Last week: 3-1-1
Another winning week. What are ya waiting for? Jump aboard when $$ is being made!
#21 Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State
Oklahoma State is getting a lot of attention and love, despite the most impressive game on their resume, being a 37-31 loss to Florida State. The Cowboys are up to 21st in the AP Poll after rolling over Missouri State and UTSA, and holding off Texas Tech. But, OSU only has 4 more first downs than their opponents, 46 more passing yards than their opponents, and allowed nearly 400 yards of offense to Missouri State. The Cowboys are still breaking in new quarterback Daxx Garman, who has a great deep ball, but has struggled with short and intermediate passes. Until Garman proves otherwise, teams will begin preparing to play the deep ball first, and Garman’s under 60% completion percentage will be exposed.
Meantime, the Iowa State offense has not yet been great under new OC Mark Mangino. But, in fairness, they have played three of the top 20 defenses in the country (Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa). Surprisingly, it’s been the Cyclones passing game that has far surpassed the run game. That bodes well for ISU, because the Oklahoma State back seven has several freshman playing at the same time. Iowa State’s stud freshman wide out Allen Lazzard, and tight end E.J. Bibbs should have their way against the Cowboy secondary.
The Pick: Iowa State +17.5
#7 Baylor @ Texas
If you haven’t been following the off field storylines this week … just google “Baylor Texas trash talk”. The Longhorns supremacy in the state of Texas has been threatened by the Bears the past couple of years, and UT players don’t like it. But, the Bears’ rapid rise to success under Art Briles has been well deserved and is for real. The Bears have become the new “Wide Receiver U”, and that corps is expected to be fully healthy this weekend for the first time all year. Antwan Goodley, Corey Coleman, and Clay Fuller all returned last week, and now Levi Norwood is expected to play. Texas’ pass defense is ranked top-10 in the country, but that was against Kansas, UCLA without QB Brett Hundley (injury), BYU (option offense), and North Texas. What Bryce Petty and company bring to town is a different beat.
Baylor’s biggest edge may be their defensive line, led by 6’9’’ Shawn Oakman, against a depleted Texas offensive line. The offensive line is as inexperienced as any in the country, and has shown in the run game, which currently ranked 105th in the country. In addition, Tyrone Swoopes inexperience behind a shaky line should be a major cause for concern. The Bears will dare Swoopes to beat them downfield, knowing he won’t have much time, and will likely be on the move. Plus, Baylor would love to smack around Texas more than any other team on their schedule.
The Pick: Baylor -14.5
#4 Oklahoma @ #25 TCU
The Sooners have looked every bit of a playoff contender through their first four games. While TCU has revamped their offense, to go along with Gary Patterson’s great D, to make this the toughest test for OU to date. The Sooners will do their best to take some pressure off Trevor Knight, by running the ball behind freshman breakout star Samaje Perine and Alex Ross (Keith Ford is still out with injury). The Sooners need to have success running, because Knight still remains the weak link, completing just 58.5% of his passes this season.
TCU QB Trevone Boykin is going to have to prove he has drastically improved under new OC’s Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meachem. He has been better so far, but he is also lacking accuracy on the deep ball, and OU will force him into pinpoint accuracy. OU’s weakness on defense is the secondary, but I would be surprised to see TCU’s offense have the time or success to exploit it. TCU needs RB B.J. Catalon to step up. But, before breaking out against SMU (who hasn’t?) he only ran for 58 yards over two games. Now, he has to face OU’s loaded defensive front. The last couple meetings between these two teams have been close, and I expect it to be that way again. But, Oklahoma has shown to be one of the most complete teams in the country, and they’ll prevail, and cover, on the road.
The Pick: Oklahoma -3.5
Kansas @ West Virginia
I don’t usually buy into the “win one for the gipper” mentality. I think it’s vastly overrated. When it works, we never heard the end of it. But, more often than not, match ups, and talent, decide the game, regardless of off field storylines. But, the story of Clint Bowen becoming interim head coach at Kansas is a fairy tale. It’s his dream job, and desperately wants to remove the interim tag. Early reports are players are thrilled to have him at the helm, instead of Charlie Weis.
All that being said, Kansas is still a bad football team. But, WVU is being overvalued in this game. The Mountaineers are definitely much improved over last season, specifically on the offensive side of the ball. Clint Trickett ranks third in the Big 12 in passing efficiency, and has plenty of help on the outside, especially Kevin White and Mario Alford. But, the Kansas defense is the strong point on the team (true, that isn’t saying all that much), and returns some players that were part of last season’s win over the Mountaineers.
Meantime, Kansas’ offense is officially in the hands of new OC John Reagan, who won’t have Weis looking over his shoulder. This won’t change the offensive personnel that is lacking, but the WVU defense has struggled mightily at times. They are giving up nearly 40 ppg against FBS opponents, have a run defense ranked 121st in the nation, and a sack rate of 1.94% (122nd). The Mountaineers have yet to prevent an opponent from scoring in the red zone. Kansas’ offense won’t suddenly turn into 2008 Texas Tech Red Raiders… but I trust them to cover the nearly 4 TD spread.
The Pick: Kansas +27.5
#23 Kansas State vs Texas Tech
A lot of this game hinges on Tech QB Davis Webb’s availability on Saturday. He is recovering from a separated shoulder suffered against Oklahoma State last Thursday. If Webb plays, then the passing game will be in full force (11th nationally with 334 yards/game). If, back up Patrick Mahomes goes, expect more of a run-option game. K-State defensive strength is clearly their run defense (2nd in Big 12), compared to the pass defense (last pass-efficiency defense).
Kansas State is likely watching film from Tech’s game against Arkansas and trying to mimic Bret Bielema’s game plan from earlier this season. If Webb plays, the Wildcats can help their weak pass defense by controlling the clock behind RB Charles Jones. Tech has the worst rush defense in the Big 12, allowing 262 yards per game on the ground. While I worry about K-State stopping a healthy Davis Webb & Co. in the pass game, his status isn’t certain. But, give me the K-State run game. Plus, Tech on the road, while leading the Conference in penalties and penalty yards, and playing one of the most disciplined teams in the country, is a tough bet to make.
The Pick: K-State -14