2010 Big 12 Fearless Picks - Oct. 16
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez
Posted Oct 14, 2010

There's plenty of talk about revenge after what happened in the Big 12 Championship, but Texas and Nebraska are totally different now. The emergence of Taylor Martinez is the biggest key, but is he ready for the big time? Check out the CFN Fearless Predictions for every Week 7 Big 12 game.

2010 Big 12 Fearless Predictions

Week 7 ... Oct. 16 Games

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

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- Oct. 16, Part 2 (Oklahoma St-Texas Tech) 

CFN Big 12 Predictions: SU:45-6   ATS: 27-14-1


Texas (3-2) at Nebraska (5-0) Oct. 16, 3:30, ABC

Here's The Deal … 1999. Mack Brown's second year at the helm. That's the last time Texas has lost three games in a row, dropping its final three of that season, and it's going to take the team's best performance of the year to stop the suddenly ugly slide that began with a brutal home loss to UCLA and continued with a decent fight in a Red River Rivalry defeat to Oklahoma. To take a season is half full approach; the Longhorns could quickly become a factor again in the Big 12 title chase with a win this week. With five of the final six games at home, and with the lone road game at Kansas State, they could go on a big-time run if they can pull off the upset and ruin Nebraska's dream season.

While all the talk and all the discussion might center around a revenge factor and a rematch of the 2009 Big 12 Championship, these are two very, very different teams than the ones battling it out in last December's classic. Texas can't find its offensive groove without Colt McCoy, Nebraska has an offense with Taylor Martinez suddenly on everyone's Heisman list, and Ndamukong Suh isn't planted on the Husker defensive front anymore. This time around, Nebraska is the favorite with everything to lose, and this time around, it's expected to come up with the biggest win by far in the Bo Pelini era.

It's all about the schedule with the Huskers. There's no Oklahoma to deal with, Texas and Missouri come to Lincoln, and the two tough road games are at Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, which are must wins for anyone good enough to even think about playing for the national title. Nebraska has been dominant so far against mediocre competition, ruining Jake Locker's No. 1 overall draft status in a 56-21 blowout at Washington and running all over Kansas State last week on national TV, but there's still the wait-and-see approach with this team. If it's really national title good, it drills a struggling Texas team and thrusts itself into the mix with Ohio State and Oregon as the BCS teams with the best chance to get to Glendale. The college football world needs something to hang its Nebraska hat on, and as wounded as the Longhorns might be, this would be it.

Why Texas Might Win: Taylor Martinez is still a redshirt freshman, and the Texas defense has had two weeks to prepare for him. Stopping the spread is a little like stopping the triple option; you need a defense with athletes, discipline, and the time to prepare how to handle the quirks of the attack. Fast defensive front sevens can negate a pure running offense by getting into the backfield and stopping the plays before they start, and Texas, as usual, is fantastic at getting behind the line ranking ninth in the nation in sacks, and most importantly in this game, is second in tackles for loss. Martinez isn't going to hurt the Longhorns with his arm or the passing game, and he's going to have to make quick decisions without the time to wait for the hole to develop before taking off. Think of this like Denard Robinson vs. Michigan State last week. The Spartans were able to force Robinson to one side and bottle him up, and then waited for him to make mistakes with the passing game. For the first time all year, Robinson faced a real defense, and he struggled. Martinez isn't going to have room to move against a run D that stunk against UCLA, but has been fantastic against everyone else. As long as the Texas offense doesn't make a slew of big mistakes, this game will be close throughout.
Why Nebraska Might Win: The Texas offense will make a slew of big mistakes. The Longhorns lost to UCLA because they gave the ball away five times, and they've turned it over 11 times in the first five games while the defense hasn't always picked up the slack. Nebraska has been stingy in turnover margin, and as long as it isn't -2, it should be fine. No, the Husker offense isn't going to run wild on the Texas defense, but the Longhorn offense might not go anywhere against a pass defense that ranks No. 1 in America allowing just 128 yards per game with 11 interceptions and allowing just four touchdown passes, with two from Idaho. The secondary doesn't allow anything deep, and while it'll allow a few dinks and dunks, there aren't any yards after the catch. Considering the Texas running game has been mediocre at best, non-existent at worst, and while this Suh-less Nebraska defensive front can be run on, it's not going to give up the 250 yards Texas will need to move the chains.
What To Watch Out For: At 6-0 and 215 pounds, Lavonte Davis is built more like a safety than a bruising linebacker, but the star JUCO transfer and Miami native has been a major playmaker for the Husker defense from day one. He kicked off his career with 13 tackles against Western Kentucky and has been all over the field the last two weeks with 19 tackles against South Dakota State and 16 against Kansas State. Considering the line has been so shockingly average, he'll need to have another double-digit stop game against the UT ground game. For Texas, it's time for Garrett Gilbert to show that he can play. With all the focus on "T-Magic" on the other side, Gilbert has been the forgotten man in the equation. He wasn't awful against Oklahoma, but has didn't throw any touchdown passes and has thrown five picks in his last three games. Nebraska is going to take its chances against the Longhorn passing game and will sell out against the run, and Gilbert has to be ready to take advantage of the opportunities. He hasn't been able to yet this year.
What Will Happen: It's not exactly going to be the statement that Nebraska might be looking to make, but its defense will make life awful for Gilbert and the Texas running game won't be able to carry its weight. Martinez will have his worst game of the season, by far, and will make a few big mistakes to keep Texas in the game, but the Longhorn offense won't go anywhere and the Huskers will slip by with PK Alex Henery coming up with an All-America performance with a few bombs and a late kick to put the game away.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 22 … Texas 16 … Line: Nebraska -9.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 5
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Kansas State (4-1) at Kansas (2-3) Oct. 14, 7:30, FSN

