What To Watch: Week 3 in the Big 12

Short answer: not a whole lot. After an entertaining Saturday that kicked off with one of the best Iowa-Iowa St. matchups I’ve seen in recent time, and finished with Oklahoma’s primetime revenge win in Columbus, the last week before conference play picks up should prove to be a pretty tame one, with a few matchups to keep an eye on.

  1. Oklahoma State @ Pitt (12:00, ESPN)

This is a game that I’ve been going back and forth with as far as the excitement meter goes. First of all this will be the best team Mike Gundy’s team has seen so far, after handling their business against Tulsa and South Alabama. Mason Rudolph has looked every bit like the veteran gunslinger we were supposed to see this year, and his receiving core led by star senior James Washington (below) seem more than up to the task of playing in this high powered offense.

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The Panthers, on the other hand, are coming off a tough loss to an explosive Penn State team. A pretty good Pitt defense couldn’t quite keep up with McSorley, Barkley, and company, and should have even more problems dealing with the Cowboys air raid attack.

While many are still quick to defend Pitt as a promising squad who could pull out a win against just about anybody, I really don’t see them coming out better this week and being able to contain Rudolph much at all. An opportunistic OK State defense should be able to force shaky QB Max Browne into some of the same mistakes he made last week as he looks to avoid more inopportune interceptions.

Hoping to make a bit of a statement after Oklahoma’s big win on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them try to hang some real numbers up on the scoreboard, and put up 50+ while the Panthers struggle to push 20. While it might not end up the most competitive game, I’ll be watching to see the Cowboys try to push the needle and stay up with the Sooners atop the Big 12.

2. Texas @ USC (8:30, FOX)

Of course, this looked like a much better matchup before the season had started. USC was destined to be in the top-10 and the Longhorns were predicted to be pretty close behind in their first year with Tom Herman. That perception changed pretty quickly after their ugly, UGLY loss to Maryland to start off the year. They came back and did what they had to do the following week, blanking San Jose State 56-0 with backup QB Sam Ehlinger (below), but the confidence level surrounding Texas is still pretty low.

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From the USC side of things, this is a matchup they should expect to handle pretty easily to keep their momentum going. After a convincing 42-24 victory against a Stanford team that had beaten them three times in two years, Trojan confidence in their football team is about as high as it could be at this point. Sam Darnold showed everyone why he’s been touted as a #1 prospect and Hiesman contender, while the two-headed rushing attack of Jones and Carr put up over 100 yards apiece.

With QB concerns in Austin and the dominance of this USC team thus far, it’s hard to see this game ending up as a repeat of the 2006 Rose Bowl, a game that will be referenced for the rest of time when these two teams come up in the same conversation. While the Trojans should handle their business, this game is surely one which Herman has been preparing for ever since he took the Texas job, and finding a way to pull off the upset would be the quickest way to right the ship that seems to be heading off course this season. I’m definitely not sold on this being a must-watch game, but I’m going to make sure that it’s well out of hand before I change the channel, because whenever these two football schools take the field, anything can happen.

 

Images via: OSU Athetics, Sporting News

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