Thursday, September 22, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 4
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm keeping an eye on in this weekend's games.
1. The atmosphere at Kyle Field. The Aggies already have the best atmosphere in the Big 12, and this is the most impactful game of the year in College Station. The Aggie War Hymn will be blasting, the fans will be loud and the action on the field will be outstanding. For all the off-the-field news of the last few weeks, A&M and OSU on the field Saturday afternoon will be everything right about the game. Speed, athletic ability, offensive innovation and strategic game planning between great football minds.
2. Oklahoma State's defensive line. Texas A&M wants to run the ball. It has the ability to run the ball against just about anyone, and the Aggies do it with power. Can OSU stop them? Will its defensive line get a push up front and the linebackers tackle well? OSU's chance to win depends it.
3. Kansas State's speed. Bill Snyder joked that he wished his team could be twice as fast to deal with Miami's speed. Jokes aside, the Wildcats could use it. Nebraska embarrassed the Wildcats last year with its speed. Arthur Brown helps out a lot with that at a key linebacker spot, but does K-State make it clear that it can compete with Miami's speed? If so, it will be able to do so with most Big 12 teams.
Robert Griffin III has put himself in the Heisman conversation with a hot start to the season.
4. Robert Griffin III. Baylor's quarterback has been unbelievable as Baylor has rolled to wins in its first two games. Rice won't post a realistic challenge, but we'll see how Griffin looks in the third game of his pre-Big 12 season tour.
5. Darrin Moore's production. Moore didn't hit the 200-yard mark in an easy win over New Mexico, but the Texas Tech receiver hauled in three scores in the first half and leads the Big 12 in receiving yards and touchdowns, and ranks second in catches. Will he continue his pace alongside Ryan Broyles and Justin Blackmon, the league's top two receivers?
6. Oklahoma's ability to stop James