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Thursday, October 22, 2009
Big 12 predictions, Week 8

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I’m hoping for a little better luck this week after having gotten stung (again) by Texas A&M, losing out on Nebraska and not having the guts to pick Colorado to beat Kansas, even though I had an inclination the game would be closer than the prognosticators thought.

Maybe I’ll have the guts to pick one of those games when it hits me this year.

Here are my picks for this week:

Kansas State 24, Colorado 21: Look for a tight defensive battle in this one as the improving Wildcats hook up against new Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen. The Buffaloes looked transformed under Hansen, who directed them to the upset victory over Kansas last week. He’ll be challenged by a KSU defense that notched six sacks and produced three interceptions last week. The Wildcats have been limited at quarterback with Grant Gregory and Carson Coffman alternating time this season. But look for the Wildcats to win this one because of the Buffaloes’ difficulties on the road and the coaching acumen of Bill Snyder.

Nebraska 35, Iowa State 17: The Cornhuskers need some confidence after last week’s stunning upset loss to Texas Tech. Bo Pelini has hinted at a possible change to Cody Green as his starting quarterback from Zac Lee, who started their first six games this season. The Cyclones played well against Baylor last week, but will be taking a big step up against the Cornhuskers on the road. Whoever plays for the Cornhuskers at quarterback needs to boost an offense that has struggled with its line play and getting its wide receivers involved.

Oklahoma State 33, Baylor 24: The Cowboys need this one to set up a huge showdown next week in Stillwater against Texas. Despite the loss of Dez Bryant (NCAA-mandated suspension) and Kendall Hunter (cracked foot) their offense has played well. And Bill Young’s defense has emerged in the past several weeks as they were showcased in a strong second-half performance against Missouri. Baylor will attempt to test them with backup quarterback Blake Szymanski, who was intercepted three times last week. The Bears produced only 10 points last week against Iowa State and will need a big improvement in order to gain the upset this week.

Oklahoma 31, Kansas 28: It will be interesting to see how the Sooners rebound after last week’s disappointing loss against Texas. Look for Oklahoma to have a bigger than expected day as Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles will challenge a Kansas pass defense that has struggled and featured three new starters last week. Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing has had success passing all season to Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, but the Jayhawks will be facing their toughest defensive challenge of the season against the Sooners.

Texas Tech 48, Texas A&M 17: This simmering rivalry isn’t getting as much national attention as usual after the Aggies’ three-game losing streak. Backup quarterback Steven Sheffield has engineered a three-game winning streak for the Red Raiders, but isn’t expected to play after sustaining a foot injury against Nebraska last week. Mike Leach has directed the Red Raiders to four straight victories over the Aggies and seven wins in the last eight seasons. Whoever is playing at quarterback for the Red Raiders should find success against an A&M defense that ranks 94th in total defense and 104th in scoring defense. Also, keep a watch for a Tech defense that has played well in recent weeks, allowing Kansas State and Nebraska an average of 12 points in the last two games.

Texas 38, Missouri 24: The Longhorns hope to continue their march to the Big 12 South title against Missouri, who they have beaten 14 times in a 15-game stretch, marred only by a loss in 1997. An improved running game helped spark a second-half comeback for the Longhorns against Oklahoma. Colt McCoy will hope to rebound after a struggling performance against the Sooners. The Longhorns will be facing a Missouri team that lost its first two conference games -- a far cry from its success in title game appearances each of the last two seasons. The biggest reason has been Missouri's difficulty in producing turnovers. The Tigers need to turn that trend around if they have any hope of stunning the Longhorns.

Last week: 3-3, 50 percent.

Season: 46-16, 74.2 percent