It’s shaping up to be a crucial weekend for undecided voters. What will sway them? And who will they ultimately support — Oregon, K-State, Notre Dame? Should make for some interesting poll-watching as we project Saturday’s Big 12 winners:
TCU (5-3, 2-3) at West Virginia (5-2, 2-2), Saturday at 3 p.m. [Fox]
Line: West Virginia -5
Game week trivia: Can you name any of the intangible elements the Mountaineers said they must regain in order to end their midseason slump? If you answered “swagger,” “confidence” or “composure,” then you paid close attention to the player/coach interviews this week inside the WVU athletic compound. (We also would have accepted “mojo” and “moxie.”) As feeble as West Virginia looked in losing 49-14 to Texas Tech and 55-14 to K-State, quarterback Geno Smith said WVU needs only to backtrack a couple weeks and recall “what we did to win nine games in a row” before the bottom fell out. “This is the same guys, the same system, the same coaching staff,” he said (minus the mojo, of course). TCU arrives with a depth chart that reads like freshman orientation, but in games against common opponents, the Frogs hold a definite edge over WVU, having played Texas Tech to a triple-OT loss and having won at Baylor by four touchdowns. And yes, both of those games occurred after the quarterback job was bequeathed to redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin. WVU will need all the moxie it can muster to survive this one.
Pick: West Virginia, 31-27
Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1), at No. 3 Kansas State (8-0, 5-0), Saturday at 8 p.m. [ABC]
Line: Kansas State -9
The Bill Snyder Keep Sawing Wood Experience has fans purple with anticipation in Manhattan, where this is your grandfather’s offense and it’s vintage-awesome. The Wildcats have topped 50 points five times this season, and they didn’t need no stinkin’ hurry-up offense to do it. Plus, K-State sports an athletic defense that may also be the Big 12’s best, which explains why this team WILL end the regular-season unbeaten. So why will this game be tight? Because even college juggernauts must survive their share of close calls — and this one will be a wood-sawing masterpiece, complete with splinters and a clutch dose of Collin Klein.
Pick: Kansas State, 30-27
Texas (6-2, 3-2) at No. 20 Texas Tech (6-2, 3-2), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. [ABC]
Line: Texas Tech -6 1/2
UT came within 12 seconds of losing at Kansas last week, which would’ve set in motion the butterfly effect of Mack Brown blaming the Longhorn Network, Charlie Weis getting a 10-year contract extension and Greece converting back to the drachma. Luckily for Texas and the euro zone, Case McCoy delivered the biggest bailout this side of GM, though this week he’ll go back to the bullpen in favor of David Ash. Of course, quarterbacks aren’t the problem for UT. It’s the Longhorns run defense, which is almost as bad as West Virginia’s pass defense, so expect Texas Tech’s trio of tailbacks to run like the wind, which is really saying something in Lubbock.
Pick: Texas Tech, 38-33
No. 14 Oklahoma (5-2, 3-1) at Iowa State (5-3, 2-3), Saturday at noon [ABC]
Line: Oklahoma -12
Long-term trends are typically nothing more than conversation pieces in college football, but some stats are too lopsided to be ignored. Like this one: OU has outscored the Cyclones 262-42 in seven games under Bob Stoops. More than series history, however, Stoops is probably still trying to discern how the Sooners scored only 13 points against Notre Dame when Jalen Saunders made 15 catches for 181 yards.
Pick: Oklahoma, 24-20
Kansas (1-7, 0-5) at Baylor (3-4, 0-4), Saturday at 3:30 p.m. [Fox Sports Net]
Line: Baylor -17
How ridiculously productive is Baylor’s Terrance Williams? He may set an NCAA single-season receiving yardage record without benefit of playing in a bowl game. We saw how special he was back on Sept. 29 when he went off for 314 yards against West Virginia. That loss started the Bears down a four-game slide, and this week likely signals the last time they’ll be favored this season.
Pick: Baylor, 38-24
Last week: 3-2 overall (3-2 against the spread)
Season to date: 38-13 overall (20-23 against the spread)