Big 12 Weekend

Week three of the 2006 college football season features traditional in-conference games (Florida at Tennessee, LSU at Auburn), make or break match ups with BCS implications (Miami at Louisville), and a pair of Big XII schools with tough road games to Pac-10 schools.

Oklahoma at Oregon
In a rematch of last year's Holiday Bowl, the Oklahoma Sooners visit the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. Last weekend, the Sooners struggled in the first half with Pac 10 doormat Washington, before pulling away in the second half for a 37-20 win. Every coach in the nation (at any level of football) will likely commit eight players in the box to stop Adrian Peterson and force Paul Thompson to beat them. Last week Thompson completed 21-of-33 passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Malcolm Kelly emerged as Thompson's favorite target, hauling in six receptions for 121 yards and two touchdowns. This will be Thompson's first road start, and Autzen Stadium is one of the louder home venues in all of college football. How Thompson handles the crowd noise (as well as the blindingly ugly Ducks uniforms) when he drops back to pass will be key in this game.

Defensively, Coach Bob Stoops should have his team focused on two key elements to the Ducks offense. First, the Sooners have a balanced running game with Jeremiah Johnson and future star Jonathan Stewart each capable of carrying the load. Johnson is averaging 6.4 yards per carry so far this season while Stewart has gone for 7.4 ypc. Second, the Sooners must put pressure on quarterback Dennis Dixon, but contain him in the pocket. Dixon has completed 66 percent of his passes so far this season for 476 yards and one touchdown, however, he is also an effective runner who can keep drives alive by scrambling on third down.

Nebraska at USC
There's bulletin board material and then there is incomprehensible stupidity. Nebraska cornerback, Andre Jones, who spent the last two years at Fresno City Community College while USC won one National Championship and two Heisman trophies, sounded off this week about the Huskers chances to beat USC at home. While the Huskers have looked formidable in their first two games against powerhouses, Louisiana Tech and Nichols State, neither has the speed or talent of the Trojans' third team. Keep in mind that Jones, was not even a starter for Nebraska before Zackary Bowman was injured in the preseason; do you think Dwayne Jarrett, Steve Smith, Patrick Turner, Chris McFoy, John David Booty, Pete Carroll and Traveler will be licking their collective muzzles at a chance to make Jones eat crow?

For Nebraska to have a chance, Zac Taylor may need to maintain his 73 percent completion percentage, and Cody Glenn and Marlon Lucky will need to rip off big chunks of yardage against a Trojan defense that has already lost Josh Pinkard and Sedrick Ellis from its opening day starting eleven.

Texas Tech at TCU
While the Longhorns get all the headlines, the best team in the state of Texas this year may be playing in Fort Worth on Saturday. The Texas Tech Red Raiders are 2-0 with wins over SMU and UTEP while the TCU Horned Frogs are 2-0 with wins over Baylor and UC-Davis. The Red Raiders have their typical potent offense which has averaged 490 yards and 36.5 points through their first two games. TCU has allowed an average of 10 points and 292 yards in their first two games.

Red Raiders quarterback, Graham Harrell, will throw the ball all over Amon Carter Field on Saturday. Harrell attempted 52 passes against UTEP last week, completing 40 for 376 yards and two touchdowns. He was aided by a strong rushing performance by Shannon Woods, who carried the ball 12 times for 83 yards and one touchdown. TCU has intercepted three passes in two games and has held its first two opponents to just 1.5 yards per carry. This is a huge game for TCU; a decisive win could propel the Frogs to an undefeated season while a loss will end all BCS aspirations. On the other hand, this is the type of game Tech must win if they are ever to get over the hump to win the Big XII South.

Iowa State at Iowa
Both Iowa and Iowa State enter Saturday's game with 2-0 records which featured a scare last week. The Hawkeyes survived an overtime thriller at Syracuse without Drew Tate while the Cyclones struggled to beat UNLV. Iowa State has won six of the last eight in this series but will need to play a complete four quarters in order to beat Iowa. The Hawkeyes have had some early season health issues. Beyond Tate's injury, Iowa has lost receiver Calvin Davis for the year with a torn ACL. Regardless of whether Tate plays in this game or not, Cyclones quarterback Bret Meyer will need to get the ball in the end zone (either rushing or passing) this week. Meyer accounted for five touchdowns against Toledo in week one (three rushing, two passing) but was shut out last week.

Arizona State at Colorado
Things have gone from bad to worse early in the Dan Hawkins era in Boulder. The Buffs dropped an embarrassing opener to Division 1-AA Montana State, and followed that with an uninspired loss to Colorado State in Denver last week. Following the loss, quarterback Brian White left the team and announced his intention to transfer. Junior Bernard Jackson will get the call to start under center for the second week in a row for the Buffs. ASU lives by the blitz and will likely come after Jackson all day as Colorado has yet to show a competent running game. Defensively the Buffs have been tough against the run, but yielded 233 yards passing to Colorado State and 238 yards passing to Montana State. ASU will possess the toughest challenge yet for the Buffs pass defense. Is it possible for Dan Hawkins to start 0-3 in Boulder with a road trip to Georgia next week?

Other week three match ups: Missouri (2-0) at New Mexico (1-1)
Marshall (1-1) at Kansas State (2-0)
Texas (1-1) vs. Rice (0-2) (at Reliant Stadium in Houston)
Kansas at Toledo (0-2)
Washington State (1-1) at Baylor (1-1)
Army (1-1) at Texas A&M (2-0)
Florida Atlantic (0-2) at Oklahoma State (2-0) Top Stories