Big 12: week 5 picks

Big 12 predictions: Nebraska, Colorado face big tests

September, 25, 2008
9/25/08
9:09
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I'm hoping that playing all of the conference games on Saturdays again will help boost my percentage after last week.

Here's what I've got.

Florida State 27, Colorado 17 -- Neither Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson played well last week at quarterback for the Seminoles, but their defense kept the game close. With four projected defensive starters returning from suspension, the Buffaloes struggled down the stretch before escaping with a field goal in overtime to beat West Virginia. The guess here is that the Seminoles simply have too many athletes for the Buffaloes, who have tried to prepare for the trip to humid Jacksonville by swigging Gatorade all week. They should stay close before wilting at the Gator Bowl in the fourth quarter.

Kansas State 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 28 -- Coach Ron Prince was so perturbed by his team's defensive performance last week at Louisville that he made them run in the middle of the night as soon as they returned to Manhattan. Louisiana-Lafayette has a strong ground game that is averaging almost 6 yards per carry, but the Wildcats will be up for the test after last week's struggles. Look for Kansas State QB Josh Freeman to return to form and feast on the Ragin' Cajuns' weak defense.

Nebraska 28, Virginia Tech 24 -- The Cornhuskers have been lightly tested in their first three games of the season. This game should be an indicator if the Cornhuskers are legitimate North challengers, as well as an early litmus test of coach Bo Pelini. Virginia Tech is heavily run-based with QB Tyrod Taylor, which should play right into the Cornhuskers' defensive philosophy. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz has shown he can beat top opponents by passing before, but will be challenged by Tech's tough secondary. Give the Cornhuskers a narrow edge, mainly because of a better passing game and the home-field advantage.

Oklahoma 37, TCU 14 -- The Sooners are still smarting from TCU's last visit to Norman, when Horned Frogs shocked OU with an upset victory and the kind of physical whipping that rarely happens to a team coached by Bob Stoops. That was OU's most recent home loss -- the team has charged to a nation-best 20-game home winning streak since then. The Horned Frogs won't be intimidated, considering they have won three of their last four games in Norman and have a seven-game winning streak of their own, tied for third-best in the nation. TCU leads the nation in rush defense and will be a tough matchup against the Sooners' mammoth offensive front. TCU QB Andy Dalton will need to make some downfield plays, something he hasn't done much of this season. Look for the Sooners' superior talent to win this one and make it a runaway late.

Oklahoma State 44, Troy 31 -- After losing at Troy last season, the Cowboys will be ready to play in the rematch. They should be better prepared as their balanced offensive attack, which has hung half a hundred on each of its last two opponents, will keep humming along. Troy looked good in flashes against Ohio State, but could find a bigger defensive challenge this week in trying to keep the Cowboys' multi-faceted offense in check. Look for another big game from Oklahoma State TB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant, who was shut out in his most recent game after producing nine catches the previous week.

Texas 45, Arkansas 14 -- This one won't be much of a matchup between the two storied former Southwest Conference rivals. The Longhorns' emerging defense will make life miserable for Arkansas QB Casey Dick. Alabama gashed the Razorbacks for 9.4 yards per carry last week, providing a nice recipe for Texas' backfield-by-committee of Fozzy Whittaker, Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya. And Texas QB Colt McCoy will have a chance to boost his Heisman candidacy with a big day against Arkansas' leaky pass defense. I'm wondering if Texas fans will be chanting "Big 12, Big 12" to celebrate a victory in this game after Arkansas fans chanted "SEC, SEC" following wins over Texas in two of the last three games of the series.

Texas A&M 24, Army 10 -- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman will be looking for his first victory at Kyle Field after opening the season with back-to-back losses, the first time that's happened since 1972. The Aggies' quarterback rotation remains iffy after both Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson missed practice this week due to sprained shoulders. The Aggies shouldn't get too much of a test from an Army team that has been outscored 85-20 this season and has lost nine of its last 10 games on the road. Even the offensively challenged Aggies should be able to move the ball on the Black Knights, providing a grind-it-out victory.

My predictions last week: 7-2 (77.8 percent)

My predictions for the season: 38-3 (92.7 percent)

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