Big 12 Football: Week 8's Previews and Predictions on Separation Saturday
This is the week that separates the Big 12 conference crown pretenders from the contenders.
That doesn't mean that if a team loses, it's a pretender per se, but it does mean that teams flirting with the BCS will either get a hug or a slap in the face when all is said and done this Saturday.
There's one undefeated team left in the conference but five teams with only one conference loss. More importantly, the top four Big 12 teams face each other in head-to-head competition this Saturday.
It's Separation Saturday, folks.
Enjoy the carnage.
Kansas at Oklahoma
Remember when Charlie Weis' hot seat was scorching and Mack Brown's was cooler than the other side of your pillow? My, how times have changed.
Weis is actually doing some good things in Lawrence, Kansas. The Jayhawks have two double-digit losses (TCU and Kansas State) so far but only one was a rout. Moreover, Kansas hung with Kansas State for an entire half before finally losing 56-16.
Three of the Jayhawks' losses were single-digit losses and if you compare that number to last year's debacle—four double-digit losses at the same point of the season—that's progress.
Should the Sooners be worried? No, but let's hope they shake off that massive hangover from last week's 63-21 Red River Rivalry rout by Oklahoma. And let's also hope they aren't peeking ahead to their date with No. 5 Notre Dame.
The Jayhawks will probably throw the Sooners off in the first quarter because Weis will throw some tricks and fakes at Stoops. Everybody and his brother knows it's coming yet everybody seemingly falls for it—right, Kansas State?
Eventually, the 35-point favorite Sooners will wake up and turn this game into a rout.
Baylor at Texas
Bear facts: Baylor is 7-14 on the road under Art Briles. The Bears are also 9-14 coming off a loss.
Longhorn facts: Texas is 23-12 after a loss under Mack Brown. The Longhorns have lost to Baylor two consecutive years but have never lost three straight to Baylor.
Logic dictates that Texas is the safe bet here, especially since Brown said he'll "get this fixed."
Texas opened as 13.5 point favorites but the line has dropped to 9.5. Either somebody dropped a load of cash on Baylor or not a lot of folks are confident in Texas this week.
I'm going to go with Texas outscoring Baylor and Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat making Baylor quarterback Nick Florence bear the brunt of the Longhorn defense's frustrations.
I'm not very confident about this pick (take the points!) and furthermore, if Brown loses this one then he may only have one more winnable game on the schedule and that's at Kansas.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State
This is Oklahoma State's homecoming game. Translation: Oklahoma State picked this game to welcome back all the alumni with open arms and—hopefully—open checkbooks. I'm a believer in Homecoming games because usually the host team wins.
With that being said, Oklahoma State really hasn't looked very good unless you go back to its 84-0 spanking of Savannah State and 65-24 rout of Louisiana. The Cowboys beat Kansas 20-14 last week and that close score is concerning. Yes, I know that was a road game but it's Kansas, the team Oklahoma State beat 70-28 last year.
I like the Cyclones' tough style of play and Paul Rhoads is a very underrated coach who is 2-0 on the road (Iowa and TCU) this year.
The Cowboys are favored by 14. Forget the spread—I'm calling for an upset alert and the Cyclones cover straight up.
Texas Tech at TCU
This is a trap game for Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders lost 41-20 to Oklahoma two weeks ago, beat West Virginia 49-14 last week and play at TCU—the team that no longer has starting quarterback Casey Pachall—the week before they play at Kansas State, the Big 12's current leader.
There are so many reasons why Tech may overlook this game that's it's frightening, but Tuberville will ostensibly get the team fired up and focused. Still, next week is at Kansas State.
TCU opened as a 3.5 point favorite but Texas Tech is now favored by 1.5 points.
I'm going with the overlooked home team in TCU.
Kansas State at West Virginia
Dana Holgorsen is 3-0 off of a loss but what a loss that was at Lubbock, Texas, last week.
The Mountaineers now know they are not invincible and Bill Snyder now has some good game film to study before his Wildcats take on West Virginia.
There are a lot of intangibles in this game but one of the bigger ones is that both teams' quarterbacks sit at the top of the Heisman race. This is one of the few times football nation gets to see two highly-touted Heisman contenders—Geno Smith and Collin Klein—in head-to-head competition.
Neither quarterback will care about the race—or admit he even will be thinking about it—because this game's significance won't be lost on either side; one team will be either undefeated or 6-1, the other team will be either 6-1 or 5-2.
Defense wins championships and Kansas State has the better defense.
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