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Thursday, November 11, 2010
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 11

By David Ubben

1. Colorado. What can we expect from this team under Brian Cabral? There's probably equal opportunity that Colorado looks better than ever and is renewed and ready to steal a game or two down the stretch, or that it completely collapses. We'll get a good idea of which after the Buffs' game against Iowa State at home, a very winnable game for a squad that is 0-5 in conference.

Brian Cabral
Brian Cabral makes his debut as interim coach of Colorado on Saturday.
2. Justin Blackmon vs. Aaron Williams. Williams headlines a talented Texas secondary that limited Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles to five catches and 36 yards with lots of bracket coverage. Chykie Brown (broken arm) is out for the season, meaning Williams will move from nickelback to corner, and should get some one-on-one time against Blackmon, who beat Nebraska's Prince Amukamara for five receptions, 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Who wins this showdown in the secondary?

3. Texas' quarterbacks. Garrett Gilbert struggled through five interceptions and was nearly benched last week in a loss to Kansas State. If he finds early trouble against Oklahoma State, will Case McCoy, the younger brother of Colt McCoy, get his first meaningful action?

4. Turner Gill. Gill has downplayed his return to Lincoln, where he coached and played under mentor Tom Osborne, this week. Will he have any thoughts or reflections to share after what could be the first and last time he brings his team to Nebraska as a head coach?

5. Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has had two of his worst games after one of his best -- a win over Oklahoma three weeks ago. Last week, he completed just 40 percent of his passes for just 95 yards against the No. 119 pass defense in the country. Kansas State's pass defense is average, but if Gabbert struggles as badly as he did last week, Missouri's in line for a third consecutive loss.

6. The Wrecking Crew? Texas A&M left the field last week to chants of "Wrecking Crew" after an upset of Oklahoma that featured three goal-line stops. They'll need another high-level performance against a great offense at Baylor in the Battle of the Brazos. Can Tim DeRuyter's crew validate the hype?

7. Robert Griffin III. Even a great performance from Griffin wouldn't have been enough to outscore Oklahoma State last week, but the Baylor quarterback wasn't at his best against the Cowboys. He'll need to rebound this week and connect on deep passes to Kendall Wright and Josh Gordon that he missed last week if the Bears want to upset Texas A&M at home.

8. Paul Rhoads' headset. Rhoads made a brave call by attempting a fake extra in trying to beat Nebraska last week. If it's close late, does anyone doubt he'll have something else up is sleeve with bowl eligibility on the line against Colorado in Boulder? The Buffs better watch for well-timed onside kicks and stay home on defense.

9. Taylor Martinez's ankle. Nebraska looked positively average without Martinez last week at Iowa State, but he should be ready to play against Kansas this week. An injury that nags Martinez even when he's on the field will be trouble. Even the threat of him running opens up other options for backs Rex Burkhead and Roy Helu Jr. The Huskers should win this one easily, but is Martinez back at 100 percent, and still able to make the plays with his feet he made earlier in the season? The Huskers' Big 12 title hopes depend on it.

10. Oklahoma's offensive line. Bob Stoops was pretty happy with his offense until it got down to the 1-yard line last week and got stuffed. The Sooners left with zero points three times in a loss to Texas A&M. How do the big guys up front do if faced with a similar situation against Texas Tech.