As we get set for Week 3 in the Big 12 Conference, there are no shortage of story lines to keep an eye on. It’s, by far, the best weekend of Big 12 football we’ve had through three weeks. We get our first conference game (ISU-OU), several Big 12 vs. Power 5 match ups and much more.
1. Can Iowa State do it again?
Last year the Cyclones were 35-point underdogs heading into Norman without their starting quarterback and, as a result, some guy named Kyle Kempt under center. The rest is history. Iowa State fell last week to Iowa and did not look good, especially on offense, in the process. It’s uncertain whether or not Kempt will play this weekend. If not, it’s up to Zeb Noland. After just scoring three points last week, the Cyclones offense has to step up to try and keep pace with another year of an explosive offense from the Sooners. The Cyclones are great on defense, but if they don’t get rest and their offense has too many three and outs, the Sooners will just wear Iowa State down and pick up a relatively easy win.
2. Can TCU put the Big 12 on its back?
This is the toughest non-conference opponent for any Big 12 Conference team this season and it’s not even close. A win on Saturday against the Buckeyes would not only be a massive win for TCU, but also for the entire Big 12. If we’re being honest, the conference has not had a good non-conference yet, with several losses to other Power 5 programs. If the Big 12 wants to keep from slipping back into that fifth ranking of the Power 5 conferences, these are the games to win. They haven’t done it so far, but the Horned Frogs can carry that torch for a lot of the conference. Unfortunately, WVU won’t get that chance against a good NC State program. So a win for TCU will also show the nation that the Big 12 is more than just the Oklahoma Sooners.
3. How do the two quality Group of 5 programs do?
As the Big 12 continues to battle its early season credibility issue, there are two games to keep an eye on this weekend. Oklahoma State plays Boise State and Texas Tech takes on Houston. Boise State and Houston are really good programs from the Group of 5. But if the two Big 12 schools go out there and lose one, or God forbid both of these games, then the grumblings across the conference are going to continue to grow. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are both at home for these games and if they’re as good as they want us to believe that they are then they should both be able to pick up wins on Saturday.
4. What are the Kansas schools?
Is Kansas actually not horrible? Is K-State actually that bad? The Jayhawks snapped their 46-game road losing streak last week against Central Michigan. Now they host Rutgers, a team in a similarly tough rebuild under Chris Ash. This game will be telling as to whether or not last week was a fluke against an awful CMU team, or if maybe Beaty can turn around this program and have a semblance of respectability, or at least close losses this fall.
As for K-State, boy are there reasons to be concerned about what’s going on with the Wildcats heading into the UTSA game. The offensive line is not the strength of the team like we thought it would be, there still is not an answer at quarterback, and the skill position players are “meh”. Defensively, the team has holes as well, giving up nearly 400 rushing yards last week to Mississippi State. UTSA hung around with Baylor last week and if the same, or worse, happens this week against the Wildcats, there will be even more questions needing to be answered in Manhattan.
5. Lousy Longhorns
Texas seems to have a tendency to play up or down to its competition, which is not really a good quality to have. Now, they get to host the USC Trojans. UT lost to Maryland for a second-straight opener and then had to hang on against Tulsa, which was followed by an excuse making press conference from head coach Tom Herman. USC struggled scoring points last week against Stanford, along with stopping the running game. But Stanford has been a legit top-15 program for going on ten years now. I know Tom Herman is all of one season and two games into his Longhorns tenure and he recruited a great 2018 class, but just watch what happens if he loses this one on Saturday night in Austin. It won’t be very pretty and the concerns as to whether or not Herman is the guy to turn around this team will only become more frequent.
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