Week 9 Big 12 Picks

Last week’s action served as a kind of reality check for the whole state of Oklahoma. OU lost at home on a missed point after followed by missed chip shot of a field goal. Luckily, Michael Hunnicut wasn’t crucified. OSU, on the other hand, walked into the teeth of a TCU buzzsaw down in Fort Worth, and failed to score a touchdown for the first time since 2009. Expectations for both teams have been scaled way, way back. Of course, OU started the season in the top 5, with hopes of a national title. Now, the Sooners are nearly guaranteed not to play in a January bowl game. The Pokes, on the other hand, knew that this year might not be pretty, with a bevy of inexperienced players, but got their hopes up after a close loss to defending champs Florida State. Now, for the first time in a long time, OSU fans are worried about even making a bowl game.

What is this, 2006?

The last time OSU lost by more than thirty was in 2008, in a tortilla flavored beatdown in Lubbock, which was roughly the last time Texas Tech was respectable.

And while I know that yes, the team is radically inexperienced and as young as a bunch of goddamn butterflies struggling out of a cocoon, I was surprised that Mike Yurcich had a job to return to this past Monday morning.

Yeah, yeah, I know it wasn’t all on him.

But down 28-9 at the half how do you not even complete a single pass for the rest of the game?

Daxx Garman, now in total freefall as OSU’s signal caller, was 0-6 after the break with an INT and 10-26 passing overall. After TCU went up 35-9 on their first possession of the half it seemed like Gundy, Yurcich, et al were already thinking about the plane ride home, and they left Garman in to take blow after blow. No reason to leave a guy in who can barely complete a third of the passes he throws. Dispiriting to say the least.

Oh well. We’ll see what happens this week.

On to the picks!

Last week: 4-1 (.800)

Overall: 41-6 (.872)

 

Texas 24, No. 11 Kansas State 48. Last week, K-State knocked off OU for the second straight time in their last two trips to Norman. Texas, on the other hand, nearly managed to lose to lowly Iowa State in Austin. Needless to say, I do not see an upset in the makings in Manhattan.

Texas Tech 17, No. 10 TCU 41. Forth Worth will not be kind to the Red Raiders this weekend. The Horned Frogs’ offense is clicking like a finely tuned machine, and Trevone Boykin looks like anything but a player who was a wide receiver only two years ago. With Baylor and OU both losing last weekend, Gary Patterson’s bunch suddenly seems like the Big 12’s best shot at a playoff berth.

No. 22 West Virginia 31, Oklahoma State 23. I had a strong feeling about West Virginia last week, only picking them to lose by seven to Baylor. Wish I had gone with my gut, as they sent Baylor packing with a fourteen point loss that the Baptists will get a whole two weeks to think about. Last year they played spoiler to to the 2013 Big 12 favorite OSU. You might remember that clusterfuck of a game, when the OSU offense sputtered and stalled, sputtered and stalled, sputtered and stalled. Sound familiar? Right now the Pokes’ offense seems like it’s in total and complete freefall; the Pokes haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in six(!) straight quarters.

PS: I found OSU’s offensive gameplan for this weekend

Week 8 Big 12 Picks

On a time crunch this afternoon, so I’ll keep most of my commentary to the game picks themselves. This is a big time weekend for the conference race.

On to the picks.

Last week: 4-1 (.800)

Overall: 37-5 (.880)

 

No. 4 Baylor 52, West Virginia 45. Baylor ripped out a huge heartbreaker of a victory last week against TCU. If this were a night game in Morgantown, I’d have a hard time not going with the upset here. Neither team has much defense to speak of; I think Baylor overruns the ‘Neers in this one.

No. 14 Kansas State 27 No. 11 Oklahoma 21. OU managed to pull out the victory at the Cotton Bowl last week despite only gaining 29 total yards of offense in the first half against Texas. These two teams, however, seem to be heading in different directions. OU’s offense has looked progressively worse in the past two games, while Snyder’s squad seems only to be getting stronger. Trevor Knight’s struggles will continue this week–while Jake Waters makes the Sooner D look shoddy enough times for the K-State victory.

Kansas 24, Texas Tech 21. Upset special. KU came close last week against the Pokes, and it wasn’t an accident: their defense played extremely well, and they may have found their quarterback of the future in Michael Cummings. Unfortunately for Jayhawks, they don’t possess Tyreek Hill. Neither does Tech, however.

