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Big XII Notes
By Judd Hall
We know that the road to a national championship is not an easy one. But the Longhorns have to think this is downright ridiculous what they’re going through this year.
Texas overcame a double-digit deficit against the Sooners to win the Red River Rivalry. And the ‘Horns avoided the let down by crushing Missouri just last Saturday. Now they’re taking on their third straight power when the No. 7 Cowboys comes to Austin.
The betting shops are siding with the Longhorns by installing them as large 12 ½-point home favorites with a total of 70½. The public is not only backing Texas on the spread with 71 percent of the money at Sportsbook.com falling that way, but 64 percent of the bettors’ cash is on the home team to win outright at minus-430 (wager $430 to win $100).
More often than not public perception is wrong, but it’s hard to ague with them on backing Texas. The Longhorns have the second best scoring offense in the nation, averaging 48.1 points per game this year. And they’ve scored at least 50 points four times this season.
Leading that offensive charge is Heisman front runner Colt McCoy. The junior gunslinger connected on 29 of 32 throws for 337 yards and two touchdowns last Saturday against Missouri. Now you might think that nailing 90 percent of your passes is a flash in the pan, which it really is rare. But McCoy has been nothing but efficient this season, ranking fourth in the country with a rating of 190.8.
Texas also has proven they can shut down teams with its defense as well. The Longhorns have the best scoring defensive unit in the Big XII by allowing just 17.6 points per game this year. Although you could argue they play a little soft in the second half after giving up 28 points to the Tigers last Saturday.
The Longhorns’ defense is primed for a test this week when they take on Oklahoma State. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys are pulling in 46.4 PPG this season, good enough for fourth place in the national rankings. While some would expect most of OSU’s success to come from the passing game, they’d be wrong as they also house a sound running game as well.
Kendall Hunter comes in at No. 6 in the nation with 955 rushing yards for a program that is tops in the Big XII, averaging 283.1 YPG on the ground. And thought should work well against a Texas defense that hasn’t seen a true rushing attack for a few weeks.
Now that isn’t to say that the Cowboys can’t pass the ball. Zac Robinson is the third most efficient quarterback in the nation with a rating of 191.9.
The odds are definitely stacked in the Longhorns’ favor this Saturday as they are 13-1 straight up all time. And that lone win for Oklahoma State came in 1944. As far as covering the spread, Texas owns that number as well with a 7-3 mark in the last 10 meetings. The ‘over’ has gone on a 4-1 run in this matchup.
There are five other contests going on in the Big XII this weekend as well:
Texas Tech at Kansas: The Jayhawks stayed on pace Oklahoma for the first half, but ultimately lost 45-31 in Norman. While Kansas did lose to the Sooners, they did cover the 19 ½-point spread to improve Mark Mangino’s record to 6-1ATS in road tilts the past two seasons. The Red Raiders are coming off of another sloppy win, this time at Texas A&M. Home teams are just 2-6 SU and ATS in this head-to-head scenario. Texas Tech won the latest meeting 30-17, but failed to cover the 18 ½-point line in Lubbock.
Oklahoma at Kansas State: Ron Prince’s Wildcats continued their inconsistent play as they have alternated wins and losses for the six weeks. Oklahoma came away with a quality victory last week over the plucky Jayhawks. The Sooners have owned K-State in the last six outings, posting a 5-1 record SU. But the ‘Cats have cashed at a nice clip as evidenced by a 3-2-1 ATS mark.
Baylor at Nebraska: The Bears suffered a 34-6 setback last week at the hands of Oklahoma State. Baylor’s Robert Griffin threw for 162 yards against the Cowboys, but he only rushed for 12 yards (worst output of his career). Nebraska is fresh off of a 35-7 drubbing of the Cyclones in Ames. The Cornhuskers have dominated this matchup, winning all six Big XII meetings SU and 5-1 ATS with Baylor.
Colorado at Missouri: The Buffaloes were lucky to face Kansas State last week as they continue to try and find a starting quarterback. This time around we’ll see Tyler Hansen under center for Colorado after he completed seven of 14 passes for 71 yards and a score. Not great numbers, but much better production than they’ve seen from Cody Hawkins. Missouri’s defense has completely let the team down in the last two weeks, giving up 992 total yards to the ‘Pokes and ‘Horns. Lucky for Gary Pinkel they owned the Buffs in last year’s 55-10 victory. That appears to be where this game is going since Mizzou is all offense and Colorado has none.
Texas A&M at Iowa State: Mike Sherman’s Aggies had everyone shocked when they took a 23-20 lead into the half at home against Texas Tech. But you can’t really expect to win if you get rolled for 561 yards, 450 coming through the air. Texas A&M should have an easy go of it this Saturday when they clash with the Cyclones. Iowa State has looked awful since taking Kansas to the final whistle on Oct. 4, going 0-2 ATS by a combined score of 73-17. The Cyclones are 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS when taking on the Aggies in Ames.