Thursday, September 8, 2016

Picking B12 games against the spread: Week 2

Since week one was fun and didn't completely discredit this blog, let's go ahead and aim at week two? I have a theory that my expectations for the season that are developed from an offseason of meditation tend to be fairly accurate while my ability to process and react to everything during the actual season is less amazing.

So I'm going to try and stick closer to my preseason guesswork but if I get off track it'll be evidence of my theory, or that picking against the spread and predicting the future is difficult...

I've got statistical/analytical breakdowns of the big six games in college football that you can find in my new weekly column at Football Outsiders so check that out for the national perspective.

Here's week two's lines and where I see things heading...

Central Michigan +20.5 at Oklahoma St

Like I noted last week, Central Michigan will probably have some stout DL and LBs that know how to fit the run and have the size to fight blocks. The outcome of interest here is whether the Cowboys can run the ball on this lot or not.

Pick: OSU covers

SMU +31.5 at Baylor

You can see the breakdown for this one in my Football Outsiders column. SMU should be pretty dang good on offense this season and this will be much more of a test for the young Bear defense than their scrimmage against Northwestern State last weekend.

Pick: Baylor wins, SMU covers

Arkansas +7.5 at TCU

Those South Dakota State Jackrabbits were no joke. Chris Wieneke was a for real receiver with size that's hard to move off routes and their QB was throwing with anticipation to spots that he could be counted on reaching.

I mean, check out this scramble by Jackrabbit QB Taryn Christion:

Now observe this throw to WR Chris Wieneke:

That's a big, coordinated receiver with nice hands that has an extra gear after the first several steps. He's probably a 4.7 guy (11.34 was his best HS time) but he's just hard to control for a little guy like Ranthony Texada.

Some of these FCS programs are no joke. Just look at Carson Wentz or what Dakota Prukop is doing at Oregon.

I think TCU is going to be just fine this year. There were problems here and there but Kenny Trill was totally calm, amused even, by his own mistakes and effortlessly dropped 60 on the SD St defense. You know that Gary Patterson will get his defensive house in order.

Pick: Frogs win, fail to cover

UTEP +29 at Texas

The Longhorns proved that they can operate the Veer and Shoot at a basic level and out-execute even talented defenses...that should be pretty horrifying for the rest of the Big 12.

UTEP is going to drop eight and make Texas work their way down the field with smaller gains while pounding the rock on the ground and running clock. I still think Texas covers.

Pick: Texas covers

LA Monroe +46 at Oklahoma

I don't know much about LA Monroe but the cover seems reasonable given how fired up Oklahoma is likely to be for this game.

Let's talk about that Houston game though. The Sooners got physically whipped. There was no doubt watching that game that the Cougars were the more physical team with enough moxie to counter what Mayfield brought to the game. Oklahoma's secondary got ripped throughout the game and had to cycle through some cornerbacks trying to find an answer opposite Jordan Thomas.

I'm still unsure on Oklahoma's ability to bring pressure and Houston didn't really test that with their RPOs, rollouts, and Ward scrambling around like a mad man. Certainly containment was an issue and I doubt Ward is able to escape as much if an athlete like Striker is pursuing him.

Sooner fans are surely terrified of what's going to happen on their home field when Urban's Buckeyes come to town.

Iowa State +15 at Iowa

Year one isn't going to be the time when Matt Campbell makes a statement in this rivalry game, I don't think. The Hawkeyes should be pretty good this year and the Cyclones are playing a ton of youngsters that are mistake prone. Iowa is designed to avoid mistakes and to out-execute their opponents. Fifteen points is a lot though, this will be a good test of whether the Hawkeyes are making  a leap in offensive explosiveness of the sort they'll need to make it back to the B1G championship game.

I'm really more interested in Iowa vs North Dakota State though, as is North Dakota State's biggest fan.

Pick: Iowa wins, Cyclones beat the spread

Texas Tech +2.5 at Arizona State

This is another really interesting game that will provide us with a lot of info about a potential darkhorse Big 12 contender. Todd Graham's Sun Devils are a 4-2-5 quarters team that blitzes like mad...that's probably not going to go too well against Kingsbury's screen-heavy offense and Patrick Mahomes' wizardry.

On the flip side though, ASU has put some pretty good smashmouth spread offenses on the field in recent years. They're losing their QB Mike Bercovici but new guy Manny Wilkins is a runner and they're going to test Tech's run defense.

Unless those blitzes get them behind 21-0 in a hurry and they have to give that up.

Pick: Tech beats the Devils and the spread


  1. Awww, you wrote about the teams that played FCS squads last week. Even without a WVU blurb, thanks for posting.

    Congrats on the big win Sunday night.

    Did you go back and watch the WVU game as you said you might on your Sunday post? I think you were right to be concerned about WVU's CBs (Lock missed some open guys and there were some bad drops) but the safeties looked pretty good (Jeremy Tyler was on Pro Football Focus' Big 12 team of the week) and the run defense looks strong. I think the defense will definitely take a step back, but still be in the middle of the league rather than the bottom. We will see.

    Justin Crawford looked really good too.

  2. Cool, thanks. I always enjoy reading your thoughts on them.

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