Week 1 Big 12 Picks

Okay, folks. Last year was such a whirlwind–year two of grad school, starting a literary magazine, teaching college freshmens for the first time–that this blog fell by the wayside. While I can’t say that there’ll be much if anything in the way of day-in, day-out content posted here, I will say that I missed being able to weigh in on things. Hopefully, most fridays you’ll see a post here, and maybe even some postgame thoughts.

There’s a lot of horseshit out there when it comes to sports journalism, and when you’re a fan of a team that has often been one college football’s have-nots, in comparison to, say, OU or Texas or the entire ESPN SEC-propaganda machine, it can be kind of frustrating to watch the media crown teams that haven’t even played the games prematurely godlike. It can be very easy, while watching College Gameday to want to shake your firsts and scream HERBSTREIT I HATE YOU YOU ARE AN IDIOT.

I need a safe place to do this. And here it is.

Everybody’s got their picks. Hopefully, over the course of the season, this is where I’ll post mine. It’s a guilty pleasure, and I like to see if I can out-pick David Ubben, who is, in my opinion, the best journalist covering Big 12 football.

That said, let’s move on to this week’s picks.

North Dakota State 31, Iowa State 34. NDSU knocked of K-State last year in their opener, and, even though they’re one of the best FCS teams in the country, I think ISU will be ready for them. Particularly interested to see if Iowa State’s offense improves dramatically under the tutelage of former KU head coach Mark Mangino. I bet it does, though it may not show much in the opener.

No. 2 Alabama 45, West Virginia 23. I bet this one’s interesting at half-time, but I just don’t see it. Holgerson’s seat might be in ashes by the end of this year, but a good showing here would help. Don’t think it’s gonna happen.

TCU 35, Samford 3. Will TCU actually bring an offense to the table in year three of Big 12 membership? Will Trevone Boykin lineup behind center or at wideout? Could this matchup get any less interesting?

No. 4 Oklahoma 59, Louisiana Tech 10. The Sooners have a history of coming out flat in their season openers, flirting with disaster against UTEP in 2012 and snaking past Utah State in 2010 by a mere touchdown, but this group of land thieves won’t have any problem this weekend. Though I’d certainly be delighted if they did.

Texas 31, North Texas 17. This one, however, has trap game written all over it, and may be a tad closer than Horns fans would like to believe possible.

No. 20 Kansas State 48, SF Austin 6. After last year’s disaster against NDSU, the Snydercats will be ready. Perennially underrated, Snyder’s Jake Waters might just lead this team to a second Big 12 crown in three years if folks aren’t careful.

No. 10 Baylor 63, SMU 31. I know that this is technically a rivalry game, but wake me when Baylor actually schedules an interesting non-conference matchup. Their piddly scheduling wreaks of a time not too long ago when expectations for the Waco Baptists were piddly as well.

No. 1 Florida State 38, Oklahoma State 28. If you’ve been listening to people who talk about football talk about this game, when they talk about it they make it sound like the game’s over already. It’s not.  And maybe there’s a bit too much in the way of optimism here, but did anyone think FSU would lose to NC State in 2012? A lot of things will have to go right for the Pokes to keep it this close, but strange things happen on football fields. That’s why we watch the games.

 

Week 14 Big 12 Picks

Man, last weekend was tough. To all of you who might’ve stopped by the blog to read my Bedlam recap, some apologies are in order. I knew beating the Sooners in Norman was a tall order, but for them to triumph the way they did… I was left speechless and a bit shellshocked. Still am, in fact.

It was a rough week for picks, too, overall. All three of the other games were decided by 7 points. I managed to get Baylor-Tech right, but that was it. Over the past two weeks, I’ve just gotten rocked, going 2-8. David Ubben, ESPN’s Big 12 blogger, has taken the lead again (he’s 52-19).

Last week: 1-3

Season: 51-20 (.718)

On to this week’s picks!

No. 11 Oklahoma 38, TCU 28 — OU comes off their Bedlam victory riding high, but also probably a bit strung out on adrenaline, too–they’ve won each of their last games on their final possessions. A real chance that they could get upset here, if they come out flat, which is very possible, especially against TCU, which just got its best victory of the season, upsetting Texas at DKR. Ultimately, I think OU’s just got too much firepower for TCU, especially with the whole Sooner offense clicking like it has been. Landry Jones has looked like the Heisman candidate he was projected to be over the past couple weeks.

