September 15, 2009

Off and Running

I actually got an e-mail from a friend the other day that said, “Hey, when are you going to start back up your Husker blog now that Nebraska is good again.”

Now, I’m as surprised as you by the question and will answer as I’m guessing you would. “Uhhhh, did I miss something?” Somewhere over the past few weeks, Nebraska’s solid (home) wins over Arkansas (State) and Florida (Atlantic) has vaulted the hicks into the top of the Big 12 North pecking order.

OK fine, if you want to bag on Missouri for “almost” losing (I love this term), then so be it. But doesn’t Kansas somehow still hold sthe upper hand and ...granted, KU has beaten a Division 2 also ran and a borderline bottom 10 CUSA team…but still. Hard to knock them for the talent they have. This is the problem I have with breaking teams down so early in the season. (Or even before the season for that matter.) You can tell who is FOR THE MOST part going to be good, and who is going to suck…but the individual matchups and intangibles play a far bigger role than most people realize.

Over the big picture, the three-team North race is at least starting to take shape the way we all thought. But would ANYBODY be really SHOCKED if ISU, KSU or Colorado upset one of the “big three?” Are Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska really at a place where they can show up and win in their own division?

A few notes before this week’s power poll…which unlike Omaha World Herald’s Lee Barfknecht, was not done in the a giant haze of thick bong residue:

* Gotta feel bad for my brothers over in Boulder. I stated this before, and I still can’t wrap my brain around why the Dan Hawkins experiment seems to have failed. Actually, I can: It all starts at QB. As everybody knows, CU is always going to have a bit of an identity crisis, simply due to their geography. (Few geographic rivals, 2nd fiddle to the Broncos locally). But in the long term, whomever is the coach there HAS to go out and find a big time QB..there more than anywhere if anything to build excitement. Now, I’m not about to pile on ‘Hawk’ because he played his kid at quarterback. I don't have a problem with that. However, I’m going to pile on him because he had no other OPTION but to play his son at QB.

I feel Colorado truly is a sleeping giant and with the right mixture, can be what they once were…a National Title contender. But with all of the intangibles, they’re going to have to take special care of whomever comes in and takes that program over. Is Hawkins done? Probably…but take it from Missouri fans…sometimes your mess is so big, that it takes more than just 3.5 years to fix it. Give Dan Hawkins a standout QB and some better luck with injuries..and you might see things turn around quick. Then again, he probably won’t have that opportunity. (At least after somebody comes up with 3 million bucks to buy out his contract.)

* Hey Okie State fans…not so fun being saddled with monumental expectations is it? I told you their buildup to the 2008 season felt like last year’s Missouri squad. Yet somehow, I doubt that the Tigers would have allowed that big of an egg to be laid on their home turf. (At least until later in the season.) Either way, it just goes to show you how much the human element plays in games these kids play.

Look, if you’re 20 years old, and you’re playing a game…and EVERYBODY has been telling you all year how great you are…chances are, you’re going to NOT give 100% on every play on ever Saturday. The mental game is so key…especially in a physical game such as football where effort is EVERYTHING. Manny Ramirez can half-ass playing ball every so often, because he has a talent that simply can be recalled by memory. Football players..especially young football players don’t have that luxury in a sport where physical stature is just as important as skill.

Look, Oklahoma State is a very good team, and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked to see them punk any of their divisional opponents during the season. But in case you somehow forgot just what part intangibles play into the mix…look no further. And yes, it is a head coach’s job to make sure that teams are focused as much as possible to avoid such issues. That is why I’ve never been a big Mike Gundy fan, and somehow dobut his ability to handle the pressure of gigantic expectations.

* Perhaps one of my KSU friends could fill me in on why the Wildcats were playing in Laffayette, LA on Saturday? I understand that 2-1 home deals work…but isn’t that usually reserved for teams that are just on the cusp of BCS conference worthy? Don’t get me wrong, Missouri is making the same mistake (Nevada) and KU would have, had it been against anybody other than UTEP. But the point is, it’s simply and unnecessary risk in my opinion. Take the buyout, swallow your pride and schedule some NAIA schools like the days of old. Look, I’m happy the Cats are taking on UCLA..that should be a fun game to watch. But as I’ve stated MANY times…until the system changes, teams should load up on as many cupcakes as possible. In this case, that cupcake is better served at home, rather than some greasy diner in BFE Louisianna.

