This week’s Big 12 picks come to you from the capital city of Texas, and more specifically from Torchy’s Taco’s, where Thursday’s lunch line stretched out the door and onto Guadalupe Street:
No. 8 West Virginia (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) at No. 11 Texas (4-0, 1-0), Saturday at 7 p.m. [Fox]
Line: Texas -6 1/2
How enthused is Mountaineer Nation to be soaking up the amplified atmosphere in Austin? Just listen to the fan in the Marriott hotel lobby who exclaimed Thursday afternoon, "Isn’t this great? We could be in New Jersey getting ready to play Rutgers!" Thanks to divine intervention, WVU no longer suffers through a Big East docket, and thanks to a rubber-peeling offense, WVU owns a chance against every team it will face in the Big 12. If beating Baylor was the appetizer, Texas represents the beefy entree, its roster perpetually loaded with blue-chippers and its program funded by a budget that would squash the GDP of most Central American nations. Maybe that’s why UT is a touchdown favorite this week, or perhaps Vegas can’t trust a Mountaineers defense that was drawn-and-quartered by Marshall and Baylor. Geno Smith will prove he’s unflappable against the Longhorns’ pass rush, WVU will keep pace until the end, and though Mountaineers fans will be disappointed by the outcome, it still beats the heck out of playing Rutgers.
Pick: Texas, 41-38
No. 17 Oklahoma (2-1, 0-1) at Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. [ABC]
Line: Oklahoma -5
OU’s season, and Landry Jones’ legacy, could expire amid the tumbleweeds of Lubbock. So goes the catastrophic line of thinking surrounding the Sooners in the fortnight since they lost at home, barely, to a gritty and capable Kansas State club. Though Jones’ career won’t include a Heisman Trophy or a national title, he can start Oklahoma’s climb back from the eighth circle of hell — domain of frauds — with a retributive victory against a Tech team that played the spoiler last year in Norman. This year’s Red Raiders seem capable of dousing OU again, but that’s hard to verify when a sloppy win at Iowa State tops the resume.
Pick: Oklahoma, 26-24
Iowa State (3-1, 0-1) at No. 15 TCU (4-0, 1-0), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. [Fox Sports Network]
Line: TCU -7
TCU allegedly was a Top 15 team and allegedly in line to contend for the Big 12 title before Casey Pachall allegedly drove while intoxicated Wednesday night, earning an indefinite suspension. (Hey, college QBs need help getting over hump day, too.) In truth, the Horned Frogs hadn’t beaten anyone in the top 74 of the Sagarin power ratings and were likely to struggle against the league’s top teams. If redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin is forced long, those struggles seem inevitable. ISU has a hearty, corn-fed defense, but it isn’t one of the Big 12′s big boys. The inclination to take the Cyclones here is tempting — if only I hadn’t submitted my picks on Wednesday for the weekly MetroNews panel. Can’t go changing now.
Pick: TCU, 21-13
Kansas (1-3, 0-1) at No. 7 Kansas State (4-0, 1-0), Saturday at noon. [FX]
Line: Kansas State -24
Charlie Weis suggested KU has been too preoccupied with its Missouri rivalry to pay proper respect to K-State. Now that Mizzou has become too preoccupied with the SEC, Kansas can devote 100 percent of its hatred toward the Wildcats. But even 200 percent wouldn’t be enough to keep it close in Manhattan.
Pick: Kansas State, 38-7
Last week: 4-0 overall (2-2 against the spread) Precisely forecast the 41 points Texas scored in Stillwater; was only 46 points off on WVU-Baylor total.
Season to date: 27-5 overall (13-11 against the spread)