Big 12 teams went a perfect 10-0 in the opening week of the college football season and 4-1 the second time out. Now we're into Week 3, with the conference season just a week away, and wins will start getting much harder to come by, especially on the road, which is where more than half of the Big 12 is this weekend.
Setting aside top-ranked Oklahoma's huge road test at No. 5 Florida State, which we previewed in this space on Wednesday, the most intriguing matchup of the weekend might be Texas at UCLA. In other story lines, Kansas goes for its third win of the season, which would match the Jayhawks' win total for all of last season, in a road contest against Georgia Tech, one of the three teams KU defeated a year ago.
Locally, Missouri and Kansas State both play at home this weekend, with the Tigers looking to rebound from their 37-30 overtime loss to Arizona State. That has been the only loss by a Big 12 school 15 games into the season. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are away from home, but should have little trouble against their Week 3 opponents, and Baylor and Texas A&M return to action after a bye week to host Stephen F. Austin and Idaho, respectively. Iowa State, fresh off a giant rivalry win over Iowa, heads out on the road all the way to Storrs, Conn., to take on Connecticut, last season's Big East champion.
Big 12 Football Predictions - Week 3
TEXAS 24 @ UCLA 21
Chase McCoy, Colt's younger brother, is expected to get the start over last-season's starter, junior Garrett Gilbert, after helping lead the Longhorns back from a 13-0 deficit .last week in a thrilling 17-16 victory over BYU. It will be tougher to pull something like that off in Southern California, but the Longhorns should have just enough in the tank to eke out a close contest with the UCLA out of the Pac-12. UCLA was the team that started Texas' seven-loss downfall last season with an upset win in Austin.
Western Illinois 10 @ MISSOURI 45
This game is considered such a mismatch that the oddsmakers haven't established a line. Probably just what the Tigers need to restore their confidence and get them back on a winning track. Sophomore quarterback James Franklin had a breakout game against Arizona State, alleviating the concerns of some MU fans. There is no reason to expect any less from Franklin and the Mizzou offense this week, particularly against a much weaker opponent. Next week may not be as pretty when the Tigers travel to Norman to take on nationally ranked Oklahoma in a place where the Sooners rarely ever lose.
Kansas 17 @ GEORGIA TECH 31
Coach Turner Gill has the Jayhawks believing in themselves this year, and you can see the progress from last year's 3-9 team. Kansas pulled off a big upset against the Yellow Jackets in Lawrence last season, but that feat won't be duplicated this time around. KU's speedy James Sims is averaging 106 yards a game through two games and quarterback Jordan Webb has thrown one more touchdown pass (6) than All-Conference quarterback Brandon Weeden of Oklahoma State in the same number of games. Kansas will fall behind early in this one and struggle just to keep the score respectable. None of KU's five wins under Gill are on the road, where the Jayhawks have dropped their last nine games
Kent State13 @ KANSAS STATE 31
After the close call in Week 1 against Eastern Kentucky, it's reasonable to expect Kansas State to come out much better prepared to play against Mid-American Conference opponent Kent State. Coach Bill Snyder says he only incorporated about 15 percent of the playbook against their opening-game FCS opponent, but they will still have to execute better on the field. The Golden Flashes come into the game 0-2, with losses to No. 2-ranked Alabama (48-7) and last week in their home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette (20-12), the same Louisiana school that Oklahoma State defeated 61-34 in Week 1. This might be one of those win-ugly games, but the Cats get it done nonetheless.
Iowa State 21 @ CONNECTICUT 28
With two big home wins in its pocket, Iowa State now heads far away from Ames to test its luck on the road. The Cyclones have a Friday night date with Connecticut. Junior quarterback Steele Jantz has had two excellent games for the Cyclones in his two starts, but those were both in front of the home fans. Now the test will be to see how well he is able to perform under pressure in a hostile environment. This is the second of two games in a home-and-home scheduling agreement that began in 2002. The first game was played in Ames and the second game was originally scheduled for Connecticut in 2007, but the two schools agreed to move the game to this year to accommodate other scheduling issues.
Stephen F. Austin 16 @ Baylor 42
After TCU, this game should feel like a stroll in the park for quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Bears. Would you believe it? No betting line on this game, either. No upset alert here, although if the Bears play down to the level of the competition, there could be a lot of disappointed fans on Saturday at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
OKLAHOMA STATE 42 @ Tulsa 24
This is officially listed as a road game for Oklahoma State, but the reality is: Tulsa is only about an hour's bus ride from Stillwater, and there may be as many fans from Oklahoma State at the game as there are for the home team. It is a relatively short distance, but the Cowboys also will have to deal with a 9 p.m. CT kick off, about two hours later than normal. As a result, the Cowboys do not plan on traveling to Tulsa until after a team dinner and a short walk-through practice Friday night. If you like to draw comparisons from common opponents, Oklahoma beat the Golden Hurricane 47-14 in the Sooners' season home opener.
TEXAS TECH 42 @ New Mexico 17
This is the Red Raiders' first road contest of 2011, and coach Tommy Tuberville quips that a good portion of his roster has never played in a college road game. New Mexico (0-2) lost to 13th-ranked Arkansas last week 52-3 and gave up 632 total yards of offense in the process. Almost two-thirds of that total was passing yardage, something that the quick-strike Red-Raiders' offense thrives on. The Lobos are a good opponent for Tuberville's troops to get their first road exposure against. Coming into this game, Texas Tech's first two opponents this season (Texas State and New Mexico) are a combined 0-3 and are on the wrong side of a scoring differential of 161-33. Not a particularly good tune up for Big 12 competition.
Idaho 10 @ TEXAS A&M 45
Idaho (1-1) plays in the Western Athletic Conference, the same conference as
Boise State last year, but that is as far as the comparison goes. The Vandals finished sixth in the WAC a year ago and should pose little, if any, problem for Texas A&M, especially at Kyle Field in College Station. There aren't a lot of fans in the Big 12 pulling for the Aggies this season, other than their own, but you can mark this one down as an easy win for the SEC-bound Aggies.
OKLAHOMA 27, Florida State 21
(See "Big 12 Football Spotlight of the Week" from Wednesday.)
Last Week's Picks: 3-2
For the Season: 13-2