Gut feelings…

What a great time of the year. Every team is undefeated and fans have national championships dancing in their heads.  Of course OU fans come by national championships naturally, so this not a major stretch for us. More importantly Sooners fans are never short of gut feelings so here are mine…

OU will be much improved this year. Bob did what he had to do and made wholesale changes to his staff. Those moves will pay off in a big way in 2015.   The offense under Lincoln Riley and Baker Mayfield will take time to gel, but regardless, it has to be better than that mess Josh Heupel put out there last year.   Again, we have OSU to thank for this coaching staff shakeup so be sure and thank your local Aggie…

The defense under new secondary coach Kerry Cooks will much improved over last year’s crew…Yes, Mike Stoops is still around, but he has been banished to the press box where he can do less damage.   Last year’s freshmen have grown into men and will not resemble what we saw against Baylor.

Most importantly, the schedule sets up very nicely for the Sooners. While the Sooners are likely to suffer an early season loss at Tennessee due to a young, inexperienced offensive line, the Sooners will gain confidence from the Knoxville trip and use that experience to fashion an 8-1 start.

At 8-1, the Sooners will enter the end of the season trifecta of Baylor, TCU and OSU with a full head of steam. Worst case scenario will see the Sooner taking only two of three during this stretch. Regardless, the Sooner fans will enjoy sweet revenge against the office staff with a Thanksgiving win in Agwater.

While the Big 12 non-conference schedule is embarrassing, it will allow these teams to fashion impressive records that will only help the OU cause.

TCU and Baylor will be good again, but will take a step back from last year’s heroics. Other than OU, I see Texas and Texas Tech being the most improved teams in the league this year, but neither will good enough to derail Sooner Magic in 2015.

In the end, I predict the Sooners to finish the regular season at 10-2 and 8-1 to end up tied for league title. Regardless of the tie-breaker scenario, the Sooners will be the pick of the selection committee to represent the Big 12.

I see the final league standing this way…

T1…OU – Champion

T1…Baylor

T1…TCU

4…Texas

5…Texas Tech

6…OSU

7…K-State

8…West Virginia

9…Iowa State

10.Kansas

Advertisements

ESPN Football Power Index – 2015

This year’s preseason magazines are in love with TCU and Baylor, giving credence to the fact that the current Big 12 Conference as a football conference may survive.   The latest ESPN power index has Baylor and TCU tied at #2.  OU is #11 with Texas, OSU, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State all ranked in the top 40.

As you can see below the Big 12 Conference is holding its own with preseason prognosticators.  80% of league teams are seen as top 40 teams going into the season.

By comparison, the other power conferences line up with only the SEC at 75% coming close to the Big 12.  If these facts hold true, the Big 12 will kick down the championship series door in a big way this year and end the myth that the Big 12 is a fluke as a power conference.

Big 12 = 8/10 – 80%

SEC = 12/16 – 75%

Pac 12 = 6/12 – 50%

Big Ten = 6/14 – 43%

ACC = 6/14 – 43%

However, playing the role of devil’s advocate it is necessary for me to point out that Ohio State at #1 will likely go undefeated and nail down the #1 playoff spot.  The SEC with its five top ten teams will represent the playoffs at #2.  An improved Pac 12 at #8, 11, and 17 will likely be the #3 team.

That leaves the ACC and Big 12 to fight over #4…ESPN predicts the ACC to be down this year which may give the Big 12 its opening.  Obviously the 80% rating would indicate a walk in the park for the Big 12 over the ACC, but only if Baylor and/or TCU live up to preseason hype.

A closer look at the ESPN rankings tells a concerning tale for Big 12 lovers. The ESPN power rankings for both teams are incredibly high, but both teams are predicted to lose two games. Two losses by either team will not get it done…

If this happens, neither of these teams will make the final four, with the east coast bias moving the ACC championship game winner ahead of the Frogs and Bears.

Only time will tell how this saga plays out, but I believe we will know a lot more about the future of the Big 12 after the first week of the season.

ESPN Football Power Index – 2015

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.

