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October 18, 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 fairly surprised when this line opened in favor of the Seminoles. Sure Florida State has been more impressive but I did think that a night game in Death Valley would be reason enough for Vegas to swing things towards the Tigers. Seemingly an 'elimination game' for both squads I can't help but lean towards Clemson. While Jameis Winston has been more than impressive it's his senior counterpart across the field that I feel is the difference in the game. Tajh Boyd has played in big games and shouldn't be rattled in his own backyard. How's this for a stat: Clemson has recorded 61 tackles for loss through six games and is the only team in the country averaging over 10 TFL per game. Obviously, this is goes hand in hand with a name that Sooner fans are all too familiar with in defensive coordinator Brent Venables. This could be a problem for the 'Noles who have given up their fair share of sacks on passing downs in '13. If Clemson can get after Winston they win the game and Clemson will pass the second hurdle in their quest to ACC Championship and- possibly- a national championship bid. Take the home team, plus the points.
Josh McCuistion: I think Clemson probably owes the Seminoles a thank you card after this one is over. Not because the Tigers will win this game but because we won't have to hear about 'Clemsoning' after this loss. The Tigers tried to revert back to old ways against Boston College but found a way to stop themselves. They'll lose this weekend but it won't have anything to do with the inadequacies of their own team but instead because Florida State is starting to look like a special squad and if Johnny Manziel can win a Heisman in his second year on campus I've got no reason to think that Winston can't. Florida State just has the feeling of a team that is starting to roll and a bunch of young guys ready for their big moment.
ER: A very intriguing match-up on Saturday afternoon in Palo Alto. After a Friday night hiccup a week ago in Salt Lake City there is now little room for error when it comes to the Cardinal. UCLA 5-0 for the first time since 2005 and will be looking for revenge this weekend after losing not once, but twice, to David Shaw and his Stanford Cardinal a season ago. Looking at this match-up I feel as if the most important area of concern will be the Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley. On the heels of a career performance versus Cal (31-for-41 410 yards) Hundley will be facing- perhaps- the strongest defense he has faced all season. On the opposing sideline we have a quarterback in Kevin Hogan that has at times struggled in '13 without the help underneath of solid tight end play. With a win UCLA would really make a statement in the Pac 12 but I can't help to think the Cardinal get it going after stumbling versus Utah. Keep in mind Stanford has won 12 straight at home. Take Stanford minus the points. Too physical.
JM: The PAC-12 championship game last year was one of my favorite football games of the entirety of the 2012 season and I'm really hopeful we'll see a similar battle again tomorrow. These two teams match up well but I think Stanford is just a bit more battle tested and on 'the Farm' they are incredibly tough to beat. I want to pick UCLA as I feel like they've got the two best players on the field in Hundley, and Bruins linebacker Anthony Barr - watch him and enjoy, a truly special player. Still though something tells me that Stanford comes out with something to prove after, in all likelihood, seeing their national title hopes go by the wayside last week.
ER: Kudos to Gary Pinkel and the Missouri football program. I was back and forth a week ago and ended up taking the wrong side of the Tigers victory in Athens, Ga. The only unbeaten team in the SEC East, Missouri, now gets the honor of hosting a Florida squad that heads to Columbia on the heels of a 17-6 loss to LSU. Unfortunately for Missouri is the fact that they are now faced with the task of moving forward without quarterback James Franklin. With redshirt freshmen Maty Mauk taking over the reigns of the offense, making his first career start, it forces me to pause when thinking about putting much confidence in Mizzou plus the points. Like Missouri, Florida found themselves in the same position a few weeks ago when starting quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the year. Since then Tyler Murphy has been more the efficient playing a helping hand in drastically improving Florida's redzone offense. Coming off an up-and-down performance on the road in Baton Rouge I would be surprised to see him be bothered by what should be an electric crowd at Farout Field. Even though Missouri is 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games keep in mind they are just 2-6 ATS in last eight games as a home underdog. Take Florida -3.
JM: I must follow up on Eddie's comments, well done Mizzou. I thought this very well could be Pinkel's swan song but obviously that's not the direction things are trending. I will say I find something very fortunate in their timing to date - is anyone thinking Georgia loses last week if not for the rash of injuries? I'm not buying but again that's all opinion and, to me, doesn't change that Missouri collected probably their biggest win since downing Oklahoma in 'CoMo' in 2010. I think that emotional high mixed with Florida's defense and a new Missouri quarterback could lead to some mistakes for the Tigers. I'll take Florida but with this Missouri team anything seems possible.
ER: A week after nearly slaying Goliath- err? I mean Johnny Football- Ole Miss welcomes LSU to the Grove this weekend. With Cam Cameron calling the plays for the Bayou Bengals quarterback Zach Mettenberg continues to shine. Aided in a large part by the wide receiver tandem of Odell Beckham Jr. and Landry Jarvis, Mettenberger (15 TD/ 2 INT) has throw for 1,890 yards in 2013. Ole Miss gave up 41 points last weekend and could be a little beat up with the Bayou Bengals coming to town. One of the players already ruled out of Saturday night's game is prized 5-star recruit and true freshmen Robert Ndemdiche. While this game has historically been closer than Vegas odds makers would like it's hard to forget the fact that LSU has won 9 of 11 versus Ole Miss including the last three games. Too much offense that will be complemented by an always outstanding LSU defense will be too much for the Rebs. Take LSU minus the points.
JM: Most of the gambling 'rules' to me are silliness based on hokum but there is one I've always liked and think that it holds up more often than not. That rule? Never bet against home night underdogs and that's exactly what we're looking at here. I frankly think LSU may double this line but my good sense is telling me to take a Rebels team that can present some problems for the Tigers. I've never been much of a rule follower but I'll chose to ignore my 'gut' (sizeable though it may be) and go with the Rebels here.
