Thursday, October 1, 2009
Big 12 predictions, Week 5
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Oh, so close to perfection last week.
I came close to my first perfect week of the season, missing only on Texas Tech’s late collapse at Houston.
I’m hoping for better luck this time around with an abbreviated schedule of six games that will only feature seven Big 12 teams in action.
Here are my picks:
West Virginia 34, Colorado 17: The Mountaineers will be intent on gaining revenge for their loss last season in Boulder, along with bouncing back from their recent loss at Auburn. The Buffaloes should have Darrell Scott and Rodney Stewart close to 100 percent, although they should struggle against West Virginia’s imposing run defense. West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown is looking for some retribution after he was knocked out of the Auburn game after earlier contributing five turnovers. Look for the Mountaineers to try to dictate tempo by running Noel Devine (16th nationally in rushing) against a weak Colorado rush defense (103rd nationally). West Virginia has too many weapons to keep this from being very competitive.
Iowa State 27, Kansas State 24: The winner of "Farmageddon" at Arrowhead Stadium will take an early step to staying out of the Big 12 North cellar and perhaps contending for a bowl berth. Austen Arnaud has played better in recent games and Alexander Robinson's cutback style has emerged in Tom Herman’s running attack. The Cyclones will face an underrated Kansas State defense that ranks among the top 26 teams in each of the major statistical categories of rush defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. In order to be successful, Arnaud will have to make some plays and stay away from turnovers. But in the end, this game will be settled in the special teams. Kansas State needs to get Brandon Banks involved and Iowa State hopes that Mike Brandtner’s directional punting keeps the Wildcats bottled up. I like Iowa State by a small margin because it has better kicking with Grant Mahoney over Josh Cherry.
Texas Tech 56, New Mexico 20: “The Dysfunctional Bowl” will feature two programs that have been featured in the headlines for reasons off the football field. New Mexico coach Mike Locksley scuffled with his assistant J.B. Gerald while Mike Leach banned Twitter usage among his players after some critical comments were made about him by players after their tough loss at Houston last week. The Red Raiders have way too much offense in this one. Taylor Potts and the Tech offense should be able to pile up the points and yards -- particularly if the Red Raiders’ running game emerges again. The weak New Mexico defense ranks 111th on the ground and 107th or worse in the other three major defensive categories. Everything will be peachy for the Red Raiders after a big win in this one.
Baylor 34, Kent State 14: It will be interesting to see how the Bears approach this game after losing quarterback Robert Griffin to a season-ending knee injury and backup Blake Szymanski’s uncertain status with a bruised shoulder. The Bears still have enough offensive weapons to win, particularly against a Kent State defense that allowed 552 yards last week, but produced five turnovers in a 29-19 victory over Miami (Ohio). I’m expecting Baylor to lean on its rushing attack keyed by Jarred Salubi and Terrance Ganaway to dictate the game for the Bears. The loss of Griffin will hurt, but Baylor still has too many weapons to worry in this one.
Texas A&M 35, Arkansas 34: Texas A&M hasn’t faced a top-notch defense and has posted some monster offensive and defensive numbers attributable to its weak competition. That won’t be the case in this one as the Aggies will face a potent Arkansas passing offense keyed by Ryan Mallett and Greg Childs. In the end, Jerrod Johnson, Ryan Tannehill and Uzoma Nwachukwu should be able to exploit a weak Arkansas pass defense that has played better teams, but still ranks 119th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Oklahoma 24, Miami 14: The big question all week is whether we will see Sam Bradford back in the lineup. The Sooners likely don’t need him -- particularly if backup Landry Jones shows the form he employed in his record-breaking start against Tulsa. And he has a playmaking Oklahoma defense that has been responsible for 12 sacks and nine takeaways primed for the challenge. Miami is coming to the end of the nation’s toughest four-game scheduling gauntlet to start the season. Virginia Tech's defense showed some cracks in Miami's offense as Jacory Harris struggled through a miserable game. And it won’t be any easier this week when the Sooners bring one of the nation’s best defenses to Land Shark Stadium.
Last Week: 9-1 (90 percent)
Season: 35-9 (77.3 percent)