No. 6 Kansas State 34, No. 18 Texas 28 — Kansas State hasn’t looked the same since Collin Klein left early in the third corner of their game against OSU. Even though Snyder has said that he’s healthy, the Wildcats have scored just 23 and 24 in their last two outings against TCU and Baylor respectively. And we all know what happened down in Waco. Can Klein get back on track? On the other side of the coin, UT’s baffling narrative continues. David Ash has been a hero, he’s been a goat, and now, he’s officially lost his job. Mack Brown announced Case McCoy would be starting this week. Can you smell the desperation in Austin? However far Brown has fallen, he still gets his team up after a loss. I expect Texas to hang with K-State, but Bill Snyder’s 4-2 record against Brown speaks for itself. K-State comes out with a victory and its second ever BCS berth.

Kansas 27, West Virginia 54 — Now that the 5-game losing streak monkey is off their back, I think the Mountaineers will beat the living corndogs out of Charlie Weiss’s crew in Morgantown. Whatever momentum KU had gained was most likely extinguished by the Sam Richardson-led Iowa State beatdown in Lawrence two weeks ago. WVU’s trio of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Bailey can ride into the postseason feeling a little lighter.

No. 23 Oklahoma State 58, Baylor 28 – On paper, this game looks like a dead heat. OSU ranks 3rd in the country in scoring (45.6 ppg). Baylor checks in at 5th (44.4 ppg), and is coming off an OT win over Tech and a crushing victory over K-State. OSU, on the other hand, just lost a heartbreaker in Norman after leading nearly the whole game against the Sooners while playing essentially no defense. However, using the Bedlam game as a watermark for how OSU’s defense will play in Waco would be misguided–OSU owns a 15-1 all time edge against the Bears (which is, I think OSU’s most lopsided margin against any team), have won the last 6 meetings between the teams, and last year led Robert Griffin and co. 45-3 in the third quarter. I think the Cowboys will come out angry in this one, landing themselves in the Cotton Bowl with a possible shot at Texas A&M (who wouldn’t want to see that?!).

BEDLAM

Matthew Emmons / US Presswire

1.

Since the inception of this blog I have, of course, been somewhat partisan in my articles. You may have have noticed some of the derogatory tags directed at that group of pinheaded nitwits down south. You can find Norman with your nose; you’ll smell the shit before you’re there. On the other hand, in my actual picks, I’ve tried to be nonpartisan as possible, picking OU to beat the shit out of Texas and for OSU to lose to that same batch of inconsistent, underperforming Bovines. At times it’s been hard not to get carried away by my emotions. Subjectivity undermines, and informs, everything.

And here we have Bedlam upon us. Possibly the most lopsided rivalry in all of college sports, OU owns an 82-17-7 edge. In the most illustrious past era of OU football, the Barry Switzer- and Bud Wilkinson-coached days, the Sooner lost once in thirty-three tries. Whole swaths of this series have been defined by OU beatdown after beatdown.

Fast forward a few years.

My first memory of Bedlam: 2000, OU’s Josh Heupel-led National Championship run. The Cowboys almost derailed it, despite a 3-7 record at the time. Despite holding one of the best offenses in the country to 12 points, the Pokes lost, with Aso Pogi futilely throwing to Marcellus Rivers in the endzone.

I ran out of the house in tears. I’d never cried about the outcome of a sporting event before.

A lifelong hatred of that team down I-35 was cemented.

The next year hope came in the form of a Josh Fields-to-Rashaun Woods touchdown pass to crush the Sooners’ NC-hopes, winning 16-13. I can barely remember such ecstasy. Rashaun Woods & co. crushed the Sooners the next year in Stillwater, too, in a 38-28 victory that was nowhere near as close as its score indicated.

