This Week: at Louisiana-Monroe (Friday), 7 p.m. CT, ESPN
College football’s most fascinating and dangerous team will play its home opener against the Bears. The Warhawks defeated then-8th ranked Arkansas two weeks ago in a neutral site contest played in Little Rock. Then last Saturday, in Auburn, ULM lost by an overtime fieldgoal. Junior QB Kolton Browning is a third-year starter from Mabank, Texas. According to Scout.com, Browning, as a Class of ’09 recruit, was considering ULM and four Big 12 schools: Iowa State, Nebraska, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. Come Signing Day, the Warhawks were the only school with an offer on the table. This year, against two SEC defenses, Browning has led ULM to a more productive passing game than all those other schools who recruited him except Tech; 11th nationally at 328.5 per game. For what it’s worth, U-La-Mo’s spread offense is something that Baylor and its coaching staff knows and understands extremely well.
Last Week: Beat Sam Houston State, 48-23
The No. 2-ranked FCS team led for much of the second and third quarters and had the Bears within one point in the fourth quarter before shooting themselves in the foot with mistakes and simply not having enough horses and depth. Baylor’s defense was awful in the first half, as Sam Houston was 3-for-3 in the red zone and had converted four of seven third downs on its way to 270 yards. To the Bears’ credit, they were a different team in the second half. Nick Florence hit on 24 of 41 passes for 312 yards, and added a 60 yard run in the fourth quarter that helped set up a touchdown. Terrance Williams caught six passes for 131 yards and two scores.
No. 5 Oklahoma (2-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: vs. No. 15 Kansas State, 6:50 p.m. CT, FOX
Big Game Bob Stoops is 14-0 in Norman against ranked teams, and the Wildcats come in ranked 15th. Landry Jones will have good memories of K-State; he threw for a school-record 505 yards on the Cats last year in Manhattan, a 58-17 OU win. Oklahoma has won five straight over K-State and eight of the last nine. Jones will get his chance to build some Heisman stock on a national stage, as the Big Fox crew comes to town, and will put his numbers head-to-head with Collin Klein. Both are in most reputable ten-deep lists of Heisman hopefuls. This will be Jones’ best test, a K-State defense with a reputation. Kenny Stills has accepted the role of go-to receiver and has been exceptional in runs after the catch.
Last Week: Bye
No. 8 West Virginia (2-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: Home versus Maryland, Noon ET/11 a.m. CT, FX
The Terps (2-1) come off a 24-21 loss to UConn, after opening the season with wins over William & Mary and Temple. Out of 120 FBS programs, Maryland ranks 119th in total offense, scratching out just over 258 yards per game through three games, scant yards more superior than Tulane.
Last Week: Beat James Madison, 42-12
A win and some gaudy numbers for Geno Smith’s Heisman campaign. Major win-win for WVU last week. Smith threw for five touchdowns and more than 400 yards. For the season he has nine touchdowns and nine incompletions, and if that stat line sounds familiar it should. Robert Griffin III began last year with similar accuracy. But actually, Smith is ahead of RG3’s pace through two games. Smith is 66-for-75 passing (88.0 percent) for 734 yards and 9 touchdowns. Griffin through two games last year was 41-for-49 (83.7 percent) for 624 yards and 8 touchdowns. Smith also has yet to be sacked this year.
No. 15 Kansas State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: at No. 5 Oklahoma, 6:50 p.m. CT, FOX
The Sooners come off a Bye and are two weeks removed from a 69-13 woodshed of Florida A&M. K-State will get its first Bye week after playing Oklahoma, maybe some physical incentive to mash the pedal to the floor this week.
Last Week: Beat North Texas, 35-20
Mid-way through the third quarter, K-State led UNT 14-13. It actually should have been tied, as the Mean Green shanked a PAT kick. Colin Klein eventually took the game over, as a Heisman-caliber player will do. He threw for 230 yards and a pair of scores, and led the Cats with 85 rushing yards and another score. Defensively, K-State allowed UNT QB Derek Thompson to have a near-perfect 25-for-28 day passing for 208 yards. But in the battle of all three phases, yet again, K-State dominated special teams. Tyler Lockett 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown and Vai Lutui blocked a field goal attempt.
