Sep 17

Big-12 Preview - Week 3

Posted By:Russ James - Firth, NE  Tags:

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Photo: by US Presswire

The no-brainers:

Duke at Kansas:
The ACC's Duke Heads into Lawrence to face Big 12 North contender, Kansas. The Blue Devils come into the game 1-1, with a season opening loss against Richmond and a week two win over Army. Duke QB Thadeus Lewis showed to be a prolific passer in his first start of the season hitting 34 -50 for 350 yds and a TD, however he was taken out of the Army game after going 5-16 for just 60 and replaced with red-shirt freshman Sean Renfree who finished up 7-8 for 106 yds and two TDs. QB contoversy or not, the Jayhawks simply have too much firepower for Duke. Couple Kansas' high- octane offense with the fact that the Blue Devil's defense gave up nearly 400 yards of total offense to Army you have to figure the Jayhawks are on cruise control for this one.

Furman at Missouri:
Well 'they' said that Missouri had been de-fanged after graduation, losing everyone on campus who knew what a football was - if you believed what you were hearing this Spring. Then in the season opener the Tigers hang 39 points on Illinois, make it look easy against the Big 10 and suddenly 'they're back.' Week 2 at home the Tigers find themselves down by a TD at half, and have to rally late in the game to push ahead of Bowling Green for a 27-20 win. So which is it? Are they legit, or has graduation pushed them to the back burner of the Big 12? Well, it's too early to tell - how's that for a cop out? One thing's for sure; they have enough to beat Furman at home, easily I'd think.

Tulsa at Oklahoma:
Another Conference USA team going into a hostile environment to beat another Big 12 team with the word 'Oklahoma' in their name. All the respect to Tulsa in the world, they are 2-0 coming into Saturday with big wins on the road both in Louisiana and New Mexico, and so are not a team to be taken lightly. However I don't think Oklahoma will. I'm pretty sure after getting the wind taken out of their sails by BYU Stoops has his team squarely focused on the task at hand, but you never know. I don't think this is a blow-out by any stretch, but I think the Sooners take care of business.

Wyoming at Colorado:
I don't get this at all. Not only does the MWC not get any respect from ESPN, but they don't get any from Vegas as well, which shows the Buffaloes a TD favorite on one of the early lines I saw. BASED ON WHAT?? Yes, Boulder is an intimidating place to play... most pennitentiaries are.... but I'm not buying it, not after Toledo hung 54 on them. Wyoming is 2-1 after this one, and yes, it should be a no-brainer.

Utah State at Texas AM:
This should be a no brainer, but with A&M you just never know. The only interesting thing about this match-up I can come up with is that both schools are nick-named the Aggies, and this is the second game of the season for both teams not the third. Weak, I know. After their first games of the season A&M leads Utah State in every
offensive category of importance, and should win easily.

Rice at Oklahoma State:
Rice must be gluttons for punishment, that's the only explanation I can come up with. Last week the Owls went into Lubbock and served as little more than sparing partners for the Red Raiders as Taylor Potts and co. worked them over 55-10 in a spirited work out in preparation for their date with the Longhorns. This week Rice heads into a hornets nest in Stillwater. The Cowboys are coming off a bitter loss to Houston in week 2 and will be looking to redeem themselves.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy was frank and made no excuses for his team after getting beat by the Cougars, "Everbody's been telling them how good they've been and how good they are, now they get to see the other side of it." Rice's offense isn't any where nearly as explosive as the Cougars, but there are some things from the Houston game Gundy is looking to correct, and pronto. Critical penalties on both sides of the ball, scores of missed tackles and four turnovers after a nearly flawless performance against Georgia in the season opener are going to need to be addressed. In any event the Cowboys will roll in this one.

The Marquee match ups:

Kansas State at UCLA:
There are a few, a few mind you, things going KState's way in this one. Head coach Rick Neuheisel announced that four players including the Bruins starting corner, Courtney Viney will sit out against Kansas State for a violation of team rules. Also, Bruin starting QB Kevin Prince is out three to four weeks with a broken jaw suffered late in the day against Tennessee. Last week against Louisianna-Lafayette the Wildcats only gave up two first downs in the second half, and held the Cajuns to 17 points, so there defense was getting it done for the most part. Unfortunately for the 'Cats, their offense was only able to put up 15 of their own. If K State can settle into some kind of a rhythm offensively, maybe get a timely turn-over, there's a chance - albeit a slim one - that they can steal the upset here.

