Week 14 Big 12 Picks


The Pokes looked absolutely terrible. What else can I say?: OU dominated from the get go; like Bedlam in 2011, 58-23 doesn’t even begin to describe how awful the beatdown was in Stilllwater last week. I don’t have much else to say: it was awful to watch. The Sooners, simply put, made it look like Barry Switzer was on the sideline. OU has a team capable of reaching (or winning) the title game; OSU finally met reality: losing QB Mason Rudolph, DE Jimmy Bean, Cowboy Backs Jeremy Seaton and Blake Jarwin, plus LB Ryan Simmons, finally caught up to the Pokes.

Last week: 4-1 (.800)

Overall: 58-14 (.805)

Texas 17, No. 12 Baylor 37. Honestly, it could go either way: I think Texas has a decent chance of upsetting the Baptists in this one, but I really think Baylor will take care of business, no matter who’s at quarterback for the Bears.

West Virginia 27, Kansas State 31. This is a really though one, and really a tossup. I think K-State will pull it out at home, but it’ll be close, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Holgorsen’s Mountaineers prevail. Worth noting: K-State is 3-0 against WVUs since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.



BEDLAM, 2015.


My own eyes officially opened to Bedlam in 2000. I was ten years old. I burst into tears when Aso Pogi’s final pass fell to the Lewis Field turf, enabling the National Title-bound Sooners to escape Stillwater with a 12-7 victory.  OU beat Florida State to win the National Championship and finished the year 13-0.

OSU finished 3-8 that year. As Bedlam rolls around every year, I never fail to think of it: the pass falling to the ground, OSU playing out another waisted year in a rusting stadium, not just second-fiddle to OU–they didn’t even belong in the same orchestra with them. One only has to look at the overall history of the game to see why.

I remember the next Monday at school, the ribbing, the sarcasm. U(nless you grew up in Oklahoma this may be hard to understand, but there are thousands, if not tens of thousands of kids across the state who are absolutely depending on the outcome of this game for school to be bearable until after Christmas break.)

And then 2001 happened. OU was ranked No. 4 in the country, 10-1 going into the game. OSU was 3-7. The Pokes pulled off the unbelievable:

Fields-to-Woods! Still makes a chill run down my spine. The next year the Pokes would triumph again, 38-28 in Stillwater–and then would proceed to lose the next nine Bedlam games in a row.

There were close games, almost all of them in Stillwater: the Pokes lost 38-35 in 2004, 27-21 in 2006, 61-41 in 2008 (in a game much closer than the score suggests), and 47-41 in 2010, a game I still remember for being especially devastating. Landry Jones tossed two scores of 76 and 84 yards apiece to win the game. I was so sad I went to a David Bazan show afterward, and actually felt happier (for the uninitiated, Bazan’s music is notoriously bummerish).

And then 2011. On the heals of a devastating defeat at the hands of Iowa State to end OSU’s undefeated run, the Cowboys hosted the Sooners, and Landry Jones did this:

Matthew Emmons / Presswire

sooner magic

… which is honestly one of my favorite Bedlam memories ever. The Pokes housed the Sooners 44-10, and it felt like age old demons had been exercised. In a way, I suppose they had.

But that would ignore Blake Bell. I have nightmares about Blake Bell scoring on fourth down to send the 2012 game into overtime, of Blake Bell not even starting against OSU in 2013, the coldest football game I have ever attended, and leading the Sooners on a final minute drive that felt as inevitable, as unstoppable as anything I’ve ever watched. The darkness I felt after 2013 is the worst I can remember. Listening to the smattering of OU fans in attendance hollering Boomer! Sooner! to each other as I walked back to my house was enough to make me want to crawl out of my own skin.

2014, of course, felt like more demons being exercised. Of course, what really happened is that Bob Punted Again:

the return

… and the Pokes pulled off the most improbable rivalry upset in recent history.

Which brings us to the here and now.

With a win, OU is likely a lock for the College Football Playoff. If OSU wins and Baylor loses either later tonight to TCU or to Texas next week, the Pokes win the Big 12 and have an outside shot of sneaking into the Playoff themselves.

