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Big 12 football: Updated predictions, superlatives after Week 4

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Some teams kicked off conference play, others wrapped up non-conference and three more had bye weeks.

Oklahoma v UCLA Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

We are officially in the conference portion of the schedule. Four Big 12 teams kicked off conference play last weekend, but now we move in to the meat of the schedule. It’s time to find out what the Big 12 is made of. Let’s recap week four and look ahead to week five and this seasons conference schedule.

Standings

#6 Oklahoma Sooners (3-0)

#11 Texas Longhorns (3-1, 1-0)

#24 Kansas State Wildcats (3-0)

Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-1, 0-1)

Iowa State Cyclones (2-1)

TCU Horned Frogs (2-1)

Baylor Bears (3-0)

West Virginia Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0)

Kansas Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1)

Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-1)

TCU only lasted in the top-25 for a week after it lost to SMU 41-38 at home. Some may laugh but I think this SMU team has a chance to have a good season. The Mustangs are 4-0 heading into conference play. TCU fell considerably in my power rankings but I didn’t think its performance against SMU was any worse than Baylor’s narrow win against Rice.

And then there were three...

#6 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma had a bye week last week but did get a small win. Texas will likely be the stiffest competition the Sooners face in Big 12 play. Oklahoma will travel down to the Cotton Bowl to take on Texas after facing Texas Tech this weekend. The timing couldn’t be better for OU.

The Oklahoma offense has looked unstoppable so far this season, and Texas will miss numerous playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, including Caden Sterns. The Oklahoma State game took a tole on the Texas defense. The team announced several players would be out the next handful of weeks.

Oklahoma might be looking right past Texas Tech and ahead to the Red River Rivalry, but that’s not what I am here to do. OU should expect to steamroll Texas Tech in Norman this weekend. Honestly, OU fans will probably expect their team to steamroll most of the teams in the Big 12. The Sooners offense is that dangerous. But how good is the defense? This weekend might not tell us much as Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman is still recovering from injury.

Prediction: Oklahoma wins big.

#11 Texas Longhorns

Texas took on Oklahoma State at home on Saturday and didn’t play its best game. The Horns fumbled several punts and Sam Ehlinger threw his first interception of the season. Texas held on despite some sloppy mistakes for a 36-30 win.

Ehlinger looked great aside from the interception. He threw four touchdown passes and most of his 281 passing yards went to Devin Duvernay, who caught 12 balls for 108 yards and a score. This game was won at the line of scrimmage though. Texas contained Chuba Hubbard for most of the night while Keaontay Ingram rushed for 114 yards on 21 carries.

Texas has a bye week before playing OU the next weekend and the Horns need it. The Texas defense will be without a handful of players for the next several weeks, including Caden Sterns. Texas needs to get healthy and prepare what is left of its defense to play OU.

#24 Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State is ranked! That means Oklahoma State will start off Big 12 play with two ranked opponents. The Wildcats had a bye last week to prepare for their road game against Oklahoma State this weekend.

Kansas State catches an Oklahoma State team coming off a loss at Texas. Games between KSU and OSU are traditionally close, and this year should be no exception. Kansas State’s marquee win so far was a 31-24 win at Mississippi State. The Wildcats defense forced multiple turnovers to set the offense up with short fields.

Kansas State may have a new coach but the Wildcats still like to run the ball early and often. Skylar Thompson is a capable quarterback and KSU is a physical team with a defense that has looked good so far. Kansas State will hang tough for most of the game but I think OSU’s three-headed monster on offense will be too much to handle.

Prediction: Kansas State loses a close one.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

Missed opportunities doomed Oklahoma State against Texas last weekend. The clear issue for the Cowboys was red-zone offense. To be fair, Texas played stout defense all night. For the most part, it was an encouraging performance for a young OSU team.

Spencer Sanders didn’t have the greatest stats, but he was under heavy pressure most of the night. His performance was much better than the box score might suggest. Sanders completed 19 of 32 passed for 268 yards and two interceptions. He also rushed for 109 yards and a score. Hubbard was limited for most the night with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries.

Oklahoma State plays a physical team for the second week in a row in Kansas State. The Wildcats are ranked 24th in the AP Poll this week and are coming off a bye. The Wildcat defense has impressed, while the offense hasn’t raised any eyebrows. If the Oklahoma State offense can have a productive day, the Cowboys should be just fine.

Prediction: Oklahoma State wins a close one.

Iowa State Cyclones

After two shaky performances from the ISU offense to open the season, the Cyclones poured on 72 POINTS on Louisiana Monroe. I get it, ULM isn’t great, but this team struggled to score on Northern Iowa.

Brock Purdy passed for 435 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Former Netflix “QB1” star Re-al Mitchell threw his first collegiate touchdown pass from nine yards out in this game as well.

In addition to his three touchdown passes, Purdy also rushed for three touchdowns. Mitchell added a touchdown run to his touchdown pass as well. Purdy led the Cyclones in rushing with 75 yards and Mitchell was second with 65 yards.

Iowa State opens Big 12 play at Baylor this week. This game should be a good test to see if this team can rebound from a shaky start and contend in the Big 12. It would help the Cyclones to find more of a running game, but I have Iowa State winning a close game.

