Live On, University

This was always my dream.

Since before I could ever even think of wanting anything, going to and getting a degree from the University of Oklahoma has been an enormous goal of mine. Through the highest and lowest points of my life, the goal of earning that degree has pushed me through it all.

Today, I will officially receive my Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism for Public Relations. A Sooner forever.

I fell in love with OU as a kid riding on my Dad’s shoulders through Fall leaves the way many young Oklahomans do: watching Sooner football. The university is in my family’s blood, going back through my Dad’s mom’s side as far back as you can look. Much like my college years, following the football team as a kid took me from Pasadena to Miami, experiencing legendary players and moments along the way.

While my dreams of playing for the Sooners died in high school (5’8, 145 fullbacks don’t cut it at Heritage Hall), my passion for the school didn’t. Through what truly were the most difficult years in my life, I somehow scrapped out a decent enough GPA to let my good ACT score vault me into the school of my dreams, getting admission into the University by a hair in late April 2014.

I arrived on campus in August with potluck roommate, a few basic decorations for my room and a Wii U. I’ll never forget the moment my Mom left my dorm after setting it up and feeling so completely overwhelmed with how alone I felt. Thankfully, my close friends from back home who also went down to Norman were there to help ease the transition. Without them, I don’t know if I’d have the confidence to go out at meet the great people I did at OU.

After a few weeks of realizing I was missing out on Greek Life, I found a family with Sigma Nu, a group of guys who I’m incredibly proud to call lifelong friends and brothers. From setting up tailgates weekly to the random weekday hot tub sessions at Crimson Park, the moments with these guys freshman year are some of my most cherished memories. That set up some tremendous years.

When I wasn’t in class or messing around in Norman that first Fall semester, I was on the road, following the Sooners. No trip sparked my love of road game travel more than that first road game in Fort Worth with Blake, who was years away from sailing the high seas. The game ended in a loss (which would turn out to be the one true road loss I would see), but without that experience I don’t know if I would have ever gotten the spark that made this website.

Fort Worth also spawned a second home for me, and it would be an omission if I didn’t shout out the TCU boys and for showing me around. My life would be much poorer if I had never drank a Wild Acre, had Haim brisket or enjoyed an evening at The Pub.

Over my years, I put over 100k miles on my dear old Honda Pilot in road trips and from the long road trips to every little hop down to Dallas, I enjoyed every trip in every city. Yes, even the Lubbock ones. I’ll always cherish moments like the wild New Year’s Eve in Miami, the thriller against Baylor in the pouring rain, escaping death in Lawrence, spending a weekend in an RV Camper in Ames, and without need for comment, the epic that was Columbus.

I’ll miss Norman deeply. From early morning Bagel Cafe, to nights at O’Connell’s with pitchers and Ranchhand Burgers, leaving the food here will leave a hole in both my heart and stomach. I’ll miss the way the trees turn in the fall, the long walks from Chautauqua, not having to pay for parking on gameday and summers at The Cottages pool. After five years, Norman has truly become more of a home than I’ve ever had.

As leave OU, the one project I am most proud out is this very website. When I started this project, I did so as a leap of faith. I wrote, but wasn’t a writer. I had considered doing something like this, but it wasn’t until days before kickoff that I just went and did it. I’ll never forget writing that first article on my phone at Das Boot, terrified about showing my work to the world, laying my talents bare. The same fear was ten-fold for the launch of The Schooner Pod last August.

While the clicks, views and listens have never been world-breaking, it was never about money or clout. It was just about making something and having them enjoy it. If even one of you have, I consider all this a success. If we ever do blow up someday, that mission will remain the same. I’m looking forward to keeping this thing rolling into my post-grad life.

As for what I’m doing next? All I know is that there are big things on the way.

I cannot possibly thank everyone who has supported me along the way enough for all they have done for me. It means the world to me. Because of your support, at some time today after 4 PM, the little kid who rode on his dad’s shoulders will achieve something he’s wanted all his life. I guess there are only two phrases left to say.

