MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It's transition week on the Big 12 football schedule, as six teams dive into conference play while three more play their last non-conference tilt of the 2022 season. The league is doing respectably against outside foes, holding a 22-5 record (.815) so far, which is third among FBS conferences.
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Kansas blew up the Vegas oddsmakers last week by recording its third win of the season, topping the predicted total set by the sharps. KU hosts Duke in a totally unexpected battle of the unbeatens this week.
The Jayhawks have scored 159 points through the first three games of the season, tying the school record for most points through three games set by the 2007 Orange Bowl team.
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The Big 12’s six punt return touchdowns and 13.9 punt return yards average are tied for the most in the FBS.
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Oklahoma State returned two blocked kicks for TDs last week -- the first time it has done so in a single game in school history.
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Field goals have presented some early hiccups this year. Only three teams -- West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Iowa State -- are unblemished so far, with WVU and Iowa State leading the league at 4-4.
Thu Sept 22 | 7:00 PM* | West Virginia (1-2) at Virginia Tech (2-1) | Blacksburg, VA | ESPN
Both teams have shown shortcomings in this year's early action, but such things tend to go out the window when the Mountaineers and Hokies meet. In some ways, these games -- and the meetings of the fan bases -- have been even nastier than the Backyard Brawl (Pitt-West Virginia). This shapes up as a dogfight. Which team wants it more? That's cliche', but it will hold true in this one. West Virginia overcomes the home crowd -- a not inconsiderable factor -- and musters a little more offense to get the win.
Sat Sept 24 | 12:00 PM | Baylor (2-1) at Iowa State (3-0) | Ames, IA | ESPN2
The Bears are a slight road favorite, but the Cyclones, like a couple of other workmanlike programs, seem to do better with less hype going into the season. They've averaged 42.5 points per game against lower level competition, but put up just 10 in taking down Iowa. Baylor seems able to score more easily, but still has to prove it can win on the road against good competition. They'll make it close, but ISU is the selection to run its record to 4-0.
Sat Sept 24 | 12:00 PM | Duke (3-0) at Kansas (3-0) | Lawrence, KS | FS1
So why didn't this get the pregame traveling road show hype? Just kidding -- somewhat. KU deserves notice for its turnaround, winning its first three games since 2009, and Duke sports the same record even though its competition hasn't been quite as good. There's no doubt that the Jayhawks' team speed is improved, and that will be the difference as they add another tick mark in the win column.
Sat Sept 24 | 12:00 PM | TCU (2-0) at SMU (2-1) | Dallas, TX | ESPNU
The battle for the Iron Skillet, one of the great rivalry trophies, will likely be a shootout, and it won't be a surprise if 38 or 40 points are required to win this game. That tilts the pick ever so slightly toward the home team, which has won the past two games against its cross-Metroplex foe.
Sat Sept 24 | 3:30 PM | Texas (2-1) at Texas Tech (2-1) | Lubbock, TX | ESPN
Quarterback issues are in the spotlight in this game. as both teams have been without their preseason starters recently. Tech lost to NC State last week on a cross-country trip, but gets the benefit of a home game while the Longhorns are playing their first contest (and one of just four) in a true road environment. Lubbock isn't an intimidating road venue, so Texas is the pick to get their third win of the season.
Sat Sept 24 | 8:00 PM | Kansas State (2-1) at Oklahoma (3-0) | Norman, OK | FOX
Kansas State has been as successful as anyone against Oklahoma in recent years, winning in 2019 and 2020 while dropping a narrow six-point decision in 2021. As we often point out in this space, however, past performance does not accurately predict future results. Thee Wildcats are coming off a stunning loss to Tulane at home last week, and will certainly be motivated, but this Sooner team has a grittier feel to it. OU might not be as offensively showy, but it doesn't figure to lose because its not paying attention. In their last home game until mid-October, Brent Venables' troops get the job done.
*All Times ET