Happy Homecoween! Or something like that which sounds less dumb. It's a weekend full of fun and excitement not only on the Baylor campus, but also throughout the rest of the Big 12 slate. College Gameday makes its first appearance on a Big 12 campus this season and plenty of other matchups that have meaning in the conference championship race. Let's get to the picks:
#18 Oklahoma @ Iowa State
Jack Trice Stadium (Ames, IA)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Line: Oklahoma (-16.5)
For your pregame tailgate watching appetizer, Oklahoma and Iowa State deliver the goods in the first conference game of the day. OU is trying to bounce back after losses to TCU and Kansas State all but ended their hopes of a bid in the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma has not won a national championship since 2000 when they beat Florida State 13-2 (we just #TalkinBoutTheNoles here). The Sooners still have an outside shot at a Big 12 championship if they run the table the rest of the way but they will have to be sure not to overlook a scrappy Cyclone team in Ames. On paper, this should be a dominant day for the stable of Oklahoma running backs against a poor rush defense in Iowa State. Making matters worse for the home team, it sounds as if Keith Ford will be back on the field this week for the Sooners, which means their three headed monster with Ford, Parine and Ross are all healthy. In order for Iowa State to have a shot in this game, its goin to require a heroic performance from Sam Richardson and his offensive line. The Cyclones struggle to run the ball and OU could turn pass rushers Eric Striker and Charles Tapper loose to create a lot of havoc in the backfield on Richardson. Iowa State will need to find a way to keep down and distance manageable in order to mitigate the pressure. Coming off of a bye week, I think the Sooners will be too focused to let this game slip away from them and they should be able to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. OU has an easy time of it in Ames but I think the pesky Cyclones get a late score to backdoor cover.
Prediction: Oklahoma 44 Iowa State 31
#7 TCU @ #20 West Virginia
Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, WV)
2:30 PM CT, ABC (in Texas)
Line: TCU (-4)
The game of the week in the Big 12 is in Morgantown as TCU battles West Virginia with conference and national championship implications. College Gameday will also be in the house as ESPN actually moves out of its southeast comfort zone and into the land of the homemade 'shine and ignited couch. The forecast is making it sound like the weather will be a big factor in this game as the high in Morgantown on Saturday is 45 with a 40% chance of precipitation. Although this is a matchup of two teams that love to throw the ball all over the field (TCU is 6th in passing and WVU 9th), these conditions usually favor the team that can run the ball more effectively. That puts a lot of importance on the lines for both teams to control the line of scrimmage. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I would have said this was a clear advanage for TCU but the West Virginia defensive front has really opened some eyes over the last few weeks. Speaking of eye openers, the play of Trevone Boykin opened plenty of them following his 7 touchdown performance last weekend against Texas Tech that has thrust him into the Heisman conversation. The Mountaineer defense has been very aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage but that could potentially backfire against the dual-threat ability of Boykin. On the other side, TCU has been extremely strong up front all season defensively but have been prone to getting beat over the top. That could present a major problem for the Frogs with Kevin White frolicking through the secondary just as Goodley, Coleman and Cannon did for Baylor in TCU's lone loss of the season. On a neutral field, I would take TCU but there's just something weird about Milan Puskar Stadium and now we're adding cold weather into the mix. I think this is a back and forth affair that's lower scoring than some are predicting. In the end, I think WVU gets a critical stop late in the game to pull the mild upset. This one should be a doozy.
Prediction: West Virginia 31 TCU 30
Texas @ Texas Tech
Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
6:30 PM CT, FS1
This will be a fun one if your idea of fun is two hilariously bad units going head to head. The Texas offense, 109th in FBS in total yards, goes up against a Texas Tech defense that allowed EIGHTY TWO POINTS last Saturday against TCU. So hilarious that even Vegas can't get it together and post a legitimate line for this game, opening at Tech -24.5 (!!!) before being taken off the board completely. This game will take place exactly 6 years to the day that #7 Texas Tech upset #1 Texas in Lubbock with College Gameday on hand. Red Raider fans were booking flights to Miami in hopes of a national championship appearance. Hey, Miami is in Florida and so is Tallahassee. Always gotta be #TalkinBoutTheNoles. But my how things change from 2008. In 2014, this is a battle of a pair of 3-5 teams looking to keep bowl hopes alive. Although Texas' offense is anemic, they should be able to put some points on the board against this Tech defense, and even potentially get a struggling running game going. To me, the key to this game will be the matchup on the other side of the ball when Texas Tech's big play offense goes up against a stingy Longhorn defense. Can the Red Raiders limit their mistakes in order to put points on the board and force Texas to become one-dimensional offensively? Look for Tech to try and lean on RB DeAndre Washinton a little bit more than they typically do to take some of the heat off of a banged up Davis Webb. The crowd in Lubbock will always be a factor, especially when Texas is in town, but I like Charlie Strong's defense enough to take the Longhorns on the road.
Prediction: Texas 26 Texas Tech 21
Oklahoma State @ #9 Kansas State
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manahttan, KS)
7:00 PM CT, ABC
Line: Kansas State (-12)
The final game in the conference comes to us from the Little Apple as Oklahoma State takes on K-State. This begins a murderous finishing schedule for the Wildcats as they have to play at TCU and West Virginia before closing the season at McLane Stadium against Baylor. KSU remains the only undefeated team in conference play though, and that shouldn't be in too much jeopardy against what has proven to be an extremely mediocre Oklahoma State team coming off of consecutive blowout losses against TCU and West Virginia. The sputtering Cowboy offense won't get a reprieve this week going up against a Wildcat defense that pitched a shutout last weekend against Texas. We know that QB Daxx Garman can throw the deep ball but OSU is going to need to prove that they can be more than a one trick pony in order to move the ball against Ryan Mueller and Co. This will put a lot of pressure on the Oklahoma State defense to keep them in the game against Kansas State's offense. Jake Waters looked as if his right shoulder was bothering him last week so it will be interesting to see whether he is still favoring that injury or not. The Wildcats should have enough production from their balanced attack to slowly put away OSU like a viper constricting its prey. Snyderball 101 if you will. K-State cruises to a win before a big trip to Fort Worth next weekend.
Prediction: Kansas State 30 Oklahoma State 7