Kickoff: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET (Fox College Sports)
Spread: Texas Tech by 2.5
Watchability: It's not exactly the marquee game in the Big 12 this week -- that distinction falls to the Baylor-West Virginia matchup -- but both of these teams have had impressive starts to the season. The winner is a team that could fight to finish in the middle of the Big 12 pack. The loser may languish near the bottom with Kansas. That's not exactly the recipe for a must-watch game, but on a Saturday that features a largely awful slate, it's worth at least checking in with this one occasionally.
Shining stars: Texas Tech: QB Seth Doege. The Red Raiders are experiencing a bit of an offensive Renaissance this season, ranking second in the FBS in total offense (597.6 yards per game) and sixth in scoring (50.3 points per game). Doege is the key reason. He has thrown for 858 yards and 12 touchdowns with only one interception, good enough for seventh nationally in passing efficiency. The Tech offense goes as Doege goes. Iowa State: The entire defense. Since so much of Texas Tech's offense relies on Doege's ability to make plays, ISU must feel reasonably confident since it holds the nation's No. 2 pass efficiency defense and No. 17 overall pass defense (169.7 yards per game allowed). With playmakers like LBs Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, the Cyclones have the talent necessary to slow down the Red Raiders offense.
Who could steal the show: Texas Tech: The entire defense. Yes, this game has the potential to be a defensive battle. Texas Tech was only 95th in the country in total defense in 2011, but it ranks No. 1 in that category (160.3 yards per game allowed) and No. 6 in scoring defense (10 points per game allowed) through three games this year. But given the Red Raiders' weak schedule (ranked 164th in Jeff Sagarin's computer ratings -- there are only 120 FBS teams), it could struggle against a quality opponent like ISU. Iowa State: WR/PR Aaron Horne. In a game where field position could matter, Horne is the sort of playmaker that could make a significant difference on special teams. He ranks sixth in the nation in punt returns, averaging 21.75 yards per attempt. He has yet to break a return for a touchdown this season, but he has caught a scoring pass in each of Iowa State's last two games.
You going? Ranking the road trip: Jack Trice Stadium has become an increasingly hostile place for opponents to play as coach Paul Rhoads has built Iowa State into a respectable program capable of beating most in the Big 12 on any given Saturday. A nighttime kickoff should have the folks in Ames plenty amped -- as should the chance to see the Cyclones start a season 4-0 for the first time since 2000.
Magic number for Texas Tech: 13. Heading into its 17th season of Big 12 play, this will be the Red Raiders' 13th time opening conference play on the road. They have overcome that disadvantage to win 10 of their previous 16 Big 12 openers. But Tech hasn't won at Iowa State since 2006, the heyday of the Mike Leach era in Lubbock.
Magic number for Iowa State: 93. That's the Cyclones' national ranking in turnover margin (-3 overall), typically a recipe for disaster in Big 12 play. Fortunately for ISU, the Red Raiders aren't much better, at 88th in the country in that statistic (-2 overall). Still, given the explosive nature of Texas Tech's offense, giving away extra possessions could doom Iowa State in this one.
This game comes down to: Can Iowa State's defense slow down the Red Raiders? The competition hasn't exactly been stiff, but Texas Tech has scored 44, 49 and 58 points in its three games to start the season. Iowa State is a quality team, but its offense isn't built to win shootouts. For the Cyclones to pull out the win, they'll need to keep Texas Tech's scoring in the 30s or less.
Prediction: Texas Tech 27, Iowa State 20
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from Big 12 bloggers C.J. Moore and Patrick Southern, follow @CBSSportsBig12 on Twitter. You can also follow C.J. (@cjmoore4) and Patrick (@patricksouthern).