Miami @ #20 Kansas State
- Game Time: 11:00
- TV: FX
- Sirius Channel: 136 (Mia) 94 (KSU)
- The Spread: Kansas State -7
The Lowdown: Kansas State and Miami meet on Saturday for the second straight season. Last year KSU escaped Miami with a 28-24 win after KSU came up with a goal line stand with under a minute remaining stopping Jacory Harris at the goal line to preserve the win. The victory over the Hurricanes provided some serious momentum for the Wildcats who were predicted to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12 and catapulted them to a 10 win season.
This Hurricanes bring an entirely different team to Manhattan than the one the Cats saw a season ago. Miami was hit hard by graduation and also lost an unprecedented six players to the NFL draft who chose to leave school early.
This year's team is led by junior quarterback Stephen Morris. Despite Morris taking over the starting job full time in 2012, he does have five previous career starts, four coming during his true freshman season in 2010. Last week in Miami's 41-32 win over Boston College, Morris completed 28 of 45 passes for 207 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
The talk of last week's win over the Eagles was true freshman tailback Duke Johnson. The former five start recruit from Miami's Norland High School made his first appearance in a Hurricane uniform and had a rousing debut scoring on touchdown runs of 54 and 56 yards and finished with 135 yards on just seven carries. He is the backup to starter Mike James but after last week's performance, it would be shocking if Johnson doesn't see an increased workload this week against Kansas State.
Kansas State sputtered out of the gates against Missouri State and led only 16-9 going into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats poured on 35 straight points in the fourth quarter, however, pulling away for what was a much tougher game than the 51-9 final score indicated. The Bears were able to throw for 323 yards against the KSU defense, something the Wildcats will need to improve upon this week if they hope to chalk up another mark in the win column.
Miami, Keys to the Game: The Hurricanes gave up 537 yards last week against Boston College albeit most of came through the air (441 yards passing, 96 rushing). The good news for Miami is that Kansas State isn't going to come out and throw it 51 times as BC did, but you can bet Bill Snyder will have plenty of play action passes ready to test an inexperienced Hurricane secondary. Run Collin Klein, run Klein again, and the run him again before he throws over the top to an underrated group of Kansas State receivers. If the Wildcats hit a couple long pass plays, it could be a long day for the Miami defense. If they can avoid giving up the big play, they stand a strong chance of taking KSU down to the wire.
Kansas State, Keys to the Game: The Wildcats aren't going to hesitate to run Klein as much as necessary, but if they can save some of the pounding he took a season ago, they'll do it. That means John Hubert and Angelo Pease are going to need to show up ready to play. Hubert got off to a nice start with a 152 yard performance against Mo State that included a 95 yard touchdown run. The more production KSU can get from Hubert and Pease on Saturday, the better the prospects are for the Wildcats not only on Saturday, but for the remainder of the season.
The Prediction: The is the first road game for a very young Miami team and you can bet the K-State faithful will be fired up on Saturday. The Wildcats need to start much faster than they did last week, and if they can get going with a couple early scores, there's no telling what will happen to Miami. There's plenty of young talent on the Hurricane's roster, just not enough that are ready to win a road game against a very experienced Bill Snyder coached team. Kansas State leads throughout and moves to 2-0. Wildcats 32 Hurricanes 20.
Iowa State @ Iowa
- Game Time: 2:30
- TV: BTN
- Sirius Channel: 117
- The Spread: Iowa State +4.5
The Lowdown: The Cy-Hawk trophy is on the line! Don't underestimate the power of the trophy that currently resides in Ames. Iowa wants that thing back at Kinnick Stadium.
The Hawks got off to a bit of a slow start last week with a 18-17 win against Northern Illinois needing a late touchdown to seal the victory. The game was played at Soldier Field in Chicago so this will be the home opener for the Hawkeyes and they'll need to play much better if they hope to avoid a two game losing streak to their instate rival.
The good news for Iowa is that running back Damon Bullock stepped up to fill a big void in the Iowa running back rotation finishing with 150 yards on 30 carries. The bad news was that James Vanderberg threw for just 129 yards and was sacked six times in the game.
Iowa State heads to Iowa City coming off a nice season opening win over Tulsa. Steele Jantz looked healthy, accurate, and mobile which wasn't always the case in 2011 as he struggle his way through his first year of Division I football. If the Cyclones can continue to get the same type of production out of Jantz on a consistent basis, ISU is going to be a team to keep an eye on throughout 2012.
