Big 12 2016 Football Previews - Week Three

The Big 12's early 2016 football woes have been over analyzed by every national and local media outlet looking to fill column space and web inventory. Those dings are certainly worth mentioning, but you can't swing a dead cat without hitting someone else predicting doom and gloom for the league. That won't keep us from looking at each week's action, however. There are still plenty of great games and story lines to follow.

Certainly, it would sting if the Big 12 doesn't get a team into the CFP this year. But that doesn't mean that the league is on the verge of folding. All it would mean, in reality, is that the league didn't have one of the best four teams in the nation this year. That's going to happen to every league – even the SEC – at some point.

THE NOTES

Big 12 offenses are again potent, averaging 6.35 yards per snap from scrimmage on 76 such plays per game. Of course, some of this prowess is due to the opposition, which has included a number of low level FBS and FCS squads.

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Those latter games, unfortunately, haven't yielded overwhelming win totals. Big 12 teams are just 9-4 against non-Power Five members. Two of those losses aren't embarrassing (Central Michigan and Houston), but the other pair, to Ohio and Northern Iowa, are. Additionally, the Big 12 has just two wins in six chances over Power 5 schools so far – Notre Dame and Missouri.

The league just cant afford any more of either – which puts a bit of pressure on K-State and Texas Tech this week.

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How do they keep doing it? Statistical analysis indicates that forcing turnovers is something that usually bounces up and down from year to year. There is some skill involved with stripping the ball or being in position to get interceptions, but there's also a good bit of luck in seeing the bound of the ball go in a team's favor. Oklahoma State, however, has bucked those trends, and is doing so again this season. Year in and year out, the Cowboys are near the top of turnovers gained and turnover margin stats, and 2016 is no different. OSU has recovered five fumbles this year (tops in the country) and are 10th in turnover margin at +2.0.

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Iowa State receiver Allen Lazard has been a bright light in the darkness of the Cyclones' 0-2 start. He has topped the 100-yard mark in each of his first two games this year, and has caught at least one pass in 25 consecutive games.

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Texas Tech's ridiculous offense is fueled by quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who has already piled up more than 1,000 yards through the air in the Red Raiders' first two games. He's tops in the nation in that statistic, along with total offense, where he averages 562 yards per game.

THE PICKS

The only reason Baylor is listed first in this week's picks is chronological. The Bears open the week's league play on Friday night against Rice, and the only positive to this game its that it concludes the row of tomato cans that masquerades as an out of conference schedule. BU, of course, is the pick.

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Kansas, you fooled us. We thought there was a bit of improvement in Manhattan. But last week's definitive loss to Ohio makes that conclusion erroneous, and shows just how bad Rhode Island is. Memphis is no pushover, and is the pick over the Jayhawks on the Tigers' home field.

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TCU and Iowa State open conference play with a battle in Fort Worth. TCU's defense has question marks, but Iowa State's offensive line has none – in a bad way. The Cyclones just don't have enough good play up front to outscore the Horned Frogs, even if Gary Patterson's defense isn't up to its usual standards. TCU gets the win to erase some bad memories of last week's double overtime loss to Arkansas.

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Kansas State returns to action from an early off week, and gets to tune back up against visiting Florida Atlantic. Only a plethora of mistakes and poor play could send the Wildcats to another defeat, and that's not going to happen here.

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There are numerous angles to look at as Pitt visits Oklahoma State. The Panthers are riding a wave of emotion after knocking off Penn State. The Cowboys have to be steamed after their incorrectly-adjudicated loss to Central Michigan. Does that carry over into inspired play? It better, because Pitt does have the talent to snare this win. That's not the selection here, though. OSU gets its offense back on track and wins a high-scoring game.

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Texas Tech is averaging 62 points per game. Somehow, though, the Red Raiders are just 1-1. Louisiana Tech is a solid opponent, though, and is an upset selection to win the battle of Technicals.

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Oklahoma rented out its basketball arena to Ohio State for a pep rally prior to Saturday evening's game. What the heck was the Sooner administration thinking? Maybe they want to take the Buckeyes' money and their undefeated record. Against a lot of logic, the pick here is that OU does just that.

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Texas pays a return visit to California, and is looking for redemption from last year's wild loss to the Bears in Austin. UT is better than a year ago, and Cal is not, so the Horns are the road selection to get the win in Berkeley.


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