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Big 12 college football picks against the spread: Week 4

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OK, so last week was a slight improvement, going 4-4 against the spread in Week 3. We are now 9-11 on the season and looking to get back to the .500 mark this weekend.

It’s a fairly quiet weekend for the Big 12 as conference play gets fully underway next weekend.

TCU @ SMU

Can the TCU defense finally play to the level many projected before the season? If so, they will need to stop the run against a SMU run game that is averaging over 5 yards per carry. SMU’s offense is run by QB Ben Hicks, in place of the injured dual-threat Matt Davis. But, while Hicks has been inconsistent so far, he was a highly touted, 4-star recruit in Chad Morris’ first recruiting class. He has a stud wide out Courtland Sutton, and there is a ton of depth at RB. This is an SMU team that kept it really close for a half on the road against Baylor. The maturation continues for a young Mustangs offense, while the defense has exceeded expectations and has its strength in the back 7.

SMU is home, it’s a rivalry game which is always a wild card, and TCU has yet to live up to expectations.

The Pick: SMU +21.5

Iowa State vs. San Jose State

Boy, has Iowa State looked horrible. The Cyclones offense remains inconsistent behind an offensive line that entered the season with just 6 starts combined. RB Mike Warren has started slow this season and as a unit, Iowa State’s offense ranks 115th out of 128 FBS schools with 317 yards per game.

But, I really like ISU in this game. They’re home, the fan base is desperate to see this team win a game before the conference schedule really kicks off, it’s an 11 AM CT kickoff (so, 9 AM west coast time for San Jose State), and ISU gets to face a defense that is allowing almost 500 yards per game. It’s a perfect scenario for a feel-good break out game for Iowa State against lesser competition.

The Pick: Iowa State -7

West Virginia vs. BYU

The Mountaineers are one of only two teams in the Big 12 that still feels good about themselves. Now, WVU comes into this game well rested after a week off, while BYU has played a darn tough schedule to start the season, vs. Arizona, @ Utah, vs. UCLA. No breaks, and now they fly cross country to play the Mountaineers.

But, with all that being said, BYU is 1-2 and has had its three games decided by a combined 6 points! This team is as battle tested as any in the country. The game is being played at FedEx Field, a neutral site, and BYU travels well, anywhere.

One thing WVU needs to improve on is efficiency in the red zone, having scored just two touchdowns in 8 trips. Meanwhile, the BYU defense has been solid, allowing just 3 TD passes, while racking up 6 interceptions. Then, there is the BYU run D that held UCLA to 1.5 YPC. Oh… and let’s not forget BYU’s Big 12 motivation.

This one will be close.

The Pick: BYU +7 

#16 Baylor vs. Oklahoma State

As usual, Baylor enters its first Big 12 game and we have very little idea as to what exactly they are as a football team (thanks to an easy non-conference schedule).

Oklahoma State is far more tested, but has looked very shaky at times defensively, while the run game continues to be an enigma. Meantime, Baylor’s issue has been getting off to slow starts against mediocre competition (SMU, Rice).

But, here’s the thing, I’m not even going to “break down” this game based on X’s and O’s. There is a telling storyline with the spread: it opened at 10.5 and since then nearly 65% of the money has been coming in on OSU. Vegas knows what they are doing, and they are smarter than I am. I have to believe the late money and the smart money will be riding Baylor. Can Oklahoma State win this game? Yes, but, the line is just so fishy. So, sometimes it’s best to admit when you don’t know why something is happening, and try and sniff out a reason behind it. I’ll roll with the Bears at home.

The Pick: Baylor -8

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