Berry’s college football predictions: OU-West Virginia winner still has a Big 12 shot

Berry’s college football predictions: OU-West Virginia winner still has a Big 12 shot

Berry Tramel: The OU-West Virginia on Saturday has an excellent chance to finish 7-2, either alone in third place or tied with either OSU, Texas (or both) for first or second. A five-way tie still is possible.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Nov 8, 2023, 12:00pm CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Nov 8, 2023, 12:00pm CST

The Big 12 football race has reached some clarity. OSU and Texas control their destinies for reaching Arlington and the conference championship game.

If either stumbles, here come the tiebreakers.

That’s what happens when you’ve got a two-way tie for first place at 5-1 (OSU, Texas) and a five-way tie for second place at 4-2 (OU, Kansas State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Kansas).

OSU has the easiest path to Arlington. The Cowboys’ finishing schedule is at Central Florida, at Houston, Brigham Young. Those three teams have a combined record of 5-13 in the Big 12.

Texas’ finishing trio is at Texas Christian, at Iowa State, Texas Tech. Combined Big 12 record: 9-9.

Among the five teams tied for third, West Virginia has the gravy train schedule — at OU, Cincinnati, Baylor. Combined record: 6-12.

Next in line is OU, which hosts West Virginia, goes to BYU, then hosts TCU. Combined record: 8-10.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? The OU-West Virginia on Saturday has an excellent chance to finish 7-2, either alone in third place or tied with either OSU, Texas (or both) for first or second.

Multiple-team tiebreakers get quite convoluted and are not worth our time now. Check back next week.

But the OU-West Virginia winner can have a reasonable hope that the Cowboys or Longhorns will stumble along the way. The odds are long that both OSU and Texas go 3-0 down the stretch. Must be less than 10 percent.

Just for grins, I put together some percentages on teams winning out.

OSU: 41%

Kansas: 38%

Texas: 36%

OU: 36%

Kansas State 22%

Iowa State 8%

So lots of possibilities for ties. Heck, just for fun, here’s a scenario. 

Iowa State beats Texas and the Longhorns otherwise win out.

Some team, but just one, beats OSU.

The OU-West Virginia winner otherwise wins out. Kansas and Iowa State both beat Kansas State and otherwise win out.

The Big 12 race finishes in a five-way tie at 7-2.

Like I said. Let’s give it another week.

Now on to the predictions. Last week: 36-19. Season: 420-128.

West Virginia at Oklahoma: Sooners 27-20. Why wouldn’t it be close? The Mountaineers won 23-20 last season. Before that, recent scores in the series were 16-13 (OU won, 2021), 59-56 (OU 2018). And the teams didn’t play in 2020.    

Oklahoma State at Central Florida: Cowboys 34-28. Mike Gundy’s Bedlam record now is 4-15. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but it raises Gundy’s Bedlam winning percentage to .211, ahead of the cumulative .197 of all other OSU coaches.

Texas at Texas Christian: Longhorns 23-17. TCU is 8-3 against the ‘Horns since joining the Big 12 in 2012.

Iowa State at Brigham Young: Cyclones 16-14. Expect a low-scoring affair in the Wasatch Mountains. 

Texas Tech at Kansas: Red Raiders 31-28. Big 12 upset special. KU has had two straight emotional weeks — an upset of OU, a big road win at Iowa State. And Tech seems like a team ready to break out of a season-long doldrum.

Baylor at Kansas State: Wildcats 42-6. Since winning the 2021 Big 12 title, the Bears are 6-9 in conference play.

Cincinnati at Houston: Cougars 27-23. Houston could get to .500 with a win, with games remaining against OSU (home) and Central Florida (road).

Ole Miss at Georgia: Bulldogs 27-14. A huge showdown in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia is in the middle of three straight SEC tests (Missouri next week, Tennessee next).

Tennessee at Missouri: Volunteers 31-24. States bordered by 26.77 miles of Interstate 55. Doesn’t seem like much of a rivalry.

