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Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Sept. 15, Part 2
Posted Sep 13, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 3 Big 12 Games, Part 2

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

Big 12 Fearless Predictions Sept. 1Sept. 8 | Sept. 22 | Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1

How are the picks so far? SU: 20-3 ... ATS: 11-6

Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Week 3, Part One

Big 12 Saturday, Sept. 15

Texas (2-0) at UCF (1-0)  3:30 pm ESPN2
Why to watch: Cinderella took it on the chin last week, as Boise State, TCU and Southern Miss lost, and Hawaii was taken to overtime by Louisiana Tech.  Might UCF be able to fill the void?  Although it’ll take a Herculean effort against sixth-ranked Texas, the Knights will be emboldened by an opening day win at NC State and the unveiling of their new on-campus digs, Bright House Networks Stadium.  George O’Leary is trying to engineer a rebound from last year’s disappointing 4-8 campaign, and would like nothing more than to knock South Florida from the back page for a weekend.  Texas is unblemished through two games, but it hasn’t been easy.  The ‘Horns had their hands full with Arkansas State in the opener, and trailed TCU in the second half before pulling away with 27 unanswered points.  In two weeks, Texas has slipped behind Oklahoma in the polls and court of public opinion, and would benefit from a wire-to-wire rout.
Why Texas might win: If you can stop Kevin Smith, you’re well on your way to shutting down the UCF offense.  The Knights’ star back opened with 217 yards and two touchdowns in Raleigh, but will find very little running room against the stout interior of the Texas defense.  Tackles Frank Okam and Derek Lokey will dominate the line of scrimmage, putting intense pressure on QB Kyle Israel and a suspect group of receivers to make plays.  The speed and quickness of the Longhorn linebackers is another mountain of a problem that UCF won’t be able to scale.
Why UCF might win: Through two weeks, Texas has displayed no consistency on the offensive side of the ball.  Against Arkansas State, the ‘Horns had problems moving the ball on the ground.  Last week versus TCU, they were picked off twice and shut out for the first 33 minutes of the game.  Despite getting good protection, Colt McCoy has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in 2007, and will get tested by a Knight secondary that features four returning starters.
Who to watch: Very quietly, Texas RB Jamaal Charles has run for 100 yards in both games, which is once more than he did it last year.  The catalyst in last week’s TCU win, he’s averaging over five yards a carry, a luxury for the offense as McCoy works through his early season struggles.
What will happen: While there’ll be an air of excitement for one of the biggest games in UCF history, it won’t be enough to spark a Knight upset.  Texas will win the battle on the ground, frustrating Smith and springing Charles for a couple of crowd-quieting bursts.
CFN Prediction: Texas 35 … UCF 13 ... Line: Texas -19 
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 2.5

Toledo (0-2) at Kansas (2-0)
  7:00 pm
Why to Watch: In a perfect world, these two will play a game as good as last year's double overtime Toledo win over Kansas, but with the way 2007 has started for each team, it might just be all about the scoring. Kansas, yes, that Kansas, is averaging 57 points and 519.5 yards per came, while allowing just one touchdown in the first two outings. Meanwhile, Toledo has been consistent, allowing 52 points to both Purdue and Central Michigan. Expect lots of yards, lots of points, and lots of big plays from both attacks in what should be a wild shootout.
Why Toledo Might Win: It's not like Kansas has been pushed yet, and Toledo has the offensive balance to keep pace for a full sixty minutes. The Rockets finally settled on a quarterback, Aaron Opelt, and he produced 334 yards and two touchdowns in last week's loss. Can this really be a night-and-day different Kansas secondary than the one that was torched by anyone who wanted to throw the ball last year? Opelt will certainly give it a shot.
Why Kansas Might Win: It's the transitive theory of college football. If Kansas beat Central Michigan 52-7, and Central Michigan beat Toledo 52-31, then the Jayhawks should win in a blowout, right? Of course, things don't always work out that way, but Toledo hasn't come remotely close to stopping anyone on offense, and it's because of the defensive line. Purdue and CMU combined to throw the ball 64 times, but the Rockets have yet to get their first sack and have only produced three tackles for loss. Meanwhile, the run defense has been absent, too. Kansas should be able to pick how it wants to move the ball.
Who to Watch: With the running game rolling with a problem and QB Todd Reesing playing like one of the Big 12's newest stars, all that's needed is a number one receiver to draw attention away from everyone else. KU might have found its man in senior Marcus Henry, a big, physical veteran who's never been able to put it all together. That appears to have changed early on this year with the senior making 12 catches for 222 yards and a touchdown.
What Will Happen: Toledo's offense will be better and KU will finally start to give up some points, but the Jayhawk attack will roll at will. Toledo's defense needs more time and experience up front, and will be a sore spot for a third straight game.
CFN Prediction: Kansas 52 ... Toledo 3
0 ... Line: Kansas -21.5
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 2

