Thursday, September 13, 2012
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 3
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm watching this week across eight games in the Big 12.
1. Whoopsy daisy. The mistakes were unbelievable in Oklahoma State's loss to Arizona last week. The past two seasons, the Pokes have made a living on sharp offense and discipline. But last week, Oklahoma State had 167 yards in penalties and four turnovers, along with several pass drops. Can the Cowboys get it fixed against Louisiana-Lafayette?
Quarterback David Ash has put up solid numbers so far, albeit against subpar competition.
2. Like a phoenix ... rising!David Ash hasn't been a huge playmaker just yet, but he's been really, really solid. Now it starts to get serious. Ole Miss has plenty of athletes, and it's Ash's first road game of the season. For now, his passer rating is 16 points higher than Landry Jones' and he hasn't thrown an interception. Can Ash continue to look good? How much more will Texas ask of him?
3. Keep holdin' on ... you know you'll make it through. Texas Tech's defense has been revitalized through two games, giving up just one touchdown and scoring one last week to open the win against Texas State. We won't know much about Tech after this, but can Tech keep it rolling heading into Big 12 play?
4. The show will go on ... finally. I'd argue West Virginia's offense is the most fun one to watch in the Big 12. The Mountaineers have the most electrifying talent in Tavon Austin, and the league's best quarterback in Heisman candidate Geno Smith. This is an FCS game, and we won't learn much about WVU, but we'll get another week to watch what should be an entertaining game after last week's bye.
5. Like a brick wall made of grizzly bears. Baylor wasn't terrible against the run against SMU, but Zach Line got it done against the Bears, running for 135 yards. This week, another good back is on the way in Sam Houston State's Tim Flanders, a Kansas State transfer and an FCS All-American a year ago. Baylor will put up points, but will the front seven come to play?
6. Don't be messing around. Kansas State flirted with disaster against Missouri State. The Wildcats were mired in a 9-9 tie late in the third quarter before exploding in the fourth quarter in route to a 51-9 win. Last week, it was all business and all domination in a rout of Miami. This week, the competition level is poor again with North Texas. Can K-State avoid playing down to its competition?
7. Take care of it, Man of Steele. There was a little déjà vu last week when, with a chance to ice the game, Steele Jantz threw a red-zone interception and put Iowa back in business. Fortunately for Jantz, his defense picked up the slack and ensured the win. Still, he can't always get away with making those kind of mistakes. That was his problem last year. Will he show more progress?
8. No FCS, no problem, right? We've seen this storyline before. Juggernaut beats up on an FCS squad and pitches a shutout. Then, it goes on the road ... and promptly loses. TCU will be filling in for Oklahoma State this week. Can the Horned Frogs validate themselves against Kansas in their first Big 12 game on the road?
9. Rushing back to the top. Big 12 backs are getting it done this year. Four teams are in the national top 12 in rushing, which turns heads a bit for a league known for its quarterbacks. Oklahoma is off this week, but can Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Kansas State keep putting up big numbers?
10. No news is good news. Besides Kansas, every Big 12 team is favored by double digits this week. Everyone expects Big 12 teams to take care of business. There's nothing to gain and everything to lose on Saturday. Does somebody make headlines with a head-turning loss, or does the Big 12 march along with an undefeated weekend in nonconference play?