A Look At Iowa State

After a massive upset, the Sooners are trying to get their season back on track against the last underdog that derailed an OU season.

Two years ago, the Iowa State Cyclones walked off Owen Field with one of their greatest wins in school history, beat Oklahoma just under a month after Baker planted a flag at Ohio Stadium’s 50 yard line. To say Sooner fans were shocked would be….an understatement (Check out my less than clean reaction article here).

Walking out of that stadium gave you the feeling that only a crushing upset can bring. The entire season feels like a loss. All that emotional effort you gave in the long summer months, the recruiting updates, the optimism of the early wins; it all feels empty.

That feeling we felt in early October 2017 is pretty much the same one we felt a few weeks ago watching the Sooners inexplicably fall to Kansas State. Now, as OU looks to move on and get the 2019 season back on track, their next opponent is the one who last delivered an upset blow to the crimson and cream.

This time, the Cyclones won’t be a starry-eyed Cinderella.

Meet the Cyclones

Iowa State has taken their lumps this season. They entered 2019 with high hopes, bolstered by a promising quarterback and a rising star of a head coach. However after three close losses, the Cyclones are in desperate need of a win.

Norman, Oklahoma normally isn’t a great place for a bounce back win. With that being said, Iowa State is actually very equipped to compete on Saturday.

Of all the Big 12 teams OU has faced this season, Iowa State easily is the most sound. In preseason, it was a basic coinflip between Texas and ISU for the “best defense” title. With the Longhorns being massively injured, the choice is obvious.

On offense, the Cyclones are actually just a better version of Kansas State without the large running quarterback. Iowa State paces the game out slow and gets the ball into the hands of their large receivers. TE Charlie Kolar is a legitimate red-zone threat that has been tearing it up with touchdown receptions.

Overall, this is going to be a massive test for a reeling Oklahoma defense.

Who to Watch For:

Brock Purdy, QB #12

Brocktober may have ended, but Brock Purdy is still dangerous. If you don’t remember him from last season, it’s because you didn’t watch an Iowa State game outside of their matchup with OU in Ames. Purdy’s first start came after a turbulent few weeks for quarterback Zeb Noland and he has been impressive ever since.

Iowa State’s offense has seen a dip in production this season with the loss of Hakeem Butler and David Montgomery to the NFL. However, several players have stepped up in their wake…

Breece Hall, RB #28

In typical Iowa State fashion, it didn’t take until mid-October for the star of the Cyclone backfield to emerge. In the past three games alone, Hall has nearly 500 all purpose yards and has been the playmaker ISU desperately needed in September. The Sooners will need to contain him if they want any shot at making this a comfortably win.

Why You Should Be Excited

Remember how we kept saying the OU schedule is backloaded? Well, here we are, in Championship November, with four solid tests to build that potential playoff resume. Do the Sooners need help? Most likely. However, step one is beating a very good Iowa State team on Saturday.

Series History (Oklahoma Leads 75-6-2)

One of the most lopsided series in college football history. The Cyclones haven’t won a game in Ames since 1906 for gods sake. With that being said, Matt Campbell has this program in the best shape since Seneca Wallace was under center; don’t take them lightly.

A Look At West Virginia

A familiar face returns to Norman. Will Austin Kendall have revenge? (Spoiler: Probably not)

After a wild Red River, the Sooners return home to Norman with gilded heads and an undefeated record. Now that the Hat is back and OU is midway into another conference title run, the next challenge comes in a familiar foe, with a familiar face, but a very non-familiar style of play.

Meet the Mountaineers

These aren’t your typical Mountaineers. West Virginia is under renovation after the departure of longtime head coach Dana Holgorson. While O’l Dana was an offensive mastermind, Neal Brown brings more of a grounded, defensive approach.

The transition has been…difficult. On both offense and defense, the scheme and personnel just aren’t there yet.

However, doubt Brown at your own risk: just ask LSU how that worked out when he was at Troy.

Who to Watch For:

Austin Kendall, QB #12

It’s pretty fitting this game would be homecoming. Despite early health concerns, Austin “Basic Defense” Kendall will start in his return to Owen Field.