No. 15 Oklahoma State 36, No. 12 TCU 44. Lots of folks are picking TCU running away with this one, and look–I get it. OSU looked worse than awful last week, managing 62 yards of second half offense. If not for Tyreek Hill’s kickoff touchdown return, the Pokes are most likely sitting at 4-2 and in possession of the most embarrassing defeat of the year. I wonder, too, if such a thing had come to pass, if Mike Yurcich would’ve had a job to return to on Monday morning. Makes you wonder. It’s not that I think he’s entirely to blame–OSU’s offense line couldn’t block a pack of angry special needs third-graders in wheelchairs–but lordy lordy, the offense sucks right now. TCU on the other hand lost a game it absolutely should’ve won against Baylor, and will probably come out pissed-off. I don’t think the game will be quite as close as I’m predicting it–I give OSU a TD in garbage time–but Gundy-coached teams rarely get embarrassed against superior opponents, so I expect a decent showing out of the Pokes.

Iowa State 10, Texas 21. This game sounds about as exciting as watching a tired cowboy dig post holes on a cloudy day on a Fall afternoon. The Horns are getting better. Iowa State is Iowa State, and I guarantee you that if this game’s close late in the fourth quarter and a questionable play comes up for review, Texas’ll get the benefit of the doubt.

PS: Watch out for that right hook, Bob.

Week 7 Big 12 Picks

Odds are, if you’re reading this, you already know about last weekend’s historic string of upsets. Four teams in the top six, five teams in the top eight all fell. All in all it made for an enjoyable weekend of football: the Pokes won, the Sooners got shanked, the Aggies shat themselves, and Bama acted like it wasn’t playing in a championship game (how about this stat: the Tide is just 4-3 in its last seven games).

But with any string of upsets comes the possibility of a downfall. Upset darlings like TCU and Mississippi State had better watch out. As Ted Miller puts it, luckily for the Frogs, there’s no looking past Baylor.

On to the picks.

Last week: 3-1. (.750)

Overall: 33-4. (.891)

 

Texas Tech 35, West Virginia 41. While Texas Tech looked really, really bad against K-State last week, adding another loss to a string of uninspired performances, WVU on the other hand is looking like the best 3-2 team in the country. Doesn’t hurt that their two losses came to teams ranked in the top 5, even if both those teams (OU & Bama) lost last weekend. Still, I see Kingsbury’s squad looking a little better than average this weekend in Lubbock.

Texas 13, No. 11 Oklahoma 17. The Trevor Knight who caught the Sugar Bowl on fire last year is AWOL, and Sooner Nation should be worried. Last week’s performance against TCU wasn’t just bad, it was downright shittastic. Knight completed just 14 of 35 passes for a score and two interceptions. Texas, on the other hand, may have lost by three touchdowns to Baylor, but their defense handed Bryce Petty one of the worst performances of his career. But the problem remains: excluding their opener against North Texas, the Longhorns are averaging 13.5 points a game. If their defense can get them a score via a pick-six or fumble recovery, and if they win the turnover battle in this game, they could easily upset the Sooners for a second straight year. Don’t count on it, though. Under Bob Stoops, OU has rarely lost twice in a row.

Iowa State 17, Toledo 12. Good thing this game’s in Ames, or the Cyclones might find themselves embarrassed again, officiating or no officiating. The Clones put up a good half on the Pokes in Stillwater last weekend, but still found a way to lose by 17.

No. 5 Baylor 48, No. 9 TCU 49. It’s true, conference realignment has ruined much of what made college football so great to begin with, but at least we’ve got Baylor v. TCU–the rare case of a rivalry being restored through the whole ordeal–thoughrestored might not be the proper term: these two teams have played each other over a hundred times, and as recently as in 2007, 2010, and 2011, before TCU joined the Big 12. Sharing a conference again, though, has made the series once again a yearly affair. These two teams hate each other in an unChristianly way. The series all time stands at 51-51-7. Worth noting–though Baylor has won 21 of their last 22 home games, the last team to beat them in Waco: TCU.

Kansas 10, No. 16 Oklahoma State 38. The Pokes’ final exhibition game is this Saturday in Lawrence. Some have characterized this matchup as a trap game for the Cowboys, who might get caught looking ahead to TCU next weekend, and it’s true that OSU’s last trip north resulted in a hair-raising four point victory. But the Rockchawks have not shown an ability to set a trap this year–or any years in recent memory for that matter–without stepping in it themselves. They’ve won 11 of their last 52 games.

PS: Don’t take it so hard, folks

Week 6 Big 12 Picks

Welp. Last week proved that Daxx Garman is gonna keep long-balling it, that SMU is still a smoldering shit heap, and that the folks up in Lawrence just can’t take it anymore.

In the past week that has followed, two new things happened: A) Charlie Weis got put out to pasture and B) Charlie Strong did not kick any more players off his team. So that’s new. Huzzah for all of the Longhorns not currently in the doghouse, and for the zero games that Kansas will probably win to close out the season.

