In a prime-time matchup with national title implications last year, Oklahoma gave Texas Tech a firm lesson in big-time college football.
The Red Raiders were fresh off a home upset of Texas. But the Sooners, who were 71/2-point favorites, scored early and often en route to a 65-21 victory that humbled Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach.
Fast forward to today and both of these Big 12 South teams have been eliminated from the national title picture.
Oklahoma has been hit hard by injuries, including the loss of Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Sam Bradford and All-America tight end Jermaine Gresham. Texas Tech lost many of its key components from last season, including record-setting quarterback Graham Harrell and receiver Michael Crabtree, an NFL first-round draft choice.
Now the Sooners travel to Lubbock on the heels of a 65-10 whipping of Texas A&M, while the Red Raiders lost to Oklahoma State last week in Stillwater.
Oklahoma and redshirt freshman quarterback Landry Jones have not been the same team on the road this year, compiling a 1-4 straight-up record.
Texas Tech, meanwhile, is 26-14 against the spread (ATS) off a straight-up loss since 1999.
Look for Leach to get a strong bounce-back effort out of his team, so take the Red Raiders as 61/2-point underdogs.
Six more plays for today (home team in CAPS):
• MICHIGAN (+12) over Ohio State — The Wolverines have stumbled badly over the last half of the season, and coach Rich Rodriguez is firmly planted on the hot seat in Ann Arbor.
With the Buckeyes already clinching a Rose Bowl berth with last week’s overtime victory over Iowa, Michigan appears to have the emotional edges heavily in its corner. Underdogs of 71/2 points or more in this historic rivalry are 6-3 ATS over the past two decades.
• North Carolina (+31/2) over BOSTON COLLEGE — At first glance, the Eagles might appear to be the choice in this Atlantic Coast Conference contest based on their 5-0 ATS record at home this season. That mark, however, has been accomplished against mostly second-class programs.
• Connecticut (+6) over NOTRE DAME — The Huskies’ five losses are by a combined 15 points. The Fighting Irish have been one of the nation’s worst home favorites in recent years, covering only 11 of the past 33 in the role.
UConn junior Zach Frazer, a Notre Dame transfer, should be pumped in his return to South Bend as the opposing QB.
• UCLA (-41/2) over Arizona State — The Sun Devils’ quarterback situation is in shambles, with practically everybody but Danny White and Jake Plummer a possibility to take a snap against the Bruins.
UCLA is 10-3 ATS as a Pacific-10 home favorite since 2004, and Arizona State is 8-20 ATS as an away underdog in its past 28.
• TEXAS A&M (-51/2) over Baylor — The Aggies were embarrassed by Oklahoma, but they are stepping down in class to face a Baylor team that has not been the same since losing versatile quarterback Robert Griffin to injury in late September.
• Oregon-ARIZONA (Over 581/2) — At this point, the 1985 Chicago Bears might not be able to slow Oregon’s “Quack Attack” offense.
Both teams gained more than 500 yards of total offense in last year’s 55-45 Oregon victory, and conditions in Tucson should be optimal for both teams to put up big offensive numbers.
Last week: 5-2 against the spread
Texas-based handicapper Paul Stone of Vegassportsauthority.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal this season.