I don't gamble and I don't want anyone else to do so either, but picking games against the spread is a fun challenge and so I'm going to willingly participate in that practice while looking ahead at the next week's games in the Big 12.
Kansas +13.5 at Rutgers
I don't know much of anything about either of these teams to be honest as I refuse to watch Kansas play football until they've at least won a game. Rutgers couldn't move the ball against the Nittany Lions...who are approximately 10x better on defense than Kansas is. They also held down Christian Hackenberg pretty well, and while Penn St is still struggling to retool their offense they are still better there than the Jayhawks are.
As bad as Rutgers seems to be I'd never forgive myself for picking the Jayhawks against the spread.
Pick: Rutgers covers.
Baylor -34.5 hosting Rice
This game will be a nice test to see how Russell is coming along as a decision maker after facing his mistakes in the film room with the Briles boys. The Owls have a smart defense if not a particularly athletic one and they'll do all they can to confuse and turn over the Bears.
Meanwhile on offense they're going to try and keep the score down, run the ball (and clock), and try to hammer away at the Bears in the hopes of winning in the 4th quarter.
Two relevant points here:
1) Rice's left tackle Calvin Anderson is 6-5, 260.
2) Baylor's right end Shawn Oakman is 6-9, 280.
I suspect that the Owls ability to run behind double teams will struggle with Andrew Billings squatting in the middle of the trenches while their defense should be fairly helpless at trying to stay in front of Corey Coleman and KD Cannon.
Pick: Baylor covers.
West Virginia -17 hosting Maryland
West Virginia "ain't played nobody!" and usually struggles in these old Big East grudge matches they schedule every year. In lieu of better information I'm going to assume that Maryland gives them a fight before succumbing.
Pick: Maryland to cover.
Texas +3 hosting Oklahoma State
I'm staying away from this one. The 'Pokes have a solid looking defense and are throwing the ball around well but they haven't done it against a team with Texas' talent, diminished as it is this year.
This game will be a useful barometer for how Oklahoma State's D looks and whether they can run the ball. I expect them to bring a lot of eight man fronts to control the Texas ground game, in which case we'll find out if their corners are up to holding up against top athletes at WR, and we should also see if their DL can control Heard in the pocket.
Positive answers to these questions will suggest a very formidable Oklahoma State in 2015.
Pick: I dunno.
TCU -7 at Texas Tech
Remember when I wrote that TCU had a problem with Baylor and, more particularly, with the smashmouth spread?
The TCU defense needed to be able to play effective cover 2 to the boundary against Tech, but they've lost boundary safety Kenny Iloka for the year. They also love to play their corners in man coverage, particularly to the field, but field corner Ranthony Texada is now done for the year as well.
I noted that TCU had some speed at LB now that could allow them to bring some interesting blitzes but impressive young Mike Freeze is out as well as is fellow LB Sammy Douglas.
This defense is in total disarray right now and it's come at the worst possible time because Tech's offense looks fantastic. All four WRs are dangerous when they go Lauderdale-Sadler-Grant-Davis and this OL is pretty good blocking outside zone.
Pat Mahomes is the real deal and he's got a ton of weapons around him. TCU is basically going to have to rely on Trevone Boykin outscoring him in his own house in Lubbock.
Speaking of when TCU is on offense, the Tech D has been much better with Gibbs at the helm and the secondary is finding some players. This game might very well come down to whether Tech can get a pass-rush with Pete Robertson and seven defenders dropping back into coverage. If so, I don't see TCU keeping up.