The first huge weekend of the college football season is upon us. Things got off to a rip roaring start last night with Arizona's upset of #2 Oregon but there are a lot more fireworks in store on Saturday. This is also the first full week of conference action as all 10 teams are taking the field in a Big 12 game this weekend. Let's get to the picks:
Iowa State @ #21 Oklahoma State
Boone Pickens Stadium (Stillwater, OK)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Line: Oklahoma State (-17)
The first game of the Big 12 weekend belongs to Oklahoma State and Iowa State in Stillwater. The Cowboys are coming off of an uninspiring 45-35 win last Thursday against Texas Tech while ISU…yeah you know what kind of carnage was brought upon them. The key matchup in this game will probably be the Oklahoma State offensive line being able to move the Cyclone defensive line. Iowa State is 114th in FBS in rush defense, allowing 226.8 yards per game on the ground. The Clones do feature the Big 12's leading tackler in LB Javohn Miller but will need more help from the big boys up front to limit the Cowboys' 3 headed monster at RB. If ISU has to commit more to the run, that just gives QB Daxx Garman more space to launch countless bombs down the field, something he has done successfully. When Iowa State has the ball, it's basically going to have to be the Sam Richardson show. Oklahoma State has one of the strongest defensive lines in the conference, highlighted by DE Jimmy Bean, so the chances of ISU finding a running game this week are slim to none. The Cowboys will look to create pressure on Richardson to make poor decisions and get the ball back to their big play offense. I would expect the Cyclones to try and control the pace of the game through the air with some designed runs from Richardson mixed in. On paper, this should be a runaway win for Oklahoma State, especially at home with the paddle people and overall weirdness that is Stillwater. However, Iowa State has proven to be a scrappy team and although I don't think they ever threaten to actually win this game, I don't think they let OSU run away with it either. If this does turn out to be a game, all I ask is for the return of OSU derp face.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 38 Iowa State 24
For more on Iowa State, check out Wide Right & Natty Lite, SB Nation's blog for the Iowa State Cyclones.
#4 Oklahoma @ #25 TCU
Amon G. Carter Stadium (Fort Worth, TX)
2:30 PM CT, FOX
Line: Oklahoma (-4)
This is probably the game of the week in the Big 12 this week as undefeated OU and TCU square off in Funkytown. The Sooners came into the season with big expectations and have lived up to the billing through the first month of the season, looking like a team poised for a run at the College Football Playoff. This will be TCU's first opportunity to test the shiny new toy that is their up-tempo offense against a top flight defense. QB Trevone Boykin has looked like a completely different player through 3 games, making dynamic plays with his arm and his legs while avoiding the costly turnovers that plagued him the last 2 seasons. With an array of speedy options around him at the skill positions, the Frogs have been able to overpower Samford, Minnesota and SMU. Oklahoma is not to be confused with any of those teams. The Sooner defense has impact players up front to limit TCU's running game and a deep, aggressive secondary led by DB Zach Sanchez. If the Frogs can get RB B.J. Catalon going on the ground, it should open up the rest of the offense for Boykin. Similar to the challenge awaiting TCU's offense, Gary Patterson's defense is probably the biggest test that Trevor Knight and Oklahoma will have seen to this point. The Frogs are strong up front even with the departure of Devonte Fields and are hungry to slow an OU running game led by freshman sensation RB Samaje Perine. Perine was a beast in the Sooner win over West Virginia 2 weeks ago, rushing for 242 yards and 4 TDs on 34 carries. Oklahoma has been fairly pedestrian in the passing game, and this could be a game where that presents a problem. If TCU can force Knight to make plays through the air, they could have a special Saturday on their hands. I expect this game to go right down to the wire as TCU under Patterson has always played Bob Stoops tough. At this point, I have to lean towards OU just because there is so much we don't know about the Horned Frogs. But I wouldn't at all be surprised if TCU came rolling into Waco next weekend with a signature win already under their belt.
Prediction: Oklahoma 24 TCU 23
Kansas @ West Virginia
Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, WV)
2:30 PM CT, FSN
Line: West Virginia (-27.5)
Poor Kansas. First they get shutout at home in front of approximately 384 people on Homecoming against lowly Texas. Then head coach Charlie Weis got fired with a Steele-esque 6-22 record in 2+ seasons at KU. The Jayhawks' reward for all of their troubles is an angry West Virginia team looking to make amends after an embarrassing loss last season in Lawrence to kill their 2013 bowl hopes. The Mountaineers look to get back on the winning track after a home loss 2 weeks ago to Oklahoma. QB Clint Trickett leads the nations 3rd best passing offense against a Kansas defense that is better than you might think. However, the Jayhawks haven't played an offense with the athletic weapons that West Virginia possesses. If KU has any prayer of hanging around, they must be sure to limit a WVU running game that hasn't been as strong as Dana Holgerson would like. As for the Kansas offense, this is my in-depth analysis:
Yeah WVU wins this one big.
Prediction: West Virginia 49 Kansas 10
Texas Tech @ #23 Kansas State
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, KS)
6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Line: Kansas State (-14)
The nightcap this week comes from the Little Apple as Texas Tech looks to turn its fortunes around against K-State. The Red Raiders looked like a much more focused unit in last week's loss at Oklahoma State but are still dealing with an assortment of penalties, turnovers, and other critical mistakes. QB Davis Webb injured his non-throwing shoulder in the OSU game but it sounds like he will be good to go on Saturday. This is a huge boost for a Tech offense who only has one other QB on scholarship, true freshman Patrick Mahomes. As usual, Webb will try to spread it around to several WRs including Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez. K-State's defense has been stout against the run but has been vulnerable against the pass. The Wildcats will rely on their front four to create pressure on Webb and force him into errant throws. If Texas Tech's offensive line can protect Webb, he should be able to put up some pretty good numbers. He just has to avoid the interception bug that has plagued him so far this season (6 INT in 4 games). On the other side, K-State's offense rebounded nicely last week in a 58-28 win over a UTEP team that gave Tech fits in El Paso earlier in the year. The Wildcats were balanced and opportunistic in their attack, 2 hallmarks of a Bill Snyder coached team. KSU will be the next team to try and wear down a porous Texas Tech run defense with RBs Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson. Jake Waters and co. will look to control the tempo and the clock to minimize Tech's offensive possessions. In the last 3 meetings, K-State has been successful in doing just that and I think they will be successful again this time around.
Prediction: Kansas State 42 Texas Tech 24