A tougher week of picks this week, and hopefully a few more interesting games; I feel totally out of touch right now, as I’ve spent about as much time on the internet in the past week as I typically would in a normal day. It’s been refreshing.

Also, the Royals made it into the playoffs (I don’t count the play-in game) for the first time since George Brett and the heady fall of ’85, when I had not even yet been thought of, conceived, or born. How’s this for a stat: my MOM was 16 the last time the Royals were in playoffs.

Also of note: on Thursday night, Arizona rose up out of the desert to shock the Oregon Ducks 31-24 at home, and the Pac-12 got interesting for the first time in years.

On to the picks!

Last week: 5-0 (1.000)

Overall: 30-3 (.909)

No. 21 Oklahoma State 44, Iowa State 21. Last week, I thought that OSU would pound the living daylights out of Tech, but Tech came out like they had something to prove. Despite looking shaky at times, Daxx Garman connected on enough heaves to carry the Pokes through, and looked pretty good doing it. His completion percentage (56.3%) has got to improve, however. ISU looks like a good opportunity for that, even though they’re not quite as bad as their 1-3 record would suggest. No luck in Stillwater for the Cyclones.

Texas 10, No. 7 Baylor 45. In other years this’d be a much, much tougher pick. And I have to admit that it’s still weird to say it: Baylor has the same level of advantage on Texas right now that Texas had on Baylor from when the Big 12 began to oh, say, 2009. An upset, however, would be massive for Charlie Strong’s program. I just don’t see it happening this year.

No. 25 TCU 27, No. 4 Oklahoma 52. Lots of folks think this will be a close one for a number of reasons; it’s at TCU, the Horned Frogs offense has improved by leaps and bounds, etc. But I’ve doubted the Sooners enough times this season to know better: OU is the real thing. Gary Patterson’s crew will keep it close for a half, maybe even into the third quarter, but OU will bury them in the fourth. Factoid: before joining the Big 12 in 2012, TCU under Patterson’s guidance was 12-7 against ranked opponents. Since then, they’ve gone 2-7. Even worse: the Horned Frogs are a paltry 1-7 at home in Big 12 play over the past two years.

West Virginia 63, Kansas 3. The Fightin’ Holgorsens are still pissed about last year, when they traveled to Lawrence and allowed themselves to be defeated soundly, 31-13. Something tells me they will do the Jayhawks no such favors this week in Morgantown, KU’s first without Weis.

No. 23 Kansas State 37, Texas Tech 28. It’s not gonna get any easier for Tech, although they do get KU in a few weeks. If Davis Webb is actually healthy, the Red Raider offense could give K-State fits. The Wildcats, though, will send the Kingsburians limping back home across the plains.

PS: No more of this.

Week 5 Big 12 Picks

Last week did not go so hot for me–which I guess is what I get for picking two upsets over top 5 teams in the same weekend. And K-State came SOOO close to beating Auburn. In fact, with the three missed field goals, the interception through the hands of All American wideout Tyler Lockett, you could say that K-State not only could’ve beat Auburn, they should have. Instead what we’re left with is a 20-14 defeat and a huge missed opportunity, both for the Wildcats and the Big 12 Conference at large.

I thought, too, that WVU could hang with OU. That lasted for about a half, which was when the OU defense said NOPE and the Sooners trotted out a running back who has more in common with a Panzer tank than a human being: Samaje Perine. Watching West Virginia defenders try to tackle him was painful; the guy is a goddamn truck.

Also, who knew that there would be a weekend of football in which it would be possible to pick KANSAS to win and for KANSAS to be the only team to actually come through for you? Strange times are the ones we live in. Strange times indeed.

To the picks!

Last week: 1-2 (.333)

Overall: 25-3 (.892)

THURSDAY:

No. 24 Oklahoma State 55, Texas Tech 21. While Daxx Garman is unproven and this game is his first real test, through three games Texas Tech has looked like a pile of stinking, flaming garbage. Even so, normally after coming off a humiliating loss (the week before last’s 21-point home defeat against Arkansas qualifies, I think) I’d bet for a decent showing from Tech. Not so, this week. This week Matt Wallerstedt, Tech’s D-coordinator, was dismissed amongst a flurry of rumors, none of which have been substantiated. Things hardly ever go well for teams enduring midweek coordinator changes. Additionally, Tech’s recent history with OSU does not bode well: in their last three matchups OSU has pounded the Red Raiders by scores of 52-34, 59-24, and 66-6, and Tech hasn’t won a game in Stillwater since 2001, back when Les Miles and Mike Leach patrolled the sidelines.

