NO. 12 OKLAHOMA VS. IOWA STATE
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, Iowa
Coming off a BCS-crippling loss to the No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the No. 12 Oklahoma Sooners look to get back on track for a high finish in the Big 12 with a win in Ames on Saturday. However, the Cyclones just knocked off Baylor in impressive fashion, as its defense held the Bears to just 21 points. And you know the saying, nobody just waltzes into Jack Trice Stadium and strolls out with a victory.
For the second time this year, Landry Jones failed to produce at a high level against a tough defense, as he was held to zero touchdowns and was picked off late in the game by Manti Te’o, which dashed any hopes of a comeback. In its other loss this season though, after falling to then-No. 15 Kansas State, the Sooners responded with a 41-20 drubbing of Texas Tech, and the Red Raiders have beaten the Cyclones this year. The Sooners are still 13th in the country in scoring, in 16th in points allowed despite only scoring 13 and allowing 30 to the Irish.
For the Cyclones, while they sent the Baylor Bears back to Waco, Texas with a loss, they lost a key player on defense in the process. Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads announced on Monday that linebacker Jake Knott will miss the rest of the regular season due to a left shoulder injury. Knott was a preseason All-Big 12 linebacker, and had 11 tackles and a forced fumble in what was likely his last game as a Cyclone against the Bears. However, the big bright spot from the Baylor game was quarterback Steele Jantz, who had 381 yards passing and five touchdowns, albeit against a horrendous defense.
The Cyclones are a scary team despite its 2-3 record in the Big 12. They gave then-No. 6 Kansas State all it could handle in Ames in a 27-21 loss for the Cyclones. However, this Oklahoma team is too good, and it still only has one loss in the Big 12 and still has slim hopes for a BCS berth. The Sooners will go into Ames and take care of business.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 12 OKLAHOMA
TCU VS. NO 21 WEST VIRGINIA
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Milan Pusker Stadium, Morgantown, W. Va.
If anybody needed a bye week, it was No. 21 West Virginia. The Mountaineers are coming off two straight losses at the hands of No. 18 Texas Tech and No. 2 Kansas State, and both losses were very lopsided. Geno Smith lost his grip on the Heisman Trophy, and seemingly lost his composure as the game wore on against the Wildcats. For now though, the Mountaineers have a chance to get its season back on a winning path against a TCU team that is beaten and battered from its last two games.
Despite only putting 28 points in its last two games, the Mountaineers are still the 9th best scoring offense in the country, and they still have one of the best quarterbacks at its helm. Against Kansas State, Smith threw his first two interceptions of the game, with one of them coming off a tipped ball. Nevertheless, he still has over 2,400 yards passing and 26 total touchdowns, and the Horned Frogs pass defense is not that great.
In its last two weeks, the Horned Frogs have added two losses to its record, including a heartbreaking 56-53 three-overtime defeat to Texas Tech. That loss to the Red Raiders seemingly deflated the Horned Frogs, a team that’s already lost its starting quarterback from the beginning of the season due to suspension. After scoring the first 14 points against Oklahoma State last week, the Cowboys finished the Horned Frogs off with 36 unanswered points and won the game 36-14. And what’s worse, the status of TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin is unknown after suffering an injury against the Cowboys.
The Mountaineers had a week off to recuperate from two straight losses, and they’ll look to make a late season run in the Big 12. As for the Horned Frogs, they’re riddled with injuries, coming off two straight losses and have to make arguably the toughest road trip in the conference. Geno Smith and company will surely smell the fear and weakness in the Horned Frogs early and pounce.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 21 WEST VIRGINIA
BAYLOR VS. KANSAS
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Floyd Casey Stadium, Waco, Texas
Everybody thought that Kansas would be playing in a toilet bowl game this year. Nobody though Baylor would. But both teams have yet to grab a win the Big 12, and the Jayhawks and Bears only have four total wins combined. This game likely marks the best opportunity for either team to get a win for the rest of the season, as the Big 12 is loaded with talent.
The Jayhawks, while they are 0-5 in the Big 12 have had two close calls the past three weeks. Against now-No. 24 Oklahoma State on Oct. 13, the Jayhawks late fourth quarter rally was halted in the last minute, and the Cowboys hung on to beat the Jayhawks 20-14. Then just last week, No. 23 Texas had to replace quarterback David Ash with Case McCoy, who then led the Longhorns on a fourth quarter comeback to beat the Jayhawks 21-17. Running back James Sims for the Jayhawks is the shining star in Lawrence, as he rushed for 176 yards last week. Expect the Jayhawks to again lean heavily on the running game.
