West Virginia @ #12 Baylor
Thursday, October 31st 7:00 PM CT, ESPN
You’re getting this weekly column a day early since Big 12 action for the week starts tonight, as Baylor (7-0, 4-0) hosts West Virginia (3-4, 1-3) in a spooky, Halloween night matchup. Realistically, this game shouldn’t actually be all that spooky. On paper, Baylor is a much better team than the Mountaineers. According to SP+, WVU is statistically the 78th ranked team in the country while Baylor comes in at 17. Baylor’s offense is 8 points better and Baylor’s defense is a whopping 13 points better. That’s all great, but statistics sometimes don’t mean much on a weekly basis when you’re dealing with college athletes. Case in point: even AFTER Kansas State’s upset of Oklahoma, the Sooners are still #4 in SP+ and KState is 34th. So yeah, upsets can still happen with large statistical gaps. Granted, the one between Baylor and West Virginia is much wider. Really, this is the last game Baylor absolutely should win before they hit their big, three game stretch of @TCU, Oklahoma, and Texas. And if the Bears want to maintain their extremely favorable position in the conference championship race, this is absolutely a must win. Weird factors that could impact this game: it’s a Thursday and Halloween night, which could impact attendance and the forecast is on the cold side. While these and other factors could make the game potentially closer than the current 17.5 point spread in favor of Baylor, Charlie Brewer and co. should be able to combine with the stout Baylor defense to hold onto first place in the conference... unless the Big 12 upset curse is carrying over from last weekend.
TCU @ Oklahoma State
Saturday, November 2nd 2:30 PM CT, ESPN
Talk about a couple of teams who got it done last week when they desperately needed wins. TCU (4-3, 2-2) was looking at the wrong-side of bowl eligibility if they lost but they managed to beat Texas by a 10 point margin. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State (5-3, 2-3) went into Ames and took down a then top 25 Iowa State squad. The Cowboys are now playing for bowl eligibility, while TCU is fighting to gain a winning record in conference play and move one game closer to bowl eligibility. Even though both teams looked improved last week, I am honestly more impressed with Oklahoma State’s win. Texas has looked bad in recent weeks and TCU took advantage of that. Meanwhile, Iowa State was hitting its stride and Oklahoma State’s defense absolutely punked Brock Purdy into three interceptions. If the Cowboys defense can play like that against a much weaker quarterback like Max Duggan, I can see Oklahoma State running away with this one, both figuratively and literally with star running back Chuba Hubbard.
31-16 Oklahoma State
#22 Kansas State @ Kansas
Saturday, November 2nd 2:30 PM CT, FS1
Similar to the game above, both Kansas (3-5, 1-4) and #22 Kansas State (5-2, 2-2) got MASSIVELY needed, impressive wins. Kansas State held on to knock off then undefeated Oklahoma and Kansas had a wild ending to kick a game winning field goal and beat Texas Tech. This is a matchup I’ve had circled for a while as a potential program shifter for the Jayhawks. Kansas has not beaten KState since 2008. Les Miles absolutely has Kansas moving in the right direction and Carter Stanley is starting to hit is grove. Kansas’s win last week certainly boosted my feeling that Kansas could pick up this huge win. The issue is, Kansas State looked really good against one of the best teams in the country. Still, it’s a rivalry game. It’s in Lawrence. It’s a letdown, lookahead spot for the Wildcats as Texas looms. It’s going to get messy. And, it’s going to be another consecutive, shock the world upset in favor of Kansas.