Oklahoma and Texas will headline the Big 12’s opening week matchups for the 2016 NCAA football season. The reigning Big 12 champion Sooners have a showdown with a (possible) future conference foe, the Houston Cougars. Meanwhile, the Longhorns will look to settle a score with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who thrashed Texas last year. Just read on below for previews of those matchups, as well as the Big 12’s two other notable games in Week 1.
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2016 NCAA Football Big 12 Week 1 Picks
Friday, September 2
Stanford’s offense should be pretty dynamic with +450 Heisman contender Christian McCaffrey leading the charge. The Cardinal will lean on McCaffrey even more with the inexperienced Ryan Burns starting at quarterback, but the junior back has shown he can handle a heavy workload. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of a pretty shallow defensive line, which saw Stanford plummet from its usual place in the top 10 of run defense to 30th last year.
Writer’s Prediction: Kansas State manages to kill enough time on the clock and keeps Stanford from running away. Take K-State (+15.5) to cover.
Saturday, September 3
Houston was the surprise Group of 5 team last year as it went 13-1 in head coach Tom Herman’s debut season. The Cougars were an offensive force, averaging 40 points per game, and will enjoy home field advantage in this “neutral site” game in NRG Stadium. Quarterback Greg Ward Jr. returns to spearhead that prolific offense, which has the potential to hang with an Oklahoma team that lost a bunch of key players on defense.
Oklahoma, though, returns its star quarterback, Baker Mayfield, as well as the two-headed running back monster of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The Sooners should be a handful on offense. Perine and Mixon can eventually wear out defensive front seven. Meanwhile, Mayfield’s ability to extend plays will be especially taxing on a Houston secondary which lost four of its top defensive backs last season.
Writer’s Prediction: Houston’s defense hangs on just long enough to see the underdog Cougars cover (+11.5).
The Gary Pinkel ended with a whimper last season, as Missouri finished just 5-7. They were fifth in scoring defense, but finished 126th out of 128 teams in scoring offense. It’ll likely take some time for the offense to return to respectability, but new head coach Barry Odom should have the tools he needs to continue the program’s tradition of exceptional defenses.
West Virginia, by contrast, is easily the more balanced of the two teams. Offense is more the Mountaineers’ specialty, and quarterback Skyler Howard will have superior weapons at his disposal than his Mizzou counterpart, Drew Lock. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers are pretty stout against the run, and are capable of limiting an already dull Tigers offense even further.
Writer’s Prediction: WVU’s balance wins out as it gets the big win and cover (-10) at home.
Sunday, September 4
Notre Dame still has yet to resolve its starting quarterback situation, with Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer possibly stuck in a platoon situation this season. As Ohio State showed last year, that’s not exactly the smoothest setup. Nevertheless, the Irish’s ground game – anchored by two solid backs and a very good line – should be excellent, especially against a Texas team which finished way down in 112th against the run last season.
Texas has its own solid run game, though, one that can at least take the pressure off of its new starting quarterback, freshman Shane Buechele. Questions remain about the Longhorns’ run defense, but at least the secondary should be one of the strongest units in the Big 12. That should help turn this matchup into a more ground-based battle, and increase the Longhorns’ odds of springing an upset.
Writer’s Prediction: Texas turns this matchup with Notre Dame into a slugfest and threatens an upset. Take Texas to at least cover at +3.5.
|Fri, Sept. 2||Northwestern State at Baylor||–|
|Kansas State (+15.5) at Stanford (-15.5)||48.5|
|Sat, Sept. 3||Oklahoma (-11.5) vs. Houston (+11.5)||68.0|
|Missouri (+10) at West Virginia (-10)||50.5|
|Southeastern Louisiana at Oklahoma State||–|
|Rhode Island at Kansas||–|
|Northern Iowa at Iowa State||–|
|South Dakota State at TCU||–|
|Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech||–|
|Sun, Sept. 4||Notre Dame (-3.5) at Texas (+3.5)||60.5|
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