College football predictions: Don't expect OU or OSU to be challenged
We waited so long for college football to get here, it seems a little disingenuous to go wishing away the season. But that’s where the state of Oklahoma is in Week 2. It will be good to put this week in the rearview mirror.
OU hosts South Dakota and OSU hosts McNeese State, two mismatches involving Division I-AA opponents.
I wrote about these games for the Wednesday Oklahoman, and I know why they are played. Money. OU and OSU justifiably don’t want to pay the ridiculous demands of mid-major schools in Division I-A. Why pay Coastal Carolina or Eastern Michigan $1.5 million when you can pay Furman or Indiana State $500,000?
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Still doesn’t make them any more tolerable.
The good news is, they’ve been minimal in Norman. OU has played only six Division I-AA opponents since the lower level was created in 1978 – North Texas in 1987 and 1991, Indiana State in 1999, Tennessee-Chattanooga in 2008, Idaho State in 2009 and Florida A&M in 2012.
The Sooners held four of those six foes without a touchdown. Here are OU’s I-AA games:
1987: North Texas 69-14
1991: North Texas 40-2
1999: Indiana State 49-0
2008: Tennessee-Chattanooga 57-2
2009: Idaho State 64-0
2012: Florida A&M 69-13
OSU has a much more extensive I-AA history. The Cowboys are 26-0 against I-AA teams, starting with North Texas in 1982. In the 2000s, OSU has avoided scheduling a I-AA opponent only in 2017, 2011, 2010 and 2004. At least McNeese State is fresh meat. OSU has played Missouri State eight times.
Here are OSU’s all-time scores against I-AA opponents:
1982 North Texas 27-6
1983 North Texas 20-13
1983 Cincinnati 27-17 (Cincinnati was temporarily demoted to I-AA that season)
1985 North Texas 10-9
1986 Illinois State 23-7
1990 Northern Iowa 33-23
1992 Indiana State 35-3
1993 Missouri 45-7
1994 North Texas 36-34
1995 Missouri State 35-7
1996 Missouri State 23-20, OT
2000 Texas State 23-0
2001 Northwestern State of Louisiana 24-0
2002 Northern Iowa 45-10
2003 Missouri State 42-3
2005 Montana State 15-10
2006 Missouri State 52-10
2007 Sam Houston State 39-3
2008 Missouri State 57-13
2009 Grambling State 56-6
2012 Savannah State 84-0
2013 Lamar 59-3
2014 Missouri State 40-23
2015 Central Arkansas 32-8
2016 Southeastern Louisiana 61-7
2018 Missouri State 58-17
So OU never has had a close call against a I-AA opponent; OSU hasn’t had a close call since Mike Gundy’s first game as head coach, in 2005.
Let’s get to the predictions:
South Dakota at Oklahoma: Sooners 56-12. Goal for Lincoln Riley – lots of snaps for Tanner Mordecai and maybe Spencer Rattler.
McNeese State at Oklahoma State: Cowboys 66-20. Goal for Mike Gundy – lots of snaps for Dru Brown and maybe Brendan Costello.
LSU at Texas: Tigers 30-20. Hard to believe these name brands, sitting in the capitals of adjoining states, have played just once in 56 years, and that a Cotton Bowl.
West Virginia at Missouri: Tigers 31-21. Mizzou looked ragged in a loss at Wyoming, but the Mountaineers looked moreso in surviving James Madison.
Coastal Carolina at Kansas: Chanticleers 26-24. Big 12 upset special. Coastal lost at home to Eastern Michigan, but KU struggled to get past Indiana State. And now Hurricane Dorian has sent the Chanticleers packing to upstate South Carolina. Sometimes, that brings a team together.
Bowling Green at Kansas State: Wildcats 35-20. KSU quarterback Skylar Thompson looked solid in his first game with new coach Chris Klieman. But that was against Nicholls State.
Texas-San Antonio at Baylor: Bears 49-17. I’ll be ready for Baylor to play a Big 12 foe, after its march through lower-level Texas schools.
Texas-El Paso at Texas Tech: Red Raiders 55-14. An Old West showdown. Except for the showdown part.
Texas A&M at Clemson: Tigers 34-20. What a game. The Aggies almost took down Clemson last year and could make quite a statement with a similar performance.
Arkansas at Ole Miss: Rebels 25-21. Maybe the SEC’s two worst teams – and the bottom of the SEC is not very good.