SATURDAY:

No. 25 Kansas State 48, UTEP 17. I fully expect for K-State to rebound this week. Bill Snyder-coached teams learn from their mistakes, and, as is evidenced by the polar differences between the Wildcats’s start last year (with the loss to North Dakota State) and where they finished (a team that nobody wanted to play), I think they’ll get better every week.

SMU 3, TCU 35. I read somewhere that SMU has scored every single time they’ve been in the red zone this season. Trick is, they’ve only been there three times. The Mustangs have been outscored 146-12 in their first three games. TCU, on the other hand, though they’ve handled both of their non-conference opponents with ease, smashing Samford and Minnesota, will still remain a relative unknown after this game. Their next two opponents are No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor. Win one or both of those and TCU officially  tosses its hat in the ring.

Kansas 10, Texas 14. Remember that time in 2012 when Texas went to Lawrence and emerged with a 21-17 victory thanks to a final minute drive led by back up Case McCoy? (And aren’t you glad you never ever have to read again about how there’s a McCoy and a Shipley in the world and–gasp!–they’re roommates! And their brothers were roommates, too! HA HA HA.) In any case, that 2012 game, though a victory for Mack Brown and co., was one of the nails in his proverbial coffin. This game may be KU’s best chance to spring an upset over one of its longtime superiors, but I think when both teams suck, tradition gets Texas over the hump.

Iowa State 27, No. 7 Baylor 31. Sure, the official Vegas line on this game has the Fightin’ Baptists by 22. But you and I both know the possibilities for a night game in Ames that pits a Big 12 favorite against a scrappy bunch of Cyclones–scary shit, a la 2011 OSU. Also, David Ubben provided an interesting tidbit (via Reddit’s College Football Subreddit): since 2010, Baylor is only 3-6 in games played on natural grass, with those victories coming against UCLA, Colorado, and TCU. Additionally, the Bears are 0-2 in Ames under Briles. I would not take the spread here, folks.

OU & WVU are off this week.

PS: I heard next week’s game in Stillwater (vs. ISU) will be at 11am. This is how I feel. 

Week 4 Big 12 Picks

While I whiffed on the nature of a few of the games last week–thinking WVU would blow Maryland out, and insanely thinking that KU would keep it close with Duke–I prevailed with another perfect set of picks last week, 9-0, and managed to get the UCLA vs. Texas and ISU vs. Iowa games almost exactly correct. Which felt nice.

A paltry three games make up the entire Big 12 slate this weekend, and only two of them are on Saturday. Gross, man. All of the Texas schools, plus Oklahoma State and Iowa State, are off.

At least two of the three should be fantastic ball games, right? K-State vs. Auburn, WVU vs. OU–I’m excited for both match ups (as for KU, is anyone ever excited for their games? are the tiny ass Division II schools that routinely beat them even excited?).

On to the picks.

Last week: 9-0 (1.000)

Overall: 24-1 (.960)

Thursday:

No. 20 Kansas State 32, No. 5 Auburn 31. Not many folks are picking the Wildcats this weekend, and it makes sense, considering Auburn is, well, Auburn. And the fact that K-State barely escaped by the skin of their teeth last week in Ames. But ISU playing the Wildcats tough at home shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. I love this matchup, primarily because of the coach-to-coach dynamic here. Snyder, the old sage, versus Gus Malzahn, one of the best young coaches in the game. As David Ubben pointed out, Power 5 opponents are 0-4 against Snyder-coached K-State teams in Manhattan. Smart money is on Auburn, but under the lights in a night game far from War Eagle’s southern home, look for K-State in the upset.

Saturday: 

Kansas 17, Central Michigan 15Everybody loves to pull for the underdog, but it’s become increasingly hard–at least for me–to pull for the lowly Jayhawks. Their precipitous fall since the days of Mark Mangino roaming the sidelines and Todd Reesing taking the snaps–you may recall their victorious 2007 trip to the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech–has acquired an awfulness that is, in its own way, very entertaining. Since Mangino’s ouster after the 2009 season, KU is 10-40 overall. No longer do I wonder whether this will be the week that KU gets a victory. Instead I wonder how badly they will embarrass themselves, like an alcoholic relative at Thanksgiving Dinner. (Although one has to wonder whether or not my animosity towards the Rock Chalkers is from my recently having read this piece of work on a KU fan blog, which outlines why KU is too good for the Big 12, why KU is too good to even consider Mizzou its rival, why KU doesn’t need K-State, and why KU deserves to be in the Big 10, because the Big 10 is such a great fucking conference.)

