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.

Week 2 Big 12 Picks

College football’s opening weekend was everything I wanted it to be. I got to watch a ton of games, and a few of them were really, unexpectedly good. And exactly why I love this game. Who knew that Tulsa vs. Tulane could be fun? Three overtimes later, me and a bunch of other people who stayed up late enough to watch the finish. This week, however looks a bit different, and other than a few marquee match-ups outside the Big 12, a la Notre Dame/Michigan, Stanford/USC, and Oregon/MSU, this weekend looks like a bit of a dud. Plenty pumped, though, to head over to BPS for the Pokes’ home opener afternoon.

Also, it feels like old news at this point, but that OSU vs. FSU game was fucking insanely fun to watch. (I’m also not a little proud that I wasn’t far off in only having FSU by 10.)

Last week: 7-1

Season: 7-1

On to this week’s picks:

No. 4 Oklahoma 55, Tulsa 28. While Tulsa hasn’t beaten OU since the pre-Stoops dark ages of the mid-nineties, and hasn’t come within 16 points of them since ’05, this is a game I could see being close for a quarter or two, especially with TU riding the high from last week’s triple-overtime victory. It’s just not gonna happen, though.

No. 20 K-State 56, Iowa State 7. I totally whiffed last week on not picking North Dakota State to upset the lowly Cyclones who, more and more, are looking like an FCS team themselves. A painful stat I saw recently: since upsetting OSU in ’11, ISU is 4-19.

SE Missouri State 21, Kansas 28. The Jawhawks at least have to feel good that they didn’t lose during their bye-week, right? This is winnable as it’s going to get for Charlie Weis and co.

BYU 31, Texas 27. This game has been pegged by a ton of people as an upset special, and I tend to agree. Last year the Stormin’ Mormons all but sealed Mack Brown’s fate, and could embarrass the Horns again in front a crowd full of sad, unhappy Austinites.

Towson 10, West Virginia 48. West Virginia was plenty impressive against Alabama last week, although I have to agree with folks who think that Alabama, well, looked awful. I’m buying the Tide as overrated. On the other hand, WVU looks to have regained a bit of its mojo, and the rest of the conference is no longer anywhere near as excited to head to Morgantown this year.

No. 10 Baylor 63, Northwestern State 12. Fucking hell is this an awful matchup. Gotta be a little nervous about the season, though, if you’re a Baylor fan–is Petty’s injury serious? Because if so, I think he’s the difference between a ten- or eleven-win Baylor team and an eight- or nine-win Baylor team. Of course, Baylor has no fans, so nobody’s worried. (Seriously: when they came to up to Stillwater last year to receive the monumental ass-kicking they got on that cold Saturday night, I saw maybe three, maybe four of them.)

Texas Tech 38, UTEP 34. Won’t be many Big 12 folks up for this one, as it gets a 10pm central start. As Berry Trammel pointed out in his picks for this week, it’s hard to believe that these two West Texas teams have only four times previous to this matchup since 1963. Seems insane. Also, after Tech’s 42-35 flirtation with disaster against Central Arkansas last week (Central Arkansas!), it’s very tempting to think that something could go wrong here. Things get tend to get weird, too, in late night affairs–a few early turnovers by the Red Raiders and this one could get scary.

Missouri State 6, Oklahoma State 59. Very interesting to see how much the media’s expectations have shifted for this OSU squad following our near-upset of the defending champs last week. The defense is for real, that’s for sure–but will J.W. Walsh ever play like somebody more than the J.W. Walsh we’ve come to know, love, and throw our hands up in despair over? I don’t know. While his performances are routinely maddening, there were times against FSU that he looked like the best quarterback on the field–which is saying a lot, considering Jameis Winston’s resumé.

 

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?!).