Vanderbilt at Purdue: Boilermakers 33-20. Purdue still is smarting from losing in Reno to Nevada.
Brigham Young at Tennessee: Volunteers 27-17. Teams that lay a dinosaur egg on opening day often rebound and look a lot better. Tennessee needs to look a lot better.
Eastern Michigan at Kentucky: Wildcats 38-10. Del City’s Terry Wilson had a 19-of-26 passing game in UK’s opener against Toledo.
Tulane at Auburn: Tigers 37-20. Auburn has to have a letdown after that great victory over Oregon, but even a deflated War Eagle should be enough.
Southern Miss at Mississippi State: Bulldogs 26-14. Only the third series meeting since 1990; Miss State won 34-16 in 2015 and 49-0 in 2014.
New Mexico State at Alabama: Crimson Tide 55-7. This isn’t even the worst game on Bama’s schedule. The Tide later plays Western Carolina.
Charleston Southern at South Carolina: Gamecocks 41-7. Carolina was profoundly disappointing in losing to North Carolina.
Murray State at Georgia: Bulldogs 59-0. Cut Georgia some slack. It’s playing a good schedule, and in the future, the Bulldogs are playing a great schedule.
Tennessee-Martin at Florida: Gators 48-3. Let me get this straight. Florida was ranked eighth in the preseason. Virtually the whole nation plays rumdum games to open the season, but Florida beat Miami on a neutral field. The Gators dropped to 11th in AP and 10th in the coaches. And now you know why the polls have been relegated to meaningless.
Army at Michigan: Wolverines 27-10. Can Army do in Ann Arbor what it did a year ago in Norman? Probably not. The OU defense will not appear in maize and blue.
Nebraska at Colorado: Cornhuskers 33-20. Old Big Eight showdown. The Buffaloes won in Lincoln last year and still didn’t make a bowl.
Minnesota at Fresno State: Bulldogs 28-27. Interesting game. Fresno State played tough in the LA Coliseum against Southern Cal last week, while the Gophers squeaked by South Dakota State.
Syracuse at Maryland: Orange 34-24. I never have been such hype over a mediocre team beating an outmanned I-AA team. The Terrapins beat Howard 79-0 last week. Howard lost to Kent State 54-14 last week. Were we supposed to get excited about Kent State?
Cincinnati at Ohio State: Buckeyes 42-16. Luke Fickell returns to Ohio Stadium, where he was the interim Ohio State coach in 2011.
Rutgers at Iowa: Hawkeyes 48-14. Nothing screams Big Ten football like Rutgers playing the conference opener in Iowa City.
Western Michigan at Michigan State: Spartans 32-7. Michigan State appears to be stocked on defense. Now, about that offense.
Central Michigan at Wisconsin: Badgers 42-7. I misjudged the Badgers. My apologies. I will now sit down and go back to believing Wisconsin will crush every opponent seeking an upset.
Buffalo at Penn State: Nittany Lions 52-7. Is it just me, or has Penn State lost its pride? I mean, the Nittanys don’t schedule worth beans anymore.
Illinois at Connecticut: Illini 31-13. I think it’s time for UConn to drop football. They tried it. Didn’t work. Time to move on.
Eastern Illinois at Indiana: Hoosiers 41-14. Can IU match the NFL pedigree of Tony Romo, Sean Payton and Jimmy Garropolo, Eastern Illinois grads all?
Miami at North Carolina: Hurricanes 27-14. Second straight week Mack Brown goes against his former defensive coordinator. Last week, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. This week, Miami’s Manny Diaz.
South Florida at Georgia Tech: Yellow Jackets 26-24. USF looked a mess against Wisconsin.
Louisiana-Monroe at Florida State: Seminoles 48-20. Speaking of mess, look to Tallahassee. Embattled FSU coach Willie Taggart blamed a lack of hydration for a loss to Boise State. Let’s get this straight. A team from Florida, playing in Florida in humid September, was not conditioned as well as a team from Idaho?
Ohio U. at Pittsburgh: Panthers 31-21. Frank Solich, who played Nebraska fullback against Bud Wilkinson, keeps rolling along as the Ohio coach.
Wake Forest at Rice: Demon Deacons 27-14. Wake could get to 2-0 and hasn’t even played Elon yet.
