Welcome to the second iteration of “10 Burning Questions”, where I ask the ten most important question in the Big 12 for the upcoming week. A few of last week’s questions were answered over the weekend, but the action also raised some new ones. There are plenty of unanswered questions around the conference, but I’ll keep it to one per team.
10. WILL OKLAHOMA GET BACK ON TRACK THIS WEEK?
While it’s hard to not look ahead to Oklahoma’s week 3 clash with Ohio State, this is week 2 questions, so it will be most interesting to see what the Sooners do against a far lesser opponent, in Louisiana-Monroe. This should be an Oklahoma victory, but we’ll see.
9. CAN KANSAS STATE FIX THEIR OFFENSIVE LINE?
Kansas State’s line looked really, really bad against Stanford on Friday, giving up 8 sacks and generally just being terrible. They face Florida Atlantic this week, and it will be a good opportunity for a very young team to get some experience.
8. WILL IOWA STATE WIN THE CY-HAWK TROPHY AGAIN?
Iowa State has dominated this rivalry in recent years, winning 6 of the last 7 matchups, though Iowa is a very good team this year, and the game is in Iowa City. Iowa State also lost to an FCS team last week, if you forgot about that. There’s not much reason for optimism coming into this game, but it could still be a very interesting game. We’ll have to wait and see.
7. WILL KANSAS CONTINUE ON THEIR WARPATH?
Everyone is now aware that Kansas football is a giant war machine crushing everything in their path, but even war machines struggle against average MAC teams sometimes, and if Kansas wins this game they will be one game short of matching their number of wins in the last two seasons.
6. CAN WEST VIRGINIA AVOID A TRAP GAME LOSS?
Bo Pelini is the coach at Youngstown State, for whatever reason, and he’s created a very good program in just one year in Youngstown. West Virginia has been trap game prone in the past, and if they overlook the Penguins, they could be in for a very long day.
5. CAN TEXAS TECH BEAT A TALENTED TEAM?
Arizona State is a lot like Texas Tech this year, because no one really knows what to expect from either team this year. With that in mind, this could be a very fun game, but if Texas Tech wants to win and establish themselves as an upper level team in the Big 12 this year, they need to slow down a high-powered Arizona State offense. Beating teams like Stephen F Austin is fun, but really doesn’t prove much about your team.
4. WILL BAYLOR STRUGGLE AGAINST AN UP AND COMING SMU TEAM?
Firstly, probably not. Baylor is a far more established program, and while they’re far better on paper, football isn’t played on paper, and the Mustangs could surprise the Bears this week with their impressive team speed. I have Baylor on upset watch this week.
3. HOW WILL OKLAHOMA STATE FARE AGAINST A BETTER OPPONENT?
While I’m sure Southeastern Louisiana is a wonderful school, their football team is terrible and scheduling them is basically paying for a win. Oklahoma State of course easily toppled the Lions, and this week they take on Central Michigan. CMU is no Notre Dame, Ohio State, or even Arkansas, they’re still far stiffer competition, and Oklahoma State will have to try a lot harder if they want a win this week.
2. CAN TEXAS KEEP IMPROVING?
Texas has had problems with players (see: quarterbacks) starting off the season with a bang and the regressing as the season goes on. A great example of this is last year, when Jerrod Heard was named the September Heisman winner, and now he’s playing wide receiver. Shane Buechele started the season really well, but he has to stay confident and continue to improve if Texas wants to have a good season.
1. IS TCU GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT ARKANSAS?
Arkansas struggled against Louisiana Tech, and only beat them by 1 point last week. Bret Bielma teams tend to get better as the season goes on*, as do Gary Patterson teams, so it will be interesting to see if TCU can beat Arkansas with their talent and not necessarily with a cohesive gameplan, as that is likely what it will take. TCU struggled in their first game, and Kenny Hill will need a better performance this week to keep TCU’s offense successful against a very good defense.
*better is relative. Bret Bielma teams do improve, but rarely to a point where they could be considered good.