Week 8 Big 12 Picks


Last week was probably the most ho-hum slate of games imaginable–which was actually good, because my friend Tyson was in from Seattle. Better matchups this week!

Bonus prediction: if No. 6 Texas A&M somehow beats No. 1 Alabama this week–no matter what the score–Bama won’t fall lower than No. 6 in the AP poll. And A&M will get at least No. 1 vote.

Last week: 2-2 (.500)

Overall: 31-14 (.688)

Oklahoma State 35, Kansas 20. OSU’s last two trips to Lawrence have been pretty scary, scraping by 27-20 in 2012 and 20-14 in 2014, in a game that presaged a six-game losing streak for the Pokes that year. The Jayhawks once again almost managed to knock off TCU a couple weeks ago, falling 23-24. After having had a week off one hopes the Pokes will be prepared, but with the way that Gundy’s teams have been playing down to their opponents lately, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if this game isn’t over until the fourth quarter.

Texas 24, Kansas State 28. The Longhorns have only won twice in Manhattan in the entire history of this series, with the last victory coming in 2002, which kind of baffles the mind. Sure, they’ve only played sixteen times total, but for a school like Texas–with its tradition and history–to have had that much trouble says something about the power of the great Bill Snyder.

TCU 27, No. 12 West Virginia 34. It was good to see WVU finally get some love in the national media this past week, finally moving up to No. 12 in the AP poll. They’re still the lowest ranked undefeated P5 school in country, a fact that is emblematic of the struggle the Big 12 has had this year to maintain credibility. But you also can’t ignore the fact that West Virginia has it’s been quite awhile since WVU was relevant on the national scene. They sure looked nasty last week against Tech, bruising their way to a commanding 48-17 victory, holding Tech under 50 points at home for the first time in nine games. At this point the Mountaineers are the Big 12’s best hope for a shot at the CFP.

No. 16 Oklahoma 56, Texas Tech 53. Tech may not have beaten OU in Lubbock since Mike Leach was last patrolling the Red Raider sideline, and Tech may somehow have its worst defense of all time–they’re giving up 53.3 points-per-game to P5 opponents not named KU–but I have a funny feeling that they’re gonna give OU a hell of a time this weekend. After taking such a sound licking from WVU last weekend, Kingsbury should have his team’s attention. Nighttime in Lubbock is not generally hospitable to visitors, and it doesn’t help that the Sooners’ secondary is its weakest link.


Week 7 Big 12 Picks


Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Finally I got a perfect week of picks! I’m going to fix that by picking all of the Land Grant universities playing this week.

Last week: 4-0 (1.000)

Overall: 29-12 (.707)

Kansas State 31, No. 19 Oklahoma 29. Upset alert! The road team has won the last five matchups between these two, and in a week of tough games to pick, this one, to me, is the toughest, despite the fact that last year OU marched up to Manhattan and walked away with a 55-0 drubbing of K-State that made the Wildcats look more like Mildcats (sorry, that was really bad, but I’m a dad now and can say stuff like that). At 73-19-4, Oklahoma owns a decided advantage in the all-time series. During one particularly dark stretch of this series for K-State, from 1937-1992, OU won 54 out of 56 of the games played. If OU hadn’t hung on to beat Texas last week I’d be making a very different pick here, but I think K-State will bottles up Baker Mayfield and come away with a victory here.

No. 20 West Virginia 37, Texas Tech 30. The Vegas line on this game is dead even, and I’m not sure yet whether or not WVU is a real threat to win the Big 12, but I think Texas Tech is somehow even worse than usual this year on defense. Mountaineers by a score.

Kansas 14, No. 20 Baylor 35. Oh, Kansas! YOU GUYS ALMOST HAD TCU AGAIN. In other news, this is pretty much how I feel about Baylor. The situation in Waco seems to get more disgusting with every passing week. You know what–forget conference expansion. Just kick Baylor out. Just kick them out now. The Big 12 would be better for it. Hell, Baylor would probably be better for it, as an institution and self-professedly Christian university.