And then in 2003, the Sooners reasserted themselves, beating the ever-loving shit out of us in Norman, with a final score of 52-9. For the next seven years, the Sooners repeatedly blew the Pokes out in Norman, with final scores of 49-17, 42-14, and 27-0 (against an OSU squad that might better have been named the Walking Dead: Zac Robinson had a knee wobblier than Mitt Romney’s voting record, and stud wideout Dez Bryant had been declared ineligible.

Games in Stillwater, however, were another story. The Pokes lost heartbreakers: 38-35, 27-21, 61-41 (closer than it looked), and, in 2010, 47-41, as Landry Jones threw a pair of TDs in the final three minutes of the game.

And then, 2011. OSU was a juggernaut, sitting at 10-1 with a clear lead in the Big 12, surging towards its first ever season as conference champions. As usual, I crossed my fingers, freaked out, and worried. And then a rushing attack led by Joe Randle and Jeremy Smith gashed the Sooners, rushing for 151 and 119 yards respectively, as well as a couple of touchdowns apiece; Landry Jones couldn’t seem to either field a snap or throw a pass forward. I’d never seen anything like it.

OSU won 44-10. I lost my shit.

Squinky was dead. The Pokes went on to win the Fiesta Bowl against an Andrew Luck-led Stanford squad. OSU had arrived on the national scene as a football power.

2.

And now here we are in late November of the year 2012. OSU, though plagued by injuries and forced to play not one, two, but three quarterbacks, has consistently improved throughout the year, has won 4 of its past 5 games by at least 21 points. They’ve beaten a couple of the league’s best quarterbacks–WVU’s Geno Smith and Tech’s Seth Doege–by 21 and 38 points, respectively.

That team down south, on the other hand, though man-handling Texas Tech in similar style to OSU, crushing them 41-20 in Lubbock, has squeaked past Baylor and WVU (allowing 252 and 458 yards rushing in those games) over the past two weeks.

Though their over-all resume is better than OSU’s, only losing to Kansas State and Notre Dame, they were home losses, both of them.

The fear of a permanent football power up north has risen amongst the Sooner faithful. Last year’s 44-10 whipping is still ringing in the ears of many wearing crimson-and-cream. As far as talent goes, these teams are in a dead heat. The talent gap has closed.

But will it translate into Oklahoma State’s first victory in Norman since 2001?

3.

The failures of Mike Stoops’s defense in its the past two games has been well-documented. On the other hand, Clint Chelf’s unpredicted and unheralded rise to the starting job at OSU has received just as much attention.

The difference between these two teams, to me, comes down to a question of balance.

Landry Jones’s best game of the season came in a tight 50-49 victory last week against WVU. And, well, the Mountaineers’ defense is almost as bad as you can get, ranking 117th in total defense.

Clint Chelf, although his sample size is limited in comparison, has displayed a poise almost entirely vacant in the OU senior, quarterbacking the Cowboys to blowout wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. With a win against the Sooners he can nail down next year’s starting job, quelling the idea of another QB derby in Stillwater.

If Randle and Smith have the kind of game they did last year against OU’s porous run defense, the passing lanes will open. An open rushing attack, combined with a robust passing game and a vicious defensive line anchored by James Castleman and Calvin Barnett, will be the difference in this game.

Final prediction: OSU 41, OU 31. 

GO POKES!!! 

Week 13 Big 12 Blog Predictions (Except Bedlam)

My favorite weekend of the season. BEDLAM IS HERE. Texas A&M v. Texas is no more, but we can do without the Aggies. They seem to be getting on okay over in the SEC, though the same cannot be said for Missouri. This week WVU gets another shot at bowl eligibility, as does Baylor.

Last week was a rough week, predicting-wise, although I almost picked a shocker in Morgantown. Unfortunately for me but probably fortunately for OSU this weekend, OU managed to pull out the victory.

I’m not posting about Bedlam till tomorrow–there’ll be a longer, special-edition post.

Last week: 1-3

Season: 50-17 (.746)

On to this week’s games!

THURSDAY

TCU 27, No. 16 Texas 38  — This game is the result of one of conference realignment’s biggest victims–the Texas A&M/Texas game. Alas, alack, oh-fucking-well. David Ash’s last outing might’ve been his best performance of the season, completing 25 of 31 passes for 364 yards and a couple of TDs. Although TCU’s defense has played well at times this season–against Baylor and Kansas State–they’ve allowed 35+ points in four of their six conference games. In this, the first matchup between these two former Southwest Conference foes in the Big 12, I think Texas’ offense will ultimately be too much for the Horned Frogs.

