My mind hasn't changed from the preseason about what this game could do for the winner. In fact, with Texas's tank job in the second half on Saturday, losing to a less than dominating UCLA squad and losing because the Bruins ran it up the gut, and with Oklahoma ranking dead last in the Big 12 in total defense despite being 4-0 then the winner of this game between the Cowboys and the Aggies may not only get a seat at the table to compete for the Big 12 South Division crown, they may get a chance to feast at the table.
It is still way too early for either Oklahoma State or Texas A&M to stick out their chests and start clamoring that they are in the hunt to steal the throne and prepare for a trip to Jerry's Cowboys Stadium in December. However, neither Texas nor OU, which will meet this weekend in the Cotton Bowl, have done anything to discourage anybody from trying to muscle into the South race.
Texas A&M has throttled Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Tech before that 27-20 squeaker in which preseason All-Big 12 quarterback Jerrod Johnson nearly threw the Aggies into an embarassing loss by tossing four third-quarter interceptions. You could consider that Johnson was in shell shock after being sacked six times by FIU in the first half!
The scary part of that is that A&M will likely use that mistake-filled performance to improve in that open week leading up to the short week of prep for the game. That would be similar as to how Oklahoma State came off that close call with Troy to pummel Tulsa. That said, the Cowboys are at home, Brandon Weeden and the passing game is comfortable and clicking. Kendall Hunter loves to run against the Aggies, and Bill Young is the Cowboys defensive coordinator.
I heard an interesting comment from a member of the media that covers A&M. He said the Aggies are really hoping with their first game on the road and some young players involved to keep it close and go into the fourth quarter with a chance to win. That's a reasonable expectation but I would think A&M would want to come out and throttle Oklahoma State. Of course, the media doesn't speak for the coaching staff and players.
Either way the winner has it all set up for them. That team will be able to sit back on Saturday and watch the Red River Rivalry, scouting to see who their top competition may be for the Big 12 South. That would make for a very fun Saturday.
2. Big 12 Missed the Boat
On Saturday you have the Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma and Texas and ABC is coming to the party. In fact, they decided when the party would start with the 2:30 p.m. kickoff. On Thursday you have Texas A&M in Stillwater to take on the Cowboys. ESPN arranged this whole deal by helping the Cowboys to alter their schedule and get an off week leading up to the game with A&M. They also promised to televise the Cowboys next game on the road at Louisiana-Lafayette on a Friday night on ESPN 2.
ESPN loves it but I feel like the Big 12 is missing the boat as they had a chance to promote this as a huge week in the conference with showdowns on either side of the Red River. I know there is a sponsorship for the OU-Texas game, but Oklahoma State and Texas A&M may want to request the Big 12 schedule this game for the same weekend as the Red River Rivalry each year and even offer it up on a semi-permanent basis for ESPN on Thursday.
In this marketing world I see room for a double dip of war between the Red River neighbors and I see dollar signs attached. Even if they don't go for all my advice then maybe it is the schools, OSU and A&M, and their athletic directors, Mike Holder and Bill Byrne, two money conscious guys that missed the boat. This could become huge as the former A&M (Oklahoma State was once Oklahoma A&M) plays the A&M. Let's get it done!
3. My Mind Has Changed
Last week I had Alabama and TCU in my BCS National Championship Game, if it were played that week. This will likely be an every week deal and I have changed my mind. Bump off the TCU Horned Frogs after that tighter than it should have been Friday night fit with rival SMU. I know it was the Iron Skillet Bowl and the two are rivals but I can't carry TCU on.
I'll keep Alabama as I was impressed with its performance and comeback in Fayetteville against a stout Arkansas team and crazy Razorback fans. I'm still not on board with Ohio State. I'll go with the Ducks and throw Chip Kelly and Oregon in there against Alabama. Keep an eye on Bama's in-state rival Auburn. I was very impressed with their win over South Carolina and Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton is a beast.
4. A Whole Day of Football and Just One Irritating Announcer
I watched a lot of football last Saturday. I started with ESPN GameDay and followed through until 2 a.m. with the Big 12 Wrap Up Show on Fox Sports Southwest. In between I saw Georgia Tech-N.C. State, Kansas State-UCF, Maryland-FIU, Michigan-Bowling Green, Houston-Tulane, Alabama-Arkansas, Texas-UCLA, Stanford-Notre Dame, Ohio State-Eastern Michigan, Cincinnati-OU, Georgia-Mississippi State, Auburn-South Carolina, LSU-West Virginia, Baylor-Rice, Oregon-Arizona State, and then the Big 12 show.
I saw and listened to tons of announcers. I saw my mentor Verne Lundquist, every ESPN announcer under the sun, some of my favorite sideline announcers like Jim Knox, Holly Rowe, and Heather Cox. I thought all of them did a good job and I enjoyed listening and watching all of them except one.
Former Notre Dame coach and Texas A&M assistant Bob Davie drives me nuts. His comments are sometimes really stupid, especially coming from a former college head coach. He should know better. He also should stick to opinions that he can back up with facts.
The opinion that OU running back DeMarco Murray is the best dual-purpose or all-around back in the country is really lost in Big 12 country where there are two better without even looking. I don't have to tell you that I would take Kendall Hunter of the Cowboys and Daniel Thomas of Kansas State over Murray. Apparently, Davie forgot that duo.
When D.J. Woods of Cincinnati muffed that punt late in the game for his second critical turnover of the game, Davie wouldn't leave it alone. Yes, the cameras captured a distraught Woods on the sidelines, but Davie kept on and on with it. Maybe I'm prejudiced in some way but Davie was the only announcer that aggravated me the entire day. Really, one out of what, some 60 announcers, that is really a pretty good percentage.
By the way, the ESPN broadcasting team for the OSU game Thursday night is Rece Davis getting out of studio for play-by-play duty, Jesse Palmer and Craig James on analysis, and Jenn Brown on sidelines is a very solid team. They really showcase the Thursday games.
5. Too Early? I Don't Think So and I Don't Think NIT
I was in the store the other day with my wife waiting at the checkout line and I grabbed the Athlon's College Basketball magazine. They had OSU picked seventh in the Big 12 and as the first team in the league not getting an NCAA invite.
Okay, like with football, I get it. James Anderson is on his way to the Spurs for his rookie season and Obi Muenelo is set for free agent NBA status, maybe "D" league. or overseas. Hold on, I look at Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses a year further down the line and more compatible. I see Keiton Page, and man, you should too. Page has lost all the baby fat and put on muscle in totally re-shaping his body.
Look out for junior college transfer Jean-Paul (J.P.) Olukemi. I prefer Jean Paul for the player that has been here since mid-year last season and should really help out. Freshmen, you want freshmen? Try Markel Brown, who is a scoring guard deluxe that has lit it up in pick-up games and early individual practices. His high school rival in Louisiana, Brian Williams, will make them a formidable pair as pups this season.
Throw in the unselfish and tough Nick Sidorakis as a leader presence and I like the looks of this crew. No reservations for the Final Four but another "I told you so" tour could be in the works around late February or early March.
Three Days To Go: Before the "I told you so" plan goes into effect with folks like Phil Steele of Phil Steele's College Football Preview, Matt Hayes of The Sporting News, and OSU graduate Brett McMurphy of AOL Fanhouse, who predicted the end of defense as we know it for Oklahoma State as the Cowboys would be throttled by Tulsa. There are others that predicted doom and gllom this season for the Cowboys and they know who they are.