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Game Day

Katie, bar the door

10/2/2013

FIRST DOWN

Of course. Of course Oklahoma State, the hands-down preseason Big 12 favorite, would be a double-digit favorite at West Virginia, a team that just been shut out by Maryland (Maryland?) and scored only seven points at Oklahoma.

Of course Cowboys would then trip all over themselves and fall flat on their face in a 30-21 loss.

Of course it took all of one week of league play for the Big 12 race to look like one giant clusterfudge.

Well, we can’t say we didn’t warn you.

So the good news, if you’re a Cyclones fan, is that the circuit’s big picture, the big forecast, looks like “Kansas — then everybody else” instead of “Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia — then everybody else.” The bad news, of course, is that you’re still stuck with a trip to Morgantown on Nov. 30.

But in the meantime, as the calendar flips to October, Katie bar the door.

Because with the exception of (maybe) Oklahoma and (double maybe) Baylor, there doesn’t appear to be any squad of the so-called “upper-echelon” that can run away from anybody else (well, save for the Jayhawks), especially if that aforementioned “anybody else” is hosting one of the so-called big boys at home.

Sometimes, parity is fun. Other times, it’s looney tunes. Texas in Ames on Thursday night? Why the hell not? Oklahoma State at the end of the month? Sure. TCU in five weeks? A toss-up, no question.

We want to believe in the Sooners, who’ve built up a good head of steam, especially after a convincing win at Notre Dame. But Team Stoops often seems to struggle with Texas Tech, which visits Norman on Oct. 26, and the league slate is capped by visits to Manhattan (Nov. 23) and Stillwater (Dec. 7).

And perhaps this is the year Art Biles’ Bears roll into a BCS berth after the way they’ve stomped three nobodies — Wofford, Buffalo and Louisiana-Monroe — in successive, workmanlike fashion. But the trouble with beating up on nobodies for a month is when you suddenly have to play a bunch of somebodies, especially somebodies in the league who know you almost as well as you know yourself. Baylor hosts West Virginia this weekend; it’s a different fight when the cat in the other corner has an actual pulse. Still, The Briles Gang — the Oregon of the Southwest, Ducks Lite — gets the Sooners and Longhorns at home and the salty Red Raiders at Jerry World in Arlington, Texas, so the dance card sets up fairly nicely. On paper.

Either way, mark the date: Nov. 7, 2013 in Waco — Baylor hosts Oklahoma in a showdown that could determine the top of the Big 12 race. Or not.

 

THE BIG EIGHT

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight

TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT

1. Ohio State (5-0) / at Northwestern

2. Oklahoma (4-0) / vs. TCU

3. Baylor (3-0) / vs. West Virginia

4. Texas Tech (4-0) / at Kansas

5. Wisconsin (3-2) / vs. Northwestern, Oct. 12

6. Michigan (4-0) / vs. Minnesota

7. Oklahoma State (3-1) / vs. Kansas State

8. Northwestern (4-0) / vs. Ohio State

 

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. After getting down 17-3 early at Boston College, the Seminoles’ freshman quarterback ended the first half by throwing a Hail Mary touchdown that put the visitors ahead to stay. “It looked like a miracle, but we do that in practice all the time,” Winston told the Orlando Sentinel. “I was like, ‘Let’s bomb this ball.’ ” Bombs away, baby.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: It may never rain in Southern California, as the song goes, but when it rains in Eugene, it pours. Despite torrential showers and wind (and the loss of tailback De’Anthony Thomas), the Hawaii native threw two more touchdown passes in a 55-16 rout of Cal.

3. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville: Now that the Cleveland Browns have rather stunningly found their franchise quarterback in Brian Hoyer — the same Brian Hoyer who appeared awfully pedestrian at Michigan State — it’s starting to look like a one-horse race in the Bridgewater Sweepstakes next spring. How do you feel about Jacksonville, Teddy?

 

SET YOUR TIVO:

The games you won’t want to miss …

1. Maryland at Florida State, ESPN, 11 a.m.: The upstart Terps dismantled West Virginia (which then beat Oklahoma State) and handled UConn at UConn with far more ease than Michigan did. But if the Turtles want to be taken seriously — really, truly seriously — their road to redemption starts here.

2. Ohio State at Northwestern, ABC, 7 p.m.: Iowa fans detest Wildcat coach Pat Fitzgerald already. Don’t worry, folks: you’re going to learn to hate Urban Meyer soon enough.

3. Washington at Stanford, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.: The Huskies’ Keith Price just might be the best quarterback that no one east talks very much about. Meanwhile, the Cardinal are slowly and convincingly building up a strong case for consideration in the national-title game picture.

 

THE HOT SEAT: MACK BROWN, TEXAS

What gives? Our guy Mack doesn’t lose — I mean, technically, his Longhorns didn’t play, but, hey, they didn’t lose — and the Fire Brown bandwagon churns on, even during a Texas bye week. If you thought the Tommie Frazier rant on Bo Pelini’s defensive staff at Nebraska was damning, check out what ’Horns legend Earl Campbell told the FOX affiliate in Dallas last weekend: “Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen. I’d go on record and say, ‘Yes, I think it’s time.’ More from Earl: “I’d just say this, I take my hat off (to) USC for what they’ve done (by firing Lane Kiffin so quickly). They didn’t mess around with it. They just said, ‘Let’s do it now.’ I think at some point, our university’s people are going to have to make a decision.” And that decision could come sooner rather than later, ya feel. CV

 Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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