By Brad Carroll
The Big 12 conference will not only have the whole college football universe watching this weekend, but next as well, as there are a host of games and teams playing with major College Football Playoff implications. For Oklahoma State, it's win out and make the Playoff. For Oklahoma, it's win out, which would include a win over the Cowboys in the season finale next week, and the Sooners likely make the final four. For Baylor, it's a last-ditch effort to move up in the rankings, and into the final four, with a pair of victories to close out the season. For TCU, it's to play spoiler without wide receiver Josh Doctson and possibly quarterback Trevonne Boykin as well. It makes for one heck of a finish for the conference.
Those two games shine brightest in primetime, but there is also Boston College and No. 4 Notre Dame playing at Fenway Park under the lights and California and No. 11 Stanford in the late-night game. We have you covered for those four huge primetime games with analysis, previews and our college football experts picking each against the point spread. Read our Saturday afternoon college football previews and picks here. Follow us on Twitter here.
Boston College vs. No. 4 Notre Dame, Fenway Park, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN
The Spread: Boston College +16.5; Notre Dame -16.5
Analysis: First, I'm surprise NBC didn't pick up this game, as the number of eyeballs interested would greatly increase if the game was readily available on the big network rather than a network many might not know where to find, or worse, if it even existed. With that said, other than the backdrop of Fenway Park and having the Fighting Irish, currently a Playoff team, being involved, there's not much to this game. Boston College has perhaps the worst offense in the entire country, and could be one of the worst offenses in college football history. Since the Eagles started their real schedule this season, they've scored 17 or fewer points in each outing. They've been shutout twice (including a 3-0 loss to Wake Forest) and have scored in single-digits two more times. That's not going to make for interesting television. The Boston College defense is superb, however, allowing 14.4 points per game. But the Eagles aren't going to win with the offense they have. Notre Dame will be playing in Boston, but could have home-field advantage anyway. If the Irish don't struggle on offense as they did last week against Wake Forest, they will roll to a big win on the baseball diamond.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 35, Boston College 3
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 30, Boston College 24
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 31
Matt's Score: Boston College 35, Notre Dame 28 (upset pick)
No. 10 Baylor at No. 6 Oklahoma State, 7:30 p.m., FOX
The Spread: Baylor +1; Oklahoma State -1
Analysis: It's too bad Baylor lost starting quarterback Seth Russell to a season-ending injury, as with him under center, the Bears are certainly a different team. Last week, the Bears lost for the first time this season, a 44-34 setback to Oklahoma that vaulted the Sooners back into the Playoff picture and likely ended Baylor's hopes at the same time. Baylor still has running back Shock Linwood, but the fast-paced, quick-strike Baylor offense just wasn't the same against Oklahoma as it had been with Russell. Oklahoma State finally got its marquee victory two weeks ago against TCU, a 49-29 win that put the Cowboys near the top of serious Playoff contenders. The Cowboys survived last week against Iowa State, coming from behind to win by four, so there is the question of which Oklahoma State team will show up the rest of the way. If the Cowboys win their last two games, however, against Baylor and Oklahoma next week, there should be nothing valid to keep them out of the College Football Playoff. Both games are at home, giving Oklahoma State a huge edge. Against Baylor, that home field advantage, plus the hurting Bears offense, gives the edge to the Cowboys.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma State 48, Baylor 42
Craig's Score: Oklahoma State 45, Baylor 35
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma State 48, Baylor 45
Matt's Score: Baylor 63, Oklahoma State 56 (upset pick)
No. 18 TCU at No. 7 Oklahoma, 8 p.m., ABC
The Spread: No Line
Analysis: As of early Friday evening, press time for us, there is still no line available for this huge game in the Big 12 Saturday night. The reason is TCU may or may not have starting quarterback and Heisman trophy candidate Trevonne Boykin on the field. We already know TCU star wide receiver Josh Doctson has been lost for the season with injury, already hampering what was an explosive Horned Frogs offense. But the loss of Boykin would completely cripple the TCU offense. Obviously, Boykin's status would change the spread drastically. But the game is so big, we're going to break it down anyway because of the College Football Playoff hopes riding on the outcome for Oklahoma. If the Sooners win this game and then next week against Oklahoma State, the Playoff committee, which can't be trusted to make the correct decision, should have Oklahoma in the final four. Lose either game, and the Sooners are eliminated from the conversation. TCU is reeling no matter the injuries, with a 20-point loss to Oklahoma State followed by a six-point win over a terrible Kansas team last week. Oklahoma should win the game either way, but having Boykin does change things and gives the Horned Frogs a chance. So, here's our scores without the knowledge of the spread or Boykin's status. UPDATE: TCU +11; Oklahoma -11.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 38, TCU 24
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 48, TCU 35
Glenn's Score: TCU 56, Oklahoma 48 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 49, TCU 42
California at No. 11 Stanford, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
The Spread: California +11.5; Stanford -11.5
Analysis: As Stanford was winning eight games in a row, and looking great in doing so, it appeared headed for one of the four College Football Playoff spots, despite losing its season opener. With a game against Notre Dame in the regular season finale, the Cardinal had the opportunity in front of them to take care of their own destiny to make the final four. But Oregon had other ideas last week about the Cardinal's ascension up the rankings, upsetting Stanford 38-36. Now, Stanford would need a miracle to move up to the fourth spot, and the entire Pac-12 won't get a representative in the Playoff at all. If Stanford beats California Saturday night in the Big Game, it will play for a conference championship, a nice consolation prize. The Cardinal could also knock Notre Dame out of Playoff contention as well next week. California was ranked for a time early this season but comes into this game with a 6-4 record and having lost four straight games before beating Oregon State last week. This is a rivalry game, but it won't make much of a difference as Stanford still has tons to play for with the conference title still in sight.
Brad's Score: Stanford 35, California 21
Craig's Score: Stanford 34, California 17
Glenn's Score: California 24, Stanford 21 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Stanford 41, California 34