NO. 9 WEST VIRGINIA VS. NO 25 BAYLOR
The Big 12 welcome party for the West Virginia Mountaineers officially begins at 11 a.m. Saturday, as the Baylor Bears storm into Morgantown, W. Va. Both teams are undefeated at 3-0, but the Bears are the only team to grab a win on the road when the Bears traveled to Louisiana-Monroe last Friday and won by just five points.
The storyline for the Mountaineers is their quarterback, Geno Smith, and his favorite target, Tavon Austin. Smith has thrown for 1,072 yards and has completed over 80 percent of his passes, while Austin has hauled in 34 catches for five of Smith’s 12 touchdown passes.
West Virginia has won every game this year by double-digits, though the Mountaineers struggled to a 10-point win over Maryland last Saturday. But the high-powered offense, led by Smith, should prove too much for the Bears’ defense, who are 90th in the country in points against.
PREDICTED WINNER: WEST VIRGINIA
TEXAS TECH VS. IOWA STATE
Another pair of undefeated teams meet up in Ames, Iowa on Saturday when Texas Tech comes in to face Iowa State. Both undefeated at 3-0, both the Red Raiders and the Cyclones have gotten their season off to the start they wanted, and both are receiving votes in the national polls.
The Red Raiders’ passing attack, led by quarterback Seth Doege, is the fourth-best in the country. Doege has led his offense to over 360 yards passing each game, and average over 50 points per game, the sixth best in the country. As for the Cyclones, they have one of the best defenses in the conference, and the linebacker tandem of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott fuels the Cyclones. A 9-6 win for Iowa State over Iowa, their second straight win over their in-state rival, marks the best win out of any of the two teams.
While defense certainly wins championships, the Red Raiders’ offense will give problems to even the most highly ranked teams in the country. If the game comes down to a shootout, which it almost always does with Texas Tech, the Cyclones will not be able to keep up as they lack the offensive weapons to counter the Red Raiders.
PREDICTED WINNER: TEXAS TECH
NO. 15 TCU VS. SMU
The only Big 12 team playing out of conference this week is the TCU Horned Frogs. But their plates are certainly full nonetheless, as the 3-0 Horned Frogs travel the short distance to Dallas to face the SMU Mustangs, who beat the Horned Frogs last year.
Casey Pachall, the signal-caller for the Horned Frogs has looked tremendous so far this year. He has thrown for 841 yards and eight touchdowns en route to wins over Grambling State, KU and Virginia. The defense though, in terms of points allowed per game, has been unmatched by anybody else in the country. They are currently ranked first in points against, only giving up 4.3 points per game.
Texas A&M let the Mustangs have it in their last time taking the field, handing the Mustangs a 48-3 loss. Baylor also beat SMU in week one 59-24. The Mustangs’ top rusher, Zach Line, only has two touchdowns and 299 yards through the first three games, which SMU is 1-2 in. The defense has not looked well either, as they are currently giving up over 35 points per game.
SMU may have had TCU’s number last year, but the Mustangs took steps backwards this offseason, while the Horned Frogs have gotten better and have revenge on their minds. This game should not be close.
PREDICTED WINNER: TCU
NO. 12 TEXAS VS. OKLAHOMA STATE
After steamrolling through its first three opponents, the Texas Longhorns face their first big test of the year Saturday when they travel to Stillwater, Okla. to face the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium. The Cowboys suffered an early season loss to Arizona, but still have a winning record at 2-1.
The Longhorns are defined by their defense, which is only allowing 16 points per game. But offensively, the surprise of the year has been quarterback David Ash, who beat out Case McCoy for the starting job this summer. He has seven touchdowns through the air and over 700 yards passing, a far cry for the quarterback struggles last season which cost the Longhorns in a lot of games.
As for the Cowboys, they come into this game limping. Quarterback Wes Lunt went down with an injury on Sept. 15 in the Cowboys’ game against Louisiana-Lafayette, and he is unlikely to play against Texas, but has not been officially ruled out. However, the offense has looked impressive this season, averaging a nation-best 62.3 points per game. Granted, one of those wins was against Savannah State, which famously got blown out 84-0 at the hands of the Cowboys.
While the Cowboys struggled against Arizona, their offense has shown promise this year, and will prove to be a tough test for the Longhorns. For David Ash, this will be his toughest test as the solidified starter so far this year, and his performance will be indicative of how the season may go for Texas in the Big 12. This game is a tossup, but the Longhorns are too good defensively and will likely shutdown a backup quarterback.
PREDICTED WINNER: TEXAS