Big 12 Fearless Predictions, Sept. 22, Part 2
Posted Sep 20, 2007

Previews and Predictions for the Week 4 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. 15Sept. 29 
Oct. 6Oct. 13 | Oct. 20Oct. 27 | Nov. 3Nov. 10 | Nov. 17Nov. 24Dec. 1

Big 12 Week Four Predictions, Part 1

How are the picks so far? SU: 22-6 ... ATS: 10-11

Big 12 Saturday, Sept. 22

Miami University (1-2) at Colorado (1-2)  3:30 PM
Why to Watch: On November 5th, 2005, Colorado beat Missouri 41-12 to go 7-2 in a Big 12 North title winning season. Since that game, the Buffs have gone 3-18 thanks mostly to an offense that's only a half-click more efficient than the current Notre Dame fiasco. Coming off losses to Arizona State and Florida State, and with Oklahoma ahead, the Buffs desperately need to beat a decent Miami team it they have any prayer of going bowling this year. The RedHawks, who are also on an ugly run winning just three of their last 15 games, aren't going to be a pushover, despite coming off a 47-10 loss to Cincinnati. They have a winnable home game with Syracuse next week before diving into MAC play, so a win here could jump-start their season. These two teams are probably better than their recent records indicate. At least that's what they'd like to think.
Why Miami University Might Win: New quarterback, same passing problems. To be more accurate, new quarterback, same inefficiency. Colorado's Cody Hawkins is a big-time upgrade in passing ability over last year's starter, Bernard Jackson, but the Buffs are still having a nightmare of a time consistently throwing the ball. Miami's defense is having problems with everything right now, but the biggest issue is pass defense. That might not be a problem this week, unless ...
Why Colorado Might Win: Hawkins has a breakout day, which might happen if he gets a ton of time. It's not like Hawkins has been under tremendous pressure so far, the line has done a good job in protection, and this week he'll have 15 days to throw. MU can't rush the passer and has been getting dinked and dunked on to death. Hawkins doesn't have to bomb away, but if he can just be effective at finding his short to midrange targets quickly, the Buffs will finally start being more efficient. Yards won't be a problem.
Who to Watch: The Miami quarterback job quickly changed hands early on this season with Mike Kokal being replaced by Daniel Raudabaugh. Kokal struggled mightily in his first three games of what was supposed to be a bounceback senior season, but a banged up thumb and four interceptions to only one touchdown pass necessitated the change. Raudabaugh is a big, strong-armed passer who won't move much, but it good at getting rid of the ball quickly. However, the sophomore will throw picks, giving away three in his first two games.
What Will Happen: Colorado's offense will finally work. Miami isn't that bad, and will try to bomb its way into an upset, but the defense is just too porous and the lines are playing too poorly to pull this off.
CFN Prediction: Colorado 27 ... Miami 16
... Line: Colorado -13.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

(2-1) at Buffalo (1-2)  6:00 PM
Why to Watch: While Baylor isn't exactly looking like a challenger for the Big 12 title, it's been excellent offensively over the last two weeks in wins over Rice and Texas State. The parade of lousy opponents continues with a strange trip to Buffalo before going to Texas A&M, and while this might be a tougher game than expected, a win would mean a nice 3-1 start with a little bit of momentum building up. Buffalo wasn't been completely miserable in blowout losses to Penn State and Rutgers, and crushed Temple on the road 42-7. This is the home opener for an improved Bull team under Turner Gill with an emerging passing game that should be able to keep pace with the Bears. No, you're not going to go out of your way to see this game, but it could be one of the more fun shootouts of the day.
Why Baylor Might Win: Buffalo's run defense is solid. The pass defense is another story, and the secondary against midrange passes has been non-existent. UB is 112th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, hurt mostly by an awful week one game against the Rutgers passing attack, and now it has to deal with a red-hot Blake Szymanski. The BU junior threw for 412 yards and six touchdowns against Rice, and 411 yards and five scores against Texas State. If he gets a little time, he'll do the same to the Bulls.
Why Buffalo Might Win: Drew Willy can chuck the ball, too. While the Buffalo passing game might not put up yards in chunks like Baylor's, it's produced relatively well against far better competition. Willy is efficient, and when he gets on a roll, can hit everything in sight. He completed 20 of 22 passes against Temple, and threw for 330 yards against Penn State. Baylor's secondary can be thrown on. In other words, the ball will be in the air all game long.
Who to Watch: Baylor is a pass only team, but it would desperately love to find some balance to the offense. Just a little. Brandon Whitaker had plenty of room to move over his first three games as a starter, but he didn't make things happen and saw his workload decrease to almost nothing. In comes freshman Jay Finley, who provides a more speed, more quickness, and more pop as a receiver as well as a runner. Watch for the offense to try to work through him for extended stretches.
What Will Happen: Is Buffalo really decent enough to beat a BCS conference team? No, but it's going to do it this week as the defense will bend against the Bears, but won't break all that often and will come up with at least three turnovers that'll change the game. Willy won't outthrow Szymanski, but he'll come up with just enough key third down passes to keep the chains moving.
CFN Prediction: Buffalo 37 ... Baylor 34
... Line: Baylor -4
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

