It’s that weird portion of the year where football takes a (long) break until the bowl season and fans are starting to turn their attention to basketball (unless you’re Kansas, and in that case, been paying attention since August).
This week, we’re looking at the bowl season, the Big 12 schedule, and we offer our thoughts on the state of Brad Underwood’s tenure nine games into his first season.
The College Bowl Season officially kicks off Saturday. On a scale of 1-10, how excited are you for the Alamo Bowl?
Tyler Wiederhoeft: It's odd, but right now, I'm at about a solid 2. Not sure why. It'll ramp up in the next week or 2 though.
Sumer Wensman: I always stay at around 7 on the bowl excitement scale. We haven't been to the Alamo Bowl since Colorado left the BigXII, and Colorado hasn't been to a bowl game in a cool minute.
Gallagher Martin: I haven't really caught bowl fever yet. I'll get pumped up closer to the game and Colorado is an exciting opponent.
Austin Higgs: Bowl season is a gamblers favorite time of the year (besides March Madness). I'm pumped for all the games. Yes, even the Sensodyne Toothpaste Bowl. (Did you look that one up? Gotcha!). The Alamo Bowl should be a fun game. Uni lovers paradise between OSU and CU. I'll give it a 6.
Christopher Snodgress: My excitement level is probably around a six. It's still difficult for me to see the Alamo Bowl for what it is (the Big 12's best non-NY6 bowl) instead of what it used to be (more of a mid-level bowl). It's a great bowl, great location, and a great opponent. I'm sure my excitement will increase as it gets closer.
Joel Penfield: Right now around a 5, but once bowl season kicks off and is in full swing it'll be a 10.
Other than the Alamo, which bowl game are you most interested in watching?
Tyler: I'm definitely going to watch the Sugar Bowl. Last I saw, OU was 4 point favorites, but I've heard good things about Auburn. I'll probably watch as many bowls as possible, because once the bowls are over, college football is done for another year. *sobs uncontrollably*
Sumer: Other than ours, there isn't one particular pre-New Years Six that I'm excited about. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't going to watch as many as possible. Free football.
Gallagher: Lost in all the college football playoff debates is the fact we have two exciting playoff match ups. Clemson vs Ohio State and then Washington and Alabama is must watch TV in my opinion.
Austin: Rose Bowl. Penn State vs USC is a must watcher. PSU will be looking to make a "see, we should be playing in the the playoffs" type of statement. Also, USC is arguably the hottest team in CFB.
Christopher: Just one???? Ugh. Fine. Probably the Boca Raton Bowl. I know, I know. Such a basic answer right? That's probably everyone's answer. Right? No? Well it should be. Memphis and Western Kentucky are both fun to watch, should both put up a lot of points, and what else does anyone have to do on a Tuesday night? Forget all the big name bowls full of boring Big Ten "offenses" and tune into this one.
Joel: I'm the son of an Army officer, so I have to go with the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Army vs. North Texas may not be the sexiest matchup, but I'm excited to see the Black Knights in a bowl game again, especially coming off a win against Navy.
The 2017 football schedule was released Tuesday. What was your first thought when you saw OSU's?
Tyler: It is odd to not end with OU, but I'm not going to say it's a bad thing. We all knew this was likely coming, so it's not a huge shock either. I like it.
Sumer: Why are we playing our cupcake games at the end of the season? That's could end up killing us in Strength of Scheduling.
Gallagher: Does South Alabama even have a football field?
Austin: Obviously some favorable home games. Two fun road trips for Pokes fans; Gulf Shores and Austin, TX.
Christopher: My first thought was "Road Rudolph." When the calendar turns to November, the Cowboys will have played only three games in Boone Pickens Stadium. I don't like it. I also don't like that it means half my tailgating will be done in November.
Joel: At least there aren’t any FCS teams on the schedule. Personally, I still think it is weird not having Bedlam on the final week of the regular season. But it could make for a fantastic (and nerve-wracking) homecoming matchup.
Turning to basketball, what is your biggest concern with Brad Underwood's team at this point? Biggest surprise?
Tyler: Right now, it's the injuries. Both Evans and Forte were injured in practice last week, and Shine is out with a back injury for who knows how long. We don't have a lot of seasoned depth, which showed through against Tulsa. If we are forced to go deep into our bench for extended minutes, whether it be injuries or foul trouble (looking at you Solomon), I don't know how we will match up against the elite teams.
Sumer: Injuries this early into the season.
Gallagher: I thought last Saturday was a gutsy win. Without Evans on the road and a banged up Forte. That was our first true road win since Auburn of last season. That's sad, but it's a good sign. I am concerned with Evans' injury that he won't be 100 percent for Wichita State, but we'll find that out later.
Austin: The lack of quality size has always hindered this team. Soloman needs to step it up (he has played better of late), and N'Guessan needs to keep learning and developing. It's hard to win big games without rebounding and rim protection.
Jeffrey Carroll has been my big surprise. He's developed from a role guy, into a consistent force in the second unit. I didn't really see this coming into the season. He's been huge for this team.
Christopher: The biggest concern is the defense. The Cowboys are great at forcing turnovers and causing havoc, but that doesn't mean they're solid defensively. Hmm. That sounds familiar. We are talking about basketball right? I love watching the Pokes score 90+ points per game, but they're giving up 80, which isn't great.
The biggest surprise has easily been the shooting struggles of Phil Forte. His shooting percentages are down from everywhere on the floor except the free throw line.
Joel: Biggest concern: injuries this early, creating baptism by fire for some of the young guys.
Biggest surprise: how good the freshman have been, they are going to lead this program for years to come.
What's your prediction for Saturday's game against Wichita State?
Tyler: Depends if we are healthy or not. If we are healthy again and play clean basketball, I don't see why this team can't go into Wichita and steal a win from a good Shockers team.
Sumer: It'll be a hard fought game. WSU is coming down from an uptick over the past few seasons, but that doesn't mean Gregg forgot how to coach. The Shockers and the Cowboys are both in rebuilding phases, so it'll come down to who wants it more.
Gallagher: I'm not expecting a win. It'll probably be close. Probably demoralizing as well. But it's only a 45 minute drive for me so I won't complain.
Austin: How's Jawun feeling?
Christopher: This will be the second time the Cowboys have gone on the road against a legitimate opponent (what up TU fans, I meant Maryland). That being said, they held their own against a Terps team that's sitting at 11-1 and almost left College Park with a win. They've also played what feels like the entire season away from Gallagher-Iba Arena thanks to neutral site games at the Maui Invitational and a snoozer of a home schedule so far, but they've impressed me away from Stillwater, particularly considering the youth of this team. I think the game will be competitive, especially if Forte finds some semblance of a rhythm. I expect a hard fought game that comes down to the end.
Joel: It is going to be a very tough matchup, Wichita State is the best mid-major in the nation in my opinion. Their defense and rebounding is spectacular; they are 12th in the nation in rebounds per game, and 10th in the nation in points per game allowed. I believe the Cowboys can go in and get a win, but if they out-rebound us on both ends of the floor that could be the difference in the game. I expect a low scoring game, but I'll take the Cowboys 68-61.