Monday, November 20, 2006
Almost bowling time
At half time, the conversation was about two things. One the obvious question, but the second was one of urgency. Where was the urgency? This game was of paramount importance and it sure looked like only the fans in the stand knew it. This game was important for the team, the coach, the seniors, the fans and it sure didn’t look that way on the field.
And that is why you don’t judge SMU until the game is over. I have learned my lesson. I won’t make that mistake again.
It is easy to malign the offense in the first half, but Tulsa simply devoured the clock on its first drive, taking more than nine minutes and fifteen playes, netting a fieldgoal. SMU followed that up with Willis regressing to Weeks 1 and 2: a nice completion to Chase for sixteen yards, followed up with three tuck and runs at the first sign of pressure.
On SMU’s second drive, however, SMU did seem to figure it out. After a very efficient touchdown drive, SMU moved 80 yards in eight plays for its first touchdown.
Unfortunately, from that point on, it was all Tulsa in the first half: all SMU could muster was a three and out bookended by two efficient Tulsa touchdown drives.
The second half was actually rather remarkable. In the third quarter alone: Defense: Tulsa had one first down in the third quarter. Special teams: Zack Sledge recovered a fumble on a kickoff following a fieldgoal. Offense, after going three and out in its first drive of the second half, cut the seventeen point lead to five by the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, again, just three Tulsa first downs. Tulsa never got into SMU territory in the second half. The offense had two TD very effective drives in the 4th to cement the win.
And yeah, Willis just put the team on his back and went in the second half. Here are Willis’s second half numbers: 10 for 14 for 137 yards and one touchdown passing; 12 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown rushing (includes one sack).
All and all, it was a good football weekend in my household. SMU won. I got tickets to the Cowboys-Colts game; I got to see Tony Romo take one more step towards sainthood. My wife’s cousin, an Ohio State grad, went with me went to; he was pleased.
I forgot who I picked to win the Tulsa-SMU game. I mean, it was so long ago, all the way back in August. Oh, yes, I picked SMU to win. Again, I did it in August. This brings my season record to 10-1. Not bad. That freakin’ NTSU game is killing me. I blame the injury to Martin in that game. Well, yeah, that and Phil Bennett. It completely ruined my trip to Vegas.
One thing I wills ay about my season prediction: Nearly every team is about as good as I expected. Maybe UTEP is a little worse than I thought; I kind of expected them to play better down the stretch. There is one true exception, however. One team is much better than I expected. Rice. Conveniently, SMU gets to find out how much better Rice is on Saturday.
And so, for the third straight week, SMU will play its most important game in twenty years. This time against a resurgent Rice team.
As luck would have it, Saturday night my wife and I went to dinner and a movie with another couple and one was a Rice grad who had listened to his game on the internet. Who would have thought a bowl game would go to the winner of this battle of the titans? And then, he frustratingly added, “Well, it is going to be hard without our starting quarterback.” “Huh?” I asked. “Broken freakin’ collarbone.” “Oh, that is too bad.” I said as I gave the ever most subtle fist pump. Is that what we have come to? Mentally high-fiving injuries to Rice players? This football obsession is not healthy.
Oh, and “Borat” is overrated.
On the injury front, Henderson is expected back again; I think that is four weeks running. And Haywood is questionable. SMU needs Haywood back in a big way.
After the euphoria of bowl eligibility subsided, Kate Papadapolous now reports that the winner of SMU-Rice goes bowling, the “loser's bowl drought could be extended, even though the team is bowl eligible.” I would replace “could” with “will likely.” With two weeks to go, there are already more eligible teams than spots. About the only conference not to fill its spots will be the Big Ten. When both Kansas and SMU are on the outside looking in, things are not good for SMU getting an at-large invitation.