Iowa State
(1-2) at Toledo (0-3)  7:00 PM
Why to Watch: Iowa State stopped a two point conversion attempt in the third overtime to beat Toledo 45-43 in last year's thrilling opening day game. This year, the two teams are struggling, even though Iowa State might have kickstarted the Gene Chizik era with a 15-13 win over in-state rival Iowa. Toledo has been awful, giving up close to 50 points per game and getting nothing form the offense until it's too late. 0-3, the Rockets could desperately use something positive to build on before diving back into MAC play against Western Michigan. This starts a three-game homestand for the Rockets, while the Cyclones could use a second straight win with road games against Nebraska and Texas Tech ahead. Follow those up with Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, and this could be a rough stretch.
Why Iowa State Might Win: If the Iowa State offense was ever going to get on track, this would be the game. While the Rockets might have faced three good offenses to start the year (Purdue, Central Michigan and Kansas), the D really has been that bad with no pressure from the defensive front. There aren't any playmakers anywhere, at least not so far, so this has to be the time the Cyclone passing game finally starts to produce. If it doesn't happen this week, it's not going to happen all year long. Fortunately for Toledo ...
Why Toledo Might Win: This is the break the defense desperately needed. Iowa State has generated 14, 13 and 15 points with an attack that's moved the ball a little bit, but can't put points on the board. Helping the cause will be a Cyclone defense that doesn't generate turnovers and is mediocre against the run. The ISU defensive stats are solid because it hasn't faced anyone who can throw. That'll change this week with the Rockets certain to bomb away from the start. As long as QB Aaron Opelt gets time, he'll produce.
Who to Watch: Considering the struggles of the Iowa State offense, the last thing it needs is a long field to deal with on drive after drive. That's why Toledo senior Brett Kern might be the key to the game, with a 46.4 yard average and a nice ability to pin the ball deep. Iowa State is averaging a mere 2.83 yards on punt returns. For the Cyclone offense, lost in the shuffle of a lousy start has been the running of JUCO transfer J.J. Bass, who's been the workhorse when the passing game breaks down. He was stuffed against Northern Iowa, but did a good job of getting the hard yards against Iowa last week. He'll get the ball 25 times, and he'll need to crank out a 100-yard day.
What Will Happen: Toledo finally gets off the mat with a big offensive performance from all phases. Iowa State will have its best offensive output of the year, with QB Bret Meyer throwing for 300 yards, but if won't be nearly enough.
CFN Prediction: Toledo 35 ... Iowa State 24 .
.. Line: Iowa State -4
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

