Last week: 2-1
#18 Oklahoma @ Iowa State
The Sooners have had two weeks to think about a heart breaking 31-30 loss at home to the Kansas State Wildcats. While they’re out of the playoff picture, they still have a shot at a Conference Championship, and playing in one of the other major bowl games. The Sooners go to Ames where they are 34-2-1 all-time. The Sooners are averaging over 190 yards per game on the ground and go up against a defense ranked 109th nationally, and allowed 198 yards/game rushing over their last 4 contests (Texas, Toledo, Oklahoma State, Baylor). On top of that, OU welcomes back RB Keith Ford from injury to complete the 3-headed monster with Samaje Perine and Alex Ross. This trio should take the pressure off struggling QB Trevor Knight.
Iowa State RB Aaron Wimberly has been inconsistent, with last week vs. Texas becoming his first 100-yard game of the season. The Sooners are allowing just 3.5 yards per rush this season. The Cyclones’ only chance to win is through the passing game, and QB Sam Richardson torching the suddenly vulnerable OU secondary. But, in the end, the Sooners have too much firepower, on both sides, to keep this within the margin.
The Pick: Oklahoma -15.5
#7 TCU @ #20 West Virginia
ESPN’s College Gameday is in town, and there’s no doubt Morgantown will be rocking, creating an even larger home field advantage for the Mountaineers. The match up includes the two biggest surprises in the Conference. A key for Saturday will be the weather, which is expected to be in the 40’s with rain. Right away, I give the edge to TCU, who I believe has a strong running game with B.J. Catalon and Aaron Green, both breakaway threats, along with dual threat QB Trevone Boykin. Additionally, sloppy conditions can lead to turnovers. TCU leads the Big 12 in turnover margin at +12, while WVU is ranked 9th at -9.
West Virginia was able to hold down Baylor QB Bryce Petty (223 pass yards) and Oklahoma State’s Daxx Garman (242 pass yards). But, with Boykin and TCU, the Mountaineers face an offense more similar to that of the Sooners (who they lost to by 12); a mobile quarterback and strong running game. The WVU defense has been incredibly successful blitzing, but Boykin’s mobility, and short passes in the flat to a plethora of wide receivers, should successfully counteract that.
The Pick: TCU -4
Kansas @ #13 Baylor
Yes, yes and yes… Baylor is due for a huge win, Kansas has lost 24 straight conference games, and 30 straight road games. I know, there’s zero reason for the Jayhawks to be in this game. But, there is reason to believe they will cover this enormous spread.
In the three halves QB Montell Cozart started against Big 12 Competition (Texas, WVU), the score was Opponents 49, Kansas 0. In five halves with Michael Cummings at QB, the score has been Opponents 68, Kansas 55 (WVU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech). But, the Baylor defense has allowed 99 points, and 668 passing yards the past two games. The Bears have holes, that even a team like Kansas might be able to exploit.
Baylor’s high powered offense finished with a season low 318 total yards against a mediocre WVU defense. Baylor does have the conference’s top rushing attack going up against the 8th ranked rush defense in the Big 12. But, Baylor has also lost two starting offensive lineman over the last two weeks to injury (RT Troy Baker, ACL, RG Desmine Hilliard, wrist). I’ll take Kansas to have enough in the tank to cover the more than 5 touchdown number.
The Pick: Kansas +35.5
Texas @ Texas Tech
It’s a matchup between the two biggest disappointments in the Conference. Both teams are 3-5 and need to win 3 of their last 4 to be bowl eligible. The Longhorns offense appeared to be developing an identity, until they ran into a buzz saw in Manhattan last week, getting shut out by Kansas State. But, Saturday, they play the worst run defense in the Big 12. Granted, Texas does not have a single 100-yard rushing game from either Malcolm Brown or Jonathan Gray this season. But, the Longhorns will try to establish their ground attack, and mix in freshman back D’Onta Foreman, who had plenty of reps vs. Kansas State. This could open things up for QB Tyrone Swoopes, who may get single coverage on the outside, as the Red Raiders desperately try to stop the running game.
Last weekend was just as bad for the Red Raiders, giving up a horrendous 82 points to TCU. There is still no word on Davis Webb’s (leg injury) availability for Saturday. If he can’t go, it’s up to true freshman Patrick Mahomes, who is more of a running QB. The UT secondary is ranked first in the Conference, and should be able to slow down an air-raid attack that is being run by either a banged up QB, or a true freshman.
The Pick: Texas -4
Oklahoma State @ #9 Kansas State
The Wildcats continue to impress me more and more every week. They are coming off a shut out at home against Texas, and a top-10 ranking in the inaugural College Football Playoff poll. This is bad news for struggling OSU quarterback Daxx Garman, as the Cowboys limp into Manhattan having scored 19 points in their last 8 quarters, and have lost their last two games to ranked teams by a combined 57 points. Don’t expect Oklahoma State’s running game to be of much help, as K-State has a top-10 rushing defense in the Country.
Kansas State is the quintessential Billy Snyder coached team that doesn’t beat themselves. In four Big 12 games, they have one turnover, and eight takeaways. Oklahoma State’s defense averaged 2.5 forced turnovers per game during the past 4 seasons, but is only averaging one per game in 2014. The Jake Waters led offense continues to run the ball effectively, and will use long possessions to wear down the Cowboys, who ranked 103rd in time of possession.
The Pick: K-State -12