2009 Big 12 Fearless Predictions
Week 2 ... Sept. 12 Games
Big 12 Fearless Predictions
Week 2, Part 2 (Bowling
Green at Missouri, and More)
Game of the Week
Houston (1-0) at Oklahoma State (1-0),3:30 EST, Fox Sports Net, Saturday, September 12
Why to watch: Take out the Kevlar and hide the women and children. Oklahoma State and Houston are about to engage in an old-fashioned Wild West shootout. With two of the nation's most incendiary offenses and a handful of fringe Heisman contenders in the same building, Stillwater will be home to one of the most entertaining events of Week 2. A novelty, to some, before the opener, the Cowboys bagged a bushel of national respect by beating Georgia, 24-10, and moving up to No. 5 in the latest AP Poll. That win, coupled with Oklahoma's problems, has the Pokes looking like the next best thing to Texas in the Big 12. With a win, high-flying Houston has a chance to join BYU and Boise State at the BCS buster adult table. The Cougars can score with anyone, but widespread respect won't come from pounding the likes of Northwestern State, last week's tomato can.
Why Houston might win: In Houston, it's all about the offense. With Case Keenum deftly piloting the attack, the Cougars like to spread the field and get their playmakers out in space. The junior is surrounded by an abundance of speed and quickness, which will test an Oklahoma State D that played well in the opener, but remains vulnerable to the pass and unproven at creating pressure. Keenum has a quick trigger, distributing the ball to RB Bryce Beall and receivers Patrick Edwards and Tyron Carrier, to cite just a few. In a track meet, Houston has the sprinters to stay competitive.
Why Oklahoma State might win: Did you get a snapshot of the Cowboys' offensive problems against the Dawgs? It might not happen again in 2009. Houston doesn't have nearly enough athletes or pass rushers to contain an offense that'll enter the weekend with something to prove. The blend of Kendall Hunter's running with the Zac Robinson-to-Dez Bryant aerial connection will run circles around the overmatched Cougars. If Quinn Sharp punts more than twice for Oklahoma State, chalk it up as a major upset.
Who to watch: Sure, the offense is the catalyst for Oklahoma State, but the maligned defense played well in Bill Young's debut as the coordinator, yielding just 10 points and 257 yards. One of the unexpected sparkplugs of the effort was FS Lucien Antoine, who missed all of 2008, but is hurt again and not expected to play. In his place will step true freshman Daytawion Lowe, who'll get a lot of attention from Keenum.
What will happen: Remember last year's game between these two, won by Oklahoma State, 56-37? This version could wind up being a carbon copy. Houston will score, but its inability to make timely stops or turnovers will eventually wear it out in the second half. The Cowboys will go up and down the field with very little resistance, racking up over 600 yards of total offense and win No. 2.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 51 … Houston 31 ... Line: Oklahoma State -15
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 4
Colorado (0-1) at Toledo (0-1), 9:00 EST, Friday, September 11
Why to watch: The Dan Hawkins era isn't dead, but it's on life support after losing to Colorado State in a disappointing start to the season. Meanwhile, Toledo might have lost the opener for new head coach Tim Beckman, but it had a whole bunch of fun in the whacking pitting up close to 500 yards in the 52-31 loss to Purdue. The Rockets have several major issues that need to be fought through, particularly on the defensive side, and if Colorado can't exploit the problems and come up with a blowout win, even though it's on the road, the grumbling in Boulder could get louder and louder. This is supposed to be the easy part of the Colorado schedule with Wyoming coming up next week, but it also kicks off a run of three road games in the next four weeks.
Why Colorado might win: If the Buff offense was ever going to work, this would be the time. Purdue destroyed the Rockets with 535 yards of total offense with Ralph Bolden, currently the nation's leading rusher after ripping off 234 yards and two scores, leading the way. Now the Buffs need to try to find a spark to its attack and use its excellent bevy of backs to start to crank out yards. If the offense wants to throw, Cody Hawkins should be effective after Purdue's Joey Elliott ripped off 220 yards and had all day to throw.
Why Toledo might win: Grant Stucker was able to come up with several big plays last week. If you don't know who that is, you're not alone. Stucker, the Colorado State quarterback, was able to come up with deep balls, quick hitter, and everything in between when needed, but more importantly for the Rams, they were able to power their way over the Buff defensive front. Toledo got most of its yards in comeback scramble mode, but it was still tremendously effective throwing for 432 yards while keeping the pressure on the solid Purdue secondary. Colorado will have to get its track shoes on.
