Six of the 10 teams in this league are taking a break this weekend but that doesn’t mean that the Big 12 will be boring in Week 4.
No, it’s quite the opposite in fact, as two marquee matchups dot a very limited schedule.
Big 12 Week 4 Game Power Rankings
1. Auburn (+8.5) at Kansas St
Thurs., 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Bill Snyder has never lost at home to a Big 5 non-conference opponent (4-0) but this Thursday night primetime showdown with the defending national runner-up figures to be his toughest test. The Tigers have won three straight true road games and 11 of the last 12 games overall. Snyder’s bunch — a group with an astounding 58 former or current walk-ons according to Dennis Dodd — will be faced with stopping a rushing attack that has topped 300 yards in five of the last seven games and has scored nine rushing touchdowns in two games in 2014. While the overmatched KSU defense should have issues with Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne, Auburn’s defense should have issues with Jake Waters as well. The Wildcats quarterback is a tremendous leader and is averaging 327.5 yards of total offense per game. Look for both quarterbacks to make things happen on the ground and whichever defense can get stops on third down will win.
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2. Oklahoma (-8) at W. Virginia
7:30 p.m., FOX
Some pointed to this game as a potential trap for Oklahoma in the preseason but after the Mountaineers' performance in the first three weeks, this game has become a critical, must-win situation for the Sooners. According to ESPN’s Dane Beavers, Bob Stoops started out his career 9-0 in road night games but is an even 8-8 since, and Milan Puskar Stadium figures to be rocking on Saturday night. West Virginia will likely struggle to stop Trevor Knight and company on defense so the real battle will be waged when Clint Trickett is on the field. Oklahoma’s secondary is extremely talented (third nationally with six interceptions) and the front seven has been dominant (21st in sacks with 9.0). If Trickett has no time to get the ball to Kevin White and Mario Alford, it may not matter if they are open or not. If the WVU O-line can hold its own against the Eric Striker-led defensive front, fans could be in for a shootout in Morgantown.
3. C. Michigan (+4.5) at Kansas
This could be a battle of offensive ineptitude — and that could make it quite entertaining. Charlie Weis needs a win badly after the horrendous showing last week against Duke when his offense mustered just 95 passing yards and went 4-of-17 on third downs in the 41-3 blowout. The passing yards have been a disturbing trend for Weis, as his offense has averaged less than 150 yards passing since he took over in Lawrence. Central Michigan, which ranks 119th nationally in total offense, has already knocked off one Big 5 school this year when it smoked Purdue two weeks ago. If Weis and the Jayhawks are not ready, the embarrassment at Kansas could continue this weekend.
Off: Baylor, Iowa St, Oklahoma St, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech
Big 12 Predictions:
Auburn (-8.5) at KSU
Okla. (-8) at W. Virginia
C. Michigan (+4.5) at Kansas