Old Dominion at Virginia Tech: Hokies 35-16. Rough times for VPI coach Justin Fuente, whose team lost at Boston College last week.
Richmond at Boston College: Eagles 43-17. Hey, BC could be 7-0 when it goes to Clemson in October. The Eagles’ next five games are Kansas, at Rutgers, Wake Forest, at Louisville and North Carolina State.
William & Mary at Virginia: Cavaliers 47-6. William & Mary coach Mike London was the head coach of UVA from 2010-15.
Eastern Kentucky at Louisville: Cardinals 38-19. The ‘Ville looked a lot better than expected in the season-opening loss to Notre Dame.
North Carolina A&T at Duke: Blue Devils 38-7. Quite a change, from Alabama to A&T. And Duke even shut out the Crimson Tide in the first quarter.
Western Carolina at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 49-14. Pay attention. Western Carolina comes to OU next season.
Stanford at Southern Cal: Cardinal 21-19. Perhaps a battle of backup quarterbacks. Last week, USC lost J.T. Daniels for the season and likely will go with true freshman Kedon Slovis. And Stanford’s K.J. Costello is questionable for the game, so the Cardinal might have to go with Davis Mills at QB.
California at Washington: Huskies 42-13. Cal won this game last year, but that seems quite unlikely in Seattle.
Nevada at Oregon: Ducks 42-12. Wolf Pack coach Jay Norvell, a seven-year member of Bob Stoops staff, got a big win over Purdue last week.
San Diego State at UCLA: Bruins 23-18. These teams combined to score 20 points last week against Weber State and Cincinnati.
Northern Illinois at Utah: Utes 38-6. Are the Utes the Pac-12’s great hope for the College Football Playoff?
Oregon State at Hawaii: Rainbow Warriors 41-31. The Beavers aren’t bad on offense, but man, that defense would stick out poorly even in the Big 12.
Sacramento State at Arizona State: Sun Devils 52-14. Still going to be awhile before we know how good Herman Edwards’ team is.
Northern Colorado at Washington State: Cougars 59-13. Still going to be awhile before we know how good Mike Leach’s team is.
Northern Arizona at Arizona: Wildcats 55-10. I think we already know how good Kevin Sumlin’s team is. Not very.
Tulsa at San Jose State: Spartans 24-20. It makes no sense, but TU’s defense is rather stout, but that offense can’t get going.
Central Florida at Florida Atlantic: Knights 41-17. There was a time not so long ago that UCF, FAU and South Florida all were contending for the crown of mid-major king in the Sunshine State. No longer. It’s Central Florida.
North Texas at SMU: Mean Green 37-34. Man, what a fun game. UNT coach Seth Littrell, the former OU fullback, spent three years with now-SMU coach Sonny Dykes. They were together on Leach’s Texas Tech staff (2005-06) and Mike Stoops’ Arizona staff (2009). And don’t forget the quarterbacks – Locust Grove’s Mason Fine vs. Texas transfer Shane Buechele.
Southern U. at Memphis: Tigers 41-18. McNeese State beat Southern last week. Memphis beat Ole Miss.
Gardner-Webb at East Carolina: Pirates 40-14. Everytime I see East Carolina, I think of Lincoln Riley. I’ll bet everytime East Carolina sees Lincoln Riley, it thinks of the idiotic decision to fire Ruffin McNeill.
Prairie View at Houston: Cougars 42-6. UofH continues its wacky schedule of only five days between games. Houston opened on a Sunday at OU, then plays on Saturday, Friday and Thursday in successive weeks.
Marshall at Boise State: Broncos 35-25. Cool mid-major matchup, albeit cross-country. Huntington, West Virginia, to Boise, Idaho is 2,070 miles.
Western Illinois at Colorado State: Rams 44-21. Colorado State coach Mike Bobo blasted Pac-12 officials after CSU’s loss to Colorado. Bobo wasn’t the first.
Wyoming at Texas State: Cowboys 35-24. Tulsan Jake Spavital still looking for his first win as the Bobcat coach.
Stony Brook at Utah State: Aggies 38-11. A not-so-cool cross-country trip. It’s 2,221 miles from Stony Brook, New York, to Logan, Utah.
Arkansas State at Nevada-Las Vegas: Red Wolves 31-30. Arkansas State coach Blake Anderson still dealing with the death of his wife from cancer just a few weeks ago.
Last week: 54-10. Season: 55-11.