WVU And The Big 12: Week Five
There are many pitfalls along the way in a college football season, and this week highlights a couple of them.
For example, on the surface, WVU plays a less highly-regarded team on the road, which normally would scream out an easy victory if it take care of business.
But it doesn’t work that way. The Mountaineers play at Texas Tech, a team fighting for respect and its coach’s job, which itself is coming home after a rough week at Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders figure to come out like a caged tiger just let loose, especially since they have the equivalent of a week off before playing again.
The same thing holds true for defending champion Oklahoma, who has what looks like an easy go of it playing Baylor, but that game comes the week before it faces Red River Shootout rival Texas in its most emotional game of the season.
How teams handle these situations fall on the coaches far more than the players as it is up to them to have the finger on the pulse of their team and see what they need to do to get them ready for a winning performance.
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WVU at Texas Tech, Time and TV TBA
Tough spot for WVU here. Coming off a tough home victory over Kansas State, the Mountaineers go into Lubbock against a Texas Tech team hungry to prove itself. A year ago, the Red Raiders were ranked No. 24 when they faced WVU and could have maybe jumped inside the Top 20 with a road win but lost to the Mountaineers, 46-35. It was not an easy game, though, as WVU trailed 35-17 with 9:11 left in the third before Will Grier really went to work, hitting David Sills for an eight-yard TD, Ka’Raun White for 32- and 17-yard TDs and then Sills again for an 11-yard score. Things to worry about? WVU couldn’t run the ball last year, getting just a net 44 yards, and the Tech defense recorded four sacks of Grier. The pass rush was so strong WVU had to rely on a short passing game, no completions beyond 32 yards. Expect the game to be another shootout. While WVU is 4-2 in the series since joining the Big 12, in six games the Mountaineers have outscored the Red Raiders, 203 to 198, the average score being 34-33.
Prediction: West Virginia 37, Texas Tech 17
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Non-WVU Big 12 Game of the Week
Texas at Kansas State, Time and TV TBA
If Texas is going to be a contender, they have to win in tough road venues and this is one of the toughest. The Longhorns are 1-7 in Manhattan, and, yes, you read that right. Rich, mighty Texas has been owned in this series by Bill Snyder, who is 7-5 over the years against the Longhorns. A year ago it didn’t come easily for Texas to win at home, 40-34, in two overtimes and this one looks like more of the same as K-State finds a way. But Texas is certainly a team on the upswing in the Big 12 Conference.
Prediction: Kansas State 24, Texas 21
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Sept. 29 — Baylor at Oklahoma, Time and TV TBA. Once upon a time this game was a yawner, Oklahoma winning the first 17 meetings between the two teams, but Baylor has won three of the last seven and even last year, when Baylor had only one win and Oklahoma went to the College Football Playoff, Baylor put a scare into the Sooners. Belittled by Heisman winner Baker Mayfield before the game, Baylor led at the half and lost by just 49-41, the score not settled until a late Baylor fumble. Mayfield threw three TDs and the Sooners got a 99-yard run from Abdul Adams after a botched kickoff. This year the Sooners again may have trouble, looking ahead to Texas the following week.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Baylor 24
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Sept. 29 — Oklahoma State at Kansas, Time and TV TBA. This may be David Beaty’s last game at Kansas. The Jayhawks’ new athletic director, Jeff Long, may not have much choice but to can him after the Cowboys run wild on the home field in Lawrence. Losing in football has become common place at Kansas but it is no longer acceptable, especially with facility upgrades underway.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 56, Kansas 10
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Sept. 29 — Iowa State at TCU, Time and TV TBA. This is one of the most interesting games of the entire season, as these are two teams hoping to find a way to steal the league championship, making this a must-win game for both. Iowa State is a growing power in the conference — OK, power is too strong a word, but it is to be reckoned with — while Gary Patterson has the Horned Frogs as part of the conference elite. TCU has dominated, winning seven of nine games, but last year Iowa State, already with a victory over Oklahoma that announced their arrival in the big time, pulled off a 14-7 upset. They did it by holding TCU without an offensive touchdown, giving up only a 94-yard kickoff return to KaVontae Turpin. Rest assured, Patterson has spent a lot of time on that game film and will come up with something different for this year’s meeting in Fort Worth, Texas.
Prediction: TCU 28, Iowa State 24