Team (Projected Wins) (Football Power Index)

1……Ohio State (11.7) (26.7)

2……Baylor (10.2) (25.1)

2……TCU (10.1  (25.1)

4……LSU (9.7) (24.4)

5……Georgia (10.3) (24.3)

6……Texas A&M (9.2) (22.4)

7……Alabama (8.0) (21.4)

8……Oregon (9.7) (20.7)

9……Ole Miss (8.7) (20.4)

10….USC (9.0) (20.4)

11….Oklahoma (8.7) (20.0)

12….UCLA (9.6) (19.9)

12….Arkansas (7.8) (19.9)

14….Tennessee (8.8) (19.8)

15….Michigan St (9.7) (19.2)

16….Notre Dame (8.9) (17.9)

17….Stanford (8.8) (17.7)

17….Auburn (8.8) (17.7)

19….FSU (9.6) (15.9)

20….Clemson (9.2) (15.8)

21….Arizona State (7.6) (14.6)

22….Florida (7.0) (14.0)

23….Texas (6.7) (13.2)

24….Oklahoma State (7.5) (13.0)

25….Virginia Tech  (8.2) (12.6)

26….Missouri (7.3) (12.3)

27….West Virginia (7.3) (12.1)

27….Georgia Tech (7.0) (12.1)

29….Arizona (7.7) (11.7)

30….Michigan (7.9) (11.3)

30….North Carolina (8.5) (11.3)

32….California (6.4) (11.2)

33….Mississippi State (6.1) (11.0)

34….Miami (7.5) (10.9)

34….Boise State (11.0) (10.9)

36….Wisconsin (8.8) (10.2)

37….Penn State (8.2) (10.0)

38….Texas Tech (6.0) (9.8)

39….South Carolina (5.4) (9.2)

40….Kansas State (6.5) (9.1)

Sam’s back…

Only Sam Bradford could suffer a season ending injury during his college days, only to be followed up with two season ending injuries as a Pro and live to tell about it.  For the record those NFL injuries were within ten months of each other and cost Sam two years of intense rehab.

Possibly part of Sam’s moxy comes from his high school days when he was overlooked by everyone, including me as a college prospect.   It was my good fortune to watch Sam play numerous times during his high school career and to be honest Sam did not appear then to be a difference- maker.

Of course Sam played on some very average PC North teams that were full of slow footed wide receivers.   It really took a keen eye to see the upside for this diamond in the ruff.  Josh Huepel was that guy.

Josh convinced Bob Stoops to offer Sam OU’s last scholarship for that year and of course being the OU fan that he was Sam scooped it up. As they say the rest is history as Sam became one of the most beloved Sooners of all time.

Obviously OU cannot win championships without four and five star players, but occasionally, OU must take a chance on an Oklahoma 3 star player.  When it pays off, it usually pays off big-time.  This was one of those times…

Sam was one of those quiet leaders who impressed coaches and players with his gritty character and God-given ability.   He won teammates over almost immediately as the team rallied around Sam in the wake of the Rhett Bomar fiasco.  This guy epitomized the antithesis of Rhett Bomar   Sam saved the day and brought OU Pride back with a 5th Heisman Trophy.

Sam’s time in St. Louis was short lived as the Rams were pathetic on both sides of ball and were incredibly poorly coached.    The Rams remind me of a John Blake Pro team.  Simply put, the St. Louis football franchise has always been and will always be a loser program.

Even without his injuries, Sam would have spent his career in St. Louis swimming upstream.   God works in mysterious ways and now that he has been exorcised from that place his career will take off.

The Philadelphia Eagles with Chip Kelly as coach saw Sam’s potential and took a chance on the off-injured Sooner.   This move will pay off for both Sam and the Eagles.  The word on the streets of Philadelphia is that Sam is back.

Eagle players are raving about Sam in preseason.  He has taken charge of the team and it appears that Sam will finally come into his own this season.  Chip Kelly, the former Oregon coach will be the perfect tonic for Sam.

While not a big pro fan, I am a big Sam fan and it will be lots of fun watching Sam grow into his new team where he will finally get his due…Sam Bradford personifies what is right about college football.

This could not happen to a better guy and to a better Sooner…

Boomer Sooner…

Saving the Big 12…

I have made no secret of the fact that I believe OU officials stumbled when they refused to consider realignment options back in the day. Nothing has changed, but being the pragmatist that I am, I fully understand how difficult change is for Oklahomans. As a result I am willing to accept the fact that the current ten-team format may be with us for a while.