Iowa State 27, Texas 24. I shouldn’t do this. Shouldn’t pick Iowa State just because they nearly beat BU in week five and nearly rode the Cowboys right out of Boone Pickens Stadium just last week. I shouldn’t think back to last year, when the Cyclones brutalized Texas, Big 10-style, 24-zilcho in Ames. But I’m gonna. I’m gonna pick Iowa State. Fun fact: Texas has spent more weeks as the AP No. 1 than Iowa State has spent in the AP poll itself.


Week 6 Big 12 Picks

Texas v Oklahoma State

(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Welp, K-State losing in the final minute and TCU’s final drive stalling out cost me two picks last week. Oh well! It’s that time of year when Texas and OU fans collectively lose their minds.

Last week: 3-2 (.600)

Overall: 25-12 (.675)

TCU 33, Kansas 10. Boy, Gary Patterson learned who the refs actually listen to last week, didn’t he? (Hint: his name rhymes with oops.) TCU was the victim of one of the worst calls I’ve seen so far this year–and the Big 12 refs have provided plenty of them–when quarterback Kenny Hill was called for intentional grounding on the final drive of the game. Although TCU is 4-0 against Kansas since joining the Big 12, the Horned Frogs have struggled mightily to put KU away. The Frogs won each of the past two meetings 34-30 and 23-17 respectively, and won by margins of only 10 and 14 in the years before that. Gary Patterson hails from the Sunflower State, but that’s the only reason–and not a great one–that I can think of for the Frogs’s KU-related struggles. Could this be the year the Jayhawks finally get over the humph? I have my doubts.

Texas 32, No. 20 Oklahoma 42. Berry Tramel is picking the Horns, and he has very interesting reasons for doing so–but personally, I think that Lincoln Riley’s offense will wipe the field with them. But I’ve been wrong a lot about OU this year. I picked them against Ohio State and Houston–both losses. I picked them lose to TCU and they win by six; I wouldn’t mind being wrong again this week. Texas owns a decent edge in the all-time series between these two, with a record of 61-45-4. OU fans are still stinging from last year, a game in which the Sooners were favored 17 points but lost 24-17. Strangely, the game did not seem have no overall effect on OU’s–or Texas’s–seasons, as OU plowed through the rest of its conference slate. With such an improbable victory it seemed like Texas might’ve finally turned a corner. “[T]hat could have been a turn right there. Because it takes one game to really turn the program,” Strong recently said. Maybe that’s the problem for Strong at Texas: it never is just one game. That victory against Notre Dame keeps looking worse and worse–and as we know from 2013, in Mack Brown’s final campaign, beating Oklahoma won’t necessarily save Strong’s job, if it doesn’t translate to continued to success.

Iowa State 28, Oklahoma State 45. It wasn’t quite what I’d call a blowout, but in an interesting way, I think what Texas does against Oklahoma State is almost as important as what it does against OU. My logic is this: okay, so what if you get beaten by the best? But if you get beaten by the best’s little brother–OSU–well, that’s just wrong. In Mack Brown’s last season the Pokes waltzed down to Austin and beat the pants off the Horns. And that sealed the deal, in my estimation, just as much as the loss against Baylor in their finale that year. Oh, wait–this is supposed to about the Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State game. Right. I don’t like writing about OSU / Iowa State games, for reasons you may remember. ISU gave Baylor major fits last week at home, only falling to the Bears in the final moments of the game, 45-42. I think the Pokes will be prepared.

Texas Tech 24, Kansas State 38. Although Kingsbury has been vague for most of the week about Patrick Mahomes’s health, there’s a good chance that Tech will be without its main gunslinger this Saturday. K-State, on the other hand, nearly upset West Virginia last week in Morgantown. I think they’ll grind it out this week with long, slow drives that keep the ball out of the hands of Tech backup Nic Shimonek. Bill Snyder is 7-5 all time against the Red Raiders.

Week 5 big 12 Picks


Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

I’m feeling weirdly optimistic after OSU’s showing last week in Waco. If you’d told me that OSU would be 2-2 four weeks into the season–and that I’d feel optimistic–I’d have asked you what you were smoking. Strange but true.

Last week: 4-1 (.800)

Overall: 22-10 (.687)

Kansas 31, Texas Tech 44. Most people with brains would say that this game will be over a couple minutes after it starts, but I have a niggling feeling that it won’t be–based, I suppose, in the fact that Tech’s defense has about as much stopping power as a wet paper sack. On the other hand, KU is a wet paper sack, so there’s that.

