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John Werner's college picks: Baylor has shot to upset No. 14 Cyclones

John Werner's college picks: Baylor has shot to upset No. 14 Cyclones

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Baylor football running game (copy)

Running back Trestan Ebner ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 317 yards rushing in the Bears’ 3-0 start.

Baylor did exactly what most people expected by opening the season with wins over Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas by a combined score of 140-34.

A loss to any of those teams would have raised serious doubts about the Bears.

But the Bears made significant improvements each week, and have looked absolutely remarkable running the ball with Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner ranking among the top four rushers in the Big 12.

A big, physical Iowa State team will be the Bears’ first real test of the season, kicking off a tough string of games that includes Oklahoma State next weekend in Stillwater followed by home games against West Virginia and BYU.

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

No. 14 Iowa State (-7) at Baylor

Baylor’s offensive line has made the biggest improvement of any area of the team, carving out a Big 12-high 321.3 yards rushing and 558.7 yards total offense per game.

But can it perform at such a high level against an Iowa State defense that’s one of the most experienced and talented in the league?

In his first three starts, Gerry Bohanon has shown considerable poise and passing accuracy by hitting 72.9 percent. Playing at home before a gold-out crowd will help Bohanon in his first start against a Top 25 team.

Baylor 24, Iowa State 21

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

SMU (+9) at TCU

With Spencer Rattler entrenched as Oklahoma’s quarterback, former Midway star Tanner Mordecai transferred to SMU.

Mordecai has performed spectacularly as he ranks third nationally in passing efficiency with 1,022 yards with 16 touchdowns and two interceptions in the Mustangs’ 3-0 start.

Putting up such big numbers won’t be as easy against the Horned Frogs’ defense. But the bigger issue will be whether the Mustangs can keep a TCU offense led by quarterback Max Duggan and running back Zach Evans from putting up a lot of points.

TCU 45, SMU 35

Tribune-Herald sportswriters John Werner and Brice Cherry, plus special guest Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, talk Big 12 football this week.

Texas Tech (+7.5) at Texas

It wouldn’t be shocking for the Red Raiders to waltz out of Austin with a win since they’ve done it two of the last three games at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

Former Oregon quarterback Tyler Slough is off to a strong start for the Red Raiders with 804 yards passing and six touchdowns while Tahj Brooks has rushed for 284 yards while averaging 8.1 yards per carry in a 3-0 start.

Texas quarterback Casey Thompson performed well in last week’s 58-0 pounding of Rice as he hit 15 of 18 for 164 yards and two touchdowns. But Texas Tech’s biggest problem will likely be running back Bijon Robinson, who has rushed for 299 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games.

Texas 38, Texas Tech 35

West Virginia (+17) at No. 4 Oklahoma

The Sooners are off to a 3-0 start but haven’t looked particularly good, especially last week as they hung on to beat Nebraska, 23-16.

Behind Leddie Brown’s 161-yard rushing performance, West Virginia is coming off an impressive 27-21 win over then-No. 15 Virginia Tech last weekend.

Maybe the Sooners are overrated but it wouldn’t be shocking to see them break out against the Mountaineers.

Oklahoma 42, West Virginia 21

No. 7 Texas A&M (-5.5) vs. No. 16 Arkansas

(at AT&T Stadium)

Arkansas proved that it was a team to be reckoned with when it hammered Texas, 40-21, two weeks ago in Fayetteville.

Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson has enjoyed a promising start, but hasn’t seen a defense as talented as Texas A&M’s.

With quarterback Haynes King out with a leg injury, Zach Calzada threw for 275 yards and three touchdowns but was sacked three times in the Aggies’ 34-0 win over New Mexico last weekend. Further success will likely depend on how well A&M’s offensive line protects Calzada.

Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 21

Last week: 4-1 overall, 3-2 against the line

Season: 12-3 overall, 8-7 against the line

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