Thursday, October 11, 2007
Big 12 Picks
It looks like Ginger Balls beat me to the punch, but here they are anyhow.
Missouri @ Oklahoma (-10)
This is a pretty big line, considering Missouri is the undefeated team of the two. You can say they haven't beaten anybody, but I'm not so sure Oklahoma really has either...and I'm definitely not convinced Colorado is the world beater they are being made out as. However, I have a small hunch Oklahoma might come out slightly more ready to play this week than they did in Boulder.
How MU wins: 1) Exploit the deep ball. OU's defense has received a lot more credit than they have earned this year. Their secondary is extremely susceptible to both the long pass and routes over the middle. If Booger Chase can complete a few of these they should be able to put up some points and open up some running lanes to help with clock control. 2) Pressure Sam Bradford. I don't see this happening as OU has a massive O-line and MU has a less then stellar defense when playing against anyone not coached by Bill Callahan. I actually think the OU line will dominate in both pass protection and in opening running lanes, but if they don't, Missouri has a shot.
How OU wins: 1) Dominate the line. As chronicled above, this should be accomplished when they have the ball. The Tigers have given up 407 ypg (142 on the ground and 265 via the pass) and they have not faced a team that does either as well as OU. Defensively, OU needs to stop the run. Despite their inability to defend the deep ball, OU needs to trust their pass rush and make Daniel beat them deep. 2) Take care of the ball. No explanation needed.
Two weeks ago, no one could have convinced me that Missouri had a puncher's chance – not even Gary Pinkel – but now I'm not so sure. If this game were being played in the armpit that is "The Zou" I may even be inclined to pick the team in the Piss and Black unis. Fortunately, that is not the case. OU 37 MU 24
Texas A&M @ Texas Tech (-8.5)
ABC is waiting until Sunday to choose the game they want to show on Oct. 20 – I wonder if it has anything to do with them choosing to show this one over the one in Norman, where Gameday will be? This A&M team is a tough one to get a read on. Coming in to the season they were a popular pick to un-seat UT/OU atop the South. Since, they have narrowly escaped against Fresno State (3-2) while surrendering 45 points (haven't put up more than 24 against anyone not named Nevada – who Nebraska can even score on) and been destroyed by a Miami team that can't score on or beat anyone else. Tech is simpler as they are exactly the same every year.
How A&M wins: 1) Control the clock. If this game turns in to a shoot-out, it won't be close. However, if McGee doesn't drop back and A&M can run the ball, tiring out the Tech defense and, more importantly, keeping their offense off the field, it could get interesting. Since Tech has given up 152 rushing ypg. against poor competition, I'm inclined to think this can happen. 2) Contain Graham Harrell. Their best chance at doing this is to accomplish #1 and even then I doubt it will happen. A&M gives up 240 yards through the air to mediocre offenses – even if they have the ball for 40 minutes, the other 20 should be plenty for Tech to put up a 40 spot.
How Tech wins: 1) Stop the run. Isn't this great analysis? I would love to get more diagnostic, but this is really all they have to do. A&M runs for 240 ypg., Stephen McGee can't throw and their defense is terrible. If Tech doesn't let them score while holding on to the ball the entire game, Harrell, Crabtree and Co. will take care of the rest.
I really don't have much faith in either of these teams. Normally, I would lean towards the team that runs it better, but since that team's defense is so poor and the other team's offense is other-worldly and they are at home, I'm leaning the other way. Tech 42 A&M 27
Texas @ Iowa State (+16)
I would absolutely love to pick Iowa State for the outright upset here. Dating to last year, Texas has lost 4 straight Big 12 games. There is literally no reason that streak should continue past Saturday.
