Finally after a couple of light weeks in the Big 12, conference play goes into full engage this weekend with all 10 teams in Big 12 play. So let's look at the games that you'll be paying attention to from your tailgate at Floyd Casey since the Baylor/WVU game is the final Big 12 game on Saturday.
TEXAS (2-2, 1-0) @ IOWA STATE (1-2, 0-0)
Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, IA)
TONIGHT 6:30 PM CT, ESPN
Line: Texas (-7)
Whose chain did Iowa State pull to get 2 straight Thursday night national TV games? This one is quite a bit higher profile, going up against an opponent with name recognition on the ol’ 4 letter network. Texas heads to Ames after another week of controversy. This time it surrounds the sudden resignation of UT radio sideline reporter and former DB Rod Babers, who played under Mack Brown in the early 2000s. Babers has recently been critical of the Texas coaching staff on his radio show in Austin, but denies that Mack Brown had anything to do with his resignation. As for on the field, starting QB David Ash will be out again this week after his concussion issues resurfaced during the Longhorns’ 31-21 win over Kansas State 2 weeks ago. This can only mean one thing: more opportunities for lots of Case McCoy derpage! Because of Ash’s absence, I expect Johnathan Gray (28 carries for 141 yards vs K-State) to be counted on as an absolute workhorse in this game against an Iowa State defense that has struggled against the run. Speaking of run defense, you might have heard a thing or two about Texas’ defensive struggles in 2013 but the Longhorns did show some improvement in the K-State win. I think that some of this improvement may have been due to K-State’s vanilla playcalling (more on that later) but you have to give credit where it is due. It will be interesting to see how the Horns respond without LB Jordan Hicks who is out for the rest of the season. Iowa State’s offense showed signs of life in last week’s win against Tulsa behind a solid performance from QB Sam Richardson and RB Aaron Wimberly. Texas’ defense is not Tulsa but I do expect the Cyclones to be able to move the ball against the Longhorns. It always seems like a weeknight game in Ames is a recipe for something crazy to happen (2011 Oklahoma State says hi) but I think Texas is able to squeak one out in a game that Mack Brown can’t afford to lose.
Prediction: Texas 31 Iowa State 27
For more on Texas, check out each of the SB Nation blogs for the Texas Longhorns: Barking Carnival and Burnt Orange Nation.
For more on Iowa State, check out Wide Right & Natty Lite, SB Nation's blog for the Iowa State Cyclones.
#20 TEXAS TECH (4-0, 1-0) @ KANSAS (2-1, 0-0)
Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Line: Texas Tech (-17.5)
Texas Tech looks to remain undefeated under their new coach Kliff Kingsbury, who has been in the news for apparently looking a lot like Ryan Gosling. Honestly I was more impressed with Mark Mangino’s resemblance to Obie the Orange Bowl mascot but Kansas fired him and now they’re Kansas. The Jayhawks are looking for their first win over a Big 12 opponent that is still in the conference since they beat Iowa State on October 10, 2009. The #1 song that week was "I Gotta Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas, which has somehow made an appearance at every wedding reception since. Kansas did get a big monkey off its back in its last game against Louisiana Tech, knocking off an FBS opponent for the first time in 2 years. Tech has been led by a defensive renaissance under DC Matt Wallerstedt while they have uncharacteristically struggled with QB play of late. QBs Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb have combined to throw for over 1600 yards and 12 TDs in Tech’s first 4 games but have also thrown 8 interceptions. This along with a struggling running game has led Red Raider fans to begin counting down the days until projected starter in the preseason Michael Brewer can get back on the field. Mayfield will be the starter but expect to see Webb as well. Although Kansas didn’t win a conference game last year, they made life difficult on opponents that came into Lawrence and nearly pulled off a couple of upsets. I suspect that Texas Tech’s offensive inefficiency along with KU’s improved defense will keep this game closer than some might think, but I like the Red Raiders to get it done on the road.
Prediction: Texas Tech 27 Kansas 10
KANSAS STATE (2-2, 0-1) @ #21 OKLAHOMA STATE (3-1, 0-1)
Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)
2:30 PM CT, ABC
Line: Oklahoma State (-14)
Ok so what the heck was that exactly last week Oklahoma State? The Cowboys, heavy favorites on the road in Morgantown, laid an egg and came away with the sweet vocals of John Denver stuck in their heads after an unexpected loss to West Virginia. However, that is the beauty of college football sometimes in that good teams can get beat if they play as poorly as OSU did. Offensively, the problems were all over. Erratic play from QB J.W. Walsh and complete domination by the West Virginia defensive line against the OSU running game grounded HC Mike Gundy’s attack. This has not been the norm for Gundy’s offense and I expect that they will be back to their old selves this weekend, especially being back in the friendly confines of T. Boone Disneyland. They go up against a Kansas State team that was off last week following a loss at Texas 2 weeks ago. The Wildcats have struggled to adjust to life offensively without Heisman finalist Collin Klein. K-State has been using 2 QBs this year in Jake Waters and Daniel Sams. Neither QB has firmly established himself and it has left the offense in a bit of an identity crisis. In the Texas game, the playcalling was so predictable depending on who was in at the time that the Longhorns had no issues diagnosing and reacting to K-State’s plays. I think this has also led to the decreased numbers for former Waco Midway HS RB John Hubert, who really thrived last season with Klein. I think the major key for the Wildcats will be to try and slow the Oklahoma State running game as West Virginia did last week. However, I think the Cowboys will be ready to come out and prove that last week was just a fluke. OSU wins big at home. And hopefully no postgame earthquake like the last time these 2 played in Stillwater.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 45 Kansas State 21
For more on Kansas State, check out Bring On The Cats, SB Nation's blog for the Kansas State Wildcats.
For more on Oklahoma State, check out Cowboys Ride For Free, SB Nation's blog for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
TCU (2-2, 0-1) @ #11 OKLAHOMA (4-0, 1-0)
Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK)
6:00 PM CT, FOX
Line: Oklahoma (-10)
Oklahoma cemented its status as a Big 12 frontrunner this season by picking up the league’s biggest non-conference win last week at Notre Dame. The Sooners have been strong on the defensive side of the ball all season but have stepped it up a notch offensively since QB Blake Bell was inserted into the starting lineup. Bell has completed over 71% of his passes and thrown 6 TDs with 0 interceptions, a problem that had plagued freshman Trevor Knight. Bob Stoops’ offense has not required a lot from Bell but he has been extremely effective in getting the ball to OU’s big playmakers including RB Brennan Clay and WRs Sterling Shepard and Jalen Saunders. Oklahoma goes up against a TCU team coming off of a much needed 48-17 win over DFW rival SMU. The Frogs struggled in the 1st half, allowing SMU to take a lead into halftime, but turned it on in the 2nd half to pull away from the Mustangs. It will be interesting to see if that was a turnaround point for the Horned Frogs or just a product of inconsistent play from SMU. I do think that the TCU defense, which could include limited action from last year’s Big 12 defensive POY Devonte Fields, will provide the toughest test to date for the Oklahoma offense. TCU HC Gary Patterson picked up a program defining win in Norman in 2005 and will have his troops motivated to pull another upset in this one, but he will need an efficient performance from QB Trevone Boykin to keep the Frogs in the game. I think the key to this game will be which quarterback can avoid turnovers against the opposing defense, both of which have been good at forcing them so far this season. To quote Lee Corso, this will be closer than the experts think but the Sooners hang on to win it at home.
Prediction: Oklahoma 20 TCU 16