2010 Big 12 Fearless Picks - Sept. 25, Pt. 2
Iowa State RB Alexander Robinson
Iowa State RB Alexander Robinson
Posted Sep 23, 2010

Fearless Predictions for every Big 12 game, Sept. 25, Part 2


2010 Big 12 Fearless Predictions

Week 4 ... Sept. 25, Part 2

Big 12
Colorado | Iowa St | Kansas | Kansas State | Missouri | Nebraska
South Baylor | Oklahoma | Oklahoma State | Texas | Texas A&M | Texas Tech

Big 12 Fearless Predictions 
- Sept. 18 | Sept. 11 | Sept. 4

- Sept. 25 (UCLA-Texas)

Northern Iowa (1-1) at Iowa State (1-2) Sept. 25, 7:00

Here's The Deal … It seems like this would be a natural non-conference matchup every year, but the last time the two met, UNI beat Iowa State 24-13 in 2007. Iowa State has dominated the matchup that started in 1899 (a 0-0 tie). This isn't quite the Panther team of last year, and it's going to struggle to make a run at the Missouri Valley title, but it's still the type of team with enough talent on the defensive front to be a problem. UNI is coming off a loss to Stephen F. Austin, while the Cyclones are trying to get back on track after getting blasted in the rivalry loss to Iowa and dropping a heartbreaker in the Big 12 opener to Kansas State. This is hardly going to be a cupcake game for Iowa State, considering how fired up UNI gets for the in-state game (just ask Iowa last year), but it needs the win before a rough October starting out with home games against Texas Tech and Utah and going on the road to face Oklahoma and Texas.
Why Northern Iowa Might Win: The defensive line is good enough to potentially stop the ISU ground game cole. The Cyclones need to run to win, and they've been struggling at that throughout this year. They were able to crank out a couple of long runs in the opener against Northern Illinois, but that's been it. UNI has a slew of new players up front, but the production against the run has been impressive allowing 79 yards against Stephen F. Austin and ripping into the backfield time and again to stuff North Dakota State, who beat Kansas, for -40 yards. The Cyclone offensive line has hardly provided a push so far, and with a banged up quarterback in Austen Arnaud who can't afford to take too many hits, the UNI defense could become a problem.
Why Iowa State Might Win: The Panthers can't hang on to the ball. The offense hasn't been bad so far, especially running the ball, but it's had a case of fumbleitis, losing all five fumbles put on the ground so far, to go along with an interception. Meanwhile, the UNI defense, for all its aggressiveness into the backfield, didn't come up with a takeaway last week. Iowa State is the better team, but it'll be in trouble if it loses the turnover battle. If Arnaud and company can be careful with the ball, and if they can keep the chains moving, they should be able to overcome the lack of a run defense.
What To Watch Out For: Alright, Austen Arnaud. It's time to start producing. The unquestioned leader and starter going into the season, he has struggled to get the offense moving and has made way too many mistakes, throwing five picks and two touchdown passes. Now he's trying to play hurt after suffering a shoulder injury against Kansas State last week, and while backup Jerome Tiller is the more dangerous runner, the passing game goes in the tank if he's in. The plan is to rotate quarterbacks to offer a few different looks, but it's Arnuad who'll have to do most of the heavy lifting.
What Will Happen: Iowa State's run defense has been awful so far, and considering UNI runs for 238 yards per game, this could be very, very scary for the Cyclones. It'll be a sixty minute fight, but the Cyclones will get into the backfield enough to stop the Panther passing game cold, and it'll do just enough against the run to sneak away with a rough win.
CFN Prediction: Iowa State 24 … Northern Iowa 20 … 5Dimes.com Line: No Line
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 1
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South Dakota State (0-2) at Nebraska (3-0) Sept. 25, 7:00

Here's The Deal … South Dakota State is actually decent. Expected to be a player in the Missouri Valley race, the Jackrabbits suffered a setback in a tough home loss to Illinois State a week after getting stomped on by Delaware. The running game, despite the production so far, will be great, the special teams are strong, and the defense is solid against the pass. But things are about to get worse. Nebraska is playing as well as any team in America with a blasting of a not-that-bad Idaho team two weeks ago and a total and complete pansting of Jake Locker and Washington last week in Seattle. The Big 12 season starts next week at Kansas State, and while the Huskers might be trying to take it a bit easy this week, they can go through the motions and still win without a problem.
Why South Dakota State Might Win: SDSU has only netted 144 yards so far in two games, but Kyle Minett is a fantastic back with a nose for the goal line, and Thomas O'Brien is a veteran passer who's putting up plenty of yards so far, even if there aren't any home runs. The punting game has been terrific so far, with Dean Priddy bombing away for 45.38 yards per kick putting the Jackrabbits No. 2 in the FCS in net punting, however …
Why Nebraska Might Win: … Niles Paul has had a strong year so far returning punts; Nebraska is second among Big 12 teams and 26th in the nation in punt returns. The special teams are working, as is everything else for the Huskers right now with a defense that's not getting into the backfield enough, but is suffocating everyone's passing game. The offense that was such a liability last year has been phenomenal, averaging 344 rushing yards per game, thanks to …
What To Watch Out For: … Taylor Martinez, who needs to start getting some of the publicity that Denard Robinson is receiving. The redshirt freshman playmaker has rushed for 127 yards or more in each of the first three games, and he showed last week against Washington that he could throw, too, connecting on 7-of-11 passes for 150 yards and a score, looking like Peyton Manning compared to Jake Locker, who connected on 4-of-20 throws. This week the job it to bomb away and do even more to test out the midrange passing game. Nebraska can win just by running on the field, and while it'll crank out the big runs early to put the game away, it has to try to work on being a wee bit more balanced.
What Will Happen: The Husker defensive front won't allow the Jackrabbits to do much of anything to get the ground game going, while Martinez and Roy Helu will each tear off big first quarter runs to end the game before it gets going. The backups, led by No. 2 RB Rex Burkhead, will be the stars.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 44 … South Dakota State 10 … 5Dimes.com Line: No Line
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … X
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New Mexico State (0-2) at Kansas (1-2) Sept. 25, 7:00