Weather is likely to be a factor, with temperatures predicted to be in the low 30s, and freezing rain in the forecast. It’s a scenario that absolutely does not favor the Pokes, who only managed 8 yards on the ground last week against Baylor. Mason Rudolph’s status, too, has been up in the air. Although he’s likely to play, he won’t be a hundred percent. Baker Mayfield, who missed the second half of OU’s game against TCU with a concussion, has been cleared to play but may not be a hundred percent either.

Which may bring the game down to J.W. Walsh vs. Trevor Knight, which certainly favors Walsh, one would think. Yet without a run game, and if Rudolph is out or limited, the overall advantage is certainly tilted to the Sooners.

Strange things happen in Bedlam.

Unfortunately, with the weather predicted the way it is, with the Cowboys’ complete lack of a run game, with the incredible momentum OU has sustained since the loss to Texas, with the paltry performance of OSU’s defense (all apologies to Emmanuel Ogbah) in their last two games against ISU and Baylor, I’m seeing an OU victory this weekend, barring some serious outpouring of the great Stillwater Miraculous.

Official prediction: No. 3 Oklahoma 31, No. 11 Oklahoma State 28.

But my hopes are still for this:

sad sooner

Read my other Big 12 picks here

Week 13 Big 12 Picks – Rivalry Week Edition

osu baylor

After Baylor straight up outmuscled OSU last weekend, I decided to take a few days off from college football: I read very few articles, watched even less Sportcenter. I was bummed, but not nearly as much as I expected to be: the decisiveness of the game lessened the blow. Baylor certainly threw themselves back into the playoff conversation, although they’ll need losses ahead of them to make it in.

In any case, it was nice to take a few days off. I haven’t all season, and it felt a little bit like I had my non-football life back. Ha. In any case, this is one of the best slates of games of the year. That goes without saying, of course.

Here’s my Bedlam pick.

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Last week: 2-2 (.500)

Overall: 54-14 (.794)


Texas Tech 31, Texas 33. Texas has won 14 of the last 16 games in this matchup. Tech hasn’t beaten the Longhorns since Mike Leach was patrolling the sidelines  and Michael Crabtree was catching passes in Lubbock. Also, Texas has been underratedly tough at home this year, outscoring their opponents 195-132 (although it is also worth noting that their home opponents have included Rice, Kansas, and Kansas State). On the other hand, Texas Tech could easily beat the Horns like rag dolls. Still, I’m going with tradition in this one, with Texas by two.


No. 7 Baylor 35, No. 19 TCU 37. Trevone Boykin is out. Josh Doctson is out. Seth Russell has been out for weeks; Jarret Stidham is out. Plus a slew of others on both squads. The losses have certainly taken some of the luster out of this matchup, although it certainly hasn’t taken any of the bile out of this bitter rivalry. Baylor is coming off a monumental win against OSU in Stillwater last week, a win that put them back into Playoff contention. With a win here (and an OU loss in Bedlam, plus a Stanford victory against Notre Dame), the Bears have a good chance of sneaking into the Playoff. The Horned Frogs, on the other hand, are relegated to the role of spoiler. That may not be the role they hoped for at the beginning of the season, but knocking the Baptists out of playoff contention–and conference title contention–would be a pretty sweet balm for the Frogs’ wounds. The all- time series between these two is almost dead even, with the Bears having a slight 52-51-7 advantage. Baylor has won the last two in this series by a total of six points, but I’m going with the home team on Friday night.


Iowa State 24, West Virginia 42.  Iowa State lost in the most horrific fashion imaginable last Saturday afternoon, when they lost after having the ball on first and ten with a 35-28 lead over K-State with a mere 1:30 left to play. Inexplicably, Paul Rhoads decided not to have his team take a knee, and Mike Warren fumbled, leading to a quick score two plays later to tie the game. Iowa State would fumble away the ball on their next possession as well, and K-State kicked a field goal to put the game away as the clock expired. Subsequently, Rhoads is out of a job. I don’t expect an inspired group of Cyclones to show up in Morgantown on Saturday.

Kansas State 52, Kansas 13. This rivalry goes all the way back to the 1902. Kansas has the overall edge 65-42-5. And, with K-State near the end of one of their most dismal years in recent history at 4-6, one might think KU might have a shot at pulling off an upset. (Actually, I’m not sure who would think this other than the most optimistic of KU fans). But Bill Snyder has won 18 of his last 19 against the Jayhawks. He won’t this weekend, either.


