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September 28, 2013
Time for Answers for the Sooners
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: Taking the Johnny Football Tour on the road for the first time this season Manziel and friends head to Fayetville this weekend in a peculiar position. Still in the national title hunt with a lone loss on their resume to mighty Alabama it's the Aggies defense that still is in question. Ranked last in scoring defense (opponents scoring 30.2 ppg) and total defense (475.2 ypg) A&M will look to build upon a decent defensive performance a week ago when they forced three turnovers versus SMU. Arkansas running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams could be primed for a big day versus the Aggie defense if the wrongs are not fixed by Saturday. The line has wavered back and forth in Vegas on this match-up which is why I would recommend staying away from it but for the purposes of this week's pick 'em I'll stick with the Hogs to keep it close into the fourth quarter.
Josh McCuistion: If there was a bit of an element of the Razorbacks sneaking up on the Aggies I think this is a more interesting pick, however I feel like A&M has already played this team - just a much, much better version of it when they fought tooth and nail against Alabama a few weeks ago.
I'm a huge fan of Collins and love what Bielema is bringing to Fayetteville but I just don't see this one coming together for the Razorbacks who haven't been tested by a truly quality team yet while the Aggies have the advantage of playing a big SEC game already.
ER: What do we really know about Ohio State? Through the first three games of the Buckeyes season it's been a back-and-forth between quarterbacks Kenny Guiton and Braxton Miller. Whomever it is under center Saturday afternoon at the Horseshoe they better be ready for a dogfight. Quietly Wisconsin continues to roll on as a program. Three straight Rose Bowl appearances have gone under the radar. What will be interesting to watch is if Miller is 100 percent, does he face any pressure to produce with Guiton breathing down his neck? A win on Saturday will vault to the winner to the lead of the Leaders division standings. I like Wisconsin to take this one down to the wire. Take the Badgers plus the points.
JM: With all this chaos that surrounds Ohio State's quarterback situation and the reality of a tough loss to the Buckeyes a year ago in Madison and this seems like the exact opposite of the previous game - a near perfect trap situation for the Badgers.
However, I just wonder about Wisconsin's offense being able to keep up with the pace of the Buckeyes - who regardless of who plays under center have put up tons of points - and their offensive fire power. I'll take the Buckeyes here but o the flip side it wouldn't stun me if Wisconsin can win this one straight up against an Ohio State team that could suffer from a crisis of leadership.
ER: The game of the week by most prognosticators standards will be this match up between the hedges on Saturday afternoon. Georgia in no position to drop a conference game at home comes off a less than stellar performance last weekend in a 14-point victory over North Texas. Expect the Georgia running game to, finally, get going this weekend against a revamped LSU defensive front seven which should only help to give more opportunities through the air for Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray. With a victory Saturday Georgia's road to SEC East title and SEC title game should become a little more clear. Take the home team minus the points.
JM: I'm not sure if it's Les Miles' presence or Zach Mettenberger's preseason expectations but for whatever reason the Bayou Bengals are just not getting their due. This is a team with, yet another, dominant defense and a quarterback that is slowly but surely starting to gain notice from NFL front offices due to perhaps the biggest arm in college football today and an offense that is finally tailored to his talents. It's hard to call the No. 6 team in the country under appreciated but that's very much what it feels like with the Tigers laying low while surrounded by the chaos in College Station and the mighty Tide.
I expect some big plays from Odell Beckham and don't be surprised if a big return from the LSU junior ends up being the difference here.
Oh and well the most obvious rationale of all, Aaron Murray…
ER: Talking 'ish' to Nick Saban is a bold move. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace went did that and then some this past week. Promising to 'put up points' against Saban's defense this weekend when the Rebels travel to Tuscaloosa I can't imagine a worse comment that could have been made. Here's a valuable piece of advice: When a team is already better than yours there's no need to go and poke the sleeping giant. The future is bright in Oxford but I think the kind of success that they are looking for will have to wait for another weekend as the Rebels try to improve to 4-0 for the first time since the Archie Manning era. Alabama too much under the bright lights on Saturday. Roll Tide.
