No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. UTEP Miners (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday September 1st, 2012. 10:30PM Eastern
Where: Sun Bowl Stadium El Paso, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Okl -30.5/Texas El Paso +30.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
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The no. 4 Oklahoma Sooners will open their season on the
road for the first time in 10 years when they travel to El Paso to battle
the UTEP Miners at historic Sun Bowl Stadium. The Sooners
are once again preseason darlings to challenge for the National Championship.
Last year Oklahoma had similar expectations, but a few slip-ups prevented
the Sooners from making a legitimate run at the crystal ball. Still, the
Sooners posted a solid 10-3 campaign while recording their NCAA record 33rd
10 win season in school history.
As usual Oklahoma will be stacked with offensive talent when they take the field in 2012. QB Landry Jones leads a group of veterans after throwing for more than 4,000 yards with 29 scores and 15 picks last year. Jones had a few poor performances in 2011 that kept him under his 2010 numbers but I would expect another huge statistical season for the Sooners senior signal caller. In the passing game, receivers Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills should present one of the best receiving combinations in the Big 12. Additionally, running back Dominique Whaley will return to add some talent in the running game. Whaley was sidelined for the 2nd half of 2011 with a broken ankle. Prior to the injury, Whaley posted over 600 yards and 9 touchdowns through the first 6 games of the season. Therefore, Whaley’s presence in the backfield will make the entire offense more dangerous when you consider the firepower the Sooners already have in the passing attack.
Defensively Oklahoma struggled during the 2011 season by allowing 376 yards per game (55th in NCAA). However, former defensive coordinator Brent Venables departed to Clemson after the season as rumors spread about his job security. The Sooners snatched Mike Stoops, the younger brother of head coach Bob Stoops, after he was let go at the University of Arizona. Stoops may have failed as a head coach with the Wildcats but he is a defensive guy that should help get the Sooners defense back in the right direction. Luckily for Stoops, the defense returns 8 of 11 starters and there is no reason not to expect immediate improvement on that side of the football.
Regarding the Sooners season opener, they will be sizeable favorites against the UTEP Miners when both teams meet on September 1st. The Miners will enter as more than 30 point underdogs as they look to better a 5-7 record from 2011. UTEP returns just 13 starters combined on both sides of the ball but they do have a bit more talent at the skill positions compared to previous years. Senior quarterback Nick Lamaison completed just 58% passing for 1,718 yards with 12 scores and 10 picks last season. Though the numbers are not very impressive, Lamaison was troubled with a shoulder injury that hampered his play throughout the year. Now the he is fully healthy, the Miners hope their senior quarterback can be a more effective passer in 2012.
The Miners defense was the biggest letdown last season giving up 441 yards per game ranking 105th in the country. If the Miners are going to improve on a 2-6 Conference USA record from last year, things will have to be better on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, there is just not enough returning talent or circumstances’ pointing towards significant change as the season nears. Therefore, the Miners defense will be up against a Goliath of a task when they attempt to stop the Oklahoma offense and I for one just do not think they can do it.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Oklahoma is the far superior team in this meeting and they historically play well in opening games. Furthermore, I expect the Sooners offense to be more consistent and even more powerful than they were in 2011. It’s hard to pick a large favorite in the opening week of the season, but I still think the Sooners are the pick here. Take Oklahoma -30.5.
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