2009 Big 12 Fearless Predictions
Week 11 ... Nov. 14, Part 2
2009 CFN Big 12 Expert Picks & Roundup
Big 12 Fearless Predictions
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Colorado (3-6) at Iowa State (5-5), 2:00 EST, Saturday, November 14
Why to watch: Just when it seemed like Colorado was going to give up and go away, it came up with another improbable win from out of the blue. After two dead performances against Kansas State and Missouri, the Buffs beat Texas A&M in a 35-34 thriller, and now there’s still time to win out and get to a bowl game, and if all the planets align correctly, there’s still a chance to actually win the North. While that might sound ridiculous for a team playing so poorly and being roughly two plays away from going 1-8, crazy things tend to happen around the CU program under Dan Hawkins. On the other side is Iowa State, who has to win one of its last two games to get bowl eligible, and if it doesn’t happen this week in the home finale, it needs to come at Missouri next week. In other words, it’s probably now or never for Paul Rhoads in his first year. After losing to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State by a combined score of 69 to 18 over the last two weeks, the team has to turn the production back on again.
Why Colorado might win: The Iowa State offense wasn’t exactly a juggernaut, and then it went into the tank over the last three week scoring just 27 points. The passing game is non-existent, so if Colorado can load up against the run, it hasn’t been miserable against most ground games and against most mobile quarterback, there’s a chance to keep the score low. Colorado’s biggest overall issue is the O line that can’t stop anyone’s pass rush, but Iowa State is one of the nation’s worst at getting into the backfield.
Why Iowa State might win: It took everything to work perfectly for Colorado to pull out wins over Kansas and Texas A&M, but the Buff offense can just as easily look like it’s running mud. There’s no ground game whatsoever, even with Rodney Stewart being strong now and then, and the passing game isn’t efficient enough to be too worried. The Iowa State defense hasn’t been a rock, but Colorado will screw things up on its own from time to time with at least two turnovers certain to make life easier for the Cyclones. If Iowa State can take away one element of the Colorado attack, the other part won’t be good enough to put up the big numbers needed.
Who to watch: The pressure is off; Tyler Hansen is the Colorado starting quarterback the rest of the way. Forgetting about the problems around the dinner table when Dan Hawkins benched his son, Cody, Hansen does a better job of not making the ugly mistake and is far more mobile. He’s not going to be an elite passer, but all he needs to do is complete around 55% of his passes and keep the chains moving with his legs as well as his arm. He also needs Stewart to help out the cause with a big game on the ground. Colorado has won three games this year, and Stewart ran for 100 yards in all three, while the team is 0-5 when he’s under 100.
What will happen: This isn’t going to be a barn-burner of an offensive game, but Colorado will be a little bit worse than the Buffs.
CFN Prediction: Iowa State 20 … Colorado 13 ... Line: Iowa State -5
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 2
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Nebraska (6-3) at Kansas (5-4), 3:30 EST, Saturday, November 14, ABC
Why to watch: Nebraska has been weird. Coming off a turnover-fest loss to Iowa State, the Huskers beat Baylor and then stunned Oklahoma 10-3 with a brilliant defensive performance. In a position to win the North, all they have to do is win this week against the Jayhawks and next week against Kansas State, and/or get a little help from a Colorado loss before the regular season finale in Boulder or a Kansas State loss to Missouri. In other words, if Nebraska wins its next four games, it’s going to the Fiesta Bowl. But first there has to be a win over a desperate Jayhawk team that went from being an offensive juggernaut on the way to a 5-0 start to a complete and utter disaster in a four-game losing streak as part of a rough stretch of three road games in four weeks. Needing to win just one of the final three games to get to a bowl, that’s easier said than done with a trip to Texas next week before closing out with Missouri.
Why Nebraska might win: The Kansas offense has become way too one dimensional, and that one dimension isn’t producing. This was always going to be an attack leaning towards the passing game, but after cranking out 300 yards or more in five of the first six games, and over 400 in two straight games, the air show has been grounded, for the most part, failing to get over 250 yards in any of the last three games with just two touchdown passes and four interceptions. The running game hasn’t picked up the slack, failing to gain more than 81 yards in the last four games. With the way the Nebraska defense is playing, the porous KU offensive line is in big trouble.
Why Kansas might win: The Nebraska defense is playing at a national title level, but the offense is good enough to play in the Sun Belt, not the Big 12. The Husker attack has gone from serviceable to painful failing to get over 400 yards in any of the last five games and getting over 300 just once during that stretch. Against Oklahoma, the passing game threw for 39 yards, and against Iowa State there were eight turnovers. The Kansas defense has given up a ton of points over the last several weeks, but it hasn’t been bad against the run. Nebraska can’t throw well enough to keep up if KU’s offense gets hot, and it’s way overdue to get hot.
