The Picker: Teams don't improve - schedules do
BY The Picker
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 5:32 AM
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Original Print Headline: Improvement hardly noticed
Once every century or so, a concept revolutionary enough to change the makeup of a sport comes along.
It's ours. The game-altering theory is: Teams don't improve, they just play lousy opponents.
Talk of improvement is coach-speak aimed at furthering the notion of a job well done.
Could anybody actually think that OU improved between the Notre Dame and Iowa State games?
Or was Iowa State simply something of a dog?
It's the latter.
It is our contention that for the most part, you are what you are. Great quarterbacks will make plays on day one or day one thousand. Experience helps, sure. But straight-ahead runners don't find curvy moves one afternoon in November. They simply go up against lousy defenders.
What can pass for improvement?
Turnovers and officiating.
The inability or unwillingness to accept the truth about what you are explains most everything in sports - the radical ups and downs, the inflated hopes, the upsets.
A runner is stuffed by a quality foe, then goes for 150 versus a chump.
You are what you are.
Only the schedule is much improved.
West Virginia at OSU (-8): The true colors of what amounts to a Big East team have started to bleed through the West Virginia hype: Those yahoos can't tackle anybody west of the Appalachians.
Unfortunately, OSU is playing like last season was more fluke than routine.
The defense is iffy.
It's hard to say which one is the best quarterback.
A season record of 8-4 or 8-5 is good enough only for those who have come to expect it.
OSU by 9.
Baylor at OU (-20): An odd feeling of nervous contentment has settled over the Sooner camp.
Have OU fans become resigned to 9-2 or 8-3 seasons, with their teams hanging between the nation's elite and the second 10?
Winning just enough is an odd place for a major program to be.
It beats Auburn or Arkansas disasters.
It doesn't beat national champ contenders.
Medium Game Bob has settled into a comfy routine of mashing inferior foes like this: Baylor's quarterback has a nice arm, but its defense looks like blocking dummies.
In a recent quarterback rating article aimed at who might go where in the pro draft, Landry Jones had slipped all the way to eighth best quarterback.
OU by 24.
Tulsa (-2 1/2) at Houston: Some are outraged because TU has to go to places like Arkansas without return games.
The alternative is playing at home against Petunia State in front of 8,500.
This Houston bears no resemblance to those Houstons.
TU by 4.
Texas A&M at Alabama (-14): High School Harry and his Aggie team are trending hot this week, as it is thought that after the big LSU win, Bama will dog it.
But Bama games are probably easier than practice.
Alabama by 17.
Penn State at Nebraska (-7): The way the Nebraska guy throws, the refs should wear helmets.
Nebraska by 10.
Missouri at Tennessee (-3): Missouri has begun to miss Kansas, Iowa State and Baylor very much.
Tennessee by 7.
Iowa State at Texas (-10): Great news for Sooner fans - Mack and his staff are no longer catching heat for incompetence.
Texas by 12.
Arkansas at South Carolina (-14): Exactly who but a top assistant would enjoy coaching the Arkansas defense next year?
SC by 17.
Oregon State at Stanford (-5 1/2): State preps for a shot at in-state rival, the electric Ducks.
Stanford by 2.
Mississippi State at LSU (-14): Loopy Les successfully defended his title as worst on-field strategist ever.
LSU by 13.
San Diego at Tampa Bay (-2 1/2): Nothing says slow pro week like this being listed as one of the better games.
Tampa Bay by 3.
Denver (-5) at Carolina: Quarterbacking opposites, Newton moves more on one play than Manning does all day.
Denver by 4.
Detroit (-2 1/2) at Minnesota: Ponderous offense limits Minnie.
Detroit by 1.
Dallas at the Eagles (-2): Absurdly simple second-half schedule puts Dallas in position for a patented first-round playoff loss.
Dallas by 2.
Houston at the Bears (-2 1/2): Erratic quarterbacks prevent serious Super bids.
Bears by 1.
Kansas City at the Steelers (-13): The worst Monday night football game ever booked.
Steelers by 20.