Week 1 Big 12: LT-OU, UNT-Texas, SMU-Baylor

Posted Aug 29, 2014

Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: North Texas vs. Texas, SMU vs. Baylor & More

- Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: FSU vs. Oklahoma St, West Virginia vs. Alabama & More
- Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: North Texas vs. Texas, SMU vs. Baylor & More

Central Arkansas (0-0) at Texas Tech (0-0) Aug. 30, 7:00

Here's The Deal: Get ready for about 7000 passing yards, and not just all from Texas Tech. Central Arkansas made a wee bit of a splash last year by hanging around with Colorado on the way to a decent 7-5 season, but the program is rebuilding a bit with a new head coach, Steve Campbell. However, the Bears should be able to wing the ball around the yard, and they have just enough firepower to make this fun. Texas Tech is easing its way into the season with UCA and UTEP before a showdown against Arkansas – it’s tune-up time.
Why Central Arkansas Might Win: The Bears should be able to keep up the pace. With ten offensive starters back from an attack that finished fifth in the FCS in scoring, including QB Ryan Howard, who helped the Bears throw for close to 3,700 yards and 26 scores, the air attack should shine against a suspect Texas Tech secondary.
Why Texas Tech Might Win: The Bears can’t stop the pass. Torched last season for 251 yards per game, Central Arkansas had a big problem against anyone who tried to throw the ball on a consistent basis. The Red Raiders are going to use this game to stretch their legs a little bit to get the air show rolling right away. They can run the ball a bit against a soft UCA defensive front, but this is a game for …
Who To Watch Out For: Davis Webb. The 6-4, 194-pounder is thin, but he has a big arm and is in total command of the attack. Athletic, he can move a little bit and take off when needed, but his mobility is used best making throws on the move. On fire after a few games, he bombed away for more than 400 yards in four of the final six games. Now as the unquestioned main man for the Texas Tech attack, he needs to come out with a 200-yard half to let the backups get in some real work.
What’s Going To Happen: This is over after about three drives. UCA will get a few yards, but they won’t really matter. Webb and the Red Raiders will fire at will.
Prediction: Texas Tech 54 … Central Arkansas 17
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 1

Louisiana Tech (0-0) at Oklahoma (0-0) Aug. 30, 3:30, FOX

Here's The Deal: When we last saw Oklahoma, it was ripping apart Alabama in a stunning performance to set the tone for a potentially big 2014. Despite a rocky offseason with suspensions and a few question marks at various positions, this is still a true national title contender with a defense built to wreak havoc on a regular basis. Can Louisiana Tech somehow come up with a program-changing performance to kickstart the Skip Holtz era into overdrive? After going 4-8 in his first year, Holtz needs to bring the offense back after a horrible year, while hoping to find enough defense to keep Trevor Knight and the Sooners in check. Despite being 450 miles apart, this is the first time the two programs have ever faced each other.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win: Really, is the Oklahoma offense ready to shine? Can Knight be strong enough on a consistent basis to deal with the pressure from the blitzing that Manny Diaz’s defense will bring? One of the big question marks for OU is at receiver, and that might play into the strength of a defense that welcomes back five starters from a D that finished 31st in the nation in pass D.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: This isn’t the team to deal with when you’re trying to figure out how to ramp up the offense. The running game that was the only real mode of transportation last season for Louisiana Tech will dry up in a hurry against the OU defensive front, and considering the passing game was among the least efficient in the nation, don’t expect too many big plays down the field, if any.
Who To Watch Out For: This is the game for the Sooner skill players to step up and show what they can do. Can Keith Ford be the answer at running back? Star recruit Joe Mixon was supposed to be the man, but off-field problems put Ford in the spotlight as the main man for the ground game. There’s no questioning Ford’s talent, but can he secure the ball and be a bit of a workhorse?
What’s Going To Happen: The Oklahoma defense will tee off on the Bulldogs, and Knight will pick up where he left off. The Sooners will look exactly like they’re supposed to.
Prediction: Oklahoma 45 … Louisiana Tech 10
Line: Oklahoma -38 o/u: 52
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 2

Stephen F. Austin (0-0) at Kansas State (0-0) Aug. 30, 7:10

Here's The Deal: Kansas State lost its home opener last season to North Dakota State – could there be another problem against an FCS team? Nah. SFA is hardly a three-time FCS champion-level team, and this year’s Wildcat team is too good not to blow though its warm-up game. KSU starts out its Big 12 season at Iowa State next week, but this week it’s all about tuning up for Baylor and Texas Tech down the road. SFA doesn’t play a lick of defense, but its offense is explosive and dangerous. At the very least, the Wildcat corners will be tested.
Why Stephen F. Austin Might Win: Get ready for the passing attack. The Lumberjacks led the nation last season in passing, averaging 389 yards per game and finished second in total offense. SFA might be breaking in a new starting quarterback, but Zach Conque has the upside to put up 400 yards if he’s given time to operate. However …
Why Kansas State Might Win: Oh yeah, the defense. SFA had to keep chucking because the defense was abysmal, allowing 528 yards per game and getting 40 points or more hung on it ten times in 12 games. It’s a new year, but the Lumberjacks should once again stink in time of possession, penalties and turnover margin – that’s Kansas State’s dream opponent.
Who To Watch Out For: It was a wee bit of a stunner when Kansas State announced that star running back recruit Dalvin Warmack might redshirt, and now it’s up to Charles Jones to be the man to run the ball for Bill Snyder’s attack. He’s a quick 5-10, 197-pound sophomore who can catch a little, but his real worth is as a blocker, at least for his size. He’ll get his chance to make the ground game his.
What’s Going To Happen: This is a horrible, horrible matchup for Stephen F. Austin. Kansas State will name its score.
Prediction: Kansas State 54 … Stephen F. Austin 14
Line: No Line
Must Watch Factor: (5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?” – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?) … 1 

