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September 12, 2013

Picked Over: End of Manziel Mania?

Untitled Document

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:
Josh: 12-7
Eddie: 13-6

Last Week: Josh 5-6, Eddie 5-6
Overall Weeks: Eddie 1-0-1
Locks of the Week: Josh: 2-0 Eddie: 1-1

UCLA @ Nebraska (-4)

Eddie Radosevich: It's a tough position for Jim Mora and his UCLA Bruins this week as they travel to Lincoln with heavy hearts. Mourning the passing of teammate Nick Pasquale, who was killed after being struck by a car during the Bruins 'BYE' weekend, it's never easy to predict how a team will respond. A season ago UCLA knocked off Nebraska 36-30 in Los Angeles and did a relatively good job of containing Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez as a large majority of his 112 rushing yards came on a 92-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. This will need to happen again as Martinez and the Husker offense looked sharp in a blowout victory of Southern Miss last weekend. I like the match up for UCLA and something tells me it will be good therapy for the Bruins to return to the football this weekend after such a tragic week. Take UCLA plus the points.

Josh McCuistion: Maybe I'm crazy but I'm a big fan of what is going on at UCLA. A lot of people can focus on the ease of recruiting in (and to) a major metropolitan area like Los Angeles but that forgets completely the idea of just what Mora did last year.

He made a team that was perpetually soft and mentally weak a physical and one that fought from beginning to end, it's one of the better coaching jobs in recent memory in my opinion and for whatever reason it gets very little notice.

Juxtapose that against a Nebraska team that always seems to start in the top 20 and through the course of an entire season they never seem completely unworthy of that ranking but a few times within it?

Ohio State and Wisconsin in 2012?

Wisconsin, Michigan, and South Carolina in 2013?


Nebraska seems obsessed with losing four games - having done so every year since 2007, an almost unbelievable stat.

Take UCLA here though don't' feel too bad for the Huskers, at least they don't have 'The Badgas' on the schedule this year.

Louisville (-14) @ Kentucky

ER: There aren't many roadblocks on the Louisville radar in 2013 for Teddy Bridgewater and Cardinal teammates. Their first two games of the season have been blowouts by a combined score of 93-14. On the other sideline a familiar name in Mark Stoops heads into his first in-state rivalry game a week after raking up his first victory as a head coach. Before you run and scream 'Ville to cover from the roof tops remember that this is a rivalry game as well as the fact that Louisville is just 7-10-1 as a favorite ATS since 2011. Let's roll the dice and take a Stoops Bro. I'll take Kentucky plus the points at home.

JM: Eddie taking the Cats? Wow, I'm stunned. Perhaps he is unaware that all of the talent that Mark Stoops has been recruiting is either too young to save them from Bridgewater or will be waking up on Saturday morning sore from their own Friday night games. This one is just too easy in my opinion - and though those kind of picks always scare me I just can't see any hope for Kentucky in this one - think Louisville is on a mission this year and after bombing an Ohio team that would cover this spread against Kentucky.

For me, no way around it - this one is a woodshed beating. And just to double Eddie's agony…


Alabama (-8) @ Texas A&M

ER: I feel like 'Eye of the Tiger' should be playing in the background as every person reads this (go ahead and pull Youtube up if you are so inclined; I'll wait). Between national college football talking heads on ESPN to Gary Danielson (CBS color commentator) the build up for Saturday afternoon's grudge match will be nothing short of spectacularly terrible. If you're indecisive on which way to go there's only one name that needs to be said. You know it. Go ahead and we'll say it on three. Ready? One. Two. Three. Nick Saban. The almost mythical Crimson Tide head coach is 7-1 in 'revenge' games. He doesn't call it that. 'Just execute,' says Saban on his keys to Saturday's match up and what most are now calling the hottest ticket in the history of modern day college football. Alabama has been on this stage many times. Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M not so much. I like the Crimson Tide to cover the 8 points.

JM: OK ladies and gentlemen it's time, the music is just about to stop for the folks in College Station. I'm not saying this is the beginning of the end for Manzie-mania but I'm not saying it won't be either.