Florida at Louisiana State: Tigers 35-20. Gators might not make a bowl. They are 5-4 but finish with LSU and Missouri, both on the road, and Florida State in Gainesville.

Alabama at Kentucky: Crimson Tide 41-17. Ranks with OU-Iowa State as the nation’s most lopsided rivalry. OU leads the Cyclones 80-7-2; Bama leads UK 38-2-1.

Mississippi State at Texas A&M: Aggies 28-9. The 5-4 Ags don’t need this game for bowl eligibility — they get Abilene Christian next week.

Auburn at Arkansas: Razorbacks 27-17. One down, three to go. Arkansas was 2-6 before upsetting Florida last week. The Hogs play Florida International next week, trying to get to six wins. 

Vanderbilt at South Carolina: Gamecocks 35-15. Spencer Rattler has had a solid season quarterbacking Carolina — 69.7% completions, 14 touchdowns, six interceptions. His quarterback rating is 150.5, which beats his 2022 rating with the Gamecocks (138.7). Rattler’s two years at OU both produced better ratings — 172.6 in 2020, 155.5 in 2021.

Michigan at Penn State: Nittany Lions 19-17. National upset special. The Wolverines haven’t been tested. The Nittanys have been and didn’t look good in losing 20-12 at Ohio State. But they still played tough. Tough count. Let’s guess that Penn State plays the potentially-distracted Wolverines tight.

Michigan State at Ohio State: Buckeyes 48-10. Outside of the money, I don’t know why a coach would want the Spartans’ job. Hard to win big, seemingly-endless scandal.

Rutgers at Iowa: Hawkeyes 11-6. It doesn’t take many points to beat Iowa. But it’s hard to score many points on Iowa.

Maryland at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 25-20. Nebraska’s loss to Michigan State last week stymied the momentum Matt Rhule has built in his first season in Lincoln. 

Minnesota at Purdue: Gophers 21-16. Here’s what you need to know about the Boilermakers. The Big Ten West is the worst division in football, and that would be true even if the Big 12, Pac-12 and Atlantic Coast conferences still had divisions. And Purdue is in last place in the Big Ten West.

Northwestern at Wisconsin: Badgers 16-14. Northwestern took Iowa to the wire last week before losing 10-7. If the Wildcats had won, there would be a five-way tie atop the Big Ten West. 

Indiana at Illinois: Illini 21-18. Great win for Indiana last week against Wisconsin, getting the Hoosiers’ first Big Ten win.

Southern Cal at Oregon: Ducks 48-31. USC forges ahead without defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, fired by Lincoln Riley after a 52-42 loss to Washington. Some believe SC forced Riley to make the move.

Utah at Washington: Huskies 28-8. Just not enough offense for the Utes to mount a challenge. That’s been true for Utah all season, unless it is playing USC.

Arizona at Colorado: Wildcats 25-14. Arizona, 6-3, cracked the College Football Playoff top 25 this week, and two of UofA’s losses came in overtime, to Mississippi State and USC.

Arizona State at UCLA: Bruins 30-20. UCLA, at 3-3, is in seventh place in the Pac-12. Disappointing season in Westwood.

Washington State at California: Cougars 23-20. WSU has lost five straight after going 4-0 and rising to No. 13 in The Associated Press poll. But the Cougars still can go bowling with two more victories; they get Colorado next week.

Stanford at Oregon State: Beavers 34-24. The good news for Oregon State: at 4-2 in the Pac-12, the Beavers remain in the running for the league title game. The bad news: they play Washington and Oregon the next two weeks.

Virginia at Louisville: Cardinals 33-20. The 8-1 Cardinals are closing in on a berth in the ACC Championship Game. They could be headed for a major bowl.

Miami at Florida State: Seminoles 31-19. Thirty-five years ago, this game annually was what Alabama-LSU is today.

Virginia Tech at Boston College: Hokies 26-19. These are two of the six ACC teams with two conference defeats.

