Conference outlooks and the Oklahoma Sooners after two weeks.



After two weeks of football I would have to rate myself as at least moderately satisfied. Most everything there is to be said about the complete and total ownathon that the Sooners handed the 'Noles last Saturday has already been said. I have seen it called the most dominating win of the season. But where do our beloved Sooners and the big 12 stack up nationally?

The Oklahoma Sooners: If I were a pollster I'd have as my co-number one teams: Alabama, Ohio State, Okahoma, and Oregon. It's too early to know how things might shake up, but I wouldn't be suprised if two of those four are playing for the BCS Championship at season's end.

Oklahoma looked absolutely dominant last Saturday against Florida State. Although FSU's defense is young and inexperienced, Oklahoma's offense was impressive. It looked as if the Sooners could've scored 60 easily, and if you can score 60 on FSU, you should be able to compete with anybody. The defensive line absolutely dominated one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country, and potentially the best line they will face all season. The 'Noles scored seven right off the bat, then the last ten points came late in the fourth quarter when the game was over. In fact, the game was over after the Sooners posted their second touchdown and the 'Noles failed to respond. The secondary looked much improved, however FSU's receivers are very young and inexperienced. The linebackers weren't asked to do much. As a whole, if Oklahoma plays like they did against FSU for the rest of the season, well... watch out Big XII.

If the Sooners own the most impressive win of the season, they also own one of the least impressive from a top ten team. It appears that the coaching staff was limiting the play-calling against Utah State on both sides of the ball. Landry Jones looked rattled after the Aggies started mounting a comeback, while the defense struggled. If the Sooners continue to play at a high level, the national perception of this game will most likely reflect these first game difficulties. Utah State handled FCS bottom-dweller Idaho State 38-17 last Saturday while Diondre Borel completed 21 of 26 passes for 225 yards and a TD to complement the offense's 275 yards rushing. With a high powered offense it isn't completely unreasonable to suggest an upset of Fresno State, Nevada, BYU, or Boise State, who all make appearances on USU's schedule this season. The crown jewel would be a victory on the Boise's blue turf to end the season. Pulling off two of the four upsets and making a bowl game would go a long way towards easing Sooner fans tensions about the first game of the season.

The Sooners look prepared to get into the meat of their schedule. Air Force is coming to town as the first service academy in Norman since the 1960s. This writer is not of the flag waving type, but the young men on that field Saturday are much more than student-athletes, and we should all offer them the respect that they deserve when they come to town. I may come up with something unique to say about the Falcons in the next couple days, but for now I'll just point out that they went 8-5 last year with a victory over Houston in the Armed Forces Bowl (holding Houston's potent offense to just 20 points) and ranked third in the nation in running offense behind their powerful option offense. The AFA coaching staff is committed to more of a passing game, kind of like Texas is committed to more of a running game.

Big XII: The conference has been mostly impressive, going 21-3 in the first two weeks of play. Two of those losses came as expected at the hands of Cal over CU and Iowa over ISU. KU's miserable performance and subsequent loss to North Dakota State was embarrasing, but it's hard to feel they didn't make up for it a bit by upsetting potential ACC frontrunner Georgia Tech. Nebraska and Missouri look to be the early frontrunners in the North, with my money being on Nebraska as the winners. The entire South is undefeated after two weeks of play, of course the class of the division appears to be the typical cohorts in Oklahoma and Texas. Texas A&M is the early favorite to place third in the South with Oklahoma State having to reload and Texas Tech dealing with their much publicized coaching change. Baylor has looked as good as possible and will be dangerous with Robert Griffin commanding the offense. I for one am hoping for a Game of the 21st Century between unbeatens Oklahoma and Nebraska in the Big XII Championship. We should learn a bit more about Texas as they travel to Lubbock to play Tech this weekend.

SEC: The SEC has looked solid through the first two weeks. Alabama looks like they can play with anybody, despite losing nine starters on defense. Bama completely dismantled a very young Penn State team. Look for that defense to be tested more against Florida (if they can get their offense going) and Arkansas. South Carolina has looked impressive in early wins and with a win over Georgia in week two and a Florida team that hasn't been able to find its offense until late in games, they could be a dark horse to win the East. Tennessee got absolutely dominated by Oregon starting in the second half of their Saturday night match-up. Ole Miss floundered against an FCS despite the addition of Jeremiah Masoli late in the off-season while in state rival Mississippi State nearly picked of Auburn last Thursday. Florida's offensive woes may have gotten worse this week with the dismissal of RB Chris Rainey. LSU struggled to beat a North Carolina team that was essentially starting their second string defense in week one. All in all the SEC is probably what we thought they were going 18-6 in the first two weeks with three of the losses coming in conference play.

