TCU vs. SMU
Saturday, September 25th 11:00 AM CT, FS1
After an early bye week, TCU (2-0) hosts rival SMU (3-0). The Horned Frogs blew out Duquesne in their first game, then squeaked by Cal in their last action, winning 34-32. That Cal win isn’t all that impressive considering the Golden Bears are 1-2 on the season. SMU is coming off of an electric win last weekend over Louisiana Tech, where the Mustangs pulled off a Hail Mary for the win as time expired. At the writing of this article, TCU is a 10 point favorite over the Mustangs. I believe the Horned Frogs will win by a margin closer to 14-17 points.
Texas Tech @ Texas
Saturday, September 25th 11:00 AM CT, ABC
Texas (2-1) rebounded from its ugly loss to Arkansas with a dominant win over Rice, shutting the Owls out 58-0. While such a dominant performance is obviously a good sign, the Owls are 0-3 and have not been closer than 3 scores in any of their losses. So take that outcome with a grain of salt. Texas Tech (3-0) “recovered” from a too-close-for-comfort win over Stephen F. Austin with a fairly convincing win over Florida International. It took the Red Raiders the first quarter to hit their stride, but once they did they never looked back and won 54-21. Texas is favored by 8 points in this game. It’s hard to say if Texas’s blowout loss to Arkansas was a fluke or more indicative of deeper issues. I like Texas to win this one, but not cover the spread.
#14 Iowa State @ Baylor
Saturday, September 25th 2:30 PM CT, FOX
The Baylor Bears (3-0, 1-0) finally get to prove the progress they have seemingly made on offense as they host #14 Iowa State (2-1). For Baylor, the offense has been humming through its first three games, culminating in a 45-7 road victory over Kansas. The real interesting position battle in this game will be Baylor’s new-look wide zone running scheme versus Iowa State’s elite run defense. Baylor has two running backs, Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner, who have each rushed for over 300 yards through only three games in the season. Granted, the competition has been lacking but that is still highly impressive, especially considered the running game woes of last season. On the flip side, Iowa State held a good rushing Iowa team to an abysmal 67 rushing yards on 39 attempts (good for 1.7 yards per carry). They held Northern Iowa to that exact same 1.7 yards per carry mark and bottled up UNLV even more, holding them to 1.2 yards per carry. If Baylor’s offensive progress is the real deal, this will be one of the keys to the game. The Bears probably need to be in the 3-4 yards per carry range to open up other aspects of the offense. If that does happen, Baylor could get a surprisingly easy win. If that doesn’t happen, not all hope is lost (after all, Iowa beat the Cyclones by 10 points with only 1.7 yards per carry). Rather, the game likely becomes a defensive slugfest as the Cyclones have done little to prove their offense is where it was last year (their 48-3 win over UNLV, while flashy offensively, was against one of the worst FBS defenses this season, letting up close to 500 yards a game). For now, Iowa State is favored by seven points. I like the Bears to get an upset in a somewhat low scoring game that is decided by a couple big runs and turnovers.
Kansas @ Duke
Saturday, September 25th 3:00 PM CT, ACCN
Kansas (1-2, 0-1) travels to Durham, North Carolina to take on Duke (2-1). The Blue Devils have recovered nicely after a devastating opening game loss to Charlotte, defeating North Carolina A&T and then power five foe Northwestern. Kansas, on the other hand, was unable to build off their opening win against South Dakota. They subsequently got demolished by Coastal Carolina and Baylor. Duke is a 16 point favorite in this one. That feels a bit conservative to me, as I could see Duke blowing Kansas out here. There just isn’t a whole lot of upside for the Jayhawks this year.
#25 Kansas State @ Oklahoma State
Saturday, September 25th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+
#25 Kansas State (3-0) has built a quietly impressive resume (if you ignore the final score of their game against Southern Illinois). In addition to that win over SIU, they have also collected wins over Stanford and Nevada. I was concerned that Kansas State would potentially lose to Nevada given another injury to Skylar Thompson, but Will Howard filled in nicely this time as a game manager. He completed 7 of 10 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. That’s all the Wildcats needed him to do last weekend, but I’m not sure the same will be possible on the road in Stillwater. Oklahoma State (3-0) is technically undefeated. However, there was a terrible officiating incident late in their game against Boise State where a fumble that was returned for a touchdown was blown dead. After review, it was clearly a fumble, but the return was wiped off the board. What would have given Boise State the lead was eventually squandered by their offense. Nevertheless, the Cowboys have a series of very close wins against Missouri State, Tulsa, and Boise State. I expect a bit of a defensive slugfest here as there are key offensive injuries on both sides (quarterback Skyler Thompson for KState and running back Dezmon Jackson for Oklahoma State). Oklahoma State is favored by 6 which feels about right.
19-13 Oklahoma State
West Virginia @ #4 Oklahoma
Saturday, September 25th 6:30 PM CT, ABC
West Virginia (2-1) grabbed a huge victory over the weekend, upsetting #15 Virginia Tech 27-21. While the Mountaineers almost squandered a larger lead, they secured the win which should instill renewed confidence after their season opening loss to Maryland. #4 Oklahoma (3-0) has been in two too many close-call games already on the early season. Their opener was a 40-35 win over Tulane. They then blew out Western Carolina before skating by against Nebraska in a 23-16 wins. Those two close wins have shown that Oklahoma’s offense and defense are both not where they were expected to be. Oklahoma is favored by 16.5, which feels way too large of a margin given Oklahoma’s struggles. While the Sooners probably pull this one out in the end, I expect another fairly close and perplexing performance.
FieldinOfDreams’ 2021 Prediction Record through Week Three: 23-5