As will be the case all season here at Doc’s Sports, I will preview one of the last-starting NCAA games of the week, and because the midnight EST Lamar-Hawaii game Saturday isn’t all that exciting (and, you know, has no line) it’s an Oklahoma State-Arizona look in Week 2.
It should be an incredibly fun game to watch if you like offense. The No. 18 Cowboys were one of the nation’s top offenses last year and managed only 84 points in winning their opener over FCS doormat Savannah State (there was no line on that one – poor Savannah State as it goes to Florida State this week). That easily broke OSU’s modern record for points in a game, which previously had been 65 in 2010, and was the school’s first shutout since 2000.
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Arizona, meanwhile, had much more trouble in the debut of Rich Rodriguez as the Wildcats’ head coach. UA was taken to overtime at home vs. MAC school Toledo before prevailing, 24-17. The Cats had been 10-point favorites and the total went well under the 63.5 – don’t be surprised if totals are inflated on the first several Arizona games with RichRod’s new spread attack.
These two schools played in Week 2 in Stillwater last year, with OSU winning, 37-14. But those clubs had two of the nation’s most prolific passers in Nick Foles of Arizona and Brandon Weeden of the Cowboys. They are now in the NFL, with Weeden starting Week 1 for Cleveland and Foles winning the job as Michael Vick’s backup in Philly.
Oklahoma State at Arizona Betting Storylines
I gleaned nothing from Oklahoma State’s romp. How can you? Wes Lunt, the first freshman to start a game at OSU in 19 years, went 11-for-11 for 129 in his first start, but he was pulled late in the first quarter along with several other starters – it was 35-0 after one. Star running back Joseph Randle had 107 yards and two TDs and his day was over after six carries (Randle had 121 yards and two scores vs. Arizona last year). OSU coach Mike Gundy easily could have put up triple digits had he wanted to but definitely called off the dogs early.
Arizona’s effort has to be called disappointing, especially as it was down at intermission against a Rockets team expected to be in the bottom half of the Mid-American Conference. Cats QB Matt Scott did pass for a career-high 387 yards, while adding 74 on the ground, and UA put up 624 total yards, the second-most in school history. But Toledo was one of the nation’s worst defenses last year when it allowed 63 points in consecutive November games. So 24 points is nothing to be excited about for RichRod.
The Rockets’ offense was good last year under Tim Beckman, but he’s now the head coach at Toledo. And that offense put up 358 yards Saturday on an Arizona defense that was awful in 2011 and apparently isn’t much better. It runs a 3-3-5 scheme directed by former West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel. That’s the guy Rodriguez couldn’t lure to Michigan when he left WVU, and many believe things would have been different in Ann Arbor if Casteel would have come because the U-M defense was so bad.
To pull the upset this week, Arizona probably has to put an end to these current Cowboys streaks: OSU has had a scoring drive of less than two minutes in 27 straight games; the Cowboys defense has intercepted a pass in 12 straight games and forced at least two turnovers in those 12. OSU by far led the nation last season in takeaways with 44.
Certainly the Cats figure to make Lunt beat them and will stack eight in the box after OSU rushed for 395 yards and a school-record nine scores last week. Offensively for UA, Scott is experienced as he played plenty when Foles was hurt and his mobility likely will give OSU problems (Scott is currently No. 2 in the nation in total offense). But Arizona has no chance if it turns the ball over three times again and gets points on just 25 percent of its trips to the red zone as happened vs. Toledo.
Oklahoma State at Arizona Betting Odds and Trends
OSU opened as a 10-point favorite, according to college football odds, with the total at 69 on BookMaker. That’s the second-highest total of the week, behind only the 78.5 in the Fresno State-Oregon matchup.
The Cowboys are 5-1 ATS in their past six road games vs. teams with a winning home record. OSU is 5-2 ATS in its past seven nonconference games. Arizona is 1-5 ATS in its past six home games and 0-4 ATS in its past four nonconference games. The “under” has hit in 20 of OSU’s past 25 road games. The “over” is 6-1 in Arizona’s past seven after a win.
College Football Picks: Oklahoma State at Arizona Predictions
No team has been better in true road games the past two seasons, as Oklahoma State has won 10 of its past 11 on the road (neutral site not included). That’s tied for the most true road wins in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately, that one loss was at Iowa State last year, which cost OSU a shot at the BCS National Championship Game.
The Cats have defeated at least one ranked team in seven of the past eight seasons and they do have a shot here as Lunt makes not only his first road start but obviously also his first vs. a BCS opponent. I’m not picking an upset, but I do think Scott will give OSU fits and that at worst Arizona covers. I also think Lunt struggles some, so take under -- barely.
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