There are only three games featuring Big 12 teams this week, but all three are shaping up to be entertaining contests. All three will take place in the state of Texas, and none of them are projected to be decided by more than four points. Below is a preview of this week’s fare as we head into the middle of the 2021 college football season.
No. 21 Texas Longhorns (4-1,2-0) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (5-0,2-0)
- Location: Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, TX
- Date & Time: Saturday, October 9th at 11:00 AM CST
- TV, Betting Line: ABC, OU -3.0 (O/U 64)
The annual Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas has been a single possession game for the past seven years, and Saturday looks like it will be in that mold as well. Oklahoma comes into this game undefeated, but their five wins have been somewhat ugly. The Sooners will aim to prove that they’re a CFP-caliber team in Dallas. Texas has looked good the past few weeks, making some people think that they could compete for Big 12 title in Steve Sarkisian’s first year. Whether those chances are real or not, the Longhorns would put themselves in the drivers seat in the conference with a victory.
Oklahoma will field their best defense in years on Saturday, a unit highlighted by one of the best defensive lines in the country. The Sooners have held opponents to 19 points per game in 2021, and have really limited opponents’ ability to run the ball. Despite criticism leveled against Oklahoma’s quarterback Spencer Rattler, the Sooners have one of the best offenses in the country. Rattler has a 158.0 quarterback rating, and does a good job of getting the ball to his bevy of receivers.
The Longhorns have had their fair share of struggles on defense, and rank in the bottom half of the Big 12 in multiple categories. Texas’ offense, however, has been very productive these past few weeks. Running back Bijan Robinson has an NFL future, and has been having the best season of any player at that position. Junior quarterback Casey Thompson is completing 71.1 percent of his passes, and does a good job of keeping the offense on schedule.
Keys To The Game: Oklahoma is favored to win this game because they probably have the better squad here overall – the Sooners’ offense is still one of the best in the nation, and the defense could be a Top 30 unit. Texas has been able to make plays on special teams so far in 2021, and they’ll need to definitively win the special teams battle in this one to get an edge over the Sooners.
Prediction: I expect this to be another good game between these two teams, but I think ultimately Oklahoma will be able to have enough success against the Texas defense to pull this one out. Sooners by a field goal.
Baylor Bears (4-1,1-1) vs. West Virginia Mountaineers (2-3,0-2)
- Location: McLane Stadium, Waco, TX
- Date & Time: Saturday, October 9th at 11:00 AM CST
- TV, Betting Line: FS1, BAY -3.0 (O/U 44)
West Virginia and Baylor have both had very different starts to the season. The Mountaineers make the trip to Waco with zero conference wins under their belt, raising questions about what progress Neal Brown’s made during his time in Morgantown. Baylor returns home after a rough second half gave them their first loss of the 2021 season.
The Mountaineers have one of the better defenses in college football, highlighted by defensive lineman Dante Stills. West Virginia has held opposing rushing attacks in check specifically, holding teams to 88.4 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Seth Doege and running back Leddie Brown are the headliners for an offense that has struggled a bit in 2021, averaging 30 points per contest this year.
Baylor saw the momentum of their season slowed last week, but the 2021 campaign has prominently featured a reinvigorated run game. Senior Abram Smith is averaging 7.6 yards per carry and first year starter Gerry Bohanon has been reliable as a leader of the offense. Of course, head coach Dave Aranda has the defense playing at a high level, that side of the ball has only allowed four passing touchdowns this year.
Keys To This Game: West Virginia hasn’t won a road conference game since 2019, and this game will be a test of whether the Mountaineers can step up and find some offense on Saturday morning in Waco. Being able to make some big plays and quiet the crowd in McLane Stadium will be important. Baylor, will want to avoid getting into long down-and-distance situations offensively, and their ability to gain yards on the ground will be key to that.
Prediction: I think Mountaineers come into Waco and get their first road Big 12 win in over a year. West Virginia makes enough plays to win by a point.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-1,1-1) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (2-2,0-1)
- Location: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
- Date & Time: Saturday, October 9th at 6:00 PM CST
- TV, Betting Line: ESPN, TCU -2.0 (O/U 61)
Texas Tech comes into this evening home game fresh off a road upset last week, while the Horned Frogs are looking to avoid losing three in a row. For the Red Raiders, a win here would give them their best start to the season since 2013, and give head coach Matt Wells the most wins he’s had while in Lubbock. Gary Patterson’s TCU team is reeling a bit after having stumbled to start their 2021 campaign.
Names to know for TCU include quarterback Max Duggan and running back Zach Evans, the mainstays of the offense for the Horned Frogs. Duggan enters Saturday’s contest completing 63.2 percent of his passes. He’ll combine with a deep set of TCU running backs to pose a formidable threat via the ground game. Defensively, the Horned Frogs have struggled to defend opposing rushing attacks, giving up 204 yards per game on the ground.
The Red Raiders, on the other hand, bring in a solid front seven on defense that’s helping to hold opponents to 118.5 yards per game on the ground. Offensively, Texas Tech has looked good, even with key injuries and backup Henry Colombi behind center. Colombi’s thrown for almost 600 yards with only one full game under his belt, and Texas Tech’s ability to pass the ball will play a major factor.
Keys To The Game: TCU is favored in this game because they are likely the better overall team in terms of developed talent on both sides of the ball. If Texas Tech’s wide receiver Erik Ezukanma is out or even hindered with an injury the best skill player on the field will be Evans for TCU. The Red Raiders could win this game if they are able to put enough points on the board and turn this game into a bit of a shootout at night in Lubbock.
Prediction: I think TCU probably finds enough defense to win what should be a fun, close game at Jones AT&T Stadium. The Horned Frogs need to take care of the ball and get an early lead in this game, and I think they’ll do that. TCU by two.