Big 12 pregame: Iowa State-Iowa is college football's game of the day
The Big 12 spent most of college football’s first two weeks playing inconsequential games. That changes this weekend, with seven Big 12 teams playing fellow Power 5 Conference opponents, plus OSU and Texas playing traditional in-state rivalries.
Here’s how the Big 12 games rank:
1. Iowa at Iowa State, 3 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports 1: College football’s game of the day. Ames is a perfect place for ESPN’s GameDay. It’s the maiden GameDay for Iowa State, so the fans will be over the moon excited. And Cyclone fans start tailgating early. I’ve seen ISU parking lots routinely bursting with 9 a.m. revelry.
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2. Kansas State at Mississippi State, 11 a.m. Saturday, ESPN: The Big 12 will go 0-3 against the SEC unless the Wildcats can spring the upset.
3. TCU at Purdue, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Big Ten Network: Frog coach Gary Patterson says he’ll keep playing two quarterbacks, Alex Delton and Max Duggan, against the Boilermakers.
4. Texas Tech at Arizona, 9:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN: When 2018 started, UofA quarterback Khalil Tate was a Heisman Trophy candidate and Tech quarterback Alan Bowman was an untested true freshman. Barely 12 months later, Tech has the advantage in that same QB matchup.
5. Oklahoma State at Tulsa, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN2: In the 1900s, OSU won just 36 of 68 games against Tulsa. But in the 2000s, the Cowboys are 5-0 in the series, with a 25-point average margin of victory.
6. Oklahoma at UCLA, 7 p.m. Saturday, Fox: In OU’s John Blake years, the Sooners went a combined 3-6 against Tulsa, San Diego State, California, TCU, Northwestern, Syracuse and Louisville. That’s exactly where UCLA football is these days. Bruins are a combined 3-6 in the last three-plus years against San Diego State, Memphis, Hawaii, Kansas State, Cincinnati, Brigham Young and Fresno State.
7. North Carolina State at West Virginia, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox Sports 1: A year ago, this game in Raleigh was wiped out by Hurricane Florence. Too bad it wasn’t this year’s game instead.
8 Kansas at Boston College, 6:30 p.m. Friday, ACC Network: Sort of a bummer that this game is not accessible for most cable subscribers. But then we realized it’s the same old Kansas.
9. Texas vs. Rice in Houston, 7 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network: Another thumb-your-nose-at-the-University-of-Houston game. The Longhorns haven’t played UofH since 2002, a year after the 2001 game on the Houston campus in which 4,000-plus seats in temporary bleachers were wiped out the week of the game when an engineer deemed them unsafe. Thousands of UT ticket-holders were left without access to the game, Houston officials refused to move the game to a bigger stadium and the ‘Horns haven’t forgotten.
UPSET SPECIAL: Arizona over Texas Tech
Arizona and Texas Tech are old Border Conference mates tucked away in the southwest part of the country, a region that often gets overlooked in college football. Both schools raised their profiles by joining more prestigious leagues decades ago – Tech joined the Southwest Conference in 1958, and 20 years later Arizona and Arizona State joined the Pac-8.
Both schools had trouble maintaining a gridiron identity. ‘Zona had its Desert Swarm defense under Dick Tomey in the late ‘90s. Tech had the Air Raid offense under Mike Leach.
Tech has sustained that reputation; Arizona has not. And neither has consistently won in recent years. UofA is 23-29 since 2014, Tech is 29-35 since 2013.
Tech is 2-0 this season after beating two outmanned opponents. Arizona is 1-1, courtesy of a discouraging 45-38 loss at Hawaii. Saturday night, the Red Raiders play in Tucson as a 2-1/2 point favorite. But the difference in these teams seems small. Let’s go with the home team in the upset.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: Iowa State’s Matt Campbell
Campbell is beloved in Ames and respected across America. But he’s got one blot on his resume’. Campbell hasn’t beaten Iowa.
The Hawkeyes historically dominated the series, but then-ISU coach Dan McCarney engineered a revival, and from 1998-2014, Iowa State went 10-7 against the always-solid Hawkeyes.
But now Iowa State has lost four straight to Iowa, including verdicts of 42-3, 44-41 (overtime) and 13-3 in Campbell’s three seasons.
This was perhaps the most-hyped season in Iowa State history. For only the second time ever, the Cyclones appeared in the preseason AP poll.
But a loss to Iowa, after a season-opening overtime survival of Northern Iowa, will end all Cyclone momentum and take some shine off Campbell’s star.