Big Televen: The old conference up north has looked strong over the first two weeks. The only blemish among traditional powerhouses is the young Penn State team's loss to Alabama, which came completely as expected. Ohio State looks as if they could bar Oklahoma's path to the BCS Championship with a strong win over Miami. Michigan could be back with soon to be all-everything candidate Denard Richardson playing quarterback. Wisconsin and Iowa have been as advertised in their first two weeks, however Iowa has a tough road test with Arizona this Saturday. Michigan State has yet to spiral into their annual mid-season decline while Northwestern beat Vanderbilt in week one's nerd bowl. Purdue fell in week one to Notre Dame as Illinois did to Missouri. Minnesota joined the club with a loss to FCS South Dakota in week two and hosts USC this weekend. Overall the conference looks poised to return to glory, going 17-4 in the first two weeks.

ACC: Wow. Worse than the 15-8 conference record over the first two weeks is the fact that every team that started with pre-season hype and ranked has already lost. Miami may have looked a little better against Ohio State if Jacory Harris hadn't thrown four interceptions and worn this. Miami remains the lone ranked ACC team at the time of this writing. Virginia Tech's loss to FCS powerhouse James Madison University wouldn't be so bad if Virginia Tech weren't supposed to be an FBS powerhouse. Sucks to be Boise State. Georgia Tech looked less than impressive against Kansas, while North Carolina performed better than expected against LSU (minus their starting defense). The conference as a whole isn't as depressing as the supposed cream of the crop. I guess the ACC isn't about to break out. Florida State... could you please win eight or nine games and win the ACC?

PAC-10: Without USC being in the conversation as far as the BCS goes, Oregon looks to be the clear frontrunner in this conference. Their second ranked scoring offense has been a machine, even if it took them an entire half to get started against Tennessee. Stanford has looked strong behind quarterback Andrew Luck while the defense blanked UCLA last week. Arizona currently boasts the second ranked scoring defense, but then again Baylor has the third ranked scoring defense. Their first real test is this weekend agains Iowa. USC has been less than spectacular in narrow wins over Hawaii and Virginia while Oregon State sneaked back into the top 25 after being idle in week two. The Beavers look to redeem themselves when they travel to Boise on the 25th. Wazzou and UCLA look like bottom feeders while Washington may make a bowl this year. Arizona State is 2-0 behind a couple wins over FCS schools and look for their first real test in this weeks trip to Wisconsin. Overall this appears to be a legitimate conference after going 14-5 in the first two weeks with one loss coming in conference play.

Big East: The moniker Big Least fits this season. Pittsburgh's close loss to Utah in Salt Lake City and West Virginia's near miss against Marshall appear to be the high points. Pittsburgh can jump back into the top 25 with a win over Miami this weekend. Cincinatti lost to Fresno State in the opening weekend of football while Connecticut lost to Michigan. Rutgers and West Virginia remain the conferences only unbeatens while USF thought they could compete with Florida for a little more than a half of football last Saturday. Overall the conference looks to have a dismal year, going 10-6 in the first two weeks.

The Others: I'm not willing to commit a great deal of time to the WAC and Mountain West (although the MWC is probably as good as the Big East). An early observation is that the Mountain West could get two teams into the BCS if Boise State falters or either the Big East or ACC champions fall outside of the top 16. Utah features a match-up with TCU and a trip to Notre Dame before the season closer against BYU. Losing only one of those games would most likely keep them in the top 15. TCU faces off against Baylor this weekend and should be favor, although Robert Griffin is always an x-factor. Every other game on the schedule, except perhaps Utah, should feature TCU as the favorite. Boise State's BCS Championship hopes may have completely vanished after Virginia Tech's loss last Saturday. The boys in blue can only hope to beat Oregon State and see the Beavers win the PAC-10. The little guy may have his biggest season yet, with up to three non-BCS teams making the BCS. However, this doesn't appear to be the year that the BCS Championship features a non-AQ school.

The first two weeks have been great, and if you're a Sooner fan, there is very little to be unhappy with. If you're going to the game this weekend, please respect our opponents and I wouldn't mind hearing a chant of 33, 33, 33 (for the home streak).

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