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Week Four Big 12 Preview

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Tallysight helps the CRFF staff pick winners and losers in the Big 12 this weekend.

Syndication: The Oklahoman BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Baylor and Kansas kicked off Big 12 last weekend in Lawrence and this weekend brings a much larger slate of Big 12 games. TCU and Kansas will take on non-conference opponents this weekend while the rest of the Big 12 plays conference opponents. TCU and SMU will battle for the Iron Skillet for the 100th time and Kansas will face an ACC bottom-dweller in Duke. Let’s preview the football weekend in the Big 12 and hit on some of the best games around the nation!

No. 25 Kansas State @ Oklahoma State

Kansas State and Oklahoma State both come into this game with 3-0 records and Kansas State is ranked. The game will be televised on ESPN+. If you aren’t sure why that’s the case, let’s recap the six games played between these two teams so far this season.

Kansas State opened with an impressive win over Stanford before a poor performance against Southern Illinois in which quarterback Skylar Thompson suffered an injury. The Wildcats rebounded last week with a 38-17 win over Nevada. Oklahoma State only beat FCS opponent Missouri State by a touchdown to open the season before a five point win over Tulsa and a 21-20 victory at Boise State last week.

Both teams improved last week but neither did enough to inspire much confidence. Oklahoma State is favored by nearly a touchdown despite three shaky offensive performances so far this season. A suffocating defense playing in front of a home crowd and facing a backup quarterback is a big reason why. There may not be a lot of points scored in this one, and OSU fans can only hope for a better offensive attack this week.

I am picking Oklahoma State to beat Kansas State 31-17. The Cowboys scored 21 points in the first half last week before being shutout in the second half. I am betting on OSU to repeat the first half production while giving the home fans something to cheer about in the second half this week. Ian and Ingalls both picked OSU to win 21-17 and Phillip and Robert both went with K-State to win the game.

SMU @ TCU

SMU and TCU face off in the 100th Iron Skillet game on Saturday morning at 11 on FS1. There has been plenty of talk between the two schools leading up to the game and I can’t wait to watch this battle between Dallas and Fort Worth. TCU hasn’t played since beating Cal by two points two weeks ago. That came after a big win over Duquesne in week one. SMU is 3-0 with big wins over Abilene Christian and North Texas, and a walk-off win over Louisiana Tech on a miracle touchdown pass from Tanner Mordecai to Reggie Roberson Jr.

Both teams feature high scoring offensive attacks and questionable defensive units. TCU usually plays well on the defensive side of the ball, but the Horned Frogs rank ninth in the Big 12 in defense so far this season. That includes giving up 32 points to a California team that managed just 17 points in a loss to Nevada. I expect this game to be a shootout and I have SMU taking the Iron Skillet back to Dallas.

Texas Tech @ Texas

The last time Texas Tech and Texas got together, former Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman was seen flashing the famous “Horns Down” hand sign after a SaRoderick Thompson touchdown run put the Red Raiders up 56-41 late in the 4th quarter. Sam Ehlinger responded by throwing two touchdown passes to force overtime and one more in the extra period to win the game 63-56. That’s pretty on-brand for Texas Tech if you ask me.

Texas comes into this Saturday morning kickoff (ABC) after a blowout win over Rice at home. That win follows a 41-20 loss to Arkansas on the road two weeks ago. The Longhorns are 2-1 and appear to be switching to Casey Thompson as QB1, though coach Steve Sarkisian still hopes to get Hudson Card some game reps.

Texas Tech has a good win over Houston on its resume but nearly lost to SFA at home two weeks ago. The Red Raiders bounced back with a 54-21 win over Florida International last week. This is the first true test for Texas Tech and I am interested to see how the Red Raiders respond. Tyler Shough will have to continue playing like he did last week if Texas Tech has a shot to beat Texas on the road this week. I have Texas by two scores, and the rest of the staff is taking the Longhorns as well.

No. 14 Iowa State @ Baylor

Another team I am interested to see play against formidable competition is Baylor. The Bears only beat a Texas State team that is off to an embarrassing start by a score of 29-20. The Baylor offense has looked great since that opening game and the Bears beat Kansas 45-7 last week to improve to 3-0. Gerry Bohanon had another good outing, passing for 269 yards and two scores, and the Baylor run game with Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner continued to impress as well.

