Ahh it's finally here and I'm super excited - have been profitable the past two years in CFB so hopefully that trend continues...Here are my plays for opening weekend.
Texas A&M vs. South Carolina U61
South Carolina returns a ton of talent and depth along the OL and at RB. Texas A&M was terrible against the run last year and also will be bringing a new QB in the first game of the year, against a top 10 team, on the ROAD in a very hostile environment. No matter how talented they may be, you have to expect a little bit of a slow start for A&M's offense...on the other side, I expect Spurrier to not ask too much of Dylan Thompson early on and try and control the pace of the game with his RBs and OLine. Connor Shaw was integral to this offense and will be sorely missed...You would also expect that A&Ms defense will at least indirectly improve by the fact the explosive Manziel is now gone....the defense may get some more rest and be a little more stout. I expect this game to be a grind it out type of win for South Carolina, take the under.
Bowling Green (-7) vs Western Kentucky
Third coach in three years for WKU and will be without the great offensive mind of Bobby Petrino...Bowling Green returns a lot of good talent, namely their QB and will install an offensive system akin to Baylor...this is a play on pure volume I expect out of Bowling Green.
Ohio State (-12) vs Navy
I was lucky enough to pounce on this when the number was 12. Urban Meyer against the spread when given more than a week to prepare in his career has one of the top records in the country at 72%+. Ohio State has an elite D-Line with great depth and has had all summer to prepare. Triple option teams typically do not do well when outmanned when that team has had extra preparation. JT Barrett has been running with the first team on offense all summer as Braxton Miller has been out since the Orange Bowl. Reports out of Columbus (although I don't think we will see it in this game) is that OSU is moving closer and closer to Oregon's offense in terms of speed - limit the time Barrett has to overthink things and overwhelm opponents with their playmakers' speed. Based on the depth chart released yesterday for the game, I wouldn't be surprised if OSU scraps a safety at times in the game and adds a NT, basically running a 5-3-3 or a 4-4.
North Texas (+25.5) vs Texas
I was kinda surprised at this line movement. That's a big number. North Texas employs a defensive strategy that basically sells out against the run and dares you to throw. Considering at this point in time the RBs are the major strength for the Texas offense and David Ash will be seeing his first true game action since returning from injuries, I think that gives us an extra couple points of value here. You also have the motivation factor here that the game will likely mean more to North Texas.
Ohio (+3) vs Kent State
This play was based on a few key things: Frank Solich, 8 returning defensive starters and the fact that OU returns much more experience on their OL. They also will be adding more of an explosive running option at QB with Derrius Vick. I understand that many will view Tettleton as a huge loss, but the offense really seemed to stagnate against decent teams last year...adding that extra dimension with Derrius Vick behind a solid OL and basically the whole defense returning makes this game close at worst IMO. I am a little scared, however, of the emotional high Kent State may be on after losing their Center, who passed away last week...I will add that he was one of 2 OL returning with any significant starting experience, however...so a brand new center for Kent State as well.
Utah State vs Tennessee (-6)
With only 3 returners on offense, Chuckie Keaton (who I love), may be in for a rough year...he will likely be rusty and Tennessee is much better than most give them credit for. Don't discount the long term effect of missing Gary Anderson for Utah St as well, IMO one of the best coaches in the country.
Miami vs Louisville (-3.5)
Louisville loses Teddy Bridgewater but returns an experienced and versatile Will Gardner as their signal caller, who was decently effective in limited action last year....and wait til Bobby Petrino gets his hands on him! With Miami starting a true freshman QB on the road on a primetime Monday night game, you can't really look any other way....expect Louisville to gang up on Duke Johnson and dare the young QB to make plays. Louisville also returns two very solid RBs, look for Michael Dyer to have a good year.
3 team teaser, 10 points
South Carolina -.5
Ohio State -2
Arizona - 13.5
Looking at 1-2 more games, but that is what I got for now, let me know what you think. Thanks.