The free Game of the Week feature is now 8-2-1 (80 percent ATS) on the season. After an epic week of games last week, there is not too much to get excited about headed into Week 12 in college football, however, this specific upset pick could have major BCS bowl implications as we anticipate a team that is currently ranked 12th in the BCS (which is second best in the Big 12) to lose straight-up on the road (Bonus pick: We also have the fourth ranked team in the BCS standings playing in a game that looks almost exactly 50/50 to our simulations). Texas and its much-maligned head coach Mack Brown will host Oklahoma State this week in Austin. The loser is essentially out of the Big 12 race, while the winner essentially gets a future date with Baylor in the de facto conference championship game -- with the winner of that game heading to a BCS bowl. It's high stakes, especially for Brown whose job is on the line this season.
Texas was one of our favorite teams before the season started. The Longhorns returned 18 starters from last season, including having one of the best offensive and defensive lines in the country.
Having played the 33rd ranked FBS schedule to-date, Texas is 7-2 straight-up and 5-4 against-the-spread. The Longhorns have not lost since September 14 against Ole Miss, winning six straight Big 12 conference games by an average score of 35-22. The only time in the last five weeks that Texas did not cover the spread, the Longhorns won by 22 points over Kansas (the spread was -28). Otherwise, this has been a very different team than what we all saw against BYU and Ole Miss in September. As presently constructed, Texas ranks 21st overall in our College Football Power Rankings. According to our strength-of-schedule-adjusted efficiency metrics (that also account for health of the roster and current depth charts), the Longhorns are in the top 30 nationally in pass offense, run offense and pass defense. Leading rusher Johnathan Gray was knocked out of last week's game in West Virginia and will miss the rest of the season. In his place, former high school All-American Malcolm Brown and former Texas standout Joe Bergeon (who once had 327 yards in a two game stretch for the Longhorns) should have no problem keeping the team elite on the ground. Texas does struggle with opposing teams' running games, particularly with a mobile quarterback, but they have come a long way since Taysom Hill (BYU) ran for 259 yards against them. Texas has defeated mobile quarterbacks in wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma and TCU.
Oklahoma State is 8-1 straight-up and 5-3 against-the-spread versus the country's 58th ranked schedule. The Cowboys, who have #21 Texas, #3 Baylor and #31 Oklahoma (based on our Power Rankings) still on the schedule, have yet to play a team that ranks in our current top 35. Oklahoma State is riding a five game winning streak of its own, yet its last loss (its only loss on the season) came at West Virginia in late September. Oklahoma State lost by nine points (30-21) in Morgantown; Texas won by seven (in OT) at West Virginia last week. The Cowboys rank 18th in our overall power rankings. Normally known for a dynamic offense, Texas is actually better than Oklahoma State in run and pass efficiency. The Cowboys defense has actually been its key thus far. That will be tested against an offense for Texas that has been getting better each week. And it's worth noting that much has been made recently of current quarterback, Clint Chelf's ability to run the ball. Before the season, Chelf was considered the more traditional, pocket passer of the duo that also includes J.W. Walsh. It would not be wise to expect Chelf to continue to post 7+ yards-per-carry and 80+ rushing yards-per-game.
Two weeks ago in this same feature, we projected Oklahoma State's upset win over Texas Tech. This week, Oklahoma State is getting too much credit as a three point favorite on the road against one of the most experienced and hottest teams in the country. Watch for another upset, though we obviously would not call it one.
According to 50,000 games played by the Predictalator, Texas wins over Oklahoma State 55 percent of the time and by an average score of 32-26. As three point underdogs that the simulations project to win straight-up, Texas covers the spread 57.9 percent of the time, which is our third strongest pick of the week and would warrant a $58 wager from a normal $50 player. With as two underrated defenses, the UNDER (63.5) covers 54.5 percent of the time, strong enough to justify a $22 play from a normal $50 player.