Smith's Picks: Week Three

See inside for Smith's OU-UCLA breakdown, plus a word from former Sooner Tommy McDonald.

Sooner nation, take heart.

Those were words of advice from Tommy McDonald, All-America halfback for Bud Wilkinson in 1955 and 1956. McDonald finished third in the Heisman balloting in 1956 behind Paul Hornung and Johnny Majors.

During a recent telephone conversation with McDonald, he encouraged the fans to not lose hope during the recent difficult times.

"There's a lot of season left…many games yet to be played," said McDonald. "And I have complete faith in Bob Stoops and his staff. Stoops is a great coach."

McDonald follows the Sooners from his home in Pennsylvania and has the benefit of perspective many of us lack. Although he played for Oklahoma during a time when they set winning records that have yet to be broken (his teams, 1954 – 1956, won 30 straight contests and never lost a game), McDonald is able to look at the season as a whole and urges everyone involved not to become too disheartened over recent struggles.

Called by Bud Wilkinson "the best halfback I've ever coached," the 5-foot-9, 168-pound McDonald rushed for 1,683 yards, averaged 6.8 yards per carry, and completed 28 of 44 passes on the halfback option. The only regret he has from his playing days is that because of the depth of talent, he only averaged playing two quarters per game and in his final year he only carried the ball around 130 times (note: McDonald received more first place Heisman votes than Hornung but lost the trophy based on 2nd and 3rd place ballots).

When asked what he could've done had he been given as many carries his senior year as Adrian Peterson receives in a game, McDonald laughed.

"Oh man!" he said.

And we left it at that.


The Picks

Saturday, September 17th

Idaho at Washington (-13 ½)
The Idaho Vandals, or Taters, aren't as silly a team as their anonymous tradition might suggest. They put up 26 points in Pullman while losing to Washington State by only 8. And considering the quality of team Tyrone is fielding in Seattle, I'd say the point spread is risky. Washington will be serving these Taters al dente.
Huskies by 9

Alabama (-2) at S. Carolina This game is going to boil down primarily to one guy's performance – Brody Croyle. If he doesn't come through, the Tide will need Forrest Gump to pull it off.
Croyle by 7

Arkansas at USC (-31)
Arkansas has played the Trojans three times in modern times; on their last meeting, September 14, 1974, the Hogs beat USC 22-7 in Little Rock. The two prior meetings, 1972-73 were both won by the Trojans, both in LA and Little Rock. There is a parallel here. The 1972 USC team coached by John McKay that beat Arkansas 31-10 were the eventual national champions. The 1973 defending national champions beat Arkansas 17-0 in the Coliseum. Arkansas, in 1973 as in 2005, found themselves playing a powerful defending champion in Los Angeles. The suspicion here is that the huge betting number is due to two factors: 1. Arkansas, an average team this season at best, should be down after their home loss to Vanderbilt; and 2. USC is just that good. Let's hope the Trojans are looking ahead to their first conference game with Oregon so we can take the Hogs to cover the spread.
The Nuttster to lose by 24

Arkansas State at Oklahoma State What do these teams do…draw lots to see who gets to sissy-slap Arkansas State in September of each year? Ridiculous game, not worth commenting on.

Baylor (-5) at Army Interesting equation here. We have the Baylor Bagels…on the road…giving five points. What does that tell you about Army?
Baylor by 10

Florida State (-1) at Boston College The BC Eagles are going to encounter one of the best defenses they'll see this year on Saturday…and one of the most impotent offenses. Bowden hasn't had an offense since Mark Richt decided to head north. Got to cautiously take Boston College, the younger coach and the home field ad.
BC by 6

Miami (-7) at Clemson Tommy Bowden has the Tigers playing way over their heads this season. Suppose he doesn't want to end up like his brother…irritating viewers on national television? Bowden's sense of abject desperation could translate once again into a win for Clemmie.
Tigers by 3

Tennessee at Florida (-6) Even though Tennessee has only played one game so far this season, they've had tougher competition than the Gators. Coach Fulmer's Vols are a bit more seasoned and have had the benefit of playing in a consistent system longer than the Gators. Looks like age and guile just might be enough to allow Fulmer to put Florida's Urban Renewal program on hold for a week.
Tennessee by 7

Louisiana Tech at Kansas (-14)
The Jayhawks just keep rolling through the bread dough in September. Buon appetite, Coach Mangino!
Kansas by 28

Michigan State at Notre Dame (-6 ½) Still not convinced that Weis' Irish are the real deal? Me neither. Weis has revealed to the alumni of Pittsburgh what the new emperor looks like without his clothes and kicked in Lloyd Carr's house of cards. But the only thing the Irish have done that impresses me is to have played – and won – in front of 107,501 fans in Ann Arbor. Michigan State has several advantages here: They're a better team than ND's first two opponents, they're as good as or better than Notre Dame and the Irish are coming off of a very emotional road victory.
Spartans by a field goal.

Pittsburgh at Nebraska (-10) This line is more an indictment of Wannstadt's coaching than of Nebraska's ability to win by ten. Suggestion for Callahan: since the defense has scored more points than they've allowed in '05, why not start your defensive players on offense and your offensive players on defense? I mean, it can't hurt can it? Suggestion for Pittsburgh: put the headset on Cavanaugh and let Wannstadt hold the clipboard.
Huskers by 3

Oklahoma at UCLA (-6 ½) Oklahoma dropped to number 21 in the AP Poll after their victory over Tulsa last weekend. Considering the way the Sooners have been playing and the quality of their opposition, I'd say the AP Poll is being generous. But be that as it may, it has been quite some time since Oklahoma has found itself in the position of ‘road dog.' Stoop's, with a little creativity in play-calling and motivating, just might be able to use that to his advantage. Let's go out on a limb here and give him the benefit of the doubt; he deserves it.
Oklahoma by 10


Wann Smith has served two years as national columnist for the Pigskin Post, contributed to the College Football News (a contributor to Fox Sports and the Sporting News) and is currently the editor of the College Football Gazette. Smith lives in St. Louis with his family.

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