Big 12 rankings, Week 9: The movie villain edition

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The Tigers have been disappointing for much of the season, but Saturday's win at Texas A&M vaults Missouri into the top four.

Oklahoma State and Oklahoma did their thing last week. The rest of the conference is a muddled mess with Missouri climbing and Texas A&M and Texas Tech tumbling. This week’s rankings are brought to you by movie villains.

1. OKLAHOMA STATE (8-0, 5-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Baylor 59-24 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Kansas State

The rub: Another week, another blowout against a decent team. Easy to build a program with a 32-year-old quarterback and the money of T.Boone Pickens, a corporate raider just like this guy …

2. OKLAHOMA (7-1, 4-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas State 58-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Texas A&M

The rub: You knew the Sooners would bounce back against Kansas State after the Texas Tech debacle. Oklahoma has been the Terminator of the Big 12 through the years …

3. KANSAS STATE (7-1, 4-1) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma 58-17 | THIS WEEK: At Oklahoma State

The rub: Poor Wildcats. They never had a chance against Oklahoma after the Sooners’ loss to the Red Raiders. As for movie villains? Bill Snyder and Mr. Potter, because they’re the same age …

4. MISSOURI (4-4, 2-3) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M 38-31 | THIS WEEK: At Baylor

The rub: Perhaps a little high, but keep in mind Missouri’s four losses have been to teams currently ranked No. 3, No. 10, No. 11 and No. 23, including three on the road. Bonus points for winning at No. 16 on the road, not to mention a fellow future SEC team. Very Darth Vader-like …

5. TEXAS A&M (5-3, 3-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri 38-31 | THIS WEEK: At Oklahoma

The rub: The Aggies should be 8-0. They’ve choked away three big second-half leads. The finish like this guy …

6. TEXAS (5-2, 2-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas 43-0 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Texas Tech

The rub: Texas did what everybody does – beat Kansas. The Longhorns also have a front-row seat in watching the fourth team leave the Big 12, largely because Texas acts like this villain …

7. TEXAS TECH (5-3, 2-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Iowa State 41-7 | THIS WEEK: At Texas

The rub: What. The. Hell? Really, Texas Tech? Seriously? Iowa State at home? By five touchdowns? The Red Raiders are like Annie Wilkes – unpredictable … but mostly bad …

8. BAYLOR (4-3, 1-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State 59-24 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Missouri

The rub: As always, the Bears underwhelm. Baylor’s been a joke since the inception of the Big 12, much like Shooter …

9. IOWA STATE (4-4, 1-4) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech 41-7 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Kansas

The rub: Good luck figuring this team out. But on Saturday, they looked a lot like this villain from “Marathon Man” …

10. KANSAS (2-6, 0-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas 43-0 | THIS WEEK: At Iowa State

The rub: Perhaps the worst Big 12 team in history goes well with a villain from perhaps the worst movie of all-time …

Week Eight Big 12 rankings: Guns N’ Roses edition

Week Seven Big 12 rankings: Dodgeball: A true underdog story edition

Week Six Big 12 rankings: Cheers edition

Week Five Big 12 rankings: Super Bad edition

Week Four Big 12 rankings: Pro wrestling edition

Week Three Big 12 rankings: The Seinfeld edition

Week Two Big 12 rankings: The awful music video edition

Week One Big 12 rankings: The Kingpin edition

Preseason Big 12 rankings: The Star Wars edition

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Big 12 rankings, Week 8: The Gun N Roses edition

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Mike Gundy. He's a man, and he's 40. And so is his starting quarterback.

If you’ve seen Oklahoma State play, you know the Cowboys have the best team in the Big 12. It’s not just the explosive offense, opportunistic defense or the leadership of a 40-year-old quarterback (OK, he’s 28). OSU appears to be a team of destiny. When they need a big play or a break, they get one. Take Saturday’s game at Missouri. Two balls batted at the line of scrimmage for interceptions. What are the odds?

