Most of the Big 12 went about its business in Week 1.
All of the title contenders, with the exception of Texas Tech, won easily and looked good doing it. Unfortunately for Texas, however, their victory was far more costly than the rest of the Big 12 as the Longhorns lost two key offensive weapons.
Now, as most of the league looks to win easy (and possibly boring) games against overmatched competition, it’s those same Horns who have to battle in the biggest game of the weekend.
1. BYU at Texas
7:30 p.m., FS1
The numbers are simple. Texas is 12-4 when David Ash starts and 6-5 when he does not. The Longhorns, who also will be without starting center Dominic Espinosa for the rest of the year, will turn to Tyrone Swoopes (and maybe Jerrod Heard as well) this weekend against a BYU team that was very impressive in Week 1 and torched Texas for 679 yards last year. The Horns defense looked much improved in Week 1 but facing North Texas is totally different than having to slow one of the most dynamic weapons in college football. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill threw for 308 yards and ran for 97 while scoring all five touchdowns for BYU in the road win over UConn to start the year. If Charlie Strong can’t slow down Hill, it may not matter who is playing quarterback for the Burnt Orange.
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2. Kansas St at Iowa St
What better way to recover from an ugly home loss to an FCS opponent than to face a Bill Snyder-coached team ranked in the top 20? Paul Rhoads has never beaten Kansas State in five tries and Week 1 did little to suggest that he can break through in 2014. Snyder used Tyler Lockett sparingly in Week 1 and instead gave the ball to seven different ball-carriers for 240 yards rushing. “A plus B equals C” is rarely accurate but if Iowa State can’t stop North Dakota State’s running game, why would it be able to stop the much more balanced Wildcats?
3. Texas Tech at UTEP
11 p.m., FS1
The seven-point win over Central Arkansas was a major disappointment despite Davis Webb throwing for 452 yards while completing 75 percent of his passes. Kliff Kingsbury won’t have any issues on offense this year but the questions raised in the preseason about his defense appear to be warranted after allowing 35 points and 406 yards in the opener. Tech will need to slow an offense that rushed for 330 yards — 237 by sophomore Aaron Jones — in the opener against New Mexico. This is the Miners' home opener so expect an inspired effort from the three-touchdown underdog.
4. Oklahoma at Tulsa
The Sooners did all of the things they needed to win easily in Week 1. These two in-state rivals have played 13 times since 1943 and Oklahoma has won all but once (Sooners fans don’t need any reminders of 1996). The Hurricane rolled up 592 yards of offense last week against Tulane but also allowed over 500 yards on defense. Trevor Knight and his stable of running backs should be able to produce big numbers in Week 2.
5. Northwestern St at Baylor
The most watched vertebrae in college football shouldn’t be asked to do much against Northwestern State this weekend. After a dominating performance by the Bears' defense — it doesn’t matter how bad SMU is, holding a June Jones offense to less than 70 yards is absurdly impressive — Art Briles isn’t likely to ask too much of quarterback Bryce Petty. Keep the QB upright, run the ball and play defense and Baylor should start 2-0.
6. Missouri St at Oklahoma St
Both Oklahoma State and West Virginia acquitted themselves admirably against the top two teams in the nation but neither got into the win column. Both should do so this weekend. Mike Gundy’s defense played well, J.W. Walsh was solid and Tyreek Hill announced his presence to college football. Look for a much lighter workload this week for Hill and for the Pokes to lean on Desmond Roland, Rennie Childs and their defense in what should be an easy win. Keep an eye on quarterbacks Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph to see if Gundy gives either backup a look under center.
7. Towson at West Virginia
Much like Oklahoma State, West Virginia showed an improved defense and found a playmaker on offense in Clint Trickett in a Week 1 loss. And like Ok-State, the Mountaineers should be able to celebrate this week with a victory. Trickett should have no issues topping a team that lost to Central Connecticut State last week in the opener.
8. SE Missouri St at Kansas
7 p.m., ESPN3
The Montell Cozart era begins for Kansas this weekend in a must-win situation for head coach Charlie Weis. Other members of the Big 12 have lost to FCS opponents in season openers the last two years and Weis cannot afford to struggle against SEMO — a team that won its 2014 debut 77-0 last week.
Big 12 Predictions:
BYU (+4) at Texas
Kan. St (-12) at Iowa St
T. Tech (-20) at UTEP
Okla. (-25) at Tulsa
NW St at Baylor
Mizz St at Okla. St
Towson at WVU
SEMO at Kansas