Scully's Week 4 NCAAF picks: Big 12 battles
After a light week in college football, a better slate is on tap in Week 4. My focus is on a couple Big 12 games, but with the SEC kicking off, I'll also take a shot at a matchup in the SEC East.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State
Sat, September 26 2020, 7:30 PM
Oklahoma State Cowboys
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia has found a quarterback in transfer Jarret Doege, who was sharp in the opener against Eastern Kentucky, and the offense has good depth at running back, with Leddie Brown, Alec Sinkfield, and Tony Mathis Jr.
Considering how Oklahoma State struggled to block Tulsa last week, West Virginia’s defense can take advantage of a favorable matchup.
The defensive line is a strength for the Mountaineers. Darius Stills was named the Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by Phil Steele, and his brother, Dante Stills, was picked for the Street & Smith All-Big 12 First Team, after he recorded seven sacks last year. The Stills brothers are a force up front.
Oklahoma State lost a pair of projected starters on the offensive line before the opener and couldn’t keep Tulsa out of the backfield. The Cowboys allowed 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including six sacks. Chuba Hubbard, who led the nation in rushing last year, was held to 35 yards, as Oklahoma State had to rally from a late third-quarter deficit to escape with a narrow win as a 24-point favorite.
The Cowboys figure to play better after the lackluster effort, but their quarterback situation is in flux. Spencer Sanders is expected to suit up, after he was forced out of last week’s game by an ankle injury, but running is an important facet of his game. If Sanders is limited, Oklahoma State may turn to Shane Illingworth, who entered the season as the third-string QB but performed better than the backup in relief last week.
This has the makings of a close game, and we can exploit an inflated point spread. It is my best bet of the week!
Texas at Texas Tech
Sat, September 26 2020, 7:30 PM
Texas Tech Red Raiders
After an underachieving 8-5 season, in which the defense was hit hard by injury, Texas is poised to rebound. The Longhorns should run roughshod over a Texas Tech team with serious problems defensively.
It’s a make-or-break campaign for head coach Tom Herman, as the Texas faithful questioned whether he was the right man to lead the program last season, and the early returns look promising. Texas streaked to a 45-0 halftime advantage in its opener against UTEP, and quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw for for 426 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. The Longhorns depth at wide receiver, even though they lost a pair of starters from last season.
Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman will present a challenge, but the Texas defense has eight starters back and can be formidable, after it was decimated by injuries in the secondary last year.
The opener was ugly for Texas Tech, which surrendered 572 passing yards to 0-2 FCS opponent Houston Baptist. It was embarrassing. The Red Raiders needed to get a couple first downs to run out the clock, after Houston Baptist reduced the lead to 35-33 with more than three minutes remaining. Leading rusher SaRodorick Thompson may still play, but he was arrested this week for racing vehicles in late June.
Texas, which is 8-2 against the spread in its last 10 games against Texas Tech, will take advantage of this mismatch.
Tennessee at South Carolina
Sat, September 26 2020, 11:30 PM
South Carolina Gamecocks
Jeremy Pruitt has upgraded the talent in Knoxville, but his young Tennessee teams get off to slow starts. There was plenty of optimism entering last year, and the Vols went 1-4 before they won their last six games.
With a strong linebacker corps and secondary, South Carolina will play stingy defense, which gives it a shot to win outright. Tennessee’s offense figures to rely heavily on the ground game, because it lost their top two receivers from last season. Who will be surprised to see a close game? I expect it to be settled by a field goal or less.
Quarterback play doomed South Carolina last season and it missed a bowl game for the first time in the Will Muschamp era. But strong-armed transfer Collin Hill and new offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will elevate an offense that struggled to throw effectively.
South Carolina is in revenge mode, after it was embarrassed defensively at Tennessee and gave up 41 points last year.
Considering the lack of respect from oddsmakers (South Carolina was a 10-point favorite the last time they played Tennessee at home), the Gamecocks will be primed for their best.
I’m taking the points and will look for more from Tennessee as the season progresses.