Sooners’ Title Hopes Gone Without Gresham

September 8, 2009

Even the most optimistic Oklahoma fans should start coming to grips with the reality that if the opening loss to BYU didn’t kill the Sooners’ hopes for a national championship, today’s news that superstar senior tight end Jermaine Gresham won’t play a down this season did.

OU’s lack of credible receiving threats became painfully obvious during the BYU game, as the Sooner wideouts struggled to get open, as well as to hold on to the ball when they did. Gresham, an ultra-talented wide receiver in a tight end’s body, would have injected a needed dose of explosiveness into the offense and provided a go-to target in crucial situations.
Gresham is just one player, but it’s not an overreaction to say he was vital to the OU passing game. His loss alone is going to cost Oklahoma at least one more game before the season ends.
(And that’s all before factoring in that the Sooners’ Heisman-winning quarterback will be sidelined for two or three more games.)
Not to be a downer, but there is no silver lining to this cloud. Youngsters will see more playing time, but that offers little solace for a team and fan base ready to win now.
Of course, the season is just a game old. Bob Stoops’ teams typically improve as the regular season goes on, and the OU coach and his staff have excelled in the past when forced to adjust on the fly. Don’t forget this is the same coach who won a Big 12 championship in 2006 after kicking his blue-chip quarterback off the team the day before the season started and losing one of the most dynamic running backs in college football history halfway through the year.

Power Poll: Week One

September 8, 2009

Alabama’s win against a solid Virginia Tech team makes the Crimson Tide a pretty easy choice as this week’s number one. Coming in at two, the U looked awfully strong in beating Florida State in Tallahassee. The biggest question this week: What to do about BYU?

The Cougars beat Oklahoma in what could be considered a home game for the Sooners. On the other hand, they did it with OU’s Heisman-winning quarterback on the sidelines for the second half. For now, the lower half of the top 10 seems reasonable.
Blatant Homerism Power Poll: Week One
1. Alabama
2. Miami
3. Oklahoma State
4. Boise State
5. California
6. BYU
7. Cincinnati
8. USC
9. Texas
10. Missouri

OU in Review: No Sam! So What?

September 7, 2009

Sam Bradford’s shoulder injury is dominating the fallout surrounding BYU’s shocking upset of Oklahoma, which is to be expected when the reigning Heisman winner goes down in such catastrophic fashion. That’s a big story, but as far as the game itself goes, it’s the wrong one.

Bradford plays in the second half of the game, and OU probably wins. So what.

Bradford’s absence wasn’t the difference on Saturday night. The Sooners came up short thanks to their own sloppy play. Penalties, dropped passes, poor ball protection–name a way to hand a game to a decent opponent, and OU managed to do it.

(And let’s make no mistake: BYU is a decent team, but it’s way too early to proclaim the Cougars to be an upper-echelon squad.)

For a group of young receivers, most of whom were seeing their first significant action, a collective case of the dropsies is understandable. The fumbles and prolific penalties are a different story.

No one could reasonably expect the Sooners to replicate the outstanding ball protection of the 2008 team, which only lost two fumbles all season. However, the carelessness with which veterans Ryan Broyles and DeMarco Murray gave the ball away to kill promising drives was disappointing. Even though the fumble was recovered, backup quarterback Landry Jones muffing a snap on third and short in the fourth quarter was tough to stomach, too.

The most disconcerting aspect of OU’s performance against BYU had to be the never-ending string of penalties called against the offensive line. While the game statistics show a relatively even split between the two teams for the game (BYU: 10-87; OU: 12-93), the OU o-line seemed to pick the most inopportune times to draw a flag. The three false starts on the opening series really stood out, as did the false start on OU’s final drive that turned third-and-nine from the BYU 32 into third-and-14 from the Cougars’ 37. A somewhat manageable field goal opportunity was transformed into a hope and a prayer.

The Sooner defense didn’t escape this game blameless, either. Missed tackles and what appeared to be busted assignments sparked BYU’s biggest plays in the game.

