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Big 12 Week Three Football Preview

Tons of performance questions loom as the Big 12 enters week three of the season!

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Baylor v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

#3 Oklahoma vs. Nebraska

Saturday, September 18th 11:00 AM CT, FOX

#3 Oklahoma (2-0) recovered from a too-close-for-comfort victory against Tulane with a blowout victory over cupcake Western Carolina, winning 76-0. That doesn’t really tell us a whole lot about if week one was a fluke or not. Week three should provide some clarity, although Nebraska (2-1) still isn’t a great benchmark. The Cornhuskers have won their last two games, beating Fordham 52-7 and Buffalo 28-3. Their loss was a 30-22 road defeat at Illinois. And you might be thinking, a close conference road loss isn’t that bad, right? Well let’s look at what Illinois has done since that win. They lost to UTSA 37-30 and then got smoked by Virginia, 42-14. So Illinois looks pretty bad, and by transitive property Nebraska looks worse. Given that, it’s not all that surprising that Oklahoma is a 22 point favorite as of the writing of this article. However, while I think Oklahoma wins this game, I’m not sure they cover that spread since we still don’t know what to make of their week one struggles.

38-20 Oklahoma

West Virginia vs. #15 Virginia Tech

Saturday, September 18th 11:00 AM CT, FS1

West Virginia (1-1) is another team that we need some more game data on to get an idea of how good or bad they might be. The Mountaineers lost their opener on the road to Maryland (who I am inclined to believe is a pretty decent team this year). The Mountaineers followed that up with a 66-0 win over Long Island University. That doesn’t tell us anything. However, this game against #15 Virginia Tech (2-0) should tell us quite a bit. The Hokies took down then North Carolina in their opener before defeating Middle Tennessee State by three scores last week. So this ought to be a good barometer, especially given the regional rivalry dynamic of these two. The biggest thing I’ll be watching for is how West Virginia quarterback Jarret Doege looks, as he more or less cost his team the game against Maryland by throwing a pair of extremely untimely interceptions. West Virginia is actually a three point favorite in this game as of now, which is fairly surprising to me. I would take VT plus the points in a heartbeat.

24-20 Virginia Tech

Kansas State vs. Nevada

Saturday, September 18th 1:05 PM CT, ESPN+

You’re going to notice a trend in this column: there are a LOT of question marks about a lot of teams in the Big 12, and Kansas State (2-0) is no exception. After throwing only four passes, Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson left their game against Southern Illinois with a non-contact knee injury. He is now out indefinitely (with optimism that he can return this season). After leaving the game, quarterback Will Howard entered and, much like last season, vastly underperformed Thompson’s potential. This resulted in a too close for comfort, 31-23 win over FCS Southern Illinois. The Wildcats will now face a firm test in Nevada (2-0) who has already secured a Power 5 win over Cal, as well as a blowout victory over Idaho State. Nevada is favored by 2.5 points at the time of this writing, which feels about right. I’d expect a low scoring affair that the Wolfpack pulls out given Kansas State’s almost assured quarterback struggles.

17-13 Nevada

Baylor @ Kansas

Saturday, September 18th 2:30 PM CT, ESPN+

Baylor (2-0) gets Big 12 conference play started with a trip to Kansas (1-1). Baylor is another team with some question marks after beating Texas State and Texas Southern, but the early indicators lead me to believe that there has been significant offensive improvement, especially on the offensive line which has been the top ranked unit in the country two weeks in a row. While Kansas will be a step up in competition from Texas Southern, I still wouldn’t expect this game to reveal a whole lot about Baylor’s potential this year. The Jayhawks got their first victory in a long time with a close, 17-14 win over FCS South Dakota. They then followed that up with a 49-22 loss to top 25 Coastal Carolina. While the Jayhawks hung around Coastal Carolina, they didn’t show anything that proved they will be able to realistically compete with any of their Big 12 competition. Baylor is a 17 point favorite as of now. Honestly, that is about right on the money in my opinion.

42-24 Baylor

Texas Tech vs. Florida International

Saturday, September 18th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+

Texas Tech (2-0) is, once again, another team that I have some serious questions about. They got jumped on early in their opener against Houston, before rallying and winning that game 38-21. Then, against FCS Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech went down 13-7 entering halftime, before taking a lead in the second half that they could never really expand to a comfortable margin. So this is a weird game to pick. I think the Red Raiders will beat Florida International (1-1), as they have a win over Long Island University and an overtime loss to Texas State. However, I think the 21 point spread in favor of Texas Tech is a bit ridiculous given how they played against lesser competition last week. Tech wins, but definitely consider taking the points with FIU here.

35-24 Texas Tech

Texas vs. Rice

Saturday, September 18th 7:00 PM CT, LHN

Here’s finally a team that we do have answers on: Texas (1-1) is, once again, not back. After what was heralded as a great win over then top 25 Louisiana, Texas got completely and utterly humbled by one of the weaker SEC schools, Arkansas. The Longhorns should get some of their confidence back, however, as they face Rice (0-2). The Owls also lost to Arkansas (by only two points more than Texas), and then got demolished by Houston 44-7. So Texas should win this one but the 26 point spread on this game feels like maybe its a touch high? I would feel more comfortable taking the Texas spread in the 24 point range.

42-28 Texas

Oklahoma State @ Boise State

Saturday, September 18th 8:00 PM CT, FS1

I hope you enjoyed the preview of a team we did actually know something about because looking at Oklahoma State (2-0) I don’t have a clue what to make of them yet. They are undefeated on the year, but their wins have been ugly, ugly. They beat FCS Missouri State 23-16. Granted, quarterback Spencer Sanders was out for that game. However, even when they got him back against winless Tulsa, they still only managed to win 28-23. Going on the road against Boise State (1-1) will be challenging, especially when the Broncos almost certainly have a chip on their shoulder from being overlooked in Big 12 expansion. Boise State is a 5 point favorite as of now. I think they beat the Cowboys with a late game field goal.

31-27 Boise State

#14 Iowa State @ UNLV

Saturday, September 18th 9:30 PM CT, CBSSN

#14 Iowa State (1-1) looked ugly in their top 10 loss to instate rival Iowa. The game was actually a pretty even, defensive matchup until a flurry of turnovers erupted in the third quarter. Iowa State ended three straight drives with turnovers, leading to quarterback Brock Purdy being benched. That lack of confidence in what figures to be one of your best quarterbacks in program history is really not what you want to see. That’s especially true after the Cyclones squeaked by FCS UNI the week prior. Further, running back Breece Hall, who figured in the preseason to be one of the best rushers in the country, has only amassed 138 yards through two games. The Cyclones, who returned almost everyone from a Fiesta Bowl victory last season, need to figure out their seemingly mental issues and figure them out quick. They travel to UNLV (0-2) in what should be a tune up game. The Rebels lost to FCS Eastern Washington and got blown out by Arizona State. However, a 30 point spread in favor of Iowa State feels far too much given their current struggles. I see this game being closer to the 20 point range.

35-13 Iowa State

FieldinOfDreams’ 2021 Prediction Record through Week Two: 18-2