Texas State
(1-1) at Baylor (1-1)  7:00 pm
Why to Watch: Now that's how it's supposed to work. After monkeying around with a Texas Tech-like wide open passing game, Baylor finally got it right last week in a 42-17 blowout over Rice. The Bear passing game rolled for 423 yards and six touchdowns, and now gets two more tune-up games with Texas State coming into town this week before traveling to Buffalo. The Bobcats shouldn't provide more than a light scrimmage considering it's coming off a stunning 45-27 loss to D-II Abilene Christian. TSU gave Baylor a run in a 24-17 loss in 2004, but in the previous five meetings, BU won all five by a combined score of 220 to 22.
Why Texas State Might Win: The only way TSU can beat the Bears, or at least come close, is by running the ball and hoping to generate consistent pressure into the backfield. The Bobcats are big up front, and they have a nice back in Stan Zwinggi who tore off 159 yards and four touchdowns on just 16 carries in the opening day win over Cal Poly.
Why Baylor Might Win: TSU has been awful in pass coverage. While the secondary is full of veterans, and has three senior starters, it has been dinked and dunked on at will over the first few games. Baylor should be able to sharpen up the passing game and hang whatever numbers it wants to, but this could also be a time to get the ground game moving. BU will have its choice. Not helping the Bobcats is their penchant for turning the ball over, giving it away eight times in the first two games.
Who to Watch: While it's not time to put him in the Colt Brennan, Graham Harrell category quite yet, Baylor junior QB Blake Szymanski is coming off one of the greatest passing days in the school's history going 29 of 46 for 412 yards and six touchdowns. There's no chance the Bears will have a regular running game throughout the year, so either Szymanski has to be on every week, or Baylor will lose.
What Will Happen: Szymanski will throw for five scores as the Bears win their second straight laugher.
CFN Prediction: Baylor 48 ... Texas State 10
... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 1

UL Monroe
(0-2) at Texas A&M (2-0)  7:00 pm
Why to Watch: Now that all of Aggieland's hearts have started up again after a thrilling 47-45 three overtime win over Fresno State, the task is to get by a not-that-bad 0-2 UL Monroe team that battled well in losses to Tulsa and Clemson. If you like running games, this one's for you, with the Warhawks, led by Calvin Dawson, coming in with one of the nation's most effective ground teams, and A&M exclusively going with the running attack early on this year. ULM is diving into Sun Belt play next week with a showdown at Troy, while the Aggies are hoping to get hot before traveling to Miami.
Why UL Monroe Might Win: ULM has mostly struggled so far against the pass and has been decent against the run. Clemson might have gotten five touchdown passes from QB Willy Korn, but the ground game only managed 184 yards and two touchdowns. Fine, so the Tiger stars had no problems running the ball, with James Davis averaging 9.7 yards per carry and C.J. Spiller averaging 6.3, but the ULM defense won't have to focus at all on the A&M passing and can devote everyone up the line this week. ULM has been good at not beating itself, and it'll have to be mistake-free to have a chance to keep this close.
Why Texas A&M Might Win: If A&M ever did want to work on it's passing game, this would be the week. Tulsa and Clemson had no problems hitting the short to midrange passes with regularity, and the opportunities will be there all day long for Stephen McGee to throw. ULM has a decent pass rush, but not enough of one to make anyone worry.
Who to Watch: Yes, McGee really can throw the ball. He was an accomplished high school passer who's now been thrust into the role of ring-leader for the devastating ground attack. While A&M has been able to rumble without a problem on just about everyone, it needs to at least threaten to throw it. So far, McGee hasn't been efficient, completing just 52% of his passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. A mediocre receiving corps has had a lot to do with that, but it's time McGee starts to make everyone around him better. For the A&M offense to be humming, McGee needs to connect on well over 60% of his throws and he has to come up with one or two deep shots now and then.
What Will Happen: ULM will provide far more of a challenge than A&M would like. It's not going to be Fresno State all over again, but the Warhawks will get its yards and points in before the Aggie ground game takes over.
CFN Prediction:
Texas A&M 44 ... UL Monroe 23 ... Line: Texas A&M -24
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 2

