Welcome to Football U
And now, HouStoned presents Football U. Each week, Richard Connelly and John Nova Lomax will tell you which college pigskin games you should watch, why you should watch them, and why each of them is a better football prognosticator than the other. Think of it as our version of PTI (though we'd hate think of either of these guys as our Tony Kornheiser):
Scheduling a powerhouse like Sam Houston the week before the Oklahoma game was bizarre, for several reasons:
SHSU normally plays six-man football, so the chance to have five extra players on the field was thought to give them a huge advantage.
Several Bearkat players (and yes, I had to Google to find out the nickname, as with any football power) had been high-school studs who had been recruited by UT, in the sense that they picked up a brochure at the UT table during their high school's College Night.
Bearkat QB Wade Pate had opened the 2006 season by passing for three TDs against Arkansas-Monticello, and UT had never before beaten any QB who had so throroughly scorched a team from Monticello, Arkansas. (Motto: The Monticello Without All That Jefferson Stuff.)
Finally, UT had somehow managed to get through SHSU Week, as it was known around Austin, without having any players arrested. Not even pulled over. Coaches hate when they have to deviate from the routine like that in the build-up to a big game.
Despite all this, the gutsy Longhorns beat the Bearkats, who were perhaps looking past UT to their big match-up this week with Northwestern State. But the Longhorns' reward for such bold scheduling is a trip to Dallas. (What was second prize, a trip to Monticello, Arkansas?)
This week's picks:
TEXAS - OKLAHOMA — Warning sign for Longhorn fans — this is another one of those games where Mack Brown has to use his coaching acumen. Never a good sign, it's even worse when that coaching acumen is unable to consist of telling Vince Young "Get in shotgun and see what happens." OU wins 24-10.
LSU - FLORIDA — Student-athletes from these two fine institutions of learning will actually take time away from their studies to play in this game; fans of both teams are brushing up on their Proust and Voltaire in order to find le mot juste of a pre-game put-down. LSU is overrated, Florida has the sleazy Urban Meyer and his gimmicky offense. Unfortunately, we see the Gators winning by 10.
NOTRE DAME - STANFORD — On the other end of the educational spectrum, two teams whose players actually graduate. Notre Dame players, however, manage to do so while playing good football. The Irish name the score here, which will probably end up being 42-10 or so.
HOUSTON - LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE — Fresh off a frustrating loss to Miami, UH looks to get healthy against a Sam Houston-level opponent. If they can't, all the sudden rosiness on Cullen Boulevard will disappear faster than a decent parking space on campus. UH 35-14.
MICHIGAN STATE - MICHIGAN — The frozen north's version of UT-A&M features the Batshit-Crazy College Coach of the Year, State's John L. Smith, who ended a recent press conference by slapping himself. Michigan's coach, Lloyd Carr, is nicknamed "Llloyd" because he usually bumbles his way to three losses a year. This year, though, the Wolverines have got their stuff together. UM 56-21.
Rich, Rich, Rich....Rich. How you dare to call yourself a sportswriter, I'll never know. It's obvious to me that you didn't even watch last week's epic battle between UT and Sam Houston, or even bother to read the box score. I know this because you mistakenly referred to Wade Pate as the quarterback of the Sam Houston State Bearkats, when it was in fact Brett Hicks. Yeah, the same Brett Hicks who piloted the Bandera Bulldogs to victories over the Ingram Moore Warriors and the Liberty Hill Panthers, all the way to an undefeated season and the 2002 3A state championship where they beat Midland Greenwood. I'll put this in Domerese -- the language you think in: Dude is like the Joe Montana of the (southwestern) Texas high schools (with enrollments under 125.)
Speaking of Notre Dame, every year you hear a lot about how brave the Fighting Irish are for lining up such a tough slate of games. Give me a break. Let's take a look at the remaining games on their schedule, shall we? Next up are home games against Stanford and UCLA, two Pac Ten teams with defenses you frequently see thrashing about in utter futility in the highlight reels of USC Heisman winners. Then there's perennial ACC doormat North Carolina and a tour of all three service academies. What, did the Border Patrol Academy have a conflict?
Sure, the Irish play USC every year, and Michigan and Georgia Tech are quality teams. But if Notre Dame was in any of the BCS conferences other than the Big East, they would have a tougher schedule than the one they have now. Yes, I'm including even the sorry-ass Big 12 in that pronouncement.
Speaking of the sorry-ass Big 12, here's this week's picks:
Texas vs Oklahoma: Paul Thompson throws three picks, Adrian Peterson has 36 carries for 69 yards, and the Sooner secondary lapses into their customary brain funk as the Horns roll 31-10. Peterson will suffer a severe concussion and shred every ligament in his knees and ankles, and Coach Stoops will tell him to "rub some Icy Hot on it and get back out there."
Baylor at Colorado: Two inept offenses tangle in Boulder. Buffs coach Dan Hawkins has said he might consider allowing strong-legged kicker Mason Crosby to attempt a 70-yard field goal some time this year, and this battle of Baptists and 'shroom-addled Phish fans in the thin Rockies air very well might be that time. Colorado is favored by five, but these two mullet squads might not score that many points combined. The only sure thing here is the under, no matter what that number might be. (A steal at 35 1/2.) Colorado wins 19-6.
Texas A&M at Kansas: The Aggies have a fatal flaw on defense, and his name is Jordan Peterson. Former Aggie legend Lester Hayes liked to mock "Caucasian Clydesdales," and Peterson looked very much that part last week against Texas Tech, getting torched time and time again and once more with emphasis on the final TD in the game's waning moments. This guy makes Elvis "Toast" Patterson look like Night Train Lane. Kansas, 31-27, with whoever is running the Jayhawk offense this week throwing for 350 yards.
Oklahoma State at Kansas State: Despite their loss to UH, the Cowboys are a pretty decent team. They'll take Manhattan this week and they will do it with ease. They are only one point favorites, but I think they're gonna roll the Mildcats by a score of 37-20. It was fun while it lasted for K-State, but they're headed back to their customary whipping boy role for decades to come. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, is a rising power in the South.
Missouri at Texas Tech: With all the flying footballs, this one will look a flea circus on crystal meth, the opposite of the titanic Baylor-Colorado struggle. Of the two "defenses," Tech's is the slightly less inept. And the game is in that shithole we call Lubbock, so Leach's Pirates will win 38-30.
Nebraska at Iowa State: Man, I miss the Huskers of old. I never hated them the way I hate, say, Miami. Their option game was a thing of beauty and they had players with cool football names like I.M. Hipp, Jarvis Redwine and Dean Steinkuhler , and they would frequently lose to Texas and stomp OU. Now, they're just another faceless Big 12 North team with a nondescript West Coast G-Funk offense and an asshole coach. They should take care of business in Ames, but it's sad even saying "should" in connection to Nebraska beating Iowa State. Bugeaters 24, Cyclones 17.