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Big 12 Preview: Saturday Night’s Alright

A super important Oklahoma/Ohio State tilt highlights a fun slate for Week 3

Louisiana Monroe v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Kansas @ Memphis
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium (Memphis, TN)
11:00 AM CT, ESPNU
Line: Memphis (-20.5)

Well damn Kansas, I talk good about you for one whole week and then you run off and do THAT. The Jayhawks came back down to earth with a thud last week, taking a 37-21 shellacking at the hands of Ohio. Not Ohio State... just Ohio. The KU defense was gashed on the ground by their MAC opponent and now they travel to a Memphis team that has been known to put up some points over the last few years. This is not the same Memphis from last year without coach Justin Fuente and QB Paxton Lynch, but I still expect that the Tigers will be competitve in the American Athletic Conference. And competitive teams usually do bad things to Kansas. On top of that, Kansas this week "celebrated" seven (7!) years since they last won a true road game in September of 2009. The Jayhawks will need to score in bunches with their passing game to keep up with Memphis and I simply don't see this ending well for KU.

Prediction: Memphis 47 Kansas 20

Iowa State @ TCU
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Line: TCU (-24.5)

The first Big 12 matchup of the 2016 season goes down in Funkytown as TCU tries to bounce back against an apparently hapless Iowa State squad. The Frogs made a great 4th quarter comeback last Saturday against Arkansas but were unable to seal the deal as Arkansas was able to beat TCU's secondary with big plays down the field in crunch time. TCU had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but saw a 28 yard field goal get blocked as time expired before the Hogs went on to win in 2OT. I suspect that you will see a TCU team that comes out focused after two weeks of peculiarly inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. Kenny Hill has been a reincarnation of his Texas A&M self as at times he has looked brilliant and other times he has looked like a quarterbacking nincompoop. But when Hill takes care of the football, TCU's offense becomes very difficult to contain with all of the speed and athleticism that they possess at RB and WR. And while Gary Patterson's defense has seen its struggles in the secondary, they held their own against Arkansas' power run game which should bode well against a team like Iowa State who will look to follow much of the same script. But see there's that pesky thing called execution that the Cyclone offense has been really bad at so far! Joel Lanning hasn't appeared to show improvement as a passer and ISU has had a surprisingly difficult time running the ball the first two weeks. Look for the Cyclones to try and get WR Allen Lazard involved early as he is about the only big play threat they possess. I get the sense though that TCU will come out with a big ol' chip on their shoulder and put away Iowa State with ease.

Prediction: TCU 51 Iowa State 17

Florida Atlantic @ Kansas State
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, KS)
1:30 PM CT, FSNbr />Line: Kansas State (-25)

Kansas State plays its home opener after an early bye week as they host the Owls of Florida Atlantic. K-State took a loss at Stanford in Week 1 but certainly showed some signs that they may be an improved club this year, especially defensively. The Wildcats held Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in check for most of the game until McCaffrey broke a long TD run late to seal K-State's fate. Yet the major key to success for KSU this season will come on the offensive side of the ball. We knew that the Wildcat defense was going to be the stronger unit in 2016 but we all know that you're going to have to put points on the board to win in the Big 12. It will be interesting to see if Jesse Ertz and the offense can right the ship against FAU after a suboptimal effort in the Stanford game. Florida Atlantic is also a team that has issues on offense, ranking near the bottom of FBS in yards/play. I expect K-State to grind their way to a comfortable win in this one.

Prediction: Kansas State 34 Florida Atlantic 13

Pittsburgh @ Oklahoma State
Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)
2:30 PM CT, ESPN
Line: Oklahoma State (-4.5)

