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August 30, 2013
Picked Over: No More Waiting
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: Head coach Jimbo Fisher will puts the keys in the hands of redshirt freshmen Jameis Winston in 2013. A season ago the Seminole offense finished No. 5 in college football in total offense while the departed E.J. Manuel, now in Buffalo, leaves big shoes for Winston to fill.
Luckily, Winston's debut comes aided by a number of returning offensive skill position players highlighted by the running back tandem of Devonta Freeman and James Wilder.
'Noles score early and often in a rude ACC welcome to Pittsburgh.
Josh McCuistion: Talk about rolling out the welcome mat for the Panthers and second year head coach Paul Chryst. How long into the game will it be before he mutters into the headset 'Rutgers didn't have a front seven like this'?
I just don't see any way this adds up well for the Panthers, although the Seminoles through the years have been notoriously slow starters in the season I still think they'll cover this and then some. JOSH'S LOCK OF THE WEEK
ER: Along with the anticipation of a new season come the ever so lofty pre-season rankings for Mark Richt's Georgia Bulldogs. Following the announcement of senior quarterback Aaron Murray and his desire to return to Athens for another seasons hopes of erasing last season's setback in the SEC Championship with a BCS victory in 2013 almost immediately spawned hand-in-hand.
What has been forgotten is the fact that a young, but talented, Georgia defense will face another Murray's peer in senior quarterback in Tajh Boyd. Something is going to have to give as Georgia enters winners of eight straight (covered seven times), as a road favorite, while Clemson has only been an underdog four times since 2007.
I'll take Brent Venables defense to get more stops while playing at home. I like Clemson straight up (plus the 2 points).
JM: Another year, another massive exaggeration of just what Clemson is.
Even if the Tigers preseason forecast and inevitable swoon have become like death and taxes - although Clemson's lackluster performances never seem to have a set time of year - they do have plenty of firepower against a Georgia team that is replacing a ton of missing talent on it's defense. Still though I just get the feeling that this may finally be the year that Georgia puts it all together and acts like the team we've all thought they could be for years and years.
I expect a physical ground game and the talents of Aaron Murray to take care of business here for the Dawgs.
ER: How times have changed for the Crimson Tide and Hokie football programs. If you've blinked you may have missed the ever changing landscape of college football since the two programs kicked off the season in 2009.
Alabama has gone onto win three of the last four BCS Championships while Frank Beamer's Virginia Tech program fades farther and farther into mediocrity.
And it might not get any better soon opening with one of college football's powerhouses.
Bama rolls at their 'home-away-from-home' inside Atlanta's Georgia Dome. Take Alabama -20.
JM: Stop, just stop reading because I'm not going to waste your time.
With Logan Thomas doing what he did last year, I think the Tide's defense may cover this line.
Even with A.J. McCarron getting another tattoo and helping the much, much better half file a 'Musberger' titled restraining order; Bama, HUGE.
ER: There will be a lot of firsts Friday night at SMU's Ford Stadium.
Kliff Kingsbury makes his debut as head man of his alma matar while, either, true freshmen Davis Webb or walk-on Baker Mayfield make their first start under (or behind in shotgun; who am I kidding?) center.
June Jones and SMU welcomes back senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert (yeah, that one) in 2013 but will need to improve on a passing attack that finished No. 62 nationally a season ago.
Even with so much uncertainty at quarterback for the Red Raiders keep in mind it's a program that has won 14 straight versus SMU. And the fact that Kingsbury will know how to make his true frosh platoon at quarterback comfortable in their road debuts. It's tough to not go with the underdog in this spot but I'll take Tech minus the points.
JM: I literally do not have a clue what do with Tech right now. I've been a believer in Kingsbury and think he can do some things for his alma mater. However, what is one to make of a walk-on quarterback taking the starting job? Can it be that every recruiter in the state of Texas missed on a guy from one of the state's most high profile programs or is this just the beginning of a rough year?
OK, I'll stop posturing - I don't care how rough it is, Garrett Gilbert is more or less a non-starter for me at this point. Take the Raiders.
ER: If you buy into the talk that has been spit out over the Longhorn Network for the past three months Saturday's contest almost becomes just a tease. While I do think the Longhorns will be greatly improved from the product that was displayed a season ago you have to wonder if the problems in Austin don't start at the top.
