Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week Three
Oklahoma propelled the Big 12 from MEAC levels to national championship contenders in the eyes of many national writers with its win over Ohio State. One prominent writer did so unabashedly just a week or so after declaring the Big 12 dead in that regard. Is that all it takes?
A actual objective review of the game should note that OU appeared much faster than the Buckeyes, and that the final score didn’t reflect how much the Sooners dominated play. And although it has by far the best win of the year for the league, Oklahoma isn’t the only league team looking strong. Oklahoma State and Kansas State looked very good despite facing sub-par foes the first two weeks, and TCU’s road win at Arkansas should also get some notice.
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Every school except Texas Tech winds up the non-conference portion of its season this week. The Red Raiders, who were off last week, will play the last out of conference contest of the Big 12 regular season next week against Houston.
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The league has five games against Power Five opponents this week, with four of them coming on the road. What would a respectable record be? It’s tough to expect Texas to take down USC, but three of the other four games are very winnable. A 3-2 mark, though, isn’t going to do much to move the national perception needle.
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Only Baylor and Kansas have scored fewer points than West Virginia so far this year, but the Mountaineers have the Big 12’s top rusher (Justin Crawford) total offense leader (Will Grier), receptions leader (Gary Jennings) and scoring leader (David Sills). It should be noted that WVU has faced one of the better defenses in the country in Virginia Tech this year. It will benefit this week, though, with a match-up against one of the worst teams in the nation.
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TCU’s defense may be back. The Horned Frogs are allowing just 76.5 rushing yards and 3.5 points per game after throttling Arkansas and Jackson State.
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TCU and SMU have met 96 times in football, with the Horned Frogs holding a nine win advantage. The other nine games on the Big 12 slate have been played a combined 13 times.
Oklahoma State at Pittsburgh Sat Sep 16 12:00 PM* ESPN
Last year the Panthers nearly pulled off a road upset. This year, with quarterback issues and troubles scoring points, there’s no way they can keep pace with the explosive Cowboys, even if they do manage to slow them a bit. OSU rolls up 40 points again and becomes the first league team with two road wins.
Iowa State at Akron Sat Sep 16 12:00 PM CBSSN
Iowa State looks improved, taking Iowa to overtime before falling. Now, can it avoid a letdown over that disappointment and go on the road to get a win at Akron? If it does, it takes another step toward a possible bowl bid, although that will still be difficult. If not, it’s another building year that will have to focus on an upset or two and more program development.
Delaware State at West Virginia Sat Sep 16 12:00 PM AT&TSN
The only way to explain this game is the fact that WVU appears to have a good relationship with the Hornets, having faced them four times in men’s basketball between 2001-09, and with the MEAC in general in that sport. This is only the second time the Mountaineers have faced a MEAC school on the gridiron, having brushed aside Norfolk State in 2011. That’s all you need to know about this snoozer, which West Virginia will win handily.
Baylor at Duke Sat Sep 16 12:00 PM ACC
The thought was that Baylor would struggle with so much change underway in Waco. But Liberty and UTSA? Sheesh. The Bears are finding out what life is like without a stellar quarterback (they don’t even have an average one right now), which makes it very tough to predict a road win over a respectable ACC foe. Unless a QB change lights a fire, it’s going to be an 0-3 start for new head coach Matt Rhule. We’re predicting just that outcome.
Kansas at Ohio Sat Sep 16 2:00 PM ESPN3
Every year, it’s the same. Kansas looks improved in an early game, then loses to a Group of Five team, has an injury or two and becomes mired in a game of switching quarterbacks. This year, buoyed by the optimism generated from new football facilities announcements and an infusion of talent, was supposed to be different. Scratch that. KU laid another egg against Central Michigan at home, and will likely fare no better against Ohio on the road. Jayhawks fans begin the countdown to basketball season in earnest.
SMU at TCU Sat Sep 16 3:30 PM ESPNU
The battle for Dallas\Ft. Worth plays out with the Horned Frogs coming off a win over Arkansas, another previous Southwest Conference foe. The Mustangs are bigger animals than Razorbacks, but not as mean nor as accomplished on the field. TCU goes to 3-0 and lays claim to bragging rights in the Metroplex for another year.
Tulane at Oklahoma Sat Sep 16 6:00 PM SSN
Ohio State win hangover? Nope. The Sooners are playing with a lot of confidence, and it showed in the way they dominated the Buckeyes. The margin of victory is the only thing in question when the ball goes into the air in Norman.
Kansas State at Vanderbilt Sat Sep 16 7:30 PM ESPNU
Vandy is perfectly capable of knocking off good teams. The Wildcats won’t be one of them. The Commodores aren’t as good defensively as K-State, and don’t have the offensive weapons to match the Cats’ punishing ground game. Bill Snyder’s guys take a 3-0 record into their open date.
Arizona State at Texas Tech Sat Sep 16 8:00 PM FSN
Mirage or real? That’s the question for the Red Raiders, who allowed just ten points in Week One, albeit against an FCS foe. No one would have predicted that, given Tech’s woeful defensive status of a year ago. Things ramp up against the Sun Devils after a week off, and this should be very heated for an early season contest, as both programs are fighting to save their coaches’ jobs. While this game promises to be a shootout, Tech might have a bit more firepower. That, plus the home support, pushes Tech to 2-0.
Texas at USC Sat Sep 16 8:30 PM FOX
Prior to last week’s win over San Jose State, a Texas assistant coach likened the game and the Horns’ anticipated performance to championship levels. That bit of hype aside, UT did look more polished than it did in its week one loss, but facing Sam Darnold with quarterback questions isn’t a recipe for success. The Trojans push Texas back under the .500 mark with a win.
* All Times Eastern