The college football season moves into Week 9 with the Big 12 having an unbeaten team which is still in the hunt for a possible College Football Playoff berth. It’s not likely that TCU will make the playoff, but the Horned Frogs are still very much a contender for a spot. If they get some help from Clemson losing or Ohio State and Alabama losing, they could get in with a perfect 13-0 record. That’s the thing: They have to remain unbeaten to have any reasonable chance of making it. We’ll look at TCU’s game and two other notable Big 12 games for the coming weekend:
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Kansas State Wildcats
Odds: Kansas State -1.5
This is a game in which the health of Kansas State’s quarterbacks is uncertain. Starting quarterback Adrian Martinez and backup quarterback Will Howard both suffered injuries last week in a loss to TCU. Their playing statuses are uncertain heading into this game. Maybe Martinez will be able to play, but if he does, it’s uncertain how effective he will be.
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This game is shrouded in mystery, but the fact that Kansas State is uncertain about its quarterback situation creates a natural lean to Oklahoma State, which is coming off a win over Texas and very nearly defeated league-leading TCU. It’s probably not a game you want to put a huge amount of money on, but if you do make a pick, Oklahoma State makes a little more sense until you get more information about Kansas State’s quarterback situation.
Pick: Oklahoma State +1.5
TCU Horned Frogs at West Virginia Mountaineers
Odds: TCU -7.5
This is seemingly an easy game for TCU if you realize that West Virginia has had a very disappointing season, and that head coach Neal Brown is on the hot seat. West Virginia just got blown out by Texas Tech, allowing 48 points and being non-competitive in that contest. TCU is unbeaten, ranked in the top eight of the national polls, and has an offense which is functioning beautifully thanks to quarterback Max Duggan, a Heisman Trophy candidate. This game might appear to be a mismatch.
However, West Virginia’s terrible performance against Texas Tech – in addition to being a very bad game – might also have been a product of looking ahead to this TCU game. It happens all the time in college football and, more broadly, college sports. West Virginia will be gunning for the upset here, and the other point to make is that TCU has fallen behind by 17 or more points in each of its last two games. The Horned Frogs have been playing with fire. They might win this game, but it’s going to be close, and West Virginia will cover.
Pick: West Virginia +7.5
Baylor Bears at Texas Tech Red Raiders
Odds: Texas Tech -2.5
The Texas Tech Red Raiders have found a good quarterback after other players were injured. Freshman Behren Morton was terrific in lighting up West Virginia last week. Baylor’s defense has struggled this season, giving Morton a great chance to win another home game for the Red Raiders. The fact that this game is at home should enable Morton to remain comfortable. If this was a road game, it might have been a different story.