(0-3) at Kansas (3-0)  7:00 PM
Why to Watch: Is Kansas really this good? The Jayhawks might not have played anyone yet (Central Michigan, SE Louisiana and Toledo), but this is still a big start for a program not used to a whole bunch of success. The apparent layup against FIU will make KU 4-0 for the first time since 1995's 10-2 season, and will make the Kansas State showdown two weeks after even more riveting. You might not realize it, considering the offense has scored 19 points in three games, but the Golden Panthers have improved under new head coach Mario Cristobal. On a 15-game losing streak, the program desperately needs a layup game, and this isn't it. Kansas is playing as well as anyone in the country right now, and if focused, should put up a monster number on the board for a fourth straight week.
Why FIU Might Win: The only shot FIU has of winning is if Kansas wakes up and realizes it's Kansas. The only possible knock on the Jayhawks so far is the average pass protection, while the Golden Panthers have been solid so far at getting to the quarterback with seven sacks and 23 tackles for loss in the three games. The defense did a good job of keeping Maryland and Miami under wraps.
Why Kansas Might Win: You can't win if you can't score. FIU has come up with 19 points so far, while KU has score 19 points or more in four different quarters. The Jayhawk offense is humming on all cylinders with a nearly perfect blend of running and passing, mixed in with just enough explosion to put teams away early. Oh yeah, the defense, KU is fourth in the nation in total and scoring D. Go ahead and rain on the offensive numbers a bit, KU hasn't faced a defense yet, but CMU and Toledo can put up points and yards; the defense appears early on to be the real deal.
Who to Watch: Joe Mortensen. No one has any idea who he is, even though he was KU's second leading tackler last year. He's a junior linebacker with the toughness to stuff things on the inside, and the quickness to wreak havoc on the outside when used as a pass rusher. He's been consistently fabulous so far, and even though he wasn't turned loose against Toledo, he was still a presence against the run. When FIU's running game struggles to gain 50 yards, Mortensen will be one of the main reasons.
What Will Happen: Kansas will score 14 points in the first quarter, and it'll only get worse from there. If fully focused and slightly mean, the Jayhawks could win this game by 60.
CFN Prediction: Kansas 48 ... FIU 10 .
.. Line: Kansas -30.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ... 1.5

(0-3) at Texas (3-0)  7:00 PM
Why to watch
: No. 6 Texas has either trailed or been ahead by only one score in the second half of wins over Arkansas State, TCU, and UCF.  Are the ‘Horns bored by their competition or just grossly overrated?  Whatever the case, it needs to be addressed this week against old Southwest Conference rival Rice because the start of the Big 12 schedule is right around the corner.  Of greatest concern has been the sporadic play of QB Colt McCoy and a leaky run defense that was moved off the ball in the opener and last weekend in Orlando.  The Owls should be so lucky to have Texas’ problems.  Since landing a bowl invite last December, nothing, from the departure of head coach Todd Graham to the 0-3 start, has gone right for the program.  Even worse than being winless, Rice hasn’t even been competitive, and is saddled with an unacceptable loss to Nicholls State.  While the school began 2006 0-4, a rally to the post-season this fall doesn’t appear likely.
Why Rice might win: Texas just hasn’t looked like Texas this month, misfiring too often on offense, and allowing too many yards to opposing backs and quarterbacks.  Heck, if Arkansas State and UCF can keep the ‘Horns from emptying the bench, so can Rice.  The Owl passing game appears to be getting back on track, putting up 451 yards and a couple of touchdown passes in its last two games with Big 12 teams.  WR Jarett Dillard has begun to heat up, and should have his best game of the year versus an unproven Texas secondary. 
Why Texas might win: As bad as the Rice defense is playing, this is a perfect chance for McCoy to get right, and for Texas to work on its depth for a change.  The Owls are 110th nationally against the pass, allowing six touchdown passes and over 400 yards in each of the last two games with Texas Tech and Baylor.  While McCoy recaptures his freshman form against this hapless bunch, RB Jamaal Charles will go for at least 100 yards and at least one score for the fourth consecutive week.
Who to watch: Having served three-game suspensions, WR Billy Pittman, LB Sergio Kindle, and DE Henry Melton will make their 2007 debuts Saturday night.  Each will play a role in Texas’ success the rest of the way, so Mack Brown will do whatever he can on Saturday to get them in game shape before Kansas State visits next weekend. 
What will happen: Alright, Texas, enough is enough.  With the tough part of the schedule almost about to begin, the Longhorns will finally dispose of an inferior opponent behind an offensive barrage that’s been missing this month.
CFN Prediction
: Texas 52 … Rice 13... Line: Texas 38.5
Must See Rating: (5 Curb Your Enthusiasm - 1 Kid Nation) ...

Big 12 Week Four Predictions, Part 1



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