Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mizzou Sanity Roundtable: Week 4

And here we go once again...

1) While your team was expected to go 4-0 to start the season, now that it's actually happened, what has been the most pleasant development of the first month? (And for those mizzou fans out there, you can answer "Jeremy Maclin," but that's pretty predictable. Just sayin'.)

2) As things begin to shake down, who are your North and South sleepers?

3) Offensive Freshman of the Year: Jeremy Maclin, Sam Bradford, DeMarco Murray, or Michael Crabtree? Seriously, how good are the freshmen in the conference this year??

4) Is it possible to come up with a worse slate of Big 12 games than the foursome of OU-CU, NU-ISU, KSU-UT, and BU-ATM? If there's an upset in that bunch, which one is it?

Bonus) MU-Nebraska kicking off at 8:15pm...a good thing or a great thing?


The Beef: The most pleasant surprise for me has been Martin Rucker’s season to this point. What I truly wanted was a year where Rucker was the decided focus of the TE touches so he could up his own stock and potentially make it so that Chase returns next year to do the same, all the while giving our TE recruits time with him. Rucker’s season has been great so far and his plays of dragging people are just fun to watch.

My North sleeper is whoever wins between ku and ksu…though I don’t know when they play. The winner of that game could potentially have a shot at the top depending on how things fall.

My South sleeper is...um...aTm. I only say that because I think the Miami loss knocks them back to a point where not as much is going to be expected. However, if there are issues with Lane and the coaches or whatever, I reserve the right to change my vote to no one.

Sam Bradford wins it….

If there is an upset in there, it is NU/ISU...but I really doubt it. The others...ugh...just ugly.

I only say good thing on the game and its placement because I believe we will be joined in progress and not have our own start. While that seems small, I think it counteracts much of what our fans assume will happen with this game. Our crowd will be SO jacked at the beginning that you NEED to have that on TV from an exposure standpoint, and the starting time potentially negates that. A small thing, but if you are going to be on ESPN, you want it all and this is not likely to give it to us.

Doug: 1) The ability to do what is expected. Say what you will about the schedule KU has for non-conference games, but the fact remains the Jayhawks took care of business. They didn't fall victim to letting teams back in late or allowed themselves to fall behind and have to crawl back (Nebraska). However, they are not always goingt to play with a runaway lead, and K-State will be a huge test of how this team handles major adversity.

2) North sleeper - Kansas. If KU gets the win over K-State on the road, that puts them in a very good position to win the North especially with Nebraska, Iowa State and Baylor in Lawrence, and yes, they lose homefield against Missouri, but hopefully the team will be playing with sky-high confidence at that point.

South sleeper - I guess I'll go Oklahoma State since they beat Texas Tech over the weekend, but in the South, everyone not named Oklahoma should be considered a sleeper... or at least sleeping.

3) Yeah, come on down... Sam Bradford. Who da thunk it?

4) Upset picks? I'll take Iowa State to cover against Nebraska and Baylor over Texas A&M.

Bonus - How many drunk fans can you fit into Missouri's stadium? You'll find out the answer on Saturday.
Michael Atchison: 1) That Illinois and Ole Miss appear to be pretty decent teams. Illinois has gone on the road and pretty easily handled two BCS-league programs, and Ole Miss put a little scare into Florida this weekend. Frankly, though, when it comes to Mizzou, Maclin is the only big positive surprise. I expected Coffman, Rucker and Franklin to be as good as they’ve been, I expected Daniel to be a little sharper than he’s been the past couple of weeks, I expected our running game to break more big plays than it has, and I hoped against hope that the interior of our defensive line would hold up against the run better than it has. The first four games have given me reason to be both hopeful and terribly nervous.

2) Does “sleeper” mean a team that has a shot to make it to the Big 12 championship game other than Texas/Oklahoma and Missouri/Nebraska? If so, in the south, the answer is NO ONE. Really, right now there are some guys playing touch football on Stankowski Field who have exactly as much chance of winning the south as Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. In the north, I suppose the answer is Kansas. I know the schedule has been soft, but they’ve completely obliterated the competition. Really, though, the race might be wide open. I still think the schedule favors Mizzou, but would any of you really be shocked if Kansas, K-State or Colorado stepped up and won a couple of games they shouldn’t? I wouldn’t. And if one or more of those surprise wins comes against the Tigers or Huskers, it throws the race into chaos.

