Last week I said that Oklahoma State would force turnovers, and turnovers would be the key to the game. Technically I was right. Oklahoma State did force turnovers, and turnovers were the deciding factor in the game. Just not in the way I foresaw. I didn’t anticipate the Cowboys being in a charitable mood themselves. Still, 3-1 on the week isn’t too bad.
This week is going to be a little tougher. There are three games with spreads less than one possession. Combine that with what do we really know about any of these teams, and choosing a side isn’t easy. Still, I have a job to do, so I’ll try to make sense of it, and make some picks.
KANSAS AT TEXAS TECH
THUR, 7:30 pm | Line: TTU -28.5
What if I told you the Jayhawks were the 5th best pass defense in the country? It’s true. Only four other teams have allowed fewer yards through the air per game.
That’s about to change, though. KU may be 5th in pass defense, but Mahomes and Tech are number 1 in pass offense. and if KU does manage to disrupt coach Kingsbury’s offense through the air, Justin Stockton and Demarcus Felton will be more than happy to pick up the slack, because one reason KU’s pass defense is ranked so high, is because no one’s had to throw much against them. The Jayhawk rush defense ranks a putrid 110th in the country.
Tech will win, handily, but this game is Thursday night, and crazy things tend to keep weeknight games closer than they should be. The Red Raiders have also given up 113 points in their last two games. As long as the spread stays above four touchdowns, take the Jayhawks and the points.
BAYLOR AT IOWA STATE
SAT, 11:00 am | Line: BU -16.5
It was nice for the Cyclones to get a win, but let’s not pretend that everything magically got fixed overnight. It’s going to be a long road for Matt Campbell to get the Cyclone program where he wants it to be. Meanwhile, Baylor showed just how good they can be against Oklahoma State despite significant depth concerns. Still, it was a game they could have easily lost if it weren’t for Oklahoma State continually giving the ball back.
Look for the Bears and their 8th-ranked offense to clean up their mistakes and light up the scoreboard. Under three touchdowns? Take Baylor.
TEXAS AT OKLAHOMA STATE
SAT, 11:00 am | Line: OSU -2.5
Now, the tough picks begin. Is Texas back? Is Oklahoma State as bad as their record? The Longhorns have had an extra week to rest, plan and work on their defense, while Oklahoma State looked like they could be a contender against Baylor, they just have to clean up the mistakes that gave the game away.
This game is in Stillwater and normally I might favor the home team. However, I think this game will come down to one stat: sacks. For a couple of years now, the Cowboy’s offensive line has been bad, really bad. Admittedly, it is better this season than it has been recently. Still, they lead the Big 12 in sacks given up. You know who leads the Big 12 in earned sacks? Texas. The Longhorns are going to put pressure on Rudolph for two reasons: one, force mistakes, two, take away the deep ball. They don’t want to give Rudolph time to find a streaking James Washington down the sidelines.
Look for the Longhorns to atone for a less than stellar secondary performance against Cal. If they can get to Rudolph and force him into quick throws underneath, he’s had a difficult time with those passes so far this season as the ball tends to sail on him a bit. Take Texas and the points.
KANSAS STATE AT WEST VIRGINIA
SAT, 2:30 pm | Line: WVU -3.5
West Virginia has topped our power rankings for the last two weeks and this game is in Morgantown, so easy pick, right? Not really.
K-State might be the best team no one is talking about right now. Going into the season they were projected to have the best defense in the Big 12, and they showed that by hanging tough with a Stanford squad they were clearly outmatched by.
But just in case you didn’t see that game and you’re an analytics kind of person, Kansas State is 6th in rush defense, and leads the nation in pass defense and total defense. That right, a Big 12 team leads the entire nation in defense. WHAT IS GOING ON?!!!
Oh, and over the last couple of weeks, the Wildcats have found some offense to go with that lock down defense. They hung 63 on FAU, and 35 on Missouri State in a game that was called at halftime when the Bears tucked tail and ran from the stadium. Okay, not really. It was because of bad weather.
West Virginia’s hopes this season rest in quarterback Skyler Howard’s hands, and that’s true on Saturday. He has to keep the WVU offense moving forward, and the defense rested, in a game coach Bill Snyder will surely look to shorten with long sustained drives.
The Mountaineers have yet to beat the Wildcats since joining the Big 12, but that’s bound to come to an end, and Mountaineer fans have sold out the stadium to watch it happen. I like WVU to win this somewhere around 24-17, so the pick is WVU.
OKLAHOMA AT TCU
SAT, 4:00 pm | Line: OU -3.5
If you listen to Bob Stoops, Oklahoma’s goal of winning the conference is still in front of them. But that wasn’t the goal was it? Not when you’ve just come from the College Football Playoff and you’re preseason number three. But the goal of returning to the playoff is dead. Houston and Ohio State took it around back and quickly put it out of its misery.
Make no mistake, the Sooners are a team reeling, and their schedule isn’t getting any easier anytime soon. Oklahoma has the talent. We know that. What we don’t know is just how much fight this team has left. After all, we’ve seen this movie too many times before the past few years. Where they start out the jewel of the Big 12’s eye, but 3-4 losses swell that eye shut.
TCU, the other preseason favorite to win the conference, hasn’t played much better. The Horned frogs got out-muscled at home by the Razorbacks, and there are concerns on defense as everyone except SMU has hung at least 20 on them.
All things considered, I would take TCU at home. Horned Frog quarterback Kenny Hill will have to have a good day, but the Oklahoma secondary has been shredded by Houston and Ohio State, and TCU ranks 4th in the nation in total offense. Give me TCU and the points.