While Kendall was hyped up as a Lincoln Riley disciple, he hasn’t lived up to the hype in Morgantown. With only a 66% completion percentage and seven picks against just nine touchdowns, Kendall might not be the quarterback we thought he was.

However, in a revenge game you can toss out all the records. Kendall is going to come out pissed. Not only did AK’s spot get taken by Jalen Hurts, but Riley initially blocked Kendall’s transfer request.

Austin Kendall has plenty of motivation. We’ll see if he has the talent to keep it interesting.

Why You Should Be Excited

Revenge games are few and far between in college. Getting to watch Kendall try to exact some revenge should be really fun to watch honestly.

Series History (Oklahoma Leads 9-2)

While this series doesn’t have the biggest history, it certainly makes me pretty happy. West Virginia is the only team in the Big 12 to not have at least one conference win against the others: OU is that one. While I should worry about a jinx, I’ve said the every stat every year and nothing bad has happened yet.

How to Do the State Fair of Texas: 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year again. While by now those of you going to the game probably have a game plan on what to do on Friday night, the planning for Saturday morning is arguably more important. This year, Red River is again back to its traditional 11 AM slot, so maximizing your time at the fair is paramount.

The hungover early morning stumble to get to the fair can be quite the hassle. Between the crowds, the heat, acquiring Coupons (more on that) and handling a head splitting hangover while simultaneously trying to pregame is a lot to juggle in just a few short hours.

Thankfully, that’s where we at The Schooner Blog come in. Through years of grizzled Red River experience and hours (okay, maybe a few minutes) of research, we have compiled everything you need to be State Fair ready.

Coupons:

The first and most important thing to know about the Fair is none of the vendors accept cards or cash. What you’ll need instead are Coupons, these weird little tickets sold in massive strips. Each coupon is worth 50 cents, so you’ll want to load up. For example, one standard beer is typically worth 12 Coupons, so don’t worry about overbuying. If anyone is trying to give any extras, you jump on them ASAP. Even if you don’t end up using them, Coupons roll over annually so you can save for next year, if you play your cards right. If you want, you can even go ahead and get some right now and skip the line.

Transport:

Look, I know DART gets an awful rep for its inability to handle traffic leaving the game. However, if you plan on staying at the Fair after the game no matter what, it is for sure the move.

Even if you are fully in Sad Boi Hours, the fair is the best place to drown your sorrows. It’s even better to celebrate in while letting your travel related worries just melt away.

Eating at the Fair

The Timeless, ‘Must Have’ Classic

cornydog.jpg

While some of the most insane food creations in the world can be found here, let me implore you to skip the temptation of items like the Funnel Cake Bacon Queso burger. The best food item here is the Fletcher’s Corny Dog. Now, the Corny Dog is not to be confused with the generic, average corn dogs found throughout the Fair. This piece of heaven on a stick has been around for 77 years and is, hands down, the greatest food item I can think of.

The lines are absurdly long, but missing out on this experience would leave your OU-Texas weekend incomplete. The main Fletcher’s stand is right under Big Tex, the massive talking cowboy statue that’s impossible to miss, but there are plenty around Fair Park with shorter lines. The legendary @SoonerTracker on Twitter even created this handy map of not only all the places where you can find Fletcher’s, but the best places for beer as well.

Big Tex Choice Award Picks

Each year, new contenders step up to the plate to take home one of the most prestigious titles of them all: the Big Tex Choice Award. While there are only three winners (Best Taste Savory, Best Taste Sweet and Most Creative), most of the finalists are just as good if not better. Here’s a look at what won this year.

(You can map out the locations of these items and many more here!)

Best Taste (Savory): Ruth’s Stuffed Fried Taco Cone

One of the most important features of any Fair Food item is easily transportability. This fried taco cone is made up of “tender, savory, marinated, slow-cooked barbacoa served in an ice cream cone-shaped tortilla shell with black beans and cilantro lime rice. It is topped with pico de gallo, queso fresco, and homemade salsa verde”. Honestly, this looks fantastic and is something I certainly would get.

