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As for the outlook for the Tigers this year I too have seen the exciting projections and predictions of glory. One thing I noticed is while Pinkel himself mentions that "we don't deserve" to be picked to win the Big XII North he is much quicker to point out the athleticism and strong play of many individual players. At least thowe were my observations from "This Week in Mizzou Football".
Last year, I picked every game at the beginning of the year and I noticed the KC Star did that yestrday picking the Tigers to go 9-2 and win the Big XII North (tiebreaker over KSU). I am going to hold off on that this year but I will give my picks to win the Big XII.
I look for an OU/KSU rematch in Kansas City and I look for the Tigers to finish 8-3 this year. That would have to be considered a successful season as I think the step from .500 in a conference like the Big XII to a winning record in league is a huge one. MU simply hasn't been consistent enough on the road particularly for me to say we will win all the games we are "supposed" to win and go 9-2 or *gasp* 10-1. I could see this occuring but I could also see MU ending up at 7-4 or at worst 6-5.
Since 8-3 is in the middle of what I see as reasonable projections I will go with that. Let's get to 5-0 when we go to Texas (as we "should" just like we "should" have been undefeated when Nebraska came to town last year) and we will go from there. The North is really a three team race with CU as a potential darkhorse in fourth.
On to this week's games
Thursday night ESPN
A&M (+8.5) at Utah - Well, the honeymoon can come to an end quickly for Franchione in College Station this year. This is not a good non conference schedule for a team looking for some confidence. Ask MU how tough the Urban Meyer spread offense can be to stop and I have a feeling A&M is going to see this first hand. This is NOT a "Wrecking Crew" right now.
Pick Utah 34-17
Game of the week -
OSU (pick 'em) at UCLA 230 ABC= Again, not a good game to be looking at a new WR/QB and RB for the 'Pokes. I do respect what OSU has put together but this is the first legit non conference game they have scheduled in a while. After this it's back to feast on the SMU's of the world.
Pick UCLA 28-20
Speaking of SMU they are +24 at home against Texas Tech 7 PM no TV. I like this game a lot Sonny Cumbie may or may not be what Tech has had at QB in the past but he has Glover and Henderson to bail him out when he gets in trouble and in this game he won't have trouble.
LOCK OF THE WEEK - TEXAS TECH
They win 52-10
Tulsa (+3.5) at KU 6 PM no TV - Well I have gone back and forth on this game, but I think this is the chance for KU to put their best foot forward and I think they have enough going for them they will do so. They have had a few injuries in their backfield, but I believe but this game will be meaningful. Can Barrman actually lead the 'Hawks to winning some games. I think he will, but here KU is in real trouble against an underrated Tulsa team.
I'll take KU 27-20
CSU (+4.5) at CU (7 PM Central FSN) - Well we get to see CU after an offseason of turmoil. I went to Boulder last year and watched CU beat the Tigers and this is a team with more athleticism than most folks think. I'd probably take CSU in Denver and frankly I think Lubbick can outcoach Barnett if it comes to that (not to insult Barnett but Lubbick is outstanding) but I think CU has more athletes than most of us are giving them credit for. The good bet against CU may be when North Texas comes to town where the number will be much higher.
I like CU 31-21
North Texas +26 is at Texas (6 PM PPV) - Well Texas really has the athletes and they love to stick it to the instate schools, they Run it up in this one every chance they get. I'll take Texas 55-17
Bowling Green (+32) at OU (11 AM ABC) - This number looks way too high, Bowling Green is a pretty solid team and it is the first game. But OU beat North Texas 37-3 in the opener last year. OU wants those #1 votes and they start to pick some up this week. I'll take the favorite here.
Baylor (+14) at UAB - Yeah I know, Baylor is supposed to be better this year. We will see.
UAB wins and covers 31-13
1AA fodder this week is Western Kentucky at KSU and Western Illinois at Nebraska. These games aren't worth looking at unless you are a fan of the teams mentioned, blowouts for the home teams.
However Northern Iowa is at ISU - UNI lost 17-10 last year and could win this one. They are #7 in 1AA, that should not matter to a Big XII team but I think it does to ISU. If ISU doesn't win by 20 or more this year will be another disaster, mark that down. ISU will win but by 10-14, not good.
Finally the hometown Tigers are -32.5 against Arkansas State. Pinkel doesn't like to run it up so this looks like an easy play on ASU. But I would not touch this game. For one, MU continues to improve on D. I doubt ASU scores 10 or more points and a shutout is quite possible. ASU lost their last three home games by a combined score of 162-14 ... Ouch!
They did give A&M a decent game last year early so I will take the points (almost all of them). There is no way I would bet this game, I want to enjoy what should be an easy Tiger victory and watch David Richard on D, Tee Rucker, Marcus Woods and others on O and hopefully a good kicker! I would not want to stress about the line!
Pick ASU, they lose 34-6
Other games of interest:
Memphis +3.5 wins outright at Ole Miss.
Iowa covers the 29.5 against Kent State.
Wisconsin does not cover the 23.5 point spread against Central Florida.
Good luck to your team!