Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip: Week 2
By Brandon Chatmon and Jake Trotter
The college football offseason is way too long. But we’re here to help with your suffering. With spring ball done and the season still months away, we’re giving you a taste of the 2014 season, with the long-awaited Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series.
To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.
We’ll be basing our choices on a number of factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.
Let’s continue with Week 2.
Kansas State at Iowa State
Missouri State at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma at Tulsa
Northwestern State at Baylor
BYU at Texas
Towson at West Virginia
Southeast Missouri State at Kansas
Texas Tech at UTEP
Jake Trotter’s pick: Kansas State at Iowa State
I’m intrigued by how the Longhorns might fare against BYU in their first test with Charlie Strong as coach, but when you get the opportunity to go to “Farmageddon,” well, you go.
Also the Big 12 opener for the entire conference, this tilt will quietly be a potential landmine game for the Wildcats, who justifiably have Big 12 title aspirations. Those aspirations will go right out the window with a loss to Iowa State the second week of the season.
Ames, Iowa, however, has been a difficult place to play under coach Paul Rhoads, who has masterminded a few upsets during his tenure. This Iowa State team should feature the best collection of offensive talent Rhoads has ever enjoyed, and he’ll have a proven coordinator calling the shots in Mark Mangino.
Tyler Lockett and Kansas State should be able to score points against a young, inexperienced Iowa State defense. But Bill Snyder’s defense will be put to the test, too, in what could be an early season conference thriller.
Someone save me a seat at Hickory Park.
Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Kansas State at Iowa State
Conference play already? Big 12 play gets off to an early start in Ames with plenty of intrigue.
Does Kansas State have enough playmakers to make a Big 12 title run? Did its 2013 struggles give Iowa State enough experience to make a bowl run?
This game will start to answer some of those questions.
Jake Waters and Lockett give the Wildcats one of the Big 12’s top quarterback-receiver duos, but the search for additional playmakers will continue into August. KSU’s secondary also will be under the spotlight against an ISU offense that features several top targets, including receiver Quenton Bundrage and tight end E.J. Bibbs.
The Iowa State quarterback situation should have sorted itself out by this point, so the Cyclones could be poised to surprise if Mangino’s offense can get quality play from behind center. But it won’t matter if an inexperienced defense, particularly the defensive line, cannot hold up against the Wildcats’ physical offensive front.
The beauty of this conference game is the unsettled nature of both teams as they search for their identities early in the season, yet the familiarity of the programs with one another, thus making the outcome much harder to predict. It all combines to make a trip to Ames a perfect plan for Week 2.
Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs Alabama (Atlanta)