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August 30, 2012
Picked Over: A Surprise in Big D?
Of course you all know by now that SoonerScoop.com has you covered for any and all aspects of Oklahoma football however that's not to say that Sooner fans aren't simply college football fans who enjoy talking about the top match-ups from coast to coast. As such each week in 'Picked Over' SoonerScoop.com writers Eddie Radosevich and Josh McCuistion will offer you their take on games across the Big 12 along with a few of the top match-ups from coast to coast in college football. So take a look as one staffer offers random musings, while another brings real numbers to the table.
Season to Date: N/A
Eddie Radosevich: When it comes to playing on the road versus BCS level competition it's hard to argue with what Chris Petersen's program has done since 2006 posting an 8-1 record. Even though the numbers would tell me to play Boise State in this game it's hard to forget this Broncos squad will be without the departed Kellen Moore. Add to the fact that Michigan State has won it's opener by an average of 23.3 ppg under Mark Dantonio and I like Sparty to win this one and cover the -7. State 31-20.
Josh McCuistion: The Spartans were good to me in 2011 but in these season openine games the Broncos always seem to not just beat their opponent (even really good ones) but almost embarrass them. The loss of Moore is huge but Petersen seems to just plug in one player after another - I mean if he can win big with Jared Zabransky who is not good enough? I'll take Boise and the points.
ER: Surely this one inside will catch the eye of all Sooner fans as former Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables makes his debut with the Tigers. Love him or hate him I can't help but think Venables will dial up a stellar game plan for the Tigers who will be without the services of freshmen All-American Sammy Watkins. I like Clemson to win their second straight vs. Auburn inside the Georgia Dome and cover the points. Clemson 24-19.
JM: To my eyes this may be the most interesting game of the weekend. I think Auburn has a lot of promise but Clemson brings a ton of talent to bear as well, however, the absence of Sammy Watkins is obviously a huge hit. At the end of the day, in early games like this I generally like to go with the quarterback I'm the most comfortable/familiar with and while Kiehl Frazier has ability, it's hard to pick against the type of production that Tajh Boyd put up last year. I'll go with Clemson, but I'm not at all confident in my pick.
ER: In what will be the marquee game of the opening weekend in the college football world I've found myself just staring at the computer screen when trying to break this one down. How much success will Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson have versus Nick Saban's Alabama defense? I'm going to bank on the fact that Michigan can match Bama's physical play and take them in the points. However, I like the defending champions to win a wild one at Jerry Wold 31-28.
JM: This game seems so straight forward to me, that I think I may be wrong, and honestly that is an absolute mountain of points for a top 10 match-up. To me it's all about what are you going to get from Robinson as much as everyone loves him and remembers his great performances the last two years - there is a reason he wasn't in New York last year and that's because when he is bad, he is really, really bad. I'm torn on what will happen when Nick Saban will undoubtedly befuddle him, can Robinson make plays with his feet against an extremely fast Tide defense? I'm picking Michigan, because I don't see Bama scoring enough points to run away.
ER: While I do think Texas will be much improved from a season ago I- like everyone else across the country- will have to see what the Longhorns are going to get at the quarterback position in 2012 before I can even think about laying 30 points with them. Texas defense should win this one early but I do forecast a Wyoming backdoor cover in the second half. Texas 34-10
JM: I like what Brett Smith brings to the table as when Texas inevitably gets some pressure he is the caliber of athlete who can excel when plays break down. Honestly, I think Texas wins this game fairly clearly on the field, but I just don't see an offense that is going to be able to score in the mid-40s at this point in the year and I fully expect Wyoming to get a score or two, possibly late in the game. I'll take the Cowboys and all those points.
ER: With the post-RG3 era beginning in Waco I find it ironic that Garrett Gilbert will trot out as the Mustangs starting quarterback. In their last nine meetings Baylor has won by an average of 29-ppg and posted a 9-0 record versus the boys on Mockingbird and I see no reason why that trend won't continue as the Bears look to senior Nick Florence to command what should still be a decent Baylor offensive attack. Baylor wins 45-28.
JM: Baylor enters this holy war without it's prodigal son, Robert Griffin. That's never a good starting point but at the same time I think Baylor is putting better athletes on the field than ever before and Nick Florence has proven he can play at various times in which Griffin was injured. It's a situation where the Ponies just turn the ball over too many times for me to feel good about Art Briles not putting up some serious points. I'll stay in the Big 12 here.
ER: Feed on this stat for a minute. West Virginia ahs won the last 11 meetings versus their in-state rival by an average of 29-ppg BUT have trailed the last two of three season at halftime. How the hell does that work? I think the Mountaineers go out and take care of business rather quickly in 2012 as they try to send an opening weekend message to the rest of the Big 12 before their scheduled bye weekend on Sept. 8. WVU wins 51-10.
JM: The Mountaineers start their new Big 12 life with the most familiar of all their foes but the Thundering Herd seem like very little problem for a Mountaineers offense that will cut through much better units on the season. A less experienced West Virginia team, that was coming off some serious turmoil nearly covered this spread a year ago. If Geno Smith is going to make a real Heisman run this will be where he starts.
ER: Other than the aforementioned Michigan-Alabama game in Dallas I find this tilt in Ames (Iowa) as one of the more intriguing games of the weekend. While the Golden Hurricane will debut Nebraska transfer Cody Green at quarterback it's hard to go against the fact that Iowa State is a tougher place to play than one would think (ask Oklahoma State). The Cyclones garner a 12-1 record in home openers since 1999 and I expect that to be the difference in this one. Iowa State 31-24.
JM: I'm not really sure how this game plays out, but there are only two stories. Either Tulsa goes wild and wins convincingly or Iowa State wins a nail-biter. The Cyclones are traditionally slow starters in the season but not really in season openers. And I admit I'm not buying Green can step in and be the guy that G.J. Kinne was. Finally, home dogs are always a solid pick.
ER: Really this game isn't a question of is Oklahoma going to win rather it's a question of should you lay the Sooners and the points. If there's one impression that stuck with me this week it's this: They're tired of hearing about last year and as Mike Stoops mentioned multiple times on local Media Day this season is about redemption. I also need to document my out of this world call of the week: Julian Wilson pick six. Give me Oklahoma 45-13.
JM: I really think that Oklahoma will make strides defensively this year but I do expect that there will be hiccups and starting the season against a pass-happy offense like UTEP is a daunting task. A home night dog, is almost an auto-bet for people much smarter than myself and when you realize that Oklahoma will probably have to score 50-plus points - a mark they haven't hit in a season opener against an FBS team since 2007 - I just don't know that I can take it. I'll take the Miners and the points.
It should be noted that the Big 12's many FCS/FBS match-ups eliminated those games from betting lines.