The day of reckoning is at hand. KU vs. k-state for the championship of Kansas. It doesn't get any better than this. It doesn't get any bigger than this.
Pay no attention to that game behind the curtain. That's just Michigan at Ohio St. Unfortunately for them, their game is at 2:30 Saturday, where it will be overshadowed by the game in Lawrence. Shoulda played that game at noon EST. Or Thursday night. Maybe then, someone would have shown up
The Games of Week 12:
1. k-state +2 at KU
No doubt the Game of the Week if not the Game of the Year. Perhaps the biggest game in college football since Nebraska and Oklahoma met as the once and future Nos. 1 and 2 teams in all the land in 1971.
I have been waiting for the point spread to drop to a Pick or even KU getting points. I expected Vegas to try to take advantage of those who take a superficial look at an impressive win-or pathetic loss-by a team and conclude that that one game defines that team. Of course, it does not.
The fact that Vegas has not shifted the points to attract the sucker bet suggests its fear that doing so to attract the sucker would, instead, attract too much smart money to KU.
But why should that be? Didn't k-state just do what the Fighting Manginos have been unable to accomplish in five years: i.e., grab a signature victory, rolling over the No. 4 team in the land?
At a superficial level, yes. They made one more play than KU made two years ago in the Jayhawks' best chance for a signature win during the Mangino era. However, as admirable as k-state's victory was-and it does establish that they are a good team-it would be premature to anoint them a great one.
First, k-state did not accomplish this feat against the veritable one man team-i.e., Vince Young--that won the imaginary national championship last year. In fact, they didn't even do it against a team led by red-shirt freshman Colt McCoy. They won by three points, "holding" Texas to 42 points behind its backup true freshman QB in his first meaningful action of the season.
Second, k-state held on with Freeman Johns, III and his BCS Ass-Saving calls somewhere else. Would have been interesting to see what would have happened had FJ III had been in Manhattan to make a bogus call on k-state's final possession to give UT one more opportunity to tie or win the game.
Third, UT was not the fourth best team in the country. Even with their more experienced redshirt freshman at QB, Texas was lucky, indeed, to escape Lincoln and Lubbock with W's. They could just as easily have entered Manhattan 7-3 and rated somewhere in the neighborhood of 15th nationally.
k-state merely made one more play than Nebraska and Texas Tech. They didn't fumble on the play that would have put the game on ice like NU; and they weren't spotted inches short on two critical fourth down plays a la Tech.
Nebraska and Tech are both good teams. Neither is great. The fact that k-state was good enough or fortunate enough to make one more play than those teams does not elevate k-state to a level above those two.
Fourth, the fact that k-state pulled this game off does not, by itself, separate k-state from KU. It does not mean that k-state accomplished something that KU could not have accomplished had they had the same opportunity. More importantly, it does not mean that k-state's freshman QB is better than either of KU's freshmen QB's. Freeman threw the ball well. He did not, in this game, demonstrate that he has a better arm or touch than either Meier or Reesing. Or better legs.
What Freeman looked like in this one game was Reggie McNeil of A&M four years ago versus Oklahoma. McNeil looked like an All-American on that day. Or a future All-Pro, hitting one receiver after another in stride over OU's defense that was stacked to stop the run.
I won't say McNeil was never heard from again, but he was not even a serious contender for all-conference honors-and likely would not have been even without Vince Young stealing his thunder.
Of course, Freeman could prove, over time, to be the real deal. Right now, though, he has done nothing to separate himself from other young Big 12 QB's like McCoy, Chase Daniel, Meier, Bobby Reid, Steven McGee, Graham Harrell, or Reesing.
What this game will come down to is mistakes. And mistakes are most likely to emanate from either freshmen or quarterbacks-or freshman quarterbacks.
Will the key mistake come from Josh Freeman, head still in the clouds from last week's achievements. Will it come from Kerry Meier, this game being too big for a Pittsburg native whose brother plays for the opposing team? Will it come from Todd Reesing, who has had less on-field time to play through his mistakes than the other two?
Or will Freeman be on an unabated roll? Will Meier be inspired to show big brother what he can do? Or will Reesing, to whom the rivalry will seem less heated than Lake Travis vs. Dripping Springs, coolly and calmly move the Hawks down the field with the precision of a surgeon?
On balance, it looks like a competitive game. I will go with the team playing at home with two weeks to get ready.
2. Mizzou -14.5 at Iowa St
Is there any reason to take Iowa St with any number of points? Even against fast fading Mizzou?
3. Okie St +6 at Texas Tech
Basically a pick. There will be so many points scored in this game that 6 points will be no roughly equivalent to 1 in a normal game. The final will be something like 56-42. Neither team has a good defense. Neither is a good road team. Surely Tech can hold OSU to 6 TD's in Lubbock.
4. Oklahoma -20.5 at Baylor
Are you kidding me? Without Shawn Bell, Baylor is the worst team in the conference. Well, maybe second worst. Anyone want to see a playoff between the Bears and Cyclones for that honor? It could set college football back 100 years. Loser gets Colorado.
5. Michigan +7 at Ohio St
I would consider taking Michigan even up if it weren't for Lloyd Carr. Still, I will take the Wolverine D +7 versus anyone, anytime, anywhere.
6. Iowa +3 at Minnesota
Big game for Masonota. Bowl eligibility on the line. I don't have a lot of confidence in the Gophers in a big game.
7. Illinois -2.5 at Northwestern
Who do you like: Tweedledum or Tweedledee? Illinois has two wins, Northwestern three. Tweedledee is at home on the field sporting the giant Z.
8. N.C. State -4 at UNC
The Wolfpack better get its licks in during football season. Otherwise, it's O-fer the 2006-07 academic year vs. the Tar Heels in the sports that matter.
9. Virginia Tech -2 at Wake Forest
Yes, Virginia Tech, there is a Wake Forest. Only it's not in Wake Forest. It's in Winston-Salem. Where the home-standing Deacons Demonize the Hokies.
10. Tulsa -6 at SMU
When in doubt and SMU gets less than 7 points, take their opponent. As long as the opponent isn't coached by Terry Allen.
11. Arkansas -14.5 at Mississippi St
The entire SEC is rapidly turning into the Razorbacks' personal sty. If they could just mulligan that first game.
12. Auburn -3 at Alabama
The most bitter rivalry in college sports. Eat that, ESPN. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Dickie V. As Mike Price once said about the Tide: It's Rolling, Baby.
13. Cal +6 at Southern Cal
USC now has the inside track to the imaginary championship game. And they look like they are hitting their stride. Meanwhile, Cal has dropped out of the running for the Big Game, having been humbled by lowly Arizona last week. Don't make your January 8 plans yet, Trojans. The Tedford Boys have something up their sleeves this Saturday-like maybe the focus they forgot to take to Tucson.
14. Oregon St -14 at Stanford
How the Beavers got their groove back: They played Stanford.
15. UCLA +4 at Arizona St
Bowl eligibility on the line for the 5-5 Bruins. Better luck next year-or against USC.
Hey, Wreck, Sigh, Low Tech!