Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week Seven
One loss by Oklahoma was all it took for the national media to again bury the Big 12, but the league and its schools should be used to that by now. TCU is certainly capable of running the table, but if any of the one-loss teams wins out, including the championship game, they’ll at least be in the discussion for a CFP slot. Even if that doesn’t bear out, the race for one of the top two spots and a place in the Big 12 championship game should be entertaining. Isn’t that worth something?
Wins by Iowa State and Texas Tech moved the teams into unfamiliar territory. The Red Raiders are ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 3, 2013, while the Cyclones are receiving votes for the first time since Nov. 18, 2012.
* * * * *
Baylor and West Virginia each have two receivers averaging more than 100 yards per game, out of six total in the conference. Denzel Mims (106.6) and Chris Platt (100.2) pace the Bears, while Gary Jennings (103.6) and David Sills (102.4) hold the standard for the Mountaineers.
* * * * *
The best way to prevent long kickoff returns is to boot the ball deep into or out of the end zone, but that’s difficult to achieve consistently. Weather factors and mishit attempts, added on to the scarcity of the ability to consistently kick the ball 65 yards or so make the touchback the holy grail for special teams coaches. Oklahoma has been excellent in this regard, executing 32 kickoffs of non-returnable status while allowing just four to be returned. It’s instructive to note that on those four returns, OU is yielding more than 29 yards per runback, which makes deep boots a critical aspect of its special teams success.
* * * * *
Baylor kicker Connor Martin leads the league in field goal percentage, having made eight of his ten tries for an 80% mark. Oddly, he is the only kicker in the league with a missed extra point to date. Big 12 kickers are 227 for 228 on PATs this season.
* * * * *
Big 12 teams have lost 12 home games to date, but just seven on the road. The margin between home and road losses won’t change through the end of the year, as only league contests remain.
Kansas (1-4 / 0-2) at Iowa State (3-2 / 1-1) Sat Oct 14 12:00 PM* FSN
It’s almost cliché – starting QB is injured or unavailable, inexperienced freshman comes in and lights up the field in a huge win. Now Iowa State and Kyle Kempt must contend with “week two” of a new era, and all the attendant pressures and heightened expectations that follow a win over a national power. If it were any team other than Kansas, an upset would be the pick, but the Jayhawks don’t have enough to topple the Cyclones on the road.
TCU (5-0 / 2-0) at Kansas State (3-2 / 1-1) Sat Oct 14 12:00 PM FS1
Can K-State rebound from the hug disappointment of a double overtime loss to Texas on the road? Yes. The Wildcats are much better at home than away, surpassing even the normal boost that most teams get from sleeping in their own beds and playing in front of the home crowd. TCU is very good, but this one has all the makings of an ambush. K-State rides its ball-control offense to a win.
Texas Tech (4-1 / 1-1) at West Virginia (3-1 / 1-0) Sat Oct 14 12:00 PM ESPNU
The first of numerous battles to move up the conference standings ladder takes place in this match-up of high scoring offenses and iffy defenses. WVU has shown the ability to limit, if not stop, Tech’s passing game over the past three contests, and while the Red Raiders are more balanced this year, that should be enough to get the win for the Mountaineers.
Oklahoma (4-1 / 1-1) vs Texas (3-2 / 2-0) Sat Oct 14 3:30 PM ESPN
The Longhorns had to be cringing as they watched the Oklahoma – Iowa State game unfold. The last thing UT wanted was a woken-up Sooner bunch rolling into Dallas. Sometimes the angry angle is overplayed, but the Sooners know they can’t afford another loss if they want to mount a challenge for a CFP spot, and the stunner in Norman last week will fuel their preparation.
Baylor (0-5 / 0-2) vs Oklahoma State (4-1 / 1-1) Sat Oct 14 3:30 PM FS1
Baylor isn’t going to go winless this year. While the Bears are down in terms of numbers, they do have some talent, and they are going to pick someone (or two) off. It’s really tempting to pick BU in a game that most will chalk up for the Cowboys, but there’s not enough bravery here to go for two shockers in the same week. OSU is the selection, although not by a wide margin.
* All Times Eastern