Last week was a good one for me, correctly calling all four games against the spread while going 3-1 straight up (I was able to predict the Oklahoma State upset over Texas Tech, but blindsided by TCU’s overtime loss at home to West Virginia). The most exciting Big 12 matchup may be over by the time you stumble into work Friday morning with Oklahoma at Baylor headlining a double Thursday night feature that also includes a Stanford/Oregon tilt; these games highlight the nation’s two best offenses against the best teams they’ve encountered yet this season. Don’t despair though – even without OU/Baylor on Saturday, this slate of games promises to be much, much more interesting than last week’s dud.
Oklahoma at Baylor (-16) (Thursday Night Game)
This may be the most top-heavy college football season America has seen in a long time – the top five teams (Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Ohio State, and Oregon, in no particular order) appear miles ahead of even teams 6-10 in the polls. Which is why, in addition to playing at home, Baylor is expected to win by a couple touchdowns and a field goal over #10 Oklahoma. A closer examination of OU’s schedule doesn’t do it any favors either – wins over West Virginia, TCU, and even KU were less than impressive (plus that awful loss to Texas stinks a month later). Baylor, on the other hand, has beaten every opponent by more than 30 points except for K-State. Tonight we see if that 64-16 average margin of victory is for real or just a mirage against the Big 12’s weakest schedule so far this year. Prediction: Baylor 52, Oklahoma 32 (over)
Texas (-6.5) at West Virginia
West Virginia is like a mediocre Baylor – that is, the difference between catching the Mountaineers at home or on the road is probably about a 20 point swing. They own victories over the two most commonly chosen teams to win the Big 12 (TCU and Oklahoma State), but both have been exposed this season. Texas was exposed early and often in nonconference play, but has jumped back with an undefeated start to league play. Both teams will be favoring the ground game to keep this a low(ish) scoring affair, and Texas is better equipped to survive a slugfest. Prediction: Texas 26, West Virginia 13 (over)
TCU (-7.5) at Iowa State
While TCU is desperately clinging to the mantle of most disappointing team in the conference this season, Iowa State’s squad is surely disappointed after beginning the season 1-7 and already out of bowl contention. Injuries have piled up on the Cyclones this season, and there’s not enough depth in Ames to withstand the personnel losses. This is a theme that’s become a pattern at Iowa State. Speaking of common themes, remember when TCU’s offense couldn’t pass the football or score any points last year? Yep, same thing again. The difference is a healthy(ish) QB on the TCU sideline in Casey Pachall. Prediction: TCU 27, Iowa State 18 (over)
Kansas at Oklahoma State (-31)
KU had a surprising start to its game against Oklahoma three weeks back, taking a 13-0 lead while Sooner coaches were screaming at each other on the sidelines before eventually falling 34-19. The Jayhawks then lost 59-14 to Baylor which, aside from K-State, was Baylor’s closest game this season. And then last week KU only trailed Texas 14-6 early in the third quarter before succumbing 35-13. What’s it all mean? That Oklahoma State may need the fourth quarter to complete a demolition of the Jayhawks. Prediction: Oklahoma State 46, KU 16 (under, by a point)
And now, for this week’s easy pick’em – that sure as shooting, can’t miss projection wherein Vegas has it all wrong and you can feel confident taking out a second mortgage, placing the money on this outcome and paying off your first mortgage. Or using the winnings to pay for a semester of college. The two values are roughly equivalent.
K-State at Texas Tech (-2.5)
As more people have changed allegiances to Kansas State (the Wildcats have all the momentum at this point), Tech’s favorite status has gradually fallen this week and, as of Thursday afternoon, stands at just under a field goal. Sure, the game is in Lubbock, but Texas Tech is turning the ball over at a ridiculous rate and K-State appears to have solved at least some of its turnover woes. Just follow the momentum here and ignore the ranking; these are two teams going in diametrically different directions. Wildcats win their third straight game, while Tech drops its third. Prediction: K-State 38, Texas Tech 17 (big upset)