Thursday, September 6, 2012

Football is back! And so is my little blog...

Let's take a quick look back at week 1 in college football and a quick look ahead to week 2.

-I'll start with Texas A&M since they represent all that is good and holy in this world. The Aggies first game was postponed due to the hurricane, which was a giant let down for everyone (the cancellation, not the hurricane... the hurricane was just ok... I've had better). So... that's about it for looking back to week 1 for the Ags. I'll revisit them in a bit as I look to week 2.

-How about a little more SEC talk? South Carolina and Vanderbilt went about exactly the way I picture all SEC games going. Poor offense, good defense, low scoring, with the better team eventually winning. People always rave about the SEC defenses and use that a reason why A&M will supposedly get crushed, but I think a large part of the equation is just bad offense. Last year Alabama only played one team all season (Arkansas) that had a top 50 offense. ONE! Meanwhile, A&M played against 5 of the top 13. Some might say it's a chicken and egg scenario (Does the Big 12 have good offenses or bad defenses?) and maybe some  chicken and some egg in it (huh?), but the fact is, the SEC does NOT have dynamic offenses, outside of Arkansas and now, hopefully, A&M. 

-Alabama! SEC! SEC! It's just not fair. I'll just leave it at that. And if you don't know what I'm talking about, just go look at the first half play by play from their game against Michigan. They are this year's national champions, in my opinion.

-Florida, who I did watch closely since they are playing A&M this week, looked... ok. They were just ok as a team last year, and there's not much to suggest they'll improve this year. Which isn't to say they're bad, they just aren't on the level they used to be, and they are beatable. They do have athletes though. They also have what the French call a certain... I don't know what, but whatever it is, it comes from being a program that has been really good for a long time. They don't have much at quarterback though and that will cost them a few games this year. And their defense didn't play nearly as well as I thought it would.

Now, on to some non-SEC stuff.

-The Longhorns, who naturally represent all that is evil and dirty in this world, had an easy win against Wyoming. I didn't see it so I can't comment on much, but my opinion all summer on the Horns' prospects has been this: a very good defense, and an offense that will be better than last year, both running and passing, though still not explosive, which will lead to 9 (most likely) or 10 wins. I felt like this game somewhat went with my predictions. The running game does look better, and t.u. has a few good backs that are each different in style. Two running backs rushed for 100+, which I'm assuming hasn't happened in a very long time for them. The passing game led by Davis Ash still doesn't produce big plays, but at least he protected the ball. That right there is a big reason I see t.u. winning more games this year. I could certainly talk more about them but I feel very dirty right now so let's move on.

-OU looked pretty bad for three quarters against a bad team. Very interesting development. They are still a highly regarded team but I get the sense that they're just teetering on the edge of falling back down to normalcy. I think Bob Stoops is one of the best, so I'll be interested to see how they handle this season. The good news for them is that the Big 12 only has one other school that recruits as well as they do, so they still have as much talent as anyone, although West Virginia's offense appears to be in a league of its own.

-West Virginia came within one missed extra point of scoring 70 points in back to back games, dating back to last year's bowl game. I spent all summer rolling my eyes at how people were overrating WVU. People seemed to only look at the bowl game and assume that WVU scored 70 every week, when in reality they did have a few struggles here and there. Seeing them come right out of the gate this year has changed my opinion on them somewhat, and I now have them winning the Big 12. The only two teams that I think have a chance to slow them down are OU and Texas, and both of those teams have issues of their own. So I have WVU winning the conference with an 11-1 record. Full prediction below.

-Baylor looked great. I know, I know, it was just SMU that they played, but the fact is, they racked up over 600 yards of offense despite losing the Heisman Trophy winner, a wide receiver that went in the first round of the NFL draft, and a running back that set the all-time single season rushing record for their school last year. You'd expect a drop-off, but there was none. I've been high on Baylor this off-season. I have still had them as an 8 or 9 win team even without RG3, because they are still with Art Briles. Briles is an evil genius, and I think we're really going to see that this year as their offense is almost as good as it was last year. Baylor has done a great job of re-inventing themselves, branding themselves as a "cool" football team, wearing flashy uniforms (their basketball team does as well), and having a superstar to help the image. Even with an atrocious defense last year, Baylor won 10 games. This year, they lose a little on offense but their defense should slightly improve, and I have them going 9-3. 

