It’s OkIahoma and Ohio State – the elite of college football coming together in Norman in what should be one of the best games of the season.
It’s Heisman winning tradition, famous coaches and national championships.
Oh, and bulletin boards, too.
And chips on shoulders, slights, and shade throwing. Some of it real, some of it smoke, mirrors and imagined shadows creeping.
And you thought we were going to talk about the game. Yeah, sure. If only it were that simple. It should be, and maybe once the game kicks off it will be, but for now, the topic is all the talk.
Thanks to Oklahoma back-up quarterback Austin Kendall for that. Kendall has caused an Internet stir, was featured on ESPN and was responsible for the uptick in thumbtack sales from here to Columbus, Ohio, with his comments about the “basic Buckeye defense.”
The Ohio State football players were so upset with what Kendall said, just as soon as they finished Googling who exactly Austin Kendall is.
Well, now you know who he is and what Kendall said. And here are 25 more things to know now, so when it happens later, you’ll say, “You heard it here first.”
1. The first time quarterback Baker Mayfield gets sacked, throws an interception or somehow has to fight through a bad-hair day, you’ll blame Kendall. Only natural. He’s the easy scapegoat here, right. And 2. Even if Kendall turns into the next Jason White, or possibly the next Brent Rawls, you’ll always associate Kendall with Ohio State. That’s only natural, too. Don’t worry, 3. Kendall won’t play Saturday, but 4. Charles Walker and Tay Evans will. The former is good news for the Sooners. The latter is btter news.
Meanwhile, you won’t have much reason to blame Kendall – at least early on – as 5. Mayfield won’t get sacked in the first half and 6. won’t get sacked more than two times for the entire game. That’s because 7. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon will have at least eight first-half carries and 8. the two will combine for 30 carries by the end of the day.
But really, this game is about Mayfield and how he responds and where he’s going to find his motivation. As you know by now, Mayfield needs to play with a heavy, burdensome chip on his shoulder. That’s his style. He’s done it since high school and now he’s carried it to Oklahoma, where he has earned the starting spot, earned a scholarship, taken the Sooners to the college football playoff and no one doubts him anymore. So that means, Mayfield needs to go to outside, tangential kind of places to find people who don’t believe he is a quality quarterback.
Saturday you’ll find out …
9. Before Mayfield takes the field he’ll have charged his phone so he can read Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pintrest to find some random message board, picture or chat room where a psycho fan is trashing him. 10. Instead, he’ll just find a delicious recipe for banana spice muffins. Hey, they’re glutton-free, too!
11. Mayfield will take his helmet off, shake his hair and try to fire up the student section. And then once the game starts, Mayfield will …
12. Throw a first-quarter touchdown pass. 13 Run it at least twice on designed plays. 14. Throw at least two interceptions.
Listen, OU is successful only if Mayfield is successful and if the Sooners have to take a few chances to make that happen against Ohio State, it will.
This is Oklahoma’s playoff game. Lose and the season, is by all practical terms, over. 15. You’ll hear that statement no less than a dozen times from the FOX television crew and 16. another half-dozen times from your friends and family who didn’t even want to watch the game with but were forced to.
The Sooners are a home underdog for just the third time under Stoops. 17. You’ll tell these same family and friends, the other two times OU was a “dog,” it went the Sooners’ way (wins over Nebraska in 2000 and over Texas A&M in 1999). By the time the game kicks off Saturday night, the Sooners will be about a 1-point underdog. 18. The fact OU is 2-0 under Stoops with this criteria will not make you feel any better.
19. J.T. Barrett, the Ohio State quarterback won’t make you feel content, either. 20. Barrett, not Mayfield, will be the best quarterback on the field. 22. And you’ll blame Kendall. Don’t. That’s not fair. It’s not his fault that 23. Ohio State will take its first lead in the third quarter and wind up with 24. two fourth-quarter touchdowns. It’s OK. There’s still a Big 12 championship available for the Sooners.
25. Give the point. Take the Buckeyes. Ohio State wins, 38-24
Last week: 17-8