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Thursday, September 23, 2010
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 4

By David Ubben

I probably don't have to tell you this, but it's hardly a riveting set of games on paper this week. But sometimes drama arises when you least expect it. Ask Missouri and Texas A&M. So maybe on Sunday we'll be calling this week's group of games underrated.

Or maybe not. We'll see.

1. TCB means "takin' care of business." As we mentioned above, this week's games are mostly a minefield. Everyone's favored, but most teams are playing another team very capable of beating them. No team has much to gain this week, but a loss would be devastating to just about every team playing. Does anyone slip up?

2. Don't be giving us the run around. Texas Tech has a very good defense, but Texas' running game was unimpressive and pretty ineffective against the Red Raiders. They need it to be better this week heading into Red River, but how much better will it look? It all starts on the offensive line.

3. Response needed. Missouri struggled to beat San Diego State last week, needing a late touchdown on a catch-and-run by T.J. Moe to beat the Aztecs at home. They need to look more like the team to challenge Nebraska this week, or else Kansas State will take that spot.

4. Still bent on a bowl? Baylor failed its first major gut check, a one-sided loss to TCU last week. They'll be on the road again this week, and should beat Rice, but will there be any residual effects on their confidence after getting dominated by the Horned Frogs? If so, the Bears will drop to 2-2.

5. Lesser competition shouldn't mean lesser performance. Kansas responded well to a big challenge against Georgia Tech in their last home game. But clearly, that wasn't the case when it played North Dakota State in Week 1. How will the Jayhawks play in the first game everyone expects them to win since the loss to the Bison?

6. On the road again. Oklahoma was 2-5 away from home last season. Saturday against Cincinnati is its first chance to get a road win in its only away game of the nonconference.

Carson Coffman
Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman hasn't had a break out game this season.
7. Paging Carson. Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman looked pretty good against Missouri State, but wasn't asked to do much against Iowa State and had a few nice runs. He's the guy who can take Kansas State to the next level, so we'll get another look at where he is this week.

8. Completion rates of quarterbacks on their back almost universally drop. Texas' pass rush made for a long night for Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts. What will UCLA's Kevin Prince experience when he comes to Austin?

9. Vanilla, while overused as a sports term, is still a delicious flavor. Who wins while keeping things the simplest? With conference play a week away for most teams, there could be some value into teams who dig the least deep into the playbook.

10. The Hammer would like to leave the toolbelt. Oklahoma linebacker Ronnell Lewis, one of the league's hardest hitters, didn't play a snap against Air Force last week because as primarily a pass rusher, he didn't fit into the scheme against Air Force. What's his workload like against Cincinnati, who should chuck it often with Zach Collaros?