Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week Four
Six teams begin Big 12 league play this week, while three get a break before diving into conference play and another winds up its non-conference schedule. A couple of teams have played above ther expected capabilities, but those have been counter-balanced by some disappointing, but not wholly-unexpected, results.
Two different power indexes have five Big 12 teams in their Top 25. The problem with league perception at this point is the bottom tier, where Baylor and Kansas appear woeful. On the other hand, Texas Tech has surprised early. If the Red Raiders can get by Houston, the league will get another bump, and West Virginia could join that mix if it can win a couple of October league games.
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Oklahoma State had four 100-yard receivers at Pitt (Jalen McCleksey – 162, James Washington – 124, Dillion Stoner – 100 and Marcell Ateman – 109) for the first time in program history. It was also this first time in 12 years that this occurred in FBS play. The last such accomplishment was recorded by Texas Tech against Kansas State on October 15, 2005.
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OSU’s offensive onslaught has put it third nationally in total offense with 607 yards per game, but that was only good enough for second place in the league standings — and just barely at that. Texas Tech leads the nation with 620 yards per game, while Oklahoma is right behind its in-state rivals at 599 per contest. WVU is just a couple of steps astern, ranking sixth with 581 yards per contest.
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Seven league teams are averaging more than 40 points per game, and K-State barely misses that mark at 39 per outing. All those scores aren’t coming on offense, though. Texas leads the nation with four defensive touchdowns, while TCU and Oklahoma State are tied with three each. K-State and Iowa State are tied at seventh nationally with a pair of defensive scores each.
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Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas all have the week off, but only the Cyclones will get to truly enjoy it, as they are the only one of the trio coming off a win. These byes bring to four the number of teams (Texas Tech) that will have their open dates before playing a conference game. Four more teams (Kansas, Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia) will have their open dates next week.
West Virginia at Kansas Sat Sep 23 12:00 PM* ESPNU
West Virginia wasn’t tested at all the past two weeks in wins over East Carolina and Delaware State. Kansas was, and lost twice, albeit to significantly better teams (Western Michigan and Ohio) than WVU faced. While the Jayhawks may have improved in some areas, and will likely score against West Virginia’s still young and morphing defense, it won’t be enough to give the home fans a win. The Mountaineers get the first victory in the Big 12 conference in 2017.
Texas Tech at Houston Sat Sep 23 12:00 PM ABC \ ESPN2
The Red Raiders continued to pile up points and showed a bit of defensive mettle in their first win, but it was back to shootout country with their 52-45 win over Arizona State. Tech must now must hit the road for a quality test against Houston. A victory would continue an unexpected upswing for head coach Kliff Kinsbury’s program, and remove a good bit of the heat that was being applied to him over the offseason. The Cougars are no pushover, even if they don’t look to be quite as good as they were a year ago. This one is a toughie, but the nod goes to Texas Tech based on … just a feeling.
TCU at Oklahoma State Sep 23 12:00 PM ESPN
The first battle of upper tier teams in the league brings an great match-up to the table. Will TCU’s defense, holding foes to just two touchdowns per outing, be able to slow the Cowboys’ prolific offense, which is averaging 54 points per game? It’s unlikely the Horned Frogs can win a shootout on that level. TCU should hold OSU below that average, but still won’t be able to muster enough scoring to get a road win.
Oklahoma at Baylor Sat Sep 23 12:00 PM FS1
In years past, this promised to be a high-scoring, back and forth affair. This year, it promises to be an early exit for the home fans. Oklahoma keeps pace with OSU in the league standings with an easy win.
* All Times Eastern