most college football fans right or wrong, have a 'what have you done for me lately' or rather, a 'what are you going to do now' attitude about our favorite teams. I'm constantly looking for that crystal ball that tells me everything and mind you, I will find it, but until then I'm reduced to watching the game, and trying to see through the statbook.
The first thing that needs to be done is to put it all in perspective. We all know what we thought we had coming in after the first game, and we thought we knew about Florida State (mainly from Mark May telling us that OU should be really worried after Utah St. and FSU's win was big even though it was against Samford...sidenote: I refuse to use 'Samford and Son' because it's been overdone...dammit I just did...let's move on). Obviously that's all hogwash. It appears OU, at least somewhat, gameplanned for the Seminoles BEFORE Utah State, and probably thought their athleticism could get them past the Aggies. In the end, Stoops and CO. were right, and just decided giving us all unneeded shots to the ticker was worth the risk. On the other side, FSU is a good team. I think by the end of the year they will be a solid top 25 team, but Jimbo's crew is on the outside looking in when it comes to being ready for the primetime. Their win over Stamford was big...for them. This is a team, that was spiriling dangerously close to 'OU in the 90's' type mediocracy. Jimbo will get this team turned back around to what they were before, and whether they know it or not, Bobby 'Dadgum' Bowden's exit came at the right time. Not too soon, not too late. Had Bowden stuck around for one more year as he is now claiming he wanted, this score may have been worse. SO what does it all mean? Well it means that we got to see the Sooners play at the level we knew they could. Probably could have done this the first game if you had a numbered ranking next to the Utah St. name and put it on national television. It shows a defense that is very capable of being one of the better in Stoops' tenure, but all of it still leaves some questions.
I held off a couple days in writing this article to kind of see what others were saying, and get a feel on the mood of things. The main reason was to not be the only negative nancy of the group and point out all the negatives, but there are some. I can sense that some of you are wanting to see if Landry has made it off my 'OU qbs I don't like list. He hasn't, and here's why (keep in mind there is a quarterback on this list I didn't like because of his 1989 haircut...in 1989 so don't take it too seriously. I know the 'stache played great but...). As I've stated before I'm probably more critical of the quarterback than any other player on the field, so as the game started I'm watching mainly Landry on throws. He's still staring down receivers. It has to be bad when my semi-interested wife looks up from the computer to watch a few plays and says "he looked at that guy the whole time". Yeah I noticed. I imagine you have to be wondering where to find fault in a guy that only missed on 10 passes out of 40, didn't throw any picks, and tossed four touchdowns. Obviously it didn't worry me in this game, and apparently it didn't worry the FSU defense. I guess my point is, he got away with it. I just have that feeling in the next big game (possibly at Cinci, or Texas) that some defensive coordinator might, I dont know, pick up on it. And after he picks up on it, he might tell his team. The next big worry I had before this past game went away a little bit with Madu coming back at running back from his 1 game suspension. Murray being the featured back worries me. He's super talented, no doubt, but being able to play an entire season he has not. As he leaped over the pile for his first touchdown and came away grimacing to the sideline, my heart sank. On the next couple of series, with Madu filling in for a few plays, looked promising. I'm in no way trying to make a case that Demarco should share the load like he did with Chris Brown in the past, it's just nice to know there is a capable back to come in for, what I think, will be an inevitable injury to Murray (fingers crossed, hoping I didn't just jinx Murray's career).
In the grand scheme of things, if you're a college football fan, this season is great. At this point it has to be one of the more wide open races we've seen in awhile. It makes it all the more entertaining that the Eastern Sports Promotional Network hasn't decided yet which team they are going to punch the ticket for in the title game (Boise's 'big' win doesn't look that great after James Madison dropped Virginia Tech) and which player they are going to stuff down our throat for the Heisman (Ingram not playing yet for 'Bama has to be just killing them). I haven't decided yet on what Air Force holds for the Sooners. Could be another Utah St. game if they're looking ahead to Cincinnati, but I'm guessing Bob Stoops allows on a scale of 0 to 1 the amount of times that happens in a year for one of his teams. But, the crystal ball is still MIA, and we will wait and see...is it Saturday yet?