Whole Nine Sports

Big XII Week 3 Preview

Brandon Olsen
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Follow Whole Nine Sports @WholeNineSports

Week 3 of Big XII football is here and things are starting to finally heat up. The majority of the cupcake games are done and now teams are facing legitimate competition. Now, it’s time to take a look at all of the games featuring Big XII teams.

Big XII Kansas @ Boston College

Kansas Boston College

Friday, September 13th @ 7:30 PM EST

What to expect: This is a Kansas team that just lost to Coastal Carolina after just barely beating Indiana State. Boston College should be able to just plow through Kansas with A.J. Dillon. On the bright side, this should be a quick game with all of the running we’ll see.

Kansas keys to success:

Learn how to convert. The Jayhawks are now 0-5 on fourth down and 8-22 on third down this season and that’s going to have to change if they want to be better than we’ve seen from them thus far.

Get the ground game going. The offense has to run through Pooka Williams and Khalil Herbert, if it doesn’t then this is going to be a long year for Jayhawk fans.

Stop AJ Dillon. A.J. Dillon is a full-grown man and if you don’t contain him early, he’s going to punch you right in the mouth. If you do contain him early, he could wear you down as the game goes on. Keeping AJ Dillon in check for the entire game will be crucial to Kansas pulling off the upset.

Boston College keys to success:

Ground and pound. This offense is built to run the ball, let AJ Dillon plow through a Big XII defense that is bad, even for a Big XII defense. Dillon could go for 200+ if he plays the whole game.

Don’t make mistakes. Kansas has been one of the most disappointing schools for the past decade or so. However, if Boston College turns the ball over and makes poor decisions, they can let Kansas stay in this game.

Capitalize on inefficiency. This is one of the easiest challenges you’ll see. This Kansas team isn’t good at taking care of the ball so let them make their mistakes and just make sure you capitalize on them.

Big XII Kansas State @ Mississippi State

Kansas State Mississippi State

Saturday, September 14th @ 12:00 PM EST

What to expect: Both of these teams are 2-0 and heading into the actual difficult parts of their schedules. Although Mississippi State is a 7.5-point favorite, don’t be surprised if Kansas State keeps this close or even pulls off the upset.

Kansas State keys to success:

Keep MSU off the field. Mississippi State has struggled mightily on third down through the first two weeks. If K-State can continue to make MSU struggle on third down, this game gets a lot easier.

Keep the game clean. The Kansas State passing attack has been efficient and the rushing attack has been lethal. If the Wildcats can ultimately maintain that level of success on offense, they become Big XII dark horses.

Get to Tommy Stevens. MSU QB Tommy Stevens has been smart and efficient so far this season. Kansas State has a non-existent pass-rush. The Wildcats have to pressure Tommy Stevens and force him to make some mistakes.

Mississippi State keys to success:

Run Kylin Hill. Kylin Hill is a tremendous runner and Big XII defenses don’t like getting punched in the mouth. Giving Hill the ball will be crucial for MSU to walk away with a clean victory.

Convert third-downs. Mississippi State has converted just 38.89% of their third-down attempts so far. That number is going to have to come up for this team to be a consistent winner this year.

Force turnovers. Kansas State has one turnover through two games so forcing them to make mistakes helps out tremendously to prevent an upset.

North Carolina State @ Big XII West Virginia

NC State West Virginia

Saturday, September 14th @ 12:00 PM EST

What to expect: This game will probably not be very pretty. Expect to see a lot of passes from West Virginia and a lot of WVU trying to pressure NC State.

NC State keys to victory:

Be better on third down. NC State is another team that has struggled on third downs. For the Wolfpack to compete in the ACC, they’ll need to get better where it counts.

Keep Matthew McKay clean. Matthew McKay has only been sacked once in two games, keeping him upright will help him carve up a poor defense.

Dare West Virginia to run the ball. West Virginia has been pitiful when it comes to running the ball this year. Go dime or dollar and give them the hat count advantage, this team doesn’t want to run.

West Virginia keys to victory:

Please find a run game. West Virginia has struggled a ton to find a run game this year and if they don’t find it soon, they may just have to go with the Hawaii of old and throw it every play.

Take care of the ball. Austin Kendall has two interceptions and Jack Allison has one so far, WVU needs turnover-free football to start winning games.

Force NC State off the field. NC State isn’t good on third down and WVU needs to keep it that way. The Mountaineers also need to take the ball away and try to win the possession game.

Big XII Oklahoma State @ Tulsa

Oklahoma state Tulsa

Saturday, September 14th @ 3:30 PM EST

What to expect: Oklahoma State is looking for one last easy victory before having to take on Texas next week. Tulsa is looking to play spoiler early for the Cowboys.

Oklahoma State keys to victory:

Feed Chuba and Tylan early. Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace are the two best playmakers for the Cowboys. Giving those two the ball early should keep Tulsa squarely behind the whole game.

Bring the heat. Tulsa is very weak up front. If Oklahoma State brings blitzes consistently, this game should be easy.

Stay healthy. Oklahoma State has a big game at Texas next weekend, staying healthy has to be a priority here.

Tulsa keys to victory:

Run the ball. Tulsa has struggled mightily thus far to find a consistent run game. If they want to pull off the upset, they’ll have to figure that out.

Be ready to run. Oklahoma State is probably going to push the pace early to go up over Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane has to be able to run on defense with the Cowboys.

Pressure Spencer Sanders. Tulsa only has two sacks and Spencer Sanders has only been sacked twice thus far. Getting to Sanders will be crucial to pulling off this upset.

