Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
A 7-0 start last season had the Bulldogs flying high and feeling good about their chances of playing in a top bowl.
However, Mississippi State then went on to lose five of their last six games of the season, finished off by a 34-20 loss to Northwestern in the Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs lost at home to Texas A&M and Arkansas and on the road versus Alabama, LSU, and Ole Miss.
This season they open at Reliant Stadium in Houston against Oklahoma State, with college football betting lines showing the Cowboys favored by 10.5 points.
The loss of Joseph Randle (1417 rushing yards and 14 TDs) hurts, but the Cowboys are always going to score a lot of points with Mike Gundy at the helm. Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh are still around in the quarterback position and should both see action, while top wideout Josh Stewart also returns.
And while the Bulldogs have some returning talent in Tyler Russell and LaDarius Perkins, there are a lot of question marks offensively in the receiving corps and defensively in the secondary.
With Oklahoma State capable of torching most defenses, Chelf and Walsh should be able to take advantage of a suspect bunch of corners on Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs were exposed in a big way in 2012 as soon as they reached the tough part of the schedule. This is an extremely difficult season opener and we're going to take the Big 12 favorites when making our college football picks.
Pick: Oklahoma State Cowboys -10.5
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Toledo Rockets vs. Florida Gators
Those thinking this will be a walk in the park for the ranked Gators may want to re-consider.
Florida enjoyed a highly successful 2012 season, going 11-2 and earning a berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they lost to Louisville.
However, the Gators enter the new season with a lot of internal problems. Injuries and suspensions all over the depth chart have affected Will Muschamp's team and this opening week could turn into more of a struggle than many think.
Though Mike Gillislee has moved on to the NFL, QB Jeff Driskel is still around and the Gators always seem to find other running backs to step into the void and produce.
We expect Florida to turn to the run early and often against the Rockets in order to control the tempo and beat their opponents into submission. Toledo will have other ideas though.
The Rockets finished 9-4 in 2012 and return a number of offensive starters this season. Terrance Owens is a dual-threat quarterback, while RB David Fluellen had 1498 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Toledo also returns top target Bernard Reedy.
We don't think the Rockets are going to be intimidated by this matchup with Florida whatsoever, as they have plenty of experience returning and will face a Florida team that's struggling with depth right now. Inexperienced players are going to be out there for Muschamp's team, there's no way around that.
So, in the end this spread is too high in our book. Florida will probably be able to grind out a win, but we're taking the points with Toledo.
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