Big 12 Preview: Week 5

Wesley Hitt

Looking ahead to this weekend's Big 12 games that don't involve a certain team wearing green and gold.

Thanks to Iowa State and Tulsa feeling the need to be on national TV tonight, the Big 12 preview comes at you a day early this week. Another light week within the conference as 5 teams are off but there are some games to keep an eye on, particularly one that’s dead sexy if you’re a college football traditionalist. Let’s look at what you will be watching since there isn’t a Baylor game this week. Seriously these bye weeks are cramping my style.

IOWA STATE (0-2) @ TULSA (1-2)
Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium (Tulsa, OK)
TONIGHT 6:30 PM CT, FS1

Iowa State and Tulsa meet for the third time in 13 months after splitting 2 meetings last season. ISU won in the 2012 season opener 38-23 in Ames but Tulsa took advantage of a rare rematch opportunity with a 31-17 win in the Liberty Bowl. This is also the second straight Big 12 opponent for Tulsa after they got hammered by the Belldozer and OU a couple weeks ago. Given the way each team has played offensively to this point, there probably won’t be too much work for the scoreboard operator as the two teams rank 88th and 105th respectively in FBS in total offense. The Cyclones have struggled to find their groove on offense behind new QB Sam Richardson but he does have a potential game-changer to throw to in sophomore WR Quendon Bundrage. Iowa State will look to improve on their running game which has averaged only 3.3 yards/carry thus far and has not scored a rushing TD through the first 2 games. The Cyclones have also had issues in stopping the run as they try to get experience with a young front seven. They’ll look to stop Tulsa RB Trey Watts, who is over 2,000 yards for his career. If they can force mistake-prone QB Cody Green to cough up the ball a few times, Iowa State should be able to pick up its first win of 2013. Even if this game ends up being the absolute train wreck that I think it will.

Prediction: Iowa State 18 Tulsa 11 (because why the hell not)

For more on Iowa State, check out Wide Right & Natty Lite, SB Nation's blog for the Iowa State Cyclones.

#11 OKLAHOMA STATE (3-0) @ WEST VIRGINIA (2-2)
Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, WV)
11:00 AM CT, ESPN

Speaking of train wrecks, West Virginia’s offense everybody! The Mountaineers come off of one of the most embarrassing losses in program history, a 37-0 loss to Maryland that honestly wasn’t even that close. WVU had as many first downs (6) as they did turnovers (6). It was a meltdown of epic proportions and now their reward is a home date with the preseason conference favorites, the Thayer Evans doll stabbing Oklahoma State Cowboys. If you don’t know the whole story there, Google is your friend. The Cowboys are fresh off their bye week following a 3-0 non-conference slate and have played like one of the top tier teams in the Big 12 to this point. The key for OSU will be whether or not QB J.W. Walsh can pick up right where he left off against a stronger than expected West Virginia defense. Walsh has almost unlimited weapons to count on as 11 different Oklahoma State players have scored an offensive touchdown in the first 3 games, including a team-high 6 from RB Jeremy Smith. It will be interesting to see how the Mountaineers are able to respond in front of their home crowd following such a shocking result last week (Side note: Until proven otherwise, WVU is the best tailgating spot in the conference). I look for the Mountaineers to keep it close early but Oklahoma State will pull away in the 2nd half to move to 4-0.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 41 West Virginia 17

For more on Oklahoma State, check out Cowboys Ride For Free, SB Nation's blog for the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
For more on West Virginia, check out The Smoking Musket, SB Nation's blog for the West Virginia Mountaineers.

SMU (1-2) @ TCU (1-2)
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)
11:00 AM CT, FS1

Ahh nothing gets the juices flowing quite like a Battle for an Iron Skillet…ok maybe not but there is quite a bit of bad blood in this one. This will be the first meeting in Fort Worth since SMU stunned TCU 2 years ago, resulting in Gary Patterson whining about basically everything. This is actually a key game for both teams, especially TCU which is off to a disappointing 1-2 start. SMU is also 1-2 with losses to Texas Tech and Texas A&M sandwiched around a comeback win over Montana State (the game that caused Baylor to scramble to find Wofford). TCU is looking to kick start a sputtering offense which really struggled in their 20-10 loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock 2 weeks ago. There will remain pressure on QB Trevone Boykin to adequately fill the shoes of Casey Pachall while he is out of the lineup, something Frogs fans have become fairly familiar with the last 2 seasons. This could be a good opponent for TCU to try and establish more of a ground attack than they have shown through 3 games. SMU’s offense is led by 2 mastermind coaches in HC June Jones and OC Hal Mumme. The unit has had no problems putting up yardage but points on the scoreboard have been a bit of a different story. TCU will likely be without DE Devonte Fields once again, this time with a foot injury, but TCU’s defense is still solid and as long as Garrett Gilbert (derp) is still playing QB at SMU, I like the Horned Frogs to get a much needed win.

Prediction: TCU 34 SMU 20

For more on TCU, check out Frogs O' War, SB Nation's blog for the TCU Horned Frogs.

#14 OKLAHOMA (3-0) @ #22 NOTRE DAME (3-1)
Notre Dame Stadium (South Bend, IN)
2:30 PM CT, NBC

This is probably the headline non-conference game in the Big 12 this season. Props to Bob Stoops for scheduling this series. Oklahoma travels to Touchdown Jesus for just the second time since 1968 with the Sooners looking for their first win over the Irish since 1956. Last season, Notre Dame came into Norman and knocked off OU 30-13 to validate their status as a National Championship contender. Oklahoma will be looking for some revenge in Blake Bell’s first start away from home. Bell was extremely impressive in his first start, a 51-20 win over Tulsa 2 weeks ago. Bell finished 27/37 for 413 yards, 4 TDs and most importantly 0 interceptions. It should also be pointed out that was against Tulsa. The Notre Dame defense will provide a much stiffer test for the Sooner offense although not quite the same defensive unit that the Fighting Irish possessed a year ago. QB Tommy Rees is back under the controls of the Irish offense this year after Everett Golson was ruled ineligible over the summer. Rees has relied on 2 main targets so far this season in WRs DaVaris Daniels and TJ Jones. I look for HC Brian Kelly to try and mix it up against a stout Sooner defense which has allowed just 9 points/game thus far. This appears to be a really good matchup between 2 historic college football powers and should come down to the very end. I trust the Oklahoma offense more than I do the Notre Dame offense so I’ll take the Sooners on the road.

Prediction: Oklahoma 23 Notre Dame 20

For more on Oklahoma, check out Crimson And Cream Machine, SB Nation's blog for the Oklahoma Sooners.

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