10.05.2002

Texas 17, Oklahoma State 15

17-15, are you kidding me? Someone please me tell me - can you actually look past a team when the whole week leading up to the game, everyone including the players and coaches we're saying "OU who, we're concerned with OSU!" Hell, they even printed T-Shirts about it. That game should have never even been close. Three missed field goals, one of which, the "Kick around the World" contestant could have made. Forget the free airline tickets, give that dude a helmet and a scholarship. Twenty-two incompletions, most of which were drops. Horrendous blocking up front. Poor tackling, not to mention the D giving up a 99-yard drive. And to top it all off, Texas was playing at home. I've got to tell you, finding out that the Longhorn offense is mortal after all was like being told that there's no such thing as Santa Claus when I was five after I wouldn't stop complaining about our home not having a fireplace. Oh the humanity. I was so depressed after that game I almost put Cedric Benson's picture on a milk carton. Who kidnapped the "O", I think I know....

ME, MYSELF AND (THE) I-FORMATION

Is Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis a schizophrenic or what? One minute he's Jack Pardee calling for the "Run and Shoot" minus the run. The next he's calling nothing but running plays out of the "I" and lobbying for a job at one of the service academies where they consider the forward pass a scheme devised by the left wing conspiracy. Who told GD that he was only allowed to pick one, running or passing, but not both on the same drive? Even the damn kid in the middle of my row, who got up to go to the bathroom 27 times during the first quarter, knew what the Texas offense was going to do. If Benson was in the game, Texas ran the ball. Did you think OSU believed for one second that the Horns were going to give the ball to Brett Robin on 3rd and long. Doubtful. And don't get me wrong, I like this 5-wide offense and all, but I don't want to see it on every freaking down, especially in the red zone where our receivers can't spread the field. In my opinion, Davis is like a little kid with so many toys he can't decide which ones to play with. How about play-action already? Cedric Benson isn't a threat to run the ball if he's counting cornrows on the sideline. And here's another tip, you can't run play-action with an empty backfield unless you're playing Baylor. Davis isn't using UT's assets to the best of their abilities. Defenses adjust, that's why you have to keep them off balance. If the defense knows you're going to pass the ball, the D-Line puts their ears back and comes after the QB without worrying about the run. You're making it easy on them. They also know that with no running back in the backfield to help block in the 5-wide set, Simms won't have a lot of time to throw the ball, so he'll probably be looking to hit the slant route. One OSU defender almost figured it out but dropped the ball. Otherwise, it would have been a pick for six easily. Conversely, you can't run the ball when the defense knows you're going to run it. Instead of coming up field to collapse the pocket around the QB, the D-Linemen hunker down in their holes and wait for the running back to come to them. The linebackers don't drop back in pass coverage either. Damn it, this isn't rocket science. And I can guarantee you this, there's at least one asshole up in Norman in particular who knows what I'm talking about. Which brings us to our next topic of concern....

THE RED RIVER SHOOT OUT

Besides the national championship, this is bar none, the biggest game of the year in college football. Tickets for the game carry a street value only a pimp or a pusher could truly appreciate - a pair between the 20's is going for $900 or more. Wall Street, Afghanistan, the bathroom at Panchos - nothing can prepare you for the unbridled carnage witnessed in the Cotton Bowl every second Saturday in October. Seeing the game in person is like riding a roller coaster for 4 hours, nonstop and without a bar to hold onto. It's like purgatory on earth where fans on both sides of the 50's walk the line between heaven and hell with every snap of the ball....whoa...sorry, got a little lost in the moment there.

Anyway, after last year's 14-3 heartbreaker, I was counting the days, just biding my time until the next shootout. And after the first four games this season, I thought this was the year the Horns would get sweet, sweet revenge against Stoops and those despicable Sooners. Not only would OU go down, but they'd go down hard. But after the OSU game, I'm not sure of anything anymore and now, instead of being eagerly anticipated, Saturday looms on the horizon like the last day of tax season. Oh, the horror.

Both teams are fresh off near upsets and look more vulnerable now than they have all season. The Sooners are still stacked on defense but seem to lack the senior leadership that made them so impenetrable last year. The Longhorns have a stout defense as well, but of late, have had trouble stopping the run, and bringing down the ball carrier at the point of first contact. On the other side of the ball, OU's offense has looked very average thus far. Hybl is not the scrambler that White was before the knee injury, and he's not considered a great passer outside the pocket. But what can make you weak can also make you strong. The Horns cannot afford to become complacent because, make no mistake about it, the Sooners still have a stable of tremendous athletes who can break one at any time and Hybl is still every bit the QB that OSU's Josh Fields is...and look what that guy did against Texas. As for Texas' offense, it's more potent than ever, but it lacks the coaching and the protection from the offensive line to pull the trigger. If Greg Davis can't figure out how to balance the offense before next Saturday, Simms could be in for another very long day. Lastly, the kicking games for both teams are disgraceful and not worth mentioning. These kickers couldn't hit water if they fell out of a boat. If either team is lucky enough to score a touchdown, they might think twice about kicking the extra point and just opt to go for two. It's that bad.

