Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM
There was a lot of credit to go around last year when the Texas A&M Aggies took the SEC and the rest of college football by storm. Their quarterback won the Heisman Trophy. Their head coach was prominent in Coach of the Year discussions. Their offensive coordinator got gobbled up after the season by former Big 12 rival Texas Tech.
Friday Night, we’re about to find out how much credit new Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury deserves for the breakthrough offense seen in College Station last year. Avid college football watchers noticed that the Aggies had EXCELLENT gameplans for their opponents, particularly in early action. The Aggies were kings of the First Half…and even built a big early lead in Tuscaloosa when they upset Alabama.
If Kingsbury was truly the driving force with his gameplanning…then it may be Texas Tech who is going to shock the world this year. If Johnny Manziel was the driving force…then Texas Tech may have just paid a lot of money for a guy who was riding on somebody else’s coattails!
Good test for Texas Tech in their season opener Friday Night at SMU. That game will be nationally televised by ESPN on a light college football evening. Let’s run some numbers from last year to at least set the tone for best expectations.
Texas Tech: 8-5 (beat Minnesota in Meineke Car Care Bowl)
SMU: 7-6 (beat Fresno State in Hawaii Bowl)
Texas Tech was inconsistent last season…and really weren’t that impressive in their bowl win against a bad team. Coach Tommy Tuberville decided he’d rather try to win at Cincinnati than Lubbock, and left the program for possibly less green pastures. SMU had higher hopes than going .500 during the regular season given their returning talent and the buzz around quarterback Garrett Gilbert. They were very impressive though when blowing out Fresno State in the Hawaii Bowl.
Texas Tech: 13 in total offense (2 in passing, 86 in rushing)
SMU: 90 in total offense (62 in passing, 93 in rushing)
Texas Tech already had a great offense last year…so bringing in Kingsbury may not create a huge increase in production. He’s not “saving” a struggling offense…he’s fine-tuning something that was already working. We would expect to see that rushing mark go up just because Kingsbury lets his quarterbacks run to daylight if its here. SMU was a huge disappointment in context. You have June Jones as the head coach…a supposed offensive guru. And, you have a former Texas Longhorn quarterback running the show after transferring down in class. The best they could do was #90 in the nation…#62 in passing against a Conference USA schedule (the team has now moved to the American Athletic Conference, which is a mix of former Big East and CUSA teams). The good news for Mustangs fans is that Gilbert is a year older…and he did trim down his turnover tendencies last season.
Texas Tech: 38 in total defense (15 in passing, 74 in rushing)
SMU: 62 in total defense (109 in passing, 15 in rushing)
One of the big surprises last season in the Big 12 was that Texas Tech could earn a top 40 national ranking defensively. That league has a lot of big offenses…and everybody plays each other so you can’t dodge any of them. They did a very good job of discouraging opposition passing in 2012. Can Kingsbury keep that going? Nice rushing numbers for the SMU defense…meaning they play very tough within their class.
Returning Starters (Projected Quarterback)
Texas Tech: 4 on offense, 8 on defense (Baker Mayfield or Davis Webb)
SMU: 5 on offense, 5 on defense (Garrett Gilbert)
This is where things get very interesting for Tech this week. Projected starting quarterback Michael Brewer re-injured his back during fall practice, meaning the Red Raiders must start a true freshman at quarterback. Media reports this week haven’t pinned down the final decision (you may have heard final reports by the time you read this). It’s worth noting that both Mayfield and Webb played an up-tempo spread offense in high school. In fact, Mayfield attended the same high school as SMU’s Gilbert a few years later. Also worth noting…nobody had any idea that the Johnny Football Story was going to be such a sensation before the first Aggies game of 2012!
Current Vegas Line: Texas Tech by 5.5, total of 59.5
An opener of Texas Tech -7 has gradually sunk as bettors realized the Texas Tech quarterback situation. Very volatile potential here. If the kid quarterbacks are in over their heads…then we probably have a true pick-em. If either can step up and make some plays…then Texas Tech could jump to a big early lead that their 8 returning starters on defense would likely protect.
JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his Texas based sources for this prime time TV affair. (Those guys are also in the Metroplex for TCU-LSU on Saturday Night!). If there’s an edge to be found, a side or total winner from Texas Tech/SMU will be part of the Friday package. You can purchase that right here at the website with your credit card. Or, call us in the office Friday morning or afternoon at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you tomorrow as our opening week TV game previews continue…
Saturday: Georgia at Clemson on ABC
Sunday: Ohio at Louisville on ESPN
Monday: Florida State at Pittsburgh on ESPN
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