Prediction: Iowa State wins.

TCU Horned Frogs

TCU didn’t last long in the AP top-25 after losing to SMU last week. I mentioned at the top of the article that I really like SMU this year, so I don’t see this as bad of a loss as others might. Regardless, TCU should have won this game.

Max Duggan took the only snaps at quarterback this week, completing 16 of his 36 passes. The good news is that Duggan passed for 188 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception. The bad news is that he threw the ball 36 times and only completed 16 passes.

Darius Anderson rushed 19 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Running the ball will be the calling card of this offense until Duggan can complete more of his passes. TCU will have a nice opportunity to bounce back this week with a home game against Kansas. The Horned Frogs should be looking to get Jalen Reagor the ball in space more this week, while giving Duggan more experience before playing better Big 12 competition.

Prediction: TCU wins a close one.

Baylor Bears

Baylor led Rice 21-3 at halftime before not scoring at all in the second. Baylor held on for a 21-13 win but that doesn’t inspire much confidence heading into Big 12 play.

Charlie Brewer passed for 303 yards and a touchdown and also led the Bears in rushing with 58 yards and a score. The Baylor offense has looked very one dimensional this season so far. The Bears lost two fumbles and punted three times in the game.

Baylor opens Big 12 play at home against Iowa State. Neither team has inspired too much confidence to this point in the season. The winner of this game will build momentum heading forward while the loser will continue a disappointing start to the season.

Prediction: Iowa State wins.

West Virginia Mountaineers

West Virginia defeated Kansas 29-24 in Lawrence last weekend. After a tough first two games, the Mountaineers have bounced back with two good showings.

Austin Kendall passed for 202 yards but West Virginia scored all three of its touchdowns on the ground. The West Virginia defense forced two Kansas turnovers in the game.

West Virginia has a bye this week before hosting Texas in Morgantown the week after. The Mountaineers will certainly need the bye, but it still won’t likely be enough to beat Texas the following week.

Kansas Jayhawks

Kansas almost pulled off an upset to start Big 12 play with a win, but falls to 2-2 and 0-1 in Big 12 play instead.

Carter Stanley completed 19 of his 25 passes for 275 yards and three touchdowns to go with an interceptions. Andrew Parchment led in receiving once again with 132 yards and two scores.

I wouldn’t rule Kansas out the rest of the way. The Jayhawks have some playmakers and could pull off an upset later down the road. Kansas will need to take better care of the football if that is going to happen though.

One of the games Kansas could win is this weekend at TCU. The Horned Frogs haven’t looked great to this point and have struggled with Duggan at quarterback. I like TCU in this one, but don’t be surprised if Kansas hangs around in this one.

Prediction: TCU wins.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Texas Tech had a bye last week to prepare for its upcoming game against Oklahoma. The Red Raiders will be without quarterback Alan Bowman for the next several weeks.

Without Bowman there isn’t much chance Texas Tech beats Oklahoma but it is college football and anything could happen. Oklahoma should win and win big this weekend.

Prediction: Oklahoma wins big.

The only game I missed last week was predicting a TCU win over SMU. Baylor made me sweat out my pick for them to beat Rice, but hey, a win is a win.

Season record: (24-8)

Big 12 Championship Game:

Oklahoma Sooners vs Texas Longhorns

Texas got past Oklahoma State and should be favored in every Big 12 game except against OU from here on out. Oklahoma looks like an unstoppable force in the Big 12 and these teams should meet in the Big 12 Championship Game. Right now, I have Oklahoma winning a close one.

Offensive Player of the Year:

Jalen Hurts: Oklahoma University

Although Hurts had a bye last week, his numbers through four weeks are still staggering. Hurts should run away with this award, with his only real competitor being Sam Ehlinger.

Defensive Player of the Year:

Garret Wallow: Texas Christian University

Wallow led TCU in tackles once again with 19 total tackles, 12 more than any other TCU defender recorded against SMU. Wallow is the leader of the TCU defense and the leader through week four for this award.

Big 12 Newcomer of the Year:

Spencer Sanders: Oklahoma State University

Sanders bounced back with a better showing against Texas last weekend. The main reason he is a leading candidate for this award is his dual threat ability. Sanders rushed for over 100 yards once again and his dynamic playmaking helped keep OSU in the game.

Big 12 Freshman of the Year:

Jadon Haselwood: Oklahoma University

As I mentioned last week, Haselwood hasn’t had the best start, but he is buried on the depth chart behind some older and uber talented receivers. One strong candidate to take this award for Haselwood is Texas freshman Jordan Whittington, who should be returning from injury in the next few weeks.

Coach of the Year

Lincoln Riley: Oklahoma University

I know this doesn’t surprise anyone but Riley is the best coach in this conference and nobody else has impressed enough to take this away from him.

Breakout Player of the Year:

Chuba Hubbard: Oklahoma State University

Hubbard rushed 37 times against Texas but still leads the nation in rushing yards, touchdowns and attempts. He was limited for much of the game by the Texas defense and will need to have a good week against Kansas State if OSU expects to win.