In the end, all those miscues boil down to discipline and composure. They’re the kind of mental aspects of the game that OU coach Bob Stoops harps on frequently in public. It may be a cliché, but the line between winning and losing in football is razor-thin, and a major reason why great teams always seem to stay on the right side of it is disciplined execution.

It’s still early, and in the court of public opinion, Bradford’s injury certainly took a little heat off the team’s overall poor performance. But even with a healthy Bradford, the Sooners looked nothing like a “great” team last weekend. Just “good” even sounds like a stretch.

Out and About

September 4, 2009

Homerism is going to be traveling quite a bit over the next few weeks, so posting may be a little spotty. I’ve got trips to JerryWorld and Vegas on tap, though, so hopefully I’ll have plenty to say when I do get a chance to check in.

Picks Trying Not to Suck: Week One

September 3, 2009

Last year Homerism won the coveted chocolate martini in the popular sibling rivalry of Picks Trying Not to Suck. Despite the heartburn it caused him last year, The Skinny lobbied for the same ground rules this season, including the Lee Greenwood Special for our men and women in uniform. The stakes remain the same, a Christmas day choco-tini, with the added twist of The Skinny’s pride being on the line as well.

WEEK One–The Skinny

Skin won’t be attending this weekend’s game between OU and BYU. My absence is a protest against Jerry Jones and that ego-driven monstrosity he built in Texas. I despise that whole “everything is bigger and better in Texas” attitude. I’ve been to Texas many times, and in case you were wondering, it sucks.

OK, actually, I would sell out and go in a heartbeat, but I would rather save my football trips for the Red River Shootout.
Advice of the Week: If “regularity” is an issue for you, forget Jamie Lee Curtis’ laxative of choice, Activia. Try GNC herbal remedy ColonClenz instead.

Oregon at Boise St. (-4.5)

A contest between two legit top 25 teams is not a bad way to kickoff the season’s slate of Thursday night games. I still have a personal vendetta against Oregon for robbing my Sooners in 2006, but you have to give them credit for scheduling this game. There aren’t many schools who are lining up to open the season with a night game in Boise. It is really a no-win proposition for Oregon. If the Ducks are in contention for a BCS spot in December, win or lose on Thursday night, they won’t receive the credit they deserve. Despite Boise’s recent success, how will the pollsters view this contest in early September, as opposed to a game against Texas, Alabama, or even Oklahoma State? Give the Ducks extra credit for scheduling mid-majors this season. Oregon also plays Utah on September 19.
As for the game, I think this should be a fun matchup featuring a lot of offense. Oregon junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli accounted for nearly 2,500 yards of total offense last season, despite only taking half of the team’s snaps under center. Masoli’s supporting class is a bit green, losing last season’s leading rusher and top two receivers to graduation. Historically, Oregon has not been a good defensive team. It hasn’t needed to be with an offense that has averaged 40 points per game over the past three seasons. The D needs to improve if the Ducks want to be in Pasadena in January.

Boise St. has become the premier mid-major program in the nation. Over the past eight seasons, the Broncos are 54-2 against WAC opponents and have won the conference title seven times. As a freshman, QB Kellen Moore threw for 3,500 yards, completing 70 percent of his passes with 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It is clear the Broncos’ coaching staff is expecting big things from Moore this season. Believe it or not, running back Ian Johnson actually exhausted his eligibility after last season. Maybe it’s the countless number of times I have been subjected to Johnson’s game-winning TD in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, but it seemed like he played at least nine seasons for Boise. More than any other mid-major program, Boise has proven it can compete with BCS conference teams, and the Broncos will be fired up for this opportunity to play Oregon at home.

The Skinny says: I see this game as a toss-up. Expect a high-scoring, back-and-forth contest. I will take Oregon with the points.