Week 12 Big 12 Picks

happy pokes

Not much monologue this week. It’s been one of the craziest one record for me, and it feels good to getting back to football. A pair of big ones this weekend with OSU v. Baylor and OU v. TCU; it’s funny to me that OU seems to be receiving way more attention than OSU now that they’ve beaten Baylor. It irritates me, but I’m okay with it: we get them in Stillwater next week.

Last week: 4-1 (.800)

Overall: 52-12 (.812)

West Virginia 37, Kansas 20. The last time Kansas won a conference game: 2013, against Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers, easily the lowest point of Holgy’s tensure at WVU. Kansas was scrappy last week against a very hobbled TCU team, but I don’t think they come close this week against the Mountaineers.

Iowa State 30, Kansas State 29. Toughest pick of the week for me here. K-State has won the last seven in this series, but Iowa State holds the overall series lead at 49-45-4. Last year the Wildcats barely escaped with a 32-28 victory in Ames. My intuition tells me this is a bad pick–but the Cyclones have found a major spark plug in Joel Lanning. Last week while watching ISU go up 24-7 on OSU I thought Iowa State’s offense had been reincarnated as the 2012 K-State squad, complete with Lanning looking very much the part of Collin Klein. I’m going with ISU in a close one.

No. 10 Baylor 28, No. 6 Oklahoma State 41. At this point you’ve read about Baylor’s well-documented history of total and complete failure in Stillwater. Under Art Briles, the Bears have never gotten within four touchdowns of OSU in Boone Pickens Stadium, even though the last four trips have featured all-time great Baylor teams. The final scores of those games haven’t even indicated OSU’s dominance: in 2013 they lead 35-3 in the fourth quarter. In 2011, in the middle of Robert Griffin III’s Heisman campaign, they lead 35-0 at half. In 2010, also against Griffin, the Pokes led at one point 34-0. The weather this weekend is supposed to be cold, with the predicted temperature at kickoff 35 degrees–something that absolutely tilts the scales in OSU’s favor. My only real worry here: what if Baylor trots out someone other than Stidham, whose status has been iffy all week? OSU’s defense has not been great against unknown QBs (see K-State, Iowa State). I think Baylor will keep this game very close in the first half, but the Pokes will pull away with a powerful fourth quarter, and a ferocious performance by  Emmanuel Ogbah and company.

No. 18 TCU 17, No. 7 Oklahoma 56. I don’t have much to say about this matchup, other than to say that it’s damned unfortunate that Josh Doctson is out for the year, and that Boykin is also hurt for this game. This season has been a minefield of injuries for the Horned Frogs. Their year has reminded me of OSU in 2009–they went into the season with high hopes, too, ended up losing a key player (remember that guy named Dez Bryant, anyone?), and the dreams of a special season vanished. I think Oklahoma absolutely dismantle Gary Patterson’s injury-hobbled squad, and the Sooners will be feeling pretty good about themselves headed into what could be the greatest Bedlam of all time.

OFF: Texas Tech, Texas. 



Week 11 Big 12 Picks


The Big 12 has a big, big problem on its hands. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read at least a little about the controversy spurred on by the College Football Playoff Committee’s second iteration of rankings, which shelved Oklahoma State at No. 8, despite having the second-best win of the entire season in all of college football by any undefeated team (behind Clemson’s win over Notre Dame, of course). The committee also dinged TCU seven spots, knocking them all the way down to No. 15.

Meanwhile, an Alabama team–great wins though they do have–that lost to an increasingly mediocre Ole Miss Squad sits at No. 2, while Notre Dame, Iowa, and Stanford all sit ahead of OSU and Baylor in the rankings.

Something’s rotten in Denmark. Or the Playoff Committee. Joel Klatt pointed out recently a couple of fairly telling discrepencies between the CFP poll as compared to the AP:

AP Poll: teams with pro-style offense

  • Higher: 57%
  • Lower: 7%
  • Same: 36%

Spread-tempo offense

  • Higher: 18%
  • Lower: 73%
  • Same: 9%

He also pointed out that 59% teams in conferences primarily based east of the Mississippi River (SEC, Big Ten, ACC) were ranked higher in the CFP than the AP, whereas not a single team from either the Pac-12 or Big 12 was ranked higher in the CFP than the AP. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

In other news, lost in all this is the fact that the Pokes are up to No. 5 in both the AP. Can anybody tell me what year it was the last time OSU cracked the top five?