Having said this, let’s take a look at how this system could work… Here’s how the conference can be saved.

First off, nothing has changed for the conference, a one loss TCU or Baylor team will not get it done. For the good of the conference we need OU and Texas to step it up.

Secondly, we still need TCU and Baylor to be very good. This means TCU must avoid an upset at Minnesota in the opener at all costs. Same goes for OSU and Baylor. Avoiding upsets by these teams will be critical to creating an elevated conference RPI.

Next OU and Texas must play well against Notre Dame and Tennessee.   Losses by either team will not be deal breakers, but bad losses by either, will.

Then the OU-Texas game must be competitive as both teams will need style points to help each other with the selection committee. OU should win the game in Dallas, but Texas needs to come out of the game looking good to committee members.

Then both teams will go undefeated in conference play leading up to the TCU, Baylor and OSU games.

OU and Texas will each beat the middle of the road bunch and end up 1, 2 in the league. The conference RPI will soar in spite of the lack of a championship game.

There you have it; a recipe for Big 12 success…The final standings below will create a final four team and four other major bowl possibilities.  The conference will be saved and Bob Bowlsby and David Boren will save face.

The final Big 12 standings will look like this…

1….OU – 11-1 – stumbling once before catching fire…

2….Texas – 10-2 – with losses to OU and Notre Dame…

3….TCU – 9-3 – with losses to OU, Texas and OSU…

4….Baylor – 9-3 with losses to OU, Texas and TCU…

5….OSU – 9-3 – with losses to Texas, Baylor and OU…

6….K-State – 8-4

7….West Virginia – 7-5

8….Texas Tech – 7-5

9….Iowa State – 6-6

10..Kansas – 5-7

This is more like it…

A recent headline in the Oklahoman read “Boren to order internal investigation into Baboon program.” At first, I thought it was a reference to last year’s Bedlam game, but I was wrong.   While the headline alluded to a non-football activity last year’s Bedlam meltdown did create an internal investigation that produced major changes in the OU coaching staff.

These changes got OU recruiting off to one of the slowest starts in recent memory. This time last week, the Sooners were ranked 65th in the country by Scout . While some of this fact must be laid at the feet of the lack of a power conference affiliation, a great part of this had to do with staff changes. Previous coaches had spent years building relationships with high school coaches and players and the new coaches had to start over.

The good news is that Bob’s coaching changes appear to finally be paying off.   This week OU recruited a Louisiana safety that is ranked as a three/four star prospect. On Friday, OU brought home a top 150 linebacker from California who will provide a huge lift to this year’s class. The Sooners jumped 15 spots in Scout in three days.

These two players may be exactly what the doctor ordered, not only in the recruiting war, but also in providing needed momentum for the team going into this season. The fact that these two blue chip players hail from Louisiana and California is also a significant point. Given the weakness of this year’s Oklahoma high school class and the intrusion of the SEC into Texas, finding out-of-state gems has become incredibly important for the Sooners.

Here are some thoughts regarding what is now going on with this recruiting class.

1…The new staff appears to be finding its legs and may now begin making up for lost time in the recruiting wars.

2…The old staff had gotten stale and lazy and simply could not relate to today’s high school players. Stoops’ staff changes were long overdue and will produce huge benefits this year and next.

3…The California coaching connections appear to be paying off. I expect more California blue chips to follow the Bryce Youngquist, one of the best players in California.  Can you say, Pac. 12…

4…Getting players on campus for official visits to view the Switzer Center, Headington Hall, and stadium expansion drawings is huge. Having an ample supply of official visits cannot be understated.

5…The smoke screen that OSU has been selling that losing official visits due to their “dirty game” sanctions will not hurt their recruiting efforts is bogus. Can you imagine asking a top-line recruit from California to visit Stillwater on their own dime? Not going to happen.

5…Norman is a great college town that embraces recruits. California kids seem to love Norman.

6…Rumors that donor pressure is being placed on David Boren to do something about the conference alignment appears to be true and to be bearing fruit.

7…Belief by prospects that OU is on the verge of turning things around appear to be bearing fruit as well. Expect big things out of the Sooners in 2015…

8…While this recruiting class may not end up in the top 25, the combination of difference-makers in the Class of 2015 and the Class of 2016 will elevate Sooner play on the field.

Boomer Sooner…