I can’t remember if I was ever remotely good at picking Big 12 games off the lines last year but they’re pretty interesting in terms of gauging sharp expectations for teams heading into the season. So for that reason I’m going to dive into the week one lines and what I think of the national perception on these teams.
Texas -18 vs Maryland
I don’t think Maryland is going to be very good after taking in some of their spring game to study them for my Inside Texas previews of the 2017 Texas slate. Their QB situation is something of a mess and D.J. Durkin’s first year saw them look little better equipped for this style of offense than when his Michigan D got whipped by Urban Meyer in 2015.
Of course Texas is probably going to look pretty different from those Ohio State teams, lacking either a running QB or the ability to bring the dual-TE looks that they used to smash Durkin. Nevertheless, the jury is out on Durkin’s defense against smashmouth spread offenses of this sort.
I think Texas will be significantly improved this season, especially on defense, which against the crab cakes with their iffy QB play could definitely make for a big opening win. If Maryland beats this spread it’s probably either due to Texas struggling on offense in year one of the new system (and without D’Onta Foreman to lean on) or because the Texas LBs still haven’t figured out how to make proper run fits against a two-back run game.
Okie State -18 vs Tulsa
Somewhat lost in my public dispute with the Tulsa OL…
The TU offensive line really appreciates all the credit you give them. By the way your article is about halfway accurate https://t.co/YibuG6yWk4
— Evan Plagg (@Eplagg56) June 24, 2017
…is the fact that I think Tulsa might be primed for a big 2017 campaign. The only problem is that we don’t know who will line up at QB for the Golden Hurricane. They’ve got ultra-athletic runner Chad President and then RS freshman Luke Skipper who’s more of a passer. Skipper is the better bet to execute the intended veer and shoot offense but whether he’ll be ready to take on OSU’s defense in the first week is another matter entirely.
It’s a shame because this could be a major test of OSU’s young corners and Tulsa’s overall quality in a big year for Philip Montgomery, but this looks like a game where OSU could make an early statement that makes them look better than it should because Tulsa wasn’t ready yet at the beginning of the year for such a challenge.
OU -43 vs UTEP
Yeah, okay sure. All I know about UTEP is what I saw from them last year in Austin and they were not very good. Oklahoma will be at least pretty good (and much better than 2016 Texas) and I don’t see UTEP holding up.
If the Miners are still a power run oriented team this could be a good game for evaluating the young Sooner LBs and safeties. It’s also a nice way for the Sooner staff to break them in and get some stuff on film to correct before facing Ohio State.
Virginia Tech -5 vs West Virginia
I previewed this one for SB Nation and I don’t like the Hokies with five points against Will Grier or Tony Gibson’s defense at all. Justin Fuente is a great coach but he has a long track record of fielding bad teams while patiently breaking in young QBs that later go on to be studs. Since Jerod Evans skipped town early for the NFL they’re really going to be young at QB this year.
Sure it’s a Bud Foster D and will probably be good but his units have not dominated spread offenses and the Mountaineer attack is going to put some serious stress on their system. I think this is another one where the Big 12 could score an early win that looks better than it really is.
The league better score some good wins this week while they can because those premier matchups later on between Texas and USC or Oklahoma and Ohio State aren’t likely to go particularly well for the Big 12.