On to the picks!

Last week: 5-0

Overall: 48-11

Kansas 3, No. 15 TCU 59. I honestly feel bad for Kansas this week. I mean–sure, I’ve felt bad for Kansas a lot of times over the nightmare they’ve been undergoing for the past five years, but you have to think the Horned Frogs are going to pissed off coming off last week’s rough loss against OSU. Plus, reports seem to indicate that Josh Doctson will be cleared to play by Saturday.

Texas 17, West Virginia 44. Remember way back when, the week before the Red River Rivalry game, when Texas got trounced 56-7 by TCU, everybody thought Texas was going to have the worst season in the entire modern history of UT football? And how they waltzed in and manhandled OU in the Cotton Bowl, and everybody thought, hey, what the hell? Maybe Texas is gonna be all right! And then remember how they got shut out by Iowa State two weeks later? The Horns will have two of their next three just to get to bowl eligibility. I don’t see a step in the right direction this week in Morgantown. WVU is 4-1 this year at home, their only loss coming in overtime to Oklahoma State.

Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 27. At 3-5, K-State also has an uphill battle ahead of them to get to bowl eligibility. With their remaining four games coming against Tech, Iowa State, KU, and West Virginia at home, a victory in Lubbock would put the Wildcats in the driver’s seat. I predict K-State’s lumbering ground game will keep Patrick Mahomes and co. off the field long enough to wear Tech’s flimsy defense down to the bone, and head back north with a critical win. Fun fact: K-State hasn’t lost to Tech since 2009.

No. 8 Oklahoma State 63, Iowa State 17. With last week’s mammoth win against TCU, I was shocked OSU wasn’t ranked higher this week. Hate it, in fact. But the one benefit I can see from it is that it’s added fuel to the fire I see in this team. No one appreciates what the Pokes have done, and I think that gives OSU a major edge. This won’t be a close one. That said, the last time OSU took a perfect record into Ames in the month of November also happens to be the last time that I cried over the outcome of a football game. (I may or may not have happened to have done this crying while lying down next to a toilet–nothing preserves one’s dignity more than crying next to a toilet.) I just thank God that this isn’t a night game.

No. 12 Oklahoma 44, No. 6 Baylor 41. In the first twenty meetings between these two teams Baylor didn’t win a single game. Since then they’ve won three of the past four, victimizing the Sooners 41-12 in 2013 and 48-14 last in Norman. Last year’s beatdown was a legitimizer of sorts for the Bears, proving Baylor was no one hit wonder after winning the conference in 2013. It was also yet another sign of Stoops’ subtle decline at OU. So why do I like Oklahoma headed into this game? Here’s why: although Seth Russell’s replacement, Jarrett Stidham, was solid last Thursday against K-State, throwing for 419 yards on 23-33 passing, he’s still an untested quarterback. Baylor led the entire way against the Wildcats. As a team, too, Baylor is untested. They’ve mauled everyone on their schedule (excepting K-State, of course). But my gut says Stoops will have OU ready to play in Waco, where the Bears haven’t lost since moving into McClane Stadium at the beginning of the 2014 season. Mr. Samaje Perine will be a major point of emphasis for the OU offense. The Sooners have been embarrassed two years in a row by Baylor–it won’t happen again Saturday night.*

*Don’t get me wrong: I’d love for Baylor to absolutely destroy OU. I’d much rather the Pokes face a BU team with their chests puffed out on Nov. 21 in Stillwater. That type of thing has worked out for us a couple times in the past, re: 2013, 2011. 

Week 10 Big 12 Picks – College Football Playoff Rankings Edition

McCleskey SCORES

So, the first College Football Playoff Rankings came out this week, resulting in much consternation in Big 12 country. It’s easy to see why: all three of the Big 12’s undefeateds checked in below their AP ranking. Baylor, ranked No. 2 in this week’s AP poll, checked in at No. 6. TCU, No. 5 in at the AP–and receiving five first place votes–clocked in at No. 8, and OSU is ranked at No. 14, a spot behind AAC member Memphis.

