This always seems like a good way to talk about the various teams across the league, to look at the Vegas odds and make comments in one direction or another. I’ve typically been about as good as picking against the spread as I’ve been at picking playoff teams. I’m always a sucker for making the clever pick rather than the most likely one.
Anyways, here’s what week one is bringing to the Big 12.
Missouri State at Oklahoma State (no line)
I dunno, who cares except ‘Poke fans? This is basically a scrimmage that counts and a chance for them to see Taylor Cornelius throw the ball around to talented wideouts against defenders with little hope of covering them.
I’m sure they’ll be vanilla and count on out-executing them with Justice Hill behind the OL.
FAU at Oklahoma (-21)
It grieves my soul that this game will take place at the same time as Texas’ contest with Maryland, which I need to watch for a variety of business and personal reasons.
I wrote about this game, one of my favorite pieces of the offseason because I got to post GIFs of OU’s D being horrendous while diving into the FAU offense and discovering that it was much more of a Lane Kiffin offense when it got rolling than a Kendall Briles “veer and shoot.
We don’t know who the FAU QB will be, although I think it’ll be that former FSU/Last Chance U dude who’s a good runner, but they have a lot of talent on that roster. Watch last year’s team and they were nails blocking zone while Kiffin schemed up various ways to execute it and complement it in order to loose Devin Singletary. This seems like exactly the sort of offense that can light up Oklahoma while their defense actually has the talent to not be overwhelmed by the Sooner attack.
We haven’t heard yet what the Sooner depth chart will even be and that’s probably not to confuse or thwart FAU either. It seems that the Sooners really aren’t sure what the best path forward is at center (probably waiting to see if Creed Humphrey can avoid enough mistakes to justify the talent upgrade), weak side LB (two iffy options), and safety (multiple iffy options).
The most likely scenario is that OU outscores them in a shootout. I think the FAU upset is also in play.
Pick: FAU +21
Southern at TCU (no line)
This game isn’t terribly interesting to me, although some of TCU’s depth chart revelations are.
Word around the campfire at B12 Media Days was that Ridwan Issahaku was out of the program at TCU but evidently that wasn’t the case as he’s listed as the starting weak safety with promising sophomore Innis Gaines taking his 2017 post at strong safety.
TCU likes to sneak their SS into the box as an extra LB in a lot of their defenses but they also tend to ask the WS to play an important role as well in that fundamental goal of a Patterson D. Issahaku will probably be pretty solid as a run support WS and a coverage downgrade from Nick Orr while Gaines will potentially be better both in coverage and against the run than Issahaku was in 2017.
Another interesting relevation was that NIU transfer Juwuan Johnson is currently behind Louisiana sophomore Garrett Wallow at sam LB. That’s the position Travin Howard played and exactly where I predicted Wallow would end up back in my 2017 class breakdown.
With Summers spinning down to DE to give the Frogs more of the edge speed that allowed them to do wondrous things in 2017, the Frogs are effectively replacing both LBs from a year ago. Right now it’s Garrett Wallow and then senior Arico Evans who’s listed at 6-2, 206 (Wallow is 6-2, 212).
Patterson has put together yet another small and super speedy defense. To solve for the loss of Ross Blacklock they have 6-2, 286 pound RS freshman Terrell Cooper stepping into the nose tackle spot. The play of Cooper and Bethley is going to be huge in terms of whether they get away with all of these smaller guys everywhere else.
We’ll learn a ton about this team (and their opponent, really) when they play Ohio State in a few weeks.
Texas (-13.5) at-ish Maryland
I just previewed this one over at Inside Texas. Best guess says that Maryland has struggled to nail down the new Matt Canada offense and integrate all of their transfers on D amidst all their distractions in time for a week one game in which the opponent is A) probably pretty darn good and B) out for vengeance.
Pick: Texas +13.5, although gamblers who got this at Texas +10 probably feel better
Ole Miss vs Texas Tech (-2.5) in Houston
Texas Tech may be a mess this season, we don’t really know. McLane Carter is apparently the dude at QB. Ole Miss will almost definitely be a mess on defense but they do have some weapons and good coaches on offense.
Smart money is on a shootout, I think I’ll take Ole Miss and Jordan Ta’amu.
Pick: Ole Miss +2.5
West Virginia (-9.5) vs Tennessee in Charlotte
Curious game for the Mountaineers, taking on a messy but talented team under new leadership in an area they don’t recruit a ton. It’s a nice profile game for them I suppose, taking on a regional power. It’s a bit risky too though, as Tennessee has some big boys on their roster that could cause problems if they play with any kind of competence.
Good chance though that Tennessee will struggle with the explosiveness and precision of the WVU passing game. What’s concerning for WVU though is if Pruitt’s pounding approach on offense maintains drives on that iffy run defense and allows them to keep the score down and the game closer.
Pick: Tennessee +9.5
Nicholls at Kansas (no line)
The coming disaster that is the 2018 Kansas season starts off with a loss, securing the possibility of the Jayhawks successfully going defeated.
South Dakota at Kansas State (no line)
The fact that K-State put Skylar Thompson over Alex Delton (albeit followed by an OR) on the depth chart was pretty interesting. I’ve figured that Delton would start because:
-Kansas State lost their top deep threat WR, negating the damage a passing QB could achieve.
-The run game will probably be very good with Alex Barnes and five returning OL. Delton takes that run game from “really scary” to “potentially overwhelming.”
We’ll see though, you keep hearing reports that they like Thompson a lot.
Anyways, this is the wrong South Dakota team so K-State should win big.
ACU at Baylor (no line)
I’ve heard ACU +38.5 as a line, I’d take ACU with that many points. Otherwise, probably Baylor will start the year off right this time.
South Dakota State at Iowa State (no line)
This is the right South Dakota team to cause trouble, although they lost Jake Wieneke and Dallas Goedert so they may not be as scary as in previous seasons.
Still, this will probably be a stiff test for the Cyclones. We’ll learn a lot about their young OL and whether or not all of their replacements on the back end are up to snuff.
Of course the nice thing about playing a good but overmatched team in week one is that you have some margin to have a bad start and then make all of your big adjustments before playing an opponent that can hand you an L. I think SD State is probably such a team without Goedert but we’ll see. The QB who ripped up TCU and beat ND State twice is still there.
Should be a fun midday on Saturday while the evening is reserved for the real meat of the programming: Michigan-Notre Dame and Alabama-Louisville.