Sunday, September 6, 2009

College Hijinx

This weekend has been the start of the college football season.

And, as usual, there have been some astonishing moments.

Things appear to be a little messy in the Big Ten, with Ohio State and Iowa stumbling to narrow victories on the first Saturday.

Last Thursday, fourteenth–ranked Boise State turned back #16 Oregon for the second consecutive year.

Yesterday, ninth–ranked Oklahoma State turned back #13 Georgia. That one surprised me a bit.

In the only game that matched two teams in the Top 10, #5 Alabama outlasted #7 Virginia Tech. I guess what surprised me about that one was the margin. 'Bama will be a force to reckon with this year.

The higher–ranked team in all three of those games won so I presume they met the expectations of the sportswriters who participated in the poll.

The real surprise took place about 20 miles west of where I live — at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium. The third–ranked Oklahoma Sooners opened the season against #20 Brigham Young.

The Sooners lost the game — and they may have lost Heisman Trophy–winning quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford injured his shoulder, and it is unclear how long he will be out of action.

Now, I suppose Arlington was considered a neutral site, but, geographically, Arlington is about 180 miles from the OU campus. It's more than 950 miles from the BYU campus. Dallas is a convenient destination for Labor Day weekend if you go to school in Norman. It's a different matter if you go to school in another time zone — in Provo, Utah.

I didn't watch most of the game, I was watching Alabama–Virginia Tech, but I was e–mailing a friend of mine who was watching the OU game. He said it was sloppy, loaded with penalties. I watched the last few minutes, and I concluded that OU needs to fall to at least 13th in the polls — not just because the Sooners lost but because they lack the depth one expects from a third–ranked team when their quarterback goes down.

If Bradford has to sit out the month of September, Oklahoma may be able to get around its apparent weakness at quarterback in the next couple of weeks, when the Sooners play Idaho State and Tulsa. After that, they've got the week of Sept. 26 off. But after that, OU has to play the up–and–coming Miami Hurricanes on Oct. 3, then the Sooners dive into Big 12 play against Baylor.

The Bears have been improving, and they're coming off a victory over Wake Forest, another program that has been lightly regarded in football in the past but has been taking positive steps in recent years. Baylor has this weekend off, then the Bears play three straight home games — against Connecticut, Northwestern State and Kent State — before the Bears travel to Norman to face OU.

This prospect may seem incredible to college football fans, but OU might have to take on an unbeaten Baylor team — with Texas waiting for the Sooners the following week. And it doesn't get any easier for the Sooners after that with games against Nebraska, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma fans better be praying that Bradford has a short–term injury.

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