Thank you and Boomer Sooner!

March Madness: #1 Virginia

Columbia, South Carolina

7:00 CT

truTV (Cox 48/760, DirecTv 246, Dish 148)

Well, that was shocking.

Even though most who looked at the Ole Miss game Thursday saw a great opportunity for Oklahoma to get their first tournament win in three seasons, the manner in which they got that win was simply astonishing. The Sooners were dominant in all facets of the game, racking up a season high 95 points. It went beyond just hitting shots; the offense was dynamic in ways we haven’t seen this season and multiple players had season defining games, with four players scoring over 18 points. It was like watching a different team.

The prize for this monumental accomplishment? The #1 seed Virginia Cavaliers. Gulp.

State of the Sooners

It’s hard not to get excited about this Oklahoma basketball team after last Friday. Pretty much, we got everything we could ever dream of: a consistent Brady Manek, a confident Christian James, a properly utilized Rashard Odomes and our undersized king Kristian Doolittle doing work. It was a perfect game.

The problem now is figuring out how do you replicate perfection when your previous high level is “moderately good”?

Oklahoma will have to figure that out in order to have a chance against the ‘Hoos today.

Meet the Cavaliers

Underneath the cover of undeniable shame of losing to a 16 seed last season, the Virginia Cavaliers have operated as a bit of an underrated team despite only having three losses. Lead by head coach Tony Bennett, the ‘Hoos possess an unrelenting defense with more than enough shooting to bury the Sooners.

Imagine a team with Iowa State’s Marial Shayok, Kansas State’s Barry Brown and Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver. That’s Virginia.

The trio of Kyle Guy, Ty Jerome and De’Andre Hunter not only are incredibly effective scorers, they are suffocating defenders. The Sooners will have to shut out UVA from easy shots and prevent second chance scoring to come out on top.

Tayler’s Take

One of my friends went to UVA and graduated from there recently. Here is Tayler Kehs’ in depth look at his prediction for the game.

Win.

The Matchup

For as favorable as the matchup was against Ole Miss, the matchup against UVA is quite the opposite. 16-seed jokes be damned, this team will be a real problem for Oklahoma. Their defense grinds their opponents into a fine powder and their offense picks apart defenses with the precision of a world class surgeon.

When looking for comparisons between UVA and opponents the Sooners have faced this season, the list of names are frightening: Kansas State (both embarrassing blowouts), Texas Tech (home blowout), Wisconsin (Bahamian blowout). The Oklahoma offense probably isn’t good enough to overcome the Virginia defense and star power.

The only reason I put “probably” in there is because I saw what happened Friday and realized that reality makes no sense with this basketball team. The Friday Sooners could definitely beat Virginia; the problem is they might be an illusion.

It was like the Trevor Knight game against Alabama, but every player was Trevor Knight and Alabama was just a middle of the road SEC team (so just Ole Miss I guess). If Knight had another game to play after, he’d doubtlessly be not as good.

This is somewhat the same case here. However there are a few keys to Oklahoma coming out on top.

  1. Do exactly what they did Friday. This will be nearly impossible as there will actually be some semblance of defensive pressure today, but maintaining the hot hand will be the first step in completing an upset bid
  2. Diversify the offense. Like Friday, OU was able to overwhelm their opponent with a flurry of options. This will be crucial in stretching the UVA defense thin.
  3. Pray for a poor Virginia shooting night. The Hoos struggle most when their offense sputters, rendering their defense moot. However, with the bevy of options available, someone will be open. At that point, pray.

