Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NCF Nation [Print without images]

Thursday, September 4, 2008
Big 12 predictions: Big 12 teams should sweep this week


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are my predictions this week. Look for the Big 12 to go 12-0 -- as if that should mean anything after this week's trip to the pastry wagon. It almost reminds me of the Klumps trip to the buffet in "The Nutty Professor."

Nebraska 38, San Jose State 17: Cornhuskers look for two straight victories under Bo Pelini, who has improved the big-play capabilities of his defense. Key for San Jose State, which barely escaped with a victory over Cal-Davis last week, will be to pressure Nebraska QB Joe Ganz.

Colorado 35, Eastern Washington 21: The Buffaloes still are on notice against Football Champion Subdivision teams after losing to Montana State in Dan Hawkins' first game here in 2006. The Eagles are better than that team and could test the Colorado cornerbacks with the talented pitch-and-catch team of QB Matt Nichols and WR Tony Rice.

Oklahoma 45, Cincinnati 20: Sooners should prevail easily in a matchup of two of the NCAA's top 25 offenses in total yards and passing. Cincinnati QB Dustin Grutza will face the unenviable prospect of trying to beat the Sooners in Norman, who are 27-2 at home against nonconference opponents under Bob Stoops.

Texas A&M 21, New Mexico 17: Both teams hope to rebound after disappointing 2008 starts. Aggies need better offensive production after failing to score on their final eight possessions and being bogged down by four sacks and two interceptions against Arkansas State. New Mexico QB Donovan Porterie should play after being injured last week, but likely won't be at 100 percent.

Baylor 38, Northwestern State 17: The Bears will be playing a Demon opponent for the second straight week after losing to No. 23 Wake Forest. Freshman Robert Griffin gets the start and should be more comfortable in his second college game. Northwestern State counters with an underrated defense that ranks in the top 20 among FCS teams in scoring defense, turnovers and sacks.

Iowa State 28, Kent State 17: Revenge will be key for the Cyclones, who remember how Kent State ruined Gene Chizik's head coaching debut last season. Look for a suddenly potent ISU ground attack and a turnover-producing defense to be key. Kent State must do a better job of getting TB Eugene Jarvis started. The nation's leading returning rusher from 2007 produced only 51 yards last week in the Golden Flashes' season-opening loss to Boston College.

Kansas 33, Louisiana Tech 14: The Jayhawks will be looking for better offensive production, particularly after struggling to run the ball with any consistency in their opener against Florida International. And they might have a stiffer challenge than expected against Louisiana Tech, which upset Mississippi State last week but has lost 14 straight games on the road against ranked opponents.

Kansas State 48, Montana State 10: Suddenly resurgent KSU QB Josh Freeman shouldn't be tested by Montana State, despite the Bobcats' previous history against Big 12 teams (victory over Colorado in 2006). The Bobcats looked stout in a 59-3 victory over Adams State and rank among the top 12 teams nationally in every FCS defensive statistical category.

Missouri 57, Southeast Missouri State 0: Even with the iffy condition of Missouri WR Jeremy Maclin and S William Moore, look for the Tigers to roll against their cross-state rivals. Missouri is looking for big defensive improvement after allowing 29 second-half points and 451 passing yards against Illinois. Southeast Missouri had an uneven opener, barely prevailing in a 35-28 overtime victory over Division II Southwest Baptist. In the game, Southeast Missouri allowed seven sacks and yielded 541 yards against a team that went 0-11 last season.

Oklahoma State 34, Houston 26: Cowboys hope to sustain momentum built in impressive season-opening victory over Washington State. Of particular note was the growth of OSU's defense, which ranked 101st nationally last season but limited Washington State to 193 yards of total offense. The game will hinge on OSU's ability to pressure Houston QB Case Keenum, who completed his first 14 passes in the Cougars' 55-3 triumph over Southern last week.

Texas Tech 45, Nevada 33: Look for an offensive battle in this game between two teams among the NCAA's top four offenses. The Red Raiders will be looking for defensive improvement after allowing 341 passing yards to FCS opponent Eastern Washington last week. They will face a different challenge against Nevada's "Pistol" offense, which produced 629 yards and 426 rushing yards last week against Grambling.

Texas 38, UTEP 20: After playing what Coach Mack Brown termed a "near-perfect opener" last week against Florida Atlantic, the Longhorns travel to El Paso for the first time since beating Brown and North Carolina in the 1994 Sun Bowl. Their key will be to put some heat defensively on UTEP QB Trevor Vittatoe, who was intercepted three times last week in the Miners' 42-17 loss at Buffalo.

Last week: 11-1 (91.7 percent). Season: 11-1 (91.7 percent)