IDIOT OF THE YEAR AWARD goes to John Helsley of The OklahomanPosted: November 28, 2006
Mon October 9, 2006
Forget conference title
This year’s Big 12 championship won’t include Sooners even if they win out
By John Helsley
Give it up, you most optimistic of Sooner fans.
Abandon the crimson shades, yes, so soon, lest you welcome further disappointment in a season that’s already delivered an Oregon takeaway and a Texas takedown.
Your team won’t re-enter the Big 12 title chase. Not this year.
Not even by winning out. Don’t bother doing the math; feasible as your formula might seem.
Besides, winning out? Shoot, winning outside of Norman is a challenge at this point. (More on that later.)
Which brings us to the next major moment in OU’s schedule: Oct. 28 at Missouri.
That’s right, Missouri, dangerous not only for the locale but also for the current take on the two teams.
The Tigers, at 6-0, are daring to rise above their underachieving past. Don’t look now, but Mizzou climbed above the Sooners in this week’s polls.
Meanwhile, the Sooners suddenly seem vulnerable, with too many lapses — basics such as blocking, tackling, covering, protecting the ball and knowing the snap count — still bogging them down in big games.
In Columbia, where OU barely escaped (31-24) with more talent in 2002, the Sooners could lose. Missouri might be favored to win.
The Tigers boast the Big 12’s best young quarterback in Chase Daniel (sorry, Colt McCoy).
And Saturday’s 38-21 victory at Texas Tech was the kind of legitimizing win they were lacking.
So the Sooners have three weeks — and two accommodatingly weak foes in Iowa State and Colorado — to brace themselves for their next big game.
The Cyclones, once expected to contend in the Big 12 North, have proven unworthy of such status at 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
Colorado’s first season under Dan Hawkins might be startlingly historic.
The Buffaloes are 0-6 and losers of 10 straight, which matches the longest skid in the school’s 117 years of football.
It’s gotten so bad, Baylor beat the Buffs on Saturday — on homecoming in Boulder.
It’s clearly get-well time at OU.
“It’s really simple,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “We’ve played one conference game.
“That’s it. So we’ve got a big part of the season here in front of us, all Big 12 games.”
None, however, carries the clout of Saturday’s 28-10 setback against Texas.
And it was — and is — a setback.
Even in a perfect-down-the-stretch world to get the Sooners to 10-2, the Longhorns essentially own a two-game lead over OU in the South.
And what two teams can take down Texas?
One more troubling factor to consider: the Sooners no longer stir fear in enemy stadiums.
Since the start of last season, OU is 2-5 in games played outside Owen Field.
And that’s where the Sooners will spend the latter part of the season, with four of their final five games on enemy soil. Some are snake pits.
At Missouri. At Texas A&M. And after Tech visits for the final home game of the season, OU goes to Baylor and Oklahoma State.
The Sooners are still capable of producing a successful season.
Despite the Texas loss, 10-2 or 9-3 would be an improvement over last year, not to mention any early August expectations.
Still, go ahead and schedule Dec. 2 for any non-football activity. Hang the Christmas lights. Hit the mall.
The Big 12 championship game is on for Kansas City, but you won’t be needed.