OK, so like everyone else down here I blew the whole tropical storm thing way out of proportion. Hasn't rained a drop since yesterday morning.
I am running low on late-week column ideas, so instead of boring you with some half-thought-out argument, I'll look ahead to the action this weekend and give you my game predictions (which should not be relied upon for any reason).
K-State vs. Missouri State
The Bears are putting up huge numbers and have an offense full of speed (more on that tomorrow with the Lyndal Scranton Q&A). Their speed on offense concerns me, as we've seen this year that a fast, lower-division team playing against a team that sleepwalks through the game can be a dangerous combination.
That's assuming that K-State sleepwalks into this game. Given the effort last week against San Jose State, which was workmanlike at best, I have reason to be concerned the Cats will come out with less fire than they showed against Auburn. Still, Missouri State's two wins have come against Tennessee-Martin and Missouri-Rolla. They haven't faced a team as big and talented as K-State. I predict the Cats continue Mo. State coach Terry Allen's misery in Manhattan.
Wildcats 49, Bears 21
KU vs. Toledo
I have to imagine this is a payback game considering the result of last year's meeting in the "Gateway to Zanesville" (does anybody watch M*A*S*H anymore?). Still, the Rockets are a shadow of their former selves, having been blown out by Purdue and Central Michigan already this year. For those of you keeping track, that's the same Central Michigan that KU beat 52-7 in week one.
The 'beaks have everything to lose and little-or-nothing to gain from this game, despite my not-well-thought-out statement in the Roundtable below. A win is expected, a loss confirms the doubts raised by a weak schedule.
'Beaks 41, Rockets 17
Missouri vs. Western Michigan
The Tigers return home after a neutral game and a road game to start the season. As expected, the Tiger offense, behind quarterback Chase Daniel, is flying high. Also, as expected, the Tiger defense is giving up a lot of yards and points. Western Michigan doesn't figure to be much of a threat, but that defense needs to start answering the question marks before conference play.
Tigers 53, Broncos 16
Iowa State vs. Iowa
Oh, my. The Cy-Hawk Game usually features to hardworking, competent teams, but this one could be ugly. I don't doubt the Cyclones are working hard, but they just don't have 'it' for whatever reason (new coaches, new schemes, lack of talent, etc.) this year. Iowa's defense has been pretty impressive, although Northern Illinois and Syracuse aren't the stiffest tests. Given the pride factor for the home-grown boys who play in Ames, I'm going to say this one is closer than most think.
Hawkeyes 24, Cyclones 10
Colorado vs. Florida State
Other than the big game in Lincoln, this is by far the most intriguing Big 12 matchup of the day. The Buffs may only be 1-1, but it's a fairly impressive record considering where they were last year. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Arizona State got going last weekend, and their intrastate victim from week one played Cal within a touchdown. Meanwhile, Florida State nearly got run over by Clemson before mounting a late, unsuccessful comeback, and then only managed a 10-point win over a UAB team that got slaughtered by Michigan State the weak before. Florida State is the betting favorite in this game, which makes this my upset pick of the week.
Buffaloes 31, Seminoles 21
Oklahoma vs. Utah State
Chalk up another big day for the Sooners and impressive redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford. The Aggies are 0-2 after losses to UNLV and Wyoming.
Sooners 56, Aggies 7
Oklahoma State at Troy (Friday Night)
I never thought I'd see another Big 12 school travel to Troy, Ala., after Mizzou's fiasco there in 2004, but I guess Poke coach Mike Gundy proved me wrong. A slight quarterback controversy is brewing in Stillwater, after starter Bobby Reid went down with an injury against FIU and backup Zac Robinson was impressive in relief. The Trojans are 0-2, but they've played Arkansas and Florida, a schedule against which I'm guessing most teams would be 0-2. The Trojan defense gives up a lot of points (105 through two games), so I think the Cowboys put up just enough to win a shootout.
Cowboys 45, Trojans 40
Baylor vs. Texas State
The Bears are the bi-polar Big 12 squad, after an inept 27-0 loss to TCU and a 42-17 massacre of Rice. Texas State is at 1-1 after splitting games with Cal-Poly (win) and Abilene Christian (loss), two teams I know less than nothing about.
Bears 38, Bobcats 14
Texas Tech at Rice
Lord, this game could last all night. Does Conference-USA have a mercy rule for games played on home-team fields? The Owls gave up 521 yards to Baylor last week, including 412 through the air. Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree have to be licking their chops. Can Tech hit the 700-yard passing plateau?
Red Raiders 63, Owls 3
Texas at Central Florida
I couldn't figure out why Mack Brown was taking his team to play some far-flung C-USA team when he has plenty of them (Houston, Rice, SMU) in his own backyard. Apparently he and his Longhorns are playing in some new Disney theme park. What's that? Oh, nevermind, UCF is opening a new stadium, and thought getting their arse kicked by a big name opponent would be a wonderful christening. Just one question, Knights? Wasn't Florida available?
Longhorns 42, Knights 14
Texas A&M vs. Louisiana-Monroe
The Aggies take second-place to Baylor in the bi-polar team race. A 19-0 halftime lead turned into a three-overtime, five-plus hour marathon. The Warhawks have taken well-earned beatings from Tulsa and Clemson. If A&M lets ULM hang around in this one too long, the heat will be firmly on Dennis Franchione going into next Thursday's date with Miami.
Aggies 31, Warhawks 20
Nebraska vs. USC
Finally, we arrive at the game of the weekend, my preseason pick for best Big 12 non-conference game that doesn't include K-State. USC arrives in Lincoln as the No. 1 team in the land, while the Cornhuskers are No. 14 after a 2-0 start.
The Trojans only game to date was a less-than-stellar 38-10 win over Idaho. The Huskers have played two games, one a 52-10 win over 0-2 Nevada, the other a 20-17 survival at 0-2 Wake Forest. I have serious questions about the Huskers at this point in the season. Sam Keller was pedestrian against Nevada and downright mediocre (except for one drive) at Wake Forest. The running game dominated Nevada, but didn't show up in Winston-Salem.
Still, this is the game the Husker team and Husker fans have been waiting for, and it's at home on a Saturday night. Of course, last year the game was a big one, in the national spotlight, and Bill Callahan waved a helluva white flag at the Trojans from the first play of the game. This time I suspect he won't be so cautious, and this game gives me visions of last year's near-miss against Texas in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers keep it close, even look like they will win at some point in the fourth quarter, but USC will make a big play and send the red-clad horde to its first loss on the year.
Trojans 34, Nebraska 28
Tomorrow I'll post the Q&A I had with the Springfield News-Leader's Lyndal Scranton. Cheers.