Weekend Preview

RaiderPower.com takes a look at the marquee matchups in the Big 12 and around the nation.

Big 12 Preview

Kansas State (4-1) (1-1) at #13 Texas Tech (5-0) (2-0)
Last year the Red Raiders handed the Wildcats a lopsided defeat in Manhattan, this week will be no different. Last week Kansas State benefited from an anemic Kansas offense, and snuck past their in-state rival 12-3. Talk about boring football. Texas Tech, on the other hand, was involved in the most exciting game of last weekend in the Big 12. The Red Raiders stayed unblemished as they defeated Nebraska 34-31 in Lincoln, handing the Huskers their first homecoming loss in 36 years. For the first time in the Mike Leach era it appears that Tech's defense could be just as good as the offense, this spells trouble for Bill Snyder's team. If Kansas State can only produce one touchdown at home versus Kansas, I don't see them scoring many this week. The Wildcats should hope the Red Raiders are looking ahead to their road-trip to Austin, if not, this will get ugly.

Iowa State at Missouri
How could it go so wrong for Iowa State? After a heartbreaking double overtime loss versus Nebraska, the Cyclones still looked like a contender for the Big 12 North. They even had an "easy" home game to get back on track, Baylor in Ames. Instead that "easy" home game turned into Baylor's first ever Big 12 road win. Now sitting at (0-2) in Big 12 play, you have to wonder about the Cyclones confidence as they travel to Columbia to face Missouri. Last week the Tigers jumped out to a huge lead at Oklahoma State and almost threw it away. Missouri prevailed 38-31, but the Tiger defense has given up points in bunches all season long. An athletic quarterback battle between Missouri's Brad Smith and Iowa State's Brett Meyer will probably decide this contest. Smith and the rest of the Tigers were very inventive offensively last week, which is more than I can say for the Cyclones. Missouri wins and stays in contention for the Big 12 North, Iowa State stays with Kansas in the cellar.

Oklahoma State (3-2) (0-2) at Texas A&M (3-2) (1-1)
The Big 12 "Who cares?" game of the week takes us to College Station for Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State. Both of these teams have serious issues. Home sweet home? Not for Oklahoma State, the Cowboys are coming off two straight Big 12 home losses. A 34-0 drubbing at the hands of Colorado and a 38-31 failed comeback attempt against Missouri. Traveling to Kyle Field is tough, but hey, it can't get any worse for the pokes. The Aggies will be happy to get back inside Kyle Field after being totally dominated last week at Colorado. Buffalo Quarterback Joel Klatt amassed over 200 yards passing in the first quarter against an A&M secondary that can only be described as awful. Oklahoma State runs a spread passing attack, which should have Texas A&M coaches worried. Although the Cowboys offense isn't exactly lighting up the scoreboard, the once proud wrecking crew defense has allowed big passing numbers to lesser opposition all year. The loser of this game will finish last in the Big 12 South, mark it down. I predict the home crowd will get allow A&M to win and avoid a sixth place finish.

#24 Colorado at #2 Texas
The Longhorns are undefeated, ranked #2 in the nation, and finally got the O.U. monkey off their back last week in Dallas. This week the Longhorns face what I consider to be their first Big 12 test when Colorado comes to town. Let's face it, anyone can beat Oklahoma this year, it's not that big of a deal. Colorado has had a far more impressive season, suffering their only set back at Miami. The Buffaloes are (2-0) in Big 12 play two blowout victories, 38-0 at Oklahoma State and at home 41-20 against Texas A&M. Can Colorado pull the upset? I don't know, but the Buffs and the Horns have a history of close crazy games, including the 2001 Big 12 title game at Texas Stadium. Personally I think this season will tell a different tale. The last time I watched Colorado their offense was held out of the end-zone by the Miami defense, that's nothing to be ashamed of but the Texas defense is every bit as good or better than Miami. I look for Colorado to keep it close early, but the Texas defense will shutdown Joel Klatt and his wide receivers allowing the Horns to pull away at home.

Oklahoma (2-3) (1-1) at Kansas (3-2) (0-2)
Two teams coming off losses to bitter rivals square off when Oklahoma travels to Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium to face Kansas. Texas ended Oklahoma's recent domination of the Red River Shootout in style 45-12 last weekend in Dallas. Kansas failed to find the end-zone in a 12-3 loss at Kansas State. The question that will decide this game is; which offense is worse? From what I've seen neither school has a quarterback that can complete passes with any kind of consistency. It doesn't get much better at running-back; with the health of Adrian Peterson in question neither team has much of threat here either. With the offenses struggling, you would expect this game to become a defensive battle, a battle Oklahoma usually wins. This year however, the Kansas defense has been more impressive. The Jayhawk defense has played well enough to keep their team in both Big 12 games so far, but has received no help from the offense. Sadly, I think the Kansas offense is bad enough to hand Oklahoma the game. Oklahoma wins and keeps a sliver of hope in the Big 12 South race.

