College football predictions: OU should pull for K-State & Baylor
I heard a good debate on the radio the other day. What’s the better scenario for OU’s College Football Playoff hopes:
A) The Sooners win out, which would include a victory over currently-unbeaten Baylor, and then meet 11-1 Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington;
B) The Sooners win out, Kansas State wins out and they meet in Arlington, with 11-1 OU having a chance to avenge its only loss, against the 10-2 Wildcats.
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The clear answer is A.
Here’s why. Baylor presents OU’s best hope for quality victories. If the Bears can stay unbeaten until their game in Waco on November 16, they almost surely would be in the top 10. If they can get to Arlington on December 7 with an 11-1 record, the Bears might still be a top-10 team.
Two victories down the stretch over a top-10 team would be quite the resume’-builder.
The counter argument is that avenging your only defeat always is a good thing; it worked well for the Sooners a year ago, when they beat Texas 39-27 in the Big 12 title game after losing 48-45 to the Longhorns in October.
And if K-State won out and took a 10-2 record into Arlington, that indeed would be a quality victory. But for even a 10-2 KSU team to finish in the top two of the Big 12 and make the conference championship game, Baylor would have to fall far.
The Bears are 4-0 in the Big 12. Kansas State is 2-2. But Baylor beat K-State 31-12 a few weeks ago, so the Bears have the tiebreaker over KSU in any two-team tie. So an OU-KSU title game means Baylor will have had to stumble mightily down the stretch – at least three defeats.
Three Baylor defeats, only one at the hands of the Sooners, would mean OU’s victory over the Bears would carry no great stock.
The Sooners’ best scenario is for Kansas State to win out and for Baylor to win out, other than losing to OU in Waco on Nov. 16.
Let’s get to the predictions:
TCU at Oklahoma State: Horned Frogs 24-23. Upset special. Maybe it’s not fair to keep comparing these Cowboys to the rollercoaster Cowboys of last season. But until the rollercoaster ways stop…
West Virginia at Baylor: Bears 44-20. The Mountaineers were fortunate to get Kansas back in September. I don’t think WVU would fare well against KU today.
Kansas State at Kansas: Wildcats 32-24. Step aside basketball. There’s some football fever brewing in the Sunflower State.
Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville: Bulldogs 26-24. The winner should be headed to the SEC title game. It would take two more defeats for this winner to not make it to Atlanta.
Ole Miss at Auburn: Tigers 31-14. Is War Eagle in danger of letting down after so many gut-wrenching games, including three-point road losses at Florida and LSU?
Vanderbilt at South Carolina: Gamecocks 33-13. Derrick Mason appears to be in his final days as the Vandy coach.
Mississippi State at Arkansas: Bulldogs 26-14. This is Arkansas’ best chance at an SEC victory – which is a big deal. Chad Morris never has beaten a Power 5 opponent in his five seasons as a head coach.
Alabama-Birmingham at Tennessee: Volunteers 30-13. Believe it or not, the Vols could go bowling. Tennessee looked dead in the water after losing to Georgia State in the season opener. But now Tennessee is 3-5 and finishes with UAB, Kentucky, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
Texas-San Antonio at Texas A&M: Aggies 51-14. UTSA is 3-4, with three victories over Texas teams – Incarnate Word, Texas-El Paso and Rice. Don’t expect A&M to join the list.
Michigan at Maryland: Wolverines 38-10. Michigan is getting better and fast. That gives hope that the Wolverines could stand up to Ohio State in a few weeks.
Northwestern at Indiana: Hoosiers 26-21. Hey, how did IU get to 6-2? The Hoosiers could win eight games.
Rutgers at Illinois: Fighting Illini 27-7. Lovie Smith has revived the Illini to a 4-4 record, and hosting Rutgers means 5-4. Great recovery.
Nebraska at Purdue: Cornhuskers 31-21. Boilermaker coach Jeff Brohm is making $6.6 million, according to USA Today. Purdue is 2-6. Those two things make no sense together.
Virginia at North Carolina: Cavaliers 26-21. The winner moves to 4-2 in the ACC Coastal and becomes the favorite to win the division.
Virginia Tech at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 28-17. Was Notre Dame exposed in its blowout loss to Michigan? VPI is getting better.
North Carolina State at Wake Forest: Demon Deacons 28-22. Wake is 6-1 and could be Orange Bowl bound with a strong finish. With Clemson likely headed to a college football semifinal, some ACC team is going to Miami. Might as well be Wake.
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech: Panthers 30-19. The Yellow Jackets made the clean break from Paul Johnson’s option offense, and it’s finally starting to take hold.
Miami at Florida State: Seminoles 31-21. Remember when this was annually the game of the year in college football? Now it’s never even the game of the day in the ACC.
Boston College at Syracuse: Orange 30-29. Syracuse is the only ACC team without a victory in conference play.
Wofford at Clemson: Tigers 56-10. Make this a basketball game, and the Terriers from Spartanburg would have a chance.
Utah at Washington: Huskies 30-23. Upset special. The 7-1 Utes have been flying under the radar since losing to Southern Cal but remain in contention for a playoff berth. UW is better than its 5-3 record.
Oregon at Southern Cal: Ducks 30-21. Every USC game is competitive and close. So this will be a tough hurdle for the Ducks.
Colorado at UCLA: Bruins 35-24. UCLA is 3-2 in the Pac-12 – which means the Bruins control their season. After this game, UCLA plays Utah and USC back-to-back, and those are the two teams ahead of the Bruins.
Oregon State at Arizona: Wildcats 37-29. The Beavers are 3-5 and lamenting that September loss to Hawaii.
Tulsa at Tulane: Green Wave 33-20. Former OSU receiver Jalen McCleskey averaged 4.0 catches and 44.4 yards per game as a Cowboy. Now a graduate transfer at Tulane, McCleskey is averaging 3.1 catches and 37.1 yards per game with the Wave.
SMU at Memphis: Mustangs 41-37. Kudos, ESPN, for taking GameDay to Bluff City. It will go great on Beale Street.
Navy at Connecticut: Midshipmen 31-14. The only college game on Friday night. I will watch, but only because I am addicted.
Houston at Central Florida: Knights 45-22. More Air Raid reunions – Josh Heupel vs. Dana Holgorsen. Two sons of Mike Leach.
Cincinnati at East Carolina: Bearcats 27-3. Cincinnati is unbeaten in the American Conference.
Army at Air Force: Falcons 31-20. The Black Knights have won two straight Commander-in-Chief trophies, but Army now is 3-5.
Nevada-Las Vegas at Colorado State: Rams 28-27. UNLV is one defeat from being eliminated from bowl eligibility.
Brigham Young at Utah State: Cougars 27-26. I have become somewhat of a cottage historian about Utah sports – the Salt Lake crowd likes me because I’ve supported BYU’s efforts to join the Big 12 – but I have to confess, I know nothing about the extent of the BYU-Utah State intensity.
Boise State at San Jose State: Broncos 33-21. Who knew the Spartans would ever be a threat to Boise State?
New Mexico at Nevada: Wolf Pack 30-14. Jay Norvell’s Wolf Pack is 4-4 and close in on bowl eligibility with a victory.
Fresno State at Hawaii: Rainbow Warriors 31-24. The loser is in trouble in trying to catch San Diego State in the Mountain West’s West Division.
Last week: 26-13. Season: 327-101.