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Karma? Conference-switchers struggling so far

Nebraska fan Justin McFarland, of Omaha, Neb., watches during the second half of Nebraska's 48-17 loss to Wisconsin in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Madison, Wis. Nebraska fan Justin McFarland, of Omaha, Neb., watches during the second half of Nebraska's 48-17 loss to Wisconsin in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
By Ralph D. Russo
AP College Football Writer / October 5, 2011

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The folks at the Big 12 offices must have been smiling as they saw these results roll in:

-- Texas A&M blows a big lead to future Southeastern Conference rival Arkansas, the week after the Aggies did the same against current conference rival Oklahoma State.

-- Nebraska gets run over by Wisconsin in its first Big Ten game.

-- Colorado loses at home to Washington State in its first Pac-12 game.

The three teams that have left or are leaving the Big 12 have had their issues this season. So have TCU and Utah, the former in its final season as member of the Mountain West Conference, the latter in its first season in the Pac-12 after leaving the MWC.

Pittsburgh gave up a 17-point lead at Iowa the day news broke it was ditching the Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference. Syracuse, which will be riding shotgun with the Panthers to the ACC, is a blown call on a PAT from a three-game losing streak since that sad Saturday for the Big East.

Some might call it karma.

In reality, of course, A&M lost to Oklahoma State and Arkansas last year, Russell Wilson's relocation had more to do with the results in Madison than Nebraska switching leagues, and Colorado would be terrible in any conference.

Still, you might want to keep an eye on Missouri, which plays at No. 20 Kansas State on Saturday. The Tigers are weighing their options and might very well be the next team to leave the Big 12 for the SEC. Will they be struck by bad karma just for shopping?

The headline game in the Big 12, as it usually is this time of the year, is No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 11 Texas at the state fair in Dallas, and conference realignment provides the subplots for that matchup of unbeaten teams.

A couple weeks ago, it seemed as if both the Longhorns and Sooners would be heading to the Pac-12. That didn't work out and now officials from both schools are trying to figure out a way to live together peacefully in the Big 12.

Longhorns and Sooners really don't need any more reasons to dislike each other, but the soap opera that has played out in the Big 12 over the past two years has given them just that.

The picks:

THURSDAY

California (plus 24) at No. 9 Oregon

Bears faked injuries, but also held Ducks to season-low 317 yards last season ... OREGON 52-14.

FRIDAY

No. 5 Boise State (minus 21) at Fresno State

Broncos have won five straight against their old WAC rivals ... BOISE STATE 41-17.

SATURDAY

No. 17 Florida (plus 13 1/2) at No. 1 LSU

Even if QB John Brantley was healthy, Gators would be in trouble ... LSU 29-14.

Vanderbilt (plus 29) at No. 2 Alabama

Tide has won 20 straight against Commodores ... ALABAMA 35-3.

No. 3 Oklahoma (minus 10) vs. No. 11 Texas at Dallas

Fried Twinkies, Ferris wheels and football ... OKLAHOMA 24-17.

Kansas (plus 31) at No. 6 Oklahoma State

Jayhawks are second-to-last in nation in total defense (545 ypg) ... OKLAHOMA STATE 60-17.

Colorado (plus 29 1/2) at No. 7 Stanford

Calls his own plays, makes great catches; Is there anything Andrew Luck can't do? ... STANFORD 45-14.

BEST BET

Boston College (plus 21) at No. 8 Clemson

BC's streak of 12 straight bowl appearances in serious jeopardy ... CLEMSON 37-3.

No. 15 Auburn (plus 10) at No. 10 Arkansas

Is Tigers' defense improved or was it just a Stephen Garcia bump? ... ARKANSAS 34-21.

No. 12 Michigan (minus 7 1/2) at Northwestern

Wolverines hit the road for first time ... MICHIGAN 38-28.

Maryland (plus 14) at No. 13 Georgia Tech

Those Terps' uniforms aren't nearly as cool when they lose ... GEORGIA TECH 42-30.

Ohio State (plus 11) at No. 14 Nebraska

No good news in sight for Buckeyes ... NEBRASKA 24-10.

UConn (plus 19 1/2) at No. 16 West Virginia

Mountaineers are 3-0 at home against Huskies, averaging 46 points ... WEST VIRGINIA 46-17.

Kentucky (plus 21) at No. 18 South Carolina

Wildcats are SEC's best medicine ... SOUTH CAROLINA 35-13.

Missouri (minus 3) at No. 20 Kansas State

Will the Wildcats let the Tigers leave Manhattan? ... MISSOURI 27-21.

Miami (plus 7) at No. 21 Virginia Tech

Hard to figure what to expect from either team ... VIRGINIA TECH 21-17.

No. 22 Arizona State (minus 4) at Utah

Utes, without injured QB Jordan Wynn, in danger of falling to 0-3 in conference ... UTAH 24-21.

No. 23 Florida State (minus 13) at Wake Forest

QB EJ Manuel expects to be back for Seminoles ... FLORIDA STATE 35-14.

UPSET SPECIAL

No. 24 Texas A&M (minus 7) at Texas Tech

Time to find out what exactly is the deal with undefeated Red Raiders ... TEXAS TECH 34-28.

Iowa State (plus 16) at No. 25 Baylor

Must win for Bears because schedule gets much tougher after this ... BAYLOR 45-24.

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Last week's record: 12-6 (straight); 11-7 (vs. spread).

Season record: 90-13 (straight); 44-35-1 (vs. spread).

Best bets: 4-1.

Upset specials: 2-3.