Big 12 football weekend – Week 3

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

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By Jeff Baucum

TCU (3-0) at Oklahoma State (3-0)
Line: Cowboys -13 / 72
TV: 2:30, ESPN
As a program, TCU has never been big about chirping or taking on
any sort of an attitude under head coach Gary Patterson, but it has a
right to.
The defense might have given up 36 points to SMU last week, but
that’s turning into a bit of a player in the American Athletic
Conference – the Mustangs have gotten better.
The 28-7 win at Arkansas was the most impressive under-the-radar
stomping by anyone so far.
But it’s still all about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12 world.
As amazing as the Cowboys might be so far, now it’s time to see what
they can do against a defense.
Tulsa doesn’t have one, and neither does South Alabama. And then
there’s Pitt, which definitely doesn’t have a top D.
TCU does, and after this game, we’ll know where a key piece of
the college football puzzle is going to fit.
Yeah, OSU hasn’t faced a great defense yet, but the offense has
done exactly what an amazing attack is supposed to do.
Stomp, stomp, stomp.
The Cowboys have been ultra-efficient, getting out to a 21-0
first quarter lead on Pitt and putting up 49 points by halftime.
Mason Rudolph fired at will, throwing for 497 yards and five scores
for an O that’s now the third-best in the country overall.
But OSU is playing a little D, too.
The pass rush has been okay, the run defense good enough, and the
secondary is holding its own against teams that have to bomb away to
keep up.
Can TCU open it up? Do you trust Kenny Hill to lead and offense
that can keep pace if this gets wild? The answer might be …Yeah.
Again, sort of like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sucking all the
oxygen out of the Big 12 room, between Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph,
and Will Grier, it’s hard to get a whole lot of quarterback love in
the conference.
All Hill has done so far is hit 75% of his passes for 737 yards
and eight touchdowns with two picks. throwing four scoring passes in
two games so far.
The TCU offense is working, but it’s the defense that could end up
pulling this off.
Mason, meet a pass rush.
Granted, five of the team’s eight sacks came against Jackson
State, but the pass rush was fantastic against Arkansas when it had to
be. The Horned Frog line has been dominant behind the line, and it’s
going to keep coming in waves.
Don’t be shocked if TCU pulls this off.
Oklahoma State will have its moments of explosion, but Hill will be
fantastic as the Horned Frogs keep up with score after score of their
own.
The Cowboys are the real deal and will get out alive, but TCU
will have its chances late to pull off the upset. It won’t be the
dominant OSU performance we’ve been treated to over the first three
weeks, but this is the respect game. This is when Rudolph and company
shows that the team can handle the pressure.
Pick: Oklahoma State 40 TCU 31

Texas Tech (2-0) at Houston (2-0)
Line: Cougars -6.5
TV: 11:00am, ABC/ESPN2
The two former Southwest Conference brothers are currently in
the We Beat Pac-12 Teams From Arizona club, with Houston getting by
Arizona on the road in its opener, and Texas Tech winning a shootout
over Arizona State last week.
But now the Cougars need step things up.
Going 2-0 is good, and beating Arizona was great, but can
Houston get by on defense against a devastating Texas Tech offense
that can – as always – wing it around the yard?
There’s a date at South Florida ahead along with a home game
against Memphis, but realistically, if the Cougars want to be in the
mix for the Group of Five’s automatic bid into the New Year’s Six,
they have to win this.
Texas Tech starts out the Big 12 season with Oklahoma State next
week before going on the road for three games in four weeks. Beating
the Cougars wouldn’t necessarily generate a massive national buzz, but
it would prove that things might really be on the right track under
Kliff Kingsbury.
The Houston offense has been solid and efficient, but it hasn’t
been dominant quite yet. Can it suddenly flip the switch and start
bombing away to keep up with what the Red Raiders do?
Nic Shimonek isn’t Pat Mahomes in terms of talent, but he knows
how to get the O moving, throwing for 543 yards and six touchdowns
last week against ASU. Granted, you and a few friends could throw
for 400 on the Sun Devil defense, but the machine is rolling again.
Keke Coutee caught 12 passes for 186 yards and a score and Dylan
Cantrell made eight grabs for 160 yards and two touchdowns as five Red
Raiders scored.
The Houston defense is about to get tested by a passing game. Finally.
Kyle Allen might just be pretty good.
Everything the Cougars could’ve asked for out of the Texas A&M
transfer happened against Rice last week. The former superstar recruit
hit 31-of-33 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns for an offense
that put up 38 points in the first half against Rice. Yeah, Houston
can keep up with Tech.
The Cougar defense has shown up large so far, especially in the
backfield with 15 tackles for loss. That doesn’t matter all that much
against a Tech offense that gets the ball out of the quarterback’s
hands in a hurry, but Shimonek can’t get comfortable.
Get ready for the Houston offense to break out.
Every once in a while – like at times in the second half against
ASU – the Texas Tech attack bogs down. It’ll have just enough problems
against the Cougar defense early, while Allen will take target
practice against the Red Raider secondary.
Pick: Tech 45, Houston 42

Oklahoma (3-0) at Baylor (0-3)
Line: Sooners -28 / 70
TV: 5:30, FS1
There are two ways Baylor can look at this. Either it’s getting
the Oklahoma beating out of the way, or it can shock the world and
become a huge player in the Big 12 race right out of the conference
gate. But simply making this competitive would be nice.
Baylor hasn’t completely and totally wet the bed in its 0-3
start, but it hasn’t been able to come through when needed in losses
to Liberty, UTSA and Duke. But a few key parts are returning, and now
with the pressure off, the team can go for broke.
You want the No One Believes In Us team? Here you go.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma keeps rolling along, having a mediocre first
quarter against Tulane but dominating over the final three quarters
last week in an easy win. With Baylor this week and Iowa State at home
to follow, this needs to be the time the Sooners pad the stats before
dealing with Texas – and they should.
What’s Baylor’s biggest problem? Shockingly – considered this
was one of the most explosive teams of all-time not all that long ago
– the quarterbacks can’t complete the forward pass all that well.
Anu Solomon struggled over the first few games, so Zach Smith was
put in to try cranking up the offense. He threw for 263 yards and
three scores, but he also threw three picks and completed just
12-of-34 passes.
Baylor quarterbacks are completing 41% of their passes on the
year. Let that sink in for a moment.
Without the air show to keep up, and with too many turnovers,
Baylor might be able to hang around for a little while, but the
floodgates will soon open after it starts screwing up.
Okay, Baylor. This might fly in the face of everything the
program has done – at least on the field – when it comes to believing
in hurrying up and keeping defenses on their heels, but this might be
the game to slow things down.
Part of the problem for the QBs has been a lack of a ground
game. The line hasn’t been all that great, but now that RB Terence
Williams is back after suffering through a shoulder problem, the
running game has a star to work around.
After a sloppy first quarter – and an inspired one from Baylor –
OU will kick it all in with Baker Mayfield and company exploding with
a 2014 Baylor-like run to put this away.
The Sooners will load up on Williams and force the Baylor passing
game to work.
It really, really won’t.
Pick: Oklahoma 55 Baylor 17

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