Friday, October 2, 2009

Rusty Vs. Rev: Miami Vs. OU

Each week, HHR's Southern Gents, Rusty and Rev. Shaw Moore, will steal a page from and go Head2Head and argue the winners of one of the week's upcoming marquee games.

Rev Takes the Sooners

I respect what Miami is doing and I’m glad they’re climbing their way back to respectability. You’ve got to give them credit for playing such a daunting early opening schedule – 4 ranked teams in their first 4 games is ridiculous! However, don’t count me as one of the kool-aid drinkers that thinks this team is a serious national power or title contender just yet.

Consider: the ‘Canes were celebrated for knocking off Florida State, but that just doesn’t mean anything anymore. FSU might be the most bipolar team in college football – on one hand, they absolutely blitzed BYU, blasting the Cougars 54-28; on the other hand, the ‘Noles barely survived (at home) against FCS team Jacksonville State, and then they end up losing (again, at home) to South Florida. In those two games, Florida State scored a total of 26 points. That’s another way of saying they’re terrible.

The other marquee win on Miami’s schedule came against Georgia Tech. Again, I don’t know how much that means. Georgia Tech shocked the ACC with their option-attack last year, catching many teams by surprise – Miami included. Against Miami this year, the GT scheme looked to be figured out - Miami’s athleticism and speed advantage neutralized the Yellow Jackets’ offense from the start. Tech’s got a nice team, but their offense is completely one-dimensional - after getting down early, there wasn’t a chance the Jackets were coming back.

All you really need to know about Miami is found in their losing performance against Virginia Tech last week. You could say that Miami was the superior team talent wise in their first two games; against the Hokies, they clearly were not. Predictably, Virginia Tech mopped the floor with the ‘Canes, 31-7. Miami couldn’t move the ball on offense and definitely couldn’t stop anything on defense.

And that was against a team inferior to Oklahoma. Simply put, the Sooners are a match-up nightmare for Miami. They’re big, just as fast, strong, score in bunches, and play defense like crazy … which is crazy when you think about it, considering they’re a Big XII team...

The obvious elephant in the room for the Sooners is the loss of last year’s Heisman winning QB, Sam Bradford. Bradford was hurt in OU’s opening season game against BYU, which the Sooners lost 14-13. Clearly, that game was a clunker for OU – it was their first game of the year, at a neutral site, and their QB was banged up to boot. So throw it out.

Redshirt freshman Landry Jones has stepped in for Bradford and will start against the ‘Canes. While he obviously showed a lack of polish against BYU, he and his offensive mates have gone absolutely crazy since, ringing up 64 points on Idaho State and 45 points on Tulsa. In the win against Tulsa, Jones passed for a school record 6 TDs – which is crazy, considering past Heisman winning QB Jason White or Bradford himself has never accomplished that feat. Equally impressive, the defense has recorded two straight shutouts, allowing a measly 156.5 ypg and recording 5 takeaways over the two games.

Two years ago in Norman, the Sooners absolutely pasted Miami 51-13. Miami has the luxury of playing in front of the home crowd this year and I expect the game will a bit closer this time around. Unfortunately for the ‘Canes, the result will be the same. Look for the Sooners to win going away, 35-13.

Rusty Says the U is Back

First, let me apologize to fellow HHRer, DC Special Agent Blue Pulaski, a diehard Sooner’s fan, but the whole 2004 Jason “Knee-less Wonder” White Heisman debacle has forever put a sour taste for OU in Rusty’s mouth. C’mon, Philip Rivers, anyone? But I digress. Saturday’s match-up between the #8 ranked Oklahoma Sooners and the resurgent #17 Miami Hurricanes is a great match-up of two powerhouse programs, one on the rise, the other teetering on the precipice of decline. 0-5 in BCS bowls since 2003, sheesh!

Miami’s entry to the ACC was supposed to bring football strength to the nation’s premiere basketball conference. Instead, Miami has struggled mightily with a horrific helmet swinging melee a few years back that left the Hurricanes at the absolute bottom of the barrel of respectability. This year however, Miami is showing some of the play that made them one of the better teams in the first part of this decade, and it all starts with quarterback Jacory Harris.

Harris has been putting up great numbers against solid defenses so far this year. Over 3 games, Harris has a respectable 152.6 quarterback rating. He’s completing almost 60 percent of his passes, and has thrown for at least 150 yards in each game. His worst game was his most recent, a loss at Virginia Tech. Playing against a top 10 pass defense in the pouring rain on the road is a tough challenge, especially in Lane Stadium. This week, the Hurricanes get to come back to sunny south Florida against a secondary that has allowed opposing teams to complete more than 50 percent of its passes, including over 300 yards in a season opening loss to BYU. Facing the Sooner secondary at home, and wanting to get back to form, I expect a big game from Harris.

On the opposite sideline will NOT be Heisman winner Sam Bradford. After practicing all week, Coach Stoopes decided to go with freshman signal caller Landry Jones. Bradford’s recovering from a shoulder injury suffered in the season opening loss against BYU. Now, Landry had a whale of a game last week throwing for six touchdowns, but that was against Tulsa. Don't expect him to be able to do the same against Miami on the road.

Miami is also rounding the final turn in one of the toughest schedules to start the season. Oklahoma is Miami’s fourth consecutive ranked opponent, the second straight team in the top 10. The fact that Miami’s offense is averaging almost 380 yards per game against ranked opponents speaks to the Hurricanes offensive prowess. Meanwhile, the Sooners have posted respectable numbers, but against sub-par competition, BYU, Idaho State and Tulsa.

Lastly, let’s also not forget that BYU beat Oklahoma, and then lost to Florida State a team that lost to Miami. So, just looking at the who-beat-who line, Miami is the clear favorite in this game. With Jacory Harris at the helm, expect Miami to continue its trek up the hill of college football with an upset win over Oklahoma on Saturday. Miami wins 24-17.

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