Big XII TCU @ Purdue

TCU Purdue

Saturday, September 14th @ 7:30 PM EST

What to expect: TCU is coming off of an early bye week and Purdue started off 1-1 with a loss to Nevada then a strong win over Vanderbilt. This should be a good TCU defense taking on a good Purdue offense, expect this to be a great football game.

TCU keys to victory:

Ross Blacklock. Ross Blacklock has been one of my favorite players since his freshman year and his ability to disrupt this Purdue offense could help the Horned Frogs a ton.

Slow down the pass attack. Rondale Moore and Brycen Hopkins make up one of the best pass-catching duos in all of college football so slowing them down will mean everything to TCU.

Protect Alex Delton. Alex Delton got sacked twice when TCU played Arkansas-Pine Bluff and that spells a rough translation against stiffer competition. Keep Delton clean and you have a better chance at winning this game.

Purdue keys to victory:

Stop the running game. Alex Delton and Sewo Olonilua are currently TCU’s leading rushers. Delton is a QB but Olonilua is a tank. If Purdue can contain Delton and Olonilua this week, TCU should struggle big time.

Don’t lose your passing game. Last week Elijah Sindelar lit it up for Purdue and he has the potential to do it again this week. If Sindelar can stay hot, this Purdue team looks very dangerous.

Find your running game. The Boilermakers have struggled to find consistency on the ground so far and that’s going to hurt them as their schedule heats up. Finding success on the ground ultimately makes everything easier for Purdue.

Big XII (12) Texas @ Rice

Texas Rice

Saturday, September 14th @ 8:00 PM EST

What to expect: Rice is a team that’s struggled to even remain competitive so far. Texas barely lost to a top 4 team in the nation. This has all the makings of a blowout.

Texas keys to victory:

Bounce back. Texas can’t dwell on their recent loss to LSU and has to be able to rebound following a tough loss. This one shouldn’t be a problem with a leader like Sam Ehlinger at captain.

Figure out who your best running back is. Keaontay Ingram has shown a lot of promise but struggled mightily against LSU when QB-convert Roschon Johnson looked pretty great. When Johnson was on the field, this Longhorn offense just looked more energetic and electrifying than when it was just Ingram.

Fix the cornerbacks. These Texas cornerbacks got picked apart with ease by Joe Burrow and this LSU offense. A key for Texas to try and still secure a playoff spot is to win out, they can’t do that unless they figure out their cornerbacks.

Rice keys to victory:

Attack the Longhorn secondary. LSU obliterated the Texas cornerbacks and if Rice wants to try and pull off the upset, they should try to do the same.

Keep Ehlinger in the pocket. Sam Ehlinger is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in all of college football, keeping him under wraps is vital to this upset.

Be aggressive. Being conservative and afraid to make mistakes is how teams get blown out. Rice needs to be smart and aggressive to win this game.

Big XII Texas Tech @ Arizona

Texas Tech Arizona

Saturday, September 14th @ 10:30 PM EST

What to expect: This has all the makings to be an instant classic shootout. Arizona and Texas Tech are two high-powered offenses with poor defenses, whatever the over is, take it.

Texas Tech keys to victory:

Key in on Khalil Tate. Khalil Tate is arguably the most dynamic playmaker in college football. Texas Tech is going to have to keep him from dominating in order to win.

Air it out. Hawaii threw for 5 touchdowns against Arizona, Texas Tech should be looking for similar success in the air.

Get the ball last. In a shootout, the best position you can be in to win is to be the last team with the ball. If TT can do that, then they’re looking more likely to win this game.

Arizona keys to victory:

Free Khalil Tate. Let 2017 Khalil Tate and 2018 Khalil Tate meet each other and open up this offense. Khalil Tate has all of the tools to be the perfect college quarterback; he just has to put it all together.

Attack this defense. Texas Tech boasts the typical Big XII defense that couldn’t stop a nosebleed. If Khalil Tate and JJ Taylor can get going against Tech, Arizona could score 60.

Get to Alan Bowman. Alan Bowman has only been sacked twice so far this year and for Arizona to walk away with a victory here, it’s looking like they’ll need to change that and make Bowman uncomfortable.

Game of the Week

(19) Iowa @ Big XII Iowa State

Iowa Iowa State

Saturday, September 14th @ 4:00 PM EST

What to expect: Iowa has had a tremendous start to the season thus far, while Iowa State needed to go to triple overtime to beat Northern Iowa in week 1 and then had a bye week. A bye week is plenty of time for disciplinarian Matt Campbell to whip this team into shape. This should be a game of the year candidate.

Iowa keys to victory:

Keep this offense clicking. Iowa has had everything going for them offensively so far this season. If the Hawkeyes can keep up the efficiency and scoring ability, Iowa could be more than a handful for Iowa State.

AJ Epenesa needs to dominate. Speaking of more than a handful, Iowa has the best EDGE defender in the nation in AJ Epenesa. Getting Epenesa going after Brock Purdy will be a deciding factor in who wins this game.

Play disciplined. 9 penalties in two games is simply too many. Kirk Ferentz is going to have to get his team back under control and playing smart football which wins too.

Iowa State lets to victory:

Let Brock Purdy run. Last year, Brock Purdy was aggressive when it came time to run the ball and beat defenses using his legs. This year, he hasn’t really let loose yet in their one game. In order for the Cyclones to pull of this upset, expect Purdy to start getting out of the pocket more.

Find a starting running back. The Cylcones used a running back by committee in week 1 and I just think that it would be best for them to find an option they trust the most back there. I’d personally pick Sheldon Croney Jr., he’s the most versatile back they have and he was the most impressive runner at times in week 1.

Disrupt Nathan Stanley. Iowa QB Nathan Stanley has been on fire so far to start the year with 488 yards, 6 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions to start the year. If the Cyclones can force Stanley into making some mistakes, they can pull off this upset.