Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Roundup: September 7 Part Two

Hawaii @ Oregon State, 5:00 PM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Oregon State (-27)

Oregon State will look to flush out the memory of losing to Eastern Washington and look to get back to basics, particularly on defense against Hawaii. As bad as OSU's defense looked last week, Hawaii's offense was much worse. Hawaii completed just 39% of its throws and ran for less than one yard per carry last week against USC. That includes sacks but none of Hawaii's tailbacks averaged better than 2.8 yards per carry. USC's defense is very good and they certainly had something to do with those numbers but there is also a certain level of ineptitude necessary from Hawaii to make those stats possible.

OSU isn't quite USC so maybe Hawaii will find a liiiiiiiitle more offense but of course the Beavers have a lot more offensive ability at the moment than the Trojans. The Beavers want to start their season anew and they will come up with a huge effort and a lot of fire. The Beavers will score as much as they want and the defense will play better as Oregon State pummels Hawaii 49-20.

Arizona @ UNLV, 7:30 PM on CBS Sports Network. Line: Arizona (-11.5)

Arizona plays one of the weirdest games on the college football schedule this season as they go on the road to play UNLV. the Rebels are a step up from Northern Arizona but it's not much. the Rebels were trounced 51-23 by Minnesota last week and frankly UNLV has established a track record of being among the worst teams in FBS. UNLV has been under .500 every year since 2003 and hasn't had a winning season since 2000. As I've mentioned extensively on this blog, Arizona did not show their hand offensively at all last week and we still have no idea what they are going to look like. We should see the playbook expand at least a little bit tonight, not to mention the fact that All-American running back Ka'Deem Carey will make his season debut tonight. I have no idea if Arizona is good or not but I do know that UNLV sucks and they shouldn't be put within 11.5 of any power conference team. I'll take Arizona to win big again, 41-7.

Washington State @ USC, 7:30 PM on Fox Sports 1. Line: USC (-15.5)

It's not all cream puffs and random inter-sectional games tonight. No, the conference season kicks off under the lights at the Coliseum as Wazzou heads south to face USC to play the first Pac-12 game of 2013 (congrats everyone, we made it!). USC needs more from its passing game. The Cougars aren't quite the same as the top offenses USC will play this season but they will score some points and USC's offensive effort from the Hawaii game won't cut it tonight.

The offensive line is also a huge concern as USC struggled to block Hawaii last week and will now have its hands full with Wazzou's defensive front that looked positively ferocious last week against Auburn. USC's defense should do better to hold down Wazzou's offense than Auburn did but that's okay if Wazzou can cut down on mistakes. WSU QB Connor Haliday threw 30 incompletions including three picks, the last of which was in the endzone when the Cougars were driving to tie the game with about two minutes left in the game. USC will get some stops but Wazzou can move the ball on anyone as long as Haliday can be more efficient. If Haliday can make smarter throws and USC's passers don't improve, Wazzou just might pull this out. I don't quite see that happening, but I do think USC is getting way too many point given the condition of its passing game. I'll take the points and say the Trojans win 30-24.

San Jose State @ Stanford, 8:00 PM on Pac-12 Network. Line: Stanford (-24.5)

Stanford gets its season underway after an early bye week and they might be in tough. You might remember last year when Stanford faced SJSU in week one and slogged their way to a 20-17 win that had everyone freaking out and thinking the Cardinal were in for a massive regression without Andrew Luck. Then SJSU turned out to be a 10 win team. The game turned out to be justifiably close and Stanford was just fine on offense (after switching QBs) and won the Pac-12.

Now a year later, I'd say everyone has a more realistic outlook on this game going in. SJSU may have lost head coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado but a significant portion of the team's key talent is back, highlighted by potential 1st round pick at QB in senior David Fales. The Stanford defense looks about the same as it did last year in terms of personnel and Fales will present a nice early challenge to see if Stanford's D is still as good. Offensively, I'm really anxious to see how QB Kevin Hogan has improved over the summer. He came off the bench and took the Pac-12 by storm in the latter half of last year. I want to see how he gets by without his two security blankets, TE Zach Ertz and RB Stepfan Taylor who have both moved on to the NFL. I'm not overly concerned about the Cardinal tailbacks because Stanford's O-line is so good they will make replacement level tailbacks look like stars.

TE and an overall lack of elite pass catchers is a concern though. SJSU may not be able to do it but teams will try to contain Hogan within the pocket and attack the run game with lots of players near the line of scrimmage. If teams can keep Hogan in the pocket and prevent him from using his legs and the receivers can't get open, Stanford is going to have some trouble on offense. I don't think SJSU has it in them to win this game but I want to see right off the top if Stanford's receivers can get open consistently because their whole season might come down to that. I do think 24.5 is a little too much against a team as good as the Spartans so I'll take the points and say the Cardinal take this one 38-17.

Record against the spread this season: 6-5

Record straight up this season: 8-3

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