Does Oklahoma State Have ANY Shot?

Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: Florida State vs. Oklahoma State, West Virginia vs. Alabama & More

- Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: North Texas vs. Texas, SMU vs. Baylor & More


Florida State (0-0) vs. Oklahoma State (0-0) , in Dallas Aug. 30, 8:00, ABC

Here's The Deal: There’s already been a big surprise to start out the 2014 college football season with Texas A&M blowing up and looking amazing against South Carolina – could Oklahoma State show that it’s business as usual in Stillwater and give the defending national champs a run?

It’s not just about whether or not Florida State wins this game – it’s going to be how it looks. Last year, it came into the opener against Pitt with a ruthless attitude that lasted up until the BCS championship game. No one came close to touching the Seminoles until Auburn, and even then that could be explained away a little bit by the long layoff between the ACC title game and Pasadena. If this really is the be-all-end-all No. 1 team in the nation, it needs to come out and rip apart a good Oklahoma State team, but not a great one – at least on paper.

This might be a bit of a rebuilding job for the Cowboys with some concerns in the defensive back seven and offensively in terms of the consistency of the quarterback and receivers, but Florida State has some adjusting, too. Last year it wasn’t a problem – the Noles replaced the top quarterback taken in the 2013 NFL Draft with an eventual Heisman winner – but can the program really reload at a high level again?

This two teams haven’t played each other since a 34-23 FSU win in the 1985 Gator Bowl, and the first of four times that they faced off came in the 1958 Bluegrass Bowl – a 16-5 OSU win. This time around, the game isn’t necessarily flying under the radar, but it’s just assumed that Florida State is about to take care of business. Come Saturday night, Oklahoma State has to show the ability to change that.

Why Florida State Might Win: Oklahoma State didn’t show off its normal pop and explosion throughout last year, and now it has to try to be more dangerous despite the loss of the team’s top two receivers and with a revamped offensive line. Florida State is hardly a team to tune up against, but the Cowboys need the time with only two starters returning to a back seven that allowed 243 passing yards a game. The biggest problem for OSU is its one main advantage over just about everyone else on its schedule – speed and athleticism – might not matter too much. This team might be young and a bit inexperienced in some areas, but it can really, really run. However, you don’t outathletic and outrun Florida State.
Why Oklahoma State Might Win: It might be too easy to go with the nobody-believes-in-us theory, but it applies. Florida State isn’t just supposed to win; it’s supposed to win in a walk. Jameis Winston proved he could fight through on-field adversity in the BCS championship game, but if the Seminoles aren’t razor-sharp to start the game, will that feed into the Oklahoma State confidence? Does that really matter, since it all really comes down to being able to block and tackle? FSU’s defense is still full of boatloads of talent and speed, but without defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt – who’s off doing his thing at Georgia – will this group be just as efficient and effective? And yes, Oklahoma State does have the speed and it does have the athleticism, and while it won’t be able to outrun Florida State, it should be able to keep up. It’s not going to look like the Seminoles are operating as a whole other level athletically like they did throughout last year.
Who To Watch Out For: J.W. Walsh, if Oklahoma State is going to win, you need to be the story the whole sports world is talking about on Sunday morning. The starting quarterback gig wasn’t a lock by any stretch, but when he was on last year, he was unstoppable. A veteran, he has to be careful with the ball, but he has to let it rip and can’t be timid. He has to be fearless, but he has to adjust quickly to the speed and pressure of the FSU defensive front. In other words, he has to be nearly perfect to keep pace with what Mr. Winston and the FSU offense is about to do.
What’s Going To Happen: Oklahoma State will do more than just show up. Is this the 2012 version of the Cowboys that needed a while to reload for 2013, or is this the team ready for primetime right out of the gate? It’ll be somewhere in the middle, and it’ll be able to keep pace for about a half, but after a fiery halftime pep talk, the defending national champs will show up and take the game away in the third.
Prediction: Florida State 41 … Oklahoma State 27
Line: Florida State -18 o/u: 63.5
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 4

North Dakota State (0-0) at Iowa State (0-0) Aug. 30, 12:00, FOX Sports 1

Here's The Deal: The three-time defending FCS champion is going after yet another FBS team. The Bison have won four straight against the big leaguers, including the season-opener against Kansas State last season. It’s a new era without head coach Craig Bohl, but this is still one of the stars of the FCS with the expectation to make it four in a row. Meanwhile, Iowa State is simply looking for a positive start to the year – it needs this win. It’s going to be a fight to get to six wins and a possible bowl appearance, and even though NDSU is better than at least 40 FCS teams, there can’t be a home loss here to start the season with Kansas State, Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma State to follow.
Why North Dakota State Might Win: Has the Iowa State run defense improved in any way? Yes, the linebackers should be far better and there should be a big improvement from the D that allowed 224 yards per game on the ground, but the Bison will still be as efficient and effective as it was throughout last year when it ripped through everyone in its path – except for Kansas State and Northern Iowa. The NDSU defense that was a brick wall against the pass isn’t going to allow the Cyclones to hit on anything deep.
Why Iowa State Might Win: NDSU is still loaded, but there’s going to be a bit of a drop off after the coaching change with Chris Klieman taking over. As long as the Cyclone defensive front can force 2nd and 7 and a few third and longs, the secondary should be able to take care of the rest. Klieman knows defense, but can he make sure the offense keeps on producing at the same clip? Iowa State isn’t going to take this game lightly, and new offensive coordinator Mark Mangino knows how to get an offense moving, and he should be able to get the ground game going.
Who To Watch Out For: Iowa State redshirt freshman DT Robby Garcia and sophomore DT Devlyn Cousin. The defensive front wasn’t exactly a brick wall to begin with, and then tackles David Irving and Rodney Coe were kicked off the team. That means Cousin was the most experienced tackle this spring, and he only made six tackles in seven games of action. The 277-pound Garcia has to combine with 285-pound sophomore Pierre Aka to help out Cousin on the inside, or else, like last year, teams are going to pound and pound and pound some more in the interior.
What’s Going To Happen: The Bison will make it 25 straight wins. The defense returns ten starters and isn’t going to give up much of anything, and the offense should be able to do just enough – even if it isn’t the machine it was at the end of last year – to take control early.
Prediction: North Dakota State 31 … Iowa State 17
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 3

