Kliff Kingsbury's playing career at Texas Tech was a huge success that ended with him becoming just the third collegiate QB to throw for more than 10,000 yards and the Academic All-American Player of the Year award in 2002.
Kingsbury's debut against June Jones' Ponies should be anything but boring. The former Southwest Conference foes tee things up this Friday at 8 p.m. ET with ESPN's cameras on hand, and Tech is favored by 6 points to make Game 1 of the Kingsbury Era a successful one. The spread has dropped from an opening line of 7, and the college football odds have seen a bump in the game total from 57.5 to 59.
Anyone unfamiliar with the offensive styles of both coaches shouldn't bet this game. Kingsbury was offensive coordinator of the year in both 2011 and 2012 under Kevin Sumlin at Houston and Texas A&M. Jones has long been a run-&-shoot guru, and has employed the offense since his arrival at SMU in 2008 following his Hawaii stint from 1999-2007.
Offense will once again be the focus for both teams this year, but maybe not so much of it in the season opener. Certainly Kingsbury is just getting himself situated in Lubbock while Jones has new faces to work with on both sides of the ball and the Mustangs transition to the American Athletic Conference. If this game was being played a month from now, I'd expect the NCAA odds to have a total closer to, if not exceeding, 70.
We are not even sure who's at QB for the Red Raiders after Kingsbury said it will be a game-time decision. Michael Brewer, who backed up Seth Doege in '12, is questionable at best to take a snap on Friday, and it might be true freshman Davis Webb trotting out for the first offensive series. Baker Mayfield, another true frosh and a walk-on at that, could get the nod or at least see some action.
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Whoever is at the pivot, they will have some experienced weapons at their disposal in RB Kenny Williams and Eric Ward, Tech's top rusher and receiver from 2012 respectively. Tight end Jace Amaro, will sit the first half due to a suspension.
Jones has his QB returning for Southern Methodist along with some experienced receivers. Garrett Gilbert is back for what seems like his 12th collegiate season but is really just his fifth. The former Texas pivot has his 2-3-4 favorite targets from last season -- Jeremy Johnson, Der'rikk Thompson and Keenan Holman -- but is working with new folks on the line and in the backfield. The Mustangs have all four DB's coming back, including Kenneth Acker who should be playing on Sunday in the future, yet an entirely new defensive line is on the scene at SMU.
Quality depth, which neither team really has for 2013, could be the deciding factor if the early weather forecasts are any indication. It very well could be 100º, or close to it, at kick-off with only a hint of a dusty SW breeze. I'm going to play it square with a free sports pick on the ‘Over’.
NCAA FB pick: Bet the Texas Tech/SMU game OVER 59.5 points at William Hill