Ross: This game is BIG

WWE Commentator and big-time Sooner fan Jim Ross previews Saturday's showdown with Missouri. (Photo/SoonerPhotos.com)

This past Monday night with a couple of big-time former Sooners in attendance, the WWE presented its 700th episode of Monday night RAW from the sold out All State Arena in Chicago.

This event was not without controversy. After the event, I was questioned about having a pine tar-like substance on my hand and the final decision was put in the hands of the replay official Gordon Weise, a resident of Portland, Oregon, and has had plenty of free time on his hands. After further review, Gordo determined that it wasn't pine tar on old J.R.'s hands, but it was either J.R.'s BBQ Sauce or that chocolate donut I ate prior to the event.

Nonetheless the record stands, Gordie finally got one right. And Monday night, Raw becomes the longest running entertainment broadcast in TV history. If only it had been so easy in Eugene a few weeks ago. But that was then and this is now. Now we go to Columbia, Mo. for a dangerous road game with national implications for our Sooners.

***

It was great to be at the All State Arena with Bears DT's Tommie Harris and Dusty Dvoracek sitting right behind me at ring side. I wish Mark Bradley and J.D. Runnels were able to attend, even tough I had a nice visit with J.D. in Norman prior to the Colorado game.

Tommie, who is lean and quick at 300 pounds, has rarely been blocked this season. Big Dust is on injured reserve and will not play this season due to a stress fracture of his foot, and the fact that some bone spurs broke off and lodged in the joins of his foot that happened during the A&M game last season.

Both Dusty and Tommie, of course, will most likely start for the Bears next season at D-tackle. I am told the Bears have high expectations for playmaker Mark Bradley, who needs to get healthy. Runnels is a warrior and a special teams freak that may start next season as the Bears fullback.

And look for #91 Tommie Harris to actually get some carries offensively sometime this season for Chicago. I saw Tommie Harris practice on numerous occasions here at OU and, when motivated, Tommie is Leroy Selmon-like.

I am now proudly in possession of a photo with all four OU/Bears on it autographed by all of Bob's Boys.

***

The weather was absolutely lousy last Saturday night when the Sooners defeated Colorado in a Big 12 game that was dominated by the Sooner "D" and a cold, north wind.

The Sooners coaching staff did a masterful job manipulating the game clock throughout and Oklahoma won easily. When the Sooners took a time out in the first quarter to be able to kick a field goal with the wind AND still be able to kickoff with the wind, that was excellent coaching and gamesmanship.

"Big Game" Bob did a great job of managing the game Saturday night in Norman before another sellout crowd that even saw most of the student section full, at least for the first half.

***

Colorado is better defensively than Missouri. The OU coaches feel the Buffaloes' defense ranks with Texas and Oregon as the best OU has seen this year. Missouri, however, takes more chances and looks to score some big plays defensively, which puts added pressure on the Sooners' O-Line to pick up the blitzes and stunts they will encounter more often than not on Saturday.

This will be an O-Line, coached by "General" James S. Patton, that has only one senior who will get a smell this Saturday morning for the brunch kickoff of 11 a.m. True, but talented, freshman Trent Williams will start in replace of Branndon Braxton at offensive tackle, as Branndon is out for the year with a broken leg. It's another bad break for the seemingly cursed 2006 Sooners. Holy Gordon Reise!

You will find no one in Soonerland crying like a small child, or Dick Vermeil, and moaning woe is me about the hand the OU squad has been dealt. However, you will hear optimistic conversation about going 10-2 (I might happily settle with 9-3 but what do I know?) and still being able to "run the table".

I fully realize that we need a little "Sooner Magic" to accomplish a 10 win season, but is it doable? Oh, hell yeah.

***

Missouri is off to an impressive 7-1 start and will play at home Saturday with a great sense of urgency, ala their hair being on fire, when they play on ABC-TV against a major, conference foe like Bob Stoops' Sooners, who are not picked to win Saturday in Columbia by the experts. OU is any where from a 2-3 point ‘dog this Saturday.

In almost 40 years, the Sooners have lost only four times to Mizzou with ALL those loses coming in Columbia. Hell, I can still remember having to stop my vehicle in the early 70's when Barry Switzer's Sooners had to use the silver-shoed magic of Little Joe Washington to pull out a victory in Columbia when OU was a much better team, but the Tigers played inspired football. Look for Mizzou to play big-time inspired football this Saturday.

QB Chase Daniel is a player OU may have signed if it had not been for our QB who took money for work he did not do and formerly wore #7. Thanks again, Rhett. And enjoy your time at Sam Houston State.

