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September 23, 2011

Picked Over: SEC Full of Battles

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 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: Josh Leads 20-19
Last week: Eddie - 9-7
Overall Weeks: Eddie leads 2-1

Arkansas @ Alabama (-12.5)

ER: Bobby Petrino and his Arkansas Razorbacks will have their hands full when they step foot into Bryant- Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon. Touting only a 1-5 record since 1999 in Tuscaloosa the chips don't stack up for the boys of Fayetville. Although I ask you to remember the Razorbacks were 3-1 on the road a year ago and almost pulled the upset in front of their home crowd losing 24-20. I expect the Tide to win but I can promise you Arkansas will put some points on the board and keep it close. Take Arkansas and the points.

JM: I feel like Alabama's defense has been given a ton of credit with very little mention of the flat out pitiful offenses they've faced to date. Kent State, Penn State, and North Texas are ranked 119, 103, and 113 respectively among the 120 FBS college football programs. Don't misunderstand there is a ton of elite talent on the Tide defense but to me not a ton has been proven, particularly against a quality, and creative, offense like Arkansas. I'm going to go with a mild surprise and pick the Tide to win but I see it at the most as 10-points as the Razorbacks should only need to score a pair of touchdowns to keep it in that range.

LSU (-6) @ West Virginia

ER: The 'Mad Hatter' takes his troops to another hostile environment this weekend and I expect the same result as turned in previously on the road in Starksville. A dominating defensive front seven shuts down the Dana Holgerson offensive attack as the Bayou Bengals then set their sights on a run towards perfection in the vaunted SEC West.

JM: It's hard not to see a massive advantage for the Tigers with the reality that they've already seen a similar offense with Oregon. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers they don't match up personnel wise with what Oregon has on offense. I just don't like this match-up for any reason other than the ever-present argument of 'home night dawgs'. I'm going to go against conventional wisdom and stick with the Mad Hatter.

USC @ Arizona State (-1.5)

ER: Dennis Erickson and his Sun Devils took a hit last weekend when they dropped a 17=14 decision to the Fightin' Illini but will start Pac-12 play on the right foot when they host Southern Cal this weekend. Trying to forget last seasons 34-33 disaster in Los Angeles the Sun Devils will win in big fashion and once again there will be a party in the desert. (sighs) I love Tempe.

JM: This is something of a battle of which team can shoot themselves in the feet the least. Both teams have good talent and are on the verge of being quality teams but neither can seem to get out of their own way to date. I really was buying stock on the Sun Devils last week but anyone who finds a way to lose to the fighting Zooks probably isn't worthy of that kind of praise. I hate doing it but I'll go with SC and hope they have their head on come Saturday. If they do USC should be able to win this one fairly decidedly.

Florida State (-3) @ Clemson

ER: The Clemson Tigers find themselves in another 'must win' situation for the second straight week when they host Florida State. The Seminoles who could possibly be without star quarterback E.J. Manuel (Clemson send regards to the Sooners Travis Lewis) will turn to their defense to pull out the victory. Make no doubt about it the Seminoles could be a year away from being the cream of the crop but I like them to go on the road and get the 'W'. Take the 'Noles straight up.

JM: This is an interesting game for Florida State, obviously there is some disappointment with the loss to Oklahoma last weekend but at the same time much of the world doesn't realize the once mighty 'Noles have lost four straight in Death Valley. Clearly Florida State will be motivated for this one and I can't deny that I'm not a huge believer in Dabo Swinney although it's impossible not to enjoy his enthusiasm. I'm going with the Noles taking it by a touchdown.

Big 12:

Oklahoma State @ Texas A&M (-3)

Eddie Radosevich: I said it before the season started. Oklahoma State would be more talented than a year ago but would finish with a worse record. Here's where we'll find out if my prediction will be right. The Aggies haven't won a conference opener since 2007 but I expect them to change their ways as they already have one foot out the door en route to the SEC. Too much Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael on the ground as Texas A&M primes itself for its last season in the Big 12 conference.

