The Weekend Spread: Week 1

Welcome to Prediction Squad**. This season, in addition to The Schooner Pod guys making their game picks on the podcast, we are bringing on a well-rounded Big 12 opinion maker: my friend, Blake Crowley. A TCU graduate and current Baylor Law student, Blake brings in blisteringly hot takes from outside of the OU bubble. He’s a perfect addition to the squad for Big 12 and general college football content. 

*Jamison’s predictions are transcribed from the Week 1 episode of The Schooner Pod 

**Rebranded to The Weekend Spread in Week 5

Ole Miss v. Texas Tech (TT -2.5)

Bobby: Maybe it’s blind faith, but I see a mediocre Tech team sneaking by probation bit Ole Miss. The Red Raider offense isn’t what it used to be, but the defense is vastly improved.

Jamison:  Ole Miss is not good. With that being said, I still think they’ll beat Texas Tech. It is pretty much a toss up.

BlakeI have never seen people so triggered on Twitter when Ole Miss announced the new Land Shark mascot. Honestly, I am woke on the Land Shark and it is refreshing to see that the SEC further resembles some sort of a zoo with all of their mascots (gators, elephants, multiple tigers, etc.) Give me Ole Miss.

23 Texas @ Maryland (UT -13.5)

Bobby: While I think Texas is going to be wildly overrated this season, they surely won’t blow it game one against Maryland…right? Maryland is a disaster of a program

Jamison: I don’t see Texas losing this one. I think Tom Herman is going to get his guys fired up for a revenge game. I have not heard enough about Maryland to worry about them beating Texas.

BlakeMy favorite time of the year is listening to all of the “Texas is back” crowd. It is music to my ears and I love their tears when they start to lose again. Sadly, I do not think there will be a loss just yet. The 10th iteration of whatever McCoy-Shipley duo they are on now will find a way to win the game and cover the spread.

Tennessee v. 17 West Virginia (WVU -9.5)

Bobby: The Moonshine Bowl! Tennessee is a disaster and WVU is poised to make a big run this season with Will Grier at the quarterback position. If this was at Neyland Stadium, the Vols would have a chance, but alas the game is in Charlotte (???) so I think Country Roads takes out Rocky Top in an easy blow out.

Jamison: Do I have to say anything about Tennessee? They are an absolute embarrassment. Who thought Rocky Top would turn into this? We were just playing them not too long ago and then last season they were absolutely embarrassing to watch. West Virginia is going to start out hot, they are going to look great and get all the hype. They are going to stomp Tennessee into the ground.

BlakeOh my goodness, West Virginia is returning their star quarterback and wide receiver this year, they must be so good…..NOPE. Did we forget what this combo did for them last year?!?!?!

7-6!!!!! YOU HEARD ME. 7-6!!! The national media obviously has never watched a Big 12 game in their life because if they have they know West Virginia will never win a big game and will just be up on the bottom feeders in the Big 12. This team is ABSOLUTE AND COMPLETE GARBAGE!!! Give me Tennessee to win in this one (yes, I am aware of what happened to Tennessee in the offseason, but I really think this West Virginia team is that garbage). Trust me, by the end of this weekend, y’all will think I am an oracle because of how right I will be on this pick.  Load the farm on Tennessee.

Nicholls @ Kansas (No Line Available)

Bobby: GIVE ME NICHOLLLLLLLLLS!!! Nicholls wins 10-7 in a game that will barely resemble college football.

Jamison: Ohhhh man. I would love to see Kansas lose this one, but I feel like it’s not worth the laughter. I think Kansas will be “eh” this season. I’m talking two wins. Nicholls will be one of them.

BlakeHonestly, Jamison and Bobby have probably done way too much research for this game then any human should. If Jamison applied his sports knowledge correctly, he would be a fantastic sports bettor, but for some reason wastes all of his time analyzing Streak for the Cash on ESPN.com. Hate to break it to him, but he will never win. Trust their analysis for this game, but I am taking Nipples State.

FAU @ 7 Oklahoma (OU -21)

Bobby: FAU will give OU a hell of a game, but this Sooners team is too good and too aware to let the Owls leave Norman with the upset. They will however, leave with the cover.

Jamison: Don’t put anything past Lane Kiffin; if this game was at a neutral site, it would give me thoughts of that Houston game in 2016. Kiffin and (then Houston Head Coach) Tom Herman are very similar in their coaching style. The learning curve for the OU defense is high, so I think it’ll be a high scoring game. It’ll be close, but a comfortable close. OU by 17.

