We’re over the hump in conference play and the Big 12‘s teams all have three or four games left on their schedules before some see their seasons end, some prepare for bowl games in exotic locations, and nine teams from five states around the league gather round their televisions to watch conference champion Kansas State take on Alabama for the national championship. So put a little EMAW in your step today and prepare for the following slate of games:
Iowa State at #22 Texas (-10)
Despite the line and divergent paths these respective teams have taken over the past five weeks, this is actually a pretty good match up. Iowa State losing star linebacker Jack Knott really damaged its prospects for the rest of the season, who lost by 15 to Oklahoma last weekend. Yet the Cyclones are one win away from bowl eligibility. They came into the season expected to use a superior defense to mask offensive deficiencies while uncertain as to which former starter would be at the top of the depth chart. The exact same statement is true of Texas. Yet while the Longhorns’ defense has been abysmal, they’ve put enough points on the board to stand at third in the conference with an overall record of 6-2. I still think Texas deserves more than two losses, but a third one won’t come today. They’ll cover the spread too. Prediction: Texas 33, Iowa State 21
Kansas at #22 Texas Tech (-25)
I don’t think anyone in Vegas has been watching KU recently. Yes, they’re record is awful. Yes, they’re the Jayhawks. And yes, Charlie Weis seems to be purposefully sowing dysfunction on this team. However, James Sims has become one of the best running back in the Big 12, and would destroying opponents if given the chance to run behind the offensive lines of Oklahoma or K-State. There’s obviously no way Kansas hangs with Seth Doege and his receivers, but this team shouldn’t lose by three and a half touchdowns. Prediction: Texas Tech 36, Kansas 20
Baylor at #12 Oklahoma (-21)
Baylor is officially the most dangerous team that will never beat anyone. They own one conference win (against KU) and have allowed more points than everyone but West Virginia (313 to 318). That’s when you know you have a bad defense. However, Nick Florence remains a stellar quarterback and is throwing to the conference’s most dangerous wide receiver in Terence Williams and his deadly complement, Tevin Reese. Yet while they’re always capable of scoring, Oklahoma will score and is always capable of stopping its opponent. This looked like a good game back in September, now it looks to be over by halftime. The only intrigue is whether Oklahoma can win money for its betting followers. In a twist, Baylor keeps it close and only loses by 18. Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Baylor 23
West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-10)
Still searching for knowledge as to who will be the starting quarterback today, projecting this game’s outcome is a dicey predicament. However, the Cowboys still have a stud at running back and they seem to be able to plug and play almost anyone under center as long as Allen Chapman (three interceptions last week against OSU) isn’t lined up on the opposite side. Additionally, I’ve been harping on it awhile now, and will be fully vindicated today when Oklahoma State demonstrates it truly has a powerful defensive unit. Ball control offense and a defense that doesn’t allow big plays? The last time West Virginia met such a team, K-State destroyed them. Oklahoma State is no Kansas State, but West Virginia certainly isn’t the number five team the polls reflected earlier this year either. It’ll be a long flight back to Morgantown. Prediction: Oklahoma State 33, West Virginia 22
And now, for your weekly Easy Pick’em, where the Jug identifies the most baffling line out of Vegas and points to the easy game to put money on. And unlike the past two weeks, wherein the Jug’s pick’em failed to not only cover the spread but also failed to win, this one truly is a no brainer.
#2 Kansas State (-7) at Texas Christian
Please do not adjust your contrast settings on your monitor, you are indeed reading that correctly: Kansas State, sitting at number two in the nation with an undefeated record, is expected to win by a single score against 6-3 Texas Christian. There are a few factors suppressing the line here. The first is that the national media has a weird misconception about K-State being untested on the road. It’s true. Because the Wildcats have only played three away games and now has back-to-back road contests against TCU and Baylor, many people are worried about what will happen. Let the Jug reassure right now, there is nothing to worry about. K-State had to go on the road against Oklahoma, Iowa State, and West Virginia. Difficult outs, all three. Yet each ended with a Wildcat victory. If this team can go into Morgantown and destroy the Mountaineers, all fears about TCU should forgotten.
There’s also a lot of talk about how TCU’s defense has come into its own. Gary Patterson’s 4-2-5 will be able to swarm to ball carriers and neutralize Collin Klein’s passing game with the extra defender in the secondary. It’s been reported that John Hubert and Angelo Pease are still laughing after being told that a team which plays two linebackers will effectively bottle up the Wildcat running game. Kansas State by a mere seven? Easy Prediction: Kansas State 37, TCU 22