Football Predictions and A Story or Two

I love this time of the year. It’s football season and it is football weather!! Gosh it is great to be alive and living in Oklahoma.

For almost 20 years, I spend every Friday night during football season wearing an officials uniform and enjoying the Friday night lights of Oklahoma high school football. I had more fun doing it than just about anything I have ever done in my life. I miss it every week during the season.

Former OU player and former Sallisaw Black Diamond Kelly Mitchell stopped by our BBQ trailer before a Sooner home game recently and told me a story about me calling Kelly for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during Kelly’s senior year of high school in eastern Oklahoma. Football is king on Friday night’s in town like Sallisaw and hundreds of others in the Sooner state.

Kelly was a big, tough lineman who said some “magic words” and got nailed for 15 yards by yours truly. Big Mitchell then picked up my flag and threw it up in the air in anger and disgust. I had forgotten about that play to be honest with you. I asked Kelly what happened then and he said “you walked over very calmly and picked up your flag and threw it again! I got TWO 15 yard, dead ball penalties!”

To make matters worse, the Black Diamonds coach burned a time out to ask me what had been said. I told him and reminded him he had one time out left in this huge district game where a wasted timeout was a no-no. Standing in front of the home team’s bleachers, I felt like a wrestling villain as the curse words and emotion poured out of the loyal Sallisaw fans.

All ended without incident as Sallisaw won the game and Kelly Mitchell was not ejected, I’ve worked with some officials who would have tossed him, and earned a football scholarship to Oklahoma University.

Ah, the good old days.

I went to Adrian Peterson’s first press conference since breaking his collar bone last Saturday versus Iowa State and AD was positive and said he was praying nightly to heal quickly so he could return and play another game or two for the Sooners. The Wednesday press conference did not address AD’s NFL plans as many in the media thought they “had” to know as if it was a mystery. Adrian’s as good as gone as he will be a top three pick in the 2007 draft and will become a very rich young man before he ever carries the pigskin in the National Football League.

But AD does want to play again with his teammates one or two more times if possible as a Sooner. I admire his burning desire to contribute to the OU program and his competitiveness. Even more, I admire Peterson’s love of his teammates who have become many of his best friends.

Peterson is arguably the greatest running back to ever play at OU even though he has had injuries hamper each of his three seasons here. AD is about 150 yards away from breaking the great Billy Sims’, a Heisman Trophy winner, all time rushing record for the Sooners.

The Sooners play a dangerous Colorado team this Saturday night. The Buffs are 1-6 but it is a deceiving 1-6. I look for OU to win a dog fight with vanted #28 looking on from the OU sideline. OU by less than the spread of 12.

OSU pulled one out of the fire last week in Kansas and I look for the Cowboys, who finally get to play at home, to beat Texas A&M, in a close game. OSU is favored I assume because they are at home but the Aggies are playing for their coaches job and are talented. This one really could go either way quite easily but I lean toward the Orange and Black on this one.

I picked Tulsa to win on the road last week and was right for a change. I stay with the Golden Hurricane this week who travel to Memphis. Tulsa wins again and Coach Steve Kragthorpe becomes an even more attractive candidate to lead someone else’s program next year. If TU fans were smart they would start buying tickets to Golden Hurricane football games and filling up Skelly Stadium.

Texas is favored by only 6 1/2 at Nebraska. Mack Brown can out coach Billy Callahan in his sleep and the Horns are tough and seasoned, except at QB but Colt McCoy is playing like a veteran. if Tom Osborne were on the Big Red sideline I could see an upset but not this Saturday. Texas wins big.

Texas Tech with the mad scientist Mike Leach at the helm has been a little unpredictable this season especially after scoring only 6 points last week against Colorado (beware OU). Leach will light a fire under his guys and win at Iowa State who doesn’t defend the pass too well. Tech wins a close one on the road or Dan McCarney proves he is indeed one of college football’s best motivators.

Alabama at Tennessee only needs the legendary Lindsey Nelson or Curt Gowdy to have the call of the game to be a classic SEC autumn classic between two storied programs. Offensive coordinator David Cutcliff has saved Phil Fulmer’s job it would seem for the Vols and I look for Tennessee to win at home by two TD’s.

Hopefully the Sooners can hammer Colorado early and often with a surprising running game lead by as many as three new faces at the running back position. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson called a masterful game last Saturday against ISU mixing up the plays and taking what the defense offered. I look for that exact philosophy this Saturday night on Fox Sports.

This Saturday night the defense must swarm, smoother, and harass Colorado as Sooner defensive team’s in the past have. HOpefully the Oklahoma defense will play with continued passion and tackle as they are taught.

OU cannot give Colorado hope and allow this game to be close going into the 4th quarter.

I talked to Dusty Dvorachek and to Tommie Harris both of the Chicago Bears this week. The former OU defensive tackles and two of Coach Jackie Shipp’s star pupils follow every move the Sooners make while earning big bucks with the Bears. harris has been virtually unblockable this season while Dusty is on the IR and will be a starter at D-Tackle next season after undergoing season ending foot surgery. Tommie may be on the Sooner sideline this Saturday night in Norman. I will see both the ex-Sooners this Monday night in Chicago for our WWE TV broadcast of Monday Night RAW on the USA Cable network. My guess is that the Bears will have great seats.

If you are in Norman at the game Saturday drop by our BBQ Trailer which, as always, is set up in front of the old field house just outside the north end of the stadium. Take care and enjoy a great weekend of football no matter who your favorite team may be.

J.R.