For Baylor to have any shot at a bowl game, beating Duke is pivotal.
The Bears had their good and bad moments in a 55-27 season-opening win over Abilene Christian and a 37-20 win over UTSA. Winning those games gives the Bears a chance to go unbeaten in nonconference play which is critical to Baylor’s bowl chances with the Big 12 gauntlet coming up.
After dropping a 34-20 decision to the Blue Devils last year in Durham, the Bears will have some motivation Saturday at McLane Stadium.
Duke (+6) at Baylor
The Blue Devils suffered a big blow when quarterback Daniel Jones broke his clavicle in last week’s 21-7 win over Northwestern.
Quentin Harris will step in for Jones, giving Duke a less experienced passer but more of a dual threat. Baylor will counter with Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon alternating at quarterback for the third straight week.
After gaining just 91 yards rushing against UTSA, the Bears hope to establish a better running game against Duke. They’ll need to squeeze out some yardage on the ground to give the quarterbacks a chance to be successful against a strong defensive line.
Baylor 27, Duke 20
Houston (-1) at Texas Tech
With former Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles running the offense, Houston scored 45 points in each of its first two wins over Rice and Arizona.
Houston quarterback D’Eriq King is off to a tremendous start by passing for 566 yards and seven touchdowns with no interceptions in the first two games.
Texas Tech’s defense wasn’t good when Briles was at Baylor and it’s not good now. There’s too much pressure on freshman quarterback Alan Bowman to produce big numbers against a strong Cougars defensive line led by All-America tackle Ed Oliver.
Houston 35, Texas Tech 31
No. 17 Boise State (+2.5) at No. 24 Oklahoma State
In anticipation of Boise State coming to Stillwater, Oklahoma State plans to stripe Boone Pickens Stadium in school colors. That prompted Cowboys coach Mike Gundy to wear a striped referee shirt to his press conference this week.
Gundy has a way of keeping his team loose, and this should be a fun game with the explosive Cowboys playing the freewheeling Broncos.
Taylor Cornelius is off to a solid start for the Cowboys, passing for 728 yards and six touchdowns while Justice Hill has rushed for 154 yards and three scores. Boise State’s Brett Rypien has passed for 667 yards and seven touchdowns in two wins, so expect a lot of points.
Oklahoma State 49, Boise State 42
No. 22 USC (+3.5) at Texas
These are two of the most tradition rich football programs in college football, but neither Texas nor USC has been thriving recently.
Undeservedly ranked in the preseason Top 25, the Longhorns have been unimpressive in a 1-1 start. After opening the season with a 43-21 win over UNLV, No. 22 USC’s offense was virtually nonexistent in last week’s 17-3 loss to No. 3 Stanford.
Even in their lean years, the Longhorns have usually surprised somebody. This might be the week USC could have used New York Jets starting quarterback Sam Darnold for another season.
Texas 24, USC 20
No. 4 Ohio State (-12.5) vs. No. 15 TCU
(at AT&T Stadium in Arlington)
Even with coach Urban Meyer suspended for the first three games, the Buckeyes haven’t really missed a beat on the field as they’ve beaten Oregon State and Rutgers by a combined 129-34 score.
Slowing down Ohio State’s prolific offense will be a major chore for a typically impressive TCU defense.
The key will be for TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson and company to produce enough points to overcome the Buckeyes, a prospect that seems unlikely.
Ohio State 31, TCU 17
Last week: 5-0 overall, 1-4 against the line
Season: 7-3 overall, 4-6 against the line