Iowa State vs. UL Monroe
Saturday, September 21st 11:00 AM CT, FS1
Iowa State (1-1) enters this game after a heartbreaking loss to instate rival Iowa. Even though it was a loss, the Cyclones impressed me. Other than some critical special teams mistakes, the Cyclones largely outplayed the Hawkeyes, especially offensively. Brock Purdy looked good. Even with this loss, this is not a team to sleep on. Most teams won’t be able to vampire the clock like Iowa can. That being said, the Cyclones shouldn’t have much of an issue with UL Monroe (1-1), unless they play down to their competition like they did in week one against UNI. However, UL Monroe did have only a one point loss to Florida State in week two, missing an extra point that would’ve sent it into overtime. I think that speaks more to the terrible state of affairs in Tallahassee than anything else, but still, something to watch.
31-17 Iowa State
#25 TCU vs. SMU
Saturday, September 21st 2:30 PM CT, FS1
#25 TCU (2-0) brought the thunder on their road trip to Purdue, stomping the Boilermakers 34-13. The Horned Frogs offense looked improved and freshman quarterback Max Duggan seemed to separate himself from transfer quarterback Alex Delton who has started both games of the season. However, TCU can’t sleep on SMU (3-0), who has cruised through its opening games against Arkansas State, North Texas, and Texas State. While TCU is clearly a step up from these teams, the Mustangs have looked like a potential AAC contender. Horned Frogs win, but I’ll be watching this game carefully.
West Virginia @ Kansas
Saturday, September 21st 3:30 PM CT, ESPN+
Just a week ago this game looked like the definitive battle for the bottom of the Big 12. That might still end up being the case, but both West Virginia (2-1) and Kansas (2-1) bounced back last week. WVU thrashed NC State and Kansas whooped up on Boston College for their first road win in over a decade. Definitely not a good look on the ACC... but a big boost for the Big 12’s overall depth. This is a tough one to call, because both teams have looked extremely up and down this year. I’m starting to buy into the Les Miles experiment though, so I’m going to go with my heart and home field advantage: Kansas gets a big win to open conference play. Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley continues his rapid improvement.
Baylor @ Rice
Saturday, September 21st 6:00 PM CT, CBSSN
Baylor (2-0) is coming off a bye last week. The Bears have been on a roll to open the season, easily beating Stephen F. Austin and UTSA. Rice (0-3) shouldn’t provide much of a challenge either. The Owls lost a close one to Army before getting beat easily by Wake Forest and Texas. Charlie Brewer and company should go to work, but this will be a nice early road game to get comfortable with that process. Unless something goes catastrophically wrong, we probably won’t learn a ton about Baylor until the weekend after this one when conference play starts for the Bears. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excellent trolling of Texas by the Rice marching band:
Oklahoma State @ #12 Texas
Saturday, September 21st 6:30 PM CT, ABC
In a game that could have huge implications for the Big 12 race down the line, Oklahoma State (3-0) travels to #12 Texas (2-1) for a primetime showdown. Texas spent the last weekend dominating Rice while Oklahoma State handled Tulsa just fine. At this point, we have seen Texas tested and know where their strengths and weaknesses lie: they have a strong passing attack on offense and weak secondary on defense. Oklahoma State could very easily take advantage of that secondary if they play like they have over their opening three games. OSU QB Spencer Sanders has looked good, especially with the assistance of rising star Chuba Hubbard at running back. Still, Texas has the quarterback advantage with Sam Ehlinger. So this game will likely come down to which team’s defense holds up better. Texas has clear issues on that side of the ball, Oklahoma State is unproven. I’ll take the home team, Texas, in a primetime shootout.