North Texas (0-0) at Texas (0-0) Aug. 30, 8:00, Longhorn Network

Here's The Deal: And so it begins for Charlie Strong in Austin, with a visit from North Texas. Longhorn fans get their first opportunity to see the identity of a team that promises to be more physical than Mack Brown’s final few squads. Texas must use this opener wisely, because BYU and UCLA are next on the schedule. The Mean Green is the defending Conference USA champ, impressively winning nine games. But Dan McCarney’s 2014 team is rebuilding in a number of key areas.
Why North Texas Might Win: The Mean Green might not be as potent as a season ago, but it’ll still run the ball and play D effectively. The veteran O-line will create room for Antoinne Jimmerson and Reggie Pegram, while Oregon transfer Anthony Wallace joins an athletic linebacker corps that can string out plays.
Why Texas Might Win: The offense is a concern, but Strong’s first D should be very good. Going on the road to face a unit that houses DE Cedric Reed, DT Malcom Brown and CB Quandre Diggs will be a tall order for the untested North Texas quarterbacks, Andrew McNulty and Josh Greer. Equally tough will be slowing down the downhill tandem of running backs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown.
Who To Watch Out For: David Ash is back under center, but is he ready to effectively lead the Longhorn offense? The senior could hold the key to Texas’ fortunes this season. However, he missed the final nine games of 2013 with a head injury, so every hit he endures will be followed with caution and concern.
What’s Going To Happen: A new staff and a new direction will result in plenty of enthusiasm among fans and players on Saturday night. The Horns will feed off the energy to shoo away a pesky and well-coached North Texas team. Brown and Gray will rumble behind the retooled line to take some of the pressure off Ash.
Prediction: Texas 38 … North Texas 13
Line: Texas -24; O/U: 52
Must Watch Factor: 5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”) – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?") … 2.5

SMU (0-0) at Baylor (0-0) Aug. 31, 7:30, Fox Sports 1

Here's The Deal: Momentum is at a modern-day high in Waco. And Baylor is hungry for more after winning its first outright league title since 1980 last season. The Bears are aiming to prove 2013 was no fluke, especially since they’ll begin this year behind Oklahoma in the Big 12 court of public opinion. Baylor opens with SMU, a former rival from the old Southwest Conference days. The Mustangs have reached a plateau for seventh-year coach June Jones, capped by last season disappointing 5-7 debut in the American Athletic Conference.
Why SMU Might Win: It’s the Run N’ Shoot, a Jones-orchestrated production, so the passing game is always going to be dangerous. Neal Burcham won the quarterback derby, which entitles him to play catch with WR Der'rikk Thompson, Darius Joseph and the rest of an experienced receiving corps. SMU is also excited by the potential of RB Kevin Pope, a converted linebacker who’ll hit a revamped Baylor D with a healthy dose of balance.
Why Baylor Might Win: Art Briles’ relentless offense won’t skip a beat this fall. The Bears led the nation in 2013, and might be back on top again this season. QB Bryce Petty is healthy and back to pilot a fast-paced system that touts game-changing weapons, such as RB Shock Linwood and receivers Antwan Goodley, Levi Norwood and Corey Coleman. This is a rugged matchup for an SMU secondary replacing three starters.
Who To Watch Out For: The Baylor offense will hum. The defense, though, must regroup if the program is going to contend for the Big 12 title—and more. LB Bryce Hager is the Bears’ steady man in the middle. The hope is that DE Shawn Oakman can bring the spectacular on a routine basis. Oakman is the 6-9, 275-pound Penn State transfer, who’s expected to team up with Jamal Palmer to give the D a dynamic pass-rushing bookend.
What’s Going To Happen: Surging Baylor will have few problems with SMU, a program that has hit a wall in recent years. The Bears will do their usual thing on offense, racking up close to 600 total yards. It’s coordinator Phil Bennett’s defense that’ll belong under the microscope. If the D can confuse the Mustangs, it’ll be a positive early sign for the season ahead.
Prediction: Baylor 55 … SMU 21
Line: Baylor -33; O/U:73
Must Watch Factor: 5 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Up until Part 1 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”) – 1 Every. Simpsons. Ever. (Everything after Part 2 of “Who Shot Mr. Burns?")… 2.5

- Week 1 Big 12 Fearless Predictions: FSU vs. Oklahoma St, West Virginia vs. Alabama & More