Big 12 spectators guide, Week 5
September, 30, 2009
By Tim Griffin | ESPN.com
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here’s a quick spectator’s guide for this weekend’s games. A ranking of four stars indicates absolutely, positively must-see football. Three-star games are definitely worth an extensive investment in time, although you can be forgiven if you turn the station during commercial breaks. Two-star games bear a quick glimpse or two for occasional score updates, but little more. And one-star games mean you might be better off washing your car than watching or attending the game.
Check out this list and plan your Saturday schedules accordingly. All times are for Saturday games unless otherwise noted.
Texas A&M vs. Arkansas at Arlington, Texas (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m. ET): This one should be fun. Two old Southwest Conference rivals square off in the first of a 10-game series to be played at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium. The Aggies are looking for their first victory over a "name" opponent after cruising through a pastry-wagon schedule featuring games against New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. They will be challenged to keep up offensively against Arkansas, which ranks fourth nationally in passing but is coming off disappointing losses to Georgia and Alabama. This will be the Aggies' toughest game to date and their defense will be supremely challenged to check Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett. But Jerrod Johnson will have his chances against an Arkansas pass defense that ranks 119th nationally. First team to 40 points might win this game.
Oklahoma at Miami (ABC-TV, 8 p.m.): Will Sam Bradford play in this one or not? We'll learn in the next 48 hours or so if Bob Stoops wants to risk putting Bradford back into action or will rely on Landry Jones for one more week. The Sooners had last week off to prepare for the Hurricanes, who struggled in the Virginia Tech slop for their first loss of the season. The playing surface should be a lot drier at Land Shark Stadium Saturday night, giving the Hurricanes a better chance of defending their home turf.
Iowa State vs. Kansas State at Kansas City (3 p.m.): The winner of this one looks to be ready to avoid the Big 12 North cellar. Iowa State has been a surprise since an early-season loss to Iowa, claiming back-to-back games thanks to a strong running attack and strong run defense. Kansas State showed flashes of rebuilding against Tennessee Tech last week as Brandon Banks emerged as the playmaker expected before the season. It will be interesting to see how many fans turn out for "Farmageddon" at Arrowhead Stadium.
Colorado at West Virginia (ESPN, 7:30 p.m. Thursday): Colorado arrives off a bye with confidence generated after an impressive victory over Wyoming. But they could be running into a hornet's nest at Morgantown, where the Mountaineers still remember their overtime loss last season in Boulder. This doesn't look to be a good matchup for the Buffaloes, who rank 101st in total defense and will be facing a potent West Virginia attacked keyed by multi-talented quarterback Jarrett Brown.
New Mexico at Texas Tech (3:30 p.m.): Call this "The Dysfunction Bowl" as the tweet-challenged Red Raiders run into Mike Locksley and his battling -- amongst themselves -- coaching staff. Tech coach Mike Leach has forbidden Twitter accounts after critical remarks about his coaching surfaced earlier this week from a couple of Tech players. But that's nothing like what Locksley and coaches jostle about during routine staff meetings. Tech quarterback Taylor Potts struggled last week against Houston, but should regain his confidence against a Lobos defense that ranks 114th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Kent State at Baylor (7 p.m.): The hard-luck Bears will play this one without Robert Griffin and maybe without backup Blake Szymanski, too, depending on his recovery. If that's the case, third-stringer freshman quarterback Nick Florence might get his first career start against the Golden Flashes, who won last week against Miami thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown, a blocked punt, two interceptions and three recovered fumbles. They didn't make any turnovers. So needless to say, it would behoove Szymanski or Florence to be careful against this opportunistic team.