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

Week 11 Big 12 Predictions

Mr. Desmond Roland, everyone.

For the Cowboys, this season will probably go down as the most injury-ridden in recent history. As before nearly every game played this season, we won’t know who the starting QB will be until it’s announced over the PA system at Boone-Pickens Stadium.

Last weekend was a rough one, both for my picks and the Cowboys, who found themselves irrevocably knocked out of the conference title race. I whiffed on Texas Tech-Texas, and my faith that KU would get its first conference victory of the year was completely unfounded.

No real marquee matchup this week, but nonetheless some interesting ballgames.

Season: 44-14 (.758)

Last week: 3-2

On to the games!

Iowa State 29, No. 17 Texas 31 — This might be the toughest pick of the entire week. Last  week, Texas waltzed out of Lubbock with a victory after actually having played some defense. David Ash turned in a pretty salty day, tossing 3 tds, although his completion percentage was a tad low (11 of 19 passing). On the other hand, ISU had the bum luck of facing OU after the Sooners’ loss to Notre Dame. Which of course did not work out very well. What we know about Iowa State coming in: they’re a good defensive squad (even without Jake Knott) that has been able to hinder a couple very good offenses (K-State and Baylor), but at times have looked very flat (against OSU and OU). Texas’ inconsistencies have been well-documented. Interestingly, in 4 conference victories, The Longhorns’ margin of victory is 6 points. In 2010, after Texas knocked off a ranked Nebraska team in Lincoln, ISU shocked them at home, signaling the beginning of Mack Brown’s current decline. Ultimately, though I think this one goes down to the wire, Ash does enough things right to get The Fighting Bevo’s the victory.

Baylor 17, No. 12 Oklahoma 56– Landry Jones will enjoy a second straight week of looking like his incredible former sophomore self, courtesy of Baylor’s defense. Baylor’s only beaten OU once in its entire history, that was with Bobby Griffin tossing the ball. I think OU covers the spread easily here, causing Baylor’s hopes of bowl-eligibility to wane even more. The Bears face superior squads the next three weeks after this: K-State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State; it’ll be a tough row to hoe.

No 2. Kansas State 47, TCU 26 — Many have speculated as to the nature of Collin Klein’s health for the past week, but Coach Bill Snyder has expressed optimism; Klein walked up and down the sidelines during the second half of last week’s game against OSU with a smile on his face that did not look to me like the smile of a person seriously injured. And who, really, would doubt Klein’s ability to play through pain? On the other hand, Trevone Boykin somehow managed to out-quarterback Gino Smith last week, despite completing just 41% of his passes. That won’t work against K-State’s ball-hogging defense. I predict a bevy of interceptions will plague the Horned Frogs this weekend.

Kansas 7, No. 22 Texas Tech 49 — Despite signs of life against in home games against OSU and Texas, KU remains limper than a sack of soggy bananas on the road. Texas Tech missed a big opportunity last week, I think they come with their guns blazing in Lubbock to regain a little of the fire they’ve lost during the two-game losing streak.

West Virginia 42, Oklahoma State 49 — This week’s official wild card–Dana Holgorsen returns to Stillwater for the first time since helping guide the Cowboys to a 10-2 record in 2010. His current D-coordinator, Joe DeForest, was a mainstay on the OSU sideline for over a decade, spanning from Les Miles to Mike Gundy. OSU still runs the offense Holgorsen installed–the same offense Holgorsen now runs at WVU; it’s almost like OK State is playing its own doppelganger this week. The big question for the Cowboys (again): who will be the starting quarterback? Third-stringer Clint Chelf–who displayed incredible poise during the second half of last week’s loss? Or will it be the oft-injured, much-heralded Wes Lunt, who threw 3 picks for the second time in what basically amounts to 3 starts? Can Gino Smith get WVU out of its massive funk? So many questions. Ultimately, my gut says Clint Chelf starts, OSU’s defense holds up surprisingly well, and the Stillwater-faithful give the Pokes the edge in this one.

Late K-State reaction

A few scattered thoughts:

In many ways, an ugly loss. The Pokes kept it close, and weren’t truly out of the game until Allen Chapman’s third interception of the night against Clint Chelf. But the Cowboys have to be kicking themselves after this one.

Joe Randle had a momentum swinging fumble; after a strong start Wes Lunt looked… well, he looked like a true freshman in a game against the number 2 team in the country, throwing 3 interceptions (including a pick-6) and just 1 touchdown.

Special teams coverage was unbearably awful. I can’t remember a game where we got burned so badly on that side of the ball. Quinn Sharpe is not the guy we want making tackles on kickoffs, no he is not.

Collin Klein’s statsheet looked very Collin Kleinesque (16-22 passing for 245 yards, along with 64 yards on the ground).

The brightest spot of the night: the Cowboys didn’t quit. Not after Wes Lunt threw his third interception of the night and hobbled off of the field. Not down 14 with just over four minutes to play. Clint Chelf, Brandon Weeden’s backup for the past two years and reduced to the third-string for most of this season, drove the Cowboys all the way down to the K-State 12-yard line.

Unfortunately, his final pass landed in Allen Chapman’s hands–an ongoing theme throughout the night as Chapman snagged 3 ints.

You had to admire the effort by Clint Chelf to come in there and complete 10 of his first 12 passes–he looked like an old hand, which, I suppose he is, as a senior–but this was the first serious game experience he’s had all year. He played with fire in his eyes and calmed the offense down, got things in rhythm. It’ll be interesting, if Lunt isn’t back next week against WVU–and possibly, even if he is–if the coaches decide to go with Chelf.