Big 12 Games to Watch

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The Big 12 nonconference season officially concluded this past weekend, as all 10 teams prepare to formally kickoff conference play Saturday with five exciting matchups.

Four games will precede K-State and Texas Tech at Bill Snyder Family Stadium — 6 p.m., ESPNU — on Saturday. Let’s take a closer look them so you’ll be ready for all the weekend action.

No. 4 Oklahoma at No. 25 TCU, 2:30 p.m., FOX

(Line: Oklahoma -6)

The Sooners’ early success comes as no surprise to those around the country, but some 185 miles south of Norman, success has raised some eyebrows.

TCU has stormed out of the gates, moving to 3-0 Saturday with a 56-0 win over SMU. Through three games, the Horned Frogs have outscored their opponents 134-21, no doubt due to the tremendous athletic skill of junior quarterback Trevone Boykin.

Unfortunately for the team in purple, they’ve yet to go up against the likes of Oklahoma. Head coach Bob Stoops’ team earned a respected road win two weeks ago against West Virginia and are major favorites to capture the Big 12 title this season.

No. 7 Baylor at Texas, 2:30 p.m., ABC

(Line: Baylor -17)

A potent Bears offensive attack meets a stingy Longhorn defense Saturday in Austin, Texas for a battle of in-state rivals.

Head coach Charlie Strong picked up his first Big 12 victory last weekend, blanking Kansas on its homecoming 23-0. The Texas defense has stepped up in three out its four games this season, but now it’s time for sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes and the Longhorn offense to produce because Baylor will put points on the board like he hasn’t seen before.

Baylor’s offense is averaging the nation’s best per game scoring average with 56.8 points, but it has gone without having their best receiver on the field for three games. That will change Saturday, however, as senior Levi Norwood is set to return from a wrist injury. Expect senior quarterback Bryce Petty to take advantage of his presence early and often.

Iowa State at No. 21 Oklahoma State, 11 a.m., FOX Sports 1

(Line: Oklahoma State -17)

Iowa State has had a rough go at things four games into the 2014-15 campaign.

A bitter season-opening loss against FCS powerhouse North Dakota State was quickly washed off after an admirable performance against K-State in week two and a huge win against rival Iowa in week three. Last week, Baylor’s high-powered offense brought Cyclone fans back to reality.

For the Cowboys, their season has yet to really take shape. What looked to be an unfortunate quarterback loss after junior J.W. Walsh went down with an injury has since been redeemed by the quarterback play of junior Daxx Garman, who’s thrown for 929 yards and eight touchdowns on 49 completions.

Oklahoma State will look to secure its confidence in Garman in conference play, while the Cyclones hope to ride their ship back on course for a successful season.

Kansas vs. West Virginia, 3 p.m.

(Line: West Virginia -27)

As if things weren’t ugly enough on the gridiron in Lawrence already, the Jayhawks fired Charlie Weis Sunday after two full seasons with the program. He was in his third year of a five-year deal at Kansas.

Kansas has won just one conference game in three years. Turning that statistic around will be no easy task for interim head coach Clint Bowen, especially with a road test against a very underrated West Virginia team. If anyone is going to do it, it will likely be the coach who was around when the Jayhawks captured the 2007 Orange Bowl.

Dana Holgersen’s squad is 2-2 through four games, but the quality of play has often been better than that of 3-1 or 4-0 teams. The Mountaineers’ two losses came at the hands of the No. 3 (Alabama) and No. 4 (Oklahoma) ranked teams in the nation, and even then West Virginia looked good enough to win those games.

Kansas’ defense, which has played well these past two weeks, must jump on senior West Virginia senior quarterback Clint Trickett early. Trickett has been the unsung MVP of the conference early, throwing for 1,600 yards and nine touchdowns with a 72 completion percentage.

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