This week’s rankings are brought to you by Guns N Roses. Not the current, Always Save brand of GNR, but the old school, ground-breaking, ass-kicking brand many of us grew up with:

1. OKLAHOMA STATE (7-0, 4-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Missouri 45-24 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Baylor

The rub: The Cowboys own road wins against Texas A&M, Texas and Missouri. There’s no reason they shouldn’t coast into their Dec. 3 home game against Oklahoma undefeated. Right now, Oklahoma State is in …

2. KANSAS STATE (7-0, 4-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas 59-21 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Oklahoma

The rub: Bad break for the Wildcats with Oklahoma’s shocking loss. Not only did it cost Kansas State ESPN’s Game Day, but also means an angry bunch of Sooners are heading to Manhattan. Win Saturday, and the Wildcats are …

3. TEXAS A&M (5-2, 3-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State 33-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Missouri

The rub: The Aggies are a couple of second-half meltdowns away from being in the national championship picture. They get a reeling Missouri team this week, but road games against Oklahoma and Kansas State follow, which means …

4. OKLAHOMA (6-1, 3-1) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas Tech 41-38 | THIS WEEK: At Kansas State

The rub: What. The. Hell? Is it just me, or does Landry Jones look rather ordinary at times? Best way to describe Oklahoma on Saturday? …

5. TEXAS TECH (5-2, 2-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma 41-38 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Iowa State

The rub: How does a team trail Kansas 20-0 in the first half, then win at Oklahoma a month later? At least on Saturday, Norman reminded the Red Raiders of a warm, safe place …

6. TEXAS (4-2, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Bye | THIS WEEK: Vs. Kansas

The rub: Don’t cry for the Longhorns … they get Kansas this week …

7. BAYLOR (4-2, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Bye | THIS WEEK: At Oklahoma State

The rub: The Bears haven’t been the same since that second-half meltdown against Kansas State. Last season, they fell part by November. More of this again for Baylor? …

8. MISSOURI (3-4, 1-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State 45-24 | THIS WEEK: At Texas A&M

The rub: The Tigers have been spoiled by three consecutive quarterbacks now playing in the NFL. Sophomore James Franklin has been a turnover machine and his growing pains are killing Mizzou right now. He’ll probably be just fine by next year. For now, the Tigers need a lot of this …

9. IOWA STATE (3-4, 0-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M 33-17 | THIS WEEK: At Texas Tech

The rub: The Cyclones look more and more like a team that belongs in the Mountain West or even FCS if the Big 12 implodes. ISU might live in a “lesser” conference. It’s dying in a power conference …

10. KANSAS (2-5, 0-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State 59-21 | THIS WEEK: At Texas

The rub: There aren’t enough words to describe how sorry this football team is. Playing the Jayhawks …

Week Seven Big 12 rankings: Dodgeball: A true underdog story edition

Week Six Big 12 rankings: Cheers edition

Week Five Big 12 rankings: Super Bad edition

Week Four Big 12 rankings: Pro wrestling edition

Week Three Big 12 rankings: The Seinfeld edition

Week Two Big 12 rankings: The awful music video edition

Week One Big 12 rankings: The Kingpin edition

Preseason Big 12 rankings: The Star Wars edition

I’m into fitness, take 10: My first fitness assessment

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The running shoes have been a big part of my newfound health, but I won't be using them as often after my fitness assessment.

A few years ago, a fitness test was not on my want-to-do list. I’d rank it a few notches ahead of a Pink concert featuring Winger as the opening act. After the first assessment test of my life, I’ll be back for more in six weeks to get my body fat measured again. Especially after I was told to eat more, run less and do fewer situps!

These fitness blogs have been rather personal. Weight is a touchy subject, but I think that’s why this blog has been well-read, so I’ll share the results of the fitness assessment.

First, I have to brag. See, the fitness expert listed my body type as “athletic.” Let’s be clear … I have never been an athlete. There’s a reason I was a sports journalist for more than a decade. I did play basketball and baseball in high school. I even hit .500 my freshman year (and, no, not in two at-bats) before inexplicably giving up the sport (regret it to this day). And I still have a steady jumper from behind the arc!

Still, my body type has been fat for a good decade. To be listed as “athletic,” for the broad shoulders and frame to actually be visible, all I can say is …

WEIGHT

I clocked in at 214.8 pounds, my lowest weight since October 2001. That’s right, 10 years. And this 214.8 is much more healthy and stronger than the chubby, Taco Bell-laced 214.8 of 2001.

More importantly, I learned what I should weigh. I’ve said for months that 180 is my goal, and, hell, I thought that was still a little high. Amazingly enough, because of my body type, the ideal weight is between 188 and 199 pounds …

Instead of being 35 pounds away from my goal, I’m 15-27 pounds away. I’ve come this far, might as well go for 188, not 199, right?

BODY FAT

I’ve never had my body fat measured, mostly out of fear. I asked what my body weight was when I weighed more than 300 pounds. At 305, it was likely about 45 percent, maybe more. Think about that for a second. Half my body was fat. Today, it’s 25.6 percent. I’ve lost at least 20 percent body fat in the last 22 months. So virtually all of the 90 pounds I’ve lost were fat.

