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September 6, 2013
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:
Eddie Radosevich: I was talking with a friend this past week and he said, 'you don't really think Georgia will start 0-2 do you? That never happens.' So it may seem. But what if I told you Mark Richt's squad has posted a pair of 0-2 starts two of the last three seasons. That is exactly what could happen Saturday as Georgia stumbles back between the hedges for a SEC conference game vs. the Ole Ball Coach and his South Carolina Gamecocks. A couple months ago it was Jadeveon Clowney that made headlines at the SEC Media Days when he said Georgia QB Aaron Murray was scared of him. Last week, Clowney drew the ire of fans that said he took plays off. South Carolina will need Clowney and the defense to get after Murray who will be without the services of Malcolm Mitchell (ACL) but it's a must win game for Georgia. Before placing a wager on this remind yourself South Carolina is 5-0-1 ATS in their last 6 games vs. Georgia. While Murray holds a less than stellar 3-11 all-time record vs. Top 25 opponents. I'll take South Carolina plus the points on the road.
Josh McCuistion: As Eddie touched on briefly there are guys that Steve Spurrier just owns. When he was at Florida it was Phil Fulmer and now that he is in Columbia, it's been Mark Richt. When he was in Washington, well, I've heard rumors his private golf club membership allowed him to regain some of the money lost upon his firing.
At any rate, Richt is an incredibly nice guy but I'll admit a program like Georgia in one of the nation's most talent rich states should do more than he has done in his time. And though he has done more than many of his predecessors that says more about them than it does him. I think the mixture of Richt and Murray will find a way to lose this game but it'll be a nail-biter from beginning to end as whatever other trends Spurrier brought with him from Gainesville it's pretty clear the days of a dynamic offense are forever in his rearview mirror.
ER: Certainly this game will draw the attention of Sooner fans as a match-up in South Bend is just around the corner with the Irish. Heading to the 'Big House' for what will be their final trip ever before joining the Atlantic Coast Conference next season this will be the first game of many roadblocks for Brian Kelly's squad. Last season, the Irish squeaked out a 13-6 victory over Michigan but it has been the Wolverines that have won five of the last 7 match ups in this game. Posting a 10-5 record while riding a current 15-game winning streak in Ann Arbor Michigan will rely on dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner to make the plays down the stretch. I should warn those going all out on Michigan that the underdog has won straight up in seven of the last nine games between these two schools. But I still can't wrap my head around Tommy Rees leading the Irish to- another- victory in the Big House. I'm going to take a flier on this one and go with the home team minus the points.
JM: Both teams are big and physical but have more athleticism and overall team speed than most from south of the Mason-Dixon line would ever want to give credit for. That being said, I see a lot of fairly balanced points but it's really going to come down to how much pressure Notre Dame can place on Devin Gardner who I feel is one of the country's promising young quarterbacks.
Their defensive line is a special group with a pair of future first-rounders in it's mix but Michigan's Taylor Lewan and the Michigan front line don't lack for talent of their own. I'll take the Wolverines here but I think this one comes down to turnovers which, as ever, are completely and totally impossible to predict.
And for those that didn't pick up the message, if you get a chance to watch Lewan and Stephon Tuitt go to war on Saturday night, sit back and enjoy two of the best in the country going head up in the trenches.
ER: I've really found myself going back and forth on this one. Meeting for the first time since 2008, both Florida and Miami find themselves in a position that could be helped massively with a victory. Hurricane running back Duke Johnson is a threat with the ball in his hands carrying the rock 19 times for 186 yards and a touchdown a week ago in a win over Florida Atlantic while quarterback Stephen Morris was less than stellar. For Al Golden's club to walk out of Saturday's match-up with a victory they will need both players to deliver big games. Florida will need their defense maintain the line of scrimmage and keep Johnson in check. The Gators welcome the return of four suspended players including Loucheiz Purifoy. Put that with their SEC pedigree and I like Florida to cover the three points on the road.
JM: Quietly Al Golden is doing some really nice things in Coral Gables and I think - if he can avoid the NCAA hammer - he is only a few years away from putting a very, very scary Miami team back on the field again. That being said, this Florida defense is stingy and as much of a buyer as I am in Stephen Morris his matchup with Purifoy and a talented Gators defense may be asking a lot of him with an offensive line that isn't without talent but will be put under heavy fire on Saturday. I like Florida to cover here but it won't shock me for a minute if Miami wins by a touchdown, Morris is the real deal and will show it on Saturday.
ER: Putting the past behind you can always be a good thing. This weekend Charlie Weis and company put a dreadful 2012 season behind them as they open with South Dakota. The opening of the Jake Heaps era in Lawrence as well as the return of James Sims to the Kansas backfield should help an offense that became one dimensional a season ago. A week ago South Dakota lit up the scoreboards with 10 points versus UC Davis. Expect Kansas to use Heaps arm to their advantage as I like Kansas, if it's only for one night, in the opener to cover the points.