How does a team bounce back from a game that they actually won but in reality it goes on the ledger as a big fat L? We'll find out on Saturday when Oklahoma State tries to shake off their frustrations against a dangerous Pitt Panther team. In case you have somehow missed it, OSU lost to Central Michigan last weekend after the Chippewas were incorrectly awarded one untimed down to run an offensive play at the end of the game. And CMU turned the free play into some shear hail mary brilliance:
So despite that incredible final play, the Cowboys should rightfully feel like the game was stolen from them by the officiating. But the fact remains that OSU should've never let the game come down to an official's call to begin with. OSU's inability to have any semblance of a running game has handicapped their offense despite having a NFL caliber QB in Mason Rudolph and multiple big play weapons at WR. As a result, Oklahoma State is converting on a whopping 9% of 3rd downs so far this season. This is a major red flag going up against a Pat Narduzzi defense that punishes teams for being one dimensional. Add in James Conner as the feature in Pitt's offense again after a year away fighting cancer, and this has the makings of another nailbiter in Stillwater. Oklahoma State is certainly the more talented team and with this game being at home, you would think that would be a difference maker. But until I see OSU become something approaching functional on the ground, I'm not confident in picking them. Pitt with the mild road upset.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 31 Oklahoma State 30

Louisiana Tech @ Texas Tech
Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
6:00 PM CT, FSN
Line: Texas Tech (-10.5)

So I think I mentioned in last week's Big 12 Preview that Texas Tech's defense just needed to be pretty bad instead of catastrophically bad and hahahahahahaha SO MUCH FOR THAT. The Red Raiders got another great offensive performance from Pat Mahomes and crew but it didn't amount to much because the defense was gashed by Arizona State for an exact total of eleventy billion yards and points. Simply put, this looked like the exact same Texas Tech that we've seen under Kliff Kingsbury: a lot of excitement, a crap ton of missed tackles, and a .500 record. The Raiders returnn to the friendly confines of Lubbock this week to take on a quietly dangerous Louisiana Tech squad. The Bulldogs made waves in week 1 by almost knocking off Arkansas in Fayetteville before falling in the 4th quarter by one point. Texas Tech should be able to edge out LA Tech if they come out firing offensively as they are prone to do in Lubbock, But if they start turning the ball over and the Texas Tech defense can't get key stops, LA Tech is capable of winning this game. As is, I'll take Texas over Louisiana in the battle of Border Techs.

Prediction: Texas Tech 108 Louisiana Tech 96

#3 Ohio State @ #14 Oklahoma
Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK)
6:30 PM CT, FOX
Line: Ohio State (-1)

The game of the week in the Big 12 and perhaps in the entire country this weekend is going down in Norman on Saturday night as two of the sport's traditional powers collide with Oklahoma hosting Ohio State. Many have circled this as a statement game not only for the Sooners, but also the entire Big 12 as the conference has taken it on the chin thus far in non-conference play. OU is still smarting from their opening loss to Houston but were able to get their first win out of the way last week against ULM. Lincoln Riley and the Sooner offense got back to basics in establishing their potent ground game which they abandoned for no good reason in the Houston game. And if they want to beat Ohio State, they should do the exact same thing! When Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon get rolling, OU's offense becomes incredibly difficult to slow down. The run needs to set up the pass for the Sooners, not the other way around. They'll need to be persistent against a Buckeye defense that has been utterly dominant in its first two games, allowing just 3 yards/play by opposing offenses. Even if it's "just" been against Bowling Green and Tulsa, that's still an impressive stat. On the other side, the Ohio State offense has rolled along as well as its defense with playmaking QB J.T. Barrett and all-purpose fiend RB Curtis Samuel. Unlike a lot of Big Ten teams, tOSU can simply out-athlete its opponents with the speed that they have on the outside. That should make for an interesting challenge for an Oklahoma defense that struggled to make tackles in space and get off the field on 3rd down in the loss to UH. Amazingly, this is just the third time in Bob Stoops' career at OU that he has been an underdog in Norman, dating back to 1999. He won the first two, but I think Ohio State's talent can overcome it having to take a young team on the road into a hostile environment for the first time.

Prediction: Ohio State 35 Oklahoma 27

#11 Texas @ California
California Memorial Stadium (Berkeley, CA)
9:30 PM CT, ESPN
Line: Texas (-7)

Texas has a really good offense now and it will probably score a lot of points. Especially with their running game! Cal's defense is terribad and it will probably give up a lot of points. And it is also brutal against the run! This is a lethal combination! Texas is going to win by a lot and I don't care to talk any more about this game because Texas can go put marbles in their guacamole.

Prediction: Texas 55 California 30