Nevada at Notre Dame (-15)

Pardon Skin if he thinks Lou Holtz’s national championship game prediction for the Irish is a bit optimistic. The last time I saw ND play–somehow the Hawaii Bowl was left out of my Christmas Eve activities–it lost at home to Syracuse. I do believe ND will be improved this season. The Irish have played a lot of freshmen and sophomores over the past two seasons, and that should pay dividends as they become upper classmen.
For the first time since Rocket Ismail, it seems the Irish have some legitimate playmakers at receiver. Golden Tate, Michael Floyd, and Duval Kumara are players that will concern opposing defenses. Jimmy Clausen is the guy everyone loves to hate, Skin included, but he has the ability to get the ball to his playmakers. He needs to cut down on his mistakes, though (17 INTs in 2008). The Irish also have a trio of capable running backs, and the offensive line should be improved with another year of experience.

Almost everyone returns on an ND defense that needs to beef up a bit against the run. In one of the stranger offseason nuggets I have read, it appears Charlie Weis and Albert Pujols struck up a friendship after a random encounter on a beach in Puerto Rico. That couldn’t have been a pretty site for Pujols, although it’s a pretty funny mental image for me. I see Weis dressed like John Candy in Summer Rental: sunblock-covered nose, under the shade of three umbrellas, mustard smudges around his mouth from that last corn dog he took down at the all-inclusive resort, out of breath from that long walk to the beach. You get the idea.

Many of the experts think Nevada could be this season’s Utah or Boise St. To be perfectly honest, I know very little about Nevada other than the Pistol offense and sophomore QB Colin Kaepernick. That’s it. Last season, the Wolfpack offense put up over 3,000 yards in both rushing and passing. That is production Notre Dame would kill for, even against WAC opponents.

Skin says: I think the Irish will win the game, but Nevada will put up points and keep the game closer than the line. With all the soft schedule talk around South Bend this offseason, I don’t think the Irish are taking Nevada as serious as they should be.

Minnesota(-6) at Syracuse
In week one, all the teams on the board are an unknown quantities, some more so than others. And then there is Syracuse, which not only has a new coach but a starting quarterback who was at Duke the last four seasons playing basketball. Transfer Greg Paulus is definitely an unknown quantity. For most programs that is a bad thing, but it might be just what the ‘Cuse needs.

After all, everything else we know about Syracuse is bad. It is hard to imagine that a guy who hasn’t put on pads in 5 years–against a high school opponents, mind you–will have much success, but I am willing to give him the slightest chance. At least he was pretty good in high school. I am searching for a glimmer of hope for the Orange this season, and all I can find is that the team’s leading receiver, Donte Davis, who had all of 312 yards receiving last year, is back. Oh, and the Orange were a perfect 25/25 in PATs when they did find the end zone last year. Paulus and first-year head coach Doug Marrone might be able to breathe some life back into the program, but they aren’t miracle workers.

Tim Brewster has done a respectable job at Minnesota the past two seasons, and the Gophers will finally have a home field this season at the newly built, on-campus TCF Bank Stadium. Junior QB Adam Weber returns after throwing for 2,700 yards and 15 TDs last season. However, look for the Gopher’s to work in prized recruit Moses Alipate this season. Alipate is a dual-threat quarterback and could be a nice change of pace for Brewster. Senior wide receiver Eric Decker is one of the better players you have never heard of, catching 84 passes for over 1,000 yards in 2008. Defensively, Minnesota gave up a lot of passing yards, even in the run-happy Big 10.

The Skin says: I think Minnesota is the better team and I like their advantage at quarterback. I’ll take that experience in week one.

LSU (-17.5) at Washington
Something seems fishy with this line. Sure, LSU was down last year, but Washington couldn’t stay within 17 points of anyone last season. OU could have beaten the Huskies last season with my fashionista friend MoMo playing quarterback. (Does Prada make a football cleat?) You have to wonder if Vegas insiders see something we don’t.

