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October 26, 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: No matter if it's a late touchdown versus Northwestern or in blowout fashion versus Florida A&M, Ohio State just wins. 19 in a row to be exact. With the family man Urban Meyer at the helm there hasn't been too many dark days in Columbus. Bill O'Brien, on the other hand, is all too familiar with darks days. Taking over the Penn State program at the height of the Jerry Sandusky scandal that rocked Happyvalley, it's been remarkable to see where the Nittany Lions have come. During that time, Penn State has run off a 12-6 mark while also finding themselves one of the best freshmen quarterbacks- outside of Famous Jameis- in college football. Through his first seven collegiate games Christian Hackenberg has been more than productive currently leading the Big Ten in completions and passing yards per game (279). With a week to prepare after an emotional overtime victory over Michigan, Hackenberg and the Nittany Lions will need to be on top of their game if they want to snap the nation's longest winning streak. While I'm not confident enough to say O'Brien and the Lions will grab a signature victory at the Horseshoe. I do feel confident in saying to take Penn State and the points. Teams have alternated wins the last five years in the this match-up with Ohio State winning last year's bout 35-23 in State College. EDDIE'S LOCK OF THE WEEK
Josh McCuistion: Ohio State has their defensive woes, no other way of saying that, but Eddie going with the pick of a true freshman to performance on this level on a Saturday night in Columbus? Boy, I can't go that far and I'm one who really likes O'Brien and Hackenberg quite a bit. I think Penn State will have some success but the gulf between that and scoring enough points to keep up with Braxton Miller and co. is a wide, wide berth. I'll take the Buckeyes and give the points.
ER: Mike Reilly's club is looking for validation. It's been a long time in their minds since an opening weekend loss to Eastern Washington. Carrying with them a six game win streak into Saturday's contest with Stanford, the Beavers are looking to make themselves Pac 12 title contenders. A win over the Cardinal would go a long way in doing just that. What my biggest problem is in believing they will be able to do that is the fact that the Beavers have beaten virtually no one during their current six gamer. That is unless wins over Utah, Colorado, Washington State, and California are now being labeled as meaningful. Those teams are a combined 3-13 in conference play. David Shaw's club got back to their winning ways a week ago slamming previously unbeaten UCLA. With a Thursday match up versus Oregon looming in two weeks I expect the Cardinal leave Corvallis with a victory but don't be surprised if the Beavs surprise some folks and pull the upset. Nonetheless, I'll stick with the Cardinal minus the points.
JM: I'm not sure there is a bigger surprise story in the country than Oregon State. The team was left for dead with their season opening loss to Eastern Washington but since then they've been one of the country's most lethal offenses led by Sean Mannion who is putting up the kind of numbers that would make 2008's Sam Bradford look twice. That being said, Stanford's defense is, yet again, a nasty, nasty bunch and I think they can make this game ugly enough to provide the space they'll need. My problem? Oregon State hasn't played anyone of real note since their loss so I'm not sure if they've become this good, or simply have woken up after their season opening slumber. I'll take the Cardinal here.
ER: We knew there would be a whole lot more to learn about Jim Mora's UCLA squad after their two toughest road games of the year. Suffering their first loss a week ago, the Bruins head for the back end of that two game road trip this weekend when they visit Oregon's Autzen Stadium. Even though they entered last week's game versus Stanford with the No. 7 scoring offense in the country things won't get any easier this weekend for Brett Hundley and Co. While Oregon's success on the offensive side of the ball has been well documented it's the Ducks defense that makes Mark Helfrich's squad so dangerous. Marcus Mariota has been the best quarterback in college football, in my opinion, and will get his chance to show the rest of the country on Saturday with 'College Gameday' in Eugene. While Mora has led a remarkable turnaround on the gridiron in Westwood, don't expect that to make the Bruins a contender overnight. Oregon is a different animal. And especially with a defense that currently ranks No. 12 in the country, allowing just over 17 points per game. Take Oregon in a route.
JM: I've sung UCLA's praises for a while now and loved last season when they became a physical football team. This year's edition is trying to put too much on Brett Hundley's shoulders and hasn't been able to find that same kind of balance they need - at least not in crucial situations. I've seen Hundley fall short in easier situations than this. UCLA's defense is a solid bunch, led by my most recent mancrush Anthony Barr but it's unlikely anyone is slowing down Oregon enough for it to matter. That being said, I think UCLA sneaks in and finds a way to keep this within reach as I'm a bit surprised the number is this high.
ER: The 2013 football season has been a long and winding road for both squads. West Virginia pulled the upset of the season in Big 12 conference play a few weeks ago when they slammed the door shut on an Oklahoma State bid at a perfect season. But since then the Mountaineers have not been able to capitalize on their good fortune. The main problem for Dana Holgorson's squad is the fact his offense is scoring nearly 15 points fewer per game than they did a season ago with Geno Smith and Tavon Austin at the helm. Kansas State, on the other hand, has reason to be just as frustrated. Two weeks ago, the defending Big 12 champs had Baylor on the ropes and let them off. Coming off of a loss Kansas State has bounced back six of their last six opportunities posting a 6-0 mark against the spread. Beacuase of that I like Kansas State to get back on track this weekend. We'll go with the general public on this one and take the home team to cover the -11.5 spread.