Iowa, Keys to the Game: The Hawkeyes need to get Vanderberg going early. Iowa State's defense is solid, but pass rushing isn't exactly their specialty so that in itself should help out an Iowa line that struggled in that category last week against NIU. The Cyclones are going to have tough run defense with linebackers A.J. Klein and Jake Knott patrolling the middle, so if Iowa wants to move the football on Saturday, the Hawks need to find a way to have their passing game get north of 200 yards through the air.
Iowa State, Keys to the Game: Stay balanced. Last week against Tulsa, Iowa State ran the ball 45 times while throwing it 45 times, as well, and you can bet that wasn't by accident. Jantz is at his best when he's not forced to win the game with his arm. The return of a healthy Shontrelle Johnson goes a long way in that department. Johnson finished last week with 120 yards on the ground after returning from a season ending neck injury in 2011. If the Cyclones can keep Iowa guessing, they will put points on the board against a respectable Iowa defense.
The Prediction: Iowa may be at home and the favorite, but I think this game sets up perfectly for the Cyclones. The ISU offense has as many weapons as they've ever had under Rhoads and a good enough defense to keep Iowa's offense under wraps. It'll be close throughout but the Cyclones find a way to get it done. Iowa State 27 Iowa 24.
Rice @ Kansas
- Game Time: 2:30
- TV: FSN
- Sirius Channel: N/A
- The Spread: Kansas -10
The Lowdown: How about Kansas a 10 point favorite over an FBS opponent? Sure, it's Rice who is coming over a 4-8 season in Conference USA, but I'd say this is progress for the Jayhawks.
The Owls opened last weekend at home against UCLA and were manhandled by the Bruins falling 49-24. The Rice defense gave up 646 total yards and were equally bad defending the run and the pass. UCLA passed for 303 yards and ran for another 343 as they pulled away in the second half.
Rice is lead by junior quarterback Taylor McHargue who has started 14 games during his career spread out over his freshman and sophomore seasons. Last week he lead Rice with 22 rushes for 95 yards and also completed 17 of 28 passes for 172 yards and two scores.
Kansas is looking to improve on their season opening win over South Dakota State. Senior quarterback Dayne Crist's debut as the Jayhawk quarterback didn't go as smoothly as he would have liked. The Notre Dame transfer completed just 47.2 % (17 of 26 passes) in the opener, a number Charlie Weis would like to see much higher this week in Lawrence.
Rice, Keys to the Game: The Owls may have lost last week by 25, but they still managed to put up 24 points in the first half before being shutout in the second half. The Owls traditionally have a very strong rushing attack and they should be able to have success running against a Kansas revamped defense still trying to figure out what pieces go where. McHargue will likely lead them in carries again, but if they can get running back Turner Peterson on track, the Owls have the scheme to give KU some headaches. And Kansas can sleep on converted running back Sam McGuffie who debuted at receiver with 8 catches against UCLA.
Kansas, Keys to the Game: The Jayhawks deepest position on the team is at running back but you know Charlie Weis wants to get the passing game going. He will, eventually. But Kansas should stick with what they do best which is run the ball. Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox provide a solid one-two punch and with the way Rice played run defense last weekend, but could top the century mark for the second straight week on Saturday.
The Prediction: How about a shootout in Lawrence. Vegas oddsmakers have the over/under set at 61.5 and I'll take the over. What you'll see on Saturday is two teams with decent if not good offenses playing against defenses still trying to find their way. Rice with hang right with Kansas for a good portion of the game, but the Jayhawks score last. Kansas 40 Rice 34.
Texas Tech @ Texas State
- Game Time: 6:00
- TV: ESPN3 (online)
- Sirius Channel: 137
- The Spread: Texas Tech -18
The Lowdown: Texas State certainly got people talking this week with their 30-13 victory over Houston in week one. The Texas State defense did more than their part holding what was supposed to be a good Houston offense to just 13 points and 326 total yards. Houston even went so far as to inexplicably fire (he resigned officially) their offensive coordinator. The Cougars completed just 17-44 passes on Saturday night, a number Texas Tech has certainly taken note off.
