The Big 12 Conference moves into Week 11 with a hugely important centerpiece game on tap, plus a second game with huge implications for the Big 12 Championship Game race.
TCU Horned Frogs at Texas Longhorns
Odds: Texas -7
This is a mammoth game in the Big 12 race and in the larger College Football Playoff picture. TCU is unbeaten and is very likely to play in the Big 12 Championship Game, but the Horned Frogs aren’t home free by any stretch. They have to play Texas this week and Baylor next week. If they lose both games, the Big 12 race could get a little more complicated. What saves TCU here is the fact that Texas and Baylor have to play each other. They both have two losses in conference play, so the loser of that game later in the season will have three Big 12 losses. TCU is still likely to finish in the top two of the Big 12, which would give the Horned Frogs a spot in the title game.
The obvious significance of this game in the Big 12 race is more pronounced on the Texas side. The Longhorns, knowing they play Baylor, can’t afford to drop this game to TCU. They would eliminate any remaining margin for error.
Nationally, the College Football Playoff implications here are huge. If TCU stays unbeaten, it will make the playoff. If TCU loses, the Horned Frogs probably won’t make it. They need to run the table. If TCU loses here, the Pac-12 champion could get in first. The loser of the Ohio State-Michigan game could also find a path to the No. 4 seed in the playoff field.
In terms of the game itself: TCU has come back from deficits all season long. Texas is usually a good first-half team but a shaky second-half team. However, can TCU keep tempting fate by falling behind? The Horned Frogs might need to get a lead in this one. One gets the sense that TCU’s luck will finally run out. That said, seven points is an awful lot for a three-loss team against an unbeaten opponent.
Pick: TCU +7
Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears
Odds: Baylor -2.5
The TCU-Texas game will get the national headlines this week in the Big 12, but the Baylor Bears and Kansas State Wildcats will play the most important game in the conference race. TCU is almost certain to make the Big 12 Championship Game, but Kansas State and Baylor are both battling Texas for that second slot in the title game. Baylor badly needs a win here, but the Bears could still beat TCU and Texas later in November and still make a run at the title game.
Kansas State absolutely must win this game for a very simple reason: The Wildcats lost to TCU and Texas earlier in the season. If Kansas State loses here, it will be 0-3 against the top contenders in the Big 12. Not having any head-to-head tiebreaker would essentially mean that Kansas State can’t win any head-to-head or three-team ties in the standings. That basically serves as a fourth loss for the Wildcats in conference play. They currently have two losses, but a loss here would basically be the equivalent of losing two games, not merely one. That urgency should help KSU win this game.
Pick: Kansas State +2.5
Kansas Jayhawks at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Odds: Texas Tech -3.5
Texas Tech just put up a great fight against TCU. It didn’t win, but it came close. They opened as a 10-point underdog and while the sharp money at BetOnline (read the BetOnline Review here) pushed them lower, they ended up pushing for some bettors as they remained competitive.
The Red Raiders return home to face a Kansas team which is now bowl-eligible after a win over Oklahoma State. Expect Texas Tech to bounce back from a tough recent stretch of losses. These are two somewhat under-the-radar squads in the Big 12 but they’re now evenly matched. Still, it’s hard to trust Kansas right now. They had lost three straight and probably would have fallen again had Spencer Sanders played last week.
Take Texas Tech minus the points and if the field goal makes you wary, the moneyline works here too.