No. 17 TCU (2-0, 1-0 Big 12)
This Week: Home versus Virginia, 11 a.m. CT, ESPN
The Cavaliers (2-1) were overwhelmed last week by Georgia Tech, 56-20. Three of the first four plays Tech ran against Virginia went for 60 yards or longer. The Cavs scored 13 of their 20 points in the fourth quarter once the Yellowjackets had called off the dogs. Virginia’s wins came over FCS Richmond and a one-point win over Penn State, when the Nittany Lions’ kicker missed four fieldgoals, including a game winning 42-yarder as time expired.
Last Week: Beat Kansas, 20-6
The Frogs won rather unimpressively, as Casey Pachall threw for 335 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but also coughed up three of TCU’s four fumbles lost. He finally threw an incompletion in 2012, after he had completed 16 consecutive passes dating back to last year’s Poinsettia Bowl. For the year he’s completing 84.6 percent of his passes (33-of-39). Waymon James added 99 yards rushing. Defensively, TCU still hasn’t allowed a touchdown this year. TCU is 18-2 in its last 20 road games.
Kansas (1-2, 0-1 Big 12)
This Week: at Northern Illinois, 2:30 p.m. CT, no TV
The Huskies (2-1) are fresh off a come-from-behind 41-40 win at Army. NIU’s one loss was a one-point home loss to Iowa. Always be leery of the team who is inspired by something significant outside of the game. NIU offensive coordinator Mike Dunbar took an administrative reassignment of duties two weeks ago so he may battle an unspecified form of cancer.
Last Week: Lost to Kansas, 20-6
The Jayhawks looked improved and, at times, impressive in the first half. But, the Jayhawks fell apart in the second half. Quarterback Dayne Crist threw for more than 300 yards but was particularly ineffective on third down keeping drives alive. A running game that nearly rolled up 200 yards a week ago on Rice struggled to pound out 77 yards on the Horned Frogs.
No. 12 Texas (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: Bye
Last Week: Beat Mississippi, 66-31
Among an impressive roster of impressive numbers from the __ win over Ole Miss was Texas churning out 300 yards of rushing (350) and passing (326) in a game for just the third time in school history. Texas scored its most points since pounding Colorado in the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game; and it was the most points in true road game since hanging 81 at TCU in 1974. What Texas has been looking for in separating its quarterback duel is a playmaker. David Ash can’t take sole credit for many of the big plays he was part of, as several receivers adjusted to underthrown balls and made big plays after the catch. But, big plays were made and Ash can’t be cut out of that equation. Defensively, Texas had five sacks of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace – all in the first half – after having two sacks in its first two games.
Oklahoma State (2-1, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: Bye
Last Week: Beat Louisiana, 65-24
School records were set for first downs (39) and total yards (742), and the lion’s share of it was engineered not just by a freshman quarterback, but by the one who was second on the depth chart entering the game. In fact, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said after the game that J.W. Walsh had only taken 10 snaps with the offense in the week of practice preceding the game. After starter Wes Lunt went down with a knee injury less than two minutes into the game, Walsh got the call. After a shaky start, at one point warranting 14 straight running plays, Walsh finally caught the Ragin Cajuns on their heels and completed 21 of 30 throws for 347 yards and four touchdowns.
Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: Bye
Last Week: Beat New Mexico, 49-14
The Red Raiders may win back the pirate and eye-patch crowd after scoring 44 first-half points last Saturday. Eric Stephens had three touchdown receptions and rushed for more than 100 yards. Seth Doege completed 77 percent of his passes for 340 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions, nor was he sacked. Defensively, of New Mexico’s nine true offensive possessions, Tech’s defense forced a three-and-out six times.
Iowa State (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
This Week: Bye
Last Week: Beat Western Illinois, 37-3
The Cyclones would have liked to have earned a shutout, but gave up a 23-yard run when the Leathernecks went for a 4th-and-1, and the drive resulted in a fieldgoal. Still, ISU’s defense has gone two straight games without giving up a touchdown and has allowed just one over its last 11 quarters. Even against lowly Western Illinois of the Missouri Valley Conference, Cyclone fans poured in and produced the fourth-largest crowd (55,783) in Jack Trice Stadium history. Remember Jerome Tiller, who filled-in last minute and quarterbacked the Cyclones to a 9-7 win over Nebraska in Lincoln in 2009? Last week he had a career high four receptions for 41 yards.