Final Verdict

This is going to get ugly. Look, I know OU looked unbeatable against Ole Miss, but combine UVA’s superior talent with the fact that they are an atrocious matchup with the Sooners and this one just isn’t going to go Oklahoma’s way. The Cavaliers will likely win big, but that shouldn’t take away from what ended up as a pretty solid season when so many of us (myself included), predicted a down year. So relax, watch some Devion Harmon highlights (he’s gonna be GOOD y’all) and watch our last Big Two sporting event until August. Virginia, -11

Big 12 Tournament Day 1 Spread

Welcome to conference tournament season. It’s March, which means two things: basketball and gambling. Here’s your guide for today’s Big 12 action, starting at 6:00 PM on ESPN U.

#8 TCU vs. #9 Oklahoma State (TCU -4)

 I cannot emphasize this enough: hammer the Frogs here. I know TCU has completely stumbled down the stretch, losing six of their last eight (including a bad loss in Stillwater), but this is a team fighting for their tournament lives.

I know, Oklahoma State has shown the ability to surprise (they beat SEC champion LSU) but with all due respect to their scrappy band of student managers and mid-season walk-ons, Jim Dixon and the Horned Frogs should easily get this win and the cover. Otherwise, they deserve to get faded out of the Big 12 forever (Sorry, Blake). Frogs -4 is too much of a tasty treat to not take. TCU, -4.

#7 Oklahoma vs. #10 West Virginia (OU -6.5)

Vegas is weirdly high on the Sooners, as evidenced by this relatively high line. I know the Mountaineers are bad, but Jesus do we really trust this OU basketball this much with 6.5 points? I felt the same way a few weeks ago during the last matchup between these teams and Oklahoma pulled off a comfortable cover.

With that being said, I still feel more comfortable with this game being a closer win from OU or a West Virginia upset. Neutral court matters and I think the Sooners cool off a bit away from the LNC. From here on out, the biggest thing for the Sooner success is hoping that any combination of Jamal Bieniemy, Aaron Calixte, Brady Manek and Christian James get hot and help out Kristian Doolittle for once.

Figuring out if this Oklahoma team shows up against decent competition is nearly impossible, but thankfully we have that overzealous Vegas line. Go with West Virginia here and consider sprinkling some cash on the moneyline for the highest value upset bit of the tournament. West Virginia, +6.5

Around the Big 12: Week 13

Last Week: 3-2

Overall: 43-17

 

Ah shit. Thanksgiving week got the better of me. With that being said, the show must go on with picks, so here is what I thought about the last week of the regular Big 12 season.

Baylot @ #12 TCU (TCU won, 45-22. The spread was TCU -25.5.) 

I had TCU winning this game, but failing to cover. And, by the grace of Gary Patterson, the did exactly that! See you in Arlington, Frogs.

Kansas @ #19 Oklahoma State (OSU -41.5)

OSU really laid an egg last week against K-State.  The fact that they are a measly 2-3 at home is both sad and hilarious for what was supposedly their best team ever. Don’t expect them to drop this one to the Jayhawks though; they will be out for blood. OSU, 45-3

Texas Tech @ Texas (Tech won, 27-23. The spread [that I got, anyways] was Texas -10.5)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Iowa State @ Kansas State (KSU -1.5)

I’ve honestly forgotten about both of these teams. This one is going to be a real snooze fest. I’ll go with Iowa State I guess. ISU, 21-17

West Virginia @ #4 Oklahoma (OU -23.0)

Can we just kickoff the Big 12 Championship already? OU will win, but not without it being needlessly difficult against a mediocre Mountaineers squad without their best player in Will Grier. OU, 35-20

Around the Big 12: Week 12

Last Week: 5-0

Overall: 40-15

Hey! An undefeated week! Not too bad, especially with how tight the matchups were.

Championship November takes a break this week as the contenders are playing the mediocre and downright bad teams of the league. But don’t dismiss that 5-5 teams just yet; the fight for a bowl berth is still in play. Look for these games to be closer than the experts think.

