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Thursday, October 7, 2010
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 6

By David Ubben

Here's 10 things I'll be keeping an eye on during six Big 12 games this weekend. What do you want to see?

1. T-Magic battling turnovers. Taylor Martinez was mistake-prone against South Dakota State, but he'll have to play well to beat Kansas State. A second game with multiple interceptions could mean a loss for the Huskers, and the same goes for any fumbles on downfield runs or in the backfield, whether they come on mishandled snaps or sacks.

2. Play-action could mean big plays. The headline-grabbing matchup in Kansas State's game against Nebraska is obviously Daniel Thomas vs. the Husker defense, but with so much attention up front, expect plenty of one-on-one matchups downfield. If Carson Coffman puts the ball on the money and receivers like Aubrey Quarles and Brodrick Smith can make plays in big moments, it might mean an upset.

3. Back to life, back to reality. Jerrod Johnson's turnover troubles have been well-documented this week, but if he can't fix them by Saturday, the Aggies will get rolled by No. 10 Arkansas. He has 10 turnovers in his past two games after throwing just eight interceptions all of last year and 10 as a freshman.

4. Getting a few whacks on Mallett. Texas A&M harassed Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and laid plenty of big shots on him in the first half, all while corralling running back Kendall Hunter. They did neither in the second half. The Aggies will have to be in Ryan Mallett's face for both halves to pull the upset of Arkansas.

5. Getting back to the SEC. Tommy Tuberville's defense gave up six touchdowns and 251 yards on the ground to Iowa State last week. That's not exactly what fans had in mind when they brought one of the SEC's best defensive coaches to Lubbock, even if this is only Year 1. Now would be a good time for the 0-2 Red Raiders to right the defensive mistakes.

6. The road is unkind to the Buffs. Colorado, which has lost its past 12 road games, will try to snatch one against No. 24 Missouri. This is the same team which lost 52-7 to unranked Cal earlier this season. Can it prove it's any better? Even a close loss would be progress after 2008's 58-0 loss to the Tigers.

7. No big game this week...just take care of business. There's no reason Oklahoma State should lose or even be close to losing to Louisiana-Lafayette. But this is college football, and sometimes you never know. It's a Friday game and it's on the road against the Ragin' Cajuns. Weird things happen. Do the Cowboys give anyone a reason to believe they aren't the Big 12's third-best team? When it comes to perception, the only place for Oklahoma State to go in a game like this is down.

8. Carryover from last week in Ames? Iowa State and its fans are riding high from last week's 52-38 win over Texas Tech, but will that mean anything on Saturday? Utah looks like the better team, but how much better? An upset is within the realm of possibility and the quickest way to a win is running the ball well and taking care of it -- two things the Cyclones did well against the Red Raiders. Iowa State had 251 rushing yards and no turnovers, while forcing three from Texas Tech.

9. Time for Blaine to sling it? By his standards Blaine Gabbert has been pretty quiet so far this year, with just one 300-yard game and one game with more than one touchdown pass. Defenses have been trying to limit his effectiveness, which has meant big holes for the Tigers running game. Is it time for his first big game of the season? Colorado has the Big 12's second-best rush defense and ninth-best pass defense.

10. These aren't your average Bears. The last time Baylor played an offense anywhere near as talented as Texas Tech, it gave up 45 points to TCU. Other than that game, it has limited Kansas, Rice, Buffalo and Sam Houston State to just two touchdowns. Shutting down -- or at least limiting -- an offense like Texas Tech's would be a nice next step to proving the new Baylor defense is for real.