Best Week One Matchup In The Big 12?
By Steve Pipps
There are 87 days until the college football season kicks off and 89 days until we get to see the Big 12 for the first time.
The first game of the college football season is one of the best days of the year for fans and this year should not disappoint. The Big 12 has a number of great matchups to look forward to, including one bout with the defending national champions and one against a team still reeling from two substantial losses last year. It begs the question: Which of these two games is going to be the must-see first game of the season?
Let's take a quick look at each.
Alabama is coming off of a strong season that ended in heartbreak. The Crimson Tide lost its final two games finishing 11-2, and missing out on a chance to represent themselves and the SEC in the final BCS National Championship game. They played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl against the Trevor Knight-led Oklahoma Sooners and lost by two touchdowns.
West Virginia finished eighth in the Big 12 last season with a 4-8 record. The Mountaineers’ final two losses came against teams that tied for last in the conference, Iowa State and Kansas. The Mountaineers had a flash of brilliance or luck when they beat Oklahoma State midway through the season, 30-21.
Florida State is the defending national champion. Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston is back and poised for another big year along with 14 other starters from last year's squad. The Seminoles have a great shot at reaching the inaugural College Football Playoff this year and making it to the championship game for the second consecutive year.
Oklahoma State will feature one of the younger squads in the FBS. As an untested team, the Cowboys can't be counted out until they show what they've got. Mike Gundy has produced winning teams in the last five years, going 50-15 since 2009. He needs to work his magic with this new squad so they can compete.
The rest of the Week One matchups in the Big 12 are nothing of note.
Alabama is going to rout West Virginia. Aside from being the better team in almost every category, the anger from last season is going to carry over and the Crimson Tide will play with purpose.
Oklahoma State and Florida State is going to be a close game and a Cowboys win isn't out of the question. It's not as important how young a team is if they have been coached to win and go into a game believing they are going to win.
If Florida State doesn’t prepare well and if the players believe this will be an easy win, the Seminoles could lose. Every great competitor sees every opponent as his or her biggest hurdle and prepares as such.
Winston is still young. He has been playing baseball this offseason and has been involved in a few newsworthy stories, ridiculous or otherwise, including his shoplifting of crab legs. If his mind isn't in the game on Aug. 30, Oklahoma State could strike.
It helps the Cowboys that the game is at a neutral location in Arlington, Texas, which could essentially turn into a home game for Oklahoma State in terms of fan distribution in the crowd.
My early prediction is 34-27 Florida State. Oklahoma State will use this as a building block and won't get discouraged. A close loss to the defending national champs will prove how good the young Cowboys squad can be in 2014.