THE BIG 12 REPORT

Can the Big 12 shock the nation this weekend? Must watch games and players in week 3

TCU has a big matchup with Ohio State. Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Big 12 came out looking strong in week 2 as eight of their 10 teams defeated their opponents and by considerable margins. Nationally ranked teams Oklahoma (5), Oklahoma State (24), TCU (15), and West Virginia (14) remained undefeated and Texas sneaked away with their first win of the season. Week 3 will be an eventful one for the Big 12, with a few of its most popular teams looking at nationally spotlighted matchups. Let’s take a look at exactly what you should look for this coming weekend.

Must watch games week 3

TCU (15) vs. Ohio State (4)

The top matchup to watch of week 3 in the Big 12 and arguably the nation is No. 15 TCU vs. No. 4 Ohio State. TCU has come out strong this season outscoring their opponents 97-15 through their first two games. The Horned Frogs and head coach Gary Patterson will have a chance to knock off one of the nation’s best teams and stamp their name in the college football playoff conversation. One big factor to recognize as a potential advantage for TCU is the fact that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will be serving the final punishment of his three game suspension. While Ohio State has looked unaffected by the absence of Meyer, TCU will be their first real challenge of the season and could take advantage of the missing leadership if things come down to the wire.

Texas vs. USC (22)

UT secured its first win of the season at home against Tulsa this past weekend, but things were far from perfect. The Longhorns walked away with a 28-21 victory, but Tulsa missed three field goals in the game that could have spoiled UT’s night. If Texas is not able to work out the kinks in practice this week, they could be looking at a long night vs. a talented USC team. The atmosphere should be electric Saturday night as Longhorn fans have not forgotten about how close their team came to stealing a win away from the Trojans in 2017, which should motivate Texas players to perform in front of their home crowd. This game could be a season defining one for coach Tom Herman, and UT team that received a lot of attention and praise heading into 2018.

Oklahoma State (24) vs. Boise State (17)

The final game I recommend keeping an eye out for is Oklahoma State vs. Boise State. Both teams have cracked the Top 25 early this season, but chances are that one will find themselves on the outside looking in after week 3. The Cowboys have won big in both of their games so far this season but have yet to face a formidable opponent. Boise State and their always reliable defense should provide a good test for an offensive heavy Oklahoma State, led by first year starting quarterback Taylor Cornelius.

Big 12 Players to watch week 3

Texas WR’s Lil’ Jordan Humphrey & Collin Johnson: The University of Texas has yet to find its groove in its first two games this season, and I believe a lot of their offensive struggles have to do with the inconsistent utilization of wide receivers Lil’ Jordan Humphrey and Collin Johnson. Humphrey and Johnson have combined for 287 receiving yard and two touchdowns so far this season and have arguably been the only sources of big play excitement for the Texas offense. If the Longhorns hope to upset the Trojans this coming Saturday, they will need to find life in the passing game by giving these two dynamic athletes opportunities to make plays down the field.

Texas Tech QB Alan Bowman: Texas Tech is looking at an interesting matchup in week 3 vs. a Houston team that seems to be hitting on all cylinders. While the Red Raiders had their way with Lamar University last weekend, they chose to lean on Freshman quarterback Bowman. Bowman finished with nearly 300 yards passing and 2 touchdowns while only throwing three incompletions. With that said Bowman will be facing a much different challenge against a Houston team that has impressed on both sides of the ball so far this season. Tech will have to hope Bowman continues his speedy maturation and can keep his composure against the cougars, who are sure to make things tough for the young quarterback.

TCU Defense: TCU has scored 97 points already this season, but on a considerably more impressive note, have only allowed 15 total points to opposing offenses. Looking ahead at their matchup with the Buckeyes in week 3, the Horned Frogs will need an impressive performance from their defense if they hope to keep up with an Ohio State team that has scored 129 points in their first two games. While it would be crazy for TCU to expect to run stride for stride with the top offense in the nation, the Horned Frogs may be able to grind out a close win if their defense is able to fluster Ohio state’s young quarterbacks. TCU has already collected 7 sacks this season, and will need to add a few more this weekend if they want any chance of taking down the national powerhouse that is Ohio State.

