Wall's World - Week Two

It's been nearly a week and my heart is almost back to normal. Someday I'll watch the replay of Iowa State's game last week against Toledo and think about how great a college football game I watched. That game had everything – big plays, points upon points, blocked kicks, hard hits and once in a while a defensive stop. It was a great game.

But I couldn't enjoy it. I was terrified throughout the game, afraid that at any time Toledo would take over and the Cyclones would start the season with a loss. Sitting in the press box at Jack Trice Stadium, I spent much of all three overtimes pacing back and fourth, unable to just sit and watch. Think my four first half Mellow Yellows had anything to do with that?


At least the Cyclones know what they have to work on. Their pass defense had more holes in it then an isle of Swiss cheese. My buddy Brett and I have started using the phrase "soft underbelly" when talking about the ISU defense. How many times was the Toledo tight end wide open in the gaps in ISU's zone? I shudder to think what Texas Tech might do when they visit Ames.


Don't get me wrong. I'm not a panicked sissy who is ready to throw in the towel. There were a host of good things the Cyclones did; Bret Meyer was in midseason form, Todd Blythe is amazing, Stevie Hicks is healthy again, the offense can dominate, Rashawn Parker is going to be a stud, Alvin Bowen and Tyrone McKenzie are everywhere and the ISU rush defense is stout once again. I'd talk about all of them but I'm sure some of you are bored already and those who aren't just really want my picks.


So here they are. Happy now?


During any other week of the season, this is the point where I would plug myself and how much of a prophet I really am. If you take a glance back at last week's column, you will see that I put up some impressive numbers. I went 11-1 with my only misstep coming thanks to Colorado and the egg they laid against Montana State. If not for the Buffalos - and really, who saw that one coming? - I would have a perfect record through week one. (And yes, I called them a sleeper to contend for the North. I'm sorry. I was wrong. They might not be able to contend for the CIML title.)


Iowa State welcomes UNLV, another team with a pass-happy offense that will look to exploit ISU's group of young defenders. UNLV got their quarterback courtesy of USC, meaning the kid has serious talent. He will be another tough test for the Cyclone defense. Even though they were abused last week, John Skladany will have his unit ready to play. The defense that hits the field against UNLV will be leaps and bounds better then the one that played Toledo. The Runnin Rebels will still put up impressive numbers against the Cyclones, but the Cyclone Hitmen (seriously, Bowen or McKinzie will kill someone before the season is over, they hit that hard) will make more then enough stops to win.


THE PICK: Iowa State


Ohio State at Texas


This is the game I've been looking forward to for months. No. 1 vs. No. 2. with both teams having something to prove.


Ohio State needs to prove they belong. They are good but earning a No. 1 ranking after losing all but two of your starters on defense is a bit odd. The Buckeyes couldn't stop Garrett Wolfe last week, which isn't a good sign. Wolfe ran for 172 yards and had another 115 yards receiving as they only beat Northern Illinois 35-12. Imagine what Texas and its stable of backs will be able to do.


Texas has to prove that last season wasn't a fluke. The knock on Longhorn coach Mack Brown has been that he can't win the big game. This season we'll find out if Brown truly has overcome that hurdle (Rose Bowl win over Michigan, beating Ohio State, trouncing Oklahoma and a national championship say he has) or if Vince Young was really THAT good. If Texas can win, it will prove that the Longhorns are here to stay and not just ridding the coattails of one of the greatest college football players ever.


Not only do the two teams have something to prove, both quarterbacks do too. If Ohio State's Troy Smith has a big game, his Heisman Trophy chances skyrocket. Freshman Colt McCoy of Texas can go a long way to establishing himself as a star if he can get the Longhorns a victory. This will be a game that will be talked about for weeks to come.


Texas has a great defense and Ohio State has a great offense. We know that much. While there isn't a star on the Texas offense that can take over a game, the constant pounding of that many exceptional athletes will be too much for the Buckeye defense to handle. Especially on the road.




And now that the Texas-Ohio State game is out of the way, here are the picks for this week's games that don't matter.


Washington at No. 15 Oklahoma


One of three Big 12 teams who scheduled legitimate games this week, the Sooners play host to Washington. On paper this looks like a good game. But Washington is a mediocre team in a Pac-10 conference that is WAY overrated. The only reason anyone pays attention to the Pac-10 is because USC is so good. Outside of the Trojans, this conference has nobody. Put UCLA or Cal in the Big 12 or Big Ten and they would be a seven or eight win team who puts up a .500 record in conference play. Instead they play on the West Coast and somehow find their way into the top-10 by season's end. That's how week that conference is.


THE PICK: Oklahoma


Nicholls State at No. 21 Nebraska


One more game for Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor to pad his stats before the Huskers travel to face USC. Taylor looked sharp and Nebraska showed they can replace graduated running back Cory Ross in their 49-10 win last week over Louisiana Tech.


THE PICK: Nebraska


No. 24 Texas Tech at UTEP


The fun-and-gun Tech offense is in full bloom and UTEP won't be able to do anything to stop it. The Red Raider's 492 yards last week against SMU might be matched. Oh, and they have a pretty good running game too. Could they challenge for the Big 12 South? I think so.


THE PICK: Texas Tech


Northwestern State at Baylor


Baylor looks to rebound after a tough loss to TCU. The Bears needed that game if they wanted to make their first bowl since joining the Big 12. Beating Northwestern State (The same school that beat Iowa in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament, the tournament where Iowa was a three seed. Remember that? Awesome!) will get them in the win column, but Baylor will have to steal a couple games they aren't expected to win if they want a shot at the postseason.


THE PICK: Baylor


 Louisiana-Lafayette at Texas A&M


There isn't much to say about this game other then A&M will win easy.




Oklahoma State at Arkansas State


It says something about the state of the Cowboy program when one of their non-conference games is a road one against Arkansas State. Enjoy the win OSU fans, just don't get used to it.


THE PICK: Oklahoma State


Colorado at Colorado State


What a way for Dan Hawkins to start at Colorado, with a loss to a 1-AA opponent. The Buffs need to rebound and unfortunately this isn't the week to do it. Intrastate rival Colorado State is a good team that almost won last season's game. A 0-2 start in Boulder is right around the corner.


THE PICK: Colorado State


Mississippi at Missouri


Chase Daniel is good. Remember that. But is he good enough to save Gary Pinkel's job? This is the type of game the Tigers have lost in the past.


THE PICK: Missouri


Louisiana-Monroe at Kansas


A source inside the Kansas football program tells me there's a reason for the Jayhawks schedule. Kansas and portly coach Mark Mangino scheduled their first two games against Northwestern State and Louisiana-Monroe because of his personal attraction to Cajun foods. I hear gumbo and jambalaya have a large place in Mangino's heart and his stomach. Kansas wanted to play LSU next week but had to back out of the game when people in Louisiana started to complain about being hungry.


What? You expected real analysis for this game?


THE PICK: Kansas


Florida Atlantic at Kansas State


This is a game Kansas State should win, but after their poor performance against Southern Illinois last week, anything is possible. Follow me Wildcats, I'll show you to the bottom of the Big 12 North.


THE PICK: Kansas State

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