Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Week 13 Big 12 Football Game
It's a short week, so to speak, in the Big 12; there are only three games on Saturday. But what Week 13 lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
The most anticipated conference game of the season kicks off at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday in Stillwater between Baylor and Oklahoma State. With plenty of Big 12 and BCS implications on the line, there's a lot to love about this top-10 matchup.
Another interesting game that will no doubt be overshadowed is Oklahoma's visit to Kansas State. The Wildcats have won four in a row and are making a case as the Big 12's hottest team. Oklahoma looks to have found some offensive consistency with quarterback Trevor Knight, but will it carry over?
Also, Kansas broke its three-year losing streak in conference play against West Virginia in Week 12. But Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis knows there's more to accomplish. Kansas is currently on a 23-game losing streak on the road, a stretch that dates all the way back to 2009.
Can the Jayhawks knock another item off their to-do list this weekend? Let's get to the picks.
(All rankings reflect the latest BCS standings.)
No. 20 Oklahoma at Kansas State
Saturday, Nov. 23 at noon ET
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder wasn't named one of the 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Club's Coach of the Year award, and that's understandable. The Wildcats are barely bowl eligible, let alone in a position to compete for a Big 12 or BCS championship. Technically, after last year's 11-2 campaign, K-State has regressed in the win column.
But you're going to be hard-pressed to find a coach who has orchestrated a better turnaround from Week 1 to Week 12 than Snyder. K-State has a chance to make it five straight wins in Week 13 against Oklahoma.
A rather large variable in this game comes down to how well the Sooners play on offense. Head coach Bob Stoops indicated this week on the Big 12 coaches teleconference he wouldn't tip his hand on who starts at quarterback: Blake Bell or Trevor Knight.
Bell sustained a head injury in last week's win over Iowa State, and Knight played in relief with excellent results. If nothing else, Oklahoma looked more comfortable and more consistent with Knight on the field.
In Ryan Aber's article in The Oklahoman, he reported that Knight will start on Saturday, but that has not been confirmed officially by the school.
Additionally, Abigail Ogle of KOCO in Oklahoma City is reporting that running back Damien Williams and wide receiver Lacoltan Bester will not play against the Wildcats, though no reason was given. As of Monday, both were still on the unofficial depth chart.
Of course, who is and isn't playing may not matter for Oklahoma if Kansas State can run the ball effectively and get out to a comfortable lead. Simply put, the Sooners don't have an offense built to come from behind.
Score prediction: Kansas State 31, Oklahoma 24
Kansas at Iowa State
Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET
If you thought Kansas' three-year Big 12 losing streak was absurd, get a load of this.
The last time the Jayhawks won a road game was when they beat UTEP in El Paso, 34-7, in 2009. That's 23 games in a row. In fact, you have to go back even further to find Kansas' last win on the road against a Big 12 team.
That would be against Iowa State, 35-33, in 2008.
Can Kansas exorcise another football demon in Week 13? The Jayhawks' offense kicked into another gear last week, albeit against a depleted West Virginia defense, with running back James Sims and freshman quarterback Montell Cozart. The good news for Kansas is Iowa State has one of the worst rushing defenses in the country (108th, per NCAA stats).
But it also feels like the Cyclones are due for a win after losing seven straight. Paul Rhoads' team has been close a few times and the team certainly hasn't had close calls go their way. The key is going to be stopping Sims and forcing Cozart to make some freshman mistakes.
Score prediction: Iowa State 27, Kansas 21
No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State
Saturday, Nov. 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET
The game of the year in the Big 12 is nigh. At minimum, a chance to take a firm handle on the Big 12 title race is on the line. For Baylor, a potential BCS title shot is wiped out without a win in Stillwater.
But the Bears, just as they were a week ago against Texas Tech, will be shorthanded. Wide receiver Tevin Reese (wrist) and offensive lineman Spencer Drango (back) are out, likely for the remainder of the regular season. Running backs Lache Seastrunk (groin) and Glasco Martin (knee) are still day-to-day.
Meanwhile, the status of Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart, who plays a key role as a return man, is unclear as he battles an ankle injury.
Great teams are able to say "next man up" and get similar results. So far, Baylor and Oklahoma State have been able to say that.
Baylor should be prepared for an intense atmosphere in Boone Pickens Stadium, as it may need to weather an initial storm if the Cowboys jump out to a quick lead. What Oklahoma State can't do, though, is give Baylor any opportunity to capitalize on mistakes. Quarterback Clint Chelf has to be smart with the football and avoid turnovers. Similarly, the Cowboys defense needs to do what it does best: take the ball away.
Oklahoma State's defense also needs to be able to go sideline to sideline and win the one-on-one matchups by limiting big plays. Bears quarterback Bryce Petty has actually been a little off on his deep passes throughout the past couple of games. With Drango out, there's an opportunity for the Pokes to get to Petty in the backfield as well.
Baylor is a 9.5-point favorite, per VegasInsider.com, but this definitely has the feel of a toss-up game. Baylor hasn't won in Stillwater in more than 70 years—an amazing, albeit slightly misleading, stat since the two schools only played there once from 1939 to 1996.
Numbers like those are more entertaining than relevant, but in this game, the key number is going to turnover margin. Both teams are excellent in that category. Whoever wins that battle wins the game. And, hopefully, it's a good one too.
Score prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 38
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.