Mike Gundy has had two weeks to game plan against a defense he believes will be vulnerable to his four-headed attack: QB Robinson's duel threat ability-especially his running on zone reads; RB Hunter-best in the Big 12; TE Pettigrew-dangerous blocker and receiver and probable first-round NFL selection; and WR Pettigrew-a guy who wins almost all jump-ball situations and a true difference-maker who is possibly the second best receiver in the nation.
HOLD 'ER A SECOND IF YOU NEED A SEATHow many people will attend? 50,000 max. Sources with direct knowledge of where AD Holder stood this weekend guarantee he will not budge on his ticket policy. I call it football's version of a "bailout plan."
Holder believes it is only fair to stick with his plan of selling tickets at premium prices and not allowing fans who want to go to the Bedlam game get a break over other fans who doled out the cash for season tickets. He believes that just because the team is better than expected it would be unfair to give the late-comers to the party a price break.
Some speculate that a lot of seats will be filled at the last minute by a bunch of kids and others who did not pay the season ticket plan. I doubt too many would get that break. Holder basically sold 39,000 season tickets... OU 5,000...roughly 1,000 can be expected to pay the $294-the cheapest ticket available which is of course a season ticket. Holder and his many OSU voices say that 10,000 plus empty seats will not be noticed on national television because as I was told, "the end zones will be full and the empty seats will be scattered that were not sold in the first place. It won't be bad," my source said. OSU did not sell any games this season.
BEST CASE SCENARIOOSU's best chance? Jump out fast, get the crowd into it, get OU to help them with a couple of turnovers, get Bradford out of his rhythm and get OU's defense on its heels-something they've done successfully in Stillwater.
LET CINCO SINK INOverlooked stat? There is always a lot of talk about OU seasons being derailed by OSU and big upsets, but Stoops has won five straight in the series.
HEISMAN HYPEUnfortunately, instead of the Heisman being decided on the field, it is probably going to be decided by computers-two of which so out of touch that the same Tech team that was slapped with a humiliating 44-point loss on national TV in the "biggest game in the history of the program," that they still have Tech ranked ahead of OU. Computers and human polls could very well determine if Sam Bradford or Colt McCoy wins the Heisman. In essence, the PR machines could keep the most deserving player in college football from winning. I'm not sure who that is, but it's shameful the BCS controls things to that degree.
BS OF THE BCSIf OU beats OSU by seven points and Texas beats A/M by 34 (numbers the odd makers put out), I believe OU has a 60 percent chance of winning a tie-breaker. But I believe Texas will slaughter A/M in the 70-7 range and OU will beat OSU but not in a route. Thus, OU gains with the computers and Texas gains with the voters.
Where will OU end up vs. Texas in the computers? Ahead, but not substantially, meaning the human polls will decide the outcome of this election. Politics will play a big role. To its credit, Mack Brown and his "campaign staff" are very good-sort of comparable to the Barak Obama "get out the vote" message. OU does not need to sit back, let "the record speak for itself" and pull a John McCain, or they could finish exactly where the fine Senator did--second.
Two points worth noting: One, Bob Stoops is not a groveling phone-caller looking for votes; Two, OU Sports Information Director Kenny Mossman is as good as they come. He won't throw out a full frontal assault for Jason White and Heisman. And he won't over-sell OU's position in the Great Debate with Texas. His style is keep it simple and rely on the facts and the belief that OU's play down the stretch speaks for itself. Don't say it but basically say what odds makers are saying: OU would be favored over Texas by at least three if they played in the Cotton Bowl tomorrow. State your case without smothering the large number of talking heads pushing the Texas position that UT won the head to head meeting "by double digits"-a fact but not indicative of a game that could have gone either way.
OU fans should pull for Cincinnati to beat 3-8 Syracuse and win the Big East which could move them from BCS 16 to as high as 14 (a loss would move them all the way out of the Top 25-that's what BCS computer man Richard Billingsley told me in our 45-minute conversation concerning many of the myriad of ramifications that could affect the final BCS number that will be revealed next Sunday at 6pm.
THE HEAD OF CAESAR AND NOT VENABLESAnyone wanting the head of Brent Venables on a platter. Fair-minded realists knew all along the character-sound Venables was a great coach and vital recruiter who is largely responsible for OU's success under Stoops. Most detractors pounce on things too quickly, don't know football or just like to gripe. Is he or the OU defense perfect? No. Were they perfect in arguably the biggest game in decades? Yes. Do you want him to be hired at Clemson? Speaking as a former player and one who knows Venables pretty well, that answer is easy-no.
STAT-A-TAT-TATAppropriately, the OU staff wants to know why the offense was charged with a fumble when Tech recovered an onside kick with ten seconds remaining. OU drops into a tie for fewest lost fumbles even though the OU offense didn't turn the ball over. What about things like an interception by your defense that's fumbled?
BEAVIS AND BUTKUS AWARDPrediction: OU WLB Travis Lewis will win the Butkus Award before his career is over. That will likely be in two seasons as he will be a high NFL pick after his junior season. He wasn't even a starter until late in fall camp but clearly has the instincts, athletic ability, smarts both on and off the field, and nose for the football to be named the best linebacker in the nation before he's done in Norman. He's about to break Brian Bosworth's season tackle record, had 13 tackles vs. TT, forced a fumble and had an interception where he showed his high school running back ability on his way to a return to the RRaider one yard line.
JASON ON SAMJason White said on the Blitz last night that even if Sam Bradford wins the Heisman and OU wins the national championship that the RS sophomore will return next season. He believes Bradford knows how much he can improve and that his makeup is such that leaving this early does not fit. White said it is essential for Bradford to stick with his routine and not get thrown off by doing interviews with the national media to hype his campaign. Keeping your rhythm and focus are what White sees as imperative.
BYE BYE AND DON'T BUY BONDSQBs don't care for open weeks, back to that rhythm thing, but you can bet that given the option of having or not having a bye week before Bedlam, Mike Gundy would opt for the former. Rest for the weary being one reason, the time to scheme is important. Pat Jones believes coaches tend to over-think with the extra week. But my response would be that OU sure looked like they were extremely prepared for TT's offense and they had an open week.
I SPYGuess who got a first-hand look at the OU-Tech game? I'm told OSU QB Robinson was among the 85,000 strong to take in the Sooner route. Robinson has OSU and OU family ties. His father and uncle were Sooners and momma a Cowgirl. Terrific family, including grandparents living in Edmond, and Crossings church-goers, I might add!
GET ON THOSE KNEESSpeaking of church-goers....it's a good week for everyone to get on their knees and pray. Yes, Thanksgiving. But also for the two B's, Bedlam...and perhaps BCS.