Big 12 pregame: Oklahoma State-Texas ranks No. 1
Conference play arrives Saturday for Big 12 football with a rousing matchup: OSU-Texas in Royal-Memorial Stadium, with big stakes.
With a victory, OSU can jump to the front of the line to challenge OU in the Big 12 Championship Game. But a loss means the Cowboys will be 1-1/2 games behind the Longhorns, since UT would have the tiebreaker.
A loss would end all Texas hopes for a College Football Playoff berth, which are imperiled by its 45-38 home loss to LSU a couple of weeks ago. But a victory would get the ‘Horns back on track to keep the momentum established by the 2018 season, when Texas beat Southern Cal, Oklahoma and Georgia, announcing UT’s return to national relevancy.
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Here’s how we rank the Big 12 games Saturday, along with an upset special and a coach on the hot seat.
1. Oklahoma State at Texas, 6:30 p.m. Saturday, ABC: Between 1944 and 2010, OSU went 1-16 against the Longhorns. Since then, the Cowboys are 7-2 against UT.
2. West Virginia at Kansas, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+: Both teams coming off surprising victories last week. The winner goes to 3-1 and can at least dream of making a bowl game.
3. SMU at TCU, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Fox Sports1: The Mustangs, coached by Sonny Dykes, are 3-0 for the first time since 1984, near the end of SMU’s glory days.
4. Louisiana-Monroe at Iowa State, 11 a.m. Saturday, Fox Sports1: The disappointing Cyclones try to get on track against the team that went overtime at Florida State.
5. Baylor at Rice, 6 p.m. Saturday, CBS Sports Network: Baylor hasn’t lost to the Owls since the Southwest Conference days of 1992; the Bears have won eight straight in the series.
UPSET SPECIAL: Kansas over West Virginia
The Jayhawks looked like the same old Kansas the first two weeks, surviving Indiana State 24-17 with a late touchdown, then losing to Coastal Carolina 12-7. That’s 31 points total against a I-AA team and a team that not long ago moved up from that division.
Then the Jayhawks routed a promising ACC team, Boston College, 48-24 with an offensive explosion of 567 total yards.
West Virginia, too, had a breakout performance last weekend, beating North Carolina State 44-27 after a despondent start that included a survival of I-AA James Madison and a browbeating defeat at Missouri. Quarterback Austin Kendall, a transfer from OU, completed 27 of 40 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns against N.C. State.
The Mountaineers are 4-1/2 point favorites, primarily because they’ve had a solid decade and the Jayhawks have stunk. But Les Miles has brought a new era to KU. Let’s go with Kansas in the upset.
Season Big 12 upset special record: 2-1.
COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: Texas’ Tom Herman
Herman has the Longhorns in their best spot in a decade. Texas finished the 2018 season ranked ninth and now is 12th in the polls, despite the loss to LSU.
By contrast, the Longhorns had finished in the top 25 only once since 2009, checking in at No. 19 in 2012.
But Herman’s overall record at UT is 19-11, a winning percentage of .633. Mack Brown was pushed out in 2013 after going 25-14 over his final three years, a winning percentage of .641.
Herman’s teams have stood up to the big boys; they are a combined 3-4 against OU, Southern Cal, LSU and Georgia. But against OSU, West Virginia, TCU, Texas Tech and Maryland, Herman is 3-7 with the ‘Horns.
Lose to OSU on Saturday, and Texas’ decade-long status as a Big 12 middleweight will not have changed.