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Big 12 2016 Football Previews - Week Seven

It's not a slate of huge ranked match-ups, but this week's Big 12 conference schedule is another stepping stone toward sorting out the contenders for an upper division finish.

THE NOTES

Parity or mediocrity? The Big 12’s last seven games in conference play have been decided by a touchdown or less, including two one-point outcomes. The Big 12’s 10.5 point margin of victory in league games is also the lowest among Power Five conferences. While the league highlights that as a sign of its competitive nature, it could also be spun in the “no dominant teams” conversation that is prevalent in much of the copycat, one-take national media.

In truth, it's probably a bit of each, and it's not an argument that has a “better” side. There figure to be a number of exciting games in the league this year, and it won't be a surprise to see no zeroes in the conference loss column by the end of the year. The Big 12 also tops the Power Five conferences in percentage of league games decided by seven or fewer points at .636.

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Kansas State's win last week gave it 100 Big 12 victories. The Wildcats join Texas and Oklahoma as the only three schools to have triple digit victories in the conference.

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Despite some very shaky defensive performances, only two Big 12 teams (Kansas and Iowa State) have yielded more points than they have scored so far this year. In conference games only, Texas gets added to that duo.

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Only three Big 12 teams (Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor) have positive turnover margins this year. The Wildcats are +6, followed by the Cowboys at +5 and Baylor at +2.

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West Virginia is the only conference school that has completed its open weeks. The Mountaineers will now play for the next eight consecutive weekends. Oklahoma State, TCU and Iowa State have already completed half of their regular season schedule.

THE PICKS

West Virginia defeated Kansas State, which defeated Texas Tech. That makes this week's Mountaineer – Red Raider contest a simple matter, no? Well, not really. The Mountaineers haven't played a true road game yet, and Tech can outscore any video game on the planet. Add in the typically rabid support for the home team in Lubbock, and this is a tough challenge for the Mountaineers. Despite all of those obstacles, though, WVU is the very narrow choice to remain undefeated.

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Kansas State travels to Oklahoma for another forenoon local time start. The Wildcats have the defensive chops to cause the Sooners some problems, but probably not enough offensive weapons to keep pace even if they do hold OU down in the scoring column. In Norman, the Sooners hold serve and keep their place atop the conference with...

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...Baylor, which will put together another good offensive performance against Kansas. The Jayhawks have shown more competitive spirit this year, but there's just not enough on either side of the ball to hang with the Bears, who seem to be able to weather all of the continuing distractions around their athletic program.

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It's a battle of mental states as Texas hosts Iowa State in the day's final conference game. The Cyclones have let two big fourth-quarter leads slip away in their last two contests, while the Longhorns are embroiled in an unwarranted coaching controversy that has to be draining the team's energy. Which one can rise above the noise and deliver? Against the odds, Iowa State is the upset pick.

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