On Wednesday, we previewed the annual Red River Rivalry slugfest between Oklahoma and Texas, just another in a long line of contests between these two hated rivals in which both teams have come in undefeated and ranked in the top ten nationally.
But OU-Texas isn't the only noteworthy game taking place this weekend in the Big 12. Kansas State is 4-0, including big wins over Miami on the road and last Saturday at home against then-16th-ranked Baylor. And this week, the Wildcats moved into the 20th spot in the USA Today coaches' poll. Despite this, twice-beaten Missouri travels to the Little Apple on Saturday as the favorite against Kansas State.
Texas A&M attempts to rebound from two consecutive defeats, but the Aggies have to go on the road, and to a tough place, at that, in Lubbock, to get things turned around. Texas Tech is a very tough out when hosting opponents at Jones AT&T Stadium, and the Red Raiders run the style of offense that can give A&M fits. The Aggies' season is pretty much on the line this week, which makes this match-up highly intriguing.
Kansas is hoping not to relive the Georgia Tech game of several weeks ago, when the Jayhawks visit high-powered Oklahoma State. The Cowboys want to keep pace with top-ranked Oklahoma, and Kansas would like to do what it can to avoid a blowout. This game is going to be ugly, and will have Jayhawk fans yearning more than ever for the start of basketball season.
Baylor and Iowa State have identical 3-1 records and both suffered a loss in their conference openers. Nothing else is equal about these two teams. Baylor has more talent and a better quarterback, and shouldn't have any difficulty disposing of the Cyclones in front of the home folks this weekend at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
Here are my Big 12 football picks for this week:
OKLAHOMA 38 vs. Texas 27 (in Dallas)
MISSOURI 28 @ Kansas State 21
Missouri is mired at the bottom of the Big 12 standings as one of three two-loss teams through four games, but to overlook the Tigers because of this would be a big mistake. There is a reason the oddsmakers have made Mizzou a three-point favorite in this game and its due, in large part, to the fact that coach Gary Pinkel's team is a very fundamentally sound football team whose two losses are on the road to teams ranked in the top 25 and by a combined 17 points. The Tigers have had two weeks to prepare for Kansas State and should be well rested and well prepared for Saturday's game.
Missouri sophomore running back Henry Josey continues to lead the Big 12 in rushing, averaging 133 yards per game, and quarterback James Franklin has gotten better each game. He had a very strong game against Oklahoma, including over 100 yards running the football, although it was in a losing effort. Kansas State has two players in the top ten in the conference in rushing (quarterback Colin Klein and sophomore running back John Hubert), but the difference maker for the Wildcats thus far has been their solid defense. K-State ranks second in the conference in total defense and is third in scoring defense, giving up an average of 16.5 points per game.
Iowa State 24 @ BAYLOR 42
Both teams are coming off losses. Baylor couldn't hold on to a late lead and lost for the first time this year to Kansas State, while Iowa State fell behind 34-0 by halftime and wasn't really much of factor against Texas from the start, committing costly turnovers that put the Cyclones in a hole early in the game. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III threw his first interception of the season in the loss to Kansas State, and it led to the game winning field goal. Griffin has thrown 18 touchdowns on the season, just two less than his number of incompleted passes. He leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency and is fourth in passing yardage, averaging 327 yards a game.
With the exception of last Saturday, Iowa State's defense has kept them in games and kept the score close, but the offense has been mediocre at best. This game is being played at Baylor and that alone should be enough to get the Bears back on the winning track. Baylor is averaging over 50 points in games played in Waco this season.
TEXAS A&M 35 @ Texas Tech 24
Texas A&M is definitely smarting after two consecutive losses, to Oklahoma State and Arkansas. As a result, the Aggies dropped from the top ten all the way to 25th this week in the USA Today college poll. In both of its losses, A&M allowed large leads to slip away. The Aggies led Oklahoma State 21-3 after a half and ended up losing by a point, and they held an 18-point advantage over Arkansas before squandering that lead.
This week A&M will be at in-state rival Texas Tech, which has had its trouble this year falling behind and having to mount large comebacks to pull out several wins. The Red Raiders were a 45-34 winner over Kansas last weekend and will put their perfect 4-0 record on the line in hosting Texas A&M. Tech can't afford to fall behind by too much this week. Both teams are getting excellent quarterback play - Texas Tech from junior Seth Doege and Texas A&M from senior Ryan Tannehill - and they both feature gifted running backs in Eric Stephens for Texas Tech and Christian Michael for A&M. Both are averaging over 100 yards rushing per game. As a rivalry game, anything is possible, but the Aggies are the more talented team overall and should rebound to hand the Red Raiders their first loss of the season.
Kansas 17 @ OKLAHOMA STATE 48
This game could get very ugly very fast. And if this isn't bad enough, next week Kansas gets to go against the other top-ten Oklahoma team. Both teams have good offenses and poor defenses, relative to their individual strengths and weaknesses, but there is no question that sixth-ranked Oklahoma State is superior on both sides of the ball to what Kansas brings to the game. Kansas may field the worst defense in the Big 12, which is not a comforting feeling for Jayhawk fans, having to go up against one of the country's best offensive teams.
Oklahoma State is averaging 572 yards a game on offense, almost as many yards as Kansas has given up to each of its four opponents. Cowboys' quarterback Brandon Weeden is averaging right at 400 yards passing every time out, and that number is likely to be even higher against an overmatched Kansas secondary. Kansas should be able to move the ball and get some points, but it won't be nearly enough. This should be a high-scoring game. Unfortunately the scoring margin should be high as well, easily in Oklahoma State's favor.
Last Week's Picks: 4-1
For the Season: 30-5