Big 12 football picks: Baylor and Oklahoma clash for first place

Jason Ence

November 15th, 2019

The showdown every Big 12 fan has been waiting for has finally arrived. This weekend will see the unbeaten Baylor Bears host the high-powered Oklahoma Sooners, in a likely preview of the Big 12 Championship Game in less than a month’s time. An Oklahoma win would almost certainly set up this scenario, while a Baylor win leaves the door open slightly for Texas to stake its claim to a spot in the conference title game.

It’s a very busy weekend in the conference, so join us as we preview the games and give you a few picks to cash in on!

#10 Oklahoma at #13 Baylor, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Oklahoma Sooners
-10.5 (-109)
O 67.5 (-110)
Baylor Bears
+10.5 (-111)
U 67.5 (-110)
Baylor and Minnesota have been the two biggest surprises this season. The Bears have been a very balanced squad on both offense and defense, despite not seeming to be a dominant team. Four of their last seven games have been decided by six points or fewer, including last weekend’s triple-overtime win over TCU, where they did not score a touchdown in regulation. The Bears have been forced to mount a fourth-quarter comeback to secure victory in four conference games. Baylor has been an underdog twice this year won both games outright. The Bears first defeated Iowa State 23-21 as a 2.5-point underdog, then trounced Oklahoma State, 45-27, as a six-point dog.

Now they'll host an Oklahoma team that has underperformed the past two weeks. The Sooners lost on the road to Kansas State, then nearly blew a 42-21 lead to Iowa State. Their defense has allowed a combined 89 points over the past two games, after it allowed 20 or fewer in four of the previous five.

With running back Trey Sermon done for the season, the Oklahoma offense must find a way to stay balanced and put pressure on a Baylor defense that has a conference-high +6 turnover ratio.

Oklahoma is not the same team it was a month ago, and that might even have been a bit of an illusion. Only two of the Sooners’ wins have come against teams that are likely going bowling, and they struggled to win both of those games. The Sooners have thrived on the big play this year, and Baylor’s defense has limited those much of the season. But Baylor has not been in a game like this in a very long time, and none of these players will have played in the spotlight that will be on them Saturday night.

The Bears’ defense has won games by holding every opponent they’ve faced this season to 30 points or fewer, a number the Sooners have gone over in every game this season. This should be a great game, a competitive game, and one that I am not confident in picking against the spread. However, the total of 67.5 is too low, given that the Over has won eight of the last 12 meetings between these two, and in 13 of the last 19 games the Sooners have played in.

Pick: Over 67.5

#19 Texas at Iowa State (-7), 3:30 p.m. ET, FS1

The Longhorns will need a bit of help, but if Baylor can knock off the Sooners, the door will remain slightly ajar for Texas to sneak into the Big 12 Championship Game. But Texas must first go on the road and defeat an unranked Cyclones team as a ranked underdog. Since Texas fell to Oklahoma, the visitors have barely beaten the two teams from Kansas (by a combined five points, despite being favored by more than a touchdown in each) and lost by 10 at TCU. While the Texas offense has been able to make plays, the defense continues to be one of the worst in the nation (124th in passing yards allowed and 105th in yards per play).

Texas has won eight of the last 10 meetings with Iowa State. The Cyclones rank eighth in the nation in passing yardage, and quarterback Brock Purdy will look to hit Texas early and often, as only eleven teams in the nation average more yards per snap. It will be up to the Cyclones defense to get enough stops to ensure they win, against a Texas offense that ranks fourth in the nation in third-down conversions. In their last two games, both losses, the Cyclones have allowed more than 10 yards per pass play, and I don’t see Sam Ehlinger failing to capitalize on that poor play. Iowa State will win the game, but look for Texas to cover in what should be a very competitive game.

Pick: Texas +7

TCU (-3) at Texas Tech, noon ET, ESPN2

Why should you care about a game between two 4-5 teams? This is the tightest spread of the weekend in the Big 12, and I believe it represents some of the best value. TCU is the better team on paper and has one of the best defenses in the conference, but the Horned Frogs have lost four of their last five games and are now without the services of their best offensive lineman. That is bad news for an offense that hasn’t been consistent and has relied on the defense to force turnovers.

Texas Tech finally got things figured out last week against West Virginia for its first victory since October 5. Jett Duffey, who started the season as the third-string quarterback, has settled in over the last five games, and the Red Raiders have covered in four of those starts. He was able to play quite well last week, despite the suspension of his top receiver, and he isn’t turning the ball over.

Texas Tech leads the conference in turnover margin, and if the Red Raiders don't give TCU short fields to work with, I believe they'll win outright.

Pick: Texas Tech +3

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