Everyone Go Crazy And Act Like A Fool</span> week has arrived. The best-case scenario most people scoffed at six weeks ago has become reality. Tigers and Jayhawks congregating in Arrowhead on Saturday to play for a lot more than bragging rights. If KU can continue it’s run, they are just two games from playing for a national title. In football. Consider that again. Ridiculous, right? If MU wins, they probably get a second shot at a wounded OU team they hung with in October, brimming with confidence and with their own less direct but equally real path to the BCS championship game awaiting. The perfect end to a perfect season.
I’ll get more into the rivalry over the week, but there is a big part of me that is glad I’m not in Kansas City this week. The hype is going to be ridiculous. All the idiot fans of whichever school you did not go to will be coming out of the shadows to bother you. All the idiot fans of your school will be right there with them, making inappropriate comments that make you cringe. For once, I think I’m glad to watch this one from afar.
People are asking me what I think of the game. Honestly, I can’t make an assessment yet. I haven’t seen much of Mizzou this year. Most of their games on FSN have been preempted for local programming here in Indy. When they’ve been on ABC, there has always been a Big Ten game on. And when they’ve been on ESPN, I’ve often had other commitments. Plus, I didn’t expect to need to break the game down in such detail back when the season started. Based on what I can discern from a basic look at the stats, comparative scores, and people I’ve talked to who have seen both teams, I would say KU has the advantage on defense, MU has an advantage on offense, and both teams have excellent special teams. Neither team turns the ball over much. So how do I determine what the hell is going to happen?
Unfortunately, it sounds like some key players in KU’s defensive secondary and offensive line are a bit dinged up. KU will need 5-6 DBs on the field much of the game. It’s hard enough to try to contain Missouri’s receivers without starting the game two players short. If Reesing’s ankle is still tender, missing a key offensive lineman does not bode well.
What I keep going back to, and keep hearing from neutrals who have seen both teams, is KU’s defense. It’s a very good unit that doesn’t take plays off and doesn’t get down when it does give up a big play. In fact, I think the KU defense is a lot better than Oklahoma’s which tends to be indifferent about half of the time. I don’t think you can slow down MU all that much, but if KU can force MU to punt 3-4 times, or get a couple turnovers, that should be the game-changing element. I think KU’s more traditional running game will be very important, too, especially if the field is sloppy. That said, I can’t drop a score on you yet. I expect it to be a 10-12 point game, with a late score making it a comfortable margin, but can’t figure out which team will have the 35-40 points it should take to win yet. I’ll keep working on it, though.
The strange thing about this glorious season, from KU’s perspective, is that for all the national attention and importance it places on this game, it also takes a little away from it. If KU loses, they still have a shot at a BCS bowl, and worst case will be playing in a nice, non-BCS bowl. Given the historic place KU football has held, how can you be upset about that? If you told me at the beginning of the year KU will go 11-1, be ranked #2 in the BCS, and play in New Year’s day bowl game but would have to take a loss to MU in the process, I would have taken that and ran before you changed your mind.
Much more on that as the week progresses. In local news, the hometown team, Carmel High, has advanced to the state championship game for the second straight year. Unlike last year, Warren Central will not be waiting for them. The four-time defending champions were knocked out early this year. Instead, the undefeated and #1 ranked Pike Red Devils will greet Carmel in the Dome Saturday. My local bookie tells me the early line is Carmel -6.
I meant to write last week about how the Colts’ season was done the moment Dwight Freeney went on the IR. Sunday’s game with the Chiefs pretty much proved that. Peyton continues to be out-of-sorts, his receivers are dropping balls, his offensive line is going <span style=”font-style:italic;”>Back the Future</span> on him and disappearing before our eyes. If not for their great defense, and who would have ever thought that to be the case, the Colts might be in jeopardy of missing the playoffs despite their undefeated start. Back when I picked the Colts to make the Super Bowl again in September, part of my reasoning was that the older Pats would fall apart over the course of the season. Strange that the Pats are holding together while the younger Colts are decimated by injuries.
I keep wanting to buy into the Cowboys. But that defense remains a big problem. There’s a part of me that thinks, if they can make it that far, the Cowboys will have a decent shot of defeating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. I can see the Pats being over-confident, as the Rams were back in 2002, and the ‘Boys pulling the stunner. But I just can’t see the Dallas defense not giving up stupid, long plays to Randy Moss all day. I don’t get how a defense so talented can be so flawed. Perhaps if they dialed things back a bit and made the sound play instead of going for the big play it might help.
OK, probably enough for now, especially given teh fact I’m supposed to be watching the girls right now. Where are they, anyway? Was that the garage door I just heard? I kid, I kid.