Big 12 Football: Week 1 Predictions for Every Team in 2013
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With Big 12 teams less than 80 days away from kicking off the 2013 football season, predictions for each team's Week 1 matchups are already coming in.
Some of the marquee games in the opening week in the Big 12 include TCU's game against the LSU Tigers at Cowboys Stadium and Oklahoma State's matchup against Mississippi State at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
Kansas State and Texas Tech also start their seasons on a Friday.
Every team except the Kansas Jayhawks have a game slated for college football's opening week. Here are the predictions for those nine games.
Texas Tech at Southern Methodist: Friday, August 30
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Texas Tech - 45
SMU - 17
In a game that will be nationally broadcast on ESPN, the Kliff Kingsbury era will officially begin in Lubbock, Texas as the Texas Tech Red Raiders travel to Dallas to face the SMU Mustangs.
The Red Raiders will be a dynamic offensive team in 2013 that will continue to utilize its air raid style of attack. Wide receive Eric Ward will be one of the most talented players in the conference and he'll be favorite target of Michael Brewer, the projected replacement to quarterback Seth Doege.
That offense will prove problematic for the Mustangs, a team that gave up 59 points to Baylor last year and averaged over 25 points allowed per game in 2012.
Kingsbury is looking to get off to a hot start in 2013 with the Red Raiders, and the matchup with SMU is the perfect way to do just that.
North Dakota State at Kansas State: Friday, August 30
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Kansas State - 42
North Dakota State - 13
In the second Friday game featuring a Big 12 team, the Kansas State Wildcats will showcase its stadium renovations during their season opener against the North Dakota State Bison, an FCS team.
Bill Snyder is legendary for not scheduling tough teams in the Wildcats' non-conference slate. However in 2011, FCS opponent Eastern Kentucky gave Kansas State a huge scare in Manhattan.
The Wildcats won that game 10-7, but the final seven points for the Wildcats came on a touchdown pass in the final two minutes from Collin Klein to Chris Harper.
Then in 2012, Missouri State trailed Kansas State just 9-6 at halftime before the Wildcats blew the game open in the second half for the 51-9 victory.
Much of the reason that the Wildcats might have struggled against these FCS teams is that Snyder's playbook is incredibly vanilla at the beginning of the season. Don't expect that to change against the Bison.
However, Snyder's teams have a way of getting things done, and the Wildcats will take care of business easily to start off 2013 the right way.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State: Saturday, August 31
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Iowa State - 17
Northern Iowa - 9
The Iowa State Cyclones kick off their 2013 campaign with a game against the Northern Iowa Panthers, an in-state rival that competes at the FCS level.
While the Cyclones compete in a BCS conference and the Panthers are an FCS team, the last meeting between the two schools in 2011 came down to the wire.
In the Cyclones' 20-19 win, former quarterback Steele Jantz snuck into the endzone with just 40 seconds left to avoid a stunning upset.
Now the Panthers could be heading to Ames with revenge on their minds.
However, it's unlikely that the Cylcones will struggle against an FCS opponent a second time in three years.
Expect a low-scoring affair with the Cyclones controlling the tempo early and often.
Louisiana-Monroe at Oklahoma: Saturday, August 31
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Oklahoma - 59
Louisiana-Monroe - 13
No longer is Landry Jones the signal-caller in Norman as the Oklahoma Sooners' season opener against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks will likely usher in the era of Blake Bell.
While it's not set in stone that Bell will be the starter for Bob Stoops, he certainly seemed to have the edge after the team's spring season.
As for their game against the Warhawks, the Sooners will look to have a better showing against a lower-level FBS team than they did in last year's season opener against UTEP. In that game, the Sooners looked sluggish and won just 24-7.
Don't expect Bob Stoops to allow that kind of debacle to happen two years in a row. He'll make sure his team is ready to pounce in Week 1.
This game will be a runaway.
William & Mary at West Virginia: Saturday, August 31
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West Virginia - 38
William & Mary - 21
The West Virginia Mountaineers will begin the post-Geno Smith era with a matchup against the William & Mary Tribe, an FCS team from neighboring Virginia.
The Mountaineers' offense will have a brand new look with Geno Smith, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin no longer with the program and in the NFL.