No. 13 Baylor 44, Iowa State 30. Another game I think may be closer than Vegas does. ISU has a fantastic running back in Lawton native Mike Warren, and Baylor’s run defense is fairly porous.

No. 22 Texas 28, Oklahoma State 34. Strange stats dominate this series’s more recent history. Texas has won their last eight trips to Stillwater, with OSU’s last home victory coming all the way back in 1997. Yet the Pokes have taken four of the last six meetings between these two teams, with all their wins coming in Austin. Texas’s main strength on offense comes on the ground–which is good for the Pokes, who’re pretty strong there (which isn’t saying much considering how bad OSU’s secondary has been; they were at their worst last week against Baylor). Texas hasn’t been too strong against the air themselves; I think Mason Rudolph will have a field day. The big question: can OSU get through a whole game without a 90-minute lightning delay?

Kansas State 27, West Virginia 24. When the season started, who thought that this would be a game pitting two of the only three teams in the conference to have actually looked solid all the way through the season’s opening quarter? I’m surprised West Virginia didn’t break into the rankings this week, after beating BYU. Bill Snyder is 4-0 in his career against West Virginia; I think the Wildcats leave Morgantown with a victory, putting them in the Big 12 driver’s seat.

Oklahoma 38, No. 21 TCU 41. I’m very tempted to go with OU in this one, a game that looked like a primetime national matchup before the season started, but which has lost most of its luster. This feels like the kind of game that OU wins–I’m thinking of last year when the Sooners lost to a bad Texas team and rebounded by throttling K-State 55-0 in Manhattan–but this year, I’m not so sure. Especially after the Sooners have burned me twice this year (I picked them against Houston and Ohio State). Regardless of who wins, it should be a close one. Since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12, the four games between these two squads have been decided by a grand total of 15 points.


Week 4 Big 12 Picks


Welp, the Big 12 has officially crapped its way out of CFP contention–not quite, but close (thanks OU! thanks Texas’s defense! thanks MAC officiating crew!). I really thought that the Sooners would give Ohio State what for, especially at home, but the Buckeyes looked like a National Championship-caliber team. OU did not, and that not only hurts Sooner Nation hearts but the Big 12’s chances to get a team into the CFP. Not that anyone in the conference looks particularly good enough yet. We’ll have a better picture after this week.

NOTE: TCU & SMU were underway when I started this post, with TCU leading 6-3 at halftime. I would’ve picked the Horned Frogs in a landslide, and my picks will reflect that no matter the outcome.

Last week: 6-2 (.750)

Overall: 18-9 (.666)


TCU 47, SMU 26. TCU’s defense has looked mighty porous through the first three weeks. Gary Patterson owns a 12-2 edge against SMU since first taking the job at TCU back in 2001.

San Jose State 23, Iowa State 26. Man, the opening of Matt Campbell’s tenure in Ames has not been pretty. San Jose State, on the other hand, is a kind of unknown: they lost to Tulsa 45-10 in week one, scored 66 points against Portland State in week two, and last week gave Utah a decent game, ultimately losing 34-17.

BYU 21, West Virginia 27. Another Big 12 audition. BYU’s first three games have been decided by a total of six points. West Virginia was not impressive in their last game against Youngstown State: I think they’ll have trouble but ultimately emerge victorious.

Missouri State 6, Kansas State 56. I think the Wildcats are better than most people are giving them credit for. What a surprise! An underrated Bill Snyder squad!

Oklahoma State 49, No. 16 Baylor 45. OSU is 16-4 against Baylor since the Big 12 formed in 1996, but have lost their last two to the Bears: last year’s game was the beginning of OSU’s downfall, in as frustrating a loss for the Pokes as I’ve ever seen. But I think the Pokes are deeper, and better, and: they’ve been tested. Baylor hasn’t. The X-factor for this game is, as he so often seems to be, Ramon Richards.

Week 3 Big 12 Picks


Last week was one of the worst weeks in the history of the Big 12 conference. Not the worst, by any stretch, but up there. It was certainly up there in terms of one of the most embarrassing, outraging non-Bedlam losses in OSU history. But seriously, Big 12? You don’t stick up for OSU? Bob Bowlsby and co. effectively shrugged their shoulders. Oh well. It was also a really terrible week of picks for me. Picking Kansas to win two games in a row was probably where things started to go wrong for me.

