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College Football Week 1 Review
by Scott Spreitzer - 09/04/2005
College Football is underway, finally! It's no secret the this is my favorite time of year. We've made a reputation over the years with, among other things, an eye for detailed analysis, situational handicapping and matchups. The bottom line is consistent winning selections. Nothing has been more consistent than my favorite time of the year, bringing years of winning insight into the world of college football. Each week I'm going to look at a roundup of college football news and notes from the eyes of a handicapping pro. Here are some thoughts after the first weekend of college gridiron action.
Let's start with the Utah Utes. Think They Miss Urban? It's tough to get a grasp on whether Utah misses Urban Meyer yet. The Utes did roll up 447 yards against Arizona in a victory. However, they gave up 24 points in a 27-24 squeaker and had only 221 passing yards. They have a new coach (the former defensive coordinator) and a new quarterback in sophomore Brian Johnson. He replaces Alex Smith, the Heisman Trophy finalist and top overall pick in the NFL draft. The 18-year-old sophomore was effective, though a little nervous early in the game.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers roll Under ground and over It! Minnesota and Glen Mason got right back on track in the opener, using its speed to pummel Tulsa 41-10. The Gopher offense rolled up 536 total yards, including 301 rushing yards, a whopping 6.8 yards per carry! Keep this in mind though: Minnesota plays its home games on artificial turf, which helps this speed-oriented attack. They played at Tulsa in the opener, which happens to have artificial turf, too, which clearly helped the Gopher ground game. However, Minnesota has struggled offensively on grass the last two seasons. If you're a totals player, watch for when they're playing on grass next and see if the total is too high. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Gopher offense slow down on grass again this season, but excel on turf.
Boomer Sooner Swooner: In last week's column, I wrote about surprise teams in college football to keep an eye on. One was TCU, a club that is well coached and loaded with offensive talent. It's clear the Horned Frogs have fixed many of their defensive deficiencies from a year ago, not only covering but WINNING at Oklahoma, 17-10, as a 24-point dog! Most impressive was the run defense, which stuffed star sophomore RB Adrian Petersen, holding him to 2.9 yards per carry.
Huskers Top Black Bears: The good news is Nebraska has a year of Bill Callahan under its belt and they got rid of some unhappy campers. ``It's a completely different mentality this year,'' one player said. ``Guys are willing to do things they weren't willing to do last year. Just the attitude and the focus, the way guys are taking it seriously. We've pretty much eliminated all non-team-oriented individuals.'' Players acknowledge there was some initial resistance to Callahan's West Coast offense a year ago after a 5-6 campaign. That included a 70-10 loss to Texas Tech. LB Stewart Bradley said "cancers'' began to develop on the team, and there was in-fighting. However, the bad news is they led 9-0 at the half over Maine, on the way to a 25-7 win in the home opener. Nebraska was 6-for-20 on third/fourth down! Not exactly a rousing start for my hometown Huskers. The West Coast offense continues to struggle in the heartland. Next up - a date with Wake Forest in Lincoln. Don't look now, but a loss to the Demon Deacons is not out of the question.
Win one for the Ol' Ball Coach. South Carolina opened up with a win (non-cover) against Central Florida, marking Steve Spurrier's return to the college grid. The Gamecox had absolutely no running game, gaining just 32 yards on 28 carries! Their top rusher had 20 yards on one carry. And, while Blake Mitchell connected on 18 of 23, for 330-yards, those types of days will be few and far between against the SEC. Georgia may not be laying enough in this week's matchup.
We jumped out to a nice 6-1-1, 86% start last weekend, and look to continue the heater with my Oddsmaker Blowout of the Month, going this weekend. Check back for the huge release along with the opening weekend of the NFL!