BlakeIt is safe to say that over my lifetime, I have never gotten an OU bet correct. If my records are correct, I am about 0-31 across all Oklahoma sports. BUT I think there is a chance I reverse that streak this weekend. It would be an absolute shame, just a horrible thing if I happened to bet on OU and the curse continued. An absolute shame it would be. I will be rocking the Crimson and Cream this weekend because there is no way OU loses this game, just absolutely no way. (Editor’s Note: This will be Blake’s last appearance on The Schooner Blog if he inflicts the Crowley Curse on us yet again)

25 LSU v. 8 Miami (MIA -3.5) (Sunday)

Bobby: This is a game between two teams that are really going to disappoint this season; I just think LSU is going to be worse. As much as I love Coach O, I don’t see him lasting long in Baton Rouge.

Jamison: This is a tough one, but I’m going with LSU. I think the “Turnover Chain” era needs to stop. To be honest, I think Miami was just a fad. Last season they weren’t even that good. Plus, with Joe Burrow LSU FINALLY got a good quarterback.

BlakeOut of all the games on the board, I think this one is by far the easiest to pick. LSU might have a good defense, but their offense, specifically passing game, is absolute trash. Miami -3.5 is easy money right here.

14 Michigan @ 12 Notre Dame (ND -1)

Bobby: While I’m not yet all in on the Michigan train this season, I’m waaaay out on the perennially overrated Irish. Michigan wins big.

Jamison: I can talk all day about how good Michigan’s Shea Patterson is. If I had to put my money down on a Heisman dark horse, I would pick him to win in his first year. I think Michigan is going to run through the Big Ten and steamroll Notre Dame.

Blake: I did not know there were bowl games in September, but in this meeting of the Overrated Bowl we have two teams that severely disappoint every season. I think Jim Harbaugh is starting to notice his seat is a little warm, so I will take Michigan here to win by a field goal.

9 Auburn v. 6 Washington (AUB -2)

Bobby: This one is going to be an all time classic QB duel between Jake Browning and Jarrett Stidham. I just can’t see Washington escaping the heart of SEC country with a win against this Auburn team.

Jamison: I love Auburn this year. I think they’ll give Alabama a run for their money this year. I think Jarrett Stidham is the best quarterback in college football; he was great in JUCO, he was great at Baylor. This is his last year and I think he’ll make a name for himself. I think Washington is a really good team, I just think Auburn will be better.

BlakeJarrett Stidham is by far the best quarterback in the nation and you cannot convince me otherwise. The former Baylor Bear is a bomber and actually knows how to throw the football further than 10 yards, a rarity in the SEC. I’ll take Auburn to win in this.

The Schooner Pod: Week 1

Football is back. Bobby and Jamison break down the FAU game and make their predictions for Week 1’s big games in the Big 12 and around the country.

UPDATE: We are now on Apple Podcasts! Make sure to subscribe and rate us Five stars!

Game Week: FAU

At long last, here we are: game week in Oklahoma.

On Saturday at 11 AM, football season will be officially back in Norman. No more quarterback controversy, no more watching preseason Browns games to get your fix, no more need to gobble up any bit of information during preseason camp and no more watching the Rose Bowl game while drunk at 1:36 AM for absolutely no reason.

On Saturday, we’ll have the real thing again. Not only will we see real football again, we will most likely see the Sooners face a real test in the FAU Owls.

Game Info:

Kickoff: 11 AM (Doors Open at 9 AM)

Watch: FOX (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt)

Listen: 107.7 The Franchise (OKC), 97.5 KMOD (Tulsa)

lanedevon

Meet the Owls

To the casual observer, FAU fits the mold of the standard opening opponent showing up to Norman for the sole purpose of getting slaughtered and collecting a mammoth pay check for their noble sacrifice. Let’s go down the checklist:

  1. They are a directional state university (check)
  2. They have a weird mascot (check)
  3. They play in a Group of 5 Conference (check)

It would be easy to discount the Owls if you haven’t been paying attention. But make no mistake; this team isn’t the Akron Zips, the Louisiana Tech Ragin’ Cajuns or the UTEP Minors. This is a real football team.

Lead by head coach Lane Kiffin, FAU is in the midst of a football renaissance. After starting the 2017 season off 1-3 the Owls got hot, going undefeated the rest of the way en route to a conference championship and a win in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Who to Watch For:

#5 Devin Singletary, RB

Remember how bad the OU run defense looked in the Rose Bowl? Well that glaring weakness will get its first test week one as Devin Singletary comes to town.

While that name probably doesn’t scare you, it should. The man was an absolute beast in the backfield last season, rushing for 1920 yards and 32 touchdowns. While these performances were against the likes of North Texas and UTEP, he presents an opening season challenge for the Sooners.