Who to watch: Few players have ever had more productive careers against Nebraska than Kansas QB Todd Reesing. The senior threw for 354 yards and six touchdowns in the 76-39 shocker in 2007, and he threw for 304 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for a score, in last year’s 45-35 loss. After going ballistic over the first six games of this season, he has been held in check over the last three games and the team has struggled to produce. Nebraska has yet to allow a 300-yard passer this year and has given up just three touchdown passes while picking up 13 throws. If Reesing doesn’t break the ceiling and get over 300, Kansas will have to be perfect on defense to get the win.
What will happen: The Nebraska defense will be the Nebraska defense again, but the Nebraska offense will be the Nebraska offense again. KU will be held to under 50 yards rushing, but Reesing will come up with an ultra-efficient game and won’t make the mistakes that Oklahoma’s Landry Jones made last week on the way to a tough win.
CFN Prediction: Kansas 20 … Nebraska 17 ... Line: Nebraska -3.5
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 3
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Texas A&M (5-4) at Oklahoma (5-4), 7:00 EST, Saturday, November 14
Why to watch: Ever since a stunning 30-26 Aggie win over the Sooners in 2002, this divisional showdown hasn’t always been pretty. OU has won six straight games in the series including a few woodshed beatdowns like the 77-0 win in 2003 and last year’s 66-28 stomping. But now OU needs to simply get a win after an ugly 10-3 loss to Nebraska. This is a Sooner offense that set a slew of records throughout last year that was reduced to a quivering bowl of jelly by a Nebraska defense that’s good, but would’ve been ripped apart by the 2008 attack. At 5-4 with battles against good Texas Tech and Oklahoma State teams to finish up, now the idea is to just get bowl eligible and start pointing towards next year. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is also 5-4 and could be among the flakiest of all the flaky Big 12 teams. Good enough to rip apart Texas Tech, it lost a bizarre game to Colorado last week when it should’ve won in a walk. The offense is fantastic, the pass rush is among the best in the country, and there should be better overall production. But for all the issues, a win over Oklahoma this week or Baylor next week would make this a successful season. A bowl game would be a nice step forward, but a win over the Sooners, and/or a season-crushing victory over Texas in a few weeks, would make the fan base insane with excitement for 2010.
Why Texas A&M might win: Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. A&M has the right makeup to beat this OU team. Get to Sooner QB Landry Jones and get the passing game working, and you have a chance. One of A&M’s biggest issues is stopping the run, and that won’t be much of a problem against a Sooner ground game that’s going nowhere in a hurry averaging a mere 139 yards per game. Jones was miserable last week under the pressure of the Nebraska defensive front throwing five interceptions and cranking out just 245 yards on 58 throws. A&M’s Von Miller leads the nation in sacks, and he and his cohorts have to at least hurry up the Oklahoma hurry up offense.
Why Oklahoma might win: Oklahoma is playing at home. Now it’s getting ridiculous. Oklahoma has won 31 in a row inside the state of Oklahoma, often in dominant fashion, but is 16-15 over the same span (going back to the beginning of 2005) when travelling anywhere outside of the borders including a 1-4 mark this year. The A&M defense stopped a miserable New Mexico offense in the season opener, and that’s been it having allowed 300 yards or more against everyone else, 400 yards or more in six games, and over 500 yards to Utah State and Texas Tech. The Aggie secondary is the worst in the Big 12, and that’s saying a lot to be dead-last against the pass in a pass-happy league and with the benefit of the nation’s third best pass rush to help the cause.
Who to watch: As if Oklahoma’s injury problems weren’t bad enough with Sam Bradford and Jermaine Greshman just a few of the lost stars, the defense suffered a brutal blow last week with the loss of pass rushing terror Auston English with a torn ankle. That means it’ll be up to Frank Alexander to do more, and he has the potential to be a star. He took over the starting job last year after English got hurt, and he ended up earning All-Big 12 honors as a blur into the backfield and a disruptive force who got better and better as the season went on. This year has been a disappointment with English back in the mix, but now Alexander will get his chance again. When he got on the field last week, he came up with a sack.
What will happen: Texas A&M will get to Jones early and often, but it won’t matter. The OU defense will be great again, and the Sooner offense will crank out plenty of yards against the porous A&M D in an easy win.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 38 … Texas A&M 16 ... Line: Oklahoma -20.5
Must See Rating: (The Legend of Jimmy the Greek 5 … 2012 1) … 3.5
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