I will be impressed if the Baylor offense continues to put up big numbers this week against Iowa State. The Cyclones got off to a slow start in a win over Northern Iowa and a loss to Iowa. Iowa State bounced back last week with a big win over UNLV and quarterback Brock Purdy looked much more like himself, passing for 288 yards and three scores.

This game between Baylor and Iowa State should tell us much more about where each team is at. The entire staff has picked Iowa State to cover a touchdown spread and I have the Cyclones beating Baylor 35-24. Kickoff is set for 2:30 on Saturday afternoon on FOX.

Kansas @ Duke

The old saying is this is a game only a mother could love. And yet, I’m not sure a mother could even love this game. Kansas and Duke will square off in Durham, North Carolina, at 3:00 on Saturday afternoon. The game will be televised on the ACC Network, though I doubt many people will be watching. Kansas got waxed by Baylor at home last week after the passing attack yielded just 3.2 yards-per-attempt and the ground game averaged just 3.3 yards-per-carry.

Duke is coming off a 30-23 win over Northwestern but lost its season opener to Charlotte 31-28. I don’t know what to make of the Blue Devils but I will pick them to beat Kansas. As for ACC play- it will likely be a long season for Duke. I am taking Duke to win 31-21 but Kansas to cover the 17 point spread. The rest of the staff is also picking Duke to win this game.

West Virginia @ No. 4 Oklahoma

Our last Big 12 game of the weekend is the Saturday night primetime game on ABC. West Virginia will take on Oklahoma in Norman as the headlining night game. That is, unless you are interested in watching Tennessee get run out of Gainesville by Florida.

West Virginia has some momentum, coming off a big win over rival Virginia Tech. The Mountaineers made a goal line stand to take down the Hokies 27-21 to win the Black Diamond Trophy. Jarret Doege had a good afternoon, passing for 193 yards and two scores. He did have one costly interception that set up Virginia Tech deep in West Virginia territory with the game winding down. As I mentioned above, the Mountaineer defense bailed him out. Leddie Brown averaged 8.5 yards-per-carry, going for 161 yards and a score.

Oklahoma hasn’t played up to its standards so far this season. That’s the main reason for intrigue in this game. OU struggled against Tulane to open the season and only beat Nebraska 23-16 at home a week ago. Spencer Rattler is playing well, yet, it doesn’t feel like he is playing anywhere near his potential. Maybe I am just used to those OU offenses under Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray that averaged over eight yards-per-play.

A win for West Virginia would certainly propel the Mountaineers into the top-25 and make them a threat to a secure a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Another close win for Oklahoma would be a tad bit concerning, but not nearly as concerning as the seven point win over Nebraska was. OU will want to come out with a sense of urgency and put this game away early. If not, we might be having a serious conversation about OU as a playoff contender next week.

Top Games

There are only two matchups between ranked teams this week. No. 12 Notre Dame takes on No. 18 Wisconsin on the road. This matchup is particularly interesting because Notre Dame will start former Wisconsin quarterback Jack Coan against his former team. The Fighting Irish haven’t looked great so far this season, beating Purdue by two scores, Toledo by three points, and Florida State by three points in overtime. Wisconsin lost to Penn State to open the season but bounced back with a win over Eastern Michigan two weeks ago and hasn’t played since.

The other ranked matchup is between No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 16 Arkansas at AT&T Stadium. Arkansas has the big win over Texas at home on its resume. Texas A&M beat Kent State by a large margin at home before losing quarterback Haynes King to an injury in a scary 10-7 win over Colorado. Zach Calzada looked much better last week against New Mexico. This should be a close game, though I would pick Texas A&M by a larger margin if King were playing.

UTSA has been one of the best surprises of the year so far, though if you have followed the program the last few years the Road Runners 3-0 start might not be that big of a surprise. UTSA takes on Memphis on the road, and the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start with a win over Mississippi State behind freshman quarterback Seth Henigan. Tennessee plays Florida on the road and will be looking to knock off a Gators squad that took Alabama to the wire last week. Here are our staff picks for other games around the nation.