Washington has better talent than they showed last season. They should have beaten a good BYU team in their opener. Then they were trounced by Oklahoma, like everyone except UT and Florida, in the second game. At that point it seems like the Huskies simply gave up on Willingham. Sarkisan’s arrival will pump new blood into the team this season, and Jake Locker, who only played in four games last season due to injury, is a talented quarterback.
LSU’s defense was bad last season, giving up an average of 38 PPG in the Tigers’ five losses. Will bringing in a new coordinator be enough to fix LSU’s defensive woes? Plus, LSU still doesn’t have a proven quarterback. Add all that together with the fact this game is in Seattle, which is a long way from Baton Rouge, and the oddsmakers see a closer game than most expect.

Personally, I have a bit of a different take. I think LSU, despite recent troubles on defense, has a level of talent that is better than Washington across the board. The Tigers have a ton of experience coming back on defense, which may not be a good thing considering how they have performed over the past two seasons. John Chavis is a good coordinator, however, the defense will be better this season. While I am uncomfortable with the situation at quarterback, I think Les Miles will see better play out of that position this season. If freshman sensation Reuben Randle or one of the other young receivers can provide a solid number-two option behind Brandon Lafell, the offense should be better this season.

Skinny says: I expect Washington to be better this season under Sarkisian, but he is unproven as a head coach. Willingham left the cupboard pretty bare. Forget all the talk of the distance LSU has to travel. It doesn’t matter… LSU rolls.

Georgia at Boone Pickens University (-5.5)
I have struggled with this game all weeks. Boone Pickens University should have one of the best teams in school history. The Corporate Raiders have as good an offensive attack as there is in the country, outside of maybe a couple other schools in the Big 12 South. Defensively, though, BPU was not great last season. I think new defensive coordinator Bill Young will improve that side of the ball.

Georgia lost a considerable amount of NFL talent off last year’s team including, Moreno and Stafford. The Raiders are at home, and for those of you who don’t understand the psyche of BPU fans, they are desperate to be relevant on the national level. Expect “The Pick” to be rocking for this game. All the factors add up to the Raider’s winning this game, and maybe winning big.

The Skin says: I am just having a hard time convincing myself that BPU can win this game. The Raiders are notorious for blowing these kinds of opportunities. But I am going to believe! The Raiders will win this game, but not by 6 points. I will take UGA with the points.

(Now if only Boone Pickens can find a way to recover the $65 million he “gave” his alma mater to build “the finest athletics facilities in the country.” In one of the most impoverished states in the nation, Pickens “gave” the largest monetary gift ever to a public university. Not one penny went to educate students or provide financial assistance to students. This is a school that desperately needs it. I hope you enjoy beating Georgia.)

UPDATE: Rumor has it Zac Robinson might not play in this game, and if he does, he won’t be 100 percent. Robinson has been dealing with a hamstring issue all summer, but it now looks to be more serious than we were first led to believe. UGA wins outright!

Lee Greenwood Special: Navy at Ohio State (-21)
In the LGS, heart counts. Never underestimate the tenacity and the fortitude of the football teams at our service academies. Ohio State will experience this firsthand this weekend. As for the Buckeyes, I am not sure I am buying them as a top-five team this season. I think Terrelle Pryor will be a great player with Vince Young-esque talent. But beyond that I am not sure what the Buckeyes have. They lost a lot of key pieces from a team last year that was very underwhelming. It seems like OSU always struggles with “cupcakes” in September. Navy isn’t your typical cupcake–at least when it comes to heart.

The Skin says: Navy scores a last second touchdown to keep this one within the spread!

WEEK ONE–Blatant Homerism

Homerism has been putting in Wolverine-like time this offseason crunching numbers and talking to my cadre of informants and associates across the country to bring you the very best in college football handicapping this season. Most importantly, Homerism and his lady have spent the last month catching up on countless hours of 2008 replays down in the depths of the digital cable channels–CBS College, Fox College Sports South, Big Ten Network, etc. “Romantic Saturday night” in Homerism’s house = Air Force-New Mexico circa 2007.

Anyway, know that these opening week picks come with some of the most thorough analysis available, all for free. Eat your heart out, Jim Feist.

