Our coverage of the best week ever--Footballpocalypse--continues today with the divine wrath promised by the Oklahoma/Oregon game. A rain of blood couldn't keep us away, unless it's on at the same time as another game we want to watch. Then we'll just let Rece Davis tell us what happened instead.
Part One of Footballpocalypse: Miami at Louisville.
Sign of the Footballpocalypse: Two Very Different Plagues. Defending Oregon's perfectly binary offense is one form of sickness: 75 runs, 66 passes, and a well-crafted spread set to do it from means buboes and ill-tidings for Sooners' defenders who allowed 204 on the ground to Washington last week. Jonathan Stewart is the latest "nimble, but can also bend frying pans with his hands" back to start in the backfield for the Ducks, and Oregon OC Gary Crowton's all too happy to rush him to exhaustion in pursuit of a win. He wonked his ankle last week but will be close to full feather for the Sooners. QB Dennis Dixon can run a bit, too, but makes his bones as the guy who nips away at defenses with the short passing game and makes sound decisions handing the ball off on those now-ubiquitous zone read plays.
Jonathan Stewart in a position your doctor would not recommend.
Oklahoma's got a different strain of the plague: passing anemia. Against UAB, Peterson played Johnny One Note for the Sooners, bailing them single-handedly out of a loss to Watson Brown, a truly shameful thing that Oklahoma dodged on a swing pass to to AP. Peterson is [insert arbitrary measure of hyperbole, praise, and boatloads of adjectives equalling "holy hell is he a talented motherfucking running back, since he might be the first guy to lose the Heisman due to overemphasizing his own spectral talent, too good to win the award blah blah blah.]
Paul Thompson's been decent for them, and has passed the ball at a rate that hypothetically would have horrified Bob Stoops preseason. Thompson threw for two picks against a oven-mitted Washington defense; facing Oregon we'll pencil him in for the high side of three. It's been two years now since Oklahoma's fielded a qb worth fearing, notable given that the no-name duo of Josh Heupel and gimpy Jason White got Oklahoma to glory and beyond.
Coaching fashion advantage: Bellotti. All that Nike gear lovingly crafted by third-world wage slaves hangs well on Bellotti even after he committed the crime of shaving his mustache. Stoops, meanwhile, will wear pants with deep, proud pleats, a fashion crime that should never be forgiven.
It must be the pleats.
Best roster name, Oregon: Delta Force member, Ph.D candidate in Economics, and black belt in krav maga Morgan Flint. He's not actually anything like that, but the name deserves a man of mystery's resume to back it up.
Best roster name, Oklahoma: The zestily named "Dane Zaslaw" comes close, but the award must go to C.J. Ah You. Who wins when C.J. plays? Ah, you.
Mascot advantage: The Duck, since it's not a.) a wagon, which has always been lame, and b.) Can get into fights with other mascots and scare children, the principal responsibilities of any real mascot. We'd side with Oklahoma if they'd kept Mex the Dog instead of a dusty old cart that everyone was using to get to--that's right--Oregon anyway.
Where's that wagon headed? Oregon, sir.Signs of the apocalypse:
The Number of the Beast: #28, J.D. Nelson, safety Oregon Ducks. Peterson's bloated with media notice, but highlight the man who could be plowing headfirst into AP's kneecaps all day. Experienced, savvy, and all-too-happy to attempt to rearrange someone's DNA through repeated vicious application of blunt force to the body.
And a great battle commences: Their bowl game matchup was a physical sumo-match decided by the coaching decisions of two guys who, despite having prolific offenses in the past, have been reduced to each key game being decided on a special teams fake. Oregon whipped out its niftiest fake against Fresno--a cool-ass option flip from Brady Leaf to the kicker for the win--but both teams will attempt to change field position when the run-first offenses stagnate by faking a pair of kicks between the two of them.
The teams look remarkably similar: dominant run games, vulnerable in the secondary on defense, and happy to dink away in between running the seams off the ball. It'll look a lot like last year's Holiday Bowl: big trick plays salted away between long slabs of hard hitting and offensive stagnation, but minus the retard-easy "Ryan Leaf's brother throws a pick, therefore he's just like his brother!" storyline.
(Potentially) False Prophecies: 20-17 seems like a solid bet, what with both teams being fairly well acquainted with the other now. Familarity and comparable program intake (quality recruits, oodles of funding, facilities that would make a pasha blush) mean that no one's pulling any aces in the form of surprise formations or defenses they haven't seen. Ugly, physical, dag-nasty slapfight will be the norm here.
Not everything's level here, though: both pass defenses give up yards, and Dennis Dixon seems way more capable of managing things and throwing a few crucial play-action passes than Thompson. Ceteris paribus, the qbs have us picking Oregon to win.