JM: I know you're no different than me, you had to look at this line two or three times and mixed with some sort of undeniable shock something like 'how on Earth is Kansas favored over any non-NAIA school' came to mind. ?
Ok, I'm back from checking and South Dakota is in fact not a NAIA program so that joke works and I'll roll with it. That being said, I can't believe I'm going to say it but take the Jayhawks - and then prepare to cuss me rather than the linesmakers come Saturday when we all remember just how bad this program has become.
ER: It would be safe to assume life has been good for Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield. A week after throwing for 438 yards and four touchdowns (rushing TD) in his college debut the walk-on frosh has good reason to be walking on cloud nine. This week when the Red Raiders return to Lubbock they'll look to avoid all of that crashing down as the Tech faithful get ready for Kliff Kingsbury's home opener. Eight FCS teams walked out away with wins versus Division I programs last weekend. And while I don't expect Stephen F. Austin to do the same I worry the 38 points will be too many to cover with a STF offense that produced 40-points a week ago in a loss to Weber State. Tech wins the game but I suggest you take Stephen F. Austin with the backdoor cover.
JM: Looking for a breakdown of the Lumberjacks? Well, keep looking.
It's hard to not see this as just another blowout for the Red Raiders after a far from perfect, though impressive, win over SMU last weekend. I'd like to tell you I see Kingsbury's guys to come back down to Earth but I just don't see it here - I'll take the Raiders and the point after they spend a week hearing about 'North Dakota State' and 'Northern Iowa'.
ER: Talk about the backdoor covers of all second half backdoors. That's exactly what Mack Browns Longhorns did a week ago. Leading 14-7 over New Mexico State at halftime Texas scored 49-unanswered points in the second half to not only to blow out the Aggies but make those in Vegas happy as well. This week comes with the Horns first road trip of the season heading to take on a BYU team that was upset a week ago in rainy conditions by Virginia. While it's not nearly the test that Ole Miss will bring to Austin next weekend it is a good test for the maturity of a Texas squad that has disappointed in that area the past few seasons. Jackson Jeffcoat and Malcolm Brown should be able to dominate the line of scrimmage against a BYU offensive line that is still gelling together. While the Longhorn offense should start quicker than they did a week ago in the season opener. Take Texas to cover the points. EDDIE'S LOCK OF THE WEEK
JM: Something tells me this is a game that Texas has had circled for quite some time now. Not so much because BYU is a big rival, a huge challenge, or anything of the like but instead it's about a team knowing that in spite of so much returning talent and a bowl win last year they lack a lot of believers nationally.
For lack of a better term Texas has become the new Big 12's old Nebraska. It looks great for a while and then suddenly reality strikes, and as Ethan Hawke can tell you for the folks in Austin that reality usually bites. I'm not telling you I think this is a top five Texas team, I don't but I think they are talented enough that if they are motivated this could pretty easily be a three touchdown game. I'll go with another lock of the week, but this could real easily have been my choice.
ER: Thankfully Kansas State's match-up last weekend versus North Dakota State was absent from last week's card. This week Bill Snyder club will need to rebound from one of the more shocking losses of the Snyder era in Manhattan. On Tuesday, Snyder said his offensive line group had one of the best practices they've had this season. That will be extremely important as the Wildcat running attack was stymied by North Dakota including senior running back John Hubert who was held to just 41 yards. Louisiana Lafayette isn't a team to take lightly following a pair of 9-win seasons but Kansas State should be able to move the ball this weekend on the ground and you would think an increased focus will help after last week's stunner. The biggest question will be of Kansas State's defense who look to try and bounce back after allowing a 18-play, 80-yard game winning touchdown drive to end the game. Someone will need to step up and be a leader. I say Snyder and Co. will get it done. Take Kansas State minus the points.
JM: Sight unseen, almost zero evaluation of this game - I'm taking Kansas State and it's JOSH'S LOCK OF THE WEEK. I literally wrote the last blurb and am upset that Eddie beat me to the punch by locking up Texas, so without a thought I've made it my lock of the week; 'Alea iacta est'. That's right, four years of Latin right there ladies and gents.
Can there be any doubt that I'm your guy Scoopers? Blind locks born of bitterness, Latin references, and come on - Eddie locked Texas?get him.
Eddie Radosevich:On the outside it's apparent Baylor is ready to make the jump. I know it's odd to think about but, perhaps, Art Briles squad is ready to play with the big boys. A national ranking next to his team's name and a brand new stadium being built just a few miles from their current home are good places to start when looking at the current state of the Baylor program. This week Lache Seastrunk and friends welcome Buffalo to Floyd Casey Stadium just a week after flexing its muscle to the tune of a 63-point win over FCS opponent Wofford. Buffalo, who finished No. 101 in the country in scoring offense a season ago, will be in major trouble along the Brazos. Keeping up with the Baylor offense is a tough thing to do when struggles on the offensive of the ball are as deep as the Bulls. Take Baylor -27.5.