Power Poll Time:

NORTH:


1) Kansas (2-0) vs. Duke:
Despite playing one of the worst schedules in organized football, it’s hard to deny the fact that the Redleggers have dominated their junior-high level competition and still hold more firepower than anybody in the division. They get a TINGE of credit for playing UTEP on the road, but in a ½ full stadium taking on one of the worst teams in a bad conference (USA), it’s hard to get too excited. Reesing has been steady, Jake Sharp has ran the ball OK and Dezmon Briscoe has been lights out as usual. But we still know ABSOLUTELY nothing about this team, other than the fact that their athletic department can successfully fly them to an opposing campus and get them to the game on time and back home again. Bravo Lew Perkins. Bravo.

2) Missouri (2-0) vs. Furman:
A lot of venom spit out at the Tigers this week as they blast pundits who “proclaimed their greatness” in week one. Not really the way I see it: I see a VERY young team with a LOT of talent that is going to be inconsistent throughout the year. Struggling with Bowling Green is unfortunate, but expected when you realize how much success the MAC is having, and that the Perverts are 11-8 vs. BCS competition this decade. That’s some pretty scary stuff, especially when you’re down 14 points late in the 3rd quarter. Mizzou’s success in the long term will hinge on whether or not they can minimize mistakes, and whether those storms when things start going bad...which they will again at some point.


3) Iowa State (1-1) at Kent State:
What’s that? Insane you say? Perhaps, but in watching the Clones on Saturday, mistakes cost them countless points and oh yes…they’ve played the toughest team yet of anybody so far in the North. (Sad but probably true) Austen Arnaud looked horrible in the pocket…but remember, Iowa was a preseason trendy pick to win the Big 10. In a rivalry game such as this..all bets are off. I don’t expect ISU in any type of bowl game or what have you…but I still give them credit for hanging with a pre-season top 20 team for 3 quarters. (Something nobody else in the North has done as of yet.)


4) Nebraska (2-0) at. Virginia Tech:

What? Husker fans want CREDIT for bowling over a couple of Sun Belt teams? A big victory at home over the defending Motor City Bowl champs? Seriously? I’m sure many of my red-clad readers will burst into flames while hearing this…but playing pathetic competition at home has never been your problem. (Even when things were REALLY bad). No, the problem is when you face anyone REMOTELY good…which is what NU is in store for this week. Nebraska hasn’t beaten a team in the top 20 since October 27th 2001…and even then, they needed a fluke trick HB pass to do so. (Last top 20 win before that? Try December 30th, 2000 vs. #18 Northwestern) Time to put up or shut up for Bo Pelini and his team. Lose this week, and that streak may never be broken.


5) Colorado (0-2) vs. Wyoming:

Buff fans, don’t you worry..I’ve got your back. Oh sure, last week’s trip to Toledo was a debacle and yes..you can’t stop anyone…but it’s not like there isn’t talent in the cupboards. Perhaps that opening loss to CSU shook them up, or perhaps they completely underestimated Toledo (they’re pretty good actually)…regardless of what it was, I still see the Buffs pulling off a shocker somewhere along the way. If the team that pushed Nebraska to the brink last November shows up anytime soon…perhaps the mood will change slightly in the foothills. This week’s game vs. Wyoming looms large with West Virginia, Texas and Kansas coming up. (yikes)

6) Kansas State (1-1) at UCLA:
At least the Cats are running the ball well…sorta. Issues at quarterback and putrid special teams play has punched Bill Snyder’s team in the gut as they now set out to get waxed by a pretty good UCLA team. Don’t get me wrong, I think most KSU fans know they probably aren’t going to be in Dallas the first week of December to play for the title…but the key here is improvement. Luckily, there’s not a whole lot more to do from here. Gotta give props to Bill Snyder for putting his legacy on the line to try and pull something out of the toilet just one more time.




SOUTH

1) Texas (2-0) vs. Texas Tech:
As the Horns were struggling against Wyoming in the 1st half last week..I kept thinking to myself, “My god those guys look big and fast.” Well, they are. This week, Texas Tech bends over for a Lone-Star sized colon throttling that will no doubt be long, painful and unrelenting. I saw Longhorn fans closeup at the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City last year..and they were still pretty pissed off. Mike Leach’s team has been living on the same prayer for a while now, and last season showed the night-and-day difference his squad has playing on the road. This one is over by the 5:00 mark of the 1st quarter.

2) Oklahoma (1-1) vs. Tulsa:
Gotta feel bad for Idaho State last weekend. “Oh, you’re scheduled to play Oklahoma in Norman and oh yeah..they lost to a fucking Mountain West team last weekend in the closing seconds. Good luck.” Landry Jones will continue to throw 5 yard dunks to the likes of DeMarco Murray and Ryan Broyles…and there really isn’t anything Tulsa can do about it. Despite everyone else throwing dirt on OU’s grave, the Sooner defense did stop a pretty prolific BYU attack all the way to the end. Look for a repeat of last week as Tulsa grabs their ankles and assumes the position.


