OSU head coach Mike Gundy may make Tommy Rider and Boone Pickens look smart this seasonAs part of my preseason college football picks,
I have come up with a list of 16 "bet on" teams for the upcoming
season. I have broken this up into two parts so it's easier to read with Part 1 released on Thursday. Here are my last eight teams to watch for this year...
New Mexico - I'm a really big fan of Head Coach Rocky Long. Is there a reason a bigger school hasn't snatched him up yet? New Mexico has some of the worst facilities in the country, yet Long has made the Lobos a bowl fixture. I don't expect that to change this season. QB Donavan Porterie is a good one for those who haven't seen him yet and RB's Rodney Ferguson and Paul Baker are a tremendous 1-2 punch. The Lobos have only 10 returning starters but they were a deep team last year. The opener at home versus TCU is huge but the Lobos are 3-1 ATS in their last four meetings against the Frogs. New Mexico State - Hal Mumme's Aggies can score on virtually anyone and New Mexico State's offense should be even better this season with the return of QB Chase Holbrook, along with all of his top receivers. Scoring points won't be a problem for the Aggies. However, keeping other teams from scoring on them has been a big problem. Enter former SEC defensive guru Joe Lee Dunn. Dunn is one of my favorite coordinators because he's creative and knows how to use his personnel. The Aggies won't be great on defense but if they can improve a little bit, New Mexico State could go bowling for the first time in 47 years. Keep an eye on the Aggies when they travel to play an overrated Nebraska team on Sept. 13. I smell a possible upset in Lincoln. North Carolina - Butch Davis was forced to play a ton of freshman and sophomores in his first season but managed to stay competitive, losing six of their eight games by seven points or less. Playing all those youngsters a year ago will pay off for the Heels this season. Sophomore QB T.J. Yates is a good one and NC's defense will be much improved in its second season under Davis. The Coastal Division in the ACC is up for grabs this year I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Tar Heels go from four wins to the ACC Title Game.Oklahoma State - Anyone who has read my stuff probably thinks I'm related to Boone Pickens because he's the only person higher on the Cowboys than I am this season. Zac Robinson is my favorite player in CFB. I think he's going to be a whiz at running the spread offense this year. The Cowboys are going to score a ton of points, so the OVER will never be a bad bet when OSU takes the field. They are just a 6-point favorite over Washington State - a team they are much more talented than - for the opener in Seattle. Also, Troy comes to Stillwater on Sept. 27 and you can bet the Cowboys will be ready with a week to prepare after the Trojans embarrassed OSU on national TV last season.Oregon State - The Beavers lost eight starters on defense but I was surprised how deep they were last year. I think Mike Riley is an excellent coach and the Beavers are stockpiling some real talent up in Corvallis. The first sign that this team was going to be undervalued this year came when they opened up as only a 5-point favorite on the road over Stanford. I think Oregon State smokes them in the opener. A lot of the players stepping up on defense have experience and the return of WR Sammie Stroughter will help the passing game be much more explosive. Someone like Stevebeav who follows the Oregon State program very closely can speak more intelligently about them but I think the Beavers are going to surprise some people this season.South Florida - The Bulls are loaded this year. Sixteen starters return, including 10 on what should be one of the most potent offenses in CFB. QB Matt Grothe and RB Mike Ford are both studs and will help the offense rack up points, while the defense eases in five new starters, although pass rushing terror George Selvie is still around. There will be some nice spots to take the Bulls. They host Kansas and Central Florida and travel to NC State as part of a tough out-of-conference schedule. One thing to keep in mind is the Bulls have won seven straight non-conference home games. Tulane I really like this Tulane squad. I think Bob Toledo gets kind of a bad rap. He may not be the greatest head coach on the planet but his offenses at UCLA were some of the most innovative I'm seen over the last 20 years. Matt Forte is gone and he was Tulane's entire offense last year but I see the passing game really improving this season. The Green Wave went 3-3 in its last six games and that included a tough 1-point loss to bowl bound Memphis on a missed field goal late. You will be able to get some gaudy lines backing Tulane, especially early on in the year. My guess is the Green Wave are one of the top teams ATS in college football this season. Wyoming - I think the Cowboys are going to be one of those "on a mission" teams this season. After falling apart during the second half of last year, Wyoming returns 15 starters, including its entire offensive line and one of the Mountain West's top defenses. The offense needs to score some more points but RB Devin Moore should run wild behind that experienced line. Wyoming opened up as a 9-point favorite in Week 1 over Ohio. While that may seem a little high, keep in mind that the Bobcats will have a freshman quarterback making his first start on the road in Laramie against a stout Cowboys defense. Also, mark down Oct. 11 on the calendar. You may remember Utah beat Wyoming 50-0 last year in a game where the Utes recovered an onside kick late up by 43. This year the game is in Laramie and the home team is 7-0 in the Wyoming/Utah series. Could be a great revenge spot to take the Cowboys.
Few Oregon State things I meant to slip in....
Misleading part of 5th Toughest Schedule:
Even years, Beavers and 4 others who host rivalry games - play 5 of 9 PAC-10 games at home....also ORE and ORE ST have random the Odd/Even rotation of toughest games at Home / Road in every other year, i.e., Oregon States Home Games:
SO CAL, CAL, ARIZ ST, ORE...& also Wazzu....
