By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
Bedlam buddies Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – the two top-ranked teams in the Big 12 – both hit the road and head east Saturday.
The 11th-ranked Cowboys (3-0) start Conference play at West Virginia (2-2, 0-1). The No. 12 Sooners (3-0, 1-0) travel to South Bend to take on No. 22 Notre Dame in a battle between two of college football's storied program.
Oklahoma State, the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, was idle last week. The Cowboys are off to an impressive start. Sophomore J.W. Walsh has taken over as the starting quarterback and is running a balanced attack that is averaging 45 points and 487 yards per game.
Since 2010, Oklahoma State is 16-5 in road games.
"When you're going to go on the road and play against 50, 60, 70,000 people who don't like you and want you to fail, you have to get excited for that," Walsh said. "There's not a better feeling almost than being able to go out there and shut up 70,000 people."
The Cowboys will be facing a team coming off a humiliating loss. The Mountaineers lost to Maryland 37-0 last Saturday in Baltimore. West Virginia's offense, which is last in the Big 12 in scoring, has yet to replace the play makers that made last year's team so explosive.
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, formerly the Cowboys' offensive coordinator, has spent the week shouldering responsibility and vowing to fix the team's problems.
"We've got to get guys into positions to execute what we're asking them to do," he said. "That's not happening very much. I'm not pointing the finger at anybody but myself."
The Mountaineers will start their third different quarterback. Holgorsen announced Thursday that junior Clint Trickett, a transfer from Florida State who has taken just six snaps this season, will start in place of redshirt freshman Ford Childress. Holgorsen said that Childress has an injury in his throwing arm.
Oklahoma has been impressive defensively and its offense has been solid. Junior quarterback Blake Bell set several records in his first start two years ago against Tulsa. He'll make his first road start against the Fighting Irish (3-1).
"He's a great competitor. He's been in a lot of critical, important situations, and he's handled them well," OU coach Bob Stoops said of Bell. "He's not like a true first-time guy out there playing, because for the last few years, he's been in a lot of big games in those kinds of situations where it matters."
Facing Notre Dame – a team that posted a 30-13 victory in Norman last season – will answer a number of questions about the Sooners.
OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel: "How are we gonna play in a tough environment? When things don't go well, how are we gonna respond? Are we gonna do the little things that you have to do to win on the road in a tough environment and be a championship-type football team? We'll find out a lot."
All times Central
Iowa State at Tulsa
Need to know: 6:30 p.m., H.A. Chapman Stadium, FS1.
Records: Iowa State 0-2, Tulsa 1-2.
Scouting Iowa State: The Cyclones hope the return of junior center Tom Farniok will improve offensive line play. In two games, Iowa State doesn't have a rushing touchdown and is averaging just 3.3 yards per attempt. The defense needs to get better stopping the run as opponents are averaging 223 yards per game on the ground.
Scouting Tulsa: Both of the Golden Hurricane's losses have been blowouts and they've allowed a total of 85 points in their losses. Opponents have had success running the ball as Tulsa is 76th nationally in rushing defense. The offense relies on a running game that is led by quarterback Cody Green and running back Trey Watts, who is also a capable receiver.
This and that: This is the third time these teams have played in just over a year. Iowa State beat Tulsa in the season opener while Tulsa beat the Cyclones in the Liberty Bowl. … Iowa State has won its road opener in three of four seasons under coach Paul Rhoads. … Through two games, the Cyclones have had 15 players record their first career starts.
All times Central
Oklahoma State at West Virginia
Need to know: 11 a.m., Milan Puskar Stadium, ESPN.
Records: Oklahoma State 3-0, 0-0; West Virginia 2-2, 0-1).
Scouting Oklahoma State: The 11th-ranked Cowboys have been dominant and balanced in their three victories. Oklahoma State is a perfect 15-for-15 in red zone conversions, scoring 15 TDs. Quarterback J.W. Walsh has been outstanding. He is the only Big 12 QB with a 300-yard passing game and a 100-yard rushing effort. The defense has been aggressive and dominant.
Scouting West Virginia: The Mountaineers are coming off a disappointing loss and hoping that their offense can start producing. West Virginia's 12 turnovers are the most in the Big 12. Junior Clint Trickett will be the third different QB to start for West Virginia. The Mountaineers completed just one pass to a wide receiver vs. Maryland.
This and that: Oklahoma State is outscoring its opponents 108-13 in the first three quarters. … In its 37-0 loss to Maryland, West Virginia had 10 drives out of 14 that lasted four or fewer plays. … The Mountaineers finished third in scoring in the Big 12 last season but enter this game last in that category.
SMU at TCU
Need to know: 11 a.m., Amon Carter Stadium, FS1)
Records: SMU 1-2, TCU 1-2.
Scouting SMU: Former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert is a sixth-year senior and the Mustangs' starter. … Gilbert leads the nation in completions per game (37.67) and ranks seventh in both passing yards (338.3 ypg) and total offense (372.7). SMU lost to Texas Tech in its opener and to Texas A&M last week; its only victory was a 31-30 victory over Montana State.
Scouting TCU: The Horned Frogs have been idle for 16 days following their loss at Texas Tech. Sophomore running back B.J. Catalon leads the team in rushing but TCU needs more consistency from quarterback Trevone Boykin and the passing game. Sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields has been ineffective.
This and that: TCU leads the Big 12 in sacks (eight) and interceptions (five). Last season the Horned Frogs had five interceptions of SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert. … Dating back to 2006, TCU has a seven-game winning streak in contests following an open date. … Over the past 31 games, SMU is 16-0 when scoring first but 0-15 when the opponent scores first. … SMU is in its first season as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
Oklahoma at Notre Dame
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Notre Dame Stadium, NBC.)
Records: Oklahoma 3-0; Notre Dame 3-1.
Scouting Oklahoma: Junior quarterback Blake Bell, who had a record-setting debut as a starter, will make the first road start of his career. The No. 12 Sooners' defense has been impressive in three games but will need to adjust to face Notre Dame's style. OU needs to force the Irish to throw the ball and might use a four-man front to slow the running game.
Scouting Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish are No. 22 and senior quarterback Tommy Rees will make his 23rd start. He is averaging 277 yards passing per game and has thrown for eight TDs. Notre Dame's run game has struggled, averaging just 114 yards per game and 3.7 yards per attempt. The defense is anchored by lineman Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III.
This and that: The Irish have a 9-1 lead in the series. The only victory by OU came in 1956. … Notre Dame is one of just three FBS programs to have not faced a non-FBS opponent since the current setup was established in 1978. … Oklahoma is seeking to become the current member of the Big 12 to defeat Notre Dame since Texas posted a 21-17 win in the 1970 Cotton Bowl.