Week 3 the most critical yet for the Big 12
By Mason Kilpatrick
Week 2 was the definition of hit and miss for the Big 12 Conference. Established powers like Texas and OU either tanked or almost tanked. Texas allowed over 500 rushing yards with their loss against BYU. And Longhorn fans wondered why the media never believed in them. OU struggled in their first conference game against West Virginia. If that is not a bad sign, I don’t know what is. TCU had a rough first half against an FCS team, and lost starting quarterback Casey Pachall while KU surprised no one with their struggling performance against another FCS team.
Despite those awful performances, a few teams did rise to the occasion. OSU, nationally ranked at 13, proved that J.W. Walsh can provide a solid game through the air against UTSA. Baylor scored 70 points….against an FBS team, which makes it even more impressive. Their strong performance launches them into the Top 25 now. Kansas State pounced back with a win against UL-Lafayette. Texas Tech creamed an FCS team scoring 61 points, establishing their high powered offense through another solid game.
A few major elements have changed this week for the Big 12 conference. New starting quarterbacks, new defensive coordinators, and a new scandal are in the midst. Significant rematches and top 25 matches up will be present. Here are my weekly rankings of the Big 12 games for week 3:
8. Georgia State (Sun Belt, 0-2) at West Virginia (1-1)
Time: 11:00 a.m. (CST)
West Virginia: What a second week for WVU against Oklahoma. The WVU defense held Oklahoma to only 16 points, with 3 of those coming in the second quarter. WVU might have the fate KU had last year, a strong defense to keep points limited on high-powered teams but doesn’t have enough offensive spunk to keep up with them. Millard completed almost half of his passes and threw for 218 yards. He failed to make big plays consistently and threw an interception, forcing WVU to dominate the game with the running attack. Against Georgia State, who has lost to two FCS teams, WVU will need to push the limits for Millard to try get some big play consistency out of him, or he will be benched for Trickett.
Georgia State: Poor Georgia State, a newly inducted FBS team in the Sun Belt has lost two straight games against FCS teams. They allowed 400 rushing yards, and play against WVU this week…who is consistently riding on a strong ground game. Georgia State will need to learn how to stop that running game or Charles Sims and Dremius Smith or they will face another hard loss.
7. Massachusetts (0-2, MAC) at Kansas State (1-1)
Time: 6:00 pm (CST)
Kansas State: KSU pounced on the Rajun’ Cajuns last week for a good win after their failure in Week 1. They ran ball much more efficiently, running over over 100 yards and getting three rushing touchdowns. John Hubert is still not playing to the form many expected of him, especially after he earned Preseason All-Big 12 honors. Quarterback Jake Waters threw two interceptions with no touchdown last week, still proving he has a long way to go to be the playmaker KSU is looking for now that Collin Klein is gone. KSU is playing another home game this week, having no non-conference games on the road this year.
Massachusetts: UMass’ story is strongly identical to the story of Georgia State. They too are a new FBS team, and they lost to an FCS team, Maine, last week. UMass will be battle tested for KSU, as they were routed 45-0 to Wisconsin in Week 1. UMass does have a decent pass defense though, holding both Maine and Top 25 ranked Wisconsin to a little over 200 passing yards. This could be the only way for UMass to stick with KSU the whole game. UMass will also need their defensive line to step up and force Jake Waters to make even more mistakes, which is possible. This will be a heavy task for the line though as they have been near invisible in the first two weeks of play.
6. Lamar (FCS, 1-1) at #12 Oklahoma State (2-0)
Time: 6:30 pm (CST)
Oklahoma State: Yikes, right as OSU is about to embark on what could be their most successful season yet, the media comes out with a scandal that existed back in Les Miles era. While this scandal has less to do with their play in this season, the scandal could have some large consequences in their future. J.W Walsh threw for over 300 yards and had 4 touchdowns against UTSA. He has now established himself as the premiere quarterback in the Big 12, proving to score points on the ground and through the air. OSU’s defense is now just polishing up for conference play, and will have plenty of confidence after their Week 1 dominance over Mississippi State.
Lamar: The numbers and performance of Lamar last week all point to a possible blowout this week. If they can manage to hold themselves within 20 points against the red hot Cowboys this week, I would consider it a victory.They lost to Louisiana Tech last week 27-14 despite Tech’s awful performance. The team passed for under 200 passing yards and had 8 penalties that accounted for 55 yards. Still, Lamar lost by two possessions. Why? Because they allowed over 250 rushing yards, and allowed some big plays. Who has a solid run game and consistently makes big plays offensively? Oh yeah, J.W. Walsh of the OSU Cowboys. If Lamar could somehow stall Walsh and make OSU solely dependant on the run game, then Lamar could have a chance to win. Still…that is not very likely.
