A light slate in the Big 12 as Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU are all idle this weekend. Here are this week's games that you'll surely be watching from the pregame or postgame tailgate at Floyd Casey. Because you ARE going to the game, right?
LOUISIANA TECH (1-2) @ KANSAS (1-1)
Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Kansas starts off the Big 12 slate this week with an early kick at home against Louisiana Tech. The Jayhawks are still in search of their first win over an FBS opponent since September 10, 2011 when they knocked off Northern Illinois. This is on the heels of a 23-14 loss at Rice last week, marking the second year in a row that Charlie Weis has lost to a food. Last season, Louisiana Tech would’ve likely blown the doors off of Kansas but this is a completely different LA Tech team dealing with the departure of HC Sonny Dykes to Cal and a majority of the weapons from a high octane offense. I’ll just put it this way: they lost to Tulane. The focus in this game will be on the Kansas receiving core as Weis has benched 3 starters due to a team-wide epidemic of dropped passes. Kansas would be smart to hand the ball to RB James Sims early and often to make life easier on the passing game. Through 2 games, the Jayhawk defense appears to be much improved, led by LB Ben Heeney and a rejuvenated secondary. I think the Kansas defense should make up for their offensive struggles in this one.
Prediction: Kansas 24 Louisiana Tech 10
WEST VIRGINIA (2-1) @ MARYLAND (3-0)
M&T Bank Stadium (Baltimore, MD)
2:30 PM CT, ESPNU
West Virginia and Maryland take to a "neutral" site on Saturday in Baltimore (technically it’s a Maryland home game). This will be the first start away from Morgantown for new WVU QB Ford Childress, who went 25-41 for 359 yards, 3 TDs and an interception in last week’s 41-7 win over Georgia State. Maryland is bound to be a much tougher test for the freshman as the Terrapins come in flying high with a 3-0 start under their belts, albeit against some questionable competition. The Terps are led by dual threat QB C.J. Brown, who has accounted for nearly 1100 total yards and 11 TDs in Maryland’s first 3 games. West Virginia’s defense has shown vast improvement to this point in the season but the Mountaineers will be stretched by the threat of Brown and the dynamic receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. I think this game will come down to which team can make more explosive plays offensively. Maryland hasn’t been 4-0 since 2001 but I think they find a way to pull this game out.
Prediction: Maryland 31 West Virginia 27
TEXAS STATE (2-0) @ #25 TEXAS TECH (3-0)
Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
6:00 PM CT, FSN
Texas Tech comes in riding high following last Thursday’s 20-10 win over TCU, enough to put the Red Raiders in the AP Top 25 this week. Surprisingly it was the Tech defense that carried the Red Raiders to the win as QB Baker Mayfield struggled to find his rhythm against the Frogs. Kliff Kingsbury, aka Coach Bro, tries to push Tech to a 4-0 start as they host Texas State in their final non-conference game. Texas State actually comes in with a 2-0 record in their first year in the Sun Belt Conference (leave Coach Fran alone!), including a season opening win at Southern Miss. I think this will be a good game to get Mayfield back on track as the Bobcat defense struggles against the pass. However if he struggles, don’t be surprised if Coach Bro turns back to Davis Webb who led the Red Raiders on a key TD drive in the 4th quarter of the TCU game. Tech should also be cautious against a letdown after the big win last week, but this team appears to have a swagger under Kingsbury that wasn’t evident under former coach Tommy Tuberville. Tech doesn’t need the aid of the lucky Jones Stadium fox in this one. Red Raiders win big.
Prediction: Texas Tech 48 Texas State 14
KANSAS STATE (2-1) @ TEXAS (1-2)
Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (Austin, TX)
7:00 PM CT, ABC
The lone Big 12 conference matchup of Week 4 has Texas hosting noted nemesis Kansas State. These are tough times for the Horns as they’re off to their first 1-2 start since Mack’s first season in Austin back in 1998. The bizarre decision to axe DC Manny Diaz following the BYU loss did not pay immediate dividends with new coordinator Greg Robinson running the defense against Ole Miss last week. I mean it's completely shocking that #GERG isn't the answer (not). The Rebels ran the ball for 272 yards without really opening up the playbook and put 44 more points up on the inept Texas defense. I expect K-State to try to exploit this weakness by using QB Daniel Sams in the read-option more often this week than he has been used in the first 3 Wildcat games. Whoever is playing QB for K-State will need to take care of the football. Jake Waters has thrown 5 interceptions in 3 games while Sams has only thrown 4 passes to this point. There is similar quarterback uncertainty for the Longhorns as they have not yet announced whether David Ash will return this week from a concussion suffered in the BYU game 2 weeks ago. For what its worth, Ash was back in practice on Wednesday. This is a critical conference opener for both teams and although this game is in Austin, K-State has simply owned Texas in recent years. I expect this trend to continue.
Prediction: Kansas State 30 Texas 23