I've taken a lot of flack for picking Florida State and giving proper acknowledgement to how good the Seminoles are with the loaded offensive line, the 300-pound defensive ends that run like they weigh 250, the NFL-caliber corners and receivers, the Lou Groza Award-winning kicker, and of course, the Heisman Trophy quarterback. I hope the Cowboy pull off the gigantic upset and I get to apologize to them all next week. I would love nothing more.
vs. Florida State Cornerbacks P.J. Williams and Ronald Darby
Both Darby and Williams are on the Jim Thorpe Award Watch List and various preseason All-American teams. Williams (6-0, 196) was the Defensive MVP in the BCS National Championship Game and Darby (5-11, 195) is considered a lockdown corner.
The Seminoles have a lot of pride in this pair and you can expect man coverage with Darby and Williams locking down on the Cowboys receivers. They don't blitz the corner much and the two combined for just 49 tackles last season. Their value is in taking a receiver and shutting him down in man.
Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Brandon Sheperd, Austin Hays and the freshmen like James Washington and Chris Lacy need to understand that they have to win their share of battles, and they are capable of winning them. I predict this match-up will be close and each side will come away with triumphs and a few scars.
Winner: Dead Even
vs. Florida State Defensive End Derrick Mitchell and "Jack" Mario Edwards Jr.
This is the match-up that I'm sure concerns the Cowboys the most and it is all wrapped up in inexperience as Zach Crabtree, a standout in high school at Mansfield, Texas, will make his first start as a redshirt freshman at right tackle. The 6-7, 300-pound Crabtree is what you want physically but lacks seasoning to go against the caliber of Mitchell and Edwards.
Mitchell is 6-4, 303 pounds and Edwards is a very athletic 6-3, 294 pounds. Koenig has really turned into the leader on the offensive line and he still has that mean streak he plays with in storage. He may need it for this one. Koenig should hold up and Crabtree should get a real education.
Winner: Florida State
vs. Florida State Right Guard Tre Jackson
You may want to quit watching the ball some and watch the Cowboys defensive line go against what most scouts and observers feel is the best offensive line in college football. Of that big match-up this is the micro you want to see.
Castleman had better be playing with a chip on his shoulder as the Big 12 media and others completely dissed him with preseason honors that he truly deserved. Jackson is rated the top guard in next year's NFL Draft, and the NFL is where Castleman wants to end up, so owning Jackson would be a very good thing.
This will be a lot of fun and will factor heavy in whether the Seminoles can run the ball effectively inside and the push for the pass rush.
Winner: Oklahoma State
I expect Oklahoma State to try to find a way to get Tyreek Hill loose for a big play early and have him weigh on the minds of the Seminoles defense. I expect the Cowboys to use tempo and hopefully force the Seminoles to keep up.
At the end of the day there are more matchups that favor the Noles than the Pokes. I hope I am wrong but my prediction is the Cowboys will play hard, play well, will learn and even the freshmen will show up well but the top-ranked Seminoles prevail.
No. 2 Alabama vs. West Virginia: WVU AD Oliver Luck gets a close-up view at what a playoff team looks like as Alabama beats Dana and the Mountaineers 41-10.
Louisiana Tech at No. 3 Oklahoma: Blake Bell plays some quarterback and not as a dozer as Sooners win it 35-6 over Techsters/
Central Arkansas at Texas Tech: This is a sleeper and kind of non-con games that cost Tech some. Red Raiders win it 59-6/
Sam Houston State at No. 21 Kansas State: The big question is can Charles Jones play running back. Kansas State wins 38-7.
Samford at TCU: The Doug Meacham era begins with a bang as TCU wins 49-14.
North Texas at No. 24 Texas: Dan McCarney and the Mean Green get mean with Charlie Strong as Horns fans aren't impressed in a Texas 35-27 win.
SMU at No. 10 Baylor: Not even close as Bears open up new stadium with a 63-20 pasting in a non-con holy match-up of Baptists and Methodists.