It’s the most exciting slate of the Big 12 non-conference season. Iowa’s Super Bowl, the annual rivalry between West Virginia and Maryland, and traditional football powers in the conference clash with others from the SEC and Pac-12.
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Big 12 games
Iowa State 19, Iowa 14
Heading into Kinnick with a late afternoon kickofff and being shown on an ESPN network definitely has bad vibes — the Cyclones got trucked four years ago in the same fashion. But there’s so many flaws with this Iowa team despite their 2-0 start, and with how they’ve looked so far this season, Iowa State could definitely come away with a win.
Both teams are dealing with tough injuries. The Cyclones have an edge on special teams. They have weapons at receiver to make plays on the defense. If the offensive line holds up and Sam Richardson isn’t sent scrambling everywhere, they can win this game. I think it’ll happen.
(8)Baylor 66, Buffalo 10
FACT: This will be the Bears’ toughest test of their non-conference slate. FACT: This could have been the weakest non-conference slate of all time.
West Virginia 27, Maryland 24
Last year’s 37-0 beatdown was astonishing to watch with WVU held to just 175 total yards and 62 in the air. That won’t happen this time around. The Mountaineers looked strong despite losing to Alabama and the Terps looked mediocre at best against South Florida while also dealing with a lot of injuries.
Duke 34, Kansas 14
No, I don’t believe in the Jayhawks yet until they actually show they can compete on the road. Montell Cozart completed just 50 percent of his passes against an FCS opponent and they almost let a big lead in the first quarter slip away to a loss. Duke may not be as strong as they were last year, but they’ll dominate at home.
Arkansas 23, Texas Tech 20
I won’t be rooting for this as the last thing we need is a Big 12 school to lose to the SEC’s worst, but this is a horrible matchup for the Red Raiders. Running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams could torch the TTU defense on the ground and this power offense could keep the air raid attack on the sideline, not giving them enough opportunities to pull out a win at home.
TCU 31, Minnesota 6
This is where I think the Horned Frogs’ defense will finally shine. The Golden Gophers don’t have a quarterback that can pass the ball yet. Similar to Cozart, sophomore Mitch Leidner has thrown 50 percent in two games. TCU rolls to a big lead in the second half.
Oklahoma State 42, UTSA 35
Larry Coker is turning Texas-San Antonio into a pretty good competitive team. Everybody may be looking at Okie State as just a two-touchdown favorite, but there’s lots of reasons why the Roadrunners can stay competitive. They blew away Houston in the opener and stayed competitive against Arizona all last Thursday long — a game that everybody missed as they watched Seattle blow away Green Bay in the NFL opener. The defense is much improved from the last time this team hosted the Cowboys at home, but it won’t be enough to hold them down all day.
Sep 6, 2014; Tulsa, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops reacts during the game against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
(4)Oklahoma 50, Tennessee 14
It’s being advertised heavily, and that’s because there’s a surprising lack of really great games this weekend. Just because this game is on ABC Saturday night doesn’t mean it’ll be good. Tennessee is far away from actually competing in a top-heavy SEC, and that will reign true as the Sooners absolutely pummel Rocky Top at home. Bob Stoops rarely loses against non-conference opponents at home, and they’ll look impressive in their 3-game slate before Big 12 action begins.
(12)UCLA 34, Texas 28
How disappointing is this matchup? Both the Bruins and Longhorns are coming off of really bad games, but UCLA was able to survive against a bad Memphis team. Their start is definitely not College Football Playoff worthy (and making my fourth pick look bad before the season), but they can rebound in a game where Texas will be doing anything to erase a beatdown at the hands of BYU. The Longhorns defense just won’t be able to do it. Tyrone Swoops wasn’t all bad in the loss and UCLA has been horrible at defending the pass. If they couldn’t stop the run, then I’d give Texas the edge. Instead, the Bruins slip by once again.
Other Top 25 games
(24)South Carolina 28, (6)Georgia 20
Just like a wall clock shows the same time twice a day, Mark Richt is due for losing a couple games. Steve Spurrier will have his team absolutely focused after getting hammered by Texas A&M and its struggle against East Carolina. They’re due to play much better than they have so far this season, and there’s no better way to do it than against the Bulldogs.
(9)USC 34, Boston College 17
There could be a little bit of a letdown from the Trojans after their big win over Stanford, but they could be in better shape than the Bruins for getting into the CFP. The problem for the Eagles is that they rely on their rushing offense to succeed, and that’s exactly what USC can stop.