Samford (0-0) at TCU (0-0) Aug. 30, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2

Here's The Deal: Coming off a mediocre year, this is when TCU has to prove that it’s a new team and a new season with a chance to come up with an big blowout win right away in a strange first part of the season. The Horned Frogs get a week off, host Minnesota, and then get another week off before diving into the rest of the season. Samford isn’t bad, pushing Arkansas hard in a 31-21 loss last year but doing a nice job with a good passing offense on the way to an 8-5 year. Head coach Pat Sullivan – the Auburn legend and Heisman winner – has put together a nice program that won’t be just a speed bump.
Why Samford Might Win: Can the passing game bother the Horned Frogs? Some replacements need to be found, but Sullivan’s Bulldogs should still be able to move the ball through the air after averaging close to 300 yards per game. This is a good, sound team that should be strong in the return game, won’t make a slew of mistakes, and won’t beat itself.
Why TCU Might Win: Samford should be able to throw a bit, but they’re starting out with too many new players in key spots to bother a defense as good as TCU’s. The Bulldogs lost SoCon Offensive Player of the Year Andy Summerlin at quarterback and have to replace all-star RB Fabian Truss. The production will come, but the TCU defense should be among the best in the Big 12 – it’ll be dialed in right away.
Who To Watch Out For: TCU still hasn’t completely settled its quarterback situation. The assumption was that Matt Joeckel was going to step in from Texas A&M and be the main man right away, but last year’s part-time starter, Trevone Boykin, is still in the hunt. The two have completely different styles – Joeckel is a passer who can run a bit, while Boykin can do a little of everything – and they’ll both see time.
What’s Going To Happen: TCU’s defense will be fantastic. The Horned Frog offense won’t be a well-oiled machine early, but the quarterback situation will be a bit clearer as the points roll up late.
Prediction: TCU 41 … Samford 10
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 1

West Virginia (0-0) vs. Alabama (0-0), in Atlanta Aug. 30, 3:30

Here's The Deal: That’s not how you close out a season, part one. With a spot in the SEC championship and a likely berth in the BCS championship there for the taking, Alabama got Davis! Davis!! Davised!!! out of the Iron Bowl, and then forgot to bring its defense to New Orleans against Oklahoma, making the erratic Trevor Knight look like the next Aaron Rodgers in the Sugar Bowl loss. Not that the finish dampened the expectations for 2014 with another loaded team returning and the holes filled with possible upgrades. With an entire offseason to groove on the brutal end to 2013, will the Crimson Tide come out roaring?

That’s not how you close out a season, part two. It’s one thing to struggle in a BCS game and against a team that came within a drive of winning the national title, and it’s another to lose six of your last seven games, lowlighted by the clunkers against horrible Kansas and Iowa State teams to finish things up. Head coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t exactly on a smoking hot seat, but it’s getting a little bit toasty – he could really, really use a good performance against the Crimson Tide. Is it remotely possible for the Crimson Tide to lose to two Big 12 teams in a row? If the Mountaineers can get the passing game cranked up, it could be interesting.

Why West Virginia Might Win: We still don’t quite know if the Alabama secondary can play or not. It couldn’t stop Nick Marshall late in the loss to Auburn, and Knight went ballistic in New Orleans. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is gone, but three starters return to the Tide defensive backfield that needs to be tested early – West Virginia has to take a few chances and several shots down the field. The Mountaineers are loaded at running back, but the ground attack isn’t going to work against the Crimson Tide front seven – it’s going to take a sharp, efficient passing game to keep this close. Holgorsen and his staff have had an entire season to figure it out.
Why Alabama Might Win: Oh yeah, the run defense. Alabama has one, West Virginia isn’t so sure. The Mountaineers were ripped apart by anyone who really wanted to try running the ball last season, giving up 316 yards to Oklahoma, 468 to Baylor and allowing a total of 559 yards on the ground to Kansas and Iowa State to close things out. There’s promise and hope for a better year with a potentially good rotation in the linebacking corps and with a good-looking front three, but Alabama is going to run and run and run some more to take the pressure off of …
Who To Watch Out For: Jacob Coker, or maybe even Blake Sims. There’s talk of possibly rotating the two as there’s still a big battle for the job of replacing AJ McCarron, and while Sims has the massive upside, Coker has the bigger arm and might be the better fit. Either way, the offense had better rock or Lane Kiffin will have a really, really rough week. The West Virginia defense is fine, but it’s nothing special, and the Tide must come up with big numbers and lots of big plays or else the blame will fall directly on the new offensive coordinator.
What’s Going To Happen: Utter annihilation. Alabama doesn’t screw around when it comes to the season openers, embarrassing Virginia Tech 35-10 last year, squeaking by Michigan 41-14 in 2012, and winning its last 11 lid-lifters – mostly in massive blowouts. An offseason of frustration is about to be unleashed on the Mountaineers.
Prediction: Alabama 48 … West Virginia 16
Line: Alabama -26 o/u: 55.5
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 3

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