ER: We should know a lot more about Mike Gundy's squad after this weekend. A sputtering Cowboy offense has spent the past two weeks working out the kinks after nearly stumbling two weeks ago versus Kansas State. So much so that first year offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has called upon Gundy for advice. For those heading to Homecoming in Stillwater this weekend here's to hoping that time spent in the film room has paid off. As Oklahoma saw just a few weeks ago, TCU excels on the defensive side of the football. Led by cornerback Jason Verrett the Horned Frog defense continues to carry the torch for a TCU club that has seen its own fair share of offensive struggles. Without Casey Pachall, who looks to be getting closer to a return from injury, the Horned Frog offense turned the ball over five times a week ago in a 10-point victory over Kansas. That, of course, will need to change. Before I can pick Oklahoma State by more than a touchdown I'll need to see improvement on the offensive of the ball. And this week probably isn't the time to see that happen. Take TCU plus the points. LOCK OF THE WEEK
JM: As bad as Oklahoma State's offense has looked, TCU won't help them out with one of the conference's stingiest defenses. The problem? TCU's offense may give Oklahoma State's defense enough chances to cover this spread on their own. It's rare you see a Gary Patterson team on tilt to this extreme but they just seem to be completely out of their comfort zone and still trying to figure out what kind of team they are offensively. The Cowboys defense may not be world beater's but they are good enough to slow down a group that will slow itself down often enough.
ER: Everything I would seem to know about college football spreads would tell me to stay away from this one. Of course, for this pick 'em contest we'll be taking a side but I would warn you to stay away from it. WVU has already burned us this season when they threw in an upset of Oklahoma State. Then in a fashion that only a Dana Holgorson led team could accomplish the Mountaineers followed up their upset victory with a 31-point loss in a game in which they posted 42 points. While the team on the other side of the scoreboard was Baylor there is added concern after the Bears racked up somewhere well north of 600 yards by halftime. For good measure Baylor finished with 864 total yards. What's surprising about Kliff Kingsbury's first year squad is the fact that they have been playing defense. Something of which was foreign during Kingsbury's time as quarterback in Lubbock. The long road trip scares me but it seems like through their first 6 games Tech is here to stay. Take the Red Raiders and give the points.
JM: Man oh man, West Virginia who and what are you? In a conference full of confusing teams (perhaps nicer than 'mediocre') the Mountaineers are the most baffling of the lot. Eddie succinctly described what I'm talking about and I won't claim that I have a good feeling for just what they are but there can be no doubt they are a different team at home and should present a few challenges for a Tech team that is solid but still largely untested. I still think that West Virginia will find a way to give a few touchdowns to a team that they are, on talent alone, fairly evenly matched with. Take the Raiders.
ER: For the last two week's Paul Rhoads club has put together a pair of competitive games versus Texas, Texas Tech. That should come to crashing halt this weekend when the Cyclones head to Waco. Baylor not only is flat out the better football team (SHOCKING analysis) but keep in mind the fact that Iowa State brings with them the worst pass defense in the conference and the second worst defense vs. the run. Members of the Baylor offense are licking their lips. Glasco Martin carried the load for the Bears running game a week ago in Manhattan following an early Lache Seastrunk fumble but it shouldn't matter who gets the majority of the carries on Saturday. Bryce Petty continues to take care of the football for Art Briles offense while video games numbers have become the norm. Baylor has rolled at home this season with their lowest point output coming in a lowly 69 point effort versus Wofford. I expect that to continue this weekend but I do see the 32.5 point line to be a little much. Look for Iowa State to keep it within the spread set by Vegas finest.
JM: Part of me feels like that's a mountain of points and part of me thinks that Baylor can score that in their sleep - particularly considering a really mediocre Texas offense dropped so many points in the Cyclones in Ames on a Thursday night. I like the Bears here but I do think that much like Bill Snyder teams usually find a way to slow down these kind of offenses, Paul Rhoads has a similar ability to get his guys to play a bit over their head. I'll take Baylor, but like almost all of the games this week, I don't love either side.
ER: As much as Oklahoma fans don't want to believe it there are still games to be played. Even if half of the fan base believes the season ended last week in Dallas. Good news is the fact that Oklahoma travels to Lawrence this weekend. Kansas has been more than bad in 2013. Losers of 23 straight Big 12 games KU welcomes Bob Stoops squad at- statistically- the worst time possible. In games following OU-Texas under Stoops Oklahoma has posted a 14-0 record including a 6-0 mark versus the Jayhawks. Blake Bell will be asked to bounce back 'in a good way' following his worst outing as Oklahoma starter and should be tested early. Expect Kansas to pack the box and force Bell to throw early. It's important for the Jayhawks to stop the run as OU is 58-1- including 30 straight- when rushing for over 200-yards in a game. Oklahoma should get back on the right foot this weekend while getting its confidence back on the offensive side of the football. Take OU and the points.
JM: Last week Oklahoma was a 14 point favorite on a neutral field to Texas and now this week is a 23.5 point favorite against one of the worst teams in major college football. In spite of all the panic and worry amongst Oklahoma fans this one seems like easy money to me. Kansas is abominably bad offensively and has looked as much against some fairly pedestrian defenses. Oklahoma isn't what it was with Jordan Phillips and Corey Nelson in the lineup but it's nothing that the Sooners can't compensate for against this bunch. I think Oklahoma is nearly to the cover by halftime.JOSH'S LOCK OF THE WEEK