Dean's Take: OU-Army, OSU-Texas Tech & Baker Mayfield's Debut
Week 4 arrives to cool temps and expected wet stuff for our two state universities (Tulsa is private, TU friends), looking to become one-third of the way to running the table and a perfect 12-0 regular season – mathematically impossible, but it sounds good and optimistic! The Sooners and Cowboys are heavy favorites in home games against Army (West Point) and Kliff’s Krew (Texas Tech), respectively.
It’s hard to imagine either losing this weekend. Kingsbury’s Raiders appear to be what we’ve seen for quite a while. Fling it all over the yard for half a mile, score enough points to go unbeaten at some places, but another sieve defense keeps games against strong Big 12 teams like OSU from being a game that goes deep into the fourth quarter. OSU has beaten these guys nine straight times. Make it ten.
For Army West Point to pull off an Iowa State type stunner on Owen Field, the recent weather forecast of a rain-free game doesn’t help. Arguably, if a QB can grip a wet ball well enough to be effective along with receivers having the advantage in knowing their routes versus softer than normal coverage, an OU would actually be advantaged. But overriding that sensible logic is the fact that prohibitive underdogs most always prefer outside influences -- such as heavy rain – to be a factor.
Army’s wishbone/triple option offense will have some success against the Sooner defense. It shouldn’t alarm fans if they put up good numbers simply because even though OU has spent time working against the option off and on since spring, the reality is this offense requires a specific and discipline that a team like OU is almost never prepared enough. What’s most important for the Sooner defense is to win individual physical matchups. And tackle much, much better than what we saw last week at Iowa State.
Army QB Kelvin Hopkins leads the Black Knights in rushing – both with 46 attempts and with 206 yards. With Kyler Murray leading the Sooners in rushing it feels like ground games of the past where two quarterbacks were leading rushers. Feels like a 1975 matchup when Kansas QB Nolan Cromwell beat the Steve Davis Sooners – although even those great QBs didn’t actually lead their teams in rushing. Point being, it’s rare.
Hopkins rushed for a team-high 110 yards and two touchdowns and completed 6-for-10 passes for 162 yards as Army knocked off 2-0 Hawaii extending its home win streak to nine games. However, Army is breaking in four new starters along its offensive line which does not bode well for the Black Knights.
Oklahoma wins, 45-20.
OSU beats Texas Tech, 38-24
BAKER ‘MONEY’ MAYFIELD: None other than the inimitable Michael Irvin nailed his post-game analysis for NFL TV after Baker Mayfield led woeful Cleveland to its first win in almost two years. The former Dallas Cowboys concluded his always-emphatic comments by declaring that "from now on just call him Baker ‘Money’ Mayfield."
Mayfield’s Magic came after never – repeat never – ever taking reps with the Cleveland’s first-team offense. As odd as that fact is, some of us believe that holding Mayfield back until the likely possibility of the Browns struggling and fans calling for Hue Jackson’s job so he could get one more chance to keep his job. That’s just as amateurish. The Browns will win, despite of their head coach.
But Jackson’s future is not the story. Mayfield’s performance electrified a bummed-out-and-boo-bird stadium, lifted the emotions and performance of every player, and was the best debut by a rookie QB in memory. Here’s hoping the many knuckleheads who called Mayfield a ‘slower version of a troubled Johnny Manziel’ will pipe it down. Any fair-minded observer who has followed Mayfield since his first walk-on days at Texas Tech knows that the guy possesses tangibles great QBs need, and intangibles that even some great QBs are missing. Arm strength. Anticipation. Accuracy. Poise. Precision. A brilliant football mind. The ability to read and react. Extending plays. Patience and courage in the pocket. A never-flinch ability that is best displayed on third downs and in winning time. A charisma that is grounded in the perfect mix of extreme confidence but mixed with a ‘team-first’ mentality.
I TWEETED THE FOLLOWING DURING LAST NIGHT’S WIN OVER THE JETS:
That @OU_Football ‘System QB’ must come from a pretty good system.
Watching Baker Mayfield do this … reminds me during his junior season when I asked OU OC Lincoln Riley if Baker could make it in the NFL. He looked at me like I had 4 noses and said, “Why not? Of course. What can’t he do?”
FINALLY: as a sports fan yesterday was about as good as it could get for me. Mayfield’s remarkable debut. And Tiger and Rickie Fowler – my two faves – shooting 65 to lead after the first round of the Fed Ex Cup finale at East Lake.
Enjoy the games! And the golf…..