TCU Horned Frogs at Oklahoma State Cowboys, Saturday Nov. 7, 3:30 p.m. ET
The first College Football Playoff rankings came out this week, and the Big 12 surely isn't happy about it. The conference has three unbeaten teams, including these two, yet if the playoffs were to start this week the conference would be shut out. TCU is currently 8th in the rankings, and Oklahoma State, at 14th, is the lowest-ranked unbeaten team from a major conference.
The problem for both teams is scheduling. They both faced weak nonconference schedules, and both have faced the weaker portion of their conference so far. There hasn't been a ranked opponent between them and very little to get people excited.
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That will change this week - at least for the winner. Both teams have Baylor and Oklahoma remaining in their final three games after this one, so a win here would likely move them up in the rankings and would set them up for a final charge to the promised land. Because of the schedule and the tight competition in both the divisional and national standings, though, a loss here would likely end all playoff aspirations. The stakes here, in other words, are huge.
TCU at Oklahoma State Betting Storylines
At first glance we would appear to have a mismatch at quarterback. TCU's Trevone Boykin, after all, is the second favorite in the Heisman race. Through eight games he has 28 touchdowns and just five picks and has averaged just short of 10 yards per passing attempt. Impressive, and notably consistent.
While Boykin is quite probably the best quarterback in college football, though, the gap in this game at the position isn't as wide as it might seem. Mason Rudolph is the starter, and his numbers are solid enough. Where the Cowboys really shine, though, is with their backup. Senior and former starter J.W. Walsh is as good a backup as there is in the game right now. For starters he has run for seven touchdowns - useful since Rudolph isn't a threat on the ground at all. More significant and impressive, though, is his pass-to-touchdown ratio. He has thrown just 23 passes this year and has 18 completions, yet he has nine touchdown passes. A touchdown on every second pass - that shouldn't even be possible. As a two-headed monster - plenty of Rudolph, and Walsh when needed - Oklahoma State functionally has a Top-12 quarterback. That makes for an interesting game here.
While TCU is probably the better team - and the rankings support that - Oklahoma State isn't going to be intimidated if they get behind or if things come down to the wire. Last week they were behind by 17 points three different times and beat Texas Tech after the second-biggest comeback in school history. Three times their games have come down to the last possession of the game. The team has won all three games. They are a squad that seems to thrive when their backs are against the wall. Of course, that has come against a much weaker level of competition than they are facing here. Still, it could be a factor here.
The Horned Frogs have won their last four games against ranked opponents. That streak started last year when they crushed the Cowboys, who were ranked 15th at the time, 42-9. That game was a home contest for the Horned Frogs, but that's a rarity in this matchup. In fact, this is the third time in the four years TCU has been in the Big 12 that they have had to play the Cowboys on the road. It hasn't gone well for them, either - Oklahoma State has won both of the games handily and covered both spreads as solid favorites.
TCU at Oklahoma State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with TCU favored by five points. The current price varies somewhat, with prices of both 4.5 and 5.5 available depending on the spot. More than 70 percent of bets have come in on the Horned Frogs, so the lack of significant or consistent movement to this point suggests that sharp money hasn't hit the game hard on one side or the other. The total is predictably high at 76.5.
The Cowboys are 6-1 ATS in their last seven conference games. Turnovers will be key for them - they have won 23 straight games when they haven't had a turnover. TCU has gone "over" the total in five of their last six games in November.
NCAA Football Expert Picks Against the Spread: TCU at Oklahoma State Predictions
At less than a touchdown, the Horned Frogs are a comfortable pick here. They have the better offense led by the better quarterback, and their defense is finally mostly playing like a Gary Patterson defense is supposed to. Oklahoma State has thrived in part due to a strong pass rush, but the Horned Frogs offensive line is experienced and has been very sturdy. This game should be a fun one, but TCU should come out on top.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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