While the Mountaineers should have no trouble handling the Tribe in Morgantown, the game may expose Dana Holgersen's offense.
Last season, the Tribe held the Maryland Terrapins to just seven points. Throughout the whole season, they only gave up more than 30 points twice. While that's a high mark, the Mountaineers are built on scoring a lot of points.
The Mountaineers will win this game, but the holes the Tribe will expose will prove detrimental in the long run.
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi State: Saturday, August 31
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Mississippi State - 24
Oklahoma State - 20
After a disappointing season in 2012 when the Oklahoma State Cowboys started three different quarterbacks, Mike Gundy and probable starter Clint Chelf face a huge test at Reliant Stadium in Houston against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
While the Bulldogs don't stand out as an elite SEC team, Dan Mullen is looking to take the Bulldogs to the next level in 2013. A win over the Cowboys will be a big first step in that direction.
Clint Chelf, impressive in flashes in 2012, still hasn't started a full season in Stillwater. Nor has he seen a defense like the ones the SEC produces.
Last season, he only threw for over 300 yards in a pass-happy Big 12 once, and that was against the league's worst defense in Baylor.
To win a big game early in the season in a neutral environment, leadership is crucial. Gundy caused controversy earlier this year with the Wes Lunt transfer and Chelf is an unproved quarterback.
The Cowboys won't be able to beat an SEC team like Mississippi State without having a good chunk of the season to gel as a team, and even then it would be a close game.
Expect the Bulldogs to put a lot of pressure on Chelf early and often and take advantage of his mistakes.
Wofford at Baylor: Saturday, August 31
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Baylor - 62
Wofford - 17
The Baylor Bears finished last year as one of the hottest teams in the country with four straight wins, including one over then top-ranked Kansas State and a Holiday Bowl victory over then-No. 17 UCLA.
Now heading into 2013, the Bears are looking to take that momentum and make a run at the Big 12 title.
Nevertheless, there are issues this offseason to address such as replacing quarterback Nick Florence. That will likely fall on the shoulders of Bryce Petty.
So what better way for the Bears to tie up any loose ends that simply can't be tied in summer practices with a game against a lowly FCS team?
The Bears' offensive attack will simply be too much for the Wofford Terriers and it will give head coach Art Briles a terrific chance to tinker with his depth chart and to try and perfect his craft before the Big 12 season begins.
Another big concern for the Bears is the defense. While they had the worst unit in the league last year, there are seven returners on the unit that are giving Baylor a renewed confidence in their defense. An impressive showing against the Terriers could be a big confidence boost.
At the end of the day, the Bears offense will simply overrun the Terriers and allow Baylor to run away with the game.
New Mexico State at Texas: Saturday, August 31
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Texas - 31
New Mexico State - 6
In David Ash's third go-around as the main guy in Austin, there shouldn't be an easier way to start the season then against the New Mexico State Aggies.
The Aggies gave up over 39 points per game last year and the Longhorns will look to pounce on that weak defense.
That will be key to setting the tone throughout the season as Mack Brown is looking to build more consistency on offense, especially at the quarterback position.
Ash hasn't been consistent with the Longhorns, but a good outing against an inferior team like New Mexico State could give Ash the confidence going forward into the season.
TCU vs. LSU: Saturday, August 31
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LSU - 17
TCU - 14
After leaving the team to go to rehab last year, quarterback Casey Pachall is back and is hoping to lead the TCU Horned Frogs back to contention.
Well, he'll have a huge gut-check in Week 1 against the LSU Tigers.
This game, which will be broadcast nationally on ESPN, is one of the most highly anticipated Week 1 games in college football. It's two teams from two of football's best BCS conferences battling it out.
The Horned Frogs boast arguably the Big 12's best defense heading into 2013. That said, they'll be without star defensive lineman Devonte Fields in the game against LSU, as the team suspended Fields for a violation of team rules.
LSU also has a very good defense, which will make it tougher for Pachall to strut his usual stuff.
However, the Horned Frogs like to operate at a similar pace to that of the Tigers, which could make for an interesting game. If Pachall has a big game early and the defense finds a way to make up for the loss of Fields, it could be a huge upset in the making.
However, the Tigers will be simply too good, as they're used to playing high-profile teams early in the year. Look for Les Miles and LSU to walk away with a close win in Week 1.