Last year I broke down this game in preparation for Oklahoma's eventual bowl drubbing at the hands of the Aggies and though Manziel and co. came out on top I feel like most of the free world forgets that he and A&M's offense went nuts in the first quarter and as the game wore on Saban and co. got a bead on what did and didn't work.

While many were afraid of Manziel's creativity and chose not to blitz him Alabama got more aggressive as the game wore on and realized that as talented as he may be, their defense was chocked full of superior athletes. Oklahoma, as said by @JHarrisFootball (great follow for football junkies on Twitter) tried to do the same and when they maintained discipline in lane and gap assignments had a lot of success. Problem is they too often lost said discipline.

I think Alabama could quite possibly double this line as A&M's defense is an unmitigated disaster so far and though Alabama isn't rolling offensively I think it's fair to assume they can find somewhere near the productivity as say Sam Houston State?

Oh, and did I mention that Saban has TWO WEEKS to prepare? .

Big 12:

TCU @ Texas Tech (-3)

ER: The only conference game on the slate just so happens to also be one of the best match-ups of the entire week. Standing as the first true test for Red Raider true freshmen sensation Baker Mayfield (Big 12 leader in touchdown passes - 7) TCU heads to Lubbock looking to answer questions of their own. When picked by some preseason prognosticators as the team to beat in the Big 12 it was most likely done with the thought that Casey Pachall would be under center for the Frogs. With Pachall now injured (fractured bone in non-throwing arm) it will once again be up to Trevone Boykin. The key for me is the fact Boykin not only has the experience under center but he also has been tested; see 9-for-13 133 yards 2 TD vs. LSU in season opener. Even though I praise the work of 'Coach Bro' in Lubbock I like his elder and the Horned Frogs on the road minus the points.

JM: I've run myself a little short on time to break this one down but I just don't like what I see from TCU's offense, they look so far out of sorts it's hard to believe they've got not one, but two, quarterbacks with loads of starting experience. Give Gary Patterson enough time and he'll get this thing righted before the season is out but right now I just think that Tech has a little momentum and will keep it rolling. I will say neither is a pick I feel strongly about.

Georgia State @ West Virginia (-38.5)

ER: Even in defeat Dana Holgorson's club can their hat on a number of positives following a 16-7 loss in Norman. Four defensive turnovers is a good starting point for a Mountaineer defense that looked tremendously improved after allowing 30 or more points in nine of 13 games in 2012. Geno Smith's exit has left WVU with questions at quarterback. Starter Paul Millard's shaky appearance a week ago has lead to Holgorson giving Clint Trickett more reps with the 1s. Even with that said it shouldn't matter come kickoff as sadly Georgia State walks into Morgantown as one of the worst- if not THE worst- FBS teams in the country. Last week the Panthers lost 42-14 allowing over 400 yards on the ground. And that was to Tennessee- Chattanooga. Have an electrician handy in Morgatown if the scoreboard doesn't work in the fourth quarter.

JM: Alright Big 12, it's about time to stop this madness, I can not wait until viable teams are on both sidelines of each Big 12 game. Well, we'll give Kansas a few years and a few more coaches to hold up their end of that bargain but still Kansas might drop 30 on this Georgia State team.

Ok, ok, I guess I've exaggerated too much there.

Anyway, enough of Kansas. I think West Virginia has potential to bust out and I think too many are blaming their woes last week on a poor offense when I think Oklahoma's defense deserves a lot of credit. Their offensive line looked much better in week two against Oklahoma than it did in week one against William & Mary but that doesn't put into context just how off they were in the opening week.

They'll get (more) right this week and cover this line.