The 25.6 percent is in the “moderate” range. So long obesity. Sure as hell not missing you. I need to lose 6 percent to be in the “good” range. Once I get to 188 pounds, I’ll be at 14 percent body fat, which is very good.

Me at about 185 pounds in college. I'll look like that again, minus the hair, soon.

OTHER NUMBERS

Cardio assessment: 42.8 (60 percentile). High end of moderate and getting better.

Strength assessment: 65 pounds (fair). Not far from “good.”

Flexibility: 8.3 inches. Awful. I should probably stretch.

Calories: 2,283. That’s what I should be eating every day.

Body age: 42. Closing in on being my age. At this time to years ago, I had the body of a 60-year-old man.

INTAKE

I hate the word diet because that’s not what I’m doing, so I call the food I eat my intake. It’s a lifestyle change, not a diet. Anyway, I was told to monitor my calories. Not because I eat too much, but because I’m probably not eating enough. Doh. This is going to be difficult because I don’t starve myself. I’m rarely hungry. But I’ve got to eat more. If you don’t get enough calories, your body actually stores more fat. …

WORKOUT

I’ve plateaued, and with good reason. Running is great, but my body is accustomed to it. It expects it now. Also, I’ve been working my arms too much when lifting, and I’ve been doing too many situps. I knew all of this, but most of you know I’m pretty damn stubborn. The fitness expect was blunt: “Are you open to trying something different? Because I want to completely change your workout routine.” Less running and situps? Hell yeah, I’m open to that.

I’ll learn more next week when I go back for a quick training session to learn about my new routine.

WHAT DID I LEARN?

That I’m close. That I might have reached my goal by now had I done this assessment a few months ago. But that’s OK. The point is, I’m in good shape. I’m a few months away from looking and feeling the way I’ve wanted to for a very long time. And that my body type is athletic.

Big 12 rankings, Week 7: The “Dodgeball: A true underdog story” edition

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Kansas State coach Bill Snyder tells former Nebraska coach Frank Solich "I own you," as he does just about every other coach.

I didn’t mean it as an insult Saturday night when I told the girlfriend, a huge Kansas State fan, that I don’t think the Wildcats are all that great, but they take advantage of every mistake their opponents make and find a way to win. The bottom line is they won, again, on Saturday and remain in the top three in the rankings. This week’s edition is brought to you by “Dodgeball: A true underdog story”:

1. OKLAHOMA (6-0, 3-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas 47-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Texas Tech

THE RUB: Despite a rather subpar performance against Kansas, the Sooners are still the class of the league until somebody knows them off. Maybe they should try this entrance next week …

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (6-0, 3-0) | LAST WEEK:Defeated Texas 38-26 | THIS WEEK: At Missouri

THE RUB: The Cowboys have a great shot at entering their Dec. 1 showdown against Oklahoma undefeated. It helps to have Brandon Weeden, a quarterback who’s as old as this guy …

3. KANSAS STATE (6-0, 3-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech 41-34 | THIS WEEK: At Kansas

THE RUB: Great defense, gritty quarterback and arguably the best coach in college football. Bill Snyder might be as bad-ass as this guy …

4. TEXAS A&M (4-2, 2-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Baylor 55-28 | THIS WEEK: At Iowa State

THE RUB: What did the Aggies have to say about Baylor being a contender in the Big 12? …

5. TEXAS (4-2, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State 38-26 | THIS WEEK: Bye

THE RUB: The last couple of years, a lot of people have made the Longhorns bleed their own blood …

6. BAYLOR (4-2, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M 55-28 | THIS WEEK: Bye

THE RUB: The Bears have looked a lot like this lately, only not as funny …

7. MISSOURI (3-3, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State 52-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Tigers looked much better Saturday. Maybe they just need to get this mad every week …

8. TEXAS TECH (4-2, 1-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State 41-34 | THIS WEEK: At Oklahoma

THE RUB: What was that during your final series Saturday, Tommy Tuberville? The Red Raiders might be better off with Pepper Brooks coaching …

9. IOWA STATE (3-3, 0-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri 52-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: Great start to the season for the Cyclones, but apparently they weren’t ready for the hurricane that is the Big 12 …

10. KANSAS (2-4, 0-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma 47-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Kansas State

THE RUB: Maybe the Jayhawks should scrap goals …

Week Six Big 12 rankings: Cheers edition

Week Five Big 12 rankings: Super Bad edition

Week Four Big 12 rankings: Pro wrestling edition

Week Three Big 12 rankings: The Seinfeld edition

Week Two Big 12 rankings: The awful music video edition

Week One Big 12 rankings: The Kingpin edition

Preseason Big 12 rankings: The Star Wars edition

I’m into fitness, take nine: What keeps me going

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About 90 pounds later. From 305 at the beginning of 2010 to 215 in September 2011.

