Blackistone: Stoops badly needs BCS victory

Kevin B. Blackistone of AOL Fanhouse writes that Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops badly needs a BCS victory before he begins “experiencing some belittlement in the Sooner state.”

Bob StoopsThe fact is that all these other influential voices on Oklahoma football will point out, should Stoops’ Sooners not beat Florida, that the national title Stoops brought back to Norman is nearly antique, having been captured in the first season of the new millennium. They’ll remind everyone that Stoops’ Sooners lost four of their last five season-ending bowl games coming into this Orange Bowl. They’ll point out that they lost three of their last four games against their hated rivals in Austin, Texas, and watched Mack Brown’s herd gallop away with one national championship during that stretch and attempt to lay claim to another one the other night by shocking Ohio State at the gun.
And the last time the Stoops’ Sooners played for the all the glory, they’ll say, it didn’t go very well at all. It was right here at the Orange Bowl, too, back on Jan. 4, 2005. The opponent was USC and when it was all over the Sooners were on the short end of an embarrassing 55-19 shellacking.

Urban Meyer can see it all too clearly from his side of the field, in part because he and Stoops are so much alike. Both are from Ohio. Both are fortysomethings. Both won their first national championships as head coaches in their second seasons running their current ships.

And neither said Wednesday that they could see themselves surviving in their vocation into their 70s like some of college football coaching’s idols. Why not?

“You’re a missed field goal away from being a bum with everybody else,” Meyer said. “That’s just part of the [coaching] deal.”

That is why Stoops needs to beat Florida. He’s unfairly close to having some people call him that bum.

Stoops has no one to blame but himself for why writers and other media members feel he needs to badly beat Florida in order to prove (some) of his worth. Too many times over the past couple years his Sooners have played flat and often looked like they had nothing to play for. Now a title is on the line and Stoops has a track record of blowing these types of games. It’ll be interesting to see if Bobby Boy can get over the hump.

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Rose Bowl better than title game? Ha!

Pete CarrollSo I’m watching Air Force play Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl on New Year’s Eve and one of the ESPN announcers says (I’m paraphrasing), “Everyone wants to focus on the national championship game, but the best bowl this year is in Pasadena. The Rose Bowl is best matchup on the bowl schedule this year.”

No way. No…way…

The announcer went on to talk about how USC was the top ranked program in the nation at one point this year and how Penn State was ranked in the top five, so the matchup is outstanding. Okay, I get that. The matchup does look outstanding, but it won’t be better than the title game.

I’ll be the first one to eat my words if I’m wrong, but I say USC waxes Penn State in the Rose Bowl this evening. The Trojans have one of the fastest and most talented defenses in the entire nation and while Joe Pa’s spread offense has been explosive, PSU hasn’t faced a defense like USC’s and I fail to see how this game remains close when the Trojans are playing in their own backyard.

The only way I see this game being tight is if USC comes out flat like it has a penchant for doing, or if Mark Sanchez starts turning the ball over – which he has a penchant for doing. In fact, if Penn State hangs with USC, I’ll dedicate an entire post about how underrated the Lions were all season and how wrong I was about the Trojans.

The Florida-Oklahoma title game matchup has everything. How will the Sooners’ dynamic offense fare against the Gators’ stifling defense? Will 2008 Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford outperform 2007 winner Tim Tebow? Can Bob Stoops’ team perform better this year than they have in past bowls? Will Urban Meyer win his second national championship in three years?

The Rose Bowl looks great on paper, but it’s a stretch to say that it’ll be more entertaining than the title game. (And the ESPN announcer hasn’t been the only one who suggested that it would be better than the title game because several media members throughout the week have been sharing that sentiment.)

Outside of USC and Penn State fans, does anybody else believe the Rose Bowl should be more exciting than the national title game? Am I missing something here?

2009 BCS Bowl Preview and Predictions

The 2009 BCS Bowl Season is quickly approaching – not that anyone should care.

I’m not trying to sound bitter, but if the BCS doesn’t care about any of its five bowl games outside of the national championship game, then why should we? All the BCS essentially cares about is figuring out who the top team teams are in college football – and they can’t even do that right.

But I digress. I’m not going to burn another 1,200 words on why college football needs a playoff because it’ll just fall upon deaf ears. Instead, I’ll get into the bowl season spirit and break down the five BCS bowls, as well as hand out predictions for each game.