Daniel is evolving into a great player and is a mobile QB, the type that has given OU ex-mother-in-law–like fits in the past. Daniel is averaging just less than 300 yards per game in total offense with 19 TD passes. That's not bad for a Texas high school star who both OU and UT missed signing.

Daniel's running ability puts great pressure on OU's defensive ends, and the defense in general, to have a great tackling game and to contain and play fast but under control.

***

The Sooner defense of coach Brent Venables played much more like the Sooner "D" we have grown to know and love last week. As a matter of fact, the OU defense is now leading the Big 12 in total defense and rank 11th nationally in the same category.

The Sooners are only giving up 15.9 points per game, and if they can maintain that number this Saturday I see the Sooners winning in Columbia.

OU will score on Mizzou if we don't shoot up our feet via turnovers and non-contact penalties. It's the same story as we have been talking about, but about the 7th verse? I would not be surprised to see OU score 4 TDS or more in this game, but the question is can our defense top the Tigers?

The way I see it, the Sooner defense is improving noticeably every week and I have no reason to believe that this unit won't to continue to get better this Saturday. Over the past several weeks, coach Stoops has been spending a great deal of time with this unit, which I think is a good thing, especially considering that Bob is nationally known as being of the best defensive coaches in the land.

***

Allen Patrick has the ability to make big plays and to turn small gains into home runs. I have seen it in practice when the # 1's face each other, and I think we will see AP used more effectively than last week, especially if Allen is able to get out in space and make safeties tackle him.

Patrick, no doubt, will be more comfortable this week than last with a start under his belt, and after stepping out of the large shadow of Adrian Peterson. AD is expected to make the trip this week and will be an asset motivating his teammates from the sidelines.

Believe it or not, some OU insiders are even talking about AD being able to return to the field for the OSU game at the end of November. That may be overly optimistic, but that casual talk is occurring. And remember, you heard it hear first, Allen Patrick is a tough, physically intimidating human being. And AP, having a day where he holds on to the football and runs to daylight, may allow the Sooners to score enough to win and control the ever-running clock in Columbia.

***

Again, the young but evolving OU offensive line is a key factor this week. But what else is new? We will be accurately able to say that the rest of the season? I see this O-Line improving and becoming one of our better all-time units as time progresses.

Mark it down, this offensive line is blessed with some amazingly gifted, big athletes and will eventually be one of our most physical lines. But currently, their youth can bite us in the backside when we least expect or need it.

Mizzou has only played one really decent team this season and that was at College Station, where they lost a game they could have won 25-19. Perhaps the Tigers' 7-1 record is deceiving, but the hard0nosed Tigers still have only one loss. The Sooners have two and plenty of road games left in Big 12 play.

Missouri plays Big 12 North foe Nebraska next week, which might have some Tiger players and fans looking ahead, but I don't think so. Saturday is a statement game for Mizzou with the vaunted Sooners coming to town on national TV to play an all important league game.

I hope there is ample "Sooner Magic" floating around OU at Faurot Field this Saturday on ABC, and a little bit of a swagger, especially on defense. The defense must keep us in this game while the offense takes what Missouri gives us and exploits those gifts into points.

Turnovers and senseless penalties are the kiss of death anytime, but especially on the road. Let's score early, construct some long drives and take the Tigers' crowd of the game early. The Sooners' offensive play-calling has been excellent in recent weeks from my perspective, but we don't need any dropped balls or missed opportunities against a seven-win team at their place.

***

These are the games that separate the true fans from the wannabes. The odds are against us. Missouri wants to stick a long overdue knife in the heart of the Sooners season. The national media will dance with glee if Oklahoma goes down to the favored Mizzou on the Tigers' Turf. Guys like Herbstreit and Corso will say "I told you so" us to death. I can almost hear it now and I don't like it.

This may be a statement game for Missouri, but it is an even bigger statement game for the Oklahoma Sooners. I believe in this team, this coaching staff and the tradition of our program. We have overcome odds before and have won road games we were not supposed to win. This is another opportunity to add to the legacy of Sooner Football.

I have said all year that Garrett Hartley is a weapon and I think this Saturday in Columbia, the nearly-perfect kicker will prove it...just in time.

I'm headed to Columbia Friday afternoon via St. Louis and Southwest Airlines. I hope our Sooner faithful represent Saturday. I'll do my share.

This game is BIG. Enough said.

BOOMER SOONER!

J.R.

(Visit www.jrsbarbq.com for great sauces and merchandise from one of OU's biggest fans.)

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