College preview: Week 1
The DCTF staff previews college action across the state
DCTF’s Greg Tepper and EJ Holland preview all the FBS college football action across the state. And they make their picks! Disagree? Leave a comment below.
SMU at Baylor, 6:30 p.m. Sunday at McLane Stadium (TV: Fox Sports 1) — Boy, we wouldn’t want to be in SMU’s shoes right now. Baylor enters the year ranked No. 10, is coming off a Big 12 title, has two Heisman candidates in quarterback Bryce Petty and wide receiver Antwan Goodley and oh, in case you haven’t heard, the Bears are christening new $260 million McLane Stadium — we can’t wait to sailgate! Meanwhile, SMU is coming off its worst season since 2008 when the Ponies went 1-11 in June Jones' first year with the program and has a new starter at quarterback in Neal Burcham, who was shaky at best when he replaced an injured Garrett Gilbert late last season. Vegas says Baylor is a 31.5 favorite, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears score more than three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. The biggest question is will Art Briles take his foot off the gas.
Tepper's pick: Baylor 56, SMU 21
EJ's pick: Baylor 56, SMU 21
UTSA at Houston, 8 p.m. Friday at TDECU Stadium (TV: ESPNU) — For Houston fans, this is a day that’s nearly four-and-a-half years in the making. It was back in February 2010 that UH got the ball rolling on what is now known as TDECU Stadium, now a glistening 40,000-seat on-campus stadium. To celebrate the grand opening, the Coogs will field one of their most anticipated teams ever, with QB John O’Korn, WR Deontay Greenberry and a sensational defense in tow. But UTSA, a team with high expectations of its own, looks to crash the party, and don’t think they can’t do it. True, Eric Soza — the only quarterback the Runners have ever known — is gone, but Tucker Carter is a very viable replacement, and experience dripping off this team will mean they won’t be intimidated. The key matchups here are relatively boring: it’s UTSA’s veteran offensive line against Houston’s pass-rush. If the line can keep Carter clean, it’ll help slow the game down and let him settle in. But if Joey Mbu and Trevor Harris start getting in Carter’s grill, the Roadrunners’ attack could stall, and that will open the door for the O’Korn and company to get back on the field and potentially wreak havoc.
Tepper’s pick: Houston 38, UTSA 28
EJ's pick: Houston 44, UTSA 31
North Texas at Texas, 7 p.m. Saturday at Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium (TV: Longhorn Network) — It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Charlie Strong’s first game as the head coach of Texas. How different will the Longhorns look under the former Louisville coach who has earned a reputation for running tight ships? It’s safe to assume Texas will be more disciplined and the defense led by defensive end Cedric Reed and Quandre Diggs will be stout, but there are still plenty of question marks on offense. The big boys up front are inexperienced and quarterback David Ash is injury-prone, to say the least. So this might be a closer game than many expect. Remember, North Texas won nine games a year ago, and the program is on the rise thanks to the fabulous coaching styles of Dan McCarney. Sure, North Texas was wiped out by graduation and will be breaking in a new quarterback in Josh Greer, but the Mean Green will make a game of this. Mark our words.
Tepper's pick: Texas 35, North Texas 27
EJ’s pick: Texas 28, North Texas 23
Rice at Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium (TV: NBC) — Is Rice the quietest reigning conference champion in the country? We hear all about SEC champion Auburn, ACC champion Florida State, Big 12 champion Baylor, Big 10 champion Ohio State…what about the Owls, fresh off their Conference USA title? There’s not a ton of ballyhoo over the Owls, which may make them prime candidates to sneak up on Notre Dame on Saturday. Yes, ND will once again be surrounded by pomp and circumstance — not entirely unworthy, especially with the return of QB Everett Golson — but this is a good Rice squad. Can the young offensive line, replacing four starters, hold up? Can Driphus Jackson emerge as a threat at quarterback? Can Christian Covington begin his campaign of terror on the defensive front? The key to the upset for Rice will be to stop the run, particularly Coppell product Cam McDaniel, and force Golson to beat them with his arm, where Rice’s seconardy led by Bryce Callahan should be up to the task. From there, it’s a matter of softening the defense with RBs Darik Dillard and Luke Turner, and then hitting a couple big plays. It’s a tight line to walk, especially on the road with a largely new team, but what a springboard it would be.