Virginia Tech (+6.5) vs. Alabama
*Georgia Dome (Atlanta)

Homerism singled out this game months ago without even seeing the line, and actually knowing the number has done nothing to dissuade me.

By the end of 2009, I bet ‘Bama will be playing some great football. For a team that lost some key pieces from last season’s 12-2 team, though, this is a really tough way to get the party started. With a stout defense leading the way, the Crimson Tide O won’t need to produce too many points in this game to bring home a win. Unfortunately for Nick Saban’s crew, that’s still asking too much of new quarterback Greg McElroy. Even though the ‘Bama faithful will pack the joint, look for the first-time starter to struggle away from Tuscaloosa. (Oh, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that a Tide defensive end got shot this week. There’s also the matter of the swine flu scare in the ‘Bama locker room.)

A typically strong–and opportunistic–Hokie defense awaits, so watch for a Va. Tech defensive score to be the difference here.

Homerism says: Beamerball, outright.

Central Michigan (+14) at Arizona
Mike Stoops appears to have done just enough to hang on in Tucson after last year’s 8-5 finish. Whether or not the Wildcats can stay on the upswing is another matter altogether.

Losing a home opener to a mid-major certainly wouldn’t help, and the Wildcats enter this Saturday’s matchup with the Chippewas facing plenty of questions. For one thing, Stoops has yet to name a starting quarterback to replace departed veteran Willie Tuitama. Stud tight end Rob Gronkowski’s status remains up in the air as well.

Across the way, CMU star QB Dan LeFevour leads a battle-tested bunch into the desert, featuring a defense with 10 returning starters. I love how this sets up for coach Butch Jones’ Chippewas–a solid, experienced mid-major taking on an unsettled BCS-level program in its first game of the season. The only potential landmine Homerism can see here for CMU is next week’s date with in-state rival Michigan State.

Homerism says: ‘Zona will need to bear down to pull this one out. CMU covers, and a money line play for both the first half and the game look promising.

Maryland at California (-21)
At first glance, this seems like a ton of points. Three touchdowns is justified, though.

This game sets up very similarly to the Golden Bears’ recent home-and-series with Tennessee in 2006-2007. Cal went to Rocky Top in ’06 and got blasted, then did some blasting of its own in Berkeley the following season. Given how the Terrapins beat down Cal last season in that bizarre early kickoff in College Park, Jeff Tedford’s team should be out for blood this time around, and this time it’s Maryland making the cross-country trek. What could be Fridge’s final season gets off to an ugly start.

Homerism says: Cal, 40-14.

San Jose State (+33.5) at USC
Pete Carroll’s choice of Matt Barkley as his starting quarterback grabbed headlines across the country for the fact that it’s the first time in recent memory that a true freshman has started the season opener for such a highly regarded team. Presumably, however, it caught the attention of wiseguys in Vegas who were hoping it wouldn’t drive the spread down too far. The Trojans should win this game handily, but Barkley’s going to make some of the rookie mistakes. Savvy veteran coach Dick Tomey likely will have some defensive tricks up his sleeve to bait Barkley into a trap or two.

With a trip to Ohio State on the horizon, ‘SC should treat this one as tune-up. Plus, it’s tough to see Carroll pouring it on Tomey.

Homerism says: USC by 28.

Illinois (-7) vs. Missouri
*Edward Jones Dome (St. Louis)

On his podcast with Ivan Maisel this week, Beano Cook carried on about how much he loves this interstate rivalry. It’s crying a shame that it looks like it’s headed to the scrap heap soon, according to Cook. Homerism would guess Cook is the only person outside of Columbia and Champaign who feels that way. Who cares?

Earlier this summer, the Golden Nugget had Illinois giving a point in this game. How often do you see a line move six points? The smart money should make a killing here. Mizzou is in for a long season, starting Saturday.

Homerism says: Double-digit Illini victory.

