Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week Three
“You’re killing me, Smalls Kansas.”
Those who have seen the film “The Sandlot” know the reference, but in case you don’t, this catchphrase from the classic 1993 movie expresses the ultimate frustration one character has with another on several occasions.
We can apply that to Kansas, which followed up a moribund loss to FCS Nicholls with a win over Central Michigan. Granted, the Chippewas are now 0-2, but they were representative in their week one loss to Kentucky, which turned around and defeated Florida (on the road, no less) for the first time in 32 years. The transitive property is again thwarted, and who better to do so than the unfathomable Jayhawks?
Speaking of winning on the road, Oklahoma is riding a 16-game winning streak in true road games, and will be putting that on the line this week in its trip to Iowa State. That run includes 14 consecutive Big 12 road wins, which is a conference record.
Looking for a true barometer of a program’s strength? That just might be it.
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For the most part, this week features a run of very good match-ups against quality foes. The cancellation of the West Virginia – N.C. State game removes one of those from the ledger, but with Ohio State, USC, Boise State and Houston on the slate, this is a week the league must make some hay.
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Big 12 quarterbacks have picked up both of this season’s Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week awards as Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) captured the Week 2 honor following Will Grier (West Virginia) in Week 1. Murray accounted for five touchdowns (3 passing/2 rushing) in the Sooners’ 49-21 win over UCLA. He completed 19-of-33 passes for 306 yards and rushed for 69 more.
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With WVU’s trip off the boards, seven of the remaining nine conference teams are at home this week.
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Is the era of the workhorse running back coming to an end? Several league teams are sharing the load among multiple players, with the result that no individual rusher is averaging more than 89 yards per game.
Rutgers at Kansas
Sat Sep 15 12:00 PM* FSN
After week one, a vow was taken, so that has to be followed through, at least for the rest of the month. KU forced six turnovers in its win last week, and it can’t count on getting that many again. Rutgers is the road selection.
Oklahoma at Iowa State
Sat Sep 15 12:00 PM ABC
The Cyclones have made major strides with their program, and knocked off the Sooners last year. However, there just isn’t enough offense this season to keep pace with the points that OU is putting up. Oklahoma gets a win to give it the early lead in the conference race.
Duke at Baylor
Sat Sep 15 3:30 PM FS1
The Blue Devils are coming off an upset win at Northwestern, and have to be feeling their oats on the strength of a 2-0 start. It’s still tough to get a read on the Bears and their identical record, as they haven’t been tested yet. Duke is the pick to move to 3-0 on the season, and also all-time against their hosts.
West Virginia at N.C. State
Sat Sep 15 3:30 PM ESPNU
Hurricane Florence gets the win here, as it forced the cancellation of the second contest involving a Big 12 school this year. WVU now gets a few extra days to prepare for its league opener against Kansas State, but without question this was a game the Mountaineers wanted to play.
Boise State at Oklahoma State
Sat Sep 15 3:30 PM ESPN+
This is a really intriguing match-up. Are OSU’s offensive numbers for real, or padded somewhat against less than quality foes? Boise State gets less respect than it deserves, but a trip into T. Boone Pickens Stadium is difficult. The Cowboys haven’t had to venture out of their football complex this year, and the home advantage helps push them to a win.
UTSA at Kansas State
Sat Sep 15 4:00 PM ESPN
The Roadrunners get their second consecutive Big 12 opponent in a row, travelling to Manhattan after hosting Baylor a week ago. The Bears sent them to 0-2 with a 37-20 win, and K-State, despite its uncharacteristic play to date, should add another marker in their loss column.
Houston at Texas Tech
Sat Sep 15 4:00 PM FOX
The Red Raiders piled up points against hapless Lamar last week, but the going will be tougher against the visiting Cougars. UH will get enough stops to get out of Lubbock with the win.
USC at Texas
Sat Sep 15 8:00 PM FOX
Ads for this game are showing highlights of the national championship showdown between the two teams – from 2006! Guess that was the easy way to get footage without having to go to separate games, but geez. Both schools have had success since then, right? The Horns have only downed the Trojans once in the six-game series, but as they secured a national championship with it, that’s not bad. They won’t add a second win this week, though.
TCU vs. Ohio State
Sat Sep 15 8:00 PM ABC
Hopefully the Big 12 is getting a discount on rental fees at Jerry World, as it continues to use the Dallas Cowboys home venue for multiple regular season extravaganzas, as well as its title game. For football fans in the Metroplex, that’s a good deal, as they’ll likely see more points scored in one of these games than the Cowboys will manage in a month. It’s tempting to pick the Frogs, but OSU looks a little better – plus they’ll want to atone for last year’s Big 12 loss on their home turf.
* All Times Eastern