I went 7-3 for my college picks this weekend. I only missed on a perennially fraudulent Kansas squad and –soon to be unranked- #24 Oklahoma over Nebraska by at least five points. Not only did the Sooners lose to the Cornhuskers, they only scored three points! Again, three points. That’s all you can manage?! I understand Nebraska has improved on D this year. (Even making national news as they earned their trademark Black Shirts back after a much needed hiatus due to appalling play.) I also understand that Oklahoma has had a freshman at QB for the majority of the year as Sam Bradford waffled over playing through his shoulder injury, and eventually opted for season-ending surgery instead of a glory-less run of attempting to salvage a season that is lost for the most part in the opinion of Sooner Nation. Still, this team was pre-season ranked #3!! (Don’t think I forgot about the All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham. Lord knows how much of a home run hitter he was when healthy.) Yeah, they have a tough schedule, but even Bradford’s replacement, Landry Jones, has stepped in and handled the talent-rich/injury plagued team as good as any freshman could. This past Saturday proved to be the only exception thus far. Jones, played like the green-eyed neophyte we thought he wasn’t- Passer Rating is consistently o/v 100, 1,657 Yds, TD/INT ratio of 17/6, coming into the game- by throwing 5 interceptions, including two on the last two possessions. Immaturity was the culprit on this day as Jones threw three interceptions to the same Husker safety, Matt O'Hanlon. Besides O’Hanlon having a career day, Jones has to understand when a safety has a lock on his reads and learn to look him off. Jones will get better and refine his skills with time, but as the Sooners gear up for three Big 12 South opponents to finish out their regular season, this once solid Oklahoma team must get back to the basics in order to run the table in an attempt to seize a bowl invitation that is respectable by their high standards. It is still crazy to think that Oklahoma was still only seven points away from tying the game as they racked up 325 total yards, opposed to Nebraska’s paltry 180 yards of total offense.
My other miss on picks was USC over Arizona State by ten or more. This was an Arizona State team that came to Athens and looked, well, like a team that is 4-5 on the year. As of right now, I find LSU and USC to be interchangeable, even in their remaining schedule as the Trojans have two solid games leading up to #18 Arizona. The Tigers have Louisiana Tech at home, head to Mississippi, and finally finish up with arguably the most dangerous 5-4 team in college football, Arkansas.
How opposing teams have played when visiting Frank Inman field at ARC stadium ever since the Musketeers lost to North Augusta 30-6. Even though ARC lost to Lakeside at home 6-16, it was the fewest points that Lakeside has put up outside of their lone loss to Hephzibah. Although ARC has played well in spurts the last two games, they are peaking at the right time as they stay home for the first round of the state play-offs.
Although the event itself was not dreadful, the way my eyes and head felt led me to consider picking up some extra ibuprofen before the full-blown start of college basketball season. I was present at the ASU exhibition against Aiken Tech and WOW is that tough to keep up with after watching so much football. Add that to the fact that I was pretty much on top of the action-TWSS-sitting at the press table, and it only sped the mind fry that much more. I mean it was close to one of those, “I’m never drinking again,” moments. The game itself was great, with ASU already picked to win the conference and expected to make some noise in the post-season- much like they have in the past few years. Now, they have lost the big fella in the middle, Garret Siler, to the NBA. But this team is exciting because of what certain star players from last year’s team have done with themselves in the off-season. One developing story throughout the year will be Fred Brathwaite. Fred dropped some weight in the off-season, likely to help lighten the load for star guard Ben Madgen. Brathwaite knows that the team will need him to be more versatile and active this year as the team constructs its new identity with William and Mary transfer Alex Smith trying to fill the gaping hole-cue literally and figuratively comment- left by Siler in his departure. Well, so far so good. As the game progressed on Wednesday, Smith, who is mainly thick through the chest, was hustling around the rim- and sometimes competing for rebounds with Brathwaite- trying to contribute as much as possible. Smith also showed his touch around the rim and mid-range jump shot from the baseline, which will be open as defenses key on Madgen. Overall, it was a solid evening for the Jags. There was cleaner play than most exhibition games display, and ASU provided a glimpse of what Coach Metress and Co. look to do this year. And that is run.
The Iowa loss hurt deep, but when Stanzi was knocked out of the game it was over. There is a reason James Vandenberg is the backup QB at Iowa. Now that I have that out of the way….I, like everyone else in America, was expecting Iowa to win and then jump all over the Hawkeyes for their downright disgusting play against Ohio State in the past. The all-time record between the teams is 14-44 in OH……IO!!!’s favor. The last time the Hawkeyes won at Ohio State was in ’91, and since ’87, Iowa is 3-12-1 against the Buckeyes. Now to be fair, this series has had breaks in play in ’93-’94, ’01-’02, and ’07-’08. This is still a game in which Iowa has never really matched up well. Until this year. That is, as long as Terrelle Pryor is playing QB? Yes, you heard right. Pryor’s gifted athletically, but that is the least of Iowa’s concerns coming into the game. Iowa plays a bend but don’t break style of defense that makes you pick them apart to beat them. So unless Pryor is able to utilize all the talents and upside we’ve always heard about- he did a great job of managing the game against Penn State instead of trying to win it himself- Iowa will essentially render him moot. I am anxious to see if Iowa tries to dress out Brad Banks and pass him off as Marvin McNutt. The funny thing is, if Les Miles were coaching the Hawkeyes, I’d be sure to put some money on 7 Black.