LGS: Navy (+21) at Ohio State
The service academies are always focused. Ohio State has a big game with USC next week. Enough said.
Homerism says: Ohio State, 30-17.

Guest Column: Return of the Wang

September 2, 2009

by Buffalo Wild Wang, M.D.

Head of Urology
Blatant Homerism

(Editor’s Note: It has been a long, hot offseason. If you thirst for Big 12 picks, come sip from the Wang. That’s right, Buffalo’s best urologist, Buffalo Wild Wang, returns this season to satisfy your cravings for Big 12 picks, albeit in an abbreviated format.)

The Wang would like to take the chance to thank Homerism for the chance to come back this year and enlighten you with my weekly Big 12 picks. As the Buffalo urological world becomes busier and busier for yours truly, my precious free time is dwindling away. Sorry, Wang lovers, but I only have time to pry myself away from my craft long enough to offer my insight into the OU game and one special Big 12 game each week. Duty calls.

BYU at Oklahoma (-22)
*Arlington, Texas

This game promises to be entertaining as these two potent offenses meet in the new Cowboy Stadium. Something tells me Jerry Jones won’t have to worry about too many punts ricocheting off the scoreboard this Saturday. Both teams will be lighting it up the old-fashioned way.

The Wang gave his thoughts on this game earlier this offseason. Not much has changed since then. Everyone points the finger at the OU offensive line as the potential weak spot on a stacked team, but it should be noted that BYU brings in four new o-linemen as well. Look for the Sooners to spend a good amount of time in the BYU backfield and Max Hall’s face. Sam Bradford has a great chance here to kickoff his repeat Heisman campaign against a top-25 team on national television, and I don’t see him disappointing. In the end, the Sooners are just too deep, athletic and strong for the Stormin’ Mormons. The Cougars will find the end zone some, but they won’t keep OU out.
The Pick: Dr. Wild Wang’s diagnosis is pain for the boys from Provo. OU rolls, 65-23.
Big 12 Game of the Week: Georgia at Oklahoma State (-6)

An early treat for college football fans, as these two teams from power conferences meet to kick the season off.

There has been plenty of talk about OSU being this year’s version of Texas Tech. I assume this means the “team du jour” picked to finish third in the Big 12 South? It is too farfetched to envision last year’s odd scenario playing itself out again this season. The Wang wouldn’t be completely shocked to see the Pokes take care of Texas in Stillwater, the Longhorns to win in Dallas, and the Sooners to triumph over OSU in Norman. But wouldn’t this mean another three-way tie in the South? Not if OSU finds a way to blow another game along the way, as seems to happen every year.
This week, however, Georgia rolls into Stillwater a new quarterback in tow, as Matt Stafford has escaped to greener pastures in Detroit. Oklahoma State promises to put plenty of points on the scoreboard this year with what is quite possibly the best offensive trio in the country. The Boone will be rockin’ for this out-of-conference showdown, which I expect to provide a big advantage for the Cowboys.
The Pick: Stick a feather in the Big 12’s cap. OSU takes down the Bulldogs, 38-17.

‘Bama Player Shot

September 1, 2009

Not many details yet.

Cowboys Forever (Spoiler Alert!)

September 1, 2009

If you’re anything like Homerism, you probably can’t get enough of the new OSU anthem, Cowboys Forever, making its way around the Internet. Who knew that setting the legend of Frank Eaton to what sounds like an even more milquetoast version of a song by The Fray could be so magical?

My guess is that Poke fans are even more excited about the debut of the Cowboys Forever video at the home opener against Georgia than the game itself. Well, Homerism’s spies somehow managed to get their hands on a copy of the video, and it’s just as stirring as I imagined. Unfortunately, I don’t have a version that can be uploaded to the site, but I’ll do my best to describe it. Here goes:

The prairie wind touches our skin
Another maverick morning begins
Wild west eyes rise before the sun
We are young guns on the run

Scene: The video opens with a shot of maverick OSU head coach Mike Gundy getting out of bed in the morning at his palatial digs. He shakes the sleep out of his eyes, rubs his lucky T. Boone Pickens bust next to his bed and heads to the bathroom, opening the window to feel the Stillwater breeze. (Splice in some footage of Gundy quarterbacking during his playing days.) Cut to a shot of running backs Kendall Hunter and Keith Toston opening the doors of the awe-inspiring new OSU practice facilities. Cut back to Gundy’s bathroom. He hops out of the shower, puts on his orange and black polo, gels up his hair and shouts “I’M A MAN!” at himself in the mirror.