If OU can make a statement and shut him down, it’ll be a good day in Norman. However if he gets loose often on Saturday, expect the “Fire Mike Stoops” mob to be as loud as ever.

Why You Should Be Excited

Aside from the obvious answer of “FOOTBALL IS BACK GET HYPE”, there is a lot to look forward to football wise on Saturday. It’s the beginning of a bold (if not brief) new era with Kyler Murray taking the reigns at quarterback. At long last, we get to see what the full Kyler experience looks like.

While watching highlights of him dominate kids at Allen High School is fun, what we hope to see is a more refined Kyler Murray, a Kyler Murray who has spent the last two years soaking up knowledge from one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time like a sponge. There were always murmurs that perhaps he was even better than Baker Mayfield last season, a statement that seems laughable even now. On Saturday, we’ll see how much accurate those murmurs actually are.

schnelly

What Happened Last Time?

Even though this is the first meeting between the schools, there is a significant link of shared history between the programs. That link is none other than Howard Schnellenburger and the opinion of him could not be more different between the two schools.

For FAU, Schnelly represents somewhat of a football god. After a long coaching career, this is where Schnellenburger made his final and probably most difficult stop; he would have the change to create a program from scratch. While the Owls haven’t come close to fulfilling  their “national championship destiny” by any means, they are undoubtably notable.

For Oklahoma, the Schnellenburger era is widely known as the lowest point in the program’s history. If you ask anyone who followed OU football at that point what their Mount Rushmore of hated figures in history was, I think Schnellenburger would firmly be on that list.

For one season in 1995, ol’ Howard set out to rework historical OU football in his image. The jerseys had shoulder stripes, making them look oddly like Louisville, Schnelly’s last coaching stop. He was notoriously hard on his players, to the point that he wouldn’t give them water in practices. Players were going to the hospital for heat exhaustion in droves. When then-President David Boren demanded that water be allowed at practice, Schnellenburger himself was rumored to dump it out.

Then there was the drinking. From almost the instant Schnellenburger arrived on campus, there were rumors of him drinking heavily on the job (or otherwise) and some whispers that Norman P.D. had to drive him home on several occasions. He was fired later that year when a staffer produced hard proof to Boren of Schnellenburger’s on the clock drinking.

I wasn’t even a year old back when Schnellenburger wore the crimson and cream. However, I have heard countless tales of his infamy, both from my Dad (who still refers to him as Howard Smells-of-bourbon) and my former Intro to Sports Journalism teacher, the legendary radio host Al Eschbach (the poor guy had to host Schnelleburger’s coaching show; apparently Schnelly brought pictures of himself to the public recordings to pass out as autographs).

Things have been great for OU football in near quarter decade since Schnellenburger left. While no books or movies will be written about his year in Oklahoma, he will forever be a reminder of how important it is to cherish the good seasons. Like most things in life, one day this program will collapse, leaving Sooner Nation with nothing but L’s and empty whiskey bottles.

Introducing The Schooner Pod

Last year’s Schooner Blog wasn’t awful; it just wasn’t enough. In addition to adding more written content, I’ve decided to up the ante with the type of content we are producing.

That’s why today we are officially launching The Schooner Pod weekly podcast.

Every week me and my co-host Jamison Maxwell are going to cover everything there is to talk about in the week of Sooner football. That means game recaps, game predictions, recruiting news and really anything else that comes up that week.

Needless to say, we are both really excited to get this thing started. It’ll be a process, so please send any comments/concerns to schoonerblog@gmail.com.

As neither of us have podcasted before, we are still working out the kinks; however, we have decided to release our first two episodes so we can get some early feedback.

The two preseason preview episodes are up now on Soundcloud, and are coming soon to Apple Podcasts, Spotify and wherever you get your podcasts.

10 Predictions for the 2018 Season (Part 2)

(In case you missed it, here is Part 1)

6. Bookie wins Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, but is robbed of Player of the Year

Like pretty much every OU fan that has been paying attention, I’m all in on Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles. The five-star defensive back from IMG Academy is Florida has the potential to be an absolute game changer on a defense that really needs one.

Bookie possesses an insane defensive IQ paired with nuclear athleticism. In spring football, he played a wide range of defensive back positions, so he might move around a field a bit depending on how other personel shakes out.

If he lives up to the (well deserved) hype, you can consider him a shoo-in for Freshman DPOY.

7. Drake Stoops will contribute

Will he be good? I have no idea. (I swear this prediction isn’t based on that one hand catch in preseason camp).