#12 TCU @ Texas Tech (TCU -7.0) 

This is actually a tricky spot for TCU. How are they going to handle the death of their playoff hopes from last week? Going into a rivalry game (or at least that is what the TCU kids last weekend told me) on the road, especially in Lubbock is hard. However, it’s 11 am so absolutely no Tech kids will be there in the first place. I’m 1-0 on this theory. TCU, 24-10.

Kansas State @ #13 Oklahoma State (OSU -20.5)

Whooooooa the disrespect towards the Wildcats! OSU favored by freaking 20.5? I know the Wildcats aren’t great, but that’s a high line, even when going against that Oklahoma State offense fighting to stay in the Big 12 championship race. Expect Kansas State to keep this one close, but not too close. OSU, 28-14.

Iowa State @ Baylor (ISU -9.5)

Poor Iowa State. They had a damn good run, but this Big 12 is just too good to survive in if you lose to teams like Texas before you randomly decide to be good again. Hey, at least they get in a bowl, which would have made most ISU fans season if you told them that in August. They’ll beat the snot out of Baylor this week. 31-7

Texas @ West Virginia (WVU -3.5)

Alleged “best quarterback in the Big 12” Will Grier goes up against a Texas team just trying so hard to get bowl eligible. Texas does have a good defense, but I just don’t see them winning this one in Morgantown. And picking this week is really, really, really boring.

#4 Oklahoma @ Kansas (OU -37.0)

This one is just going to be a bloodbath. However, get excited for Kyler Murray in the 2nd half. I’m actually really excited to see him unleashed. That part is going to be great. The rest? I’d rather watch the OU spring game. OU, 65-3.

Around the Big 12: Week 11

Last Week: 2-3

Overall: 35-15

Not so great week for picking last week. But hey, that’s what happens when the conference you pick is decently inconsistant and Iowa State finally decides to come back to Earth.

This week will decide a lot as far as the conference championship picture goes. Two teams are playing an elimination game (OSU-Iowa State), while another two teams are playing for a virtual lock in the conference championship game (OU-TCU).

Oh and not to mention that second game? It’s #5 vs #6 with playoff implications at stake. Get excited.

Kansas @ Texas (Texas -34.0) 

We gather here today in remembrance of the greatest college football meme that ever was. Last year’s hilarious Kansas/Texas outcome might have been the funniest way for a Texas season to unravel. Yes, we had already known that Texas indeed wasn’t “back”. We knew they were garbage. But does that make one of the proudest programs in the history of the sport losing to one of the worst any less hilarious?

Nope. And while Texas will most likely beat Kansas Saturday, we all will hold this moment deep in our hearts. When the final gun goes off Saturday, keep these words in your mind:

“Don’t let Texas beating Kansas in football distract you from the fact Texas lost to Kansas in football.”

RIP, 2016 Texas/Kansas jokes. You will be missed. Texas, 56-3.

(please win Kansas)

#15 Oklahoma State @ #21 Iowa State (OSU -6.5)

Of course, the week I finally pick Iowa State, they decide to end their miracle Big 12 run. With that being said, i’m not even really sure the Cyclones are even out of this conference race.

With that being said, post-Bedlam Oklahoma State is probably the worst team to attempt to rebound against. The Cowboys didn’t exactly look bad against OU; they just couldn’t slow down Baker Mayfield.

I think this one might be a coin flip, but i’ll take the Pokes and Mason Rudolph in a big response. OSU, 35-24.

West Virginia @ Kansas State (KSU -2.5)

The Big 12 has a mediocre team problem. While most 4-4 teams would give up and roll over, the Wildcats just keep on chugging as a relative threat toward higher mid-tiered teams. That gutty win in Lubbock showed that K-State still has some heart left in them.

This is a huge trap game for West Virginia, who are just coming off a big win against Iowa State. The Mountaineers are somewhere between mediocre and top tier; this game will decide which category they belong in. I’m going ‘Neers. WVU, 21-10.

