Key storylines to follow in the five games involving Big 12 teams this weekend:
Oklahoma State at Texas
We’ve reached the point where people in Austin are talking about a home loss to California in terms of moral victories. Maybe the Longhorns have found a spark in redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard at quarterback, though.
Heard’s ability to make plays with his feet can give defensive coordinators heartburn. Look for OSU pass rushers Jimmy Bean and Emmanuel Ogbah to try to keep him fenced in. If UT has to win this game with Heard throwing almost exclusively from the pocket, the good vibes from last week’s near win could fade fairly quickly.
Kansas at Rutgers
The only thing in Lawrence that stinks worse than the smell of Charlie Weis’ old office is the scattershot roster he left behind for David Beaty. So far, the Jayhawks are living down to preseason expectations that KU could field one of the worst Power 5 teams in history. After two games, KU checks in at 125th overall in F/+.
Yet, given how this tire fire of a season is going for Rutgers, it would seem fitting that KU would knock off the Scarlet Knights, doesn’t it? That would just be so College Football.
Rice at Baylor
Like Rutgers, Baylor is dealing with plenty of off-the-field issues of its own. In consummate Baylor fashion, though, the Bears are using the opening month of the year to tune up against some lightweights, reducing the impact of any potential distraction. Art Briles could have suspended his entire coaching staff for the month of September and it wouldn’t matter.
Rice poses the toughest test of Baylor’s nonconference slate. The Owls’ offense will test the Bears’ spotty defense – not a killer test, but still a test.
TCU at Texas Tech
In light of TCU’s personnel losses on defense from a year ago, astute Big 12 observers might have circled this game before the season started as a potential landmine for the Horned Frogs. The Horned Frogs did Tech dirty last year, so maybe the revenge-minded Red Raiders could catch TCU off-guard.
Now, Tech has become a trendy upset pick after “kicking Arkansas’ ass” last Saturday. In a way, you have to wonder if that win will actually work against the Red Raiders here. No way Texas Christian will be taking them lightly now.
Maryland at West Virginia
Despite a strong start to the year, WVU still deserves a measure of healthy skepticism. The Mountaineers looked impressive in blowing out Georgia Southern and Liberty in their first two games, but it’s Georgia Southern and Liberty, ya know?
The last time the Terps saw a spread offense, Bowling Green blew their doors off. If they stay true to form, the ‘Eers stand to score a boatload of points and sail off for their Big 12 opener at Oklahoma with plenty of confidence.