JM: I like this line perhaps as much as any in the country this year. Sure West Virginia is coming off a tough home loss that maybe they should have pulled off. But still West Virginia may have to score a couple of touchdowns to keep this one on the up. I think this is a safe a bet as you'll find anywhere though I can not deny that the matchup of Holgo and Bill Snyder is a bit scary. That being said, I'll take the Mountaineers and the points. JOSH'S LOCK OF THE WEEK
ER: Oddly enough there will be a lot at stake on Saturday evening in Lawrence. And no, it won't be a Big 12 regular season basketball title. Let's atleast wait for that until February. For Art Briles and his Baylor Bears it's the shot at continuing a banner year for a program that once was a laughing stock of the conference. The only persons laughing now are Briles and the Bears. Coming off of their fourth 70-point game of the year versus Iowa State, Baylor heads to Lawrence on Saturday not just looking to improve their bowl stock but to continue a march towards a BCS National Championship berth. Across the field it's the Jayhawks, one week after a tease of success in the first half versus Oklahoma, that look to avoid losing their No. 24 straight conference game. While that is most likely to happen on Saturday I advise Jayhawk fans to turn to their Baylor brethren for comfort. They've been there before losing 29 conference games in a row from 1998 to 2002. Look for Charlie Weiss to try and slow down the Baylor offensive attack by- in a way- playing a game of keep away. For some reason, I get the hunch Kansas sticks around for awhile. And by awhile I mean halftime. Kansas backdoors itself into this one. KU plus the points.
JM: I've said all season if you'll bet on Baylor and against Kansas you'll be happy most of the time. Kansas, I admit, has burned me on that belief a few times but Baylor has taken great care of me. Think Baylor has this covered by halftime and Kansas' offense isn't going to 'steal late touchdowns' against anyone, much less one of the most improved defenses in the country.
ER: Outside of the game in Norman this one will certainly be worthy of keeping an eye on. While it would be a surprise- to say the least- to see the Horns convert 9-of-12 third down opportunities as they did two weeks ago in Dallas it's hard for me to say they will walk into Fort Worth and lay an egg. Confidence builders like the one they put on their resume in blowout victory fashion at the Cotton Bowl can turn a season around. Speaking of turning a season around. A win over Texas could do that and then some for a TCU team that stumbles back home after another dreadful offensive outing last weekend in Stilleater. The possible return of Casey Pachall is a step in the right direction for a Horned Frog offense that has been awful since his injury over a month ago. If Pachall can play and move the ball it will be interesting to see how TCU uses Trevone Boykin in the run game. As bad as the Horned Frogs have been, I expect them to 'get up' for this one. The only question is if the TCU faithful will do the same. Take TCU minus the points sending the Big 12 conference race into a frenzy with everyone looking up the ladder at Baylor.
JM: From a few games I really feel strongly about to a line I've got absolutely no clue about, I'm staggered that TCU is a favorite here as Texas may only have to score a touchdown to handle this thing. Ok, so maybe TCU's offense isn't that bad but it's certainly not far off. I think Texas is far from the team who played in the Cotton Bowl two weeks ago but it doesn't change that they haven't, at any point, been as confused on offense as TCU is right now and for their favor they do seem to have gotten some things righted defensively. I'll take the Longhorns here and expect them to win straight up but this feels like a line of 'Vegas knows something I don't'.
ER: The last trip to Ames (IA) wasn't a good one for the Oklahoma State football program. With aspirations of a BCS title wiped away in 2011 following a double-overtime loss to the Cyclones one would assume Mike Gundy's team would be more than prepared for this season's return trip. After coming oh so close to beating Texas three weeks ago Iowa State has been terrible. You might snicker at that but it's true. Having allowed 113 points in the last two weeks. Okay let's be fair- Baylor did hang 71 points a week ago on the Cyclones. Regardless, this will be a game that won't allow time for Oklahoma State to continue the shuffling of quarterbacks between J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf. While I believe the Cowboys will get it figured out don't think it will be by the allotted spread. Take Iowa State this weekend as I expect head coach Paul Rhoads will have them more than ready to play after such an embarrassing effort in Waco last weekend.
JM: Ladies and gentleman, this isn't Thursday night and the Cyclones are probably the worst version Paul Rhoads has put on the field to date. Oklahoma State isn't clicking right now but this Cyclones bunch may be on their last legs and I'm picking the Cowboys to put them down for the season.
ER: For the Red Raiders it's their biggest regular season game since a 2008 trip to Norman that brought with it similar characteristics. With a win Saturday it would vault Kliff Kingsbury's undefeated Tech team into legitimate national title contention. Far from the rebuilding project that some thought would take years- not months- to turnaround. It starts with confidence from the first year head coach that has trickled down to his freshmen quarterbacks- Webb Davis and Baker Mayfield. What Kingsbury won't be able to pass along to them is his care free demeanor. I expect Oklahoma to rattle the cages of the Red Raider frosh signal callers early and often making the oddsmakers in Vegas look like they know what they are doing. Keep in mind Bob Stoops is 19-1 in his last 20 games versus an opposing Big 12 coach for the first time. OU covers the -6.5 at home.
JM: As the week has gone on I've become more confident about Oklahoma's chances in this game. My biggest issue is this line seems like an expectation of a lot of points from Oklahoma as I have a lot of trouble believing that Texas Tech won't score at least 21 points, and probably more. That's no indictment of Oklahoma's defense that's just a reality of the kind of offense that Tech plays. I just can't pick Oklahoma here - though it's been my general belief that when I pick against Oklahoma, things go well for them.