No. 3 Oklahoma (2-0) vs. Nebraska (2-1)
- Location: Gaylord Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 11:00 AM
- TV, Betting Line: FOX, OU -22.5 (O/U 62)
While this is technically the renewal of a “rivalry” that dates back to the days of the Big 8, these two programs are really headed in different directions. After starting the season with a loss to conference foe Illinois, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are looking to change the narrative of the 2021 season. Head coach Scott Frost appears to be in hot water as his football team is staring down the possibility of another sub-.500 season.
This game is really Oklahoma’s best opportunity to fine tune both sides of the ball before heading into conference play. After destroying Western Carolina 76-0, the Sooners look primed to do just that. They’ll have to contain Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez, who leads the team in rushing and passing with over 1,000 yards from scrimmage so far this semester. The Cornhuskers are only yielding 13.3 points per game as well, so it will equally be a challenge for Lincoln Riley to get his squad in the endzone.
Prediction: A win here might even buy Frost another season head coach, but it just feels like the Sooners are itching to make a statement. Oklahoma by 24 points.
West Virginia (1-1) vs. No. 15 Virginia Tech (2-0)
- Location: Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 11:00 AM CST
- TV, Betting Line: FS1, WVU -2.5 (O/U 50)
The Hokies have been sort of up and down since the days of Frank Beamer in the ACC; under Justin Fuente, they’re 40-26 in his fifth year. After going 5-6 in 2020, this is a team that looks to be on the rebound. Quarterback Braxton Burmeister has played well through Virginia Tech’s first two contests, and the Hokies bring in a defense that is only giving up 12 points per contest.
West Virginia has looked a lot like they did in 2020 so far, with a good defense, and an efficient offense. This game will likely go the way of that offense and will also probably depend on who wins the turnover battle. A lot of people are tempted to go with the Hokies in this one, but the Mountaineers tend to be a different team at home.
Prediction: West Virginia by a field goal.
Kansas State (2-0) vs. Nevada (2-0)
- Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 1:00 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: Big 12 Now, NEV -1.5 (O/U 50)
The complexion of this game of course looks different because the Wildcats will be without quarterback Skylar Thompson, and Will Howard will get the start. Nevada comes into this one off a couple of fairly strong wins, one a 22-17 victory over the same Cal team that TCU struggled with last week. The Wolfpack are led by junior Carson Strong, a third year starter, whose already put up 693 yards passing on the season.
Kansas State will likely be tested by a Nevada offense that likes to spread the field in a classic Air Raid fashion. Deuce Vaughn is going to have to carry a lot of the load for the offense, as the Wildcats will likely need as much offense as they can get. If there’s any special teams magic hiding in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Kansas State might pull that out as well.
Prediction: Nevada likely wins this game the majority of the time, but I like Kansas State to get a home upset 24-21.
Baylor (2-0) at Kansas (1-1)
- Location: David Booth Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 2:30 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: Big 12 Now, BU -17.5 (O/U 47)
This contest officially kicks off Big 12 play. Baylor is looking to prove that they’ve improved leaps and bounds from last season, when they won this game by close to 30 points. If nothing else, a win here will count towards helping the Bears with their bowl chances. A 3-0 start to their season would, in that sense, really help Aranda in his second season.
Kansas got a spark of hope last week with the emergence of Jason Bean, who might be their most explosive player since Pooka Williams left. The key matchup here will be the Bears offense vs the defense of the Jayhawks. If Baylor is able to put up points, Kansas likely won’t be able to score enough to keep pace.
Prediction: I am probably in the minority in thinking that this game will be a bit closer than the line projects. Baylor by a couple of touchdowns.
Texas Tech (2-0) vs Florida International (1-1)
- Location: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 6:00 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: Big 12 Now, TTU -20.0 (O/U 54)
Head coach Butch Davis and the FIU Panthers visit Lubbock for this evening matchup. The Panthers recently lost a game to Texas State 23-17, and may struggle to win more than a couple of games in the C-USA. A player to keep an eye for FIU is D’vonte Price, who’s had to two straight 100 yard games to start the season. The Red Raiders will definitely look to contain him.
Offensively, Texas Tech wants to get back on track offensively after only putting up 28 against SFA last week. Running back Tahj Brooks is quietly on pace to put up a 1,000 yard season for the Red Raiders, and their ground game could help give Texas Tech some early rhythm in this one.
Prediction: I think the Red Raiders will be able to run the ball here and cover the 20 points at home.
Texas (2-0) vs Rice (1-1)
- Location: Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium, Austin, TX
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 7:00 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: LHN, UT -26.0 (O/U 53)
Though 0-2, this year’s Rice Owls squad looks a little bit better than what we’re used to. The Owls hung tight with both Arkansas and Houston for a half before those teams pulled away late. The formula for the owls involves controlling the ball, and trying to play great defense. Rice’s offense is only averaging 12 points per game in 2021, but quarterback Luke McCaffrey has flashed some talent.
Texas is looking to get the taste of last week’s loss out of their mouth, and a home game against an overmatched foe is usually what’s called for there. The Longhorns made a switch at starting quarterback this week, opting to go with junior Casey Thompson at home this week. Though Texas showed some weaknesses last week against the Razorbacks, the Owls might not be able to fully exploit all of those flaws.
Prediction: Texas leaves non-conference play 2-1, covering the 26 points likely some time in the second half.
Oklahoma State (2-0) at Boise State (1-1)
- Location: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 8:00 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: FS1, BSU -3.5 (O/U 58)
The Pokes have underperformed in both of their opening wins, and this game will either expose their weaknesses or give them a chance to turn their season in a different direction. Oklahoma State’s offense – it’s hard to believe I’m writing this – is really not good right now, and seems like it’s still somewhat searching for an identity.
This year’s Boise State team is bit different than those Broncos squads of old. New head coach Andy Avalos brought in an Air Raid guy at offensive coordinator, and Boise State is averaging just over 70 yards a game compared to over 300 yards passing. Defensively, they’re a little more average, but this will be the Pokes’ toughest non-conference opponent.
Prediction: From what we’ve seen from Oklahoma State, the team with the blue turf might actually be the better of these two. Broncos by a touchdown.
No. 14 Iowa State (1-1) at UNLV (0-2)
- Location: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
- Date & Time: Saturday, September 18th at 9:30 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: CBSSN, ISU -32.5 (O/U 53)
This should be a bounce back game for the Cyclones, who go on the road for the first time this season. One of UNLV’s two losses is to an FCS school, and they are probably one of the worst teams in FBS. Defensively, they allowed 38 points per game in 2020, and are on pace to match that after currently having allowed 36 points per game through two contests.
Offensively, the Rebels are led by running back Charles Williams, who has 200 yards thus far in 2021. He’ll likely be key for the Cyclones’ defense. The real question, though, isn’t about whether Iowa State will win, but will they cover? More than thirty points is a large margin, especially for a team that is perfectly comfortable in pacing itself throughout four quarters.
Still, we’ve seen Iowa State blowout opponents before, although that’s mostly been in Big 12 play.
Prediction: Cyclones will win comfortably. I wouldn’t take them to cover in a non-conference game on the road, but this showdown in Vegas will be over early enough for the guys to go hit the slot machines.