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September 9, 2011Of 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 SoonerScoop.com writers Eddie Radosevich and Josh McCuistion will offer you their take on games across the Big 12 (for now) 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 Leads 8-6
Eddie Radosevich: As weird as it sounds I don't think the Nittany Lions played all too awful when these two teams matched up a season ago in Tuscaloosa (a game 'Bama eventually won 24-3). This year on the return trip PSU will be looking looking to improve it's record versus the SEC which stands currently at 2-2 in the last five years. Undoubtedly one of the marquee games of the day should be a good one as Penn State keeps it close. Take the Nittany Lions and the points.
Josh McCuistion: How is this game getting hype, please explain it to me. Penn State, a once great program, has slipped into the background of major college football. Interestingly enough the reason for that slide is the same reason they are still getting attention - as such I don't know what to make of this game being a headliner. At any rate, I do know that Happy Valley is perhaps the least appreciated home crowd in the country, the fans are just incredible from start to finish. If the game was at night, I'd be tempted to backtrack on my opening commentary but I think 'Bama can throw a B effort out and cover this spread as Penn State's QB situation is even less inspiring than Bama's.
ER: Has there been a more important game in the Mark Richt era? I can't seem to think so. Coming off an embarrassing loss to Boise State (as I told you would happen a week ago) look for the Bulldogs to come out with a lot of fight at home and 'between the hedges'. But in the end South Carolina and their ole' ball coach should be too much. Too much Marcus Lattimore too often. I like the Gamecocks. But don't be surprised if the Bulldogs pull out a thriller for their own ball coach.
JM: Mark Richt will do what he does in big games, fold. I hate to say that about a coach who is clearly one of the true good guys in all of sports but as Dan Hawkins would say, or at least he would allow me to paraphrase to say 'this is SEC football'. I probably find it even more disheartening that he has to start his march toward dismissal at the hands of a first-class guy like Stephen Garcia but I'd take South Carolina straight up, the puts are just a bonus.
ER: In one of the strangest games I can remember in sometime the Wolverines come off a shortened game (that was called because of weather in the 3Q) victory while the Irish come off a crushing home loss to South Florida. I was a believer in the Irish a week ago and still am as a loss at the Big House would mean no BCS opportunity. Look for ND quarterback Tommy Rees to step right in where he left off in 2010 (4-0 to close the year) and win the first night game in Michigan history. I don't think my grandma would allow anything else from this Catholic lad.
JM: Talk about a weird game to pick, I still hate the fit of Denard Robinson in a pro-style offense. Isn't the whole point of coaching to get the best players and make your system fit them, not the other way around? That being said, Notre Dame was an unmitigated disaster last week against South Florida. The good news is that Michigan doesn't begin to approach the defensive speed of the Bulls, the bad news is B.J. Daniel is no Robinson. I'll take Michigan and am left scratching my head about all the belief in Notre Dame after last week.
ER: I saw Jenks play two weeks ago when they hosted Edmond Santa Fe in the Jenks Preview. It was a bad night across the board for the Trojans who dropped the scrimmage (9-0) and saw their star running back & OU commit Alex Ross go down with an ankle injury. This week Ross returns after sitting out last week's season opener and look for him to be key as the Trojans roll in this Backyard Brawl. (Ed. Note: SoonerScoop will be on hand for this one).
JM: I saw both of these guys up close this spring but admittedly haven't seen the full line-ups since then. At the time I thought Jenks looked a little more impressive up front but Union always has so many playmakers that it's hard for me to write them off. At the end of the day I like what Union has under center better and I feel like while both teams will be able to run the ball they'll be the squad who can convert through the air and it will be the difference.
ER: Coming off an ugly 17-6 victory over Miami (OH) the Tigers will be without their starting running back Kendial Lawrence who broke his fibula in the season opener. Arizona State on the flip side is finally looking to turn the corner in the Pac-12 as head coach Dennis Erickson enters his fifth season at the helm in the desert. ASU was 4-0 vs. non-conference teams in '11 and I think they continue that streak. Take the home team with the points. This is my lock of the week.
JM: I can't pretend I was impressed with Missouri last week and I honestly find myself trying to create a convincing argument for a win for the Tigers here but on paper I just don't see it. I think the Sun Devils have a change to be one of the surprise teams nationally this year and obviously this would be a big step in that direction. I'm honestly kind of expecting to get beat on some late pick-six or something but I'll go with Dennis Erickson's lot.
ER: Winners of three straight versus their in-state rivals the Hawkeyes are just 2-5 in true road openers. Paul Rhoads enters his third year at top of a Cyclone program that can take a lot out of a season ago. With five of their nine games on the road in 2011 Iowa State knows how important it is to win games when playing in front of their own at Jack Trice Stadium and I like them to take advantage of that on Saturday. Take the Cyclones plus the points.
JM: I think the world of Paul Rhoads but it doesn't change that the Cyclones over the next few years might, as a collective, have as many future NFL guys as Kirk Ferentz has on his this season. And the bottom line far too much has been made of the graduation of Ricky Stanzi - one of the most bafflingly inconsistent major college quarterbacks in the last decade. I'll take the Hawkeyes to continue their domination over their in-state brethren.
ER: Avoiding embarrassment of opening the season with a loss to another FBS team Turner Gill's second season is already off to a better start than a season ago with a 42-24 win versus McNeese State last weekend. However, the Jayhawks find themselves in a tough position this weekend when they welcome Northern Illinois. With the Jayhawks only 1-3 when playing at home as an underdog I like the Huskies to cover this weekend in Lawrence when NIU head coach Dave Doeren returns to a place he coached at from 2002-05. Also don't sleep on KU's record versus the MAC posting just a 7-6 record all-time.
JM: It's a wonder that teams who are home dogs to MAC squads worry about where this new world of college football will leave them. All that aside, I just don't see how NIU finds a way to lose this game. I've always been a believer in Turner Gill but after last year that's lost some of it's luster and in spite of my earlier jest NIU is quality as MAC squad's go. I'll take the Huskies.
ER: Most look to this game as a measuring stick for the Longhorns when they host Brigham Young on Saturday evening. Coming off a 34-9 victory over Rice a season ago the Longhorns will once again cover the line of -7.5. While the Cougars win on the road versus an SEC team was impressive last weekend. I think the Longhorns will be too much as they roll into a bye week before heading to the west coast with a redemption trip to Los Angeles and a match-up with UCLA.
JM: I've argued for months with Sooner fans that the demise of Texas has been greatly exaggerated, there is still a ton of talent on the roster and programs like that don't stay down long. But that being said, the road to redemption may be a bit longer than I expected if all the reports of Garrett Gilbert last week were true. Of course that's hard to say as about 90-percent of the people who saw the game were in the stadium. Something tells me BYU bounces back this week and no better than Texas has been at home as of late, I think they come close to winning but might fall just short.