Here's The Deal … The start of the Turner Gill era hasn't exactly been smooth, but everything can be right with the world with a rivalry win over Kansas State. The Jayhawks took control of the series with three straight wins before dropping last year's 17-10 game in the midst of a second half slide. This year, things have been just as ugly with a loss to North Dakota State to start the season and an unfathomable 55-7 loss to Baylor two week ago. The Jayhawks have had two weeks to prepare, and they need to figure out how to hold on to the ball, and they needed to come up with one thing they can do well to right the ship with three home games in the next four. Kansas State started out the season well with a looks-great-now win over UCLA to start, a tight Big 12 win over Iowa State, and a good victory over a UCF team that could end up winning the Conference USA title. And then came last week as Taylor Martinez and Nebraska ripped through the Wildcats for an easy 48-13 win. With five road games in the final seven, getting wins when they can against awful teams is a must, and this week's matchup qualifies.
Why Kansas State Might Win: The Kansas doesn't force mistakes. It's not like the Wildcats have a juggernaut of an offense, but as long as they don't turn the ball over and win the turnover battle, they should be fine. The KU defense doesn't take the ball away with just two interceptions and one forced fumble on the year, and with no takeaways in the last two games. The Jayhawk offense is a mess, scoring just 26 points in the three losses and doing next to nothing against the Baylor defense with just 99 rushing yards against a mediocre front seven and 171 passing yards failing to do anything to help the cause. It won't take many points to put the game away …
Why Kansas Might Win: … but KSU doesn't put up a ton of points. The Wildcats are Daniel Thomas, Daniel Thomas, and Daniel Thomas, and if they fall behind by any margin and have to throw, good night. The team's best receiving weapon, Broderick Smith, suffered bad leg injury against Nebraska and is out of the mix, and while Aubrey Quarles isn't a bad option, it's not like he's going to go off. Kansas did a shockingly good job against the Georgia Tech high-powered ground game in a 28-25 win, and while the offenses are red apples and green apples different, with two weeks to prepare they should be able to keep Thomas bottled up. However …
What To Watch Out For: … Thomas rolled for 185 yards in the win over KU and has been fine even against the better run defenses on the slate. The Wildcats will force Thomas on the Jayhawk defense, and while he was held to 76 yards by UCF and 63 against Nebraska, with 22 carries in each game, he also ripped up UCLA for 234 yards and two scores and Iowa State for 181. Kansas doesn't have a Thomas to revolve the offense around, and it'll need a special play from the special teams to come up with the win. Do-it-all playmaker D.J. Beshears has rushed for 115 yards and two scores, caught six passes, and worked a bit on defense, but his real worth is as a kickoff returner averaging 33.36 yards per try with a touchdown against New Mexico State. He might not score against KSU, but he has to give the struggling offense decent field position.
What Will Happen: Thomas will get the ball 35 times. Kansas State isn't going to pretend to do anything else against the KU defense as it'll pound away to control the clock and the game from the start. Kansas will sputter early on, won't get anything out of the passing game in the second half, and won't generate enough pressure into the backfield to stop a KSU passing game that won't do anything down the field, but will connect on just enough key third down plays to keep control throughout.
CFN Prediction: Kansas State 27 … Kansas 13 … Line: Kansas State -2.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 2.5
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Missouri (5-0) at Texas A&M (3-2) Oct. 16, 12:00, FSN

