Back and forth we go this season. The last three weeks have gone as such: 0-5, 3-1, and then 1-3. So, by those metrics, we’re more than due for a big week. We’re 16-21 on the season. Four Big 12 games on the schedule this week, let’s roll.
Kansas State vs. Texas
Yes, the Longhorns have struggled against Kansas State in recent years. The Wildcats are 6-2 in their last 8 against UT, and the Longhorns have not won in Manhattan since 2002. But, that streak ends on Saturday.
K-State is expected to play Jesse Ertz at QB, but we aren’t sure how healthy he is after suffering an injury last week against Oklahoma. So, if the Wildcats have to turn to Joe Hubener, forget it. K-State has a great defense and should give UT some trouble. But, the Longhorns can negate the strength of K-State’s defensive line by utilizing quick passes on slant routes and screens. Add in D’Onta Foreman who will be the best RB K-State has seen to this point and UT should be able to score.
But, as bad a Texas’ defense has been, it showed improvement last week vs. Iowa State, and that should continue against a very mediocre Kansas State offense.
The Pick: Texas +1.5
Oklahoma State @ Kansas
The key for the Cowboys, who are coming off a bye, is to not look ahead to next week against West Virginia. A sleepy, 11AM kick off in Lawrence can be a trap game for some, just ask TCU.
But, this game comes down to one thing: turnovers. KU has a nation-leading 22 turnovers this season (another 5 last week vs. Baylor), while Oklahoma State has 13 takeaways this season, which ranks 2nd in the Big 12 and top-30 in the nation.
Oklahoma State is coming off a bye week and should be healthier as they get into the meat of their conference schedule. The KU defense, especially its defense line, is solid. But, I’ve got to believe they are getting worn down after 3 straight games against offenses at Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor.
QB Mason Rudolph is getting overlooked by his counterparts in the Big 12 (Mayfield, Mahomes), but is having a fantastic season completing 62% of his passes with 13 touchdowns to just 2 picks. The Pokes may start out slow, but they blow this thing open in the 2nd half.
The Pick: Oklahoma State -23
#12 West Virginia vs. TCU
After last week’s dominant win over Texas Tech in Lubbock, WVU has jumped onto the national stage and is receiving plenty of love. Now they get the afternoon spot on ABC against a well-rested TCU team that is desperate for a quality win to turn their season around.
TCU QB Kenny Hill has put up big numbers, but it hasn’t all been there with his accuracy. That doesn’t bode well against a WVU defense that is holding opposing QB’s to just a 52% completion percentage.
TCU’s defense has been very leaky at times and now has to stop a WVU rushing attack that has been on fire lately behind Rushel Shell and Justin Crawford. Mix that in with QB Skyler Howard who continues to show improvement and better decision making each week, and the Horned Frogs defense is going to have a tough time.
These two teams have traditionally played close games outside of last year’s 30-point TCU win. Prior to that it was a 1-point game, 3-point overtime game, and a double-overtime game. Over 60% of the money is going in on the Mountaineers, as the spread continues to grow after opening up at 5. WVU takes this one, but TCU covers.
The Pick: TCU +6.5
#16 Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Emotions will be high as OU QB Baker Mayfield makes his heralded return to Lubbock, Texas where there is clearly no love lost between him on the fan base and coaching staff.
Tech’s season is on the ropes after getting smoked by West Virginia last week at home. Lubbock is a tough place to play, especially at night. But, with how bad the Tech defense is, it makes things much easier on the opponent going on the road. The Red Raiders have allowed at least 44 points to everyone except Kansas and Stephen F Austin. Joe Mixon will be just fine as the primary running back and WR Dede Westbrook will continue to roll, exploiting a brutal secondary.
Combine this with the questionable health of Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes, who hasn’t looked like himself lately, and this sets up for an Oklahoma route.
The Pick: Oklahoma -13.5