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MONDAY GAUNTLET(TM) BULLETPOINTS -- 11/9/15

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A skinny soy chai pumpkin-flavored double-reverse flea flicker statue of liberty fumblerooski with a shot of espresso.

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  • Happy Monday, Sooners fans!  It’s starting to feel like, autumn, isn’t it?  The air is a little crisper, the trees are changing, the dew is on the windshield in the mornings….  Come on, try to tell me that this time of year isn’t magical.
  • The Iowa State Cyclones were our guests this past Saturday for a predictable homecoming contest.  52-16 was your final.  These are the games that are the most difficult to write about: the games that you know you should have won big and then went on to win big.  How can I, gentle reader, say anything to entertain you?  How can I try to give you something you already have, and then make you feel good about it?  Fortunately, there’s the internet.
  • OU’s first offensive play went for six.  This set the tone for a match that felt like that first fight in Punch Out versus Glass Joe -- go ahead and throw haymakers the whole while, because they will land, and they will be devastating.
  • (Hmm, now that I think on it, “Haymaker” might be the long-sought answer to that question I posed some weeks back on what Baker Mayfield’s nickname might be….)
  • At any rate, these last two weeks for Oklahoma football must remind Baylor fans of what their entire season has felt like.  “Yes, we’re better than you are, we know it, can we move on now?”
  • But now… now we’re now in THE GAUNTLET(™).  THE GAUNTLET(™), of course, is the meat of the Big XII schedule, and will separate the wheat from the chaff, the men from the boys, and that one cliche from that other cliche.  THE GAUNTLET(™) will shape the entire picture of the 2015 Big XII football season, and possibly that of the college football world.  THE GAUNTLET(™) will undoubtedly be put to music, probably heavy metal, by someone on YouTube and watched at least 20 times, probably by friends of the uploader.  Do not attempt THE GAUNTLET(™) if you are pregnant or may become pregnant.  Do not take a shot of alcohol any time a sportscaster refers to this stage of the season as THE GAUNTLET(™).  Ask your doctor if THE GAUNTLET(™) is right for you.
  • So first up, there’s Baylor.  And this is something I’ve been wanting to write about for a while: can we please, as Sooners fans, finally dismiss the fact that we have historically dominated Baylor?
  • Everything that we knew about Baylor, everything that we felt about Baylor seven years ago?  That’s history, that’s gone, that’s done.  To put it in business terms, the Blackberry wasn’t ready for the iPhone, Myspace wasn’t ready for Facebook, and unsliced bread wasn’t ready for….  Anyway, Baylor isn’t the 98 pound weakling that fans remember.  It’s the fans that want Baylor to be that -- the players are smarter than we are (and, as a general rule, younger).  RG3 wasn’t a fluke, and neither is Art Briles.
  • This week’s game is the most important of our season so far, but it’s also theirs.  We’re talking about Baratheons versus Targaryens here.
  • What's on the line for Baylor? Respect.  Baylor was in the cellar from time immemorial, and they’ve now enjoyed the trappings of the nouveau riche.  The best way for them to keep from becoming this decade’s Boise State?  Make the playoffs.  There is no chance of that happening if they don’t beat Oklahoma.  They’ve got a spanking-new stadium, and College Gameday will be in Waco.  The red carpet is laid out for them.  If they fall on their faces onto that carpet, they might not recover any time soon.
  • What's on the line for Oklahoma? Respect.  Trevor Knight’s dazzling performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl may have back-handedly hurt OU more than helped it -- sure, it helped land Joe Mixon and company, but last year’s follow-through put Oklahoma fans into uncomfortable territory -- “Clemsoning” territory.
  • “Clemsoning,” of course, referring to the Clemson Tigers, that South Carolina team that consistently fields hella scary football squads, consistently has some of the brightest coaches, consistently loses a game or two they shouldn’t, and consistently fades out of the national picture embarrassingly.  (See also: Georgia since Herschel Walker played there.)  OU, in many ways, has been a victim of its own success: no other team lost more BCS National Championship games, after all.  And because college football rankings are a game of perception, the perceivers-in-question can rightly claim “Fool me once….”
  • Scripts can flip quickly.  Clemson, who pantsed OU in the Russell Athletic Bowl last year, is currently the big dog on the street, and just knocked off FSU.  Oklahoma, with a new quarterback and new OC, has lit it up better than Baylor lately, and against similar competition.  “If you can’t beat ‘em, find another way to beat ‘em.”
  • So.  The young, up-and-coming hot stick versus the grizzled veteran fighting for relevance.  They oughtta make a movie about it.  Oh, wait!  Marty Scorsese already did.
  • Here’s my two-cent football analysis for playing against Baylor: if we’re going to beat these guys, we’re going to have to take risks defensively.  We played so scared of the Big Play last year, we gave them every small play on a silver platter.  It didn’t work.  I expect the coaches know this.  So what to do?  Arsenic or strychnine?  There’s a reason Baylor is undefeated.  If we’re going to lose, I hope we lose by the big slice and not the death of a thousand cuts.  We’re going to have to play some press coverage and our DL is going to have to make decision-making problematic.  Charles Tapper?  You ever Google your own name?  You find yourself here doing so?  Oh.  No pressure, big guy.
  • (Now I’m just picturing Charles Tapper tackling me.  Even thinking it hurts.)
  • Bad omen? Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior. I used Gordon Lightfoot’s “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” as a way to try to “cheer up” Sooners fans after last year’s Baylor game….
  • Peace and love, Sooners fans!  As always, I welcome your thoughts in the comments below, be they about Iowa State, Baylor, maritime disasters, or Paul Newman’s best roles.