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Big 12 Preview: As The Lubbock Burns

Baker Mayfield's return to Jones AT&T Stadium highlights Week 8 in the Big 12

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma State @ Kansas
Memorial Stadium (Lawrence, KS)
11:00 AM CT, FS1
Line: Oklahoma State (-24)

2016 Kansas football: They ain't gonna win, but at least they might cover the spread at home! The Jayhawks are looking to snap a 15 game conference losing streak dating back to 2014 as they host Oklahoma State. It's been well documented that the Cowboys have struggled to run the ball this season and have relied heavily on Mason Rudolph and James Washington to carry their offense in the passing game. Kansas' strength defensively is in the secondary so if they can hold their own over the top, I could see KU sticking around in this game into the 2nd half. However, the other key is for Ryan Willis and the offense to avoid turnovers as they are 128th in FBS in giveaways. For what it's worth, there are 128 teams that play FBS football, so to be 128th is very bad! They'll need to find some big plays from Steven Sims Jr. and LaQuvionte Gonzalez that they were unable to get last week against Baylor. In the end, I just don't see the Jayhawks being able to stick with an Oklahoma State team that is looking to find its groove in the 2nd half of the season. This won't be a bloodletting in Lawrence, but OSU wins comfortably.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 42 Kansas 20

Texas @ Kansas State
Bill Snyder Family Stadium (Manhattan, KS)
11:00 AM CT, ESPN2
Line: Texas (-1.5)

Texas beat 1-6 Iowa State so the question of the week is of course COULD TEXAS POSSIBLY BE BACK??? The Longhorns look to build some momentum as they take on longtime nemesis Kansas State in Manhattan. UT did finally appear to show some defensive improvement last week but they will certainly face some tougher tests as Charlie Strong attempts to revive his squad. It remains to be seen how much of a threat that the K-State offense will pose in this game. The Wildcats were not particularly impressive on either side of the ball in a 38-17 loss last week on the road at Oklahoma. OU was able to wear down K-State's front with their power running game, a tactic you will likely see Texas try to replicate with D'Onta Foreman. Yet I would expect K-State's defensive front to be motivated for a bounceback week as the Wildcats only allow 3.1 yards/rush on the season, 8th best in FBS. KSU is suspect on the back end however, so there should be opportunities for Shane Buechele to go downfield for some big plays to the speedy WRs that Texas possesses on the outside. But the key to this game may lie in who plays QB for K-State today. Jesse Ertz is expected to play and while he hasn't exactly been lighting the world on fire this year, he is a clear upgrade from backup Joe Hubener. In this context, it's interesting to note that the Vegas line has flipped from K-State -2.5 to the current line where Texas is favored. Do the oddsmakers know something that we don't? Regardless, I think the Longhorns are clearly more capable of explosive plays and that makes the difference in this game.

Prediction: Texas 31 Kansas State 27

TCU @ #12 West Virginia
Milan Puskar Stadium (Morgantown, WV)
2:30 PM CT, ABC
Line: West Virginia (-6)

Well hello there West Virginia! The Mountaineers made a resounding statement last week with a 31 point beatdown of Texas Tech in Lubbock. WVU was impressive offensively as Skyler Howard continues to excel but the big story was the fact that they held Tech's offense to a mere 17 points in the game, the first time that Tech had been kept under 30 points at Jones AT&T Stadium since Patrick Mahomes became the starting QB for the Red Raiders late in the 2014 season. Now West Virginia brings their act back home as Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs roll into town. TCU has had a chance to lay low over the past couple weeks after an extremely close call two weeks ago against Kansas in Lawrence. Yet these are the types of games where it seems like Patterson can get his group up to grab a win when people are least expecting it. On paper, the peripherals would lead you to believe that these teams are very evenly matched. Both offenses are explosive, well-balanced, and have a tendency to go off the rails at times. Both defenses have speed to combat against the spread offenses of the Big 12. But West Virginia has done a great job of bending and not breaking as they are 9th in FBS in points/play allowed. TCU has been reliant on the big play this season but it may come down to whether or not Kenny Hill can lead the Frogs on some long drives and avoid the critical mistake. WVU's defense can be a difficult one to decipher at times, and I think they force Hill into some key turnovers. Mountaineers win it and stay undefeated for now.

Prediction: West Virginia 38 TCU 28

#16 Oklahoma @ Texas Tech
Jones AT&T Stadium (Lubbock, TX)
7:00 PM CT, FOX
Line: Oklahoma (-14)

Once upon a time, there was this kid named Baker. Baker was a true freshman at Texas Tech you see. Baker did the quarterback thing kinda good too! But then Baker did some dumb stuff and lost his job. The last time Baker Mayfield played a game in Lubbock provided this absolute gem (note the "NEVER QUIT" on the back of Tech's unis):

And now Baker is back as the enemy and LUBBOCK FINNA BE LIT AF. That's honestly the only big plotline in this game because there is approximately a 0.0% chance that Tech has the means of stopping Oklahoma's running game. No matter what metric you use to look at this matchup, it's a major mismatch for OU's offense against the Red Raider defense. And with Patrick Mahomes not being 100% health-wise, I don't think Tech's potent offense will be able to go score for score with the Sooners. Mahomes and that passing game will get theirs, but Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are going to get a lot of sprinting exercise. OU rolls on.

Prediction: Oklahoma 55 Texas Tech 30