We won't learn much until weeks two and three when the Longhorns head to Provo (at BYU) and welcome Ole Miss to Darrell K Royal Stadium but I do think Saturday's opener will provide a feel for if Mack Brown's program will be able to sustain its misery of the last few seasons.
Take Texas minus the points even though this one could leave you biting your nails late in the fourth quarter.
JM: Clearly Vegas is buying in that Texas' offense is going to get rolling. I think it's clear to anyone who has followed the comings and goings at New Mexico State that they are among the worst programs in FBS college football.
However, are we convinced that Texas can score 56-points in the season opener? I'm not committed enough to say that they can't but to me there is more question than this line seems to imply. I'm going to guess Texas scores a few touchdowns on defense and that ends up being the way they cover this line. Texas is a solid team but I can't help but wonder if people are getting a little ahead of themselves here.
And I couldn't agree more with Eddie, I wouldn't touch this game.
ER: At most schools losing nine drafts picks in the first 6 rounds of the NFL draft would serve as a cause for concern. LSU isn't one of those schools.
Aided by stellar recruiting grounds in the bayou, Louisiana State enters Saturday night's primetime match up at AT&T Stadium looking to wipe clean a sour taste that was left in the mouths of returning Bayou Bengals. Three of LSU's losses a season ago came by a combined 13 points but, interestingly enough, it's TCU who returns the two players that bring the most intrigue in quarterback Casey Pachall and running back Waymon James.
In what should be one of the best crowds in 'Jerry World's' short four year life span look for Gary Patterson's program to keep it close into the fourth quarter but it will be LSU that cover the 4.5 points
JM: I go back and forth about this one. I don't think TCU is getting their due nationally they've got a lot of really nice pieces returning and while some have tried to downplay their defense - it's a lot easier to look stellar against the Bayou Bengals defensively than it is the majority of the Big 12.
That being said, I expect LSU's offense to make a step forward this season under Cam Cameron - though I'm a bit surprised by how many are anointing him as something of a genius. At any rate, TCU's problems along the offensive line and LSU's seeming never-ending collection of talent along the defensive line is going to make this one tough for me to be a buyer on the Frogs.
It's an interesting game but I'll go with LSU and take on 'any sucker' in the Death Star.
ER: Perhaps expectations have never been this high in Stillwater. It seems like yesterday Mike Gundy took over the program he once played for. Nine years later Gundy, with funding backed by mega-donor Boone Pickens, has turned the Cowboy program into a 'who's who'.
On the front of everything 'new wave' Oklahoma State's uniform selection has now taken over water cooler conversation while the offensive numbers have come to be expected- with a carousel of offensive coordinators.
Look for the Oklahoma State offense to pick up where they left off a year ago- with the return of Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh but it will be the defense that makes most heads turn lead up front by Calvin Barnettt and Shaun Lewis.
Take Oklahoma State in what I like as EDDIE's LOCK OF THE WEEK.
JM: This feels like Oklahoma State to me, to such a degree that I don't feel like I can trust it.
What does Vegas know that I don't?
The Bulldogs are a young team with a lot of work to do against a team that returns a lot of experience - even if there is still something of a quarterback controversy. I'm going to go with the Cowboys but this one leaves me scratching my head a bit and I can't help but wonder if it's a situation where SEC 'play' is getting a bit of love here.
ER: It's been some time since a Bob Stoops squad entered the season opener with as many questions than answers. A large part of the intrigue has been played out through the media over the last month as a quarterback race behind closed doors has come to a close with the Trevor Knight era being ushered in stage left. A season ago Todd Berry's Louisiana Monroe program served as the Cinderella of the ball scoring an opening weekend upset of Arkansas in Little Rock but it's a different animal when walking into a stadium that has served its purpose of a 'home field advantage' more times than not. Look for Knight to get comfortable early but it will be the run game that opens most eyes as Damien Williams starts a bid at become the Sooners first 1,000-yard back since 2010. Oklahoma rolls and covers the three-touchdown spread.
JM: I've gone back and forth about this one all week. I felt the Sooners were a solid choice against the spread here prior to doing my 'Under the Hood' story and then couldn't get the visions of years gone by and all of Oklahoma's troubles with mobile quarterbacks - dating all the way back to Jarious Jackson at Notre Dame in 1999.
However, the more I look at it the more I keep seeing Oklahoma's massive offensive line simply wearing down a solid, but small, Warhawks front seven and pulling away more and more as the game goes on. While I think Oklahoma covers, I think it's by the skin of their teeth. Oklahoma 42-20.