Predictions are essentially meaningless, but they’re fun so make sure you throw out your picks in the comment section below.

Daryll ClarkRose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
The Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, January 1, 4:30PM ET ABC
Some college football pundits believe that this one will be over with by halftime, but if Penn State uses Oregon State’s victory over USC as a blueprint for success, the Nittany Lions could make this a tighter game than most expect. PSU tailback Evan Royster has been a playmaker this year and if the Lions can employ him the same way the Beavers’ used Jacquizz Rodgers to beat the Trojans earlier this season, then maybe they can exploit USC’s quick defense. Then again, the Trojans’ D is one of the fastest and most talented units in the country and it won’t be easy for PSU to spread the field on them like they did against Big Ten opponents this season. USC has the most talented linebacker corps in the country and their secondary features two safeties in Taylor Mays and Kevin Ellison that blanket the field in both coverage and run support. In order for the Lions to claim victory, quarterback Daryll Clark will have to play mistake free and not try to force action in the passing game. Offensively for USC, quarterback Mark Sanchez has been outstanding, but he will make mistakes. He threw at least one interception in seven games this year and if PSU’s defense can generate some pressure, they could force Sanchez into some turnovers and capitalize on some prime field position. But outside of getting pressure on Sanchez, Penn State needs to tackle well and limit the yards-after-catch opportunities that USC’s receivers thrive upon. Sounds basic enough, but the Trojans have one of the fastest offenses in the league and Sanchez has excelled at taking what defenses give him and in getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers. The Lions would be wise to get 11 defenders around the ball at all times, especially when USC tailback Stafon Johnson gets the opportunity to make plays.
Rose Bowl Prediction: USC 30, Penn State 17.

Read the rest after the jump...

DeMarco Murray to miss BCS title game

Oklahoma Sooners’ running back DeMarco Murray will have surgery to repair a partial rupture of his left hamstring and will miss the BCS title game against Florida.

Murray, the Sooners’ second-leading rusher, was injured on the opening kickoff of the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 6. The Sooners initially thought Murray had sustained a bruise, but an MRI revealed the injury to be more serious. Surgery has been scheduled for Dec. 22., the university said.

The school said that according to head trainer Scott Anderson, it will be about five months before Murray is cleared to resume training.

Murray gained 1,002 yards rushing this season, just eight fewer than team rushing leader Chris Brown. He led the Sooners in all-purpose yards with 2,171, with 395 receiving yards and another 774 yards in kickoff returns, scoring 18 touchdowns.

Oklahoma has so many weapons, but Murray was a big part of the Sooners’ offense so he’ll definitely be missed. Hopefully Percy Harvin will be healthy enough to play for Florida. It would suck to have two dynamic play makers miss the game.

BCS odds released: Florida 3-point favorite over Oklahoma

The opening point spreads for the BCS bowl games have officially been released with oddsmakers establishing the Florida Gators as 3-point favorites over the Oklahoma Sooners in the national title matchup.

Rose Bowl: Penn State +10 vs. USC
Orange Bowl: Virginia Tech +2 vs. Cincinnati
Sugar Bowl: Utah +10 vs. Alabama
Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State +10 vs. Texas
BCS National Championship Game: Florida –3 vs. Oklahoma

I would say oddsmakers have the opening lines pegged right. And if (“if” – ha!) I were a gambling man, I would definitely lay the wood on USC to beat Penn State and Alabama to beat Utah, although the public will certainly push both of those lines up over the next couple weeks and the Utes might give ‘Bama a game because of their defense and the fact that the Sugar Bowl is a letdown for the Tide after losing to Florida in the SEC Championship.

The other bowls I’m not so sure about. The Bearcats have had a great season, but Frank Beamer’s defense looked stifling in the ACC Championship Game and you have to like what Tyrod Taylor brings to the table, although Cincy’s defense is no joke either. And the Buckeyes beat the Longhorns three years ago in Austin so a pissed off Texas team should still get a game from Terrelle Pryor and OSU.

The title game is a doozy. The public loves the favorite, so that line will likely go up, too. And for as well as the Gators are playing, one has to believe Sam Bradford and the Sooners’ dynamic offense will keep that game close. That might be a game to take the over, although the opening total has been set at 71.5.

Now take all the above information and fade my ass to a nice pay day.

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