Monday, September 8

Big 12: Week 2 Review

Robert Griffin emerged as the new face of the Baylor offense, accounting for 336 yards and 4 TDs in a route of FCS foe Northwestern State. A star receiver has yet to step up, and we're not sold either way on Jay Finley as a running threat despite a solid performance on Saturday.

The Bears have a secret weapon in punter Epperson, who blasted punts of 56 and 61 yards Saturday. The punter averaged 40.2 in the week 1 loss to Wake Forest with a long of 58. Despite Griffin, we don't expect Baylor's offense to be scoring more often than not, so having a solid punter is a big plus in the field position game.

Week 3: vs Washington State
After getting dominated by Oklahoma State, Washington State was run off the field by Cal, 66-3. In two games the offense has failed to top 200 total yards and completely lacks an identity. This is the kind of game Baylor needs to win to avoid double-digit losses, and I think they'll get the job done.
Pick: Baylor

After an impressive week 1, Colorado remembered who they are and struggled to put away Eastern Washington. Cody Hawkins had a decent outing and Smith had another good game returning the ball - which was about all the Buffs had going for them. Darrell Scott was held under 40 yards as the leading rusher and the defense was gashed by an FCS foe. CU scored the tying TD with 2 minutes to play then breathed a sigh of relief as EWU quarterback Matt Nichols tossed a pick 6 to Cha'pelle Brown to seal the comeback victory.

Week 3: Bye
Colorado has a Thursday night matchup with West Virginia in ten days and will really need to improve to have a chance in that one.

Iowa State
The Cyclones again looked suspect on defense, giving up 410 yards and 28 points to a Kent State team who didn't score against Boston College. Fortunately the Flashes coughed the ball up four times on fumbles or this one might have gone the other way. Austen Arnaud was really the lone star on offense, as no receiver caught five passes and Phillip Bates contributed two big plays while everything else was shut down.

Week 3: at Iowa
The Iowa Hawkeyes have blasted Maine and Florida International, making them tough to read. Last year this game was a real cripple fight that ISU won 15-13 after starting the season 0-2. This season doesn't look a whole lot more promising, but bonus that Drew Tate is gone.
Pick: Iowa

For the second consecutive game, KU held an overmatch opponent to less than 40% completions in another strong defensive performance. The ground game looks like a real concern, but I guess you don't worry too much when your QB completes 85% of his passes for over 400 yards.

Week 3: at South Florida
USF starts the season 2-0 after a close, close victory over intrastate rival UCF. The Bulls had running problems of their own, while Grothe accounted for big plays and big busts with his arm. USF has superior talent but Todd Reesing is a superior decision-maker than Grothe. Taurus Johnson was the Bulls' go-to receiver on Saturday; the game may come down to how this high-performing Kansas secondary is able to handle him.
Pick: Kansas

Kansas State
Josh Freeman had yet another huge game as KSU destroyed yet another cupcake team.

Week 3: Bye
The Wildcats have an extra half-week to prepare for a trip to Louisville, whose offense awakened last weekend after being embarassed by Kentucky.

Even against FCS opposition, 42 points in just over 21 minutes is impressive. The Tigers scored TDs on each of their first five drives, with Daniel going 16/17 for 245 and three TDs while Derrick Washington accounted for 3 TDs of his own. Jeremy Maclin scored on the ground and Sean Weatherspoon had a pick-six for the second consecutive game, furthering his status as an elite linebacker.

Week 3: vs Nevada
The Wolfpack shut down one elite Big 12 offense, but they won't be able to do it against the better, more well-rounded Missouri attack. Chase Daniel is playing like the best QB in the country (though don't say that to Sam Bradford) and the defense is once again opportunistic with the turnovers. Expect a route.
Pick: Missouri

The Nebraska offense had surprising troubles, putting up just seven points in the first 50 minutes against San Jose State. Two turnovers and a dozen penalties spoke of the poor execution as NU appeared to be sleeping through this one. Defense and special teams provided the difference in a game that was much closer than it should have been. Also fortunately, SJSU left seven points on the field in missed kicks.

Week 3: vs New Mexico State
With their game against Nicholls State postponed due to the hurricanes, NMSU will be playing their season opener in week 3! This team will probably lack the execution needed to upset Nebraska, even if the Huskers' offense lays another egg.
Pick: Nebraska

Much as I was expecting a better performance, this was still a strong one overall. Sam Bradford shredded this defense, Demarco Murray ran all over them, and actually Chris Brown had a pretty good day as well. Freshman receiver Ryan Broyles had a huge day, giving Oklahoma three big time receiving threats. The defense really only had difficulty in the second quarter... all of Cincy's second-half points came off a KO return and a meaningless drive to end the game.

Week 3: at Washington
Much as Jake Locker is not to be overlooked, this is a 2-0 team vs an 0-2 team, and there are reasons for those records. Washington is going to find Oklahoma's offense a lot tougher to stop than BYU's, and will probably find their defense as tough as Oregon's was in Autzen.
Pick: Oklahoma

Oklahoma State
After sleeping through the first half, OSU's offense scored a TD on six of their final seven possessions - with the seventh running out the game. Dez Bryant had a performance which in Big 12 country we'd describe as Maclin-esque, racking up 300+ total yards and 4 TDs. Kendall Hunter ran rampant on an overmatched defense, and the Cowboys ended up with 864 total yards! (includes 165 in kick returns) Of concern was the fact that the defense surrendered 483 yards to a team whose offensive firepower doesn't compare to what OSU will face in conference play. In part, though, this was due to the sheer number of plays Houston ran, as OSU averaged 9.7 yards per play themselves and scored very quickly.

week 3: vs Missouri State
Yawn, FCS opponent.
Pick: Oklahoma State

To the surprise of many, Texas looks like they could be the third-best team in the conference, despite huge hype for Texas Tech and Kansas. Colt McCoy has been sizzling in these opening games, and freshman Foswhitt Whittaker stepped up to lead the ground attack. Quan Cosby was the go-to guy this game for McCoy, but was hardly a factor in week 1, signs that receiving targets are plentiful in Austin. However, Texas gave up 412 yards to a weak team and it was penalties and two missed FGs that kept UTEP from making the game a little closer.

Week 3: vs Arkansas
The Razorbacks have struggled mightily in their opening two games. Unless their execution improves, they won't put up much tougher resistance than FAU and UTEP have.
Pick: Texas

Texas A&M
A&M struggled once again, but unfortunately they were able to defeat New Mexico. The Aggies were actually outgained by 134 yards, were penalized ten times, but were +3 in turnovers which was the difference.

Week 3: Bye
A&M has an extra week to prepare for the Miami Hurricanes, who played a tough three quarters against Florida before eventually being worn down.

Texas Tech
Just as I was singing his praises, Graham Harrell turned in one of the worst performances I've ever seen from him, completing just 41% of his passes with a 1:2 ratio. Crabtree was really the only player with a good offensive outing, as strong red zone defense and a special teams TD kept the Red Raiders in the lead until the offense finally woke up in the 4th quarter.

Week 3: vs SMU
What we'd really like to see here is a game where both the offense (week 1) and the defense (week 2, kinda) show up. Harrell and Crabtree should have a huge week, but as we just saw anybody can take a day off.
Pick: Texas Tech