2019-11-04 sp-emigcolumn Oregon

Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert, right, reaches over Johnny Johnson III (3) to congratulate Mycah Pittman (4) on Pittman's 36-yard touchdown reception against Washington in the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Seattle. Oregon won 35-31. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Got a call from a charming Oklahoma fan from Claremore last Thursday afternoon. He had heard all of the explanations for the Sooners’ stumble at Kansas State, and wanted to share one more. The most obvious of all.

“The Schooner,” the gentleman said.

(Stunned silence)

“You know, the wagon that tipped over the week before. Don’t you think the reason those boys came out so flat was they were still upset over the Schooner crashing the week before?”

“Ummm...” I started to say, while internally debating whether the courtesy of hearing my man out was worth a trip to Crazytown...

Then my man started chuckling. Thank God he started chuckling.

We settled into a really sweet conversation about the game and what it did to OU’s playoff chances and how long he’d been a fan. But not before he let me in on his joke and we had a good laugh.

So now you know what made me, well, laugh last week.

This made me think

About those playoff chances... They took an indirect hit Saturday.

The Sooners can still get in. They need to win the rest of their games and take their shot as a one-loss Big 12 champion. They have made three of the last four playoffs as a one-loss Big 12 champion. Recent history, in that sense, is on their side.

But here is what isn’t: The Pac-12 hasn’t dropped out of the race yet.

Utah won at Washington on Saturday afternoon, then Oregon blew out USC on Saturday night. Those were supposed to be the most dangerous remaining dates on the Utes’ and Ducks’ schedules.

Now that they both emerged, they are on course to play in a highly-visible Pac-12 championship (the conference has the date of the game, Dec. 6, to itself while everyone else plays title games Dec. 7) as one-loss, top-10 teams.

The winner in that scenario allows the Pac-12 to be in the playoff discussion right along with other Power 5 conferences. That was not the case in 2015, ’17 and ’18, the three years in which one-loss OU made the playoff.

Those three years, the Pac-12 champions were two-loss Stanford, two-loss USC and three-loss Washington. That essentially eliminated one of the Power 5 conferences from playoff discussion, and that helped clear a path for OU to get in as the Big 12 rep.

A lot had to break right for the Sooners those three years, but removing a competing Power 5 league from the four-team equation was a helpful start.

No such luck to this point this year.

Back to laughter

During a break in its Oregon-USC telecast, Fox posted the five leading Heisman Trophy contenders — Ohio State’s Chase Young and Justin Fields, LSU’s Joe Burrow, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and OU’s Jalen Hurts.

They are all worthy players who are having splendid seasons. They are all having winning seasons at attention-seizing programs. Understood.

But the notion that Oklahoma State running back Chuba Hubbard isn’t one of the five best players in college football, and as such isn’t among the five most reasonable candidates for the trophy supposedly presented to the best player in college football, is hysterical.

Back to thought

Hubbard was the headliner of OSU’s gutsy win over TCU on Saturday. Also understood.

Just know that not all heroes have the ball in their hands.

Hubbard dashed 92 yards for a touchdown after left guard Marcus Keyes shoved TCU defensive tackle Corey Bethley down the line of scrimmage, and left tackle Dylan Galloway bulldozed TCU linebacker Garret Wallow to the turf.

Hubbard broke 62 yards for another score after right guard Bryce Bray blocked TCU defensive tackle Ross Blacklock and center Ry Schneider removed linebacker Ben Wilson.

As you toast Hubbard for burning a defense that prides itself on run-stuffing, and burning a certain Tulsa World columnist for worrying that Tylan Wallace’s absence would waylay OSU’s offense, don’t forget about the big fellas who did the heavy lifting.

Charlie Dickey sure didn’t. The Cowboys’ offensive line coach gathered his men for a postgame locker room photo, then tweeted it out with a message that began: “Great Team Win today.”

Sure was.

This made me cry

A little dude came to our door Halloween night dressed as a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese.

What I’d give to suit up Gretchen and Holden just one more time.

Guerin Emig 918-629-6229


Twitter: @GuerinEmig

Sports Columnist

Proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the Oklahoma Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.