Nebraska at Virginia Tech:
In all honesty I think this game is more of a 'must win' for the Hokies than it is for Nebraska. I know, I know, all about NU's road woes against ranked opponents. The game in Blacksburg will be the fourth time in Coach Pelini's short stint as head coach he has been on the road against a ranked team; he is 0-3 as of today, and against ranked opponents overall the streak extends to 0-9 dating back to 2006. One more unsettling figure for the Scarlet and Cream faithful; if the Huskers should win Saturday, VA Tech will be the highest ranked team Nebraska has beaten outside the confines of Memorial stadium since a 2000 Fiesta Bowl win over #6 Tennessee. TRUST me, I get how important this game is. But, a loss on the otherhand doesn't end the Nebraska season. It just doesn't.

The Hokies with a loss on the other hand would be heading into conference play at 1-2 with the Hurricanes up next, and ranked or not, I don't imagine any Hokie fans are looking past the 'Canes. So, yes, I think this game is of more importance to the Hokies. Having said all that, I think NU will win, IF the front seven on defense can get the job done. For all of the pre-season accolades NU's D line has gotten they are currently 10th in the Big 12 in rush defense. While over-all the Black Shirts have looked pretty good only giving up 12 points in their first two games, a 'bend, but don't break' approach will not work against VT, they are simply too talented.

Texas Tech at Texas:
After what was arguably the best college football game of the year in 2008 these two teams are going at it again, this time however the Longhorns are at home in Austin, and I would guess looking for a measure of revenge. Most Longhorn fans point to this game last year as the reason Texas was on the outside looking in for both the Big 12 Championship and the National Championship. Texas Tech was given the same epiteth as Missouri after last year's season, they lost all their skill to graduation and are now out of the picture, untill they rebuild. Wrong. Mike Leach has designed and installed an offensive system in Lubbock, and has become a genious at finding players that fit his system and simply plugging them in when they are needed.

Case in point Jr. QB Taylor Potts. In his first two starts of the year Potts has thrown for 861 yds and 9 TDs, he's also ran for two more TDs, and was named last weeks Big 12 offensive player of the year. Yeah, quite a drop off.

Easy though, it will not be for the Red Raiders. Texas is loaded everywhere and most believe that it'll be the Longhorns for both the Big12 Championship and the National Championship. And of course, this year's game is in Austin, an environment as hostile as any on Saturdays. Potts' counterpart for Texas, Colt McCoy hasn't exactly slept through the first two games of the season, throwing for 654 yds and 5 TDs, and oh by the way he was a Heisman runner-up last year. In the end though I think that despite Potts' gaudy numbers coming into the game the Longhorns will prove to be too much for the Red Raiders. The key I think for the Texas defense is to take away the middle of the field. Tech likes to use the screens and dump-offs as an extension of their running game which - is middle of the road at best. I'd look for Tech to dink and dunk their way down the field in the first quarter to take the crowd out of it as much as possible and to keep the potent Texas Offense on the bench. Leach is perfectly happy taking 4 and 5 yd dump offs all day long and then stretching the field as a matter of opportunity, not necessity.

I don't think this will come as a big surprise to the Longhorns though, and they certainly have the talent and speed to mitigate this strategy and force Tech out of their game plan, and force them to play catch up; a situation Potts hasn't found himself in this year. Again, I think Texas wins, but this one should be a barn burner, definitely must see TV.

The Pick-ems:

Connecticut at Baylor:
Connecticut won this one last year, but UConn will be without last year's stand out RB Donald Brown who scorched the Bears for 150 yds and two TDs. The Huskies will also have to make do without QB Zac Frazzer, he will be replaced by So. Cody Endres. Baylor on the other hand is more than set at QB with So. Robert Griffin. In Baylor's only game so far of 2009 against Wake, Griffin threw for 136 yds and rushed for 57 more. In the QB heavy Big 12, Baylor and Griffin are making some noise. Granted Griffin doesn't have near the body of work yet to make a final judgement but from what I've seen he is the real deal.

If the Huskies want to get out of Waco with a win they are going to need to win on first and second down and keep Endres out of the third and longs. Manageable third downs, avoid turnovers, and high percentage short passes to eat up clock and keep Griffin on the sidelines are the keys for UConn. I am going with Baylor though. Whether Griffin goes out and puts up highlight reel plays all day or simply gets the job done I think this is a win for Baylor.

Iowa State at Kent State:
Iowa State currently holds the NCAA record for a most un-prestigeous accomplishment; seventeen strait road losses gets them the current record. A run of bad luck? Probably not since they are 5-32 on the road since 2002. OK, they're not road warriors, but they also have two things on their side going into Saturday: One, they are 21-4 overall against MAC teams, and two, They won this matchup last year in Ames handily 48-28. So... pick a stat, any stat. I think the Cyclones end the streak at 17.


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