Josh McCuistion: I can honestly say if there was only one game in the country I got to watch this weekend, this one would be it. Mix A&M's disappointment over last year's last-second loss both teams' offensive prowess and I think you're talking about an incredibly intriguing game. I kind of hate giving up that many points in a game in which I think either team could pull things off but I just think in the end it's going to be A&M with a better defense and the home crowd that comes up with a few more stops to put this one away.

Kansas State @ Miami (Fla.) (-11.5)

ER: When Kansas State travels to Sun Life Stadium on Saturday they will walk into their first big test of the year. Coincidentally the Wildcats will have Arthur and Bryce Brown on their sidelines as well when the Hurricane look to build off an impressive 24-6 beat down of Ohio State. Bill Snyder's bunch have lived off beating weakling opponents the past two weeks and I expect it the Hurricane defense to be a wake up call but not by more than two touchdowns. It's the Miami offense that gets it done in the fourth quarter and the Hurricane win by a touchdown on South Beach.

JM: Hasn't Bill Snyder run out of the games scheduled from the Ron Prince era, because we all know that Snyder isn't about scheduling trips to infinitely more talented programs. That being said, last year I'd have kind of liked Snyder in this match-up but I do think Al Golden is a sharp guy and has eliminated some of the mental errors we've seen from Miami the last few years. In the end though, tough for me to take points from an offense as poor as Miami's.

Rice @ Baylor (-19.5)

ER: I still find it strange throwing the school name Baylor and the phrase 'giving 20 points' around in the same sentence but let's face it. It's Robert Griffin III world and everybody else is just living it in when it comes to Baylor Bear football. The Bears beat Rice 30-17 a year ago and I expect them to find a way to increase that margin in 2011. I like Art Briles gang by three touchdowns.

JM: All we have to do to make this intriguing in-state battle an annual thing is to fight for the appointment of Craig James as the new Big 12 commissioner and watch him sow the seeds of Texas college football. In all seriousness, Rice is a decent team this year but Baylor seems really set to try and establish themselves as a contender in the conference - I think that Robert Griffin and company handle this thing fairly decisively.

Nevada @ Texas Tech (-15.5)

ER: The Red Raiders have been on a roll as of late as junior quarterback Seth Doege came close to perfection a week ago completing an NCAA record 40-of-44 passes ironically surpassing former Red Raider Kliff Kingsbury. Why should the fun stop now? I expect the Red Raiders to roll as the Fuzzy's in Lubbock (Texas) is packed by early fourth quarter. Get your guns up!

JM: It's strange that the Wolfpack embody a step up in competition for the Red Raiders but to date the Red Raiders have enjoyed a Charmin soft line-up. To their credit they have handled their workload accordingly dominating Texas State and New Mexico to an average of 55-12. Obviously the Wolfpack are fresh off the best season in school history and there is still plenty of experience there but Tech seems to really be rolling and Seth Doege's performance last weekend was one for the ages, here's betting he keeps it rolling next year.

Missouri @ Oklahoma (-19.5)

ER: What an awkward spot for the Sooners to be in coming off a huge emotional victory in Tallahassee only a week ago. And while this could be billed as a classic 'trap game' Bob Stoops and Co. have made it clear that players have been reminded of last year's thumping in Columbia. It's also probably not a good idea to call out the fans of a school that have seen their home team win an impressive 37 games in a row. The Sooners make another statement about their focus Saturday night and win in impressive fashion 55-17.

JM: I like Oklahoma at home as well as anyone but to me this seems like a surprisingly massive line. James Franklin is a young quarterback with some very real upside it doesn't change that right now he'll be facing a secondary the likes of which he hasn't yet faced and a defensive line that registered five sacks in Tallahassee last weekend. I know I said it's a massive line but at this point it's about impossible for me to bet against Oklahoma at home, I just think their talent mixed with the motivation from last year's slip-up in Columbia could see Oklahoma put on a fairly stellar performance. I'm not saying Texas Tech in 2008, but I'm also not ruling that kind of situation out of the realm of possibility. I'll go with something like 45-17.



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