Who to watch: Toledo QB Aaron Opelt has had a few big games throughout his career, but they usually end up in losses. The senior knows the offense and he has the talent and vision to sling the ball all over the field, and if the Rocket offensive line can keep the Colorado defensive front out of the backfield, the passing numbers could be huge. Opelt threw the ball 67 times last week, but he threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions. Does Colorado have the firepower to keep up?
What will happen: This is a dangerous game for Colorado, and it'll be telling. If the Buff offense, issues and all at receiver and with inconsistent quarterback play, can't hang a big number on the board this week, it probably never will. Toledo will get in its shots, but Colorado will be more physical than it was last week and will run for 250 yards on the way to a win.
CFN Prediction: Colorado 34 … Toledo 27 ... Line: Colorado -4
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 2.5
Iowa (1-0) at Iowa State (1-0), 12:05 EST, Saturday, September 12
Why to watch: Was last week just an aberration or was it a sign that Iowa could be the Big Ten's biggest clunker? The Hawkeyes usually destroy their week one opponent, but they needed two blocked field goals in the final seconds to beat Northern Iowa from the FCS ranks. The offense sputtered, the defense struggled in the clutch, and the team looked nothing like the one that was so impressive down the stretch at the end of 2008. It's not fair to call this a tune-up with Arizona and Penn State to follow, but that's what it would be if this wasn't such a nasty rivalry that has defied all logic throughout the years. Paul Rhoads had a good debut as the new Cyclone head coach with a 34-17 win over North Dakota State, but he could quickly become a hero if he can come up with a win in the big in-state battle. With Kent State, Army, and a woeful Kansas State to follow, the potential is there for a huge start if the Cyclones can come up with a stunning win.
Why Iowa might win: If Iowa is ever going to step up and smash a team in the mouth, this would be the time. Iowa State's run defense got gouged by North Dakota State both by air and on the ground, having the most problems against the run allowing 210 yards. The Hawkeyes might be scrambling to find a running back who can produce, but the line should come together with some key players returning this week just in time to power over the ultra-aggressive ISU D that will have to take some chances.
Why Iowa State might win: Iowa struggled with the Northern Iowa pass rush; what is it going to do against a Cyclone defense that's going to come from all angles to try to make big things happen? Rhoads is a fantastic defensive coach and he should be able to devise several ways to keep the struggling Hawkeye attack in check. Iowa only ran for 87 yards last week with the line allowing four sacks. Without a strong No. 1 back to rely on like Shonn Greene of last year or Jewel Hampton, who was supposed to be the new star before injuring his knee and getting knocked out for the year, the pressure will be on for ...
Who to watch: … junior QB Ricky Stanzi, a decent passer and good talent who threw for 242 yards and a touchdown when nothing was working on the ground. He was at his best last season when he was able to hand the ball off to Greene and use the lack of attention to efficiently throw when needed, but now he'll likely have to hover around 250 passing yards a game to give Iowa a chance. Fortunately for Stanzi, he has a terrific weapon, TE Tony Moeaki, back and looking like new. The oft-injured senior caught ten passes for 83 yards and a touchdown last week and showed a glimmer of the potential that made him such a hot prospect a few years ago. He needs to continue to be more than just a safety valve.
What will happen: The real Iowa might not be back this year, at least it won't be until a steady ground game is found again, but Stanzi will be solid enough and the Hawkeye defense will keep ISU QB Austen Arnaud under wraps just enough to come away with a tough victory. However, it will be unimpressive enough to make Iowa fans grouchy.
CFN Prediction: Iowa 26 … Iowa State 17 ... Line: Iowa -7
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 2.5
Arkansas State (1-0) at Nebraska (1-0), 2:00 EST, Saturday, September 12
Why to watch: Nebraska already had its way with one of the favorites for the Sun Belt title, Florida Atlantic in a 49-3 pasting, and now it'll try to do the same to one of the others. Arkansas State is loaded on offense and has a dangerous, disruptive defense, at least among Sun Belt teams, but can it step up and give the Huskers a push? QB Corey Leonard is one of the nation's best dual-threat playmakers, while Reggie Arnold might be the best running back you've never seen and DE Alex Carrington could be the best defensive end in this game. The Red Wolves got their scrimmage game out of the way with a 61-0 destruction of Mississippi Valley State that could've been a whole bunch worse after getting up 40-0 at halftime. ASU's game of the year might be next week when it hosts Troy, while Nebraska will be using this as a tune-up to try to get ready for another dangerous, mobile quarterback, Tyrod Taylor and his Virginia Tech team next week.