To say Drake Stoops is undervalued is an understatement. A walk on from Norman North, Stoops is apparently getting attention in camp for more than just his last name. Despite his small stature, Stoops is a gritty receiver who gets the little things right. Realistic, it might take a year for him to see actual significant playing time with how deep the receiving corps is, but I could see him making a big impact in the slot.

8. The Sooners will win a record 4th straight Big 12 Title

This is a pretty down year for the Big 12 in terms of elite teams. Despite this, I actually see this being a pretty great year for Big 12 parity; I think we will see some major cannibalization between positions 2-7. Perennial top dogs TCU and Oklahoma State are going through rebuilding years, Texas isn’t fully back, and I think middle of the road teams like Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech will be improved.

The one team I believe has major upside to break from the pack is West Virginia. They’ve been a trendy pick to win the conference this year with the return of Will Grier, but I’m just not sold yet. I think the rest of the conference is too good for them to finish without at least two losses and playing a late season Oklahoma offense in back-to-back games won’t be easy.

It’ll be a wild race to the finish, but you gotta take the safe bet in the Sooners winning their 12th (!) Big 12 Championship.

9. Oklahoma gets left out of the College Football Playoff

Scheduling elite home and homes is massively important in the Playoff era. Even if you drop an early game to an elite team, if you win out the rest of the way the committee has tended to offer a bit of an amnesty for the loss. Win the game and you have a sort of “get out of jail free” card.

The Sooners benefitted from this last season after the signature win in the Horseshoe against Ohio State helped wash out its baffling home loss to Iowa State. This season, Oklahoma doesn’t have that luxury.

While the schedule isn’t weak by any means (For example, no November games against The Citadel; Looking at you, Bama), it isn’t entirely impressive. Unless UCLA or FAU goes on an unsuspecting tear, OU will have to rely on winning out or a Big 12 team separating from the pack to produce its signature win.

Unfortunately, I don’t see either happening.

Even if OU survives its schedule with one loss, they will have to hope the Pac 12 champion falls apart (probably Washington, who opens against Auburn) as well as another conference failing to get two teams into the Playoff. I think the worst case scenario happens, sending OU to the Sugar Bowl. At least it’s in NOLA!

(Playoff predictions? Alabama, Clemson, Washington and Wisconsin. Yawn.)

10. OU avenges its Rose Bowl loss in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia

Damn would this be a good one. In their only meeting ever, the Sooners and Dawgs produced what was probably the best non-championship Playoff game to date. If OU missed the playoff, this would easily be the best timeline.

Georgia is going to be as good as they have ever been, but I think Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa are going to pull through to win the SEC, despite concerns about linebacker depth. Their toughest non-conference opponent (other than the yearly rivalry game against Georgia Tech) is Middle Tennessee State or UMass, take your pick.

Maybe I just want to end this relatively pessimistic series of articles on an optimistic note, but I just have a feeling that things would turn out differently in this one. This Sooners team has the skill and ability to compete with anyone when motivated and healthy. I would just see them coming out on top and avenging last season’s loss.

Still wouldn’t make the squib kick any easier to take though.

Kyler Murray named QB1

Well, thank god I posted Part 1 of my preseason predictions yesterday.

In a relatively unsurprising decision, head coach Lincoln Riley named Kyler Murray as QB1 for the season opener against FAU.

“It was really a great competition between Austin and him, one that we carried on longer than maybe even we expected because of how well both guys played,” Riley told the media Wednesday morning. “There weren’t a lot of differentiating factors in the end because both did play so well and so efficiently, but just felt like from an overall perspective that Kyler was just a little bit ahead”.

In a backup role last season, Murray was efficient throwing the football, completing 18/21 on the year along with three touchdowns. As a scrambler, he ran for 142 yards on 14 attempts, with the most notable being a blazing 66 yard run to open his lone start against West Virginia.

A duel sport athlete, Murray was taken with the 9th pick in the MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s. He is expected to join the A’s at the conclusion of the season.

Welcome to the New Schooner Blog

The wait is over. As students sleepwalk through syllabus week here in Norman, it is officially safe to say that it is football time in Oklahoma.

Sure, there are still ten days before kickoff, but it’s time to start getting ready for what will probably be another wild year for Oklahoma football. It feels like the whole school is shifting into a new era with a new president, new quarterback and hell, even new bars on Campus Corner.

With that being said, we are refreshing The Schooner Blog for the 2018 football season. In addition to the obvious cosmetic overhaul, expect to see more comprehensive, high quality content this year. That means more blogs, more social media content, as well as a few more announcements along the way.

For now, you can check out part one of my 10 Predictions for the Season, with more content coming as we get closer to kickoff. I’m really excited about this season and the site moving forward.