A few weeks ago, I was having one of those days as I headed into the gym. I’d just finished a three-mile run and was dripping with sweat, completely exhausted. Forty minutes of lifting weights and 10 minutes of situps ranked about 1,567th on the list of things I wanted to do, right behind watching an “Oprah” marathon.

As I headed upstairs, dreading the workout, I noticed a guy in a wheelchair lifting weights hardcore. Suddenly, my workout seemed pretty easy. I don’t know the guy, have no clue who he is. But he’s at the gym often, and I respect the hell out of that.

My point is, everything happens for a reason. The day I was dreading my workout, being negative, that was a clear message. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, what shape you’re in – get in the gym and get your work in.

I’m not exactly the smallest guy in the gym. But I’m not the biggest anymore, either. For those of you who aren’t in shape and worrying about people judging you in the gym, I can tell you right now that nobody is. I’ve learned that the past few months. In fact, I’ve learned that people respect the effort.

STICKING WITH IT

One of the most common questions people ask me is, “How do you keep going?” or “How do you stay motivated?” Here are a few things that keep me going:

Compliments

I know it sounds ridiculous, but one of the big reasons I lift weights is to show the girlfriend new-found muscles.

Forget about losing weight without a support system. It’s just not going to happen. We all need help. I have been overwhelmed with the support and kind words from friends, family, even the Facebook community.

“He has this attitude … ‘I’m awesome’ … and that’s cool because he is awesome”: That’s from the girlfriend’s sister, a longtime friend from high school. When the girlfriend told me this, I immediately thought how great a compliment it is. Not because I think it’s true (it is, I am awesome), but because I’m projecting that attitude. It’s a direct result of working out and eating healthy. It’s the complete opposite of what I used to project. And I can’t thank her enough for saying it.

“You look taller, Uncle Ernie,” and “You look small, Uncle Ernie”: From my nephews. If kids notice it … I think that says a ton.

There have been other compliments from my mom and dad, and I could fill 500 pages writing about the sweet things my wonderful girlfriend says. I already feel pretentious writing the above. Let’s just say all these words of inspiration keep me going.

Fear

It has such a negative connotation, but fear can be a good thing. What do I fear? Looking like this again …

Right before moving to Tulsa in 2011. I remember taking the tag off this photo when my friend Andi posted it on Facebook because I was so embarrassed.

The fear of being that guy, unhealthy, lazy, negative, tired, boring, is plenty of motivation. There’s also the fear of not looking good and dying young. The latter was a very real possibility a few years ago.

The scale

I know, I know. They say you should step on the scale once a week. I just can’t do it. I’m on that damn thing at least once a day, sometimes three times a day (in the morning, after my workout, then before bed).

If the numbers move the wrong direction, it makes me work harder. If the numbers move in the right direction, it makes me work harder. If the numbers stay the same, like they have the last three weeks … it simply pisses me off. But I’m not going to give up.

PROGRESS REPORT

The weight loss has slowed a bit, but I can run a 5K now. Chicka Chicka yeeeah.

I hit the 90-pounds-lost milestone early this week, which means I’m about 35 pounds short of my goal weight. The progress has been slow of late. I’m clearly plateauing. The girlfriend thinks I’m putting on muscle. She might be right.

I’ll learn more next week at my fitness evaluation. I’m looking forward to some tips on new workouts. If that means trying something other than running … I’m OK with that.

Questioning my fanhood

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Missouri has never been to a Final Four. Ever. Seriously.

As soon as the girlfriend left to pick up dinner, I walked into the bed room, took one look at my Missouri shirt, pulled it off my body and launched it across the room. Pure frustration. For the first time in 26 years, I questioned why I’ve been following this team.

So many tough losses, unfathomable endings, gut-wrenching disappointments. Seemingly little payback for being a loyal, not to mention ticket- and paraphernalia-buying, fan. That’s where it stands. Described by the girlfriend as “Mr. Mizzou” to her friends and family, I’m questioning my, gulp, fanhood.

It wasn’t so much losing to a Kansas State team that has nowhere near the talent Missouri does as it was the way they lost. Completely, utterly, ridiculously uninspiring, listless football. This is not what a large legion of fans deserves. Not after years of disappointment. Years of patience. Years of waiting. Same crap, different year.