Last week: 5-4 (.555)

Overall: 12-7 (.631)


No. 21 Baylor 63, Rice 24. Baylor leaves the friendly confines of McClaine Stadium for a trip down to Houston. Baylor destroys another non-Power 5 opponent. Business as usual.


Kansas 24, Mephis 49. Last year Memphis treated the Jayhawks to a resounding 32-point home loss. Kansas failed to build off its week-one victory last week, losing in decisive fashion to Ohio (which may be an odd way to phrase it, but if anyone knows how to lose decisively, it’s KU).

Iowa State 20, TCU 38. It seems like nearly ever year Iowa State gives Iowa their money’s worth. Last week the Hawkeyes gave ISU a 42-3 thumping from which folks who wear cardinal and gold are probably still smarting. TCU lost a heartbreaker to the Piglets of Arkansas in double-OT. Gary Patterson’s defense isn’t as bad as Kliff Kingsbury’s, but that’s not saying much.

Florida Atlantic 13, Kansas State 44. K-State’s defense looked pretty good against Stanford. Its quarterback play: not so much. Hopefully Jesse Ertz figures it out against FAU.

Pittsburgh 35, Oklahoma State 37. What can I say about OSU’s performance that I haven’t already said, or that you haven’t already read elsewhere? Aside from the inarguable fact that the Pokes by all rights won last week–OSU looked terrible against Central Michigan. It felt at times eerily like watching OSU circa-2000. We’re talking Bob Simmons-era OSU. We’re talking struggling with a MAC-team at home OSU. The Pokes were so bad it was hard to tell whether or not if OSU was playing down to its competition–or if they simply suck. I can tell you what did suck: the offensive play-calling. No running back had more than six carries; the team finished with 50 yards on the ground. That’s 1.9 yards-per-carry, if you’re counting. Which makes it sound like the rushing game as a whole sucked–which isn’t true. Justice Hill had 31 yards on 5 carries (6.1 ypc), but did not, to my knowledge, touch the ball in the fourth quarter. Mike Gundy’s end-of-game management was atrocious, but Mike Yurcich’s play-calling and game-plan might’ve been worse. OSU was 1-11 on third down, managing only 338 yards of total offense. All that, combined with a no-show from Mason Rudolph, and the Cowboys turned in one of their more unimpressive performances of the past ten years. The Panthers, on the other hand, looked very impressive last week, though, beating rivals Penn State in a thriller. If the Pokes don’t figure out their shit on offense, and execute on their third-down defense, Pitt will bury them at home. So why am I picking OSU, you ask? I can’t see them losing back-to-back home games, or Mason Rudolph sucking this bad twice-in-a-row. I think a late turnover will push things in the Cowboys’ favor.

Louisiana Tech 31, Texas Tech 56. Last week Texas Tech’s defense gave up eight touchdowns to a single player. Need I say more? Arizona State lit the Red Raiders up to the tune of 68 points, marking the third time in the last two seasons that Texas Tech has scored more than 50–and still lost. Kingsbury’s squad better be on their watch, too–Louisiana Tech gave Arkansas a run for their money in week one.

No. 3 Ohio State 38, No. 14 Oklahoma 40. This is arguably the best non-conference game of the year, pitting two of the greatest programs in college football history. It’s certainly the best non-rivalry non-conference game of the year–it’s a pity OU lost to Houston, or this would likely be a top-five matchup. For some perspective on just how much prestige is flows from these two programs: the Buckeyes have spent 105 weeks ranked No. 1 in the AP poll all-time, good for best all-time, ever. The team with the second-most weeks at No. 1? You guessed it: OU, with 101. The two teams have only met twice, in 1977 and 1983, splitting the games one a-piece. Ohio State looked gnarly as death itself against Tulsa last week, but I think home field advantage pushes the Sooners over the top in this one.

No. 11 Texas 44, California 31. Can the Longhorns continue their “Texas is back” parade? The Golden Bears haven’t shown much aptitude for defense so far, losing 45-40 to San Diego State last week. I see Texas coming out of Berkley with a decisive win.