The Bobcats will definitely present challenges for a Texas Tech defense that held Northwestern State to 84 yards in the opener. Shaun Rutherford is a dual threat quarterback that will run as much as he'll throw although Houston did a nice job last week containing him on the ground allowing him only 34 yards on 21 carries. Last year's game in Lubbock was his first start for Texas State (transfer from Bline JC) and he ran for 84 yards, although Tech's defense should be more of a challenge this time around.
Texas Tech opened the season by scoring 44 points and were as balanced as they've been in a long, long time. They rushed the ball 46 times and threw it 47 times on the way to rolling up 500 yards. Seth Doege wasn't as sharp he typically is but he still managed to complete 67.6% of his passes for 199 yards.
They also saw the return of Eric Stephens at running back who led the team in rushing attempts with 16 carries. His 58 yards weren't terribly impressive, but he looked healthy and that's a big positive for Tommy Tuberville's team going forward.
The Prediction: There are those that have put Texas Tech on upset alert based on TSU's win over Houston last week. I'm not seeing it. Texas State jumped out to a 10-0 lead last year in Lubbock but then gave up 50 straight points. It will be closer this time around, but not that close. Texas State looks like it's going to do just fine at the FBS level, but Texas Tech still has too much offense for the Bobcats to stop for four quarters. Texas Tech 48 Texas State 24.
Florida A&M @ #5 Oklahoma
- Game Time: 6:00
- TV: FSN - Pay Per View
- Sirius Channel: 134
- The Spread: Not yet listed.
The Lowdown: Let's keep this one short. The Sooners got off to a slow start last week against UTEP, but here's guessing they look like an entirely different team on Saturday (and that's not necessarily a complement to what I'm sure was a solid week of preparation).
The Sooners have plenty of areas to improve upon after struggling against the Miners, but Saturday's contest will be tough to gauge how much improvement was made from one week to the next given the competition.
Florida A&M opened the season with a 17-14 loss to Tennessee State which is about all you need to know. If you're looking for an FBS comparison, last season the Rattlers lost to South Florida, 70-17, and Miami the season before, 45-0. No disrespect whatsoever to Florida A&M, but they're going to be a little out of their league Saturday night in Norman.
Final Prediction: Oklahoma - as many as they want. Florida A&M - 7. (Nobody likes these games being scheduled, but the Sooners were in a bit of a jam when TCU joined the Big 12. The Horned Frogs were on the schedule as a nonconference game which obviously became a conference game and OU was left with a void to fill and not much time to do it).
Grambling State @ #17 TCU
- Game Time: 6:00
- TV: FSSW
- Sirius Channel: 136
- The Spread: Not yet available
The Lowdown: TCU is the lone Big 12 yet to play and here's guessing they're chomping at the bit to take the field in their newly renovated stadium. Grambling State opened last weekend with a 22-21 loss to Alcorn State. The Tigers led 21-9 heading into the fourth quarter before Alcorn State added 13 fourth quarter points with the winning touchdown coming with just 1:30 left in the game.
TCU enters the game with a very young, albeit talented team and Saturday's contest should be the perfect primer to get guys acclimated to game speed before opening Big 12 play next week at Kansas.
TCU is lead by quarterback Casey Pachell and two very good running backs in Waymon James and Matthew Tucker. They'll be without one of the better receivers on Saturday, however, as Skye Dawson will be serving one game suspension.
They will also be breaking in a host of players that have never seen action in a college game. In total, there are 15 true freshmen on the depth chart. The Horned Frogs have just 16 seniors on the roster so it goes without saying, make sure you have a roster in front of you when Saturday's game kicks off.
The Prediction: There probably isn't a team in the country more ready to take the field than TCU after an offseason filled with off-the-field distractions. We might not learn much about the team as a whole against Grambling State, but here's guessing TCU passes it first game as a member of the Big 12 with flying colors. TCU 50 Grambling State 14.
New Mexico @ #15 Texas
- Game Time: 7:00
- TV: Longhorn Network
- Sirius Channel: 117
- The Spread: Texas -38
The Lowdown: Is that Bob Davie on the sideline? Why yes, yes it is. The former Notre Dame head coach turned TV analyst is now the new head man leading New Mexico. Davie has huge mountain to climb trying to lead a program that is a combined 3-33 over the past three seasons.
Granted it was against Southern, but things got off to a nice start in the Lobos first game as they tallied 38 points in the second quarter alone on their way to a 66-21 victory. New Mexico threw the ball only 10 times choosing to stick with their option attack running the ball 51 times for 347 yards. They also were the beneficiaries of two defensive touchdowns and also returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score.