Iowa @ Iowa State (-2.5)

ER: Besides doing your basic 'Google' search for the purposes of this prediction I can't think of another time I have thought about, either, Iowa or Iowa State football in the past year. Maybe there was a time right after Jerry Montgomery was hired by Bob Stoops this past off-season. However, that's an extreme 'maybe'. The Cyclones stumble into the in-state showdown in search of their first victory following an opening weekend home loss to FCS Northern Iowa and 'BYE' in week two. While Iowa heads to Jack Trice Stadium 1-1 following an opening loss to Northern Illinois only to rebound a week ago versus Missouri State. Glad to see Kirk Ferentz earned his paycheck last week. Basically, it comes down to me siding with the home team. I have a good amount of respect for Cyclone head coach Paul Rhoads. His team should be ready after an embarrassing season opener.

JM: Remember when this game kind of felt important? OK, so again, maybe I'm given to exaggeration with 'important' but it wasn't all that long ago that these two teams were fringe top 25 squads with some legitimate talent. It's been almost as long since Ferentz was one of the hot names in the entire coaching community - now it seems his days may be numbered, or if they aren't…they should be.

I will say there are few coaches I think who do a better job of getting more out of less than Rhoads but with heavy losses to graduation his team will do well to keep from drowning in 2013. Still though if Iowa State is fighting the lapping waves, Ferentz has sharks circling. I'll take the 'Clones. .

UMass @ Kansas State (-39)

ER: If there's anything you can be certain about it is the fact that Bill Snyder's team will be well aware of what can happen when you give David chances versus a Goliath foe. The Wildcats stunning season opening loss to North Dakota State is relatively still fresh on the minds of many throughout Aggieville. Last weekend quarterback Jake Waters played well in Kansas State's victory over Louisana Lafayette but it appears both Waters and Daniel Sims will continue to share the reps as the 'Cats move forward. Snyder's comments earlier this week were specific in talking about his squad finishing opponents after being outscored by 17 points in the second half after building a 34-3 lead a week ago. It's a large number to cover and I warn you should be fearful of a backdoor by the Minutemen but I tend to side with Kansas State and the points in this one. They, like Georgia State, are just flat out terrible college football teams.

JM: I locked up the fighting Bill Snyder's last week and they did not disappoint me pushing my locks to 2-0 on the season. However, that is an absolute mountain of points for an offense that not only isn't as dynamic as it has been in years past but one that was never built to be overly dynamic anyway.

However, when you look at the reality that the Minutemen accumulated just 14 points against Maine last week it's not hard to see Kansas State covering here.

Lamar @ Oklahoma State (-46)

Eddie Radosevich: Saturday's home opener at Boone Pickens Stadium will obviously be overshadowed by this past week's events that have unfolded in regards to the investigation of the Oklahoma State football program by Sports Illustrated. This game isn't about the question if OSU will be able to win the game. This is purely a question surrounding if Mike Gundy's squad can cover the spread. There should be a lot of emotion in the air Saturday night and you shouldn't be necessarily surprised if Oklahoma State is within a pair of touchdowns by halftime. Fair warning does come after the Cowboys allowed UT-San Antonio to backdoor their way to a win ATS a week ago giving up 28 points in the fourth quarter. I don't expect this one to be close but laying eight touchdowns seems unjustifiable. I'll take Lamar for the cover.

JM: Another Big 12 game, another bad opponent. In fairness though Lamar was at least marginally competitive with Louisiana Tech, who only lost by about four touchdowns to N.C. State who beat Richmond by a safety a week later.

OK, enough of comparative scoring craziness.

I think Oklahoma State will be ready to get onto the field after a crazy week that started with a shoddy fourth quarter against UTSA and was filled in the interim with a lot of things off the field that had nothing to do with the current roster. Time will tell but I think Oklahoma State comes out and makes a statement here.

Basically I think the Cowboys are more than three touchdowns better than N.C. State, ok, I promise that's it…no more comparative scoring starting now…

I mean, now…

Kansas @ Rice (-6.5)

ER: Four years. Two head coaches. 19 games. That's how long it has been since Kansas has won a road game as outlined by the Kansas City Star's Rustin Dodd. While there has been progress made in Lawrence it's difficult to feel good about picking them to cover let alone be competitive and win on the road. Rice played well in a season opening loss to Texas A&M. If you have a pulse and enjoy catching a Sportscenter from time to time there is little doubt that you haven't seen the highlights of Johnny Football's return to the gridiron. While I do feel like Kansas is headed in the right direction with Jake Heaps at quarterback it's hard for me to believe that are anywhere near going on the road and competing in a shootout with a Rice team that averaged nearly 32-points per game in 2012. Take the Owls minus the points.