Hang ‘em high, pistols to the sky
We ride, we ride, ‘cross the line

Scene: Pickens emerges from a Scrooge McDuck-like pool of gold coins and his manservant hands him a towel.

It’s in our veins
The feel of the reins
.45’s, chaps, bandannas and spurs
We are cowboys forever

Scene: The OSU weight room for a montage of the Cowboys in training: Russell Okung doing squats; Zac Robinson doing diamond push-ups; Andre Sexton boxing. Cut to the locker room, where some Pokes are cutting up. Bill Young sneaks in and snaps Perrish Cox with a towel.

Stay here today, gone tomorrow
The open range is our home
All that we own lives inside our soul
We are cowboy to the bone

Scene: A grainy compilation of video featuring OSU legends: Barry Sanders, Hart Lee Dykes, Thurman Thomas, Toné Jones, Keith Burns.

Hang ‘em high, pistols to the sky
We ride, we ride, ‘cross the line

Scene: Pickens stands in front of a mirror with his personal tailor finishing up the alterations on a new suit, complete with orange boots, a bolo tie and 10-gallon hat with an orange band around it.

It is in our veins
The feel of the reins
.45’s, chaps, bandannas and spurs
We are cowboys forever

Scene: Back to the weight room: a sweaty Terrance Anderson hanging upside down doing crunches; DeMarcus Conner showing Justin Blackmon the ropes in the cone drill; Patrick Lavine karate chopping through six or seven concrete slabs. Cut to the film room. Markelle Martin walks in and sits on a whoopee cushion. His teammates crack up laughing.

Riding Bullet across the plains
To avenge our kin’s blood and name
In bedlam we will rise and stand
With strength and honor to defend our land

Scene: Dez Bryant stares directly into the camera, palming a football. He assumes a sprinter’s position, takes his mark and looks to his right. Who’s he racing? It’s Bullet! They take off. Slo-mo shot of Bryant and the big steed running side by side.

Hang ‘em high, pistols to the sky
We ride, we ride, ‘cross the line

Scene: The camera follows Pickens, wearing his new suit, as he emerges from the tunnel onto the field to survey his handiwork at T. Boone Pickens Stadium. He bends down to feel the playing surface, then pumps his fist with quiet confidence.

It’s in our veins
The feel of the reins
.45’s, chaps, bandannas and spurs
We are cowboys forever

Scene: We’re back in the weight room, where the action is really heating up. Now Okung is on the bench press, where he’s dripping with sweat and giving all he’s got to finish up his set. Robinson strains to do his last curl. Hunter pushes up a leg press… With Pistol Pete on it! Gundy enters the room. He surveys his exhausted players with a satisfied look.

We are, we are
Cowboys forever

Scene: Montage of the greatest moments in OSU football history: an elated female fan holds up an “OSU 12” bumper sticker; Rashaun Woods and Kevin Williams high five after the classic 2002 Houston Bowl win over Southern Miss; a Cowboys player holds a rose in his teeth after a 4-7 OSU team upset OU in 2001, killing the Sooners’ hopes of a national championship repeat.

Fade out with footage of a jubilant Gundy and Sanders hoisting the 1988 Holiday Bowl trophy.

Preseason Prognostication: Wilde Picks

August 31, 2009

If, as Oscar Wilde said, experience is simply the name we give to our mistakes, we’d be wise to look back at Homerism’s 2008 preseason predictions before delving into 2009.