Duke at North Carolina: Tar Heels 31-21. The playoff committee must be hurting for teams to rank. Carolina, coming off losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech, was not included in the first CFP rankings. But the Tar Heels beat Campbell on Saturday and now are ranked 22nd.

North Carolina State at Wake Forest: Wolfpack 30-17. Wake needs two more wins to be bowl eligible. Its final two games are against Notre Dame and Syracuse.

Georgia Tech at Clemson: Tigers 44-14. Dabo Swinney’s team dominated Notre Dame. Funny team, Clemson.

Pittsburgh at Syracuse: Panthers 25-17. The Orange is winless in the ACC.

Tulsa at Tulane: Green Wave 49-6. This season has turned sour quickly for Tulsa, loser of three straight.  

North Texas at Southern Methodist: Mustangs 43-14. Strange league, the American Conference. SMU, Tulane and Texas-San Antonio are all tied atop the American, at 5-0. Tulane plays UTSA on November 24, but SMU plays neither Tulane nor UTSA.

Rice at Texas-San Antonio: Roadrunners 34-17. Rice upset Houston in September and still might not make a bowl. The Owls are 4-5.

Memphis at Charlotte: Tigers 47-17. Grizzlies vs. Hornets. Oh, wait, I’m confused.

East Carolina at Florida Atlantic: Owls 36-14. East Carolina was coming off back-to-back winning seasons and seemed to have the program on a good track. But now the Pirates are 1-8. 

Temple at South Florida: Bulls 21-19. Over the last four years, Temple is 10-30. The Sooners host the Owls next August.

Alabama-Birmingham at Navy: Blazers 32-14. The Navy program has slipped mightily — the Midshipmen are 3-5, after going 4-8, 4-8 and 3-7 the previous three years.

Connecticut at James Madison: Dukes 31-7. UConn, the school that dang near got in the Big 12, is 1-8.

Wyoming at Nevada-Las Vegas: Rebels 28-26. UNLV, 4-1 in the conference, and Wyoming, 3-2, try to stay alive for a berth in the Mountain West title game.

Fresno State at San Jose State: Bulldogs 31-23. Fresno State is in the Mountain West title game if it wins out against San Jose State, New Mexico and San Diego State.

Nevada at Utah State: Aggies 30-12. Both Utah and BYU have dropped Utah State from their future schedules. Someone please make me college football’s scheduling czar.

Air Force at Hawaii: Falcons 33-13. Air Force let down its guard last week against Army and perhaps cost itself a spot in the Fiesta Bowl or Cotton Bowl.

San Diego State at Colorado State: Rams 23-7. Disappointing teams that are in a four-way tie for last place in the Mountain West, at 1-4.

New Mexico at Boise State: Broncos 38-10. Boise State will have to hump it to reach a bowl. The 4-5 Broncos play Utah State and Air Force the next two weeks.

Old Dominion at Liberty: Flames 33-24. Could unbeaten Liberty be the mid-major team selected for a major bowl? 

Southern Mississippi at Louisiana: Ragin’ Cajuns 26-14.  Down in Lafayette, they’d like to get the program back where it was when now-Florida coach Billy Napier led the Cajuns.

Arkansas State at South Alabama: Jaguars 27-16. South Alabama is 4-5 and might not make a bowl, despite that 33-7 rout of OSU.

Troy at Louisiana-Monroe: Trojans 30-3. First place vs. last place.

Appalachian State at Georgia State: Mountaineers 29-19. With James Madison ineligible to represent the Sun Belt East in the league title game, five teams are in the hunt to get the berth. These are two of them.

Texas State at Coastal Carolina: Bobcats 25-14. Texas State is in its 12th year of Division I. The Bobcats never have played in a bowl game, but that streak should end this year. Texas State has reached six wins.

Georgia Southern at Marshall: Golden Eagles 25-13. Southern probably is the favorite to come out of the Sun Belt East. The Eagles already have James Madison behind them.

 

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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