FRIDAY

WVU 44, Iowa State 47 — West Virginia came oh-so-close last week to upsetting the Sooners in Morgantown, bolstered by Tavon Austin’s super-human perforformance (he finished with 572 total yards. Can you ask for anything more?) but still managed to look the other team’s offense look just as good, allowing Landry Jones to have a career day. At first glance this game may look like a good chance for the Mountaineers to stop their precipitous 5-game slide–unfortunately for them, Iowa State just discovered freshman quarterback Sam Richardson, who was 23 for 27 passing last week against KU. West Virginia’s given up an average of 50.8 ppg in conference play. The Cyclones may not put that big of a number on the board, but it certainly isn’t out of the question. I predict 2012 just gets more miserable for Dana Holgorsen, with another heartbreaker Friday night in Ames.

SATURDAY

Baylor 45, Texas Tech 42 — at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX — After drubbing the No. 1 team in the nation last week, getting the biggest win in school history, and keeping their bowl-hopes alive, can Baylor stay focused going to Lubbock? Can Texas Tech stop its slide after getting butt-thumped in Stillwater? I’d be inclined to say Baylor will be flat coming out, but Texas Tech has looked flat for the past three weeks, having been soundly beaten by Texas, OSU, and squeaking by Kanasas in OT. I think Nick Florence and the Bears are surging, and will fly right into bowl eligibility in JerryWorld.

Tune in tomorrow Saturday morning for my Bedlam prediction! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Week 12 Big 12 Predictions

Not too many surprises last week. OSU cruised past a struggling WVU squad, and K-State continued to pound its way toward the BCS-championship game. I had no idea, however, that Texas would lay the whoop-ass on ISU like it did. This week there are a couple intriguing matchups: a marquee game that could’ve been, and OSU and Texas Tech revive their rivalry in Stillwater.

Season: 49-14 (.773)

Last week: 5-0

On to this week’s games!

No. 12 Oklahoma 27, West Virginia 38 — At the beginning of the season this looked like a marquee matchup–oh, how the times have changed. How far can the Mountaineers drop? I didn’t buy the WVU hype at the beginning of the season, but I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted Dana Holgorsen’s squad dropping this far. On the other hand, I think this might be a bit of a trap game for OU, as BCS-bowling is clearly in their sights. I think Geno Smith and the rest of the Mountaineers rights the ship in this one, and spring the upset.

Iowa State 17, Kansas  21– Both of these teams are hungry. Kansas has faired better at home, losing by just 6 to OSU and by 4 to Kansas. On the other hand, the quarterback carousel continues to turn at Iowa State. If Steele Jantz put together another complete game in Lawrence, it’ll be the difference. On the other hand, if Kansas’ succeeds in the run game, I think Michael Cummings will play well enough for KU to get their first conference victory.

No. 1 Kansas State 58, Baylor 31 — On this weekend last year, 2nd ranked Oklahoma State lost to an unranked Iowa State team. K-State is the top ranked team for the first time in school history. If anyone can perform under the pressure of such a thing, it’s Collin Klein and the rest of the K-State offense. I think the Wildcats take care of business in Waco, although Nick Florence & co. will tack on a couple touchdowns during garbage-time.

No. 24 Oklahoma State 52, No. 23 Texas Tech 23 — Despite using three different quarterbacks, OSU is on the rise, playing consistently throughout conference play, blowing out three of its last four opponents (K-State being the exception) by three touchdowns or more. Texas Tech, on the other hand, has faded in the second half, dropping games to Texas and KSU, as well as barely managing to squeak by Kansas last week. OSU has played extremely well at home this season, losing only once on a controversial play against Texas. Texas Tech will be attempting to revenge their worst loss in program history (last season’s 66-6 ass-kicking by a Brandon Weeden-led OSU in Lubbock), and win in Stillwater for the first time since 2001. This isn’t the year it’s going to happen.

Idle: Texas, TCU