2008 Preseason Predictions

  • BCS Championship: Florida over USC (actual: Florida over Oklahoma)
  • ACC: Florida State over Virginia Tech (actual: Virginia Tech over Boston College)
  • Big East: West Virginia (actual: Cincinnati)
  • Big Ten: Wisconsin (actual: Penn State)
  • Big 12: Oklahoma over Missouri (actual: Oklahoma over Missouri)
  • Pac-10: USC (actual: USC)
  • SEC: Florida over Auburn (actual: Florida over Alabama)
So, what should I have learned?
1. These picks are as worthless as Web page they’re written on.
Wisconsin? Auburn? Florida State? Sheesh.
2. Beware the cult of the coordinator.
Auburn’s hire of Tony Franklin to take over its offense had Homerism all fired up this time last year. Six games into the season, it was if Franklin never even set foot on The Plains. Franklin received his walking papers, the Tigers were running some kind of scheme that looked nothing like Franklin’s version of the spread, and they were sucking at it.

3. Don’t disregard quarterback play.

Last season, the shaky play of Todd Boeckman scared me off of Ohio State in the Big Ten. Right on, but then why back Allan Evridge-led Wisconsin instead? I actually singled out the Badgers as a national championship dark horse!
4. Like the rest of the country, I know nothing about the Big East.
With all that in mind, I will now attempt to create another learning experience for next season.
BCS Championship Game
Florida over Ohio State
The Gators are a given. To be honest, I could see this team contending for a national title even if Tim Tebow ascended into heaven in the middle of the third quarter of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. As for The Ohio State University… Look, I don’t like the idea of picking a team that I don’t consider one of the two or three best in country any more than the rest of you. Unfortunately, I think the Buckeyes will be the only undefeated team besides Florida left standing when the music stops. Right now, the USC game doesn’t look as daunting as it usually would. Plus, the only difficult road game for the Buckeyes appears to be Penn State on November 7, and OSU will have more talent and the best player on the field, Terrelle Pryor.

Conference Champs
ACC: Virginia Tech over Florida State
Quietly–or should I say “boringly”–this conference has turned into a (very) poor man’s version of the Big 12. I think the two divisions are called the “Coastal” and the “Atlantic;” all I know is that the one with Virginia Tech in it looks much stronger on paper than the other.
Big East: Pittsburgh
Why not?
Big Ten: Ohio State
The Badgers burned me last year, but Wisconsin could be a sleeper here. Bret Bielema’s squad misses the Nittany Lions this year, and 50-50 games against Michigan State, Iowa and the hardest working team in college football, Michigan, are in Madison.
Big 12: Oklahoma over Kansas
OU will win the South, but drop a game somewhere in what is a very trying schedule. Up north, despite the tough talk from coach Dan Hawkins about Colorado winning 10 games this year, this is a two-team race: Kansas and Nebraska. Yes, the Jayhawks have the harder schedule of the two. They also have the only proven commodity at under center. I’ll go with KU by virtue of a head-to-head win over the ‘Huskers.
Pac-10: California

Pete Carroll has proven that it’s never wise to bet against his teams. And no one ever said Homerism was wise. Truth is, I love this Cal team. Watching the Golden Bears last year, I couldn’t help but think they were better than their record. The defense, led by the best cornerback in the country, Syd’Quan Thompson, will be the best in conference. On the other side of the ball, QB Kevin Riley has to avoid mistakes and let Jahvid Best do the heavy lifting. If Best stays healthy all year, this is a national title dark horse.
SEC: Florida over Alabama
I went back and forth between Alabama and Ole Miss in the SEC West for the last month before settling on the Crimson Tide. The Rebels have a great schedule to go along with a great quarterback in Jevan Snead. ‘Bama, on the other hand, may be the most talented team in the country behind UF and USC. Here’s the kicker: these two teams are scheduled to meet in what will be the Tide’s sixth game of the season. By then, the ‘Bama newcomers will be battle-tested, and junior QB Greg McElroy should have his sea legs.

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August 31, 2009

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