Best Taste (Sweet): Big Red Chicken Bread

Honestly, I’m not a big sweets guy. However, this dish appeals to me, not just because of the chicken wing, but BECAUSE THE WING IS WEARING TINY GLASSES. That is the coolest thing ever! According to BigTex.com, this dish features “homemade, light, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth, Big Red® -flavored frosting, and served with a savory fried chicken wing resting in the middle of the doughnut”. If you want something different, check this out!

Drinking at the Fair

The Cotton Bowl, for presumably the first time is selling beer in the stands. With that being said, if you want to save a bit of cash drinking in the Fair might be the better move.

Beer prices vary, but there is one mythical stand with 6 Coupon beers known as The Beer Barn just inside Cotton Bowl Plaza. You can get Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Miller Lite, Corona and most importantly, Shiner Bock.

If you have are a bit of a beer snob like myself, check out the Magnolia Beer Garden. This place has an expansive selection of beer from across Texas and the world. If you want to attempt to look cultured to your girlfriend or group of friends, head over to the Wine Garden, which features over 40 wineries from the State of Texas. There are plenty other beer and wine gardens around the fair (including Yardbirds, where the legendary Corn Dog beer makes its return for 2019) but these are the highlight locations.

If you want to stick to wax cup Coors Light, more power to you. There are attractions for those that don’t want to just drink, but hey, that’s just not me at this point in time. The Texas Star, a 200+ foot ferris wheel that ranks as the third largest in the nation, is a trip that could be pretty cool. However, I’d prefer to spend my time on the ground and drinking.

If you somehow survive a full day at the fair from an 11 AM kickoff to make it to the late night show, Big and Rich with Cowboy Troy are playing, so basically if you are an enormous fan of the College Gameday intro, this is absolutely the show for you. Otherwise…why?

Map:

Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 4.35.08 PM

Game Week: #11 Texas

It’s time for the greatest rivalry in sports.

After weeks of bad competition, we are finally here: Red River Week.

Sure, the new Speed D and annual super weapon that is the Oklahoma offense have looked mostly sharp so far this season. However, the Sooners have faced nothing so far like what they will face in the Cotton Bowl this Saturday and probably won’t face a challenge like this again until the postseason.

Meet the Longhorns

Texas started this season with all the major pillars of high expectations: Sugar Bowl win, Playoff hype, potential Heisman, big non-conference home game, cool soundbite that totally could never backfire.

While the Horns have already botched one of the above (LSU), this isn’t a lost season for them. A win at Fair Park would rocket them right back into the Playoff conversation and set the tone for the potential clean slate. Lose here and the ceiling is another NOLA trip.

Texas boasts a strong offense and about as many athletes as you can find in the Big 12. While the Longhorns have had issues staying healthy on defense with guys like Caden Sterns sidelined, this will be the first real challenge for an Oklahoma offensive line that has been shakier than in seasons past.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – JANUARY 01: Sam Ehlinger #11 of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after defeating the Georgia Bulldogs 28-21 during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 01, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Who to Watch For:

Sam Ehlinger, QB #11

I mean, duh. While we’ve dogged on him for years, Ol’ Trill Sammy or whatever dumb nickname the Horns PR team is trying to force is a legitimately good player. His throwing accuracy has improved and Tom Herman has been running him much less, which makes him much fresher.

While I’m not sold on him being a legend tier Texas quarterback, make no mistake: dude is good.

Devin Duvernay, WR #6

Aside from the obvious choice of Ehlinger, I think the Horns slot receiver has the biggest chance of giving the OU defense headaches on Saturday.

Not only has Duvernay has been one of the most improved players for Texas this season, slot receivers have excelled against Speed D this season. Plus, with lead wideout Collin Johnson dealing with hamstring issues, expect plenty of targets for Duvernay.

