KANSAS VS. NO 23 TEXAS
Time: 11:00 a.m., Saturday
Location: Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan.
The No. 23 Texas Longhorns have been on the snide since the Big 12 season started. While their overall record sits at 5-2, just one win away from bowl eligibility, the Longhorns are a mere 2-2 in the Big 12, all but removing them from contention for the title.
In the last three games, the Longhorns’ defense has simply been scorched. West Virginia, Oklahoma and Baylor put up 48, 63 and 56 points respectively on a defense that entered the season with plenty of hype. However, this week gives the Longhorns a chance to get back on the right foot, as they travel to lowly Kansas to face the Jayhawks.
For Kansas, its only win of the entire season came against South Dakota State, an FCS team, in week one. Since then, the Jayhawks have lost six straight under new head coach Charlie Weis, including last week’s 52-7 drubbing at the hands of No. 8 Oklahoma. The offense is in flux, with quarterback Michael Cummings set to fully replace Dayne Crist as the starting quarterback. And the defense is not much better, as it gives up over 31 points per game.
Barring one of the biggest upsets in conference history, this game will be landslide in favor of the Longhorns.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 23 TEXAS
NO. 3 KANSAS STATE VS. NO. 14 TEXAS TECH
Time: 2:30 p.m., Saturday
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
This matchup for the No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats has all the makings of a trap game. No. 14 Texas Tech comes in red hot off after two straight wins over then-No. 5 West Virginia and a thrilling triple-overtime win over TCU.
For the Wildcats, their leader, quarterback Collin Klein put himself in the driver’s seat of the Heisman race last weekend after his record performance against West Virginia. He totaled seven touchdowns in the game, three in the air and four on the ground. As for Kansas State’s defense, its only allowed one play all year of more than 30 yards.
The Red Raiders though have a budding Heisman candidate of their own in quarterback Seth Doege. Over the last two weeks, he has thrown for 13 touchdowns. He also leads the FBS with 28 passing touchdowns. At the beginning of the season, Doege told the media that the team’s goal was to win a Big 12 title outright. A win Saturday forces a three-way tie for first place between the Red Raiders, Wildcats, and the Oklahoma Sooners.
This game is a tossup. There are two teams that had very similar showings against West Virginia in consecutive weeks, and both have tremendous leaders at the quarterback position. The light at the end of the tunnel will come on for whoever wins this game, as they will be favored in all their remaining games.
The intangibles point to the Wildcats in this one. While the Red Raiders do have two quality road wins on the schedule in Iowa State and TCU, the Wildcats are 20 spots higher in the rankings than TCU was last week. The Wildcats’ defense has proven that they can shutdown the playmakers in this conference with wins over Landry Jones and Geno Smith. And you will never out coach Bill Snyder, especially in Manhattan.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 3 KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA STATE VS. TCU
Time: 2:30 p.m., Saturday
Location: Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.
It’s been a rough transition for the TCU Horned Frogs, who have lost two of its last three and have fallen out of the rankings since quarterback Casey Pachall was suspended indefinitely from the team and withdrew from the school. Oklahoma State’s season has not gone as planned either, but both teams can turn its fortunes around with a win on Saturday.
In one of the most exciting games of the season last week, TCU dropped a three-overtime heartbreaker to No. 14 Texas Tech by a score of 56-53. Despite the fact that the Horned Frogs have dropped two of its last three, nobody can blame replacement quarterback Trevon Boykin. He’s already matched Casey Pachall’s touchdown total with 10, and nearly has the same number of passing yards in just three starts.
For Oklahoma State, they are coming off a very impressive 31-10 rout of then-No. 24 Iowa State. That was a major step forward after almost dropping one to the Kansas Jayhawks just a week prior, a game the Cowboys won by mere margin of six points. This offensive unit is fourth in the country in scoring, and it is in the top ten in both rushing and passing yards per game.
This game is another tossup, as most are in the Big 12. Oklahoma State has all the momentum, and is also playing at home. The Cowboys only have one loss in the Big 12, so a win on Saturday puts them square back into the title picture. Last week, the Cowboys showed what they are truly capable of, and there’s no doubt that they should feed off that energy and take it with onto their home field Saturday.
PREDICTED WINNER: OKLAHOMA STATE
IOWA STATE VS. BAYLOR
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
Both these teams are coming off losses. The Bears dropped a shootout to Texas, while Oklahoma State blasted Iowa State. The Bears are 0-3 in the Big 12, while the Cyclones are 1-3, so both teams are aching for a win.
The Bears are the third-best scoring offense in the country, putting up 48 points per game. And quarterback Nick Florence, who replaced Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, has the Bears ranked as the best passing offense in the country. However, the Bears have virtually no defensive playmakers. The Bears give up 44 points per game, which is the worst in the entire country.
For Iowa State, the Cyclones had high hopes at the beginning of the season. But three losses in its last four games have the Cyclones reeling, and with three of its last five games against ranked teams, they’re trying to just get bowl eligible. Defense is the staple of the Cyclones, because offensive they have struggled. The Cyclones are 88th in both rushing and passing yards per game.
The Cyclones will have a chance to produce against the weak Baylor defense on Saturday. But with the Cyclones getting scorched by Oklahoma State last week, the Bears will likely do the same to Iowa State.
PREDICTED WINNER: BAYLOR
NO. 8 OKLAHOMA VS. NO. 5 NOTRE DAME
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Okla.
Talk about a game with BCS implications. If No. 8 Oklahoma wins, the Sooners all but pave the way to earn an at-large BCS berth. If No. 5 Notre Dame wins, the Irish could pass Oregon in the BCS standings and only have No. 3 Kansas State in their way to a national title berth.
The Sooners have one loss on the season, a Big 12 opening loss to No. 3 Kansas State at home. Since then, the Sooners have been playing with a vengeance. The Sooners have put up at least 41 points in every game since the loss, while only allows a maximum of 21. It was the 63-21 win over then-No. 15 Texas that got the Sooners back on track. The Sooners possess the fifth best scoring-offense in the country, and only give up 15 points per game.
As for the Irish, their season has been as good as linebacker Manti Te’o has been. The presumed Heisman runner-up at this point to Collin Klein, Te’o has four interceptions on the season, including two against Michigan and quarterback Denard Robinson. He also has 69 total tackles on the season and is the leader of the defense that has not allowed more than 17 points in one game.
This game is going to be an absolute war. Both teams have everything to gain and stand to lose everything with a loss. This game will come down to the matchup between Notre Dame’s offense and Oklahoma’s defense. The Irish have had quarterback issues throughout the year (Everett Golson will get the start Saturday), while the Sooners’ defense has been great all year. That will be the defining aspect of this game, and it will be what gives the Sooners the edge.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 8 OKLAHOMA