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Ohio State is vulnerable in Week 1

3:20 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Ohio State, ranked second in the country in the preseason AP and USA Today polls, hosts Buffalo on Saturday as a 35-point favorite.

The Buckeyes come in with one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy in quarterback Braxton Miller, as well as his top two targets from last year in Corey Brown and Devin Smith.

However, there are many questions concerning the rest of the team. Not only are running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended, but cornerback Bradley Roby also will not be on the field due to legal issues. All in all, just four of last year's top 15 tacklers will play against the Bulls.

Buffalo should not be scared of Ohio State, especially because Jeff Quinn's squad gave Georgia all it could handle in Week 1 last season. The Bulls trailed by just eight points at halftime before losing, 45-23.

The Bulls return seven defensive starters, including all four from a secondary that ranked 20th nationally in quarterback completion percentage. Nine starters come back on offense, including a healthy Branden Oliver (2,216 rushing yards the last two years) and a 1,000-yard receiver in Alex Neutz.

The Buckeyes are favored by a ton of points for two reasons. They are viewed by many to be the second-best team in the country (behind Alabama) and Buffalo is not getting enough credit from the oddsmakers and the public.

Take Buffalo plus 35 points in one of five Week 1 five-star plays

FOUR OTHER FIVE-STAR SELECTIONS

Tulsa takes on Bowling Green in Thursday night action and Las Vegas has the wrong team favored. The Falcons are the betting choice when the Golden Hurricane should be favored by at least a field goal.

Bowling Green brings back 17 starters from last year, but the 2012 club finished 1-5 against teams above .500. Tulsa, on the other hand, was 4-2 versus teams above .500 and that doesn't even count a win over Iowa State in the Liberty Bowl.

Tulsa's explosive offense will take apart Bowling Green's defense, one that allowed over 30 points in games against Kent State and Virginia Tech last season. The Falcons hope their offense can take advantage of a Tulsa defense that will have just two of its 11 starters back for this contest. One thing to keep in mind is their offense scored more than 24 points just twice against 12 FBS opponents last year.

Take Tulsa plus 4.5 points.

Texas Tech travels to Dallas to take on SMU on Friday in Kliff Kingsbury's first game as a head coach. The former Red Raiders quarterback takes over for Tommy Tuberville, who moved on to Cincinnati.

Texas Tech is battling injury problems at the quarterback spot and must rely on a true freshman to lead the team against a defense that finished 21st nationally in quarterback completion percentage in 2012. Furthermore, all four starters in the secondary are back for June Jones' club.

The Mustangs finished up last year with a pair of wins versus Tulsa and Fresno State. They also went 3-0 against the spread as home underdogs, including a pair of outright victories.

Texas Tech brings in new schemes both offensively and defensively and might not be at its best in Week 1.

Take SMU plus six points.

A pair of Saturday evening five-star plays are on tap, including Auburn and Washington State, a pair of 3-9 teams a year ago.

Auburn's first-year head coach, Gus Malzahn, has installed the no-huddle offense, hoping to bring the Tigers back to respectability on that side of the ball. New quarterback Nick Marshall should improve as the season moves along, but don't expect tremendous numbers in the opener, particularly because only one returning receiver caught more than nine passes last year.

Washington State will look to exploit an Auburn defense that will be without safety Demetruce McNeal and defensive end Dee Ford. The Tigers intercepted just two passes last year while allowing opposing quarterbacks to complete over 65 percent of their attempts.

The Cougars are in the second year with Mike Leach as head coach, so the club should improve in all facets of the game. Look for a close contest with the road team covering the inflated spread.

Take Washington State plus 16 points.

Finally, Nebraska hosts Wyoming in a game the Cornhuskers are favored by over four touchdowns. It's true their offense should be potent in 2013, but their defense lost eight of its top 10 tacklers.

Wyoming comes into the season off a 4-8 campaign, but the Cowboys' underrated offense will keep this one close. Furthermore, Dave Christensen's squad is an amazing 15-4 as road underdogs over the last four years, which also makes the Cowboys a solid play in Week 1.

Take Wyoming plus 29.5 points.

THREE-STAR PLAYS

Go with ULM +21 (Oklahoma), Toledo +23.5 (Florida), Louisiana +10.5 (Arkansas) and Oklahoma State -12.5 (Mississippi State).

TWO-STAR SELECTIONS

Take Hawaii +23.5 (USC), Western Michigan +28 (Michigan State), BYU -1 (Virginia), Nevada +21 (UCLA) and Rice +27.5 (Texas A&M).

ONE-STAR PICKS

Take UNLV +14 (Minnesota), Utah State +2.5 (Utah), Texas State +8.5 (Southern Miss), Ohio +20.5 (Louisville) and Florida State -10 (Pittsburgh).

LAST YEAR'S RECORD

The 2013 record stood at 101-91-5 for a 53 percent winning percentage. The breakdown by star system was as follows: five-star plays came in at 10-8-2, three-star selections were 26-30-1, two-star picks went 36-32-1 and one-star choices came in at 29-21-1.

JEFF FRANK'S PRESEASON DIRTY DOZEN

Before I reveal the 2013 preseason Dirty Dozen, let's take a look at the final 2012 numbers:

1) Alabama, 110.5; 2) Oregon, 110; 3) Texas A&M, 107; 4) Georgia, 104.5; 5) Florida State. 101; 6) Oklahoma State, 100.5; 7-T) South Carolina and Stanford, 98.5; 9-T) Kansas State and Clemson, 98; 11) LSU, 97; 12) Notre Dame, 96.5

Here now is this season's initial Dirty Dozen:

1) Alabama, 108; 2) Oregon, 104; 3) South Carolina, 98.5; 4-T) Georgia and Oklahoma State, 98; 6-T) LSU and Florida State, 97; 8-T) Texas A&M and Arizona State, 96; 10-T) Clemson and Texas, 95.5; 12-T) Ohio State and Stanford, 95

(The Dirty Dozen is not a reflection of a given team's won-loss record. It is based on power ratings used to predict spreads for the upcoming week. At the beginning of the season, all FBS teams are assigned a power number, which changes on a week-to-week basis depending on the results of the previous week.)

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