3) I’ve personally seen Maclin play three times and score six touchdowns. Normally, I couldn’t fathom that there’s a player who could take the award from him, but he’s probably no better than third in the race right now. Murray isn’t going to win it because he’s splitting carries with Allen Patrick and is on the same team as Bradford. Strictly from an offensive perspective, Maclin probably doesn’t win it because so much of his impact is on special teams, and he’s one of four relatively equal receivers at Mizzou (along with Rucker, Coffman and Franklin, and Danario Alexander is coming back). Crabtree is posting video game numbers: 52 catches, 775 yards, 11 touchdowns. In four games. Are you kidding me? But as good as Crabtree has been, I suspect the answer is Bradford. He’s the most important player on the league’s best team, and he’s not just managing games, he’s dominating them, completing 78% of his passes for over 1,000 yards in four games, with 14 touchdowns and just two picks. If he’s anywhere near that good during the conference slate, he’s not just offensive freshman of the year, he’s offensive player of the year.

4) I bet someone could construct an algorithm to come up with a worse group of games, but not by much. Oklahoma and Texas are unupsettable (how’s that for a word?) in these games. Iowa State appears to be the lousy fighter with the big right hand. They got outboxed by lightweights Kent State, Northern Iowa and Toledo, but they coldcocked Iowa. Given Nebraska’s suspect state of mind (they’re two plays away from owning a three-game losing streak), I wouldn’t be shocked if the Cyclones pull it off. I certainly don’t expect it to happen, but it’s more likely than Oklahoma or Texas taking the fall.

Bonus) You know, I really don’t care. Beat ‘em in the morning, beat ‘em in the evening, makes no difference to me. Personally, as someone who brings two young kids to the games, though, it stinks, as I know there’s every chance that I won’t be there at 11:45 when it’s over. But I also know it’s not about me. I’m sure it will be a supercharged atmosphere, which will be fun. I’m also convinced, though, that some of our fans will, um, fail to properly pace themselves. Take care of each other, people, and stay away from the brown acid.
ZouDave: Even sitting at home sick I'll still get my response in quickly!

1 - Uh...Jeremy Maclin? Yes, that's pretty predictable. I guess the real question is: Besides Jeremy Maclin, what's been the most pleasant development of the first month? Well, Seth definitely took what is in my opinion the next best answer which is Rucker's dominance. The guy has been amazing, at another level than I ever thought he could be on. And other than those two things, I'm not (pleasantly) surprised by anything. So maybe that's my answer: I'm pleasantly surprised by the fact that my high expectations are being met so far. We've only trailed once all year, and that was 6-0 against Illinois. When we took the lead back 7-6, I told my dad and the friends I was watching with that we were not going to trail again for the rest of the season. I was obviously kidding, but here we are and I'm still right!

2 - Another fairly easy answer that Seth already took: the winner of kansas and KSU. Personally, I'm picking KSU in that game, but if ku goes in there and wins then you can officially count me as impressed by them.

3 - I think this is a trend we're seeing all over the country, and I can't explain it. From the ones you've mentioned, to players like Noel Devine at West Virginia or Stafon Johnson at USC or Tim Tebow at Florida last year or Darren McFadden 2 years ago at Arkansas. There are freshman all over the place that are just incredible. Kids these days *grumble grumble*.

And of course, the best one in the Big XII is Jeremy Maclin.

4 - In my opinion, the ONLY one that could possibly go against the norm is ksu-UT. And it's only because UT has not looked good this year, and ksu has a strong enough defense that it could cause problems early and take the crowd out of the game. I'm not picking them to win, I'm just saying it's the only one I see as possible.