Here's The Deal … Is Missouri any good? One of the few unbeaten BCS teams left, no one's including the Tigers in any sort of national title talk despite ranking third in the nation in scoring defense and wit quality wins over Illinois (really), San Diego State (no, really), and Colorado (yes, really). The offense might not be as high-flying as it has been in past seasons, but it's effective, timely, and it's not making a bunch of mistakes. Meanwhile, Texas A&M has one of the most interesting offenses in the country with the ability to bomb its way past anyone, but QB Jerrod Johnson can't stop giving the ball away and the defense, while much improved, has been exposed over the last two weeks by the Oklahoma State and Arkansas attacks. Only at 0-1 in Big 12 play, there's plenty of time for the Aggies to become a major factor in the conference race, but they have to come up with a big home win now to stop the slide, and they need as many wins as they can get with Texas tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas still to deal with.
Why Missouri Might Win: Texas A&M can't get out of its own way. Johnson only threw one pick last week against Arkansas, but that's coming on the heels of two straight four interception outings making the FIU game closer than it should've been and giving away the Oklahoma State game. However, the offense lost three fumbles against Arkansas and now has turned the ball over 18 times in just five games. The defense has helped the cause with a slew of takeaways, but Missouri is better in the turnover battle. The O has given it up nine times, but the defense has come up with 14 takeaways with nine picks. While all-star sacker Aldon Smith is out hurt, the pass rush is still dangerous and effective. Against an Aggie offensive line that doesn't do anything to protect Johnson, there should be plenty of hurried throws. Just assume the Tiger secondary will come up with three interceptions.
Why Texas A&M Might Win: Missouri has some nice pieces, but if this really gets rolling, the firepower might not be there to keep it up. QB Blaine Gabbert is banged up, the receivers are more midrange targets than deadly deep threats, and the running game is hit or miss. If Johnson and the Aggie passing game find it, and can stop screwing up, Mizzou might have the ability to answer as many times as it'll need to. This game will be all on Gabbert. The A&M run defense has been fantastic, even though it had a few problems against Arkansas and allowed 101 yards to Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter. If Mizzou runs for more than 125 yards, consider it a success for the Tiger attack.
What To Watch Out For: There might not be a quieter superstar in America than Texas A&M junior receiver Jeff Fuller. The pro scouts are all over him, and he'll make a ton of dough if he chooses to leave early, but for this year he's coming up with an All-America season with 34 catches for 503 yards and six touchdowns after making seven scoring grabs last year and just 41 catches. Meanwhile, Missouri sophomore T.J. Moe continues to be one of the nation's most consistent targets with seven grabs in each of his last three games, and 44 catches for 479 yards and two scores, but he'll have to be more explosive this week and make even more big plays down the field.
What Will Happen: Missouri will come up with a good, sound performance without a lot of mistakes, but with just enough defensive stops to force Johnson to press a bit. The Missouri offensive line will control the action and will give the dinged Gabbert, who'll play through a hip injury, time to pick apart the A&M secondary.
CFN Prediction: Missouri 31 … Texas A&M 27 … Line: Texas A&M -3.5
Must See Rating: Jackass 3D – 5 … The Promise: The Making of Darkness on the Edge of Town -1 … 4
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- Oct. 16, Part 2 (Oklahoma St-Texas Tech)