 

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Framber Valdez injured his ring finger on Tuesday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

That sure escalated quickly. The news on Framber Valdez went from bad to vastly worse for the Astros with the fractured ring finger on his pitching hand concerning enough that season ending surgery is on the radar. Valdez is/was no sure thing to have been a first time quality full season starting pitcher, but seemed a decent bet after his maturity-driven albeit short season breakout 2020.

37-year-old Zack Greinke is the only member of the Astros' starting rotation to have thrown even 130 innings in a big league season. Greinke showed notable slippage in 2020. A by-product of the funky short season, or Father Time making a move? If Greinke further erodes, uh oh. It's all question marks behind him.

Lance McCullers got to the big leagues in 2015. Six years later McCullers has zero seasons under his belt in which he both pitched well and stayed healthy. If he hits that exacta in 2021 it's great for the Astros of course, greater for McCullers with free agency arriving at season's end. Particularly confounding with McCullers is that over his career he's been outstanding at Minute Maid Park, and basically sucked on the road. Career earned run average at MMP: 2.51. Career ERA everywhere else: 4.99. That's absurd. It's certainly not as if MMP is some great pitchers' park.

"Crafty" is typically applied to left-handed pitchers. Jose Urquidy seems a crafty right-hander. But since missing the 2017 season recovering from Tommy John surgery Urquidy has topped 100 innings worked once. Cristian Javier has some electric stuff and showed very well as a rookie. Javier has never thrown 115 innings in a professional season.

The odds are long against McCullers, Urquidy, and Javier all pitching well and staying healthy all season. Valdez didn't come close to making it to Opening Day. The best internal candidates to replace Framber (or anyone else) are Luis Garcia and the extremely-hyped thus far dud but still just 23 years old Forrest Whitley.

Woeful Rockets

It certainly isn't paying homage to James Harden that has the Rockets on a 13 game losing streak as they mercifully take their All-Star break. They're just that bad. Watching them is like watching a helpless fly tossed into a spider web game after game. Out of the break the Rockets play at Sacramento Thursday. The Kings are no good, but the Rockets are worse. A loss there all but guarantees matching the Houston Rockets' longest ever losing streak of 15 since the following night they play at Utah. If you care about them the Rockets are painful to watch. Hapless, helpless, hopeless. Their best shot at accelerating what might be a years long path back to relevance is to keep on stinking. The Rockets have the third worst record in the NBA. The three worst teams have equal chances at getting picks one through four in the draft. It's a 14 percent shot at number one, a 52 percent shot of being in the top four. The fourth worst team has a 48 percent chance of picking in the top four. If the Rockets are not in the top four, they lose their pick to Oklahoma City as a payoff of the awful Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade.

Watt signs with Cardinals

J.J. Watt could have least acknowledged "Of course the money the Cardinals offered had plenty to do with me picking them!" Off an 8-8 season in which they faded down the stretch the Cards have an interesting squad with some serious upside, especially if Kyler Murray makes a leap in his third season at quarterback. But no way are the Cardinals presently a first tier Super Bowl contender. We don't know for certain who Watt's other "finalists" were and what they offered. Seems a lock that none of them offered 23 million dollars guaranteed or two years 31 million total. Money is another scoreboard and J.J. is a huge winner on it. No one should ever blame a player for going for every dollar he can get. But Watt can't honestly say the best shot at a Super Bowl was his top priority then sign with a team which last had a winning season in 2015 and in Kliff Kingsbury has a guy who has accomplished nothing meaningful as a Head Coach at either Texas Tech or Arizona. Doesn't mean it can't happen in the desert, but there had to be better teams interested if a ring shot was of paramount importance.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. Les Miles, what a slimeball. LSU, what a slimy institution in its handling of serial sexual misconduct in its football program

2. NBA All-Star Game Sunday. In 1993 more than 22 million people watched. Last year, 6.8 million. Not sure 5 mil watch Sunday.

3. Greatest ever NFL free agent signings: Bronze-Packers, Reggie White Silver-Buccaneers, Tom Brady Gold-Saints, Drew Brees

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