The college football season moves into Week 8, and the Big 12 has two especially important games on the docket for Saturday, October 22. The four teams at the top of the Big 12 – the teams most likely to play (in some combination) in the Big 12 Championship Game – are going head to head. The Big 12 Conference race will look a lot clearer after this weekend. Let’s see which teams are likely to come out on top in these big showdowns.
Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma State Cowboys
Odds: Texas -6.5
This is a game in which the resolve of both teams will be tested. Texas is coming off a hard-fought and very physical win over Iowa State in which it trailed midway through the second half but found a way to prevail. Oklahoma State is coming off a double-overtime game in which it blew a 17-point first-half lead and a 14-point second-half lead to fall to TCU, 43-40. Oklahoma State had leads of 24-7 and 30-16 in that game, but could not finish off the Horned Frogs. The physical and mental challenges attached to this game are considerable.
Ultimately, the big question is if Oklahoma State’s defense, which imploded late in the TCU loss, can bounce back and make life difficult for Texas’s very talented freshman quarterback, Quinn Ewers. Against Iowa State, Ewers struggled but kept his composure and made clutch plays in the fourth quarter to help his team win. Ewers was steady under pressure when his team needed him to be great, but can Texas win this game if Ewers is ordinary for three quarters? Waiting until the fourth quarter might not be good enough for Texas and Ewers in this game. The Longhorns might have to strike earlier; Oklahoma State is unlikely to blow leads in two straight games, especially since this game is at home for the Cowboys.
Pick: Oklahoma State +6.5
Kansas State Wildcats at TCU Horned Frogs
Odds: TCU -3.5
This is the biggest game in the conference in Week 8. Kansas State has passed big road tests at Iowa State and Oklahoma. A win here would make it extremely hard for anyone to prevent KSU from making the Big 12 Championship Game. One of the biggest, most important, and most stunning facts in college football this year is that Kansas State quarterback Adrian Martinez has not thrown an interception through the first seven weeks of play.
KSU coach Chris Klieman has really done a lot to improve Martinez’s decisions and reads, compared to Martinez’s mistake-filled stint as Nebraska’s quarterback. The new transfer destination has changed Martinez’s career. Now, Martinez will go up against TCU quarterback Max Duggan, who is thriving in coach Sonny Dykes’ offense. One important point about this game is that Kansas State had Week 7 off. TCU played a double-overtime game against Oklahoma State. Kansas State being fresh for this game is a huge plus, and it is likely to matter.
Pick: Kansas State +3.5
Kansas Jayhawks at Baylor Bears
Odds: Baylor -9
The Baylor Bears let a game slip away against West Virginia last week. The Bears had a 10-point lead in the first half, but a costly blocked PAT enabled West Virginia to take a fourth-quarter lead, which it preserved for a 43-40 victory. The Bears have dramatically regressed on defense. They have been inconsistent on offense. It’s true that Kansas’ defense was wrecked by Oklahoma one week ago, but the Jayhawks have a lot of offensive firepower. It will probably be enough to cover the spread.