Texas Tech @ SMU 8:00 PM ET
Game # 153-154
Current Line: Texas Tech -5.5
The game will be played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU campus. This will be the 6th time in the last 11 years that these 2 teams have met in a season opener. The last time the Mustangs won in this series was way back in 1986. Ironically the death penalty was imposed by the NCAA for serious rule infractions at the end of the 1986 season. The program started back up in 1989 and hasn’t been able to defeat the Red Raiders since losing 14 straight times. This line opened with Texas Tech as a 6.0-point road favorite and is currently at 5.5.
June Jones will begin his 6th year as the head coach at SMU. In his previous 5 seasons the Mustangs have gone 31-34. That record is a bit skewed by the fact Jones went 1-11 in his first year with Mustangs in 2008, and has compiled a respectable 30-23 record since. As a matter of fact over the last 4 seasons SMU is 6-1 ATS as a home underdog, including a perfect 3-0 SU&ATS as a home underdog of 6.5 or less. In addition SMU has gone a very good 18-6 straight up at home since the start of the 2009 campaign. SMU has gone a dismal 1-11 in their last 12 season openers. The only win in that sequence came versus FCS school Stephen F. Austin in 2009.
Senior quarterback Garrett Gilbert will look to rebound from 2 far from stellar seasons as the signal caller for the Mustangs. Last season Gilbert showed a slight improvement but still posted less than impressive numbers. He was able to throw for 2932 yards. However, he completed just 53% of his passes while throwing for 15 touchdowns and was intercepted 15 times. There will be no doubt that Gilbert will be asked to air it out in June Jones pass happy offense. The running game is a huge question mark entering the season with a lack of credible experience. The biggest concern entering this season for the Mustangs will be on the defensive side of the ball. On an exciting note SMU will be participating in the inaugural year of the newly formed American Athletic Conference.
Texas Tech begins a new era of football with former Red Raider quarterback Kliff Kingsbury taking off the head coaching duties. Kingsbury takes over for the departed Tommy Tubberville who left on his own accord at the end of last season to take the head coaching vacancy at Cincinnati. This will be Kingsbury’s first ever head coaching job. He spent the last 2 seasons as the highly successful offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. He’s been given a lot of credit for the development of Aggie quarterbacks Johnny Manziel the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, and Ryan Tannehill who’s now the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. Kingsbury is currently second all time in career passing yards at Texas Tech. He played under the tutelage of highly popular former head coach Mike Leach. Based on what we saw in the spring game Kingsbury has adopted many of the same concepts used by Mike Leach. Needless to say Red Raiders fans are bristling with overzealous anticipation for the upcoming season.
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The Red Raiders will be grooming a new quarterback in highly touted sophomore Michael Brewer. In fine Texas Tech tradition the transition to a new quarterback will once again be seamless and I look for Brewer to pick up where the others have left off. The Red Raiders defense has 9 returning starters and showed a marked improvement in 2012 allowing just 367 yards per game. I say only in comparison to 2011 (486 YPG) and 2010 (457 YPG). I still would air a bit on the side of caution in regards to the improved defensive numbers from a year ago. The first 4 games last season were versus FCS school Northwestern State, then Texas State, New Mexico, and Iowa State which were hardly a group of offensive juggernauts. They held those 4 opponents to an average of 167.5 yards per game. In their final 9 games they were torched for an average of 456 yards per game. The Red Raiders are a perfect 5-0 SU&ATS since the start of the 2011 season as a road favorite winning by an average of 23.8 points per game.
At this time making a winning college football Pick for me, in this contest, is a difficult call. I do anticipate a high scoring affair with a ton of passing yards. This will be an exciting contest to watch and evaluate.
Don't forget to also check out my picks on Ole Miss vs. Vanderbilt!