The Big 12's playoff picture is dim, but not non-existent. It rests solely on No. 11 Oklahoma. But first the Sooners need to win out. That won't be easy. In fact, the top four teams with the most realistic shots to win the league are all 6-2 or 5-2. As such, the final two, maybe three weeks of the season could yield several possibilities.
It won't be worth getting into all of them now, but there is one game taking center stage this weekend that will shape the race: Friday's noon ET matchup between Iowa State and Texas. For the Cyclones, it's the first of two tough games to end the year, and this one comes on a short week. But Iowa State has a lot going for it. It's a top-15 defense in points per drive allowed among teams that have played at least five games. The running game is reliable. They can win using their brand of football. Texas is more of a wild card, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger leads the Big 12 with 29 total touchdowns. This is a high-stakes game with a lot to lose.
Let's dive into the rest of the Big 12 happenings this weekend.
Big 12 picks
No. 13 Iowa State at No. 17 Texas
This is a quick turnaround road game for the Cyclones and Texas is coming off an unexpected open week, but I think the wrong team might be favored here. Iowa State dismantled Kansas State and looks like one of the two best teams in the Big 12. A trip to Arlington, Texas, is within grasp, which would be a monumental milestone for this program. At this same time, Texas finds itself in another must-win situation. This is a compelling top-25 game to kick off the Thanksgiving weekend slate. This one could be tight, but I like the Cyclones. Pick: Iowa State +1.5
Texas Tech at No. 23 Oklahoma State
Just about everything that could have gone wrong against Oklahoma did for Oklahoma State. It got behind quickly, lost quarterback Spencer Sanders to a head injury in the first quarter and was ill-equipped to mount a comeback. The Pokes need a get-right game, and I think they get it at home against the Red Raiders. Pick: Oklahoma State -10.5
Kansas State at Baylor
The team with one (1) win is favored, which should tell you how things are going at Kansas State. I don't love betting the spread here as much as the point total (46). Kansas State and Baylor rank 96th and 100th, respectively, in points per drive. First one to 20 wins? Pick: Under 46
There are a couple of conflicting ideologies at play. Weird things tend to happen when TCU visits Kansas. At the same time, the Jayhawks are abysmal against the spread. Everyone has blown them out, so overs are usually in play with them as a result. TCU, however, just scored six points at West Virginia. Stay away from this wager, but if you must ... Pick: TCU -24
Big 12 power rankings
1. Oklahoma (6-2, 5-2 Big 12): The Sooners aren't quite back to the top of the Big 12 standings, but they are just a game behind Iowa State. Winners of five in a row, Oklahoma is officially the hot team in college football.
2. Iowa State (6-2, 6-1): K-State has its limitations, but the Wildcats are well-coached. I don't know how many people saw Iowa State beating them 45-0. Quarterback Brock Purdy had his best game of the year and Breece Hall is having an All-American year at running back. The Cyclones have two losses: a wonky season-opener to Louisiana and a three-point, back-door cover defeat at Oklahoma State. They're not that far off from being undefeated.
3. Oklahoma State (5-2, 4-2): The Cowboys defense had an awful start and then ran out of gas late, but overall they played alright against Oklahoma. At one point, the Sooners went nearly two-and-a-half quarters between touchdowns. I don't think a healthy Sanders would have changed the outcome, but it would have been more competitive.
4. Texas (5-2, 4-2): Texas was supposed to play Kansas in Week 12, but that's been postponed until Dec. 12. The Longhorns already stole one must-win against Oklahoma State. Can it win another as slight favorites against the Cyclones on Friday?
5. West Virginia (5-3, 4-3): They'll have two weeks to heal up and get ready for Iowa State now that the Oklahoma game has been postponed until Dec. 12. Their defense is for real and the offense is playing better -- at least at home.
6. Kansas State (4-4, 4-3): Oof. That Iowa State shutout was a culmination of all of the limitations affecting this team. Running back Deuce Vaughn hasn't been a factor in a month, and now K-State goes on the road as an underdog to Baylor. The win over Oklahoma feels like a decade ago. This team needs a get-right game or the season could bottom out.
7. Texas Tech (3-5, 2-5): Texas Tech travels to Oklahoma State for a noon ET game. If the Cowboys are hung over from the Oklahoma loss, there's room for Tech to make some noise. Otherwise, this team isn't getting to .500.
8. TCU (3-4, 3-4): I don't know what it is about TCU in Lawrence, but the Horned Frogs always have a hard time there. But Kansas is really, really bad. That's a pack-it-in-early game if you lose it.
9. Baylor (1-5, 1-5): If Baylor is going to get a second win, it's now. They've been playing better the last few weeks and they catch Kansas State at the right time and at home.
10. Kansas (0-7, 0-6): The Jayhawks had to postpone their game against Texas because of COVID-19.
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 13? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned over $3,600 in profit over the past four-plus seasons -- and find out.