West Virginia 45, No. 4 Oklahoma 42. I know it’s unwise to pick two upsets over top five teams in one week, but WVU came close enough to scare the shitsplits out of Bama in Week 1, and OU hasn’t faced a quarterback playing as well as Clint Trickett in a long time. Last week against Maryland he was a cool 37-49 passing for 4 TDs and 511 yards. Not a bad line. Plus, this is as close a thing to a rivalry game that WVU has so far developed in the Big 12, nearly upsetting OU in each of the past two years. This time, they get it done, and Holgorsen can officially step off the hot seat.

N.B.–SEC! SEC! SEC!

Week 3 Big 12 Picks

Man–in Stillwater this past week the quarterback controversy, swirled, tilted, and then ultimately died on the news of J.W. Walsh’s injured foot. Daxx is now the man, at least for now.

In terms of picks, last week I went a smooth 8-0. Which, as David Ubben points out in his picks for this week, is probably not gonna happen this week, in which several different Big 12 teams take on quality opponents from other Power 5 conferences (with the exception of Baylor of course). While UTSA–Oklahoma State’s week three opponent–doesn’t come from the Power 5, they’re a tougher matchup than one might think from a university with a metropolitan area in its name. The Roadrunners, whose team didn’t even exist four years ago, took a quality Arizona team down to the wire last week, and are coached by Larry Coker, who damn nearly won two BCS championships in a row at Miami.

To the picks!

Last week: 8-0 (1.000)

Overall: 15-1 (.937)

Buffalo 6, No. 8 Baylor 77. The only question about this game is whether or not Baylor can actually stop itself from scoring 80+. I don’t think they will, but it’s a distinct possibility, no matter whether or not Bryce Petty is actually back for this game. The question I keep asking: will Baylor ever schedule a decent non-conference opponent? Only time will tell.

Maryland 7, West Virginia 56. Still trying to wrap my head around Maryland as a Big 10 team. Then again, I often feel the same way about WVU. In any case, Maryland whipped WVU last year in an embarrassing fashion, 37-0. They turned around and followed that game with a 63-0 loss to FSU the following week. Which may not say a lot about Maryland, considering how good FSU was last year, but does say something about how bad the Mountaineers were. Times have changed, however. I predict some sweet, sweet revenge for the Fighting Holgorsens on Saturday.

Kansas 14, Duke 17. If only this were a basketball game! Kansas squeaked by SEMO last week (though the game wasn’t quite as close as its 34-28 finish would seem to suggest), and I don’t seem them quite passing the muster. Seriously though, I’m willing to bet money that fans of both schools would rather this were a basketball game.

Texas Tech 28, Arkansas 30. Tough pick, here. Arkansas, which went 0-8 in SEC play last year, is still a relative unknown. On the other hand, Tech, who closed out 2014 by losing its last five regular season games, has looked incredibly unimpressive in shoddy victories against lackluster Central Arkansas and UTEP.

Iowa State 17, Iowa 14. Iowa State came back from the grave to nearly knock off K-State last week, and I think they build on that here against their in-state rivals. Iowa owns a 40-21 edge all-time in this series but lose on their home turf in this one.

TCU 31, Minnesota 21. Is this the year TCU finally competes in the Big 12? I think we’ll know a lot more by how they come out against the Gophers, who field a quality team.

No. 4 Oklahoma 48, Tennessee 13. Last week, I thought that Tulsa might give OU a bit of a surprise, compete for a quarter or two. Boy was I wrong. Word is that the Volunteers are taking the right steps under Butch Jones. They may be on their way back to respectability, but I think they meet a buzzsaw in Norman.

Texas 21, No. 12 UCLA 26. UCLA, an early pick to compete for the PAC-12 title, has struggled with inferior opponents on consecutive weekends, winning 28-20 at Virginia and barely passing muster at home against Memphis. In short, if there were ever a top-fifteen team that looked upsettable, UCLA is it. And any other year, with any other Texas team, that’s probably what I would predict: an upset. The Horns, though, took a royal shit-housing last week from BYU, and things ain’t looking so hot in Austin for Charlie Strong and co. If they can score, though, they’ve got a chance.

Oklahoma State 44, UTSA 31. Walsh is out, probably for the year. It’s Daxx Garman’s time to shine, playing in his second game (and first start) since 2009, his junior year of high school. UTSA, as I said above, isn’t your average C-USA opponent. I’m glad this one’s in Stillwater, and I’m sure Mike Gundy is, too.

K-State is off for the week. 

PS: David Ubben claims, apparently, to have gone 9-0 in his picks last week. Maybe he lost count of how many teams are still in the conference–I wouldn’t blame him.