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John Werner's college picks: Here's to hoping all games will be played

John Werner's college picks: Here's to hoping all games will be played

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As I begin this picks column, I do so with some trepidation.

First I worry whether all five Big 12 games will actually be played as scheduled. It didn’t happen last weekend as Baylor’s game against Houston was postponed indefinitely due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing on the Bears’ squad.

My next worry is whether I’ll get any games right. While I went 3-1 in the games I picked last week, I went 0-4 against the betting line.

Games are more unpredictable this season since key players will inevitably be out due to COVID-19. But on the other hand, I’ve picked just as badly when there wasn’t a pandemic.

Kansas (+17.5) at Baylor

It’s easy to dismiss this game as just another impending Baylor blowout of the Jayhawks like last year’s 61-6 demolition in Lawrence.

In the 2019 regular season finale, the Bears were rolling toward the Big 12 championship game when they faced the Jayhawks. But coming into Saturday night’s game at McLane Stadium, the Bears haven’t even played due to coronavirus issues.

It will be interesting to see what the Bears roll out in Dave Aranda’s first game as head coach. He’s been pleased with how his team has progressed during workouts, but now the Bears will finally see their first game action.

Like Iowa State and Kansas State, the Jayhawks were whipped by a Sun Belt Conference team on Sept. 12 as they dropped a 38-23 decision to Coastal Carolina. While it’s hard to believe Baylor would lose, it should be more competitive than last year.

No. 8 Texas (-18) at Texas Tech

Texas Tech survived a 35-33 opening win over Houston Baptist two weeks ago, but nobody in Lubbock was very happy about the performance.

The Red Raiders gave up 600 yards, including 572 through the air. Tech finished with 624 yards offensively as Alan Bowman threw for 430 yards and two scores and SaRodorick Thompson rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns.

It’s too soon to tell if No. 8 Texas deserves its ranking following a 59-3 blasting of undermanned UTEP. But behind veteran quarterback Sam Ehlinger the Longhorns shouldn’t have trouble beating the Red Raiders on the road.

Kansas State (+27.5) at No. 3 Oklahoma

After opening with a 35-31 home loss to Arkansas State, Kansas State’s prize is to play its first road game against powerful Oklahoma.

Wildcats’ coach Chris Klieman has expressed concern whether his team will have enough bodies to play due to COVID-19 issues. But even a full roster wouldn’t be enough for the Wildcats to have a shot to beat the Sooners.

Oklahoma opened its season with a 48-0 mauling of Missouri State as new starting quarterback Spencer Rattler hit 14 of 17 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns. That doesn’t bode well for a Kansas State defense that looked shaky against Arkansas State.

Iowa State (-2.5) at TCU

Ranked No. 23 in the preseason Associated Press poll, Iowa State quickly tumbled out following its season-opening 31-14 loss to Louisiana two weeks ago.

Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy wasn’t up to his usual standards as he hit just 16 of 35 passes for 145 yards and no touchdowns while throwing an interception.

It’s a little surprising the Cyclones are favored on the road, but the Horned Frogs are a mystery since their opener against SMU was called off for COVID-19 reasons.

West Virginia (+7) at No. 15 Oklahoma State

When quarterback Spencer Sanders suffered a high ankle sprain on the opening series against Tulsa last weekend, the Oklahoma State offense sputtered in a 16-7 win.

Sanders was in a walking boot earlier this week and his status for Saturday’s game against the Mountaineers was uncertain.

West Virginia’s offense was on fire in a 56-10 thrashing of Eastern Kentucky in the Sept. 12 season opener as quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns while Alec Sinkfield and Leddie Brown each rushed for 123 yards.

Even with Heisman Trophy candidate Chuba Hubbard in the backfield, the Cowboys could be ripe for an upset with an injured Sanders.

Last week: 3-1 overall, 0-4 against the line

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