The college football season heads into Week 5, and the Big 12 is already a very fascinating place. Oklahoma has already lost a conference game to Kansas State. Baylor has already lost a game to BYU. Kansas State has already lost to Tulane. Texas Tech has already lost to North Carolina State. Texas has already lost twice.
This is a messy, cluttered league in which the top teams have not separated themselves from the rest. It sets up an intriguing Saturday of games as October arrives.
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Kansas State Wildcats
Odds: Kansas State -7.5
This is a tough turnaround game for both teams. Kansas State just played at Oklahoma and upset the Sooners, while Texas Tech knocked off Texas. Both of those triumphs were emotionally and physically draining games for these teams. They both have to recover from last weekend, and they both need to mentally reset the dial and avoid a hangover loss in which the energy is lacking from the week before. Which team is better able to handle that transition from one week to the next?
It’s probably Kansas State, given that Texas Tech was really poor in its big road test earlier this season against N.C. State. Also, Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman might have discovered how to best use his quarterback, Adrian Martinez, based on how effective Martinez was against Oklahoma. Martinez is more advanced in his development than Texas Tech quarterback Donovan Smith. That will probably show up at some point in this game, and it will help Kansas State cover the spread.
Pick: Kansas State -7.5
Oklahoma Sooners at TCU Horned Frogs
Odds: Oklahoma -6.5
Oklahoma’s defense got exposed in the 41-34 loss to Kansas State this past weekend. The Sooners obviously can’t afford to lose this game, and it would rate as a huge shock if they did lose this game. OU head coach Brent Venables is one of the best defensive coaches in college football. He ran into a bad game early in the season. Every coach does.
How Venables adjusts will be the big key to this game. Given his credentials as a longtime defensive coordinator who coached in national championship games at Oklahoma (nearly 20 years ago) and won national championships more recently at Clemson under Dabo Swinney, Venables should be expected to turn this ship around and get the Sooners on the right track.
Pick: Oklahoma -6.5
Iowa State Cyclones at Kansas Jayhawks
Odds: Iowa State -3
This is a game a lot of football junkies will want to watch. Can Kansas keep the magic going? The Jayhawks are 4-0, to everyone’s surprise. Many people feel Kansas should be ranked in the top 25, but the Jayhawks are still in a position where a lot of college football experts aren’t willing to trust them. If they can beat Iowa State, however, the Jayhawks will definitely crack the top 25 and will begin to gain serious consideration as a Big 12 championship contender. Jalon Daniels is the athletic dual-threat quarterback who has ignited the KU offense so far this season. If he has a big game and can figure out Iowa State’s defense, coached by highly-respected coordinator Jon Heacock, Kansas can win yet again and move to 5-0. There’s a great chance that it could happen, given that Iowa State’s offense is limited and needs the ISU defense to play its very best. If Daniels can make a dent in the Iowa State defense, Kansas probably wins.