Broncos and Horned Frogs and Ducks, Oh My!
The start of the college football season is almost here, and you know what that means.
Yep, nothing signals the start of the season like the start of our picks grid. It will appear every Thursday in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK, and if all goes as planned, I will write about some of my picks here on my blog every Friday.
So, without further ado:
Tulsa at Oklahoma
Had Tulsa receiver/returner Damaris Johnson not been suspended indefinitely a week ago, I might’ve given the Golden Hurricane a fighting chance. He adds another weapon to an already dangerous offense, and he is a dangerous returner, something that Sooner teams of the recent past have struggled to contain.
But without Johnson, there’s no way Tulsa goes to Norman and even keeps it close.
Plus, the Sooners have a little extra motivation from Golden Hurricane coach Bill Blankenship. He made some comments at Conference USA media day that he thought he had the best college quarterback in the state. Not Landry Jones. Not Brandon Weeden. G.J. Kinne. I wrote at the time that it was a bad idea to anger defensive dobermans like OU has.
Well, Blankenship’s comments are not only bulletin board material at OU but also highlighted bulletin board material. I saw it with my own eyes, a newspaper clipping tacked to the board right outside the Sooners’ locker room.
Sooners in a walk.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State
Say this for the Ragin’ Cajuns — they gave the Cowboys a run for their money a year ago.
But that was last year. In Lafayette.
This game is in Stillwater, and in a season opener where the home team also has a huge talent advantage, that does not bode well for Louisiana-Lafayette. Compounding its problems is the first game for a new coaching staff.
Yes, OSU is breaking in its own newbie, offensive coordinator Todd Monken. But when you’ve got veterans like Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and the Cowboy offensive line, any missteps that Monken has along the way won’t be quite as bad.
Pistols will be firing. A lot.
TCU at Baylor, Friday
What a great Friday night game. After last night’s mish-mash of bad games, I wish this matchup had been put on Thursday to give us something good to wash.
Alas, Friday night lights are on the Frogs and Bears.
Baylor is much improved over the past couple years, but TCU is a national power. This is a team that won the Rose Bowl a year ago, and even though it has a new quarterback — Casey Pachall takes over for Andy Dalton — this is a program that builds around defense. Head coach Gary Patterson makes sure of it.
That means a great showdown between the TCU D and RG3.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is the key to this game. If the Bears have any hope of scoring the upset, he has to have the game of a lifetime. He’s capable, but the Frogs aren’t going to make his life easy.
Frogs by a few.
Boise State vs. Georgia, Atlanta
Boise State, 37-31
Who can forget the treat that Boise State provided the college football world in last year’s season opener? The Broncos won a back-and-forth battle with Virginia Tech that was easily one of the best five games of the season. It was a neutral field game — the Washington Redskins’ stadium provided the backdrop — but it was largely a Hokie crowd.
That will be the case again Saturday night against Georgia in Atlanta. They won’t be between the hedges in Athens, but it will be a Bulldog crowd.
So, can Boise pull another opening-week thriller?
I say yes. The reason is Kellen Moore. The Boise quarterback has been around, well, forever. He was the steadying force for the Broncos a year ago in that win against Virginia Tech, and when you’ve got that kind of talent and leadership at quarterback, it gives you an automatic edge in an opener like this.
Oregon vs. LSU, Arlington, Texas
Oh, what an opener. This is a matchup fitting of the national championship game, honestly. And in truth, if everything falls right, these two teams could actually play for the BCS title in January. They are both just that good.
LSU is reeling a bit with the bar-fight-related suspensions of several players, including quarterback Jordan Jefferson. Regardless of that, though, the Tigers will still have one heck of a defense. Great teams in the SEC are built around great defenses, and LSU is one of those great SEC teams. Its defense is seriously good.
But Oregon’s offense is just a bit better. The Ducks play at a tempo and pace that isn’t easy to prepare for or adjust to. Considering that this is the season opener and the first live action that LSU’s players have seen since last season, being able to manage everything that Oregon will throw at them will be impossible.
This is the type of game, though, that could come down to the final moments.
Hold onto your High Hat, Les Miles.
(And no, Les, the grass inside Jerry World isn’t real. You’ll have to bring your own snack.)
Ducks in a squeaker.
Think you can do better picking games? Then join the fun in our college football U Pick ‘Em contest. It’s fast and easy.
Well, the process is fast. The picking isn’t always so easy.