POSTED ON AUGUST 31, 2011:
Can the Hurricane blow through Norman?
It's not if you win or lose, it's how you play the game." Not sure exactly what Grantland Rice was thinking when he made this statement. It seems like something a losing coach might tell his little league team when facing imminent defeat.
In professional and college sports a more accurate quote was given by Vince Lombari (or maybe Henry Russell). "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."
So where does that leave our boys? The University of Tulsa faces the preseason No. 1 team in the nation to kick off the season. The Oklahoma Sooners await the Golden Hurricane arrival for the Saturday, Sept. 3 showdown.
For Hurricane (or Sooners) fans making the trek into enemy territory, kickoff is scheduled for 7pm. For the unfortunate football fans unable to attend the game, FX will broadcast the contest, live.
Vegas installed the Sooners as a 21-point favorite over the cross-state pseudo rival. The over/under is set at 64. Only one play makes sense from a betting standpoint.
Chances for victory are slim for the Golden Hurricane. It is the ten year anniversary of the '91 Freedom Bowl team. A defeat of the Sooners in Norman would trump any accomplishments in the history of the program.
Is it possible? That is why they play...well you know the rest.
The question is how. How can the TU Express cruise into Memorial Stadium and defeat the mighty Sooners? Let's figure this out together.
One option would be to go Pittsburgh Steelers on the Sooners. What does that mean? If you watch the NFL, take note when the Steelers are on the road.
The fans travel well and usually take over portions of the opponent's stadium. It is a common theme.
Now this might be tricky for TU for a couple of reasons. For starters, it is unlikely TU fans will pay the premium to OU fans. It would require top dollar to pry those tickets away.
The other issue is the fact that H.A. Chapman Stadium never sells out, unless OU or OSU fans fill it. So it might be asking much for the Blue and Gold faithful to overpower Sooner Nation in Norman.
Moving right along to plan B.
The new Tulsa coaching staff, led by Bill Blankenship, can watch a dozen seasons worth of film to prepare for Coach Stoops team.
On the other hand, OU is facing a new regime. Will they peek at Tulsa Union highlight tapes from the mid-90s?
Can Head Coach Bill Blankenship and his staff utilize the element of surprise to topple the college football giant? Will they unveil wrinkles to catch their opponent off guard or save the trickeration for C-USA play? It is unlikely they will attack the Sooners straight up the gut, mono e mono.
"We got a lot of work done and that is what we wanted to do. This will be our last full scrimmage that we need to get into," Blankenship said. "We held several guys out who were a little dinged up.
"Fortunately, they're not too serious. It made us a little thin defensively, especially in the secondary, but I thought overall our first unit did very well defensively. We gave up a couple of plays, but other than that, I thought they bowed their neck and played very well.
"Offensively, we had really good execution. I thought G.J. (Kinne) was spot-on with his calls and reads. The running game, I think, is in good shape."
Ok, just thought the official TU/OU breakdown could use a little coach-speak. Of course he was pleased. Find me the last time Stoops or Gundy said they hated their teams' work ethic.
Another advantage TU may have over OU (yes, we're reaching here) is the second opponent of the season.
The TU Express travels to New Orleans to face Tulane on Saturday, Sept. 10.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma is faced with a slightly stiffer test in the form of 6th ranked Florida State in Tallahassee. Unfortunately for TU, the Sooners/Seminoles showdown is Sept. 17. If the game took place one week after the Hurricane contest, the chances for the "overlook" factor would have been greater.
Maybe the tipping point will be quarterback play. After all, G.J. Kinne is the best in-state quarterback.
"I have a lot of things that I need to work on and I'm doing that," Kinne said. "Coach [Bill] Blankenship is working me hard every day. I'm just trying to get better because I know I need to be a better player for us to be successful this year."
And now for some additional coach-speak.
"G.J. just exudes leadership," Blankenship said. "He's a guy that has a great confidence about him. He does a good job of leading our team. I think the best thing he does is bring that leadership quality that you only get from being in the fire for two full years. It's exciting to have a third-year starter coming back."
He makes a great point.
However, there is one advantage TU will never overcome against the likes of OU. The cheer squad. Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and move forward.
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