Last go round!
By Queen Carioca
Come in and have a seat. Close the tent flap behind you as once again I glance into my crystal ball.
My record to date…
Big 12 Prophecies: 46-for-63 (73%)
Other College Prophecies: 26-for-35 (74%)
Overall: 72-for-98 (73%)
Here are this week’s prophecies:
OKLAHOMA STATE (7-4) at BAYLOR (6-5): Forget the 2-game winning streak that has helped them reach bowl eligibility, the Bears resurgence truly began three weeks ago in a hard-fought loss at Oklahoma when Baylor racked up 252 yards rushing and found its stride in the run game. With 51 plays this year of 30+ yards (tops in the nation) the Bears are as explosive as ever, but in recent wins over K-State and T-Tech it’s been Phil Bennett’s defense that has picked up the pace – intercepting 6 passes to help the cause. The Cowboys, meanwhile, will try to put an emotional overtime loss to Oklahoma behind them and gear toward a strong regular season finish in Waco. That might be too much to ask of a tiring team that has overcome a three-way quarterback derby and punched it out with eight Big 12 opponents in eight weeks. With this game against OSU’s 113th ranked pass defense plus a bowl match-up to be determined still remaining, Nick Florence (no. 1 nationally in total offense) is actually on pace to eclipse the school total yardage mark of 4,992 set by RGIII last year. A strong performance against the Pokes will put him that much closer, but even that might not be enough. Oklahoma State 45, Baylor 41
OKLAHOMA (9-2) at TCU (7-4): Nothing about this game is a given. Landry Jones has the hottest hand in college football with back-to-back 500 yard outings and OU is likely playing for a BCS berth one (way or the other), but don’t dismiss Gary Patterson’s feisty Frogs. Three weeks ago in another high profile opportunity at home against Kansas State, TCU turned the ball over twice and squandered a chance to upset a marquee team that didn’t bring its best effort. The Frogs have forced 30 turnovers and are solid enough at the point of attack to neutralize OU’s inconsistent ground game and force Jones to beat them through the air. Right now Jones is playing good enough football to pull it off. The quartet of Kenny Stills (73 grabs), Justin Brown (62), Sterling Shepherd (38) and Jalen Saunders (10 catches for 162 yards last week vs OSU) have emerged as the conference’s deepest receiving corps, giving Jones options at every turn. He’ll need those options against a Frogs squad bent on finishing its first Big 12 season with a better-than-.500 record in league play. Oklahoma 33, TCU 28
KANSAS (1-10) at WEST VIRGINIA (6-5): The 22 seniors who will step out of the tunnel onto Mountaineer Field for the final Saturday have had quite a ride. They’ve won 34 games to date; they bombed Clemson with a record 70 points in the Orange Bowl; they went 3-0 against Pitt; they knocked off unbeaten Texas in Austin in front of a record crowd at DKR; they helped field one of the stingiest defenses in school history (2010) and played with and among some of the greatest offensive threats (Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Noel Devine) to ever don the flying WV; they watched a teammate get selected with the 15th overall pick in the NFL Draft; they were the first WVU class to play and beat Marshall four times; they nearly stole a win on a Saturday night in Baton Rouge and they crossed swords with Bobby Bowden in the last game he ever coached. They’ve worn the gold and blue proudly and even threw some wildly unpopular gray into the mix along the way. But there are still a few challenges remaining. The first comes in the form of a Jayhawk in sheep’s clothing...a 1-10 Kansas team that is more dangerous than its record suggests. KU has dropped 20 straight on the road and 20 straight against FBS competition overall, but the Jayhawks found a way this year to take to the wire Texas (8-3), Oklahoma State (7-4), Texas Tech (7-5) and a quality Northern Illinois squad with double-digit wins. The Longhorns needed a touchdown with 12 seconds left to avert disaster in Lawrence; the Cowboys were held to a season-low 371 yards by Kansas and had to stave off a late comeback by the Jayhawks to hold on for a 6-point win; T-Tech watched KU shred them for nearly 400 yards on the ground before narrowly escaping with an overtime win in Lubbock. There are things Kansas is good – even exceptional – at: running the football (19th in the country) and swelling up defensively in the red zone (no. 1 in the Big 12). But as you might expect for a 1-win team in December, there are more things that Kansas is not good – even very bad – at, most notably: Moving the chains on 3rd down (108th nationally); throwing the football (last in the country in pass efficiency); stopping the run (5.1 yards/carry allowed – worst in the Big 12); and pressuring the passer (117th in the country in sacks). Last week West Virginia got the monkey off its back, snapping a 5-game skid with a win at Iowa State that was paced by a solid effort on the ground by Shawne Alston (19-130). This came on the heels of a school record 344-yard rushing performance by the electrifying Tavon Austin. In fact, to find what has cured West Virginia’s slumping offense in the last two weeks you need to look no further than the 8-yards-per-carry average the Mountaineers have strung together during that stretch. Can WVU keep up that torrid pace against a Jayhawks defense that’s been gashed for 5.9 yards per carry in 5 road games this year? KU had a bye week to prepare for this one. Sure the Jayhawks might empty the bag with gadget plays and new formations, but under the watchful eye of multiple bowl reps the Mountaineers will find a way to send their 22 seniors out with a win over a Kansas team that has little to lose. West Virginia 52, Kansas 24 For a more thorough look at this game from several angles, be sure to check out the preview at WVUsports.com.
TEXAS (8-3) at KANSAS STATE (10-1): On paper this one might look pretty simple. The Longhorns are last in the Big 12 against the run while K-State features two runners (Collin Klein & John Hubert) who represent over 1,600 yards and 32 scores on the ground. Be careful of what you see on paper. Then again, maybe not. While the battle between two of the nation’s best 3rd down offenses (Texas is 7th; KSU is 11th) will play a role, this game will more likely be determined by turnovers. Nobody one-ups Bill Snyder’s club in the area of ball security, much less a Texas club coming off a 4-turnover meltdown in last week’s loss to TCU. The Wildcats' veteran front seven will corral the Longhorns ground game just enough to expose Case McCoy, forcing the Longhorns freshly minted starter into a pair of key mistakes. The Horns will discover that there is only one thing worse than going on the road to face a well-rounded Snyder-coached team with 10 wins so late in the season. . . That one thing is facing said team on senior day after they spent a bye week sulking over an embarrassing 52-24 loss that cost them a berth in the national championship game. Kansas State 38, Texas 28
And here are a few prophecies the outside the Big 12:
Stanford 31, UCLA 27
Northern Illinois 34, Kent State 28
Alabama 27, Georgia 20
Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 23
Florida State 38, Georgia Tech 24
Lead photo by All-Pro Photography/Dale Sparks photo