Missouri State (2-0) at Kansas State (1-1)
  7:05 pm
Why to Watch: All of a sudden, what should've been viewed as a light scrimmage before a two week layoff to work on Texas has become something for the Wildcats to worry a little bit about. Missouri State has its offense humming, coming off a 51-44 stunner over a FCS ranked UT Martin team. MSU head coach Terry Allen is all too familiar with the Wildcat program, having been the head coach at Kansas for five years. While he never beat KSU while at KU, this might be the most powerful offense he's ever brought to Manhattan. For KSU, it's all about getting everything in place for the showdown with the Longhorns. The running game needs tuning, the turnovers have to stop, and QB Josh Freeman has to keep improving.
Why Missouri State Might Win: It all has to be kept in perspective when dealing with FCS teams, but MSU hung up 113 points in the first two weeks on Missouri-Rolla and UT-Martin. This is a balanced offense that runs extremely well and bombs away effectively and efficiently when it has to. Of course, this is a step up in competition for the Bears, but if KSU isn't paying attention, it'll get a big number hung on its defense.
Why Kansas State Might Win: The Bears won't be able to handle the pressure applied by the KSU defensive front seven. The Wildcats have cranked out eight sacks and 18 tackles for loss in two games, doing a fantastic job of disrupting Auburn and San Jose State from getting anything consistently going offensively. Outside of a late rally by the Tigers, the KSU defense hasn't given up much of anything, and should be a brick wall at times for the MSU ground game.
Who to Watch: Kansas State has a huge advantage in the punt return game. MSU's Eric Davis has only returned four punts so far, but he's gone backwards for -21 yards. Meanwhile, KSU's Deon Murphy has averaged a whopping 20.4 yards per return. No, Kansas State isn't going to hold a 40+ yard advantage in punt returns, but it should make a big difference as the game goes on.
What Will Happen: Missouri State will get plenty of yards, but it'll also suffer plenty of losses as Kansas State hangs out in the backfield. This will be the game Kansas State finds its running game.
CFN Prediction: Kansas State 52 ... Missouri State 19
... Line: No Line
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 1

Florida State (1-1) at Colorado (1-1)  10:00 pm ESPN
Why to Watch: In an interestingly odd matchup of two conferences that rarely cross paths, Colorado looks to get the first big name win in the Dan Hawkins era, while Florida State tries to jump-start a season that's started off rocky at best. The Noles showed good heart in coming back late to make a game of it in the loss to Clemson, and then they came out and struggled against an awful UAB team. With Alabama coming up, followed by the meat of the ACC season, the time is now for all the coaching changes, and all the tweaks to the offensive system, to kick in. For Colorado, the key is establishing a little bit of consistency. After opening the season with a win over Colorado State, the Buffs were never in the game in the loss to Arizona State. The offense has to finally start showing some signs of life, and the defense has to play much better than it has to start the year. Florida State won the only time the two play in a 47-7 blasting in 2003.
Why Florida State Might Win: Colorado can't throw. Cody Hawkins is a great-looking young prospect who should grow into the role over the next few years, but right now, the passing attack hasn't been appreciably better than last year when it was the worst in America. The Seminole secondary has talent, and hasn't been bad over the first two weeks, and it would be a lot better if the defensive front could start to generate a pass rush. If FSU can get up early against the Buffs, it could be over. CU doesn't have comeback ability, and the overall explosiveness isn't getting any help with Bernard Jackson, last year's starting quarterback who became a receiver, likely done thanks to academic problems.
Why Colorado Might Win: It's not all going to be about Hawkins this week as he get some big help returning. RB Hugh Charles missed the ASU game with a hamstring problem and now is back to 100% and ready to roll. Without him, CU rushed for a mere 32 yards against Arizona State and 129 against Colorado State. With a first option to go to in the offense, Hawkins should be more comfortable and shouldn't have to make every play happen on his own.
Who to Watch: What's up with DeCody Fagg? The one-time superstar receiver recruit for the Noles came into the season as one of the team captains, and now he might turn into a reserve after catching just five balls for 34 yards, dropping several key passes, and making a slew of mental mistakes. Also needing to step up and do more is Greg Carr, who came through with a nice day against UAB, but still hasn't developed into a full-time go-to receiver. Will he ever catch more than five passes? The offense likes to spread it around, but with Fagg's problems, Carr quickly has to be the number one target.
What Will Happen: Both teams have major problems, but Florida State has more talent to make up for all the issues. This will be the game the defensive line finally starts to play like the Florida State offensive line, and while Hawkins will have a decent game, he won't get the passing game going quickly enough to jump out to a desperately needed early lead.
CFN Prediction: Florida State 31 ... Colorado 20
... Line: Florida State -4.5
Must See Rating: (5 Britney at the VMAs - 1 Big Shots) ... 2.5


Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Week 3, Part One



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