Whole Nine Sports

Big XII Week 3 Preview

Photo by: Brandon Britts
Mark Heaney
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We are just a week from October, and we are finally getting a real week of college football in the Big XII. There is a full slate scheduled for this Saturday with five games AND all five will feature in-conference teams facing off against each other. Barring any last second changes like we saw last week with Baylor vs Houston we should get a full day of games and our first real look into who will be the cream of the crop in the conference this year. So, without further ado, let’s preview these matchups.

Photo by: Mark Pool

Oklahoma Sooners (1-0) vs Kansas State Wildcats (0-1)

 Location: Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK. Start Time: 12:00 EST. Betting Line: OU -28.

Starting the day will be a matchup of two teams that had drastically different results in their first game of this season. The Sooners kicked off their 2020 campaign with a 48-0 win over Missouri State. QB Spencer Rattler put on a show in his first career start and ended up with more passing touchdowns than incompletions. His final stat line was 14/17 with 290 yards and 4 touchdowns. Veteran receiver Charleston Rambo started the year on a high note as well with two TD’s. Of course, the competition was less than impressive with Missouri State on the field, but it was a dominant performance, nonetheless. On the other hand, Kansas State started their year on a very sour note as they fell to Arkansas State 35-31 two weeks ago. The Wildcats were 10-point favorites heading in. A lackluster performance by the Wildcats defense cost them big time, and Arkansas State WR Jonathan Adams Jr walked away from the game with a three-touchdown performance. Offensively, QB Skylar Thompson wasn’t that bad, 35 points allowed was just too much for KSU to handle. Heading into this matchup I simply can’t see a scenario where Kansas State stays in the game. Their defense is below average as it is, and now they need to contain a pair of Heisman candidates in Spencer Rattler and Charleston Rambo. The spread on this game is -28, and if I were of the legal age to gamble, I’d probably put some money down that OU covers that handedly. If you remember a long time ago in a magical year called 2019 however, KSU upset the Sooners 48-41, and although I have serious doubts, they will be able to recreate that game, we can’t count them out completely. If Thompson does have another good game and the defense manages to slow down the Sooners, we could see this get close, but that is a big “If”.  In the end I think Oklahoma does win big and the hype around Rattler grows even stronger. I have the Sooners winning here 44-10 and getting to 2-0 on the year.

Photo by: Joe Robbins

TCU Horned Frogs (0-0) vs Iowa State Cyclones (0-1)

Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. Start Time: 1:30 EST. Betting Line: ISU -2.5.

This is arguably the most intriguing game on the docket this Saturday. The Cyclones are in desperate need for a bounce back game after they suffered a shocking loss to Louisiana Lafayette in their first game of the year. Iowa State came into that matchup as an 11.5-point favorite but a brutal performance by QB Brock Purdy gave way to a 31-14 win for the Ragin’ Cajuns. Purdy came into the game with NFL scouts’ eyes on him but his stat line of 16/35, 145 passing yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions has his stock way down. He looked uncomfortable in the pocket and shaky in general. If Iowa State wants any chance of winning, and if Purdy wants to avoid his stock totally tanking, he needs a good performance against TCU. Sophomore running back Breece Hall had an as expected good week in their first game. Hall rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries and had a touchdown to boot. I’ve thought highly of Breece since he started last year as a true freshman. He’s a special talent and I expect HC Matt Campbell to lean heavily on the bell cow back this Saturday. On the other side of this game, TCU has yet to even play a game and they will be looking to secure a big in-conference win to start the year. Leading TCU in this game will be a guy who has thrown 10 passes in his collegiate career. Sophomore QB Matthew Downing was named the starter by HC Gary Patterson on Tuesday. Downing is a smaller quarterback at just 6’0” but he obviously did well enough in camp to beat out 2019 starter Max Duggan and QB Stephon Brown. Downing is a transfer and former walk-on at Georgia. Earlier this year Max Duggan went through a heart surgery and a surprise diagnosis that he’s had a heart condition since birth. He was cleared to play by doctors before this season, so I don’t know how much his situation impacted the decision, but it seems possible that it did. This game is very important to both squads but with Iowa State’s back seriously against the wall I see them doing enough to beat TCU. My score prediction is Iowa State 27, TCU 19.

Photo by: Scott Wachter

Texas Tech Red Raiders (1-0) vs Texas Longhorns (1-0)

Location: Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, TX. Start Time: 3:30 EST. Betting Line: UT -17.5.

