Sports writers Randy Peterson and Tommy Birch break down the Iowa State Cyclones’ season opener against South Dakota State. Staff video, The Register
As much as he doesn’t want to admit it, talented tailback David Montgomery is the face of Iowa State football 2018 Randy Peterson, firstname.lastname@example.org
ISU passing vs. South Dakota State
I don’t know if anyone can shut down Kempt’s game. His 66.3 percent accuracy last season was the best in school history. His passing rating was the best for a Cyclones, too, and like Montgomery, he’s also bigger and stronger. “He’s at the top of his game — and that’s saying something, given what he did last year,” Butler said. ADVANTAGE: Iowa State.
South Dakota State rushing vs. Iowa State
The top rusher from last season is gone, but the Jacks’ running game can still be good — especially if shifty quarterback Tayrn Christion has his way. He’s a dangerous runner, proven by his 500 yards last season — while Iowa State’s defensive specialty is against the run. ADVANTAGE: Iowa State.
South Dakota State passing vs. Iowa State
It’s a tempo offense that might have trouble finding a rhythm, if the Cyclones can control the clock with rushes from Montgomery and his solid stable of backups. Christion completed 58.2 percent of his passes for 3,515 yards in 2017 — but he also threw 14 interceptions. His top two receivers from last season are in NFL camps. ADVANTAGE: Iowa State.
SCORE: Vegas favors the Cyclones by 14 points … Iowa State 34, South Dakota State 20
If Texas Tech holds up its end, then the conference should (will?) have an unblemished opening Saturday of the season. If the Red Raiders don’t win?
Rekindle the debate on which coach can do a better job than favorite son Kliff Kingsbury is doing.
Oklahoma’s favored by three touchdowns against Florida Atlantic, TCU by six touchdowns against Southern and Texas is supposed to win by 10 points against a Maryland outfit swirling in controversy after the June death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
Which brings us back to Texas Tech against Ole Miss in Houston. This was a pick-em at the start of the week, so it’s a game clearly within the realm of Kingsbury at least temporarily calming his critics. It’s a game that can add heat under his already warm rump, too.
Florida Atlantic at No. 5 Oklahoma
Time, TV: 11 a.m., FOX
Vegas line: Oklahoma by 21
Prediction: Here’s what Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin told the Palm Beach Post about facing new OU quarterback Kyler Murray: “These are the guys you want to play the least. People that give you all those problems are the guys who, when plays don’t happen in rhythm — they have the ability to get out of trouble. You can cover everybody and have the play matched perfect, and the guy still takes off and runs for 15 yards.”
Score: Oklahoma 38, FAU 10
** Southern at No. 16 TCU
Time, TV: 11 a.m., FSN
Vegas line: TCU by 47
Prediction: The biggest problem in this one will be keeping TCU players from peeking ahead to Week No. 3 — against Ohio State in Arlington, Texas. Saturday should be nothing more than an organized scrimmage, and you can throw next week against SMU into that category as well. The last time TCU faced a team from the SWAC, it was Horned Frogs 63-zip against Jackson State.
Score: TCU 52, Southern 10
No. 21 Texas vs. Maryland in Landover, Maryland
Time, TV: 11 a.m., FS1
Vegas line: Texas by 10
Prediction: This won’t be like last season — the Longhorns’ thrilling 51-41 loss in Tom Herman’s debut. Texas has improved from when quarterback Shane Buechele passed for 375 yards and two touchdowns in the 2017 game — to the point that he’s (for now) not even the starting quarterback. Maryland should be better, too, but one must wonder how much a teammates’ death will affect the team. Expect another high-scoring affair. Expect probably the most entertaining game among the Big 12’s Week One.
Score: Texas 37, Maryland 35
Ole Miss. vs. Texas Tech
Time, TV: 11 a.m., ESPN
Vegas line: Pick-em
Prediction: College football news put it best: Ole Miss “will get off the bus with 300 passing yards.” And we all know how solid Texas Tech’s defense — isn’t. Sure, we’re led to believe that it’ll be improved, but enough to keep the Rebels from hanging 45 points? Maybe, but can the Red Raiders score 46? Kingsbury has a new starting quarterback, but the Rebs lost outstanding 2017 quarterback Shae Patterson to Michigan. This will be a shootout in which the last team with the ball wins the game.
Score: Mississippi 45, Texas Tech 42
Tennessee vs. No. 20 West Virginia
Time, TV: 2:30 p.m., CBS
Vegas line: West Virginia by 9 1/2
Prediction: Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier already has beaten Tennessee — three seasons ago before transferring from Florida. The school has a big Heisman Trophy campaign for the senior — and it’d be a shame for that to go to waste in the first game of a season. Grier and his solid offense will have a good day.
Score: West Virginia 37, Tennessee 27
Nicholls at Kansas
Time, TV: 6 p.m., ESPN3
Vegas line: Kansas by 10
Prediction: As low as Kansas is, the Jayhawks can’t lose at home against the easiest opponent on the schedule, can they? If they do, then coach David Beaty’s Jayhawks record falls to 3-34, before trying to end its 46-game road losing streak on Sept. 8 at Central Michigan.
Score: Kansas 7, Nicholls 6.
Abilene Christian at Baylor
Time, TV: 11 a.m., FSN
Vegas line: Baylor by 38
Prediction: This one’s easy: The Bears equal last season’s victory total during one 4-hour football game. After beating only Kansas last season, Baylor has enough offense to win more games in Matt Rhule’s second season as the coach. His 2017 team became better as the season progress — a fact that will continue against Saturday’s out-matched opponent.
Score: Baylor 48, Abilene Christian 27
South Dakota at Kansas State
Time, TV: 6 p.m., ESPN3
Vegas line: Kansas State by 22
Prediction: If this was last season, Kansas State would be facing a team that averaged 38.2 points and 333.2 passing yards a game. Some of that firepower returns, but not enough to throw a big scare into a team that never — or so it seems — loses at home when Bill Snyder is on the sidelines.
Score: Kansas State 37, South Dakota 27
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson has been with the Register for parts of five decades. Randy writes opinion and analysis of Iowa State football and basketball. You can reach Randy at email@example.com or on Twitter at @RandyPete.