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Big 12 play starts in earnest this week and with no clear cut favorite, we're in for a roller coaster ride.
Last Week: 3-3 ATS 5-1 SU
For the Year: 11-13 (.458) ATS 17-7 (.708) SU
We learned last week that Oregon can get national scribes tired of writing about the SEC to opine favorably upon a defense that gave up 34 points to Arkansas State and 25 to Fresno State. Arizona's 0 for 6 in the red zone last week was reaching new levels of ineptitude....
...that LSU was the #2 team in the country and they came a botched punt away from losing to an Auburn team that very well could have been 0-3...
...that Florida State may or may not be "back", but it won't take them to be back to win the ACC...
...that Saturday night's Michigan/Notre Dame game was so bad they decided to end the series...
....that TCU has now allowed only 13 points on the year, and that television cameras show their pom squad about twice that number a game...
...and finally, we learned that "Big Game Bob", if he wasn't dead already, was featured in the "In Memoriam" montage at The Emmy's on Sunday night.
There have been a handful of conference games already this season, but with Big 12 play beginning in earnest this week, how about a look around the conference and see who will represent the Big 12 in Phoenix...or Miami?
We'll start at the bottom, which isn't as easy to define now that...oh hell, Kansas is in this league, aren't they? The Jayhawks have managed to lose to a team from Conference USA, the Mac and the Big 12 thus far in Charlie Weis' first season, and probably figure to lose every game from here on out. Basketball season is around the corner, but it appears that Weis, in an effort to make the school more of a gridiron university, stole all of the basketballs and stuffed them up his shirt.
Next up is likely Iowa State and Texas Tech, who play this week to decide who is #8. Paul Rhoads has the Cyclones pointed in the right direction is what people keep telling us, while Tommy Tuberville is just known on the Western plains as "The Guy With the Goofy Haircut That Isn't Mike Leach and Oh Used to Coach at a SEC school or Somesuch but Hey he is Better than that Trainwreck Billy Gillispie."
Somewhere in the middle of the conference is likely the trio of Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State, with Baylor and Oklahoma State trying to replace first round draft picks at quarterback and TCU trying to replace first round draft picks of Tarrant County Jail.
Any of these teams could reach the top of the conference, of course, but with Baylor and Oklahoma State showing some holes on defense you have to think they'll both lose at least two along the way, while TCU hasn't played anyone of significance thus far, unless you count the team that lost to teams from Conference USA and the MAC.
The fourth best team in the conference just might be the Oklahoma Sooners, who have looked extremely lackluster when they are playing a team that isn't best known for hazing a member of the marching band to death.
What are your thoughts on that, Mr. Barry Switzer?
"They just don't have the talent," Switzer told the Tulsa World. "We're not as good as we have been...Everybody's, ‘Well, we got our whole team coming back.' Well, I'm not too damn sure I'd not rather have some damn sophomores. I'd rather have Lee Roy and Dewey and Lucious (Selmon) as sophomores than a bunch of five-year seniors.
"I'd rather have Tommie Harris as a freshman than a bunch of fifth-year seniors that are average."
If you read around the Internet enough you'll find a lot of weird stuff, but you'll also find rumors of discontent around Norman, with Bob Stoops not so inclined to do much about it. Of course I remember reading a lot of the same things last summer, and they almost won the Big 12. We'll see. The Sooners travel to Texas Tech next week (where they haven't won since 2003) before they meet Texas in Dallas on October 13th.
At the top, you'll find the triumvirate of Texas, West Virginia and Kansas State, with Texas looking for their first conference championship since 2009, Kansas State their first since 2003 and West Virginia, well, their first since 2011 (but their first Big 12 title).
We'll know a lot more about Texas in the next three weeks, but if David Ash continues to be a Southwestern version of A.J. McCarron and the defense ever plays up to its potential, it could very well be at the top of the conference if every witch doctor in Austin manages to lift the spell that Kansas State athletics has upon the University of Texas.
You figure that the Wildcats' weak passing defense (giving up 264 yards per game) will catch up to them at some point with a schedule that doesn't include a Landry Jones-quarterbacked team, including road trips to West Virginia, TCU and Baylor (and the hostile confines of Floyd Casey Stadium).
The favorite might just be West Virginia, who gets Kansas State, TCU and Oklahoma at home, with their tough road games at Texas and Oklahoma State. Geno Smith is the favorite for the Heisman at this point, which means absolutely nothing and might actually be a curse, but somebody has to be the favorite, so tag, you're it.
Buckle up, it is about to get good.
On to the games...
