Big 12: Dari Nowkhah

Tim's mailbag: Imagining an OU-Missouri title game

September, 16, 2008
9/16/08
4:59
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here's a representative cross section of some of the letters I received over the past few days.

Isaac from Tulsa writes: If Oklahoma and Missouri both run the table in the Big 12 do you think the championship game will be bigger than USC-OSU game? It's like the media was crowning USC the champions and then was there second game. What's the deal?

Tim Griffin: First of all, it's a big "if" for both Oklahoma and Missouri to run the table. But if they do, it would set up the first potential unbeaten matchup for a Big 12 title. How big would that be? Winner would likely go to the BCS title game in Miami. The loser likely would go to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

But there's still a bunch of football before we consider something like that happening. I'm still thinking the national title will include some kind of three-cornered result from the winner of the Ohio State-USC game -- USC obviously -- the winner of the Georgia/Florida game and the Big 12 championship. I look for those three winners to play a game of musical chairs for the national championship berths.


Ryan from Lincoln, Neb. writes: Hey Tim, I'm sure you're going to cover this more in depth next week but I wanted to hear your take on Virginia Tech - Nebraska. After watching both teams last week it looked like this should be a pretty even match. Is containing Tyrod Taylor going to be an obstacle for the Blackshirts even with the noticeable improvement last week?

Tim Griffin: I will be focusing on that question more next week. But as expected, Virginia Tech will be Coach Bo Pelini's biggest test to date. And the big thing the Cornhuskers will need to do is stand up to Virginia Tech's physical nature from the opening kickoff. Frank Beamer's team traditionally has been successful on the road because they don't get intimidated away from Blacksburg. Containing Taylor is going to be a good test for the Cornhuskers' defense, even with the recent success that Pelini has cooked up.

This is going to be Pelini's first chance to show his program off to a wide national audience. It should be interesting.


John H. from Broken Arrow, Okla., writes: Tim, Do you think Oklahoma State can do better than 8-4 this year?

Tim Griffin: I think that might be stretching things just a little. The Cowboys have played well so far this season, but they still haven't faced competition anywhere like what they'll see in the Big 12. I'm still not sold on their defense after the way they were blistered by Houston. And I'm curious how explosive the OSU offense will be against Big 12 defenses.

After the first three weeks of the season, OSU has been one of my biggest surprises in the Big 12. I didn't think they would fill in so quickly for Adarius Bowman and Dantrell Savage. But they have, and their offense looks so far to be as potent as it was last season. But let's see how they play against Texas A&M and in tough early Big 12 road games at Missouri and Texas before we start christening them as potential South Division title contenders.


Chris from Abilene, Texas, writes: How worried should I be when my Aggies take the field against Miami on Saturday? Let me rephrase...is there any reason not to worry?

Tim Griffin: To be honest, I'm thinking that the Aggies might match up better against Miami than some might think. Remember, this isn't the monolithic "U" of the Larry Coker era. These Hurricanes rank 105th in total offense and 106th in passing offense. They do have a sturdy interior rush defense and it will be a huge effort for an underwhelming (at least so far) A&M offensive line to get much push against them.

Here's where I think the game hinges: Miami is tied for 99th nationally in net punting and 118th in kickoffs. The Aggies haven't been that much better. The team that wins the special teams will win the game.

And I'm looking for a low-scoring game, too. First team to 17 points might win it.


Steve from Belton, Texas, writes: I saw you on television Saturday afternoon from the studios. Your comments got better as the day went on. Do they have an open bar or something up there?

Tim Griffin: No, Steve, they don't. I probably could have used it. But I enjoyed my work in the studio much more than I ever would have imagined. Props to my colleagues Dari Nowkhah and Chris Spielman. They made a fish out of water feel like he could at least swim.
But I think I'm going to be enjoying covering a game again this weekend.


Roger from Oklahoma City writes: What criteria do you use for the awarding of your helmet stickers? And why did you decide not to give one to Sam Bradford (career-high five TD passes and a TD run) and give one to Robert Griffin.

Tim Griffin: I'm limited to four or five stickers each week, depending on the space we have. I was mightily impressed by what Bradford did against Washington. But I figured that setting the conference record for per-carry average was pretty special - especially when it was done in only Griffin's second career start and first against a BCS team. So that's why I awarded him the coveted sticker.

And to be truthful, the one I felt most badly about leaving out was Texas Tech S Daniel Charbonnet, who merely set a school record with three interceptions against SMU. A lot of media types were snickering when Mike Leach brought him to Kansas City for the Big 12 media days rather than Graham Harrell or Michael Crabtree. His game Saturday night proved he belonged there.


Victor from St. Louis writes: Any talk of how low it was for Missouri coach Gary Pinkel to run a fake FG up by 30 pts in the 2nd half on lowly Nevada? Now that Mizzou is gaining some respect as good football team, something like that is going to give people the impression that he's a Spurrieresque type of guy. That was pretty low budget.

Tim Griffin: I specifically asked Pinkel about that when I spoke with him earlier this week. And I agree with your premise. But Pinkel did make a good point when he said that running that fake got it out on film for every opponent during the rest of the season. They now know that Missouri is willing to gamble in that situation. Whether it should have been called in the particular game situation is debatable, but his thought about making opponents account for it has no ulterior motives.


Caleb from El Reno, Okla., writes: What was your take on the play where Oklahoma DT DeMarcus Granger got hurt? It seemed like a dirty play to triple team a player and then literally punch him while he is down, not to mention Granger was injured on the play.

Tim Griffin: The seeds for that play started on the previous play when Granger was flagged for a personal foul. As my old coaches would have said, he probably needed to "keep his head on a swivel" for the next few plays.

It was an odious play when Granger was hurt when he was down. Bob Stoops hinted that it might have been retaliation for Granger's previous play. But
he also made it clear he wasn't whining about it.

Stoops was able to take the high road a lot more easily considering all of the depth he has at defensive tackle. But it still reminded me of something from "The Longest Yard."


Jarratt from Austin writes: I agree that the Texas running back collection is not where it needs to be if we want to beat OU/Missouri/Kansas/Texas Tech. But I was actually surprised they average a collective 4.4 yards per carry. What is considered a good average? Perhaps I'm stuck in the "three yards and a cloud of dust age," but isn't 4.4 considered pretty good?

Tim Griffin: You should be able to keep collecting first downs if you average 4.4 yards per play. But considering the league average is currently 4.98 yards per carry, it would be considered something that could use some improvement. And among the league's top 12 ball carriers that average would be lower than every player with the exception of Texas A&M's Mike Goodson, who has a 4.4 yard-per-carry average.

So obviously, Mack Brown is looking for some improvement from his running backs.

Guys, thanks for the questions this week. Keep them coming and enjoy the games all throughout the week.

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