5. Kansas (1-0) at Rice (0-1, C-USA)
Time: 6:30 pm (CST), CBS Sports Network
Kansas: KU hasn’t won a football on the road since 2009. They demolished UTEP 34-7 and were #24 in the nation. That was the year they went 5-7 and was the beginning of the end for KU’s short Football prominence. This game is one of the most important games of the season for KU. They travel to Rice and are looking for their first 2-0 start since 2011. Last week, KU shined at where many expected them to shine: rushing. KU accounted for 280 rushing yards and had strong four performances from four different running backs. James Sims, a running back I feel should have had Hubert’s place in Preseason All-Big 12 honors, went for 94 yards and two touchdowns. The passing game is a different story. Jake Heaps showed glimpses of his freshman self, throwing sharp and accurate passes to his receivers. Unfortunately, his receivers were overhyped. Several dropped passes accounted Heaps going for 10 for 20 and the receiving corps failed draw space for their defensive counterparts. Of course, this is expected when KU’s top wide receiver was a transfer who had never actually had a collegiate pass to his name until this last game. In order to beat Rice, KU will obviously need its receiving corps will need to step up and help Jake Heaps make some big plays.
Rice: The Rice Owls have KU fans shaking in their boots. In the first half of their game against Texas A&M, they kept up to the Aggies toe to toe on almost every single play. It wasn’t until Johnny Manziel came along that the Rice Owls started to look like they were going to lose. This week, they face a team that lacks a big time playmaker like Manziel. Rice will have to learn how to handle James Sims, as he was suspended during KU and Rice’s matchup last year. If Rice plays like they did in Week 1 and limit Sims from acquiring 100 yards, the Owls will leave with a victory over the Jayhawks again.
4. Tulsa (1-1, C-USA) at #16 Oklahoma (2-0)
Time: 11:00 am (CST), ESPN2
Oklahoma: It is Week 3 and Oklahoma already has to start a new quarterback. Now, Blake Bell takes the spot behind center as Trevor Knight went down for 1 to 2 weeks. While Knight’s performance these past two weeks leave little to be desired, Blake Bell gets his chance to shine and take over the reigns for the year. If Blake Bell can throw for over 200 yards and a few touchdowns, he not only will have the Tulsa game in the bag but also the starting job as well. Even if Blake Bell struggles, running back Brennan Clay could have another big game. He has already accounted for 213 yards this season.
Tulsa: Tulsa had a rough week against Bowling Green in Week 1 but came out with a win over Colorado State last week. Quarterback Cody Green threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns. While Tulsa’s offensive strength is its receiving corps, the Sooners need to look out for Derek Patterson. The sophomore only caught three passes last week but accounted for 61 yards and a touchdown. If Patterson can apply his big play threat to more catches, OU might have a hard time stopping the passing game.
3. Iowa (1-1, Big Ten) at Iowa State (0-1)
Time: 5:00 pm (CST), Fox Sports 1
Iowa State: Iowa State had the ability to take a bye last week and rethink their game plan after the loss to FCS team Northern Iowa. Iowa State actually had strong offensive performance, with quarterback Sam Richardson garnering 242 passing yards and not turning the ball over. Rare in a game where the team loses to an FCS team. Why did Iowa State lose? Because of an awful defensive showing. They allowed 457 yards! In order to beat Iowa, they are going to have to stop Mark Weisman, Iowa’s starting running back, who has dominated the past two games for Iowa.
Iowa: Iowa is ready to go against in-state rival Iowa State, especially after their FCS game against Missouri State. Iowa is ranked in the top 30 nationally with rushing yards accumulated. Iowa could easily take the win against Iowa State if they use Mark Weisman as a 30 carries back, they will run away with the game.
2. #25 Ole Miss (2-0, SEC) at Texas (1-1)
Time: 7:00 pm (CST), Longhorn Network
Texas: Well, last week was interesting for the Longhorns. Not only did they lose the game to BYU but they also dropped out of the Top 25 and lost their defensive coordinator. Allowing 550 rushing yards against BYU is ridiculous but Texas needs to shore up its defense in order to beat Ole Miss. Ole Miss is ranked 32nd in the nation for rushing yards, getting over 230 yards a game.
Ole Miss: Ole Miss is starting off strong, as it needs to be, in order to be an SEC Championship contender. Wide Receivers Donte Moncrief and Evan Engram are pro-potential receivers who makes huge plays. Ole Miss could win this off of these two players alone. Texas will be stacking the box to stop the Ole Miss run game. If they do, that opens the field for these two playmakers.
1. #24 TCU (1-1) at Texas Tech (2-0)
Time: Thursday, 6:30 pm (CST), ESPN
TCU: TCU heads to Texas Tech for its first Big 12 conference game. This is a pick your poison situation for the Horned Frogs. Texas Tech is playing as well as Baylor and OSU right now, so TCU has to accept that them leaving with a loss could happen in reality. Casey Pachall is now out for 8 weeks, so Trevone Boykins will now take over as quarterback full time. He did throw for 2 touchdowns last week with no turnovers. TCU can easily depend on running backs Waymon James and B.J. Catalon to move the chains on a consistent basis. The TCU secondary, which has been picked on for both performances these last two weeks, will have to step up. They will be facing a team that is second in the nation for passing yards. This week will prove is TCU’s defense is a contender or pretender.
Texas Tech: Texas Tech playing at a high level right now,a level that can be compared to Top 25 teams Baylor and OSU. They are second in the nation in passing yards and ninth in the nation in points per game, with 51. Texas Tech hasn’t really played a defensively great team until TCU. Expect walk-on quarterback Mayfield to have another big game. But the big difference is their running game. If Texas Tech can get a solid running game going to keep Devonte Fields on his feet and away from Mayfield, Texas Tech will dominate the game.