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) celebrates with the Golden Hat Trophy following the team’s 29-24 win over Texas in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins) ORG XMIT: TXRJ121

Why You Should Be Excited

When the Big 12 got its dream Championship matchup with the Red River rematch, many wondered if the potential for a larger stage rematch would harm the traditional game in the Cotton Bowl.

I can fully say without a doubt that the hype is as real as ever.

While rational thought would lead one to believe that a conference championship win would render the earlier regular season useless, Texas fans this offseason have proven that rational thought is not utilized south of the Red River.

The amount of bragging about Dicker The Kicker, the Golden Hat and “kRyLeR mUrRaY” has been honestly kinda sad to watch. I’d expect this out of Oklahoma State or Texas A&M, but Texas? I’d expect more out of a supposed blue blood than to brag about a game that wasn’t the most recent matchup.

With that being said, I want that damn hat back, if anything to just take any ounce of supposed bragging rights away from the Longhorns. Of course, then the Horns will have to move on to “MOST RECENT NATTY” or whatever other broken record, watery point that they pull out, but still.

Bring the hat home.

Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley hoists the Big 12 Conference championship trophy after beating Texas 39-27 in the Big 12 Conference championship NCAA college football game on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Series History (Oklahoma Leads 12-2 in Big 12 Championships)

🗣️WINS BEFORE WORLD WAR II DON’T MATTER 🗣️

Game Week: Kansas

The Sooners head to Lawrence to face an old foe from ages ago: Les Miles.

Believe it or not, it’s already October. The only thing standing between the Sooners and their long awaited matchup with Texas in the Cotton Bowl? A trip to Lawrence to face Les Miles and Kansas.

Meet the Jayhawks

While Kansas has been the laughing stock of the Big 12 since Mark Mangino’s firing in 2010, they have shown signs of improvement at times this season, such as their stunning road win at Boston College.

However, it’s important to take the good with the bad when evaluating this Jayhawk team. For every impressive point (a Power 5 road win), there is a glaring negative (blown out by TCU, lost to Coastal Carolina). As such, you have no clue what team you will see each Saturday. They’ll either be decent or astonishingly awful; no middle ground.

The X-Factor here is Les Miles, someone we’ll speak of quite often a bit later this week.

Who to Watch For:

Pooka Williams Jr., RB

While Williams has had a lackluster start to 2019, he’s still the same man who put up 252 yards and two touchdowns on the Sooners last season in Norman.

Williams represents the main reason why Kansas shouldn’t be seen as just a bye week. This game is this team’s Super Bowl. Sure, they aren’t good by any means, but Les Miles is going to have this team fired up for this game. They have the capability to make this an annoying game for Oklahoma if the Sooners don’t show up.

Why You Should Be Excited

Look, I don’t know how many of you really remember Les Miles the way I do. From November 2001-October 2003, this man was responsible for two of my toughest years as a Sooner fan.

While both seasons would be considered pretty good by most standards, they had the inescapable annoyance of Oklahoma State, who went on an extremely rare two game Bedlam win streak, with both wins eliminating OU from national title contention. The success starved Poke fans were absolutely insufferable up until October 2003 when Sooners finally took out Les in embarrassing fashion.

The next two Bedlam games OU won in cathartic fashion with seeing Les get his comeuppance making those wins even better. After the 2004 season, Les left for Baton Rouge to continue on the dynasty that Nick Saban started at LSU. From that point on, the Cowboys have only won Bedlam twice – the same count as Miles.

I don’t care that Kansas is, well, Kansas. I’ve seen what the Mad Hatter can do in these scenarios. The seven year old in me who was teased endlessly for two years wants to see Les get obliterated all the same.

Let ‘er rip.

Series History (OU Leads 76-27-6)

Not a lot to note here, other than the fact that somehow this traditional matchup is closer than Bedlam. That’s hilarious.

Game Week: Texas Tech

A preview of Oklahoma’s Big 12 opener.

The first bye week has come and gone and once again, it’s football time in Oklahoma. After three games of cupcakes, the Sooners return from their break to face…another not-so-great team.

