Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 9 Big 12 Football Game
Now that the first half the season is over, things will start getting interesting in the Big 12.
One of the first games that could have a major impact on the conference standings kicks off at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday when Texas Tech travels to Oklahoma. The Red Raiders are 7-0 and No. 10 in the BCS. Though Baylor is the favorite to win the conference, Tech is right there ready to take the lead.
Passing its first major test in Norman would be huge for Tech and first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Baylor, the Big 12's other undefeated team, also plays on the road at Kansas. In fact, four of the Big 12's top five teams are on the road this weekend.
Will that be a recipe for upsets? Let's get to the picks.
All rankings reflect the latest BCS standings.
No. 19 Oklahoma State at Iowa State
Saturday, Oct. 26 at Noon ET
The last time Oklahoma State went to Ames, it saw its BCS championship hopes crushed in a 37-31 double-overtime loss.
The last time Iowa State played a football game, it got its soul crushed by Baylor, 71-7.
So which team exorcises their respective demons first?
Iowa State is sticking with sophomore Sam Richardson after initially opening up the quarterback spot to competition this week, while Oklahoma State hasn't decided—at least publicly—whether J.W. Walsh or Clint Chelf will start.
At 1-5, the Cyclones are desperate for a win to keep any postseason hopes alive. They've come close a couple of times against Texas and Texas Tech. Meanwhile, the Cowboys need to take care of business to stay in the Big 12 title hunt.
Neither offense is clicking at the moment, so Oklahoma State's 20th-ranked defense should be enough to get the Cowboys out of the Big 12's northern Twilight Zone alive.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 33, Iowa State 20
No. 10 Texas Tech at No. 15 Oklahoma
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET
The Big 12's game of the week features, statistically, the best matchup of offense and defense.
Texas Tech is No. 2 in the country in passing offense while Oklahoma is No. 4 in passing efficiency defense. The difference is Tech has played against a stingy pass defense (vs. TCU), while Oklahoma has yet to encounter a prolific passing offense.
Something is going to give on Saturday.
The key for the Sooners will be to create big plays through their defense and/or special teams—anything to get the home crowd fired up. Texas Tech needs to keep its composure, which it did earlier this season in a come-from-behind win at West Virginia, and mix in running plays against Oklahoma's vulnerable rush defense.
That, and continue to feed tight end Jace Amaro, who should be on the Mackey Award watch list.
Prediction: Texas Tech 31, Oklahoma 28
West Virginia at Kansas State
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 3:45 p.m. ET
Kansas State and West Virginia are a combined 1-6 in Big 12 play, yet it looks like the two are beginning to find some semblance of an offense.
Does either one break out in Week 9?
Kansas State has finally developed a running game and looks like the Wildcats of recent years, but WVU has a decent enough run defense against teams not named Baylor. In fact, the Mountaineers, ranked 96th in the country in rushing defense, move up 50 spots in rushing yards allowed per game if their performance against the Bears is removed.
West Virginia's other bad game against the run came in Week 2 against Oklahoma. The Sooners tested the Mountaineers' depth in the fourth quarter by grinding out the clock with the ground game. Though WVU defended the run well against Texas Tech, the Red Raiders were also able to gain the necessary yards on the ground in the fourth quarter in a 37-27 win.
Since K-State runs a similar style of run-oriented offense, it's not difficult to see the same thing happening to West Virginia against the Wildcats.
Prediction: Kansas State 27, West Virginia 23
No. 8 Baylor at Kansas
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:00 p.m. ET
Hot starts haven't been a problem for Kansas against Big 12 opponents. The Jayhawks have scored the first 26 points against Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma.
The problem is Kansas hasn't come anywhere close to finishing the job. In those same three games, KU was eventually outscored 175-26.
Think that'll change against Baylor? Yeah, unlikely.
Kansas' strength is in its defense. In Isaiah Johnson and Cassius Sendish, the Jayhawks actually have a couple of defensive backs who could match up well against Baylor's skill players. That said, scoring shouldn't be a huge challenge for the Bears.
The formula for the Jayhawks on offense is to run the ball. It's what they do best and did well against Oklahoma, and it's the only area where Baylor has shown vulnerability on defense.
Kansas needs to catch about 1,000 breaks for this game to be close.
Prediction: Baylor 56, Kansas 20
Texas at TCU
Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET
The spotlight has been off of Texas for a week, but the Longhorns return to action in Week 9 as they try to stay undefeated in the Big 12.
TCU's defense has been good enough to keep the Frogs in games, but the offense hit a new low in a 24-10 loss to Oklahoma State in Week 8. If there's an area where Texas should be concerned, it's the running ability of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin. Dual-threat quarterbacks have hurt Texas before this season, and Boykin could do the same.
But as long as the 'Horns keep churning out yards in the ground game and don't shoot themselves in the foot (or hoof), they should come away with the win.
Prediction: Texas 27, TCU 17
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. All stats courtesy of the NCAA. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.