Big 12 2016 Football Previews - Week Two

After an exciting opening week of action, with some very big match-ups, Week Two offers a menu of games that are a bit less notable. However, that doesn't mean the second Saturday of the Big 12 football season is a bust by a long shot.

There are three Power Five opponents on this week's league slate, giving the Big 12 more chances to rack up solid wins. True, there are a couple of dogs on the schedule as well, but that's to be expected in September, right?

THE NOTES

Kansas State has a clearly unwanted off week right after opening the season at Stanford. West Virginia follows suit next week after playing just two games.

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Only two of the nine Big 12 teams in action this week are on the road. Iowa State and Texas Tech step out to face Power Five foes in their home venues.

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What was in the water in Arlington? Three Big 12 quarterbacks who started and won their season-openers are the sons of former Texas Rangers players - Kenny Hill (TCU), Shane Buechele (Texas) and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech).

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In Week 1 games, Big 12 offenses averaged 6.48 yards per play while holding opponents to 4.52. The Big 12 averaged more yards per play than any of the autonomy conferences and had the largest differential (+1.96) of yards gained per play over yards allowed per play.

Granted, this stat can be skewed by piling up yards against inferior competition. However, the Big 12 played some quality foes in Week One, and only a couple of teams struggled to move the ball. It will take more time to make a definitive assessment, but offensive attacks look to pick right up where they left off last year.

THE PICKS

Oklahoma State gets a bit tougher assignment than it had in Week One, but the Chippewas of Central Michigan don't have the bodies to slow down a potent Cowboy offense. There's no shame in that, because OSU can probably score 30-plus points on anyone, as league foes will find out in the next two months. That's bad news for CMU, which will be buried under the Okie State offensive attack.

The OSU scoring onslaught also continued on defense last week, as the Cowboys scored twice on fumble recoveries, increasing its number of non-offensive touchdowns scored since 2010 to a nation-high of 39. It would be unwise to bet against another defensive score this week.

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Youngstown State has aspirations of getting back to the level it enjoyed in the 1990s, when it was rolling up playoff appearances and 1AA national titles under Jim Tressel. Perhaps that level of achievement lies ahead in the FCS, but it won't start this week against West Virginia. Despite an avalanche of season-ending injuries, the Mountaineers have enough to send the Penguins home losers from their short hop down to Morgantown.

WVU's defense holds a streak of 26 consecutive games in which it has not allowed an opponent to convert better than 50 percent of its third down attempts. That ability to get off the field is one of the hidden strengths of the Mountaineer team.

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Kansas got the win it was looking for by blasting Rhode Island last week, a game in which it scored 55 points. That was the Jayhawks' highest output in nine years, dating back to a 76-point explosion against...wait for it...Nebraska. This week's assignment against Ohio is tougher than the URI dismantling, however. The Bobcats are much more fundamentally sound that the Rams, so a win would not be a surprise. Sill, KU does look better than last year's injury-racked squad, and thus is the narrow pick to move to 2-0 on the season.

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Baylor showed it still has plenty of firepower in last week's opener, and should again roll at home against SMU. It's part two of the out-of-conference schedule of shame for the Bears, who will roll to 3-0 while exerting about as much energy as that expended during a Friday walk-through.

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Was TCU's shoddy defensive showing a one-game aberration, or did South Dakota State expose some real weaknesses in the Horned Frog front wall? You have to give head coach Gary Patterson the benefit of the doubt in this case, because he has almost always come up with excellent defenses. Arkansas might not be any better offensively than the Jackrabbits, and even though Arkansas boss Bret Bielema will be thirsting for revenge against the Big 12, it won't happen in this contest. TCU plays better on defense and protects the home field, where it has won 14 games in a row – the third-best such active streak in the land.

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Texas will have to guard against a letdown when UTEP comes to town, as the Horns are coming off an emotional double overtime win over Notre Dame. Things got so exciting in Austin that fans at the game actually registered a pulse, and crowd noise could be heard a block away. All joking aside, UTEP does have some offensive weapons, but the 'Horns have more – plus a defense that can get stops. The Miners score some points, but not nearly enough to stay in the game.

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Oklahoma gets to salve its wounds against Louisiana Monroe, and will certainly take advantage of the opportunity. The Sooners threaten the 60-point mark as they take out a few frustrations. Quarterback Baker Mayfield will continue his march up the Sooner total offense career chart – he jumped from 15th to tenth with his output in the Houston loss.

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Speaking of frustration, Iowa State and its fans understand that emotion after enduring many in a loss to Northern Iowa. The Cyclones stay in state in week two, but it's an even more difficult assignment on tap as they hit the road to face Iowa. ISU is just too thin and young to compete with a team in the Top 20 right now. ISU played 13 freshmen (six of the true variety) in the opener, and they need more seasoning to be able to compete effectively. The Hawkeyes enjoy a decisive win at home against their cross-state brethren.

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The best game of the weekend comes last, as Texas Tech travels west to face Arizona State. This has all the makings of an offensive shootout, and Red Raider quarterback Patrick Mahomes has plenty of ammunition. He accounted for six touchdowns in the opener, and could have another big night in the desert. Tech makes it two in a row for the Big 12 over the Sun Devils, who dropped last year's Cactus Bowl to West Virginia.

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