-I can't go without a quick mention of the Houston game against Texas State. WOW. So Houston goes 12-1 last year, loses their coach to Texas A&M, and promptly loses their first game, in which they were favored by about 35 points to a team that just started playing FBS football. All I know is that after seeing that score pop up, I immediately felt even better about the fact that Kevin Sumlin is A&M's coach, because for them to crumble like that in the first game without Sumlin tells me that Sumlin was the key ingredient in Houston's success. Another interesting note from that game is that in the days following, Houston's offensive coordinator Mike Nesbitt resigned. After one game. It's somewhat reminiscent of how Kevin Sumlin, who coached at A&M in 2002, got his first opportunity to be an offensive coordinator. A&M's offense was struggling badly under Dino Babers, and in the middle of the season, R.C. Slocum demoted Babers and promoted Sumlin, and just like that, A&M's offense improved. Scoring went up by 50%, and A&M ended up beating #1 ranked Oklahoma in one of the most memorable games ever at Kyle Field. 10 years later, Sumlin has now ascended to one of the highest levels you can reach, and back at the school he just left, the same thing is essentially happening ... something something circle of life.

Looking ahead to Week 2, from the viewpoint of a degenerate gambler:

-A&M (-2) vs. Florida: I can't really say too much that hasn't already been said about this game. Being the featured game of the week on ESPN, having College Gameday there, it's been talked about plenty. A&M new quarterback, A&M no depth at defensive line, Florida two quarterbacks, A&M home field advantage, blah blah blah. So I'll just go for the old journalistic trick of attempting to make connections to similar situations in the past. Here goes.

In 1989, R.C. Slocum took over and in his very first game, he hosted a top 10 SEC opponent. A&M was coming off of a 7 win season. And in an "I'm here to be reckoned with" statement game, he led his Ags to a 28-16 victory and went on to have a hall of fame coaching career.

Now, Sumlin inherits a team coming off of a 7 win season, and opens the year with a traditional SEC powerhouse at Kyle Field.

The fact is, even with the fact that A&M hasn't played a game yet and Florida has, Sumlin can still come in and make a big, fat statement to the SEC and all of college football and win this first game.

I was a student when A&M's offense was sputtering so badly in 2002 that R.C. demoted Babers mid-season and promoted Sumlin, and Sumlin, with the exact same players and playbook, increased our scoring average by over 50% and led us to an upset of the #1 team in the nation. He's a badass and he has been for a LONG time. He's not going to let the fact that this is the first game affect anything. He's going to go out and lead the team and have them ready. We may win, we may not, but we'll be ready.

In that LSU game in 1989, A&M's Larry Horton returned the opening kickoff of the game for a touchdown. How sweet would it be if Trey Williams did the exact same thing this Saturday...

I believe Sumlin is THE man for our program, and he will announce as much by leading us to a win over Florida. My official pick: A&M- 27, Florida, 24. (It's not one I'd bet on though)

Other gambling picks for the week:

I really like Georgia (-2.5) over Mizzou. 

I like Michigan (-21) over Air Force (assuming Air Force still isn't allowed to use planes).

I like Ohio State (-18) over Central Florida.

I like Miami (+7) over Kansas State, and would probably also throw a bet down on the moneyline for Miami, because I think there's a great shot they'll win the game.

I like Iowa State (+5) over Iowa and again, would consider a moneyline bet on ISU.

I like New Mexico (+38) against t.u. I think t.u. will easily win, of course, but they don't have the type of offense to cover very many 38 point spreads.

I like Louisiana Tech (-3.5) over Houston. 

I like Nebraska (-6) over UCLA. 

That's it. I may add some over/unders but haven't really looked at them yet. Last week, I didn't post picks here but I went 5-2 on picks against the spread posted on another website. They were:

Baylor (-9)- win
Baylor (OVER)- win
Michigan (+14)- loss
Boise (UNDER)- win
Stanford (-24)- loss
Texas State (+36)- win
Wyoming (+31.5)- win

Oh, and I almost forgot. I was going to make a couple predictions. Official prediction for A&M is 8-4 and has been all along for me. Bama wins the SEC and the whole country and maybe even plays an all-star football team from the USSR and beats them too to win the world. In the Big 12, which I still feel most knowledgeable about, I'm going with WVU at 1 loss, OU, t.u., and Baylor with 3 losses, TCU, KSU, and OSU right behind them, and ISU, KU, and Tech all struggling with only 1 or 2 conference wins. I haven't added all that up to make sure the math works, but something in that general vicinity is my prediction.

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