On the college football road
Sorry for the lateness of this week’s dispatch from the College Football Road. It’s been a crazy week. On rare occasions, I’ve covered two college football games in a weekend. Heck, one day, I did a doubleheader on a single Saturday. Oct. 19, 1996, OSU-Iowa State in Stillwater, with a 1 p.m. kickoff, then Tulsa-Brigham Young with an 8:30 p.m. kick. Long, long day. But fun. Loads of fun.But last weekend, I covered two college football games for the second straight week. OU-Tulsa on Friday night, OSU-Texas Tech the next day, following the OSU-Troy/OU-Utah State double dip. You know the big story of the week, and it’s been well hashed. Here’s a treat for you: I won’t rehash. We’ll talk football or highways or food. We’ll try to have some fun.
The University of Tulsa has really redecorated its campus — the football stadium is next on the project list — and the darndest thing is the apartments on the grounds of Chapman Stadium. A new apartment complex sits not 50 feet from the stadium elevator, and its back end is on the stadium grounds. The bottom floor of the apartments serve as concession stands, with windows opening to the concourse. Really unique, unlike anything I’ve seen in college football.
Chapman — the old Skelly Stadium — remains a relic in need of upgrade, but I still love the architecture of the east side. The blue and gold facade has a WPA feel to it, even though it was built in 1930, before the Works Progress Administration began throwing up buildings all over America. The west side of Chapman looks like the old Lewis Field, an erector set. But that simple east side is a wonderful site.
Now, for the really strange phenomenon, and one I really never got an answer for. Where were all the lights of Tulsa? Looking out beyond the stadium — north, east and south — there were hardly any lights in the neighborhoods of Tulsa. It was like looking at a small town at midnight, not a metropolis at 10 p.m. on a Friday night.
BY THE NUMBERS
Tulsa was a crazy-numbers game in the first half, then settled down. OSU-Tech was a crazy-numbers game that never settled down. My favorite numbers from the weekend:
* 301: TU quarterback Paul Smith’s passing yards WITH 9:33 LEFT IN THE THIRD QUARTER. By the next day, that number didn’t seem so wild, but Smith was on pace to throw for 507 yards against the Sooners.
* 6: Catches for TU receiver Jesse Meyer in the first half alone. Meyer entered the game with 11 catches in 15 career games but Meyer finished with seven catches for 114 yards against OU.
* 130: Allen Patrick’s first-half yards, on 16 carries, in the first half against Tulsa.
* 21-21: Both OSU and Tech scored three touchdowns in the second quarter alone.
* 62: Combined first downs. 33 for Tech, 29 for State. That’s a first down every 58 seconds.
* 5-of-12: Tech’s third-down conversions. Think about that. Tech made 33 first downs and 28 times didn’t even need third down.
* 47.3: Average length of punt, both teams. The teams combined for only four punts but kicked it well when they did. Maybe fresh legs matter.
* 233: Receiving yards for Tech’s Danny Amendola, which wasn’t good enough to be the game’s best. Teammate Michael Crabtree had 237 receiving yards. That’s 470 receiving yards out of two passcatchers.
* 2: Sacks by OSU. And Mike Gundy says the Cowboys hit Tech quarterback Graham Harrell only three other times. So that’s five times out of 69 passing plays where the Cowboy pass rush made its mark. No wonder Tech scored 45 points.
* 6: Plays by OSU of 20 yards or longer. The Cowboys also had five of at least 25 yards and four of at least 33 yards.
* 45: Points by the losing team, the second-most in college football this year. The most? BYU in a 55-47 loss at Tulsa.
TEN BIG LOSERS FROM WEEK 4
10. Utah: After a rout of UCLA, Utes lost a 27-0 clunker to Nevada-Las Vegas. OU-ex Tommy Grady was ineffective at quarterback, and Utah fell to 0-2 in the Mountain West.
9. Ralph Fridgen: The Maryland coach was the toast of the ACC in 2001 when he took the Terrapins to their first league title in 16 years, but after three straight double-digit win seasons, Maryland won just 19 games the last three years, and after a 31-24 loss at Wake Forest, Big Ralph is 2-2 in 2007.
8. ESPN Friday night: The OU-Tulsa telecast apparently was a train wreck. A profanity uttered by sideline reporter Joe Schad and an insufferably-long discussion about Notre Dame.
7. Nebraska: a 41-40 victory over Ball State was bad enough, but did you read what Tom Shatel wrote in the Omaha World-Herald: the best team didn’t win. Ball State hasn’t had a winning record since 1996.
6. Houston Nutt: The beleaguered Arkansas coach fell to 0-2 in the SEC after a 42-29 loss to
Kentucky. The Hogs’ schedule is so easy — games against North Texas, Chattanooga and Florida International still await — but Nutt needed a big year to wipe away the bad taste of 2006 scandal. Not going to happen.
5. Mike Leach: Texas Tech lost a game and defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich lost his job, but Leach lost some credibility with his in-season firing. Leach’s offense is a big part of the defensive problems at Tech, and now Leach gets to go looking for another coordinator to work under very difficult conditions.
4. Mid-American Conference: The MAC is 3-22 vs. BCS-level teams this year, with victories over Iowa
State (twice) and Minnesota. Ball State could have given the MAC one of its biggest trophies ever,
Nebraska, but squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter.
3. Regis Philbin: The big Notre Dame fan delivered one of the goofiest pre-game pep talks ever, telling a Friday night pep rally that “I’m tired of Michigan State coming in here and beating us.” Didn’t sound like the kind of speech that would inspire anybody. Too bad, Regis. Michigan State wins again.
2. Steve Kragthorpe: Louisville has been the nation’s biggest bust, at 2-2, with losses to Kentucky (ouch!) and Syracuse, which had proven to be one of the nation’s worst teams.
1. Dennis Franchione: Bad enough to lose at Miami, but to get down 31-0? A&M still must play at Norman, Lubbock, Columbia and Lincoln. The clock ticks on Franchione.
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