JM: I'm still not sure I'm buying Ole Miss, and think too many are because of what the Rebels did to Texas. Newsflash folks, beating Texas has lost most, if not all, of it's meaning. I like Hugh Freeze and don't know how it's possible to understate what he has done in a short period of time at one of the SEC's perennial whipping boys but that doesn't change that this isn't a game Alabama is likely to overlook with all of the chatter about their neighboring 'up and comer'.
Games like this, I like it when a good young team isn't quite getting it's due and shocks the big brother but here, in Tuscaloosa? I just don't see it.
I'll take the Tide and give the points. .
ER: For the first time since 1928 Oklahoma State heads to Morgantown this weekend with only one goal in mind. No it's not walk away with a victory. I believe that's a given. the lone goal should be: walk out of the game without any serious injuries. Seriously. It's been that rough of a go for former State offensive coordinator turn West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorson. 70-point outbursts are no longer the norm for Holgorson and his Mountaineer offense unless it's the opposition lighting up the wrong side of the scoreboard. It would take a disaster for West Virginia to cover let alone win the game. Take Oklahoma State minus the points.
JM: I said it during the West Virginia game week for the Under the Hood feature but this Mountaineer defense is a lot better than people realize and vastly improved. You stick this unit with last year's offense and you really have something but as it is you've got an offense that is not only among the worst in the Big 12 but the worst in the country.
Where have you gone Holgo?
I like Oklahoma State here a lot, and think it's possible this could be a gap into the high 20s. In fact… JOSH'S LOCK OF THE WEEK/I>
ER: The battle for the Iron Skillet makes me feel like this game should always be played at 11 a.m. with a mandatory pregame omelet bar at every gate. Looking to avoid its first 1-3 start since 1999 Gary Patterson's club should manage to the right the ship this weekend. However, that's not what I'm worried about as the Horned Frogs lay nearly three touchdowns on the line when they welcome SMU. It is believed the Frogs will look to get the ball in their playmakers hands taking the workload off of Trevone Boykins back which should help him ease into his first start in the rivalry match-up. A TCU defense that leads the Big 12 in sacks (8) and interceptions (5) should get after Mustang quarterback Garrett Gilbert fairly often which is why I like TCU to get the win, even more importantly a cover- prior to next weekend's trip to Norman.
JM: SMU is abominable right now, I'm not sure where June Jones went wrong but for a team that looked to be rolling a few years ago - or at least rolling by comparison to where they'd spent the previous 20 years - they just seem a balloon with the air leaking out.
TCU's quarterback situation is far from a beautiful thing but I'm honestly fairly shocked this line isn't a bit bigger and it's one I like quite a bit.
ER: The build up to kickoff hasn't been nearly what it was a season ago but the outcome could be just as meaningful as last season's 30-13 Notre Dame victory. From a national perspective this is a game in which the Oklahoma players have accepted as a marquee match-up. They know a win is needed in South Bend to validate them as a team that is returning to national prominence while also becoming the first Sooners team to do so against the Irish since 1956. Earlier in the week offensive coordinator Josh Heupel spoke about taking shots down field which could lead to big play opportunities for the likes of Jaz Reynolds, Sterling Shepard, and Jalen Saunders. But the game will be won in the trenches and I expect Oklahoma's new look offensive and defensive lines to show up. Give me Oklahoma and the points.
EDDIE'S LOCK OF THE WEEK.
JM: Early in the week I loved where Oklahoma was at and thought this was a line they might double. However, as the week has gone on I continue to wonder if the Sooners are going to have the maturity to go in and handle this situation in a game that Gabe Ikard and company have admitted is a huge matchup.
One of my biggest concerns for the Sooners are just how good this defense is, particularly against an offense like Notre Dame's that philosophically likes to play physical - even if they've not shown much ability to do so to date. Will Oklahoma change some things with the way they play defensively - more four man fronts, etc.? We'll find out soon.
The other concern for me is can Oklahoma establish the run against a front seven that is more talented than any the Sooners are likely to face the rest of the year. If they can find enough balance to simply keep Notre Dame's secondary honest in run support then I think Eddie's lock is a good one. If not, this is coming down to the last snaps of the game between two one-dimensional offenses.