Week 2 Big 12 Picks

Photo credit: Thomas Shea

Photo credit: Thomas Shea

Week two doesn’t have much of the luster of week one–but week one! What a week it was.

Last week: 7-3 (.700)

Overall: 7-3 (.700)

Central Michigan 24, No. 22 Oklahoma State 47. The Pokes somehow fell in the AP poll last week after winning by 54 points. This wouldn’t be so irritating if it weren’t for Michigan State holding pat at No. 12 after only beating their own FCS foe, Furman (shout-out to my sister Beth, who’s a freshman there), 28-13. But hey, in Big 10 terminology 15 points is like… 54 points! Okay. Last year OSU went up Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and struggled mightily against CMU, trailing at one point in the second half only to win 24-13. I think OSU will have an easier time this weekend–and think we’ll have a slightly clearer picture of whether or not the running game has actually improved. On the other hand, CMU does boast a very dangerous quarterback in Cooper Rush. He’s listed by ESPN’s draft expert, Mel Kiper, as the No. 5 senior quarterback in the country, and he’s the most experienced QB the Pokes will face this year, at 37 career starts.

Youngstown State 12, West Virginia 49. Long may you run, Bo Pelini. The former Nebraska head shouter now rages on the sidelines of the fearsome Youngstown State Penguins, presumably wearing this face at all times. WVU knocked off Mizzou last week in convincing, if ugly fashion, winning 26-11.

Ohio 35, Kansas 38. Hey guys, KU has a better record than OU! Last week felt so good that Jayhawks coach David Beatty cried during the press conference after the game. He might’ve been crying about the distinct possibility that last week’s victory will be his first and last as KU’s coach–oh, I’m kidding. I think Kansas wins this one. Cheer up, David Beatty. It gets better. Of course, Ohio does know how to score points–they lost last week in a 56-58 thriller to Texas State.

SMU 34, No. 23 Baylor 58. The Baptists are 34.5-point favorites heading into this game, but I don’t they will quite cover. Seth Russell looked like his old self last week in his return to action, throwing for four touchdowns in an abject 55-7 smackdown of Northwestern State (which northwest? which state?). Baylor has a slight edge in the all-time series  at 38-36-7, but has won the last 12 meetings between the two squads.

UTEP 10, No. 11 Texas 47.  Texas’s double-OT victory last week against Notre Dame was easily one of the most entertaining games I’ve ever seen. And it was a big, big win for the Longhorns’ embattled coach, Charlie Strong. Do I think they should be ranked eleventh in the country? Not yet. But hey, why not? It’s the first time the Bevos have been ranked since Strong took over for Mack Brown in 2014.

Louisiana Monroe 17, Oklahoma 56. Poor Louisiana-Monroe has the unenviable task of bearing the brunt of wounded Sooner wrath this weekend. Houston not only made a strong, strong push for Big 12 inclusion last Saturday against OU, but they simply looked like the more physical–and flat-out better–team. The Sooners looked very, very flawed, and have only this week to right the ship before No. 4 Ohio State comes calling, followed by No. 15 TCU and a suddenly dangerous-looking No. 11 Texas team on October 8. I have very a hard time seeing OU dropping all of those games, but a 2-3 start is suddenly a very distinct possibility.

Arkansas 27, No. 15 TCU 41. Both of these teams struggled against inferior competition last week. The The Hogs eked out a 21-20 victory over Louisiana Tech, and TCU struggled mightily on defense against South Dakota State, ultimately winning 59-41. But I have far more faith in Gary Patterson than I do in this man, handsome though he may be.

Iowa State 27, No. 16 Iowa 29. The road team has won the last four meetings between these two rivals, with Iowa taking the last matchup 31-17 in Ames. Iowa State got embarrassed again last week by FCS Northern Iowa, but I think they’ll bounce back this weekend, giving the Hawkeyes quite a scare in Iowa City.

Texas Tech 49, Arizona State 45. Pac-12 teams often have the advantage in night games against foes from the Central Time Zone, and this game’s 9pm central start could be trouble for the Red Raiders, especially on defense. Vegas likes ASU by 2.5 in this game, but I’ll go with Tech here, in a minor upset.

OFF: Kansas State