After an 11-1 opening week to the football season, the competition gets a lot tougher for Big 12 teams from here on out, beginning with this week’s matchups.
Two nationally ranked teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference come calling in Big 12 country this weekend as Georgia Tech, ranked 15th in the echoflam.com sports examiners poll (17th in the USA Today coaches poll) takes on the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence, while the Florida State Seminoles visit Norman, Okla., to meet the 10th-ranked Sooners in one of college football’s spotlight games of the week.
The Sooners and Seminoles have not met since January 2001 in the National Championship Game, won by Oklahoma 13-3 to complete a perfect 13-0 season and give the Sooners their seventh national title. Under new head coach Jimbo Fisher, who takes over this year for the retired legendary coach Bobby Bowden, the Seminoles won big in their home opener last weekend against Samford. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops’ Sooners struggled at home against Utah State, which came into the game as a huge underdog.
OU’s difficulties against Utah State, a middle-of-the-pack team out of the non-BCS Western Athletic Conference, sent up red flags to football experts around the country and cast some doubts on whether the Sooners will be able to hold home-field advantage on Saturday and extend the nation’s longest active home winning streak, now at 31 games.
The Sooners are still favored in the game with Florida State, but the margin is much narrower (8 1/2 points) than it would have been before last weekend’s games.
Kansas, sporting a new head coach, a new quarterback and a host of new faces in its two-deep depth chart, managed only an opening-half field goal in its embarrassing 6-3 home loss to Division I-AA North Dakota State in the Jayhawks’ season opener. The Jayhawks were the only Big 12 team to lose last weekend, prompting speculation that the disappointing loss was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and led to the immediate resignation of KU athletic director Lew Perkins.
If new head coach Turner Gill thought things were tough last week, wait till the Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech hit town. Gill earlier this week announced a quarterback change for the Georgia Tech contest, deciding to go with redshirt freshman Jordan Webb over sophomore signal-caller Kale Pick, who started the game against North Dakota State but was unimpressive in his first career start.
This will be only the second time Kansas and Georgia Tech have met in football. The last time they played each other was the 1948 Orange Bowl, the first ever bowl appearance by a Kansas football team. Georgia Tech won the game over the then 13th-ranked Jayhawks. Their second meeting all-time shouldn’t be much different, except for the margin of the Yellow Jacket victory.
Kansas is 18-4 in its last 22 home games, but has lost three in a row, and eight consecutive games extending into last season.
Other games of interest this weekend involving Big 12 opponents are Colorado at California out of the Pac-10, the conference the Buffaloes will be joining in the 2012 season. It may be a good thing Colorado is making a two-year transition, because I’m not sure coach Dan Hawkins’s squad is going to enjoy this initial taste of what life in the Pac-10 will be like.
Iowa State and Iowa square off in Iowa City in their annual intrastate rivalry. The Cyclones won handily in their season opener with Northern Illinois, but chances for an upset in Iowa City over the 9th-ranked Hawkeyes aren’t very high.
Big 12 powers Texas and Nebraska, both ranked in the top 10 in all of the major polls, are at home this weekend and should have little difficulty in making it two wins to start the season. Texas plays the Wyoming Cowboys from the Mountain West Conference, and Nebraska entertains the Idaho Vandals.
The remainder of the schedule has Baylor hosting Buffalo, Turner Gill’s former team, Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M, Missouri and McNeese State in Columbia, Oklahoma State vs. Troy, Kansas State and Missouri State in Manhattan, Kan., and the Texas Tech Red Raiders taking on New Mexico, which suffered a 72-0 shellacking last weekend at the hands and feet of the Pac-10 Oregon Ducks.
It should be a fairly good week for Big 12 teams, even with the degree of difficulty on the incline. This is how the Big 12 Sports Examiner sees the outcome of this week’s nonconference games around the league:
Big 12 football predictions – Week 2
GEORGIA TECH 30 @ Kansas 13
Idaho 14 @ NEBRASKA 45
Colorado 14 @ CALIFORNIA 27
Iowa State 10 @ IOWA 27
Florida State 20 @ OKLAHOMA 30
McNeese State 17 @ MISSOURI 45
Wyoming 13 @ TEXAS 41
Buffalo 16 @ BAYLOR 34
Louisiana Tech 14 @ TEXAS A&M 35
Troy 20 @ OKLAHOMA STATE 31
Missouri State 7 @ KANSAS STATE 42
TEXAS TECH 38 @ New Mexico 10
Last week: 11-1
For the season: 11-1
For more information:
Big 12 Conference official website
Related Big 12 news coverage/commentary
Big 12 Conference 2010 football preview