Wisconsin @ Nebraska -11.5:
The question here is whether Montee Ball will play, but he is listed as probable at time of writing, so he'll likely give it a go.
This isn't the Wisconsin we're used to seeing, only averaging 143 yards per game on the ground, and averaging only 312 total through four ballgames. They struggled against FCS Northern Iowa in their season opener, fell to Oregon State in Corvallis and then failed to beat Utah State or UTEP convincingly at Camp Randall.
Outside of a disasterous effort against UCLA, Nebraska has been solid. They should be able to handle the Badgers in Lincoln handily.
Nebraska 31 Wisconsin 16
ATS - Nebraska
SU - Nebraska
Ohio State @ Michigan State -2.5:
These two are probably the best two teams in the Big Ten, which is faint praise these days, but somebody has to be. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has been solid, but the Ohio State defense is not what it used to be, giving up 277 yards passing and 394 total on average thus far this season.
Michigan State has the best defense in the Big 10, and held Miller to -27 rushing yards last season in Columbus. He's a year older, but the OSU offense has been all him all season, and I'm not sure he's good enough to go into East Lansing and get this victory.
Michigan State 27 Ohio State 21
ATS - Michigan State
SU - Michigan State
Arkansas @ Texas A&M -13.5:
What in the world is going on in Fayetteville? Their off the field problems have been well noted, but their defense is giving up 458 yards per game and 36 points per game, Knile Davis is only averaging 52 yards per game, and they rank dead last in FBS in turnover margin at -2.5 PER GAME.
But...doesn't this just fit the narrative of the Aggies to lose this game? They're riding high after wins over SMU, South Carolina State and a moral victory over Florida. They have yet to face a quarterback as good as Tyler Wilson, who still managed to throw for 419 yards last week against Rutgers.
Arkansas could very well have given up on their season already, but something tells me that they give the Aggies all they want early in College Station, but still come up a little short.
Texas A&M 37 Arkansas 34
ATS - Arkansas
SU - Texas A&M
Texas Tech -3 @ Iowa State:
Somehow Tommy Tuberville has managed to guide his Red Raiders to two straight losses to Iowa State by a combined score of 93-45, including 41-7 drubbing in Lubbock last year where Tech only managed 290 yards of total offense.
You figure that Tech couldn't possibly lose to the Cyclones three straight years, but this is Tuberville we're talking about.
Texas Tech 34 Iowa State 24
ATS - Texas Tech
SU - Texas Tech
Baylor @ West Virginia -12.5:
These two coaches were on the same staff at Texas Tech under Mike Leach and it figures to be an offensive showcase: Baylor comes into the game averaging 568 yards per game while West Virginia averages 529.
Both defenses have been terrible (although West Virginia has more going for it, namely a solid pass rush), both quarterbacks have been great, neither team has found a reliable running back...they're very similar. First impression was that Baylor was in over their head, but not being able to handle a Maryland team that struggled against William & Mary and Temple has me wondering about West Virginia.
West Virginia 45 Baylor 41
ATS - Baylor
SU - West Virginia
Texas -2 @ Oklahoma State:
Texas finally travels back to Stillwater, as a quirk in the schedule allowed the Longhorns to host Oklahoma State two straight years...both Texas losses.
But Stillwater is somewhat of a second home for Mack Brown's Longhorns, as they are 6-0 during his coaching tenure (although we all know 2005 and 2007 required big comebacks).
Another good stat on the side of Texas? Brown is 18-4 coming off of bye weeks at Texas, with the last loss coming in 2007 against Texas A&M.
Of course none of those stats mean anything this week, as Mike Gundy has gone straight NHL, refusing to name a starting quarterback and being coy when it comes to the injury to freshman Wes Lunt. All indications are that Lunt will not play, and that redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get his first start, but only those in Stillwater know right now.
It doesn't make much of a difference, both quarterbacks have put up ridiculous numbers, but J.W. Walsh does have the ability to tuck the ball in and run, which could be dangerous against a Texas defense that has struggled in basic tackling and could be without Jordan Hicks this week.
On defense, the Cowboys certainly have some talent, and are better than people give them credit for, but the bottom line is that they did give up 52 points to an Arizona squad that was shut-out by Oregon this past weekend.
Texas should be able to move the ball if they utilize the same versatility that they did against Mississippi. The question here is how much they have improved on defense since Oxford, because it could be a long night if you give them extra yards after contact.
We should know a lot more about this Texas team after this one. And I think we'll like what we see.
Texas 37 Oklahoma State 23
ATS - Texas
SU - Texas
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