JM: All I've heard this week is that the Bears are now a real Big 12 contender. Don't get me wrong, I heard some of it before the season and I find it with more merit then than I do now because what are we getting wound up about a 66-point whipping of Wofford?
We're talking about a Wofford team that ran out three quarterbacks and attempted a whopping 17 passes. On the flip side Wofford did have some success running the ball with one back averaging nearly 5-yards per carry on 18-carries. Flip to this week's improved opponent, Buffalo, who had some success against - let's face it - a much more talented Ohio State defense than the Bear counterparts they'll face this weekend.
All that being said, I do think Baylor will run wild offensively because frankly when don't they?
I'm not ready to be a buyer in the Bears as a Big 12 title contender but even if Buffalo scores 30 I still think Baylor can, and will, cover this spread.
ER: With a short leash on the quarterback position J.W. Walsh takes over the reigns of a Cowboy offense that struggled at times a week ago in a season opening victory over Mississippi State. Mike Gundy says he hopes his team's maturity will shine through this weekend as they hit the road for the second consecutive week. UTSA enters Saturday's match up coming off an road victory over New Mexico. While the names on paper don't add up, Walsh and Oklahoma State will need to play well. After all, Larry Coker's program DID win eight games in 2012. It'll be close (as far as point spreads go) but something tells me Oklahoma State gets it going with Walsh at the helm this week. Take Oklahoma State in going away fashion.
JM: I think those throwing dirt on the Roadrunners are doing it a bit prematurely, go ahead and look up and down the UTSA roster you'll see loads of guys who might have been an inch shorter than the prototype and others who were looked over for various reasons that had little with their talent as pure football players.
Now on the other hand, you can't ignore the reality that there is a 'reason' those guys ended up at UTSA and while they may be very, very good football players it doesn't change that they were considered a step slow, an inch short, or whatever other rationale is available to end up at a place like Oklahoma State.
It honestly won't shock me if this one is vaguely competitive at halftime, maybe something like 24-10 but really think the Cowboys talent, depth, and size will win out as the game drags on.
ER: Well we've got good news and we've got some bad news. Of course, I'll give you the bad news first. TCU most likely won't win the national championship in 2013. The good news is the fact Southeastern Louisiana is coming into town and some frustration from last week's loss to LSU will have a chance to be aired. For those looking to wager on this game I would heed fair warning that you should stay far, far away from this one. With a Thursday night showdown in Lubbock set for next weekend with Texas Tech you wouldn't think the Horned Frogs are overlooking this weekend's FCS opponent but there should be cause for concern. Going out and playing well without any injuries is the key this weekend for TCU which I believe SE Louisiana will cover the large 42.5 point margin.
JM: I'm considering writing a letter to the Big 12, these directional schools and schools in which no one knows where they are just has to stop. That said, last weekend should have been embarrassing enough for the conference to perhaps bring an end to it. I mean if you're going to fall to North Dakota State anyway you may as well play in one of the big opening night games and at least enjoy a big payday for your public lashing.
I'm not one to lie to you so I'll simply say I know nothing about SE Louisiana other than they are, apparently, from Southeast Louisiana. I've driven through the area, it's nice, but I can't pretend I'll be rooting for the Horned Frogs here to repay the region for leaving me stuck on I-10 over and over and over again. And I think my cheering will be vindicated as TCU bounces back in a big way.
ER: Any college football fan most likely remembers last year's heart stopping, high point scoring showdown in Morgantown. What some remember largely as Landry Jones best game in a Sooner uniform others remember as perhaps Mike Stoops worst as a Sooner coach. Downplayed by OU defensive coaches and players during interview sessions this past week it's hard for me to believe the talk that they have completely put last season's game behind them. Combine that with improved play from Trevor Knight at the quarterback position and it could turn into a rout in Norman. I confidently tell you to take Oklahoma with the points as Saturday should serve its purpose in what is the Soones earliest conference game in recent memory. Giving more confidence to a young defense and even more to Knight who makes his second career start under center. Take Oklahoma by more than the allotted three touchdowns.
JM: Can my pocketbook believe what our eyes saw?
Oklahoma looked like a team with a ton of potential while West Virginia looked like a couch fire; and to be clear Mountaineer fans, no one sees that as a good thing.
I'll he honest I don't think West Virginia's offense is as bad a it looked nor do I think Oklahoma now has one of the best units in the country. That being said, even though Oklahoma won't have the defensive element of surprise as they did last week their high pressure fronts will give fits to an OL that really struggled with William & Mary a week ago. I'll take an improved Trevor Knight to help Oklahoma cover though perhaps not without giving up a few points on the defensive side of the ball.