JM: I don't know how anyone could justify picking the Jayhawks at this point in time. I mean fool me once is shame on you, fool me twice is shame on me, what's fool me 19 times - just 'shameful'?

Weis is making a few positive strides but it's hard, in my opinion, for Oklahoma football fans to fully wrap their head around how poor the talent in Lawrence is right now. I'll take Rice, and again think they may more than double this line.

Ole Miss @ Texas (-2)

ER: Where do we even begin to start? Who could have even predicted the dumpster fire that was about to engulf and bring down a defensive coordinator in Manny Diaz along the way? Early reviews of newly appointed D-coordinator Greg Robinson has been less than glowing following a report Wednesday that it was the players teaching the coach rather than the other way around. While another loss would all but put the finishing touches of a sinking ship that is the University of Texas football program. In a sense it's a last gasp for air on Saturday night in Austin when the Rebs walk into Daryl Royal Memorial. Did I even mention David Ash questionable status for the game? If the Horns win it will be on pure emotion of the moment. Which actually will deserve a tip of the cap for what the players have been through in the last week. Hotty Toddy. Ole Miss with the win straight up.


JM: Could there be a game I have less of a feel for?

To me Ole Miss is one of those teams that is 'hot' right now because of it's hot recruiting which, with a few exceptions, isn't going to help the current team. There are, as mentioned, exceptions to that but largely the talent that Hugh Freeze inherited is the talent he still depending on.

On the flip side Texas has changed defensive coordinators, apparently has defensive backs trying to teach the new coordinator the defense, and the wheels may not have yet come off in Austin but let's just say you wouldn't feel safe driving behind Bevo's Beamer.

I'll go with Ole Miss, but as soon as this story goes up my mind will change 10 times.

Tulsa @ Oklahoma (-24)

ER: The train leaves the station at 11 a.m. sharp Saturday morning. Making his first career start the Belldozer era officially kicksoff this weekend with an injured Trevor Knight watching on from the sidelines. Throughout the week I've gotten a sense from players that there is an element that they believe is there for Bell when under the bright lights. For the first time in two years we'll see how he handles those bright lights for number of meaningful series. Head coach Bob Stoops believes he'll settle in just fine. As do I. It's also a good team, in Tulsa, for Bell to get the nod as it appears it could be a longer than expected year for the Golden Hurricanes in 2013. What I'm interested in seeing is how similar or different Josh Heupel's offense is presented with Bell at the helm rather than the previous No. 1 pick Knight. Regardless, it's a good spot for Oklahoma who need a final tune up before their first open date and a showdown with Notre Dame in South Bend just a few weeks away. Take Oklahoma to cover the 24 points.

Oklahoma: 37 Tulsa 10

JM: I got to watch about a half of Tulsa's drubbing at the hands of Bowling Green and I've got to say I think the Hurricanes could be in huge trouble here. I just don't like the way this matchup lays out. Their offense led by Cody Green looked completely lost against a Bowling Green defense that while a very good MAC unit is far from exceptionally talented. I'm not ready to say that Oklahoma's unit is a 'special one' but it's surely showing signs of real life.

And though Cody Green has the reputation of a runner I really didn't see anything that should cause Oklahoma a ton of concern as I think both Geneo Grissom and Charles Tapper are more than physically capable of handling Green's athleticism should he decide to keep on a zone read.

I really expect the Sooners to come out and be very clear with their identity offensively - unlike the previous two games in which they, understandably, tried very hard to get Trevor Knight into the flow of the game. This time around I expect the Sooners to run, run, and run some more - Tulsa's inexperienced and not overly imposing front seven could have some real issues.

Oklahoma 45, Tulsa 10

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