3) Oklahoma State (1-1) vs. Rice:
As I mentioned before, it’s kind of hard to get down on OSU, because the talent is there. The problem is, you’ve got guys who have never been expected to do all that much, suddenly staring down a top 10 ranking, gobs of expectations and a Sports Illustrated cover. Seems to me that in cases like this…talent will prevail, and the Pokes should focus enough to sleepwalk through an ass kicking of the second best team from the city of Houston; A team that has allowed 99 points in two games. Good luck with that Owls.

4) Baylor (1-0) vs. UConn:
After a week off, let’s see how Baylor does with growing expectations, and a tough UConn team that is actually well coached and battle-tested. Robert Griffin is an amazing talent and will get his yards…but eventually, somebody is going to throw down the Brad Smith defense (8 men in the box..maybe 9) and force the sophomore QB to actually throw downfield. UConn is scrappy, yet undersized…but should provide enough resistance to force Baylor to make plays. Anytime Baylor is “forced to make plays”…look out. I say UConn straight up in this one.

5) Texas Tech (2-0) at Texas:
Sure, Tech can score points and has run up a couple of miles in passing yards already this season. But Rice and North Dakota aren’t exactly a measuring stick for where your program is. Texas is big, fast and really really pissed off at Tech for ruining their shot at a National Title last year on a last-second fluke play. Watching Taylor Potts running for his life in front of 100,000 pissed off Ranchers in Austin is going to be the saddest media event since the last 10 minutes of The Green Mile. If I was Mike Leach, I’d almost sacrifice Steven Sheffield and save Potts the embarrassment and physical pain. I’m not kidding.


6) Texas A&M (1-0) vs. Utah State
Was A&M’s big win over New Mexico a fluke? Does Mike Sherman actually know what he’s doing? Is Jerrod Johnson the real deal? Well..we’ll never know, because the Ags don’t play shit for a schedule unitl early next month. Only after a throwdown with Arkansas will we see just how far A&M has to go. Until then…pile up the points and hope like hell nobody notices until a mediocre SEC teams takes the field aginst you. We’ll talk to you on October 3rd.



Photo Thanks - Kansas City Star, ESPN, Wichita Eagle

12 comments:

  1. Wow, it's like you don't even try anymore. Good luck in your fishing expidition

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  2. Mizery nearly loses to one of the worst teams in 1A and you feel the need to lash out?

    We're all laughing at you not with you.

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  3. Missouri Football... A tradition since 2007.

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  4. Let the record show, stealing material from random Missouri fans on TV is lame and noted. Try not to bite down on your tongue this Saturday.

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  5. I'll help you out.....the Corncobs are drinking Kool-Aid!!!! What a patsy schedule that has proven nothing...The higher they put their heads in the clouds the harder the fall..VT will spank'um bad and Coach Boo Boo will cry all the way home.................
    Any bets on them being 3-2 after Oct.8th?

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  6. Furman?? Get out of here. Until you can write an educated column get out of town.

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  7. Dogging Nebraska for successfully using a trick play to put a game in the bag? Even if they didn't execute that play..they were still ahead. I miss the days when you got me riled up when you complained about Nebraska. Now it's kinda just "whatever".

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  8. Hick nation loads up on KY jelly in preperation for Saturdays prison rape in Blackburg.

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  9. "educated column"?

    I might be crazy, and although I've never really seen you write...I'm quite sure I can write better than you.

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  10. Wow...I guess if you dummies think K-Puney and their midget quarterback are good then you'd think anyone in the ACC is worth a shit. It's 2 games in to the year...for most teams, I think K-Puney is 1/4 of a game in since they've been playing handicapped children and retarded elderly folks in uniform.

    I won't even explain further. Let's just sa I haven't seen this much shit in one place since my former self dove headfirst in to a porto-potty at Woodstock...which is a more honest depiction of reality than any of the fuck all that's on this abortion of a page.

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  11. I've done this a long time..and that's one of the worst attempts at a "slam" I've ever seen....pretty much ever.

    Porta Potty? Woodstock?

    Brutal

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  12. KSU fan weighing in....Iowa State over NU? I can't tell when you are serious and when you are just trying to piss off NU fans anymore. If you are serious, you're an idiot. If you're just trying to piss off NU fans, well, you're still an idiot. Whatever.

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