How ISU wins: 1) Mack Brown/Greg Davis. Considering how predictable they usually are, one would think Gene Chizik would be able to come up with a game plan that puts ISU in the right position. Then, you remember how Chizik called the game @ K-State last year and that theory probably is up in smoke. 2) Make Texas beat them deep. The aforementioned Brown/Davis combo hate to do this as it presents risk, though they do have a propensity for trying it against lesser competition, a characteristic the Cyclones definitely possess. It's worth a shot though to not get run over all day.
How Texas wins. 1) Take advantage of their far superior athletes.
If Texas does not win this game, Mack Brown needs to be fired on the spot. Forget his VY National Championship grace period. Texas has lost 4 straight Big 12 games and Iowa State has lost to Kent St., Northern Iowa and Toledo this year. I doubt they win the South, but a win here keeps them in the race with easy games all the way to Tech on November 10. UT 40 ISU 10
Oklahoma State @ Nebraska (-4)
After last week, Nebraska being favored in this game tells you all you need to know about the Pokes. Both teams were cliché picks to win their respective divisions this year and both are drastically under-achieving. But still, somebody will probably win.
How Nebraska wins: 1) Score early and use the crowd. The always classy Husker faithful have been clamoring a bit more recently (and with good reason). Since NU has looked decent in exactly 1 game this year (Nevada), they could lose the crowd if they fall behind early. Furthermore, while running the risk of an assault, the Mike Gundy led Cowboys seem to have a pretty defeatist attitude and could easily roll over and die if Nebraska strikes quickly. 2) Actually contain an offense. Given that Ball State put up 610 yards, USC literally did not have to use the forward pass and Chase Daniel is now in Heisman contention, I'm not sure this is possible.
How OSU wins: 1) Make Nebraska run. Despite how inaccurate and inconsistent Sam Keller is, Nebraska is much more formidable throwing than running. Since OSU does not defend either the run or the pass, they may as well expend all of their energy trying to take away the one Nebraska does better. 2) Actually contain an offense. Given that Troy put up 562 yards, Tech put up 718 and even Georgia put up 380, I'm not sure this is possible. Sound familiar?
These are strikingly similar teams. I would say the biggest difference is Adarius Bowman, who should have a big day. As much as I want to pick OSU for the upset here, I'm going to settle for letting them cover, but not getting the outright win. It may be an unconscious bias becomes of Nebraska's history, but I think it's also a complete lack of faith in Mike Gundy that has me guessing Nebraska pulls this one out. NU 38 OSU 35
Colorado @ Kansas State (-5.5)
Colorado is flying high, while the purple pussies are quite the opposite. Normally under those circumstances, I'd go with the confident team. However, I'm not sold on Colorado and even while being dominated; the Power Towels did some nice things.
How CU wins: 1) Run the ball. Kansas ran all over K-State. Texas did not. Kansas won. Texas did not. CU will need a balanced offense, but they should primarily run for 3 reasons: A. KSU is undersized and vulnerable B. They play a 3-4 which may be hard for young Cody to decipher and C. Though KSU's secondary isn't superb, KSU counts on turnovers to score points and the less the ball is in the air, the better. 2) Contain the Jordy. He really has found another gear this year. After catching 39 balls for 547 yards and a touchdown last year, he has already caught 52 for 634 and 3TD's this year. He has also returned a punt and thrown for 2 more scores. In one sentence, he is their offense. 3) KSU is so good, it takes 3 things to beat them – contain their special teams.
How KSU wins: 1) Pressure Cody Hawkins. He is showing some signs of being a legitimate Big 12 quarterback, but he's not there yet. The Towels have the perfect example of this starting under center for them, so they should know how vital it is to exploit his inconsistency. 2. Special Teams/Turnovers. The purple survive on turnovers and special teams for points. Take away one or both and you will beat them. Note to Coach Genie: Use the Jordy.
Since I really don't believe in Colorado and this game is in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, I'm gonna say this one goes the way of the purple. If not though, I will laugh and giggle as I watch their dreams of contending for the North disappear. KSU 27 CU 17
Baylor @ Kansas (-25)