Happier times in Manhattan a few weeks ago. The same team that squeaked by Eastern Kentucky manhandled Missouri on Saturday.

A friend once described Missouri fans as the Chicago Cubs fans of college athletics. It’s not a bad comparison. The last time the football team won a conference title, Moses wasn’t born. OK, it was 1969. Still, that’s ridiculous. The basketball team has one championship – a conference tournament title in 2009 – in the last 17 years.

That’s inexcusable for the only major college in the state. A state with two big metro areas – St. Louis and Kansas City – to recruit. As Gary Pinkel would say, remarkable.

Missouri football has been pretty good the last several years. I’ll give Gary Pinkel that. Hell, the Tigers were one half away from playing for a national championship in 2007.

There have been some great moments, like storming the field with the old man after upsetting No. 1 Oklahoma. Of course, Mizzou followed it up with losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech.

But even that season had its devastation. First, melting down in the second half of a tie game against Oklahoma for the conference title in 2007, then getting worked out of BCS bid by corrupt Orange Bowl officials and a rogue, shady athletics director.

Throw in Tyus Edny’s miracle in 1995, the flea-kicker in 1997, the fifth down in 1990, four losses in the Elite Eight … it’s really pretty amazing how many times the impossible has happened to Old Mizzou.

Did Shevin Wiggins cheat to help win the flea-kicker game in 1997? We'll never know.

Maybe I was spoiled by 40 wins in four years. Probably shouldn’t be the case considering Missouri barely won 40 games in the 1980s and 1990s. But, at the very least as a fan, you expect a decent effort and competent coaching. That’s why it’s so damn frustrating.

So, I didn’t wear any Missouri gear today. Those of you who know me probably just said, “Woah.” Those of you who don’t … if I’m not at work or at a function for work, I’ve probably got something with an “M” on. That was my response to a hideous performance, the latest in three decades worth of disappointments.

I swore up and down Saturday evening I wasn’t watching another Missouri football game this year. After all, my alma mater, Washburn, is undefeated and ranked in the top five in Division II. Instead of having two teams, might be time for one  team for a while.

“I can’t believe I’m hearing this, Mr. Mizzou,” the girlfriend said.

I can’t either. But I’m officially on strike … until Saturday’s game.

Big 12 rankings, Week 6: “Cheers” edition

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Oklahoma made its statement loud and clear, Oklahoma State continues to roll and the old man schools another more talented team in Manhattan. This week’s rankings are brought to you by the characters of the long-running NBC series “Cheers”:

1. OKLAHOMA (5-0, 2-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas 55-17 | THIS WEEK: At Kansas

Cheers character: Sam Malone ….

Sam owns “Cheers,” and Oklahoma owns the Big 12.

2. OKLAHOMA STATE (5-0, 2-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas 70-28 | THIS WEEK: At Texas

Cheers character: Henri …

Henri briefly was Sam’s understudy, as Oklahoma State is Oklahoma’s, but ultimately, Sam schooled his protégé, much like the Sooners will the Cowboys later this season.

3. KANSAS STATE (5-0, 2-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Missouri 24-17 | THIS WEEK: At Texas Tech

Cheers character: Coach …

How Billy Snyder continues to win with average talent is amazing. He simply is the coach.

4. TEXAS (4-1, 1-1) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma 55-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Oklahoma State

Cheers character: Frasier …

Frasier personified arrogance. At least he was likable.

5. TEXAS A&M (3-2, 1-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech 45-40 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Baylor

Cheers character: Carla …

Like the bar’s weathered waitress, the Aggies have been a little edgy of late, bailing on the conference.

6. BAYLOR (4-1, 1-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State 49-26 | THIS WEEK: At Texas A

Cheers character: Rebecca …

The last few years have been better, but much like Ms. Howell, the Bears have been pitiful for the most part.

7. TEXAS TECH (4-1, 1-1) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M 45-40 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Kansas State

Cheers character: Woody

Who else would you compare to this team after it ran a great coach out of town largely because of a wildly overrated TV analyst?

8. IOWA STATE (3-2, 0-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor 49-26 | THIS WEEK: at Missouri

Cheers character: Norm

Likable losers.

9. MISSOURI (2-3, 0-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State 24-17 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Iowa State

Cheers character: Cliff

Maybe a little unfair, but for right now, the Tigers look ridiculous thumping their chest over a flirtation with the SEC while underachieving to a sub-.500 record in the lesser Big 12.

10. KANSAS (2-3, 0-2) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State 70-28 | THIS WEEK: Vs. Oklahoma

Cheers character: Diane

Arrogance without reason.