Meet the Red Raiders

Two weeks ago, this game actually looked decently entertaining. Texas Tech was rolling with new head coach Matt Wells until quarterback Alan Bowman injured his shoulder against Arizona early in the third quarter.

Bowman finished the game, but the usually potent Red Raider offense looked flat all night in the 28-14 loss. After the game, Tech announced that Bowman would miss several weeks with the injury. 

For years, Texas Tech fans asked for a team with a defense as good as its offense. In 2019, this appears to have come true thanks to a monkey’s paw-like twist that has left both units to be aggressively average. 

Who to Watch For:

Whoever is at Quarterback. Jett Duffey I Guess?

This is a huge question mark. Tech’s offense will change dramatically depending on who steps in for Alan Bowman. The leader in the clubhouse is probably Jett Duffey, the duel threat backup who saw action last season when Bowman went down with a collapsed lung (twice). Duffey has had his moments of greatness but tends to turn the ball over at the worst possible times. If Wells wants to use his rushing ability to get weird with it, he might be a real threat.

The other option is Rice transfer Jackson Tyner, who is a closer fit style-wise to Bowman but not nearly as good. If Wells is playing to win, he should go full wildcard with Duffey.

Why You Should Be Excited

It’s been a full week without OU football in your life. That’s pretty tough!

Honestly, that’s all I got. Tech is pretty bad and the 11 AM kick doesn’t help. Sooner Football kinda sells itself.

Series History (OU Leads 20-6)

Last time out, OU and Tech got into a classic “I hate this and want to leave” scrap where defense is thrown out the window and nobody goes home happy.

Kyler Murray started off throwing a pick at his own 20, causing OU to go down 14-0 in the 1st. The Sooners recovered, took the lead, and spent the rest of the night trying to beat back the Red Raiders.

Alan Bowman went off before re-collapsing his lung and having to exit the game. Jett Duffey was much less effective.

Oklahoma finally ended the night with a rare defensive 2 point conversion return from Robert Barnes, who ran a pick all the way back for a touchdown, graciously ending the evening for all involved parties.

A Look At UCLA

A preview of Oklahoma’s first game against South Dakota.

For the first time this season, the Oklahoma Sooners are heading on the road. Stop number one? The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.

While the venue is grand, the opponent is…not so hot.

The UCLA Bruins are in quite a tough spot. Chip Kelly, who was hired in 2018 to try to turn things around in Westwood, finds himself 0-2 in his second season. Since Kelly has arrived, things have seemingly gotten worse.

Now, the Bruins must turn it around against the #5 team in the country, or continue to sink into the abyss.

Meet the Bruins

UCLA is a team with an anemic offense and a wet paper towel of a defense.

However, when a team is at its lowest, they go to two places: they either sink lower, or make a stand.

UCLA’s performance Saturday will tell us what type of team they will be this season. Do they have the heart to make this game close? Frankly, I don’t know if they have the talent.

Who to Watch For:

Demetric Felton, WR #10

Through two games, UCLA ranks as one of the least explosive offensive teams in college football. One has to wonder how much worse this unit would be if Demetric Felton wasn’t on the team.

Felton leads the Bruins in both receiving and rushing yards, despite being a wide receiver. Here’s the thing: both races aren’t even close. Felton has double the yards of both guys in second.

Honestly, this guy was selected in this category by default.

Why You Should Be Excited

It’s OU at the Rose Bowl, quite possibly the greatest venue in college football. How can you not be excited? Even if this isn’t the much more notable game on New Year’s Day, the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains at sunset with palm trees peeking over the ancient bowl will still be on full display. Even if you are watching at home, it’ll be a fantastic scene.

Series History (OU Leads 4-1)

This is the third game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl for the Sooners, with the last meeting in 2006 providing the one loss in the series.

Maurice Drew, UCLA’s star running back had lost his grandfather during their game against Rice. In order to honor him, he added his grandfather’s surname to his jersey.

He took the field as Maurice Jones-Drew for the first time that day against the Sooners and never looked back.

There is a ton of other OU-UCLA history, which can be found in last season’s OU-UCLA article.