Why Arkansas State might win: Is Nebraska ready to handle an extremely pesky, extremely effective ASU ground game? The Huskers allowed 122 rushing yards last week to an FAU attack that's not exactly a juggernaut on the ground, while the combination of Leonard and Arnold provide a dangerous 1-2 punch that can work inside and out. ASU ran for 358 yards and eight touchdowns last week, with Arnold accounting for four of them, but …
Why Nebraska might win: Nebraska isn't Mississippi Valley State. The Husker defense wasn't a total brick wall against FAU, but it only gave up three points and it didn't unleash the hounds into the backfield. That could change this week as the defensive front will need to do more to get into the backfield and will need to get consistent pressure on Leonard whether he's running or passing. ASU's offensive line will be good in time, but it's one of the team's areas of rebuilding early in the season. Defensively, the ASU secondary can move, but it's not all that big and could have problems if the Nebraska receivers start to get physical both in the passing game and when they're blocking downfield.
Who to watch: Nebraska fans can appreciate special runners, and they'll get to see a great one in Arnold. The senior has been consistent and effective for the last three seasons, running for more than 1,000 yards in each with quickness, toughness, and a good nose for taking a short play and making it a gamebreaker. He might not get 100 yards on the Nebraska defense, but if he's able to get around 70, he got 72 against Alabama last season, and if he's able to take the focus off of Leonard, the Huskers could be in for a fight. Nebraska has a nice runner of its own in Roy Helu, Jr., one of the nation's hottest backs at the end of the 2008 regular season with 157 yards against Oklahoma and 166 yards against Colorado as part of an impressive four-game stretch. He started off this season with a 152-yard, three touchdown day on just 16 carries against FAU, and he'll be the focal point of the offense against the Red Wolves.
What will happen: As good as the Arkansas State offense is, and as good as the numbers are going to be at the end of the year, it can bog down from time to time against the stronger defenses. The Red Wolves will put up more of a battle than Florida Atlantic did, but Nebraska will methodically work its way up and down the field for 60 minutes with a balanced attack that will be too much for ASU's back seven to handle.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 34 … Arkansas State 16 ... Line: Nebraska -23.5
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 2
Texas (1-0) at Wyoming (1-0), 3:30 EST, Saturday, September 12
Why to watch: What is Texas doing going to Wyoming? This counts as the most difficult non-conference game on the Longhorn slate, with ULM, UTEP, and UCF coming to Austin, and it could be a trap with the revenge battle against Texas Tech coming up next week. Texas had no problem with ULM in a 59-20 win that showed off the speed and skill in the receiving corps, and the talent in the running back corps that should be able to take the pressure off Colt McCoy a bit. Wyoming is hardly special, but it has more than held its own against the big names. The Cowboys were able to beat Virginia at home in 2007, Ole Miss in 2004, and went to Tennessee last year and came away with a win last season. Texas is at a whole other level from any team UW has faced in years, but new head coach Dave Christensen can make a big splash if his team is merely competitive against the nation's No. 2 team before going to Colorado next week.
Why Texas might win: The Wyoming secondary is awful. Even with a great pass rush provided by John Fletcher and the Cowboy defensive front, the secondary allowed 322 yards to Weber State last week in a way-too-close 29-22 win. Texas is making a point to take the rushing strain off of McCoy and allow him to bomb away a bit more, and he looked in midseason form last week completing 21-of-29 passes for 317 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception, against ULM. The Longhorn receiving corps should turn several short-to-midrange passes into home runs.
Why Wyoming might win: John Fletcher. Outside of some of the future NFL millionaires on the Oklahoma defensive front, Fletcher could be the most talented defensive lineman the Longhorns face all season long. A 3-4 defense tweener, the 275-pound senior is finally healthy and he showed that he's all back full with two sacks, five tackles, a forced fumble, and a blocked kick last week as the leader of a defensive front that should provide more than a gentle breeze against McCoy. The only way Wyoming has any prayer of keeping this from being ugly is if Fletcher has the game of his life.
Who to watch: The Wyoming quarterback situation came down to four options throughout the offseason. And then the new coaching staff decided to throw a curve ball into the equation by choosing a fifth option, true freshman Austyn Carta-Samuels, a 6-2, 210-pound runner who gained 22 yards last week and completed 8-of-17 passes for 101 yards. That was against Weber State, and now he'll have to deal with a Texas defense that will look like it's going three steps faster. If he can't handle it, there are several backups waiting to give it a try.
What will happen: It will take about a quarter, and then the floodgates will open thanks to a few ugly turnovers. Texas will shut down the UW running game and will make Carta-Samuels, or one of the other quarterbacks, try to produce by pushing the ball down the field, and the results won't be pretty.
CFN Prediction: Texas 45 … Wyoming 6 ... Line: Texas -33
Must See Rating: (Curb Your Enthusiasm Season Premiere 5 … The Fresh Beat Band 1) … 1.5
Week 2, Part 2 (Bowling
Green at Missouri, and More)