The college football season moves into Week 6 and the Big 12 features its classic rivalry at a point in time. It’s odd as neither team is playing for a conference championship. Usually, one of Texas or Oklahoma will battle for the Big 12 title. However, both teams are already on the periphery of the Big 12 title race instead of being centrally involved in the push for a conference crown. This will make Saturday’s neutral-site game in Dallas feel very different. More on that and two other big games in the conference this weekend:
Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners in Dallas
Odds: Texas -7
This is a game with a lot of uncertainty, mostly because Oklahoma starting quarterback Dillon Gabriel suffered a concussion last weekend due to a nasty hit from a TCU defender. Gabriel’s status for this game is uncertain, and the point spread reflects that uncertainty. If Gabriel can’t play, Oklahoma is in big trouble. Nothing we saw from the backups who played in the second half against TCU offered an indication that the Sooners will be able to throw the ball down the field. If they can’t throw, Texas can load up to stop the run and make OU very one-dimensional on offense. Oklahoma really needs Gabriel to be able to play. The challenge is the intense focus on health and safety concussion protocols mean Gabriel needs to meet a very high standard of health and wellness to be medically cleared to play this game. It’s hard to be too optimistic about that prospect.
Therefore, even though Texas starting quarterback Quinn Ewers is out with an injury he suffered against Alabama, the Longhorns are still in very good shape for this game. Backup Hudson Card has been solid for Texas. That should be more than enough against the frail and undermanned Sooners.
Pick: Texas -7
TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas Jayhawks
Odds: TCU -6.5
This is the most unlikely “big game” in college football this season. TCU and Kansas are both surprisingly unbeaten through Week 5. TCU upset Oklahoma, a game the Horned Frogs were not expected to win. Kansas was not expected to beat either West Virginia (13-point road underdog) or Houston (nine-point road underdog), but the Jayhawks passed each of those tests. Kansas then beat Iowa State in Big 12 play to set up this game against TCU. The Horned Frogs might be a good team, but Kansas is playing at home and will have a lot of energy in this game. The ESPN show “College GameDay” is paying its first-ever visit to Kansas. That’s a really big deal for the team and the school. TCU will have a very hard time covering the spread, and it will have a hard time winning the game outright, too. Expect this game to come down to the final minute of regulation time.
Pick: Kansas +6.5
Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Odds: Oklahoma State -9.5
Texas Tech played an emotional overtime game against Texas two weeks ago. Then had to play a road game against a good Kansas State team. Now the Red Raiders have to play Oklahoma State, which just defeated Baylor and looks like the class of the Big 12 Conference. Playing all these tough games in consecutive weeks is likely to catch up with the Red Raiders. Oklahoma State’s game against Baylor was tough, but the Cowboys had a week off preceding the Baylor game. They are much fresher and more rested. This game sets up really well for Oklahoma State.