BONUS - Couldn't ask for anything better than this. It's exactly what we'd want, everything is setup precisely how any of us would have done it if it was all our choice back in August, and this is our time. I can't wait for 10/6.
The Boy: 1) Honestly, the answer might simply be that Chase Daniel took some chances and was reminded of which throws he can and can't make. Better he's reminded of it against Western Michigan and Illinois State than Nebraska and Oklahoma. I guess there's a chance that these INT's are signs of things to come (in a bad way), but knowing how he learned from his mistakes last year, I think the odds are in his favor on this one.

2) I was prepared to say Kansas even though I realized that their odds of winning in Manhattan next week aren't altogether fantastic...but then I looked at their schedule. There's a chance 5-3 wins the North again, but I'd say the odds favor 6-2. Being that Kansas plays at College Station and Stillwater (where OSU is 10x the team they are on the road), a loss in Manhattan would significantly injure KU's chances, though NU and MU have definitely proven fallible enough that said loss wouldn't knock them out of the race by any means.

3) I understand that Sam Bradford will win it if he doesn't nosedive simply because he plays QB for the conference's best team. That said, Michael Crabtree's numbers are absolutely astounding. It's one thing to put up ridiculous numbers against UTEP and Rice...it's another to do it in conference. Granted, OSU's defense is worse than Missouri's (I think), but still...considering Tech will play 13 games, Crabtree has a legit chance to hit 2000 yards and 30 TD's. Atch is right--that's video game numbers. And considering he's doing it as a freshman...good god...they had him return a couple kicks against OSU too. If he breaks a couple of long returns, then there's absolutely no reason why he shouldn't squeeze his way into Heisman consideration. I know he plays for Tech, but...no other Tech receiver has done what he is doing right now. I guess we finally see what happens when Mike Leach's system gets its hands on a high-profile WR recruit.

4) Honestly, I'm going with ATM-Baylor. 2006 aside, Baylor has played ATM well in recent years, and being that a) the game is in Waco, b) ATM's been getting (justifiably) railed for their horrid (coaching) performance on national TV last Thursday, and c) while Baylor isn't good, they're still confident after a 3-1 start, the Bears will have a chance. Of course, ATM could respond to the criticism by playing their absolute best and destroying BU, 44-3, but I still think this one's the most ripe for an upset. I think ISU is d-u-n after blowing that lead to Toledo (they blew a late two-TD lead without Toledo's offense touching the ball), I think the revenge factor is enough to limit KSU's chances against Texas, and I don't think CU's offense will get more than about 150 yards against OU...so that leaves Baylor.

*) Another 6:00 kickoff (a la 2003) would have been perfect, but still...the later the better. It is definitely a shame that the ESPN audience likely won't see the beginning of the game, when the atmosphere is guaranteed to be three steps beyond electric, but that's the only negative. That, and the fact that the odds of this game finishing before midnight are minimal.

Okay, I have a meeting shortly, but...time to open up the floor. Any outstanding issues? Who's Atch going to piss off this week? :-)
The Beef: Well...it was me in week 1 and Dave in week 2...should we unleash him on the Hawk or is that just not fair.
Michael Atchison: I’ll take on any of you pencil-necked geeks™ (1962, “Classy” Fred Blassie). Who wants to dance? Anybody? Thought so.
The Beef: Does anyone else find it ironic that the smallest of Sanity members in size talks the most crap? Like one of those little barking dogs...all the time barking...
ZouDave: What does that make you and me, then?
The Beef: Big dumb animals I believe...
The Boy: Big dumb animals who apparently don't have any outstanding issues for the group...
ZouDave: you're an outstanding issue.

I've got nothing. We're basically right where I thought we'd be. We're not quite as good on defense as I'd thought, but I wasn't expecting much. I'm happy with our receivers, I'm happy with our running backs, I'm happy with our line, and despite his "poor" performances over the last 2 games I'm happy with Chase Daniel.

And I'm happy we haven't attempted a 2pt conversion since the Illinois game.
Michael Atchison: I’m a fit six feet tall and 165 pounds. That’s Marvin Hagler in his prime, baby.