- David Ubben, College Football
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We've only got three weeks left in the season, but a very odd schedule this week in the Big 12. Here's a look at what you can expect:
Kansas State's march continues, and as with any contender, expect lots of talk about how all the undefeateds could lose, not just the Cats. Fans all too often take that talk as an insult. It's simply discussing how likely or not likely the most intriguing result on Saturday would be. Baylor's got a powerful offense, but it's faltered at times against really good defenses and Kansas State has proven to be exactly that. I don't see a lot of upset potential here. The Bears turn the ball over in bunches and are one of the Big 12's worst rushing defenses. That's not how you beat K-State.
For the first time all season, nobody in the Big 12 is playing an early game. It leads to underwhelming atmospheres at times, but coaches and players love the simplified travel that comes with 11 a.m. kickoffs. All four Big 12 games kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET or later.
Can KU finally snap the streak? They've been oh-so-close, and Iowa State is banged up and coming off its worst performance of the season. Kansas has been decent at home, nearly knocking off Texas and Oklahoma State, a pair of solid, bowl-bound teams. Iowa State needs a win to reach bowl eligibility for the third time in four years, but the offense is inconsistent and the defense has regressed a bit in recent weeks. The recipe for the upset is there, but Iowa State's surely aware of this too. That said, the Cyclones only beat KU 13-10 at home last year. ISU is a better version of essentially the same team. KU is a better team and very little like last year's squad.
Might just want to call this one the Bummer Bowl. West Virginia and Oklahoma looked like the game the Big 12 title would hinge upon in the preseason and even in some ways after the first month of the season. Now? It's basically irrelevant. WVU is chucking headsets and leaving fields with their heads down at 5-4 these days, hosting Oklahoma in the middle of a four-game losing streak after reaching No. 4. Oklahoma's been solid this year at 7-2, considering both losses came to undefeated teams in the BCS title hunt, but the Sooners season already feels like a disappointment. Kansas State can clinch a share of the Big 12 title with a win in Waco next week.
Who's the real fourth-best team in the Big 12? Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will play for bowl pecking order next week in Stillwater after the Cowboys spent the last two seasons whooping the Red Raiders in Lubbock. Last year's 60-point win for OSU is an afterthought by now, but Texas Tech has stumbled through the last three weeks after jumping to 6-1 and controlling its own fate in the Big 12 title race. Oklahoma State took a beating courtesy of K-State, but the Pokes are playing good football. This should be a fun game, but give the edge to OSU going in. Most intriguing? Wes Lunt is apparently healthy, but how do you take the starting job away from Clint Chelf at this point? You simply can't. Fascinating drama playing out at the OSU QB spot.
Here's the full schedule this week (all times ET):
Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Oklahoma at West Virginia, 7 p.m., FOX
Iowa State at Kansas, 7 p.m., Fox Sports Net
Kansas State at Baylor, 8 p.m., ESPN
Texas and TCU are off this week.