New Mexico used two quarterbacks in the first half against Southern. Senior B.R. Holbrook started completing 6 of his 8 pass attempts. True freshman Cole Gautsche also saw action and rushed for 88 yards on 8 carries and scored from 47 yards out early in the third quarter.
Texas is looking to build more momentum after knocking off Wyoming 37-17 last weekend. David Ash had a decent start leading the Longhorns attack that relied heavily on the legs of Joe Bergeron on Malcolm Brown. Texas' defense was good, but still has plenty of room for improvement after allowing Cowboy quarterback Brett Smith to throw for 276 yards on Saturday. Given the fact the New Mexico might not throw the ball more than 10 times on Saturday, it's not likely the Texas secondary will be tested much if at all this weekend.
The Prediction: One interesting note from New Mexico's pregame press release; Bob Davie is 10-1 all-time against Texas (8-1 as and assistant at Texas A&M and 2-0 at Notre Dame with one win coming while he was acting head coach). Here's guessing that record falls to 10-2 on Saturday. New Mexico may be headed in the right direction, but they still have a long ways to go to compete with the likes of Texas. The Longhorns defense will over power New Mexico's ground game in an easy Texas win. Texas 52 New Mexico 7.
#16 Oklahoma State @ Arizona
- Game Time: 9:30
- TV: Pac-12 Network
- Sirius Channel: 93 (OSU) 94 (AZ)
- The Spread: Oklahoma State -11
The Lowdown: We should finally get a glimpse at what the Cowboys bring to the table Saturday night in Tucson. The starters barely saw a quarter of action in Oklahoma State's 84-0 pummeling of Savannah State last weekend.
Arizona meanwhile needed overtime in knocking off Toledo in Rich Rodriguez's first game as the Wildcat head coach. The Wildcats racked up 624 yards against Toledo but shot themselves in the foot over and over. They had three turnovers, had two touchdowns called back after penalties, and missed two field goals, one being a 25 yarder that would have won the game at the end of regulation.
It was an impressive showing for senior quarterback Matt Scott after redshirting last season while Nick Foles directed the offense. Scott threw for 374 yards and rushed for another 74 on 14 carries. If Arizona hopes to have any chance of knocking off Oklahoma State, Scott needs to have a huge game as he did several times in 2010 playing for an injured Foles.
Freshman Wes Lunt started for the Cowboys at quarterback last week and completed all 11 passes he attempted. That's great no matter who you're playing, but his first real test comes on Saturday night. There will surely be times when things don't go as planned against the Wildcats and how a freshman will react in those situations is anyone's guess. But there's no getting around the fact the kid has game plus he's surrounded by a lot of talent, both at the skilled position and on the offensive line.
Arizona, Keys to the Game: Rodriguez said this week that Scott has the strongest arm of any quarterback he's ever had. We'll likely see plenty of that arm on Saturday, but if Arizona expects to win on Saturday, they'll need to get another strong showing from Ka'Deem Carey who rushed for 147 yards in the opener. Carey topping the 100 yard mark again and Scott doing some damage with his legs could give Arizona a fighting chance.
Oklahoma State, Keys to the Game: Last week's game against Savannah State didn't show us anything of what to expect from the Cowboys, but Saturday's contest surely will. We all know the Cowboys' offense likes to create tempo, and if Lunt can play with the speed Oklahoma State has come to expect, they can wear down an Arizona defense that is lacking in depth. How much will Oklahoma State put on Lunt in his first road start? Here's guessing they won't be shy about throwing him in feet first. There's no better way to learn than with real game experience and with Texas looming on the schedule September 29th, getting Lunt acclimated to Big 12 type game speed should be at the top of the priority list.
The Prediction: People who are able to tune into the Pac-12 Network should keep an eye on the Oklahoma State defense. There's plenty of talent on that side of the ball but for whatever reason, it's never materialized into a dominant group. If the Cowboys have any chance or repeating as Big 12 champs, that has to change this season.
Arizona will provide the Pokes' D with their first solid test of the season (who by the way, will be missing defensive coordinator Bill Young for the second straight game for health reasons) and here's guessing it's the OSU defense that is the story people will be talking about Sunday morning. Joseph Randle will rush for over 150 yards and Lunt will hit a couple deep throws in a better-than-average performance as the Cowboys move to 2-0. Oklahoma State 45 Arizona 21.