Baylor vs Texas Tech (Tech -7.5)

Talk about two programs going in different directions. Well, kinda; Baylor got it’s first win and Tech just continues to tumble further down. Tech is on a four game losing streak and what started as a positive season for Kliff Kingsbury is starting to look like his last. Do the Red Raiders have enough heart to get a win? I think so. Tech, 48-21.

#6 TCU @ #5 Oklahoma (OU -6.5)

These games are always a battle. As I’ve covered earlier this week, games between OU and TCU are always close. I honestly think this weekend’s battle will be more of the same.

TCU’s defense is easily the best in the Big 12, holding conference teams to an average of 12.5 points per game. However, is there actually any defense that can stop Baker Mayfield and that Oklahoma offense? Even the best defenses in the Big 12 can only hold OU to at best 30 points.

Does OU’s defense suck? Yeah. But Kenny Hill and TCU’s offense isn’t exactly a unit to be feared. All the defense has to do is hold this anemic offense (by Big 12 standards) to just enough points to fall under what Baker puts up.

I think the most dominant unit wins. OU, 42-38.

 

Around the Big 12: Week 10

Last Week: 3-2

Overall: 33-12

It’s Bedlam Week! Usually for the Big 12, that also means championship weekend, but the league office (and Iowa State) had other plans. However, this weekend isn’t just Bedlam and some garbage games. Iowa State and TCU both have big team that will shape the landscape of the Big 12 Championship game come December.

We are officially in Championship November, so strap in. Anything can happen in this crazy league.

Baylor @ Kansas (Baylor -7.5) 

THE FUTILITY BOWL! College Gameday should honestly be at this one. Baylor and Kansas very well might be the worst two teams in the power 5, as both are winless against FCS opponents. Honestly, I think Baylor might have just given up. They looked helpless against Texas last week and Kansas at least showed signs of life against K-State. Give the Jayhawks! Kansas, 24-21 (OT)

#16 Iowa State @ West Virginia (WVU -2.5)

The Cyclones keep on rolling through Big 12 contenders like it’s nothing. Now, they are miraculously in the driver’s seat for the Big 12 title. With that being said, playing in Morgantown seems like the perfect place for the ‘Clones to slip up. Honestly, I just can’t go against an underdog Iowa State team anymore. They are for real. Iowa State, 21-10.

Texas @ #8 TCU (TCU -7.0)

Tough luck last weekend for TCU. While the Frogs learned about Iowa State the hard way, Texas laid the hammer down on Baylor. At this point in the season, TCU is fighting for the Big 12 title and a slim shot at the College Football Playoff and Texas is just trying to get bowl eligible. This is going to be a battle, but the Frogs get back to winning ways. TCU, 41-31.

Kansas State @ Texas Tech (Tech -3.0)

Poor Tech. A few weeks ago, they had things turned around. The Red Raiders were a legit team in the Top 25, hell maybe even the 4th best in the Big 12. Now they are 4-4 and struggling to stay afloat. If you want to point out the real victims of how hard it is to win in the Big 12 round robin, look no further than the team in Lubbock.

Kansas State has gotten the bad end of the stick too, but they lost to Vandy so screw them.  Tech, 45-21.

#5 Oklahoma @ #11 Oklahoma State  (OSU -2.5)

Uh oh. The Sooners are another road underdog to another OSU. I meant, just look at Baker here.

Both the Sooners and Baker are easily at their best when they are doubted. When OU is comfortable, things go rapidly down hill. Watching Baker’s reaction here and knowing how vicious the Poke crowd is on Bedlam has firmly convinced me this game is going to be a beatdown. The endless amount of Fayetteville references will only fuel these guys more.

Not only that, but Cale Gundy’s brother just can’t coach these things. Unless he has a clearly superior team or is coaching against a team starting Cody Thomas at quarterback, he just can’t get it done in Bedlam.

The real question should be whether or not Baker plants the flag. OU, 52-31.