The second week of the 2011 college football season gets started this Thursday night (8:00pm ET) with an intriguing non-conference matchup featuring the Arizona Wildcats (1-0) of the Pac-12 taking on the number 7-ranked Oklahoma St. Cowboys (1-0) of the Big 12 in Stillwater, OK. The Wildcats, led by Coach Mike Stoops, dismantled Northern Arizona 41-10 in their opener last week. OSU, led by Coach Mike Gundy, rolled to a 61-34 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette in their first game under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken. This game features two of the top returning signal-callers in the nation in Nick Foles for Arizona and Brandon Weeden for Oklahoma St.
Arizona returns senior QB Nick Foles to lead an offensive unit that put up 412 yards and 5 TDs through the air in the opener. His top target is Juron Criner, who led the former Pac-10 with 1,233 yards receiving last season and had 151 yards on six catches in the opener. OSU features quarterback Brandon Weeden and star receiver Justin Blackmon and last year’s Biletnikoff winner as the nation’s top receiver, on offense. Weeden, who threw for 388 yards with 3 TDs but also 3 INTs last week, threw for 4,288 yards last season in his first year as a starter.
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Arizona vs. Oklahoma St. Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Arizona Wildcats +13
@ Oklahoma St. Cowboys -13
Over 65.5 (-110)
Under 65.5 (-110)
Arizona vs. Oklahoma St. Pick:
Blackmon has an NCAA-record 13 straight 100-yard receiving games and Arizona will be hard-pressed to put an end to that streak this week. The OSU offense finished 3rd among FBS schools with 520.2 YPG in 2010, but the Arizona defense was able to hold them to a season-low 312 total yards in the Alamo Bowl despite Blackmon torching them for 117 yards on 9 receptions with 2 touchdowns. Will they be able to step up on the road and give a similar effort is the big question in this game? Foles had one of his worst games of the season in the Alamo Bowl, throwing 3 INTs, and the rushing game was virtually non-existent, averaging only 2.4 YPC. The Wildcat offense will need to improve mightily in order to compete with one the top offenses in the country in this game.
The Cowboys defeated Arizona 36-10 on December 29 of last year to cap the 2010 season in the Alamo Bowl. Foles struggle mightily in that game, throwing 3 INTs while Criner had only 47 yards receiving on 9 catches. Arizona has lost 12 straight road games against Top 10 teams by an average of 18.5 points. The over is 6-2 in Arizona’s last 8 games overall. The over is 41-15 in OSU’s last 56 home games and 8-3 in their last 11 games on fieldturf. The Cowboys are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games overall. The under came in last season’s meeting well under the total of 68.5
Expect OSU to have a big day on offense as the Wildcats have not found an obvious answer for how to stop Weeden and Blackmon in the eight+ months since their last meeting. Foles should have a better game than he did in the Alamo Bowl, but that will not be enough to out-duel OSU on their home field. The Widlcat secondary struggled last week against a lesser opponent, allowing 16 consecutive completions at one point. That will not get it done against arguably the top QB-WR combo in the nation. Look for Weeden to go after sophomore CB Shaquille Robinson, who moved into the lineup after an injury and struggled last week. The scoring should be decidedly one-sided in this game, with OSU rolling and Arizona struggling to put points on the board against a Cowboy defense that will be playing with advantage of the home crowd behind them.