All this while Alabama, who lost at home to two-loss Ole Miss–who lost to Memphis–checks in at No. 4. They play No. 2 LSU this weekend. Notre Dame clocks in at No. 5, and their best two wins are No. 21 Temple and against a Georgia Tech team that, though No. 14 at the time, has gone on to go 3-6 since.

Nothing like preseason hype and name-brand recognition to get where you want to go.

Elsewhere, ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg wrote about the Committee’s SEC West lovefest continues. And how the CFP’s first rankings did absolutely nothing to dispel the theory that the Committee loves namebrand teams.  Aside from Clemson, the top eight are chock full of them. To paraphrase Kyle Porter of Pistols Firing, does anyone think that Baylor, with the way they’ve been absolutely dismantling people, would be ranked No. 6 if they wore Bama crimson and white? Or perhaps their golden helmets were more of a Notre Dame-type-shade?

And it’s not going to be any better for a one-loss TCU or OSU. Maybe worse, considering the amount of close calls both teams have had.

The most frustrating thing about it all is that I can see shades of 2011 in all of this. Committee chairman (and Arkansas AD) Jeff Long had this to say: “(Oklahoma State) scored against Texas Tech, but you know as we looked at other teams, a lot of teams have scored on Texas Tech. That wasn’t surprising.” He of course forgot that one SEC team, the one where he works, Arkansas, who only managed to score 24 points on the Red Raiders.

In 2011, the Pokes couldn’t get any respect, because they supposedly couldn’t play defense. The perception was that they’d never be able to hang with LSU and Alabama, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 when they faced each other that year. Sound familiar?

None of this, of course, is helped by the Big 12’s lack of a conference championship game. At least now that November’s here, things are starting to get truly serious, starting this Saturday.

On to the picks–I was so infuriated I almost decided to continue to go with the AP rankings here on the blog. But I’ve decided to go with the CFP rankings. Ultimately it seems silly not to.


No. 6 Baylor 42, Kansas State 31. Much has been made of Baylor losing starter Seth Russell to season-ending injury two weeks ago against WVU. It seems equally as much has been made of the fact that whoever lines up behind center for Baylor will produce similarly eye-popping results. History has certainly borne that out, from Robert Griffin III, Nick Flynn and Bryce Petty on up to the aforementioned Mr. Russell. But still: a true freshman starting his first game on the road in hostile territory–even if that hostile territory is Manhattan, where K-State recently proceeded to be dismantled by OU 55-0 in their last home game–is bound to have some trouble. The way I see it, K-State is due to show some signs of life. This’ll be closer than the Bears want it to be.

Texas Tech 33, West Virginia 34. A tough game to pick, here. Tech and WVU have both been outmanned in recent weeks, going a combined 1-7 against OU, TCU, Baylor and OSU in October. Tech has performed better, taking TCU down to the wire and giving OSU a hell of a game last week in Lubbock. Still, I’m taking the Mountaineers in Morgantown.

No. 8 TCU 51, No. 14 Oklahoma State 53. OSU is getting very little credit nationally so far. It seems like their 70-53 victory last week in Lubbock, however thrilling it was, however infinitely more exciting than a defensive slobberfest such as might be seen in the southeastern or upper midwestern parts of this country on any given Saturday, might’ve actually done damage to the Pokes’ national perception. This is OSU’s big chance to step out onto the national stage. It all sets up perfectly: Mike Gundy’s teams have always been tough as nails in Stillwater, and Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs have been a bit shaky on the road, needing a miracle to beat Tech in Lubbock and not putting K-State away until Trevonne Boykin hit Josh Doctson for a touchdown pass with 1:10 left in the fourth quarter a few weeks back. OSU has had similar troubles, such as have been well-documented here and elsewhere. And how does one stop Trevonne Boykin? One does not stop Boykin: one only delays him. Out of all the teams left on TCU’s schedule, I think OSU stands the best chance to do it, and like the Pokes in the upset in Stillwater.

