The Big XII slate is boring for the second week in a row as only one conference game is featured when Oklahoma State travels to Morgantown to face West Virginia. Last year's game featured 89 points and over 900 yards of combined offense in an Oklahoma State win, but judging by West Virginia's performance last week a repeat is not on the horizon.
On the plus side the lack of games this weekend coupled with the mid-afternoon start of the Oklahoma game allows people to tune in to some other intersting match ups this weekend. Namely Ole Miss at Alabama (5:30 PM, ESPN), Wisconsin at Ohio State (7:00 PM, ABC), and Stanford at Washington State (9:00 PM, ESPN).
Oklahoma State @ West Virginia - Saturday 9/28, 11:00 AM CDT - ESPN
Line: OSU -19
Oklahoma State has been on a tear this year with J.W. Walsh taking over the reins and bringing a Pistol-based triple option attack out of the backfield. Walsh probably doesn't get the credit he deserves as a passer, and he's probably the biggest dual threat quarterback OSU has had since Zac Robinson in the late 2000s.
West Virginia ranks 74th in the country in rushing defense but 13th against the pass. There's no doubt what Oklahoma State will try to come out and do early so we'll see if West Virginia commits to the run and forces J.W. Walsh to win with his arm.
None of it will matter though as West Virginia's offense will be on their third quarterback, this time transfer Clint Trickett, looking for a spark offensively. It'll be tough to come by as OSU's defense ranks 45th in the country after three games. Expect this one to be close early, but Oklahoma State wears down West Virginia in the second half.
Oklahoma State 35, West Virginia 17
SMU @ TCU - Saturday 9/28, 11:00 AM CDT - FS1
Line: TCU -19
TCU needs a bounce back win badly after a miserable 4th quarter on defense saw them lose their Big XII opener against Texas Tech. The Battle for the Iron Skillet used to be a classic rivalry and the arrival of June Junes to the Metroplex has reinvigorated it, but SMU is no match for TCU's defense.
Finding some consistent offense out of Trevone Boykin will go a long way towards getting an offense that ranks 94th in the country back on track. Everyone expected TCU to suffer some loss of offensive firepower with the receivers they lost after last year, but not this bad. Lucky for them SMU brings the 111th ranked defense to Fort Worth on Saturday.
TCU 31, SMU 10
Oklahoma @ Notre Dame - Saturday 9/28, 2:30 PM CDT - NBC
Line: OU -3
Oklahoma is 1-9 all-time vs Notre Dame with their only win being a 40-0 victory in South Bend in 1956. The Sooner offense got back on track with Blake Bell at the helm two weeks ago and he'll be expected to carry the load against a Notre Dame defense that ranks 41st in the country but has shown slightly below average ability to stop the pass (66th in the country).
Conversely, the revamped Sooner defense will challenge Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. Notre Dame is only averaging 3.7 yards per carry as a team this season and that's after facing defensive stalwarts such as Temple (99th vs the run) and Purdue (88th). Of course the two Michigan schools they have faced rank in the top 10 against the run, but that opens up the chicken and egg discussion. Is Notre Dame ranked poorly in rushing because Michigan and Michigan State's defenses were that good or are their rankings that high because Notre Dame is that bad on the ground?
Their performances were too inconsistent against Temple (almost 200 yards) and Purdue (under 100 yards) to make that call. Either way I expect some commitment to stopping the run game from Oklahoma and forcing Rees to test a secondary that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly hopes is in man-to-man coverage.
A lot of pundits point to Oklahoma's dismantling at the hands of Notre Dame in Norman last year as a sign this year won't be any different, but a lot of the main players on both sides of the ball have changed and it's hard to bet against the Stoops brothers with a week to prepare for a high profile opponent.
Oklahoma 24, Notre Dame 17