Thursday, November 19, 2009
Big 12 predictions, Week 12
By Tim Griffin
The upset bug didn't bite nearly as badly last week. My predictions were better because of it.
Everything turned out for me except for Missouri's surprising beatdown at Kansas State. I thought the Wildcats' perfect home record before last week would give them an edge.
I was wrong.
But the rest of the picks made up for it in a strong week with only one miss.
This will be the complete week of the season. Hopefully, I'm set for a strong finish with these picks.
Oklahoma State 34, Colorado 14: Zac Robinson's playing condition is iffy and the Cowboys have struggled passing the ball very effectively in recent weeks. But it won't matter Thursday night as they will be playing for their hopes as a BCS at-large team before a national television audience. That should help boost OSU's strong running tandem of Keith Toston and Kendall Hunter to have big games, no matter if Robinson plays or not. And look for a big effort from the underrated Oklahoma State defense, which has limited four of its last five opponents to 17 points or less.
Nebraska 28, Kansas State 17: The North Division title is up for grabs in this winner-take-all battle. The Cornhuskers' running game will be tested by Kansas State's gritty defensive front which has overachieved all season. Roy Helu Jr. has been Nebraska's key offensive threat in recent weeks, but Zac Lee needs to continue to build on his strong effort of last week against Kansas to balance the Cornhuskers' attack. Kansas State figures to struggle against the Cornhuskers' defensive front and will need to stay ahead of the chains to keep Grant Gregory from too many long-yardage situations. Bill Snyder will try to dictate the pace by shortening the number of possessions and keeping the game away from the Cornhuskers as much as possible. But Nebraska has too much defense to let the division title slip away.
Texas 45, Kansas 14: It should be an emotional game as Colt McCoy, Sergio Kindle & Co. play their last home game. Look for the Longhorns to try to build on their strong running performance that was developed last week at Baylor with featured ball carriers Cody Johnson and Tre' Newton getting most of the carries. Kansas has been through an emotional wringer this week with all of the discussion about Mark Mangino's coaching methods called into question. Todd Reesing will return home to play in Austin. The Jayhawks showed some improvement last week against Nebraska, but playing the No. 3 Longhorns in Austin will be an entirely different matter.
Oklahoma 28, Texas Tech 24: A rare matchup between these two old rivals without championship ramifications seems a little strange. But the Sooners will be looking to rebound after struggles on the road all season. Landry Jones bounced back with a big game last week, but the biggest story was the return of DeMarco Murray. If he's on, the Red Raiders will have difficulty matching Oklahoma's athleticism on offense. The Red Raiders have questions at quarterback and will be supremely challenged by the Sooners' strong defense. That combination should be enough to enable them to escape from Lubbock with a win.
Texas A&M 27, Baylor 21: Both teams have bowl aspirations in a must-win game for the Bears. Because of that, I expect them to play much better than last week against Texas. They have confidence from beating A&M soundly in Waco last season. But A&M has too manyoffensive weapons this season, starting with Jerrod Johnson and receivers Jeff Fuller and Uzoma Nwachukwu. Art Briles will make this a battle, but the Aggies have too much firepower not to continue their long winning streak over Baylor at Kyle Field, which dates to 1984.
Missouri 34, Iowa State 17: Gary Pinkel's team will be looking to play strong back-to-back conference games for the first time all season. Danario Alexander gives them solid hopes of being able to do that, as well as make some personal history against the smallish ISU secondary. The plucky Cyclones have given up a lot of yards, but have done a good job close to their end zone on defense. Missouri has too many athletic weapons for them as the running game might rebound this week behind Derrick Washington, along with Alexander's sizable contributions. And the Missouri defense came through last week with a big performance in clamping down on Kansas State's running attack. Iowa State has similar offensive aims, which should be a benefit to the Tigers.
Last week: 5-1 (83.3 percent)
Season record: 64-22 (74.4 percent)