The thing I'm looking forward to the most this weekend is:
I've already written about Fleet Week before and, starting tomorrow, I will live in my own little pocket of Tora Bora, as F-18 Hornets strafe my pad for the next four days. As I always do, I will attempt to hit a passing jet with a super soaker and then hum Lee Greenwood's Proud To Be An American, trying my best to ignore the fatuous lyrics, focusing on the general sentiment of freedom, cable television, and four ply toilet paper. If you don't feel this way when 30 million dollar jets fly over you, you're a filthy hippie.
I'm also looking forward to the fact that Texas isn't playing. We need a time out, in both the football and child discipline sense of the phrase. I'm going to regenerate my give-a-damn battery and then convince myself by next Friday that we're going to find a way in Lincoln.
Do the same.
Until then, we have some fascinating Big 12 games to watch, almost all of which are well worth your time. ColoradoAg and Sydney Carton will be along to focus on the national picture soon enough in their always entertaining national viewer's guides, but I thought I'd take the Big 12-o-centric view, because the Corn Belt is so goddamn electric.
Nebraska vs. Kansas State, Thursday night
Both undefeated. Both coaches possess major personality disorders. Snyder wears white gloves and says things like, "That is the last time you will place hands on my person. The last!" while stroking a Persian cat. Pelini puts bubble gum on Lincoln beat reporter's foreheads when he's done chewing it. The Huskers look like the class of the conference right now and they'll roll into Manhattan with a great deal of confidence. KSU is a team held together by twine, great coaching, Daniel Thomas (105-628-6.0 ypc), and scrappiness and they'll make their Thursday night national stage a rural Kansas Super Bowl. They've also played more real football teams than Nebraska has. Don't discount that.
Last week, KSU edged UCF 17-14 (with a game winning run with 7 seconds left) as the Wildcats had trouble handling a nine man box and Daniel Thomas was halted. Carson Coffman was eventually able to make a couple of throws and they pulled off the win. Nebraska had a disinterested 17-3 win over South Dakota State on the heels of blowing out Washington. So both teams still have plenty to prove. I expect Nebraska to load the LOS and force KSU to beat them throwing the ball against their elite secondary. That secondary may not have great coverage support if NU walks up a safety so the game will be decided by KSU's mediocre WRs in one-on-one match ups against very good corners. It's also worth noting that KSU, though incredibly scrappy, doesn't have great talent on defense and they've struggled to stop the run, ranking 90th in FBS in rushing yards per carry.
Nebraska has the #1 adjusted running offense in college football.
Let's call this matchup very unfavorable for KSU, no matter their crowd's enthusiasm. Overall winner: low-grade personality disorders.
Shitbird @ ULL
T Boone's OC hire is looking good so far, allowing Gundy to focus on head coaching duties, haircare, and tanning. Now the Cowboys take their Leachian offense to Cajun Country for a serving of jambalaya and lower tier football. If I know Mike Gundy, this is precisely the sort of game he'd allow a letdown in (recall that OSU edged ULL's Sun Belt conference mate Troy by 3 earlier this year), but I don't think his 39 year old QB will allow it. If you're watching this game on Friday evening, I hope it's because you decided to stay home and wash your hair. You might want to prep this game by renting the movie Southern Comfort, so you can get a feel for the local's expected reception. Ask the Aggies what the drunk Cajuns are capable of when sufficiently enthused.
The Cowboys ride to 5-0 though, right? Right.
Baylor vs Texas Tech
In the Cotton Bowl. As it should be. One side red and black, the other green and gold, a traditional rivalry unparalleled and revered like Michigan-Ohio State, Army-Navy and...hey, wait. Baylor hasn't beaten Texas Tech since 1995, but they've played Tech close recently. RGIII is a dangerous man and Tech is reeling after a road loss to Iowa State. I'm not sure who prevails here, but it would be a big win for Art Briles and a horrible loss for Tuberville. Given that both squads aren't that far apart in raw talent, that's an interesting commentary on expectations. I expect a high scoring, dramatic contest and it to be one of the better games in college football this weekend. I'm not sure how Baylor can stop Tech on offense and I don't see Tech's defense being able to handle RGIII's feet and playmaking ability.
Anyone want to call this one?
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas
A game of cat and mouse (hog and sheltie?) will be played in Jerry World. A&M's DC Tim DeRuyter and Arkansas' Bobby Petrino are top notch coaches and their matchup will decide the outcome. The problem for A&M is that while both coaches have the X's and O's, Petrino has the Jimmy and the Joes...and Ryan's. Defensively, Arkansas is much better than they are given credit for and I expect them to give A&M's offense more trouble than most anticipate. I expect an Arkansas win, with the Hogs pulling away decisively late.
Colorado @ Missouri
Another interesting game, particularly in light of Colorado's 3-1 record, horrific history against Mizzou (last game was 58-0 in Columbia), and the fascinating prospect of Dan Hawkins and Gary Pinkel matching wits. Or outfits. Hawkins is a serape kind of guy; Pinkel likes a good visor, even for a night game. Missouri looked as shaky as a Puerto Rican alibi against San Diego State and Colorado's last road contest was an epic defenestration in Berkeley. I think this is a surprisingly competitive game, but Mizzou should win at home.
Utah @ Iowa State
I told you these games were good. Who on earth does Iowa State's OOC scheduling? Somewhere Bill Snyder is shaking his head. Non-con games against Iowa and Utah are no way to pad your bowl resume, Cyclones. I dig Paul Rhoads and I love the upset potential here, but Utah is more talented and they're scrappy in their own right. I've seen so little of ISU this year that, beyonds the basics like Robinson and Arnaud, I don't have any feel for them at all. Perhaps a Tech person can limp in and tell us what's up.