New Mexico Lobos (0-0, 0-0 ATS) vs. Oregon Ducks (0-0, 0-0 ATS) 3:30 p.m. EST, College Football Week 1, Saturday, September 4, 2010, Autzen Stadium, Eugene, Oregon
By Scotty L of Predictem.com
Point Spread: New Mexico (+34.5), Oregon (-34.5)
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Both teams look to bounce back from a strange 09 campaign with strong performances in the opening week. Oregon was 10-3 and made the Rose Bowl, but was plagued by suspensions and off-the-field behavioral issues. New Mexico had enough to worry about just on the field, where they went a woeful 1-11.
Last years Oregon quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was kicked off the team. They might struggle at QB, however, they do still have most of their offensive threatsthe same guys who helped put up 36 points per game. With LaMichael James (1500+ yards/14 TDs) returning, they will have a heck of a tailback combination, with Kenjon Barner and promising freshman Lache Sistrunk waiting in the wings. With a less mobile quarterback, Oregon might throw the ball a bit more. Look for scrappy sure-handed receiver Jeff Maehl to see a lot of action this season.
One feels like extending Oregon a little benefit of the doubt on the QB situation. Always able to reload in the past, the Ducks will be counting on senior Nick Costa and sophomore Darron Thomas to fill the big shoes of Masoli. With Oregons running game so front-and-center, the quarterback growing pains might not hurt them as much as it would other teams.
The Oregon defense returns many starters and they were darn good in 09. Defensive end Kenny Rowe (11.5 sacks in 09) heads up a strong pass rush. Their veteran line is undersized, but should be hell on opposing quarterbacks. Their linebacking crew, returning two excellent senior starters, is mobile and athletic and will be tough against the run. First-team All Freshman Josh Boyett heads up a great secondary that is as deep as they are effective. With all this depth and added experience on defense, the Duck D should be top-notch. Their versatility and well roundedness make up for a small line.
Whatever issues Oregon has pale in comparison to the problems facing New Mexico. Coach Locksley, known for recruiting, did manage to assemble a nationally ranked recruiting class, quite a feat based on their horrible season. New Mexico, with a year under Locksleys no-huddle system and some good young talent could improve. It would be difficult not to.
New Mexico has two freshman quarterbacks vying to captain an offense that put up an anemic 16 points per game last season. Theyre returning their top rusher and receiver, but they both need to improve their production. A weak offensive line returns only 2 starters, leaving a lot of questions abound. Then again, when a team is 1-11, how many guys do you really want to return? Maybe this young squad can surprise some people.
The Lobos defense was equally awful last year, but should improve. Their pass rush, headed by Johnathan Rainey (9.5 sacks in 09) will return 2 other starters. Cornerback Carmen Messina, who led the nation with 162 tackles in 09, will be there to help a defensive unit that should be decent against the run. Stopping Oregon might be another matter altogether. Nevertheless, the Lobos look like a team with some upside. Well see if they have more growing pains or if they can cash in early on a celebrated recruiting class.
Bettors are always put in a tough spot with lines like this. 34.5 is a lot to cover. At the same time, does anyone doubt that Oregon will roll all over the Lobos? New Mexico will struggle to put up points this year against conference rivals, so how many points can they be expected to put up against one of the top defenses in the nation? If they managed 14, it would be a moral victory. For those a little edgy about the big number, Oregon could be nice addition to a teaser play.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Spread: The line opened in the 32.5-33 range and it got jumped on, driving it up to 34.5. I agree with the public at large. I see Oregon letting the poison out here. Recently, this is not a team shy about putting up points against woefully overmatched opponents. The coaches will use this as a confidence booster, allowing all their key offensive players to build up a head of steam going into the season. New Mexico will have no answers in what looks like a lopsided mismatch. Oregons running game will keep their defense rested, while eventually wearing the Lobos D to a nub. Barring any backdoor covers, Oregon should cover 34.5 on their way to an absolute rout.
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