Week 4 Big 12 Picks

OSU PITT

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)

FRIDAY:

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

i

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)

FRIDAY

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.

SATURDAY

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

Week 1 Big 12 Picks

STILLWATER, OK - OCTOBER 04:   The Oklahoma State Cowboys take the field before the game against the Iowa State Cyclones October 4, 2014 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Cowboys defeated the Cyclones 37-20. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Here we are again. Football cometh!

Last year I finished out at 59-15 (.797), which isn’t terrible, I suppose, but isn’t great either. I did manage to correctly predict that the Pokes would go 10-2 in the regular season, though! Those first ten games were a fun ride. The last three–it hurt to watch. I have to be honest: the end of last season still kind of stings. Getting brutalized by Baylor, OU and Ole Miss, in succession: not my idea of a good time. Hopefully things turn out differently to end this season.

This year, I’m picking the Pokes to go 11-1. And miss the Playoff anyway. (I like to mix a little depression into my optimism!)

On to week one!

FRIDAY

Northwestern State 6, No. 23 Baylor 45. The beginning of the end of Baylor begins here.

Kansas State 23, No. 8 Stanford 31. Stanford put a 45-16 ass-kicking on Iowa in the Rose Bowl to end last season, and K-State struggled in a loss to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl–this after a regular season that included a brutal six-game losing streak. No one’s giving K-State a chance in this one. And it makes sense because, well, it’s at Stanford and this guy who gained over 2,600 yards of total offense last year. I think it’ll be closer than Vegas does.

SATURDAY

No. 3 Oklahoma 47, No. 13 Houston 43. The last time the Sooners matched up with Houston it was 2004, and a fellow named Art Briles was patrolling the Cougar sidelines in red-and-white. OU went on to win 63-13. This game is Houston’s only chance at the playoff, and a chance to show off their validity as a bonafide potential member of the Big 12. On the other hand, for Oklahoma to drop this game would be just as fatal–OU faces a brutal non-conference schedule that also includes No. 6 Ohio State in week three, as well as trips to Forth Worth, Lubbock, and Morgantown. Must-win, here, I’d argue, for both OU and the Big 12 as a whole.

Missouri 16, West Virginia 35. A battle of Big 12 defectors and refugees. The last time these schools faced each other WVU was apart of the Big East. Mizzou was apart of the Big 8. The Tigers went 5-7 last year and were, if possible, worse than their record suggests, with wins against such mighty foes as Southeast Missouri State, Arkansas State, UCONN, South Carolina, and an injury-plagued BYU team. Dana Holgorsen, on the other hand, is on the hot seat.

Southeastern Louisiana 13, No. 21 Oklahoma State 61. I think OSU’s running game comes together, after two years of ineptitude, here. It’ll have to if the Pokes are going to compete for the conference. I think it will.

Rhode Island 5, Kansas 13. Someone has to win this game. I think Kansas will win this game. Good for Kansas.

Northern Iowa 13, Iowa State 27. The Matt Campbell-regime gets off to a good start. He has a tough task ahead of him.

South Dakota State 3, No. 13 TCU 56. Can Gary Patterson replace Boykin? Josh Doctson? I’m skeptical, especially as a Texas A&M transfer seems to be the answer. We’ll see, but I’m not too high on the Frogs, even though I think if anyone can work a miracle, Patterson can.

Stephen F. Austin 30, Texas Tech 63. Another season in which Texas Tech scores a whole bunch and plays no defense. Cue the grumbling.

SUNDAY

No. 10 Notre Dame 28, Texas 20. The ongoing Texas embarrassment isn’t over, although it’s no embarrassment to lose to Notre Dame. The game won’t actually be as close as the spread I’m predicting.

 

 

Week 14 Big 12 Picks

bedlam

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.

GettyImages-460073330.0

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)

THURSDAY

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.

FRIDAY

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.

SATURDAY

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.

BEDLAM PICKS HERE.