Nebraska (4-1) (1-1) at Baylor (4-1) (1-1)
These two teams are in quite opposite states of mind after last week. Nebraska is in heart-break mode after a homecoming loss to Texas Tech, a game they probably should have won. On the other end of the spectrum Baylor should be riding sky-high after notching their first ever Big 12 road win at Iowa State. That win sends the Bears back to Waco with a (4-1) record, and some would say they should be undefeated. Nebraska (4-1) could be facing a louder than usual Floyd Casey Stadium, as the Bears, with a win, could continue to receive top 25 considerations. Ok, so the bears only received one top 25 vote, but that's one more than they've had in about a decade. No matter how large or loud the crowd may be, it's unlikely that the Huskers will be intimidated. In losing last week, Nebraska showed what their offense can do, making up a 21 point first half deficit to grab the lead. If the trio of quarterback Zach Taylor, running back Cory Ross, and wide receiver Terrance Nunn can improve on last weeks performance the Bears are in trouble. Baylor's offense let them down with turnovers in their only loss at Texas A&M, and Nebraska's Black Shirt defense provides a stiffer test. Nebraska has been involved in close games all year, I expect the same this weekend as the Huskers win a defensive battle in Waco.

Around the Nation

#1 USC (5-0) (3-0) at #9 Notre Dame (4-1)
One of these teams is overrated, can you guess which one? Yes surprise surprise, Notre Dame is overrated. Ask yourself, how did Notre Dame get to #9 in the polls? They beat Pittsburgh, who is awful, they beat #3 Michigan, who have proved to be mediocre at best, they beat Washington, who is awful, and they beat struggling Purdue. The only team they played who's still in the top 25, Michigan State, beat them in Southbend. Charlie Weis has had two weeks to prepare his offense for the Trojans, so I expect Notre Dame to put up some points, but can they stop Leinart and co.? The answer is no. Leinart maybe the best quarterback in America, but it's the running backs that carry USC. Reggie Bush is a top Heisman Trophy contender, but did you know he's not USC's leading rusher? Bush has 601 yards rushing, but teammate Lyndell White has 616. White has had back to back solid rushing performances carrying the USC offense. He can take the pressure and opposing defenses focus off of Reggie Bush, freeing Bush up for the big plays he is known for. Barring some Irish luck (yes it exists), the Trojans will leave Southbend unscathed and unchallenged.

#11 Florida (4-1) (1-1) at #10 LSU (4-1) (1-1)
Last week both of these teams put in lackluster performances against lesser competition but were able to win. Florida faces their second SEC road test, after failing the first one miserably 31-3 at Alabama. LSU will be looking to please the home fans after blowing a 21 point lead to Tennessee in the home opener. This game has huge SEC East and SEC West implications. Basically, whichever team loses is out of their respective divisional race. LSU needs a win to keep pace with undefeated Alabama; Florida needs to win to set up an SEC east deciding showdown with rival Georgia. LSU's home-field advantage is well documented, and I think it will be the difference in a game between two evenly matched teams.

#16 Michigan State (4-1) (1-1) at #15 Ohio State (3-2) (1-1)
Ohio State needs a quarterback. That's the only explanation for the lack of offense from the Buckeyes this year. With fastest man alive wide receiver Ted Ginn on one side and 6'4 senior wide receiver Santonio Holmes on the other, the Buckeyes should be lighting people up. For some reason though, quarterbacks Troy Smith and Justin Zwick can't get it together. The Buckeyes offense has been lackluster and the quarterbacks have committed costly turnovers in both Buckeye losses. Hopefully the return home will help, last week they could only muster 10 points at Penn State. Michigan State, on the other hand, does have a quarterback in Drew Stanton. So far Stanton has thrown for over 1400 yards and 14 touchdowns, but it wasn't enough to avoid a home loss to rival Michigan last time out. The Spartans had an off week to put the disappointment behind them and prepare for the Buckeyes. Michigan State has already shown they can win a close game in a tough environment, as they won an overtime thriller at Notre Dame Stadium, I think they do it again this week and upset Ohio State.

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