This should be fun. If you like offense this is your game to watch. Both teams have historically been high energy, high octane offenses and this matchup should give just that. In their first week of play, the Longhorns put up a 59 spot of UTEP and Senior QB Sam Ehlinger put up just a few yards, 426 to be exact. It was an explosive first game for the longhorn’s offense, but the defense didn’t disappoint at all. The D allowed just three points in the entire game and forced the only turnover in the game. Texas Tech on the other hand also put up a good amount of points, with 35. The problem was they also gave up 33 and the opponent was no Alabama… It was the Houston Baptist Huskies. The Red Raiders were a HUGE favorite in the game and held a 39.5 spread heading into it. Obviously, that means TTU failed to live up to expectations in the first game, but I think now more than ever teams should be given a mulligan if they don’t show up in the first game of the season. As much as I think the Red Raiders can turn it around this week, it will have to be a massive turn around to beat Texas. They will have to deal with a loaded running game with Rocshon Johnson and Keontay Ingram. The passing game may be an even bigger task for Texas Tech though: dealing with Ehlinger, Michigan transfer Tarik Black, and redshirt sophomore WR Joshua Moore, who had a career day last week will be difficult. Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman will need a huge day to keep up with the Longhorns offense. I have Texas going 2-0 with a 48-24 victory.

Photo by: Zach Lancaster

Oklahoma State Cowboys (1-0) vs West Virginia
Mountaineers (1-0)

  Location: Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, OK. Start Time: 3:30 EST. Betting Line: OSU -7.

One of these two teams will lose their undefeated record very early in the year and most are guessing it’ll be WVU at 1-1 after this game, but I think differently. The Mountaineers started the 2020 season with a 56-10 win over Eastern Kentucky and although they had a big game through the air, the story of the game was West Virginia’s running game. They finished the game with two 100+ yard runners, as RB’s Alec Sinkfield and Leddie Brown dominated. Sinkfield finished with 15 carries, 123 yards and two TD’s, while Brown had 10 carries, 123 yards, and two touchdowns as well. Those stats are a huge reason why I see an upset in this game. Oklahoma State allowed over 100 rushing yards to Tulsa last week, and although they did only allow 7 points the defense played significantly better against the pass. I think the Mountaineers will see this and lean heavy on the talented backfield they possess. While I do believe the Cowboys will struggle stopping the run game, it can’t go without mention that the Cowboys will likely dominate the run game themselves. While star RB Chuba Hubbard did run for over 100 yards in his first game, it was on 27 carries, he scored no touchdowns, and in the end, he ran for just 3.4 yards per carry. I simply can’t imagine Chuba stays relatively quiet through the first two games of Oklahoma State’s season. Oklahoma State struggled in week 1, and even with the win, a 16-7 defeat of Tulsa isn’t good enough. I don’t think the Cowboys first game was a good representation of the team they are, and I do think they will have a successful year, but in this game I think WVU comes with a lot of energy and puts the pressure on Oklahoma State and young QB Shane Illingsworth from the jump. If the Cowboys do win this game, look for the stars, Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard to be the reason. I have the final score as WVU 24-OSU 20.

Photo by: Jerome Miron

Baylor Bears (0-0) vs Kansas Jayhawks (0-1)

     Location: McLane Stadium in Waco, TX. Start Time: 7:30 EST. Betting Line: BU -17.5.

The Baylor Bears should have a game played by now, and it should’ve been a week to the day of this matchup. The Bears had Houston on the schedule, and a day before the game it was shut down due to the COVID-19. The Kansas Jayhawks on the other hand did play, and it was ugly. They walked into their season opener as a 7-point favorite against a college football nobody in Coastal Carolina. Not only did Kansas not cover the spread, they lost by almost 20 points and gave up 38 to a team that finished 2-6 in the Sun Belt conference last year. I’m pretty close to Coastal Carolina, and I’ll let you know first-hand 95% of it is parties, and the other 5% is sports. Long story short it was a bad loss for the Jayhawks and heading into a game against a rested-up Baylor squad, I don’t feel confident in Kansas. Baylor HC Dave Arnada needs a win to start his career at BU following Matt Rhule’s success, and this is the perfect game to do it. It’s his first game coaching since back in January, when he led the LSU defense in a little game called the National Championship. Baylor is expecting him to bring some winning DNA to the school so they can continue the success they’ve had recently. The Bears lost a ton of guys this offseason and the team and coaching staff in general is not at the level it was a year ago, however, this team has heard all offseason how much they will fall off this year and I have a feeling they will take that built up motivation out on Kansas this Saturday. I have Senior QB Charlie Brewer showing up big and giving the Baylor Bears a 37-14 victory over Kansas.