25* College Football Season-Opening GAME OF THE YEAR on Iowa State +1.5
Tulsa vs. Iowa State,
09/01/2012 15:30 EDT,
Score: 23 - 38
Point Spread: +1½/-110 Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones represent my favorite bet for Week 1 college football Saturday. They should not be an underdog at home to Tulsa in this one.
Iowa State has been underrated in each of Paul Rhoads' first three years as head coach, making a bowl game in two of them. The Cyclones even pulled off the upset of the season last year when they beat then-No. 2 Oklahoma State 37-31 (2 OT) at home. They are clearly underrated again in 2012.
Iowa State has just 12 starters back, but that includes most of its top plays from a year ago. Leading rusher James White (743 yards, eight TD) is back, and QB Steele Jantz is primed for a big senior year after making seven starts last season. Three of ISU's top four receivers are back as well.
The defense only has five starters back, but the stop unit returns its top three tacklers in LB AJ Klein (116 tackles), LB Jake Knott (115 tackles) and FS Jacques Washington (90 tackles, nine passes defened). Klein earned second-team All-American honors, while Knott was first-team All-Big 12. These are two of the best linebackers in the entire country.
Tulsa is in rebuilding mode now under second-year head coach Bill Blankenship. This is the year where it is going to realize it misses former head coach Todd Graham. QB GJ Kinne, who threw for 3,090 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 405 yards and three scores in 2011, has departed.
The Golden Hurricane also have just two starters back on the offenive line, and new QB Cody Green won't be able to come close to matching Kinne's numbers. The defense loses leading tackler Curnelius Arnick (159 tackles) and leading sacker Tyrunn Walker (41 tackles, 8 sacks).
Tulsa is 4-18 in its last 22 road openers, 1-17 since 1997 on the road vs. BCS schools, and 1-33 over the last 12 years against BCS schools home or away. The Golden Hurricane are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. Big 12. The Cyclones are 21-10 ATS in their last 31 games in September. Bet Iowa State Saturday.