Iowa State 24, No. 15 Oklahoma 56. Paul Rhoads may have saved his job by beating Texas 24-0 nothing last week, a score that leaves OU’s 24-17 loss to those same Horns all the more indecipherable. I can’t say I wasn’t shocked at the Cyclones victory, especially as I thought that the Horns had turned a corner. Apparently not. But no such luck for ISU in Norman: Bob Stoops is 10-0 all time against Iowa State, winning those games by a combined margin of 404-86, and the Sooner’s all time record against the Cyclones is a heady 72-5-2.

Kansas 17, Texas 28. Welp, this week we discovered that one really good way to do away with all the good will you’ve accrued from beating your archrival is to lose to a team that was predicted by most not to win another game this year, like Iowa State. Charlie Strong said last year that the Horns would never again lose five games in a season on his watch; turns out, they’ll be incredibly fortunate just to finish the season at 6-6. There’s little chance it happens, but the collective anguish in Austin if the Horns lost to KU at home would probably blot out the sun. KU hasn’t beaten Texas since 1938, which was the final meeting of the two teams before the founding of the Big 12 in 1996.

Week 9 Big 12 Picks


You all know about what happened last week. I wrote about it here, and plenty of other people have written about it very well in other places, especially Josiah Meints in Pistols Firing, so I’m keeping this as football-only as possible.

As far as picks go: I managed a perfect week for the first time all season. Which you’d think would’ve happened by now, considering either KU or Iowa State are always on the schedule. Oh well. A big week this week, before the extravaganza that will be the Big 12’s November slate, when TCU, Baylor, OU, and OSU finally all play each other. All four teams look like well-oiled machines, but TCU’s defensive depth and Baylor’s unfortunate loss of Seth Russell are making the conference race look more open than had previously been thought. We’ll see what happens, won’t we?

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 40-10 (.800)


West Virginia 39, No. 5 TCU 41. The Frogs and the ‘Eers have met three times since joining the Big 12. The games have been decided by a cumulative total of five points, and, even more curiously, the road team has won all three matchups. Which all leads me to wonder if this might be the week we see our first big stumble from TCU. West Virginia has not necessarily been as bad as its three-game skid might imply; for Christ’s sake, they’ve played OU, OSU, and Baylor during that stretch in the past three weeks. I’m still thinking Boykin and company will pull this one out at home, but if Patterson’s team doesn’t show up ready to play, they could be staring at a heartbreaker in Amon Carter.


No. 14 Oklahoma 55, Kansas 17. Fun fact: the Jayhawks actually beat OU the first eight times they played each other. Quite a monumental streak when you think about it, culminating in what must’ve been an exhilarating 2-0 win–in 1910. In more recent (and you could say relevant) history, OU has won the last ten against Kansas dating back to the dark pre-Stoops days of 1997. Kansas is averaging 12.5 points-per-game so far in conference play.

No. 12 Oklahoma State 59, Texas Tech 27. The Pokes have taken the last six in this series, including embarrassing Tech 66-6 and 52-34 on their last two trips to Lubbock. The Red Raiders defense ranks only ahead of Kansas, allowing 561.5 yards per game–that’s good for 126th in the nation. They’ve given up 55, 63, and 63 points respectively in their losses to TCU, Baylor, and OU and only looked competitive against the first of those, TCU, whose defense has been cratered by injuries. OSU, on the other hand, ranks no. 2 in the country in sacks per game, and no. 19 in passing efficiency defense. Even though Halloween can always be a little weird at the Jones, I’ll take Ogbah and Bean on the ends and Rudolph and Walsh under center for an 8-0 Cowboys squad going into TCU week.

Texas 24, Iowa State 10. Slowly but surely, like a just-woken zombie climbing hand-over-fist out of a grave, Texas seems to be becoming Texas again, the kind of Texas team that will not allow itself to be humiliated at the hands of Iowa State. After starting 1-4, a bowl game is definitely still in play for the Longhorns. Paul Rhoads’s staff, however, is going into full-blown freak-out mode: Mark Mangino was dismissed as offensive coordinator after last week’s game, and it’s looking like a Nov. 21 showdown against K-State at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be their best chance at another win. At least they’ll finish the year with two more wins than Kansas*!

OFF: Baylor, K-State. 

*Yes, I know. OSU vs. ISU with the Pokes as a potential Top 10 team in Ames in November is terrifying. But I will not speak of it.