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Friday, September 24, 2010
Mailbag: OSU hopes, A&M QB and streaks

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Good stuff today. Thanks for the questions, everybody. I'll be here all weekend via Austin, where I'll be covering the Longhorns and Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Curtis in Stillwater asks: Predictions in the pre-season for OK State were to finish last in the big twelve south due to a rebuilding year. Due you think we have a legitimate chance for the top spot considering the way TX and OU have been playing?

David Ubben: Well, I didn't pick them last, but the offense has looked way, way better than anyone outside Stillwater expected. That definitely moves them up the Big 12 ladder, and they shouldn't have big problems beating teams like Kansas and Baylor. The same goes for Kansas State, which doesn't match up well with the Cowboys; it'll be tough for them to score enough to win. Time of possession is almost irrelevant considering how fast Oklahoma State has shown it can score. Right now, I've got no idea how their games against Texas Tech and Texas A&M will look. I'm buying Texas Tech's defense as a whole, but they haven't played anyone as good as OSU has looked on offense. We've still got no idea what to expect from the Aggies, but they've looked pretty average through three games. I'll give OSU the slight edge for now, but those teams' most likely scenario is splitting the matchups with each other.

As for winning the South -- Texas, Nebraska and Oklahoma are great defenses built to specialize in stopping spread offenses. There aren't many Eric Haggs or Tony Jeffersons in college football. Oklahoma State has to play all three. Best-case scenario, OSU wins one of those games. Going to the Big 12 title game with two losses in the Big 12 South is a rarity, and that's assuming the Cowboys beat Texas A&M and win in Lubbock. Oklahoma State won't have to sweat out a bowl game, but they're not going to win the South. Eight or nine wins sound like solid numbers.


Gabriel Younes in Omaha asks: Can you explain your ridiculous obsession with Texas? I think about 50 percent of your posts are about the Longhorns.

DU: I pretty much love them more than anything in the world. My policy is pretty simple: Why write about anything else when you can write about Texas?


Jerry in Dallas writes: I know you're from Oklahoma, but there are 11 other teams in the conference, whether you know it or not. Maybe yOU should try writing about more than OU for once.

DU: I'm actually not from Oklahoma, but my policy is pretty simple: Why write about anything else when you can write about the Sooners?


Jimmy in Haysville, Kan., asks: Bob Stoops has only lost two games at home since he started at Oklahoma. That is a 69-2 record in Norman. Why is Owen Field rarely mentioned when discussing toughest places to play?

DU: Probably because even though it's a huge stadium, it only gets loud when it wants to. That's pretty well known, and I've seen it in action. So has Bob Stoops. Oklahoma's home record has more to do with consistently being a good team than the crowds.

“I think maybe just our overall focus and our play overall are probably the biggest reasons,” Stoops said before playing Texas Tech in 2008. “I don’t think we’ve been known as an overly ruckus crowd, so that’s what you’d probably attribute it to.”

It was clearly loud for the Texas Tech game that night. It was pretty loud for Florida State two weeks ago. It's not that way all the time. At places like Florida and LSU, it is.


James C in College Station asks: David, it sounds like you're giving up on Jerrod Johnson. Do you really expect him to play like he did Saturday for the rest of the season?

DU: No way, I'm not giving up on him. That was a terrible quarter, but with his team down and his own struggles contributing to that, he tried to make plays and throws he wouldn't have made under normal circumstances. He's a smart guy; he learned from it. It's not like he's turnover-prone; he threw eight interceptions to 30 touchdowns last season. Only Grant Gregory at Kansas State threw fewer, and he only threw 175 passes all last year. Johnson completed 296 and threw more passes (497) than anyone in the Big 12. It was a bad night. Not the kind of night you want heading into conference play, but he'll be fine. It'll be interesting to see how he responds if he gets in a similar situation later this season, like throwing a couple interceptions in the first half and trailing by double digits. My guess is we'll see a different reaction from him. And let's give him a little credit. He didn't turn it over in the fourth quarter and the Aggies did win the game. Like I said last week, 3-0 is 3-0.


Tim in Portsmouth, Va., asks: How far down will the Big XII rank as a conference once Nebraska and Colorado leave? Would you put them behind the ACC, Pac-12, SEC, and Big Ten? Couldn't be any worse than the Big East but not any better than the others.

DU: My guess is it'll slip pretty solidly below the Big Ten, which I think is pretty close right now. The Pac-10 is deeper this year than it usually is, and you saw some of that last year. It's continued onto this year. But the conference still has two teams that will be in position for national title runs in most seasons. The Big East and ACC can't say that. We'll see about the Pac-12. If I had to guess, the Big 12 takes third most years and the Pac-12 is better in the other years. But like I've said all offseason, the Big 12's reputation will ultimately depend on teams like Texas Tech, Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State proving they can win 7-10 games every single year.


Sgt. McClellan in Okinawa, Japan, writes: I just wanted to say thanks for your work on the Big 12 Blog. I am stationed in Okinawa Japan with Combat Assault BN 3rd Marine Division, and have ESPNU set as my homepage at both work and home. The constant flow of articles from my home region (Particularly Texas) helps me stay in loop and feel a bit closer to home all the way out here in Japan. Please keep up the great work.

DU: Glad I could help, but I think I speak for everyone here when I say thanks for your work. Certainly more significant than anything that goes on in this space.