Tepper’s pick: Notre Dame 42, Rice 28
EJ's pick: Notre Dame 38, Rice 17
Samford at TCU, 6 p.m. Saturday at Amon G Carter Stadium (TV: Fox Sports Southwest)— Look, we fully expect TCU to beat down Samford, an FCS school with a less than one percent chance of winning this game. But you should tune in for these two reasons: 1. It will be interesting to see what TCU’s offense looks like. Remember, the Horned Frogs went out and hired Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meachum this offseason. Both are known for helping teams put up monster numbers through the air, and Gary Patterson confirmed TCU was going to open things up more after last season’s struggles. 2. The quarterback race. Matt Joeckel transferred in from Texas A&M and seemed like the ideal fit for the new offense. But Patterson has yet to name a starter and said Trevone Boykin will also get some snaps under center. Boykin is a phenomenal athlete, but he was less than impressive as a passer in 2013. We still think Joeckel is ‘the guy,’ but you never know.
Tepper's pick: TCU 52, Samford 10
EJ’s pick: TCU 52, Samford 13
Central Arkansas at Texas Tech, 6 p.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium (No TV) — We can talk all we want about how Central Arkansas really isn’t bad (the Bears went 7-5 last year), or how the offense should hum (they averaged more than 450 yards per game last season) or how they’ve nearly upset FBS teams in the past (see: 38-24 loss to Colorado last season). We can talk about that. But the bottom line is that if Texas Tech is who we think they are — a good, potentially great team — they should have their way with this FCS foe at home. Of particular note will be the maturation of QB Davis Webb — he was occasionally transcendent, occasionally ordinary, and usually good-not-great. If he looks good, and the defense (a question mark in 2014) can slow down this usually (relatively) potent Bears attack, it bodes well for the Red Raiders going forward. This is the type of game that shouldn’t really be measured by the scoreboard, but rather how the Raiders look.
Tepper’s pick: Texas Tech 55, Central Arkansas 14
EJ's pick: Texas Tech 59, Central Arkansas 20
Arkansas Pine-Bluff at Texas State, 6 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium (TV: ESPN3) — UTSA is garnering quite a bit of attention, but don’t forget about the team just to the north. Texas State was this close — we’re squeezing our index finger and thumb together — to making a bowl game last season. In fact, if freshman quarterback Tyler Jones wouldn’t have gotten hurt late, the Bobcats, who were bowl eligible at 6-6, probably would have gone bowling. But last year is in the past. This year’s squad is even more talented with Jones having a year under his belt, stud running back Robert Lowe back in the mix and a relatively inexperienced but potential-filled defense led by veteran linebacker David Mayo. Texas State should get the momentum going early against Arkansas Pine-Bluff, an FCS team that went just 2-9 last season and lost SWAC Defensive Player of the Year Jer-ryan Harris to graduation. Expect Jones to be efficient, Lowe to break away for big runs, Mayo to lay the wood and Texas State fans to rejoice.
Tepper's pick: Texas State 45, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 13
EJ’s Pick: Texas State 49, Arkansas Pine-Bluff 12
UTEP at New Mexico, 7 p.m. Saturday at University Stadium (No TV) — The 67th installment of this rivalry gives us an opportunity to reflect on the history. New Mexico leads the series, 35-29-2, but that’s including a 17-year winning streak by the Lobos from 1970 to 1986. More recently, this matchup has been very evenly matched: in the eight games played since 1998, UTEP has won five of them, and the games have been decided by an average of 9.5 points. As for this year’s installment, this game could be over in two hours flat, because both teams are going to run-run-run. From UNM, expect to see a lot of runs from QB Cole Gautsche (a monster at 6-4 and 227 pounds) and RB Crusoe Gongbay out of the option scheme. For UTEP, you’ll get the Aaron Jones and Nathan Jeffery show. What’ll matter is the defense, and that’s where New Mexico may have the advantage. They return the bulk of their defensive front seven, while UTEP will be ushering in a bevy of new folks. This is a tough one to call, and it should be close, but the edge goes to UNM by virtue of being at home and having a more proven front seven.
Tepper’s pick: New Mexico 30, UTEP 24
EJ's pick: UTEP 27, New Mexico 24
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