Thursday, September 29, 2005

Last Minute Football Notes

Conference play begins tomorrow, so we are throwing out the Cream Puff of the Week and the Game No One Cares About, because in conference play everyone has a chance to win and there are no cream puffs.

Here is my rundown of the first week of action in Big 12 Conference play. Be sure to leave your thoughts about your team. Let me know where you think I’m wrong and where you agree with me.

Big Game
Iowa State @ Nebraska
– The Cyclones are 3-0 with an impressive win over Iowa and the Huskers are 3-0 with an impressive win over, well, no one. I guess you could say Wake Forest.

The winner of this game will be in good shape for winning the North and the loser will start out conference playing catch-up. Nebraska goes on the road for the next two games so I guess you could say that this is a must win for them.

Iowa State should have success moving the football but may struggle on the defensive side of the ball. On the other hand Nebraska’s strength is their defense while Bill Callahan’s West Coast offense is still a work in progress. Husker coaches need to find a way to speed up that progress. Callahan isn’t on the hot seat yet but if Nebraska drops this game at home he will hear some grumblings.

This should be an entertaining game. Look for the Cyclones to pull away late.

Prediction: ISU 24/Nebraska 14

Must Win
Kansas State @ Oklahoma
– This is a must win for both schools. The Sooners have backed themselves in a corner and their young talent has got to fight them out. At 1-2 if OU loses this game OU fans will do something they haven’t done in six years. Look forward to basketball in the month of October.

This will be a must win for the Wildcats as well if they want to prove they have elevated their game back to where it was in the 2003 season when they were Big 12 Champs. After struggling against Florida International and Marshall, before man handling North Texas, a win in Norman would go along way towards boosting team confidence.

I’m trying not to be a homer here, but I like the Sooners’ chances. They have had two weeks to prepare for the game and I like the line match-ups on both sides of the ball. Turnovers will be the key! The Sooners have got to quit turning over the ball. That is something that comes with maturity and I think we will begin to see signs of that on Saturday.

Prediction: OU 31/KSU 17

Possible Upset
Colorado @ Oklahoma State
– It’s hard to call it an upset when you are the favorite, but Colorado has a great chance to pick up a road victory here. After traveling to Miami last weekend, Stillwater should be a breeze. The Cowboys have won their first three games by an average score of 19-8 over Montana State, Florida Atlantic and Arkansas State. This will be a wake up call for the Cowboys as they take a big step up in the level of talent they will be playing.

OSU is one of those teams where defense is their strength. If Colorado keeps the Cowboys under 20 points they should be able to win. The Buffalos are definitely the more battle tested team here.

Prediction: Colorado 20/OSU 17

Other Big 12 Games

Texas @ Missouri – This should be the “Big Game” this week but the Dr. Jekel/Mr. Hyde personality of the Missouri football team won’t allow it. This could be a trap game for Texas because the Red River Shootout with Oklahoma is next week. I don’t think Texas is going to overlook the Tigers.

Vince Young vs. Brad Smith could be a classic match-up. In fact, there was a day when the sports world thought this match-up could have heisman implications. I don’t think Smith has the talent around him to keep up.

At home the Tigers could surprise you! In 2003 they took Oklahoma to the wire in Columbia. I don’t think this Missouri team is a good as the 2003 team.

Prediction: Texas 38/Mizzou 14

Finally, two more wake-up calls. Baylor and Kansas are undefeated heading into conference play and I think there is a better than average chance that both teams get abused on the road this weekend.

Baylor @ Texas A&M – The good news for the Bears is that A&M has struggled on defense and the Cheap Seats writes that Aggie defensive coordinator Carl Torbush is beginning to feel the heat. What better remedy for that than the Baylor Bears?

The bad news for Baylor is that the A&M offense is explosive. Look for A&M to score early and often on Saturday. Oh yeah, there is something called revenge in play here as well.

Prediction: A&M 45/Baylor 17

Kansas @ Texas Tech – I’m actually interested to see how Tech does in conference play. I think they could actually be a contender in the South if their defense has improved. They have looked solid against non-conference opponents, but come on Indiana State? If you think A&M’s offense is explosive wait until you see Mike Leach’s 2005 brain child.

Prediction: Tech 49/Kansas 21