Here's The Deal … Kansas, what's your deal? The Jayhawks were a disaster in the season opener against a North Dakota State team that lost to Northern Iowa the following week, and then they came up with a shocker against Georgia Tech. Just when it seemed like Turner Gill had a handle on things, KU got blasted by Southern Miss on national TV. There's no such thing as a layup for this team, but this is the easy part of the schedule with a trip to Baylor up next to start the Big 12 season followed up by Kansas State, Texas A&M, at Iowa State and Colorado. If the offense can show up and do anything, now is when the foundation for a possible winning season has to be built. For New Mexico State, the goal has to be to keep improving. On a nine-game losing streak with a team that's still trying to figure out what it's doing under second-year head man DeWayne Walker, it's going to be ugly next week against Boise State to it has to try to pull off the upset against KU to avoid a certain 0-4 start.
Why New Mexico State Might Win: The Kansas offense has been flaky, to put it nicely. It was stunningly balanced against Georgia Tech but did nothing the other two weeks. Points have been hard to come by thanks to an offensive front that's getting the quarterbacks beaten up and is failing to generate much of a ground game. The one thing that's working well so far for NMSU is the return game with Donyate Coleman and the punt returners averaging 12 yards per pop, while the kickoff returns have been solid averaging 21.17 yards per try. KU's punting game has been miserable so far averaging 29 yards per try while the punt returners are averaging 2.43 yards per attempt.
Why Kansas Might Win: KU's biggest issue has been an inability to protect the passer, but that won't be a problem this week. The Aggies aren't generating any pass rush whatsoever, failing to generate a sack in the first two games and only coming up with five tackles for loss.
What To Watch Out For: New Mexico State needs as many defensive playmakers as possible, and it seems to have found a good one in senior Boyblue Aoelue. Beyond just having a sensational name, the former special teamer has stepped up his game as the team's top tackler opening up with 16 stops against San Diego State and seven against UTEP. He's only 5-10 and 217 pounds, but he's a great hitter for his size and he's extremely active. Considering Kansas isn't doing much with the ground game, it'll be up Aoelue to come up with a big performance to keep it in place.
What Will Happen: The New Mexico State offense isn't doing enough to keep up any sort of a pace, and while Kansas won't put up points in bunches, a few touchdowns will be enough to end the fun. Don't expect many highlights.
CFN Prediction: Kansas 38 … New Mexico State 12 … 5Dimes.com Line: Kansas -22
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 1.5
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Baylor (2-1) at Rice (1-2) Sept. 25, 8:00 ET

Here's The Deal … Former Southwest Conference rivals renew acquaintances in Houston, with an eye toward finishing the month of September on a high note. Baylor is looking to dust itself off after being schooled by TCU, 45-10, a week ago. Despite being completely outclassed in Fort Worth, the goal for the Bears remains intact; after 15 consecutive seasons of postseason futility, they're after the six wins required to become bowl eligible. With Big 12 play beginning next weekend, this is a game they simply have to have. Rice has once again used the opening month to test its mettle versus tougher competition. So far, the Owls have fared as expected, losing to Texas and Northwestern while defeating North Texas two weeks ago with a late rally.
Why Baylor Might Win: Although the Bears got stuffed in Week 3, it's not about to become a trend. QB Robert Griffin won't allow it to happen, and Rice doesn't have nearly the defensive depth and talent as TCU. Fully recovered from last year's season-ending injury, Griffin is back to intimidating defenses with his arm and his feet. He's already thrown five touchdown passes to just a single pick, and has rushed for three scores. After being bottled up by the Horned Frogs, he's eager to explode and get the ball in the hands of playmaking receivers Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams.
Why Rice Might Win: After playing so well against lesser competition in the first two weeks, the Baylor defense sprung leaks a week ago, getting steamrolled for 558 balanced yards. While the unit may not be as generous as it looked, the Owls will try to take advantage with their own offensive weapons. Nick Fanuzzi has begun to settle in as the starter under center, while Tyler Smith and Sam McGuffie provide a lift to the running game. With the problems the Bears are having at getting to the quarterback, Fanuzzi should get the time he needs to TE Luke Willson or one of his receivers open in the secondary.
What To Watch Out For: It won't show up in the final boxscore, but it'll be interesting to monitor the psyche of Baylor in this game. If the Bears can bounce back quickly and have a short memory after getting thumped a week ago, it'll speak volumes about their ability to finish strong and earn a bonus game in December. If not, however, there'll be an extra hurdle that gets in the way of winning six games.
What Will Happen: It's time for Griffin to put Baylor on his shoulders and start carrying the program for a while. After three games of reps and one humbling experience, he's poised to erupt at the expense of a very weak Rice defense. He'll have his hand in all four Bear touchdowns, which will be more than enough to coast to a comfortable double-digit victory on the road.
CFN Prediction: Baylor 34 … Rice 17 … 5Dimes.com Line: Baylor -7
Must See Rating: The Social Network – 5 … $#*! My Dad Says - 1 … 2
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- Sept. 25 (UCLA-Texas)