Not to say Beavers will win em all....but schedule that falls like this has made Roadies all very winnable every other year for Ducks and Beavers - no coincidence that Beavs / Ducks have been alternating Better Than Avg Finishes every other year (and until last year, ORE and ORE ST took turns 'Holding Serve' at Home Civil War game for 10 consecutive years....Beavers finally broke the string last year at Autzen, with 38-31 OT win.)
Riley's mid-season tinkering resulted in a startling discovery of game-breaking wrinkles in the offense with True Freshman James Rodgers from the edge - (to over-simplify it - the simple end around), but Beavers began running 30-40% of all sets out of Vertical pro Set with BOTH ends either carrying the ball or decoying the play - which served to stretch the field enough to really spread everything out much better for Yev Bernard and the basic 2 TE Power Game to return to a good effective level - and also produced dozens of huge game breaking plays without Stroguhter...
2 TRUE FRESHMAN were forced into WR Duties....and Rodgers ended up as the 2nd leading Rusher out of deep WR end arounds....5' 7 True Freshman WR! Scored Game Breaker on the 'it is coming - but you cannot stop it' play.
Beavers are really vulnerable to adjustments - early in the seaosn....and i expect Stanford to be geared up on the edges - as Penn St will be....
On defense - Beavers were No 1 in NCAA vs Rush
And even though the entire Starting 7 is gone, and even though the above thread explains how this is somewhat misleading - Injuries are bound to effect every team - and depth is a real issue for Beavers here....
RB. FR McCants is a specimen - and has all the tools, but Vev Bernard was a Bowling Ball - and a real warrior....he played on one leg for almost Half a season two years ago.....and unbelievably durable for such a smallish back with SO many workhorse carries.
Again, Depth is a really large issue here....
OK...enough Beavers. That's got to be much more Ore St FTBL than you all EVER needed to read about....couldn't help myself.
NEW MEXICO & OREGON STATE:
Leading Indicator of low expectations is obviously their status just after Army and Ga Tech in least returning starters....
I cannot speak to N Mex as much as Beavers - but two reasons this may be a mis-leading stat for Beavs are the Returning lettermen (two deep is still pretty sturdy with multi-year lettermen, whom played significant roles), and the deeper analysis of their Tough Schedule (Phil Steele has it 5th).
1. Beavers lost 8 Defensive Starters - all 7 Lineman and Backers....
HOWEVER, BEAVERS WILL START 8 EXPERIENCED SENIORS ON DEFENSE, and ALL BUT ONE ARE MULTI-YR LETTERMAN, UPPER-CLASS-MEN:
LE Butler (SR, 3-yr let, & 3-Dn Run-Stop specialist)
LT Booth (SR, 3-let)
RE Norris (SR, 2-let)
MB Cornell (SR, 3-let)
Secondary is One of PAC-10's best - Seniors at Both Safety's and Corners....Even the lone returning non-starter is a burner, Bryan Payton - whom may be best remembered for his juggling 1st Half pick at the Goal line and long run-back two seasons ago, in Beavers win vs So Cal.
Mike Riley truly plays several shifts of players all the time - probably why he is 30-14 in Nov/Dec, when the team down the road is almost exactly opposite.....14-29.
Beavers 4 Consecutive Bowl Wins....BTB 6-3 in Conf., 9-4, and 10-4 Records last two years....not great....not too bad either.
Poor Starts have doomed Beavers to a relatively hidden commodity.
As you can tell - I'm really biased.....but I do agree that ORE ST is somewhat under-rated on defense, especially -
PLUS - there are three big holes that must be filled, and QB pos must get MUCH more stable....I look for Moevao to continue his command of team - even though Canfield is much more talented physically.
LOST Groza winning K, No exp. at RT, Freshman RB to fill Yev Bernard, and WLB is relative newbie in Pankey. although Christopher - SR may fill in at LB here of inj)
SOMEHOW overcoming these slow starts! TRAP game on August 28 at Stanford is such a huge issue....i genuinely think OSU's early season troubles in grasping offensive system has become a chronic dilemma - and starting ever season with Brutal Games like BTB at Stanford and then Beaver Stadium - at Penn State (could be a deflating Body-Bag game), THEN HOME to Face Hawaii, THEN SO CAL comes in....no time to adjust!
BROKEN RECORD - BUT INJURIES ARE THE THING TO AVOID....Ore St does not have luxury of having these great back-up experienced players at every position.
GREAT INFO TOMMY KEEP IT COMING = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
South Florida WILL Beat UCF by 3 Touchdowns!
South Florida actually comes to Orlando this year as the road team vs UCF. Just a heads up.
I have no IDEA how they will do. Last Year they were able to RUN the Ball, Use the Clock...Keep their BAD Defense off the Field(opposing QB's had 65% pass completion) They PLAY in CUSA (Lots of WEAK Defenses) so it's Possible.
Do you think Tulane will be improved this year Chuck? I know you don't think they will win a lot of games but how do you think they will do against the spread?
Definitely some SURPRISE Teams on this List!