Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 5 Big 12 Football Game
It's another quiet week for the Big 12, as half of the conference is on bye this week and resting up.
But there are a few interesting games to tide us over before we finally start getting into the meat of the conference schedule.
Iowa State, still looking for its first win of the year, has a Thursday night game against Tulsa. Oklahoma State will travel to Morgantown to take on a struggling West Virginia team in the Cowboys' first Big 12 game of the season. And, finally, Oklahoma travels to Notre Dame for a midday revenge game against the Irish.
Who comes out on top this weekend? There's only one way to find out. Let's get to the picks.
(All rankings reflect the latest Associated Press poll.)
Iowa State at Tulsa
Thursday, Sept. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The Cyclones and Golden Hurricane have one win between them, so naturally this will end in a triple-overtime thriller as the best game of Week 5.
In the event it doesn't, though, the main thing to watch is whether Iowa State can start to develop some chemistry on offense. There's virtually no running game, which isn't ideal considering quarterback Sam Richardson is nursing an ankle injury.
In other words, Richardson can't afford to be the team's leading rusher anymore.
Tulsa's defense hasn't been good through the first few games of the season, so Iowa State needs to be able to take advantage of that.
Or, maybe the Cyclones defense shores up a bit and forces a couple of turnovers to help the offense out.
Score prediction: Iowa State 27, Tulsa 21
SMU at TCU
Saturday, Sept. 28 at noon ET
TCU coach Gary Patterson had some interesting things to say about his team last week following the Horned Frogs' 1-2 start via Alex Apple of The Dallas Morning News:
They're feeling sorry for themselves. If they don't do any better they'll only win one ballgame and they've already won that. The bottom line of it, guys got to grow up. If they grow up, they can be what they need to be. If we don't grow up we're not going to win any more ball games.
Not exactly what you'd call a ringing endorsement of his team right now. But that was six days ago. TCU can get back on track on Saturday against non-conference rival SMU. The biggest area of improvement will have to be reducing the self-inflicted wounds.
TCU was actually able to move the ball well enough a couple of weeks ago against Texas Tech—when it wasn't shooting itself in the foot with penalties. It was as undisciplined as a Gary Patterson team had looked in a while.
Can the offense start clicking? Will the defense tackle better? These are just two of the questions for TCU this weekend.
Score prediction: TCU 34, SMU 21
No. 11 Oklahoma State at West Virginia
Saturday, Sept. 28 at noon ET
Oklahoma State had a bye last week to give the Cowboys an extra week to prepare for West Virginia. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers got shut out by Maryland in Week 4, so it's almost like they didn't play at all, either.
WVU has a lot of problems to fix on offense, and coach Dana Holgorsen pointed the finger at himself and himself only during Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference. Holgorsen is willing to stick with redshirt freshman Ford Childress at quarterback, and seeing as Childress has the most upside, that's actually probably the right move.
But Childress can't do it alone. The offensive line is still an issue, and only one wide receiver, Ronald Carswell, caught a pass against the Terps.
It's doubtful all that gets fixed by the time the Pokes come to Morgantown. Oklahoma State is playing as well as anyone in the Big 12 with a top-20 offense and defense in terms of points scored and allowed.
It would seem the only hope WVU has is if it comes out more inspired than it did against Maryland (it should) and somehow the travel affects Oklahoma State (it shouldn't).
Score prediction: Oklahoma State 42, West Virginia 17
No. 14 Oklahoma at No. 22 Notre Dame
Saturday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET
If you haven't had a chance to read Michael Felder's breakdown of Saturday's game between Oklahoma and Notre Dame, do so right now. You will be a smarter person for it.
Now, onto a more condensed prediction.
Tulsa's defense may not be the best litmus test, but OU quarterback Blake Bell looked poised and had a good thing going with the wide receiving unit. It was apparent that his game experience over the past couple of years has paid some dividends on those fronts.
Oklahoma's season-opening starting quarterback, Trevor Knight, is back practicing, according to coach Bob Stoops via The Oklahoman. Whether he sees time against the Irish on Saturday remains to be seen, but it looks as though this is Bell's game to run.
Speaking of which, that's what I expect Oklahoma to continue to do: run the ball. It's been successful so far through three games, and it will set up the rest of the offense if it continues to be successful against a Notre Dame defense that isn't as stingy as it was a year ago.
The Sooners will travel to South Bend and get revenge for last year's home loss.
Score prediction: Oklahoma 31, Notre Dame 20
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.