As for the Bears, their high-flying offense has all been for naught so far in the Big 12. The Bears, behind quarterback Nick Florence, are the nation’s top rated passing team with nearly 400 yards in the air per game. But their ability to cap off drives with touchdowns was all full display in its 35-21 loss to Iowa State. The Baylor defense is also statistically the worst in the country in many aspects.
The Jayhawks have faced four teams this year with high-powered offenses in the Big 12; No. 2 Kansas State, No. 24 Oklahoma State, No. 12 Oklahoma, and No. 23 Texas. In those four games, the Jayhawks are 0-4, but they had Oklahoma State and Texas on the ropes for most of the game. If Charlie Weis wants to win a game in the Big 12, now is his chance. Expect the Jayhawks to finally tie a bow around a game and go home to Lawrence with a win.
PREDICTED WINNER: KANSAS
NO. 18 TEXAS TECH VS. NO 23 TEXAS
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, Texas
T.V.: ABC or ESPN2
Both these teams played in the state of Kansas last week, and both left the Sunflower State extremely disappointed. Then-No. 14 Texas Tech was blown out by then-No. 3 Kansas State 55-24, while No. 23 Texas needed a late fourth quarter rally to beat lowly Kansas 21-27. Both the Red Raiders and Longhorns are 3-2 in the Big 12, so this in-state battle will be pivotal as the season enters the homestretch.
The Red Raiders went into Manhattan, Kan. last week red hot. They had just beaten then-undefeated and No. 5 West Virginia, followed that up with a three-overtime win over TCU and found themselves in the hunt for a Big 12 title. In those two games, quarterback Seth Doege had 13 touchdown passes and put himself firmly in the Heisman race. He was shutdown against Kansas State though, as he was limited to just two touchdown passes and also threw a pick-six to Arthur Brown. Now Doege, who is at the helm of the nation’s third ranked passing offense will look to recover against a vulnerable Texas defense.
Longhorns’ head coach Mack Brown, who may very well be on the hot seat in Austin after the team’s performance in Lawrence, announced that David Ash will keep his starting job despite being replaced by Case McCoy against Kansas. The Longhorns still possess the country’s eighth-best scoring offense, and Ash does have 12 touchdown passes on the season to just five interceptions, two of those coming last week.
Both these team’s records are identical at 6-2 overall and 3-2 in the Big 12. But the feelings in Austin and in Lubbock are on completely different ends of the spectrum. In Austin, the Longhorns are reeling after watching its highly touted defense simply not live up to even the most modest of expectations. In Lubbock though, spirits are still high despite the beat down the Red Raiders took a week ago, and they still believe they can finish high enough in the Big 12 to possibly earn a Cotton Bowl berth. Expect that attitude to show itself on the field Saturday.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 18 TEXAS TECH
NO. 2 KANSAS STATE VS. NO 24 OKLAHOMA STATE
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
For the fifth time this year, No. 2 Kansas State will be playing a team in the Big 12 that is gunning for first place in the conference. Had the Wildcats lost to either Oklahoma, Iowa State, West Virginia or Texas Tech, those teams would have been in first place in the Big 12. The No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys are also on a three-game winning streak and are starting to live up to preseason expectations.
Heisman Trophy front-runner Collin Klein refused to let up against then-No. 14 Texas Tech, as he accounted for four total touchdowns, all of them in the second half en route to a 55-24 drubbing of the Red Raiders. The Wildcats are now 8-0 on the season and 5-0 in the Big 12, and have moved up to No. 2 in the BCS standings, trailing only Alabama. The Wildcats possess incredible balance, as they are the fifth best scoring offense in the country, and the 13th best defense in points allowed per game.
As for the Cowboys, they scored 36 unanswered points against TCU last week after going down 14-0 to win the game 36-14. Quarterback Wes Lunt had an impressive game, totaling 324 yards in the air with a touchdown. Running back Joseph Randle also had a nice game, carrying the ball 32 times for 126 yards and a score. The Cowboys are right behind the Wildcats in scoring offense, ranked sixth in the country.
In the Big 12 preseason poll, the media picked the Cowboys ahead of the Wildcats. But now, nearly all the talk amongst television analysts is about how good the Wildcats have been this year, and whether or not they can hold on to its top two spot in the BCS when the season ends. The Cowboys are 0-2 in games this year where their defense gave up 41 or more points, while the Wildcats have put up 51 or more points five times this year. The Wildcats likely won’t take the foot off the gas pedal in a game that decides who leads the Big 12.
PREDICTED WINNER: NO. 2 KANSAS STATE