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Athlon previews the Week 2 action in the Big 12.
The competition wasn't particularly impressive, but Big 12 teams finished Week 1 with a 9-0 record. Eight Big 12 teams are in action this Saturday, with Baylor and West Virginia on a bye week. Non-conference play continues in Week 2, but Iowa State, Kansas State and Oklahoma State have key tests against BCS foes.
Other Week 2 Previews and Predictions
Big 12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 2
1. Will Iowa State make it two in a row over Iowa?
The last time the Cyclones won back-to-back games against in-state rival Iowa was 2001-02. After last year’s 44-41 win in Ames and a solid opening week victory against Tulsa, Iowa State is in position to make it two in a row over the Hawkeyes. Even though it may seem simple, winning the turnover battle will be crucial to the Cyclones’ victory hopes on Saturday. Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz struggled with interceptions last year but played well in the opener (281 yards, two touchdowns), but he will have a tough matchup against Iowa’s secondary. The Hawkeyes struggled to get their offense on track last week, but running back Damon Bullock will test an Iowa State rush defense that allowed 160 yards to Tulsa last week. Iowa has outscored the Cyclones 52-12 in the last two matchups in Iowa City. However, considering Iowa State had a solid performance in Week 1, look for Saturday’s game to be a lot closer than the recent matchups at Iowa.
2. How will Wes Lunt fare in his first road start?
So far, so good for Wes Lunt as Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback. Of course, the competition in Week 1 was pretty weak, so Saturday’s road test at Arizona will give everyone a better glimpse of Lunt’s ability. Against Savannah State last Saturday, he threw for 129 yards and completed all 11 passes. Although the coaching staff needs to get Lunt some work – especially before Big 12 play arrives – the Cowboys don’t have to lean on the true freshman to win this game. Expect a heavy dose of running back Joseph Randle, while Oklahoma State’s defense will look to continue its opportunistic ways from last season. The Cowboys defense has a tough challenge ahead as it tries to slow down Arizona quarterback Matt Scott (387 yards, two touchdowns against Toledo). Lunt doesn’t need to have a huge game for Oklahoma State to win, but this is his first big test as the starting quarterback.
3. Will Kansas State’s defense struggle to stop Miami?
Coming into the season, Miami was one of the biggest mystery teams in the nation. The Hurricanes returned only nine starters and featured a depth chart littered with youth and inexperience. Miami’s defense struggled to stop Boston College last week, but its offense recorded 415 yards and 41 points – a bad sign for a Kansas State defense that allowed 418 yards to FCS foe Missouri State. The Wildcats’ secondary was a question mark coming into the season and gave up 323 yards last week. Although Miami isn’t one of the nation’s best passing teams, it has a capable quarterback (Stephen Morris) and some receivers capable of making plays on the outside. Expect Kansas State’s defense to get a little help from its offense and quarterback Collin Klein, as the Wildcats should be able to move the ball on Miami’s defense. Kansas State should win this one but concerns about the defense may keep this one close deep into the fourth quarter.
4. Can Texas Tech continue to make progress on defense?
Even though the competition wasn’t the best last Saturday, it was a good sign for Texas Tech that its defense allowed only 84 yards and six points to Northwestern State. The Red Raiders were active around the line of scrimmage, recording nine tackles for a loss and registering one forced fumble. This unit will have another opportunity on Saturday against Texas State to show just how far it has come since last season. The Bobcats will present a tougher challenge, especially after rushing for 248 yards and two touchdowns against Houston last week. If Texas Tech’s defense turns in another stellar effort, it should give the coaching staff confidence they found the right answers in the offseason. The Red Raiders have plenty of firepower on offense but fixing the defense is crucial to get back to a bowl game.
5. Another tuneup for Oklahoma, Texas in Week 2
It’s still another month before Oklahoma and Texas matchup in Dallas, and both teams have a lot of work to do before the Red River Rivalry. The Sooners looked sluggish in the opener against UTEP, while Wyoming gave Texas all it could handle in the first quarter, but the Longhorns eventually pulled away for a 37-17 win. Oklahoma’s passing attack is under the microscope after looking out of rhythm against the Miners. Florida A&M should provide little resistance to the Sooners’ offense, which should allow this group to work out some of the kinks before Big 12 play arrives on Sept. 22. For Texas, this Saturday is all about building more confidence for quarterback David Ash, as well as developing a pecking order at running back. Expect freshman Johnathan Gray to see a bigger role this Saturday, but Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown will likely tote the bulk of the workload. New Mexico thrashed Southern last week but remains one of the worst FBS teams, so Texas should be able to cruise to a 2-0 start.
6. TCU finally kicks off its 2012 season
It’s been an interesting offseason in Fort Worth, from the drug arrests to the move to the Big 12 and a major stadium renovation. After a long offseason and a bye in Week 1, TCU finally kicks off its 2012 season with a matchup against Grambling this Saturday. The Horned Frogs shouldn’t run into much trouble against the Tigers, and this will be a good opportunity to get a look at a revamped offensive line and linebacking corps. TCU’s secondary was a concern last season, but it won’t be tested against a Grambling offense that threw for just 66 yards last week against Alcorn State. The Horned Frogs should cruise to an easy victory, but with Kansas coming up in Week 2, it’s important for some of the inexperienced players to get as many reps as possible.
7. Can Kansas win two games in a row?
Charlie Weis’ debut in Lawrence wasn’t overly impressive, but the Jayhawks snapped a 10-game losing streak by beating South Dakota State 31-17. Running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox each rushed for over 100 yards, while quarterback Dayne Crist had a so-so debut by completing 17 of 36 passes for 169 yards and one score. A bigger issue is the defense, which allowed 411 total yards last week. Saturday’s game against Rice is no cupcake, as the Owls recorded 358 yards and 24 points against UCLA in Week 1. However, Rice’s defense was invisible against the Bruins, allowing a whopping 646 yards and 49 points. The Jayhawks should be able to move the ball at will against the Owls. However, can Kansas’ defense make enough key stops to allow Charlie Weis to begin his tenure in Lawrence at 2-0?
Week 2 Big 12 Predictions
|Big 12 Games||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Miami (Fla.) at K-State (-7)||K-State 35-14||K-State 31-24||K-State 34-27||K-State 34-28|
|Rice at Kansas (-10)||Kansas 28-10||Kansas 27-17||Kansas 41-24||Kansas 41-10|
|Iowa State at Iowa (-5)||Iowa State 21-17||Iowa 27-21||Iowa 27-24||Iowa State 21-20|
|Tex Tech (-18) at Texas State||Tex. Tech 31-24||Tex. Tech 38-10||Tex. Tech 38-17||Tex. Tech 31-17|
|Florida A&M at Oklahoma||Oklahoma 56-10||Oklahoma 49-7||Oklahoma 59-7||Oklahoma 48-13|
|Grambling at TCU||TCU 42-7||TCU 41-10||TCU 52-3||TCU 48-0|
|New Mexico at Texas (-38)||Texas 31-10||Texas 37-7||Texas 48-3||Texas 41-3|
|Okla. State (-10.5) at Arizona||Okla State 35-14||Okla State 34-31||Okla State 38-31||Okla State 34-20|
by Steven Lassan
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