As for how the game will go, I see another defensive standoff. This may be the most anticipated coin flip of the year, as neither team will want to go on offense first. Offensively, Texas will most likely come out like they did last year and play extremely conservatively. The Horns will most likely look to establish the running game early with Benson in order to set up the passing game and the Sooners will expect it. If I were Greg Davis, my first play from scrimmage would be to fake a hand off to Benson and throw it deep to Roy. Regardless of whether they complete it or not, at least it would make the Sooners blink. And speaking of Roy, I imagine will see the reverse to Williams to get his head in the game early and try to take advantage of the Sooners over pursuing defense. Sloan Thomas said in an interview on Monday that there were still a lot of plays they haven't put in yet. All I can say is thank goodness for that, hopefully those are the ones that work.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Sooners will look to rattle Simms early, causing him to shuffle his feet and throw ill-advised passes off the wrong foot. The line for Texas must plug the gaps and try to use their immense size to wear OU's line down. Offensively, for the Sooners, it will be much the same. They'll try to get Griffith or Jones going with draws up the middle and sweeps to outside to bring UT's linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage. That way when it's least expected, OU can throw a bomb to one of their gifted receivers. The Longhorn defense must stop the run first and then get to Hybl as often as they can. If they do that and avoid getting down by more than a touchdown early, Texas will have a chance. I give a huge edge to the team that scores first. But who will win you ask. Well for that capricious prognostication, let's hand it over to the ....

UNPREDICTABLE PREDICTION

I needn't go any further than the Oklahoma mascot, the Sooners. History tells us that a "Sooner" was a settler back in the late 1800's that snuck across the state line and claimed land in the Oklahoma territory before the legal time and date mandated by the U.S. government. Thus the name Sooners is really just another word for cheaters. And since cheaters never win and winners never cheat (except for Barry Switzer), I can only deduce that the victor of this weekends football match will be the noble and forthright Longhorns of Texas. (UT 18, OU 12)

TAILGATE UPDATE

Seeing how there's not so much need for a tailgate (what-you-talkin'-'bout Willis?) when there's a state fair (mullet convention) going on, you're on your own this week (don't forget the buddy system?). But here's a few tips (observations really) just in case:

1) GET TO THE FAIRGROUNDS EARLY (like Tuesday). And save the bloody mary brunches at the in-laws (call me dad) for Sunday.

2) PARKING. The Cotton Bowl is not exactly located in the nicest of neighborhoods ("pardon me homes"). And even though the man standing in his front yard with the cardboard sign that reads "Parking $10" claims to be a respectable business man (too legit to quit), I don't recommend you leave your only mode of transportation (sweet ride) out of the hood (it's not all good) in his front yard (your car won't be the only thing on "grass"). Find a paved parking lot (long term, DFW) or take a cab. I suggest the parking lot outside the Smirnoff Music Theater (play some Skynard). It's a great place if you get there early enough ("here comes the sun...").

3) NO WALLETS, NO PURSES. Get a money clip (or a paper clip) for your driver's license, date's ID (she said she was 18), cash, credit card and tickets. Then put it all in your front pocket (next to the gummy bears).

4) COUPON TICKETS. Find a coupon booth (next to the pig toss) immediately upon arrival and however many tickets you think you should buy, double that (super size it). Coupons are the state fair's elaborate little scheme (bait & switch) to try and hide the fact that you just spent $12 (is that tax deductible?) on a corndog (mmm, meat on a stick) and a beer.

5) GO TO THE GAME EARLY. Find the gate number on your ticket (your age minus beers consumed) and enter that gate ("are you the key master?").

The corridors of the Cotton Bowl are extremely narrow (Moooooo!) and when they fill up, they're worse than a junior high hallway after the lunch bell rings (hall rage).

6) FORGET THE FLASK. I know, I know, it's a right of passage ("good talk Russ"). But after Sept. 11 and with security guards (hey tough guy) at all the gates with magnetic wands (use the force) and frisky hands (Is that a corndog in your pocket or are you...), it's not worth blowing all that cash (bling-bling) on tickets just to watch the game with the boys downtown (jailgate). If spirits (oh Captain, my Morgan) are a must, then replace the cleaning solution (so hard to find good help) in your contact lens bottle with the liquor.

7) BIG TEX. Designate a meeting spot (Section "Oh", Row G) for your group before you get drunk and disoriented (Scout master Bob's missing and my butt hurts). And I repeat, BIG TEX (he's tall for his age) is NOT a good place to meet. There are many other viable landmarks (like Uranus) to choose from.

Add suntan lotion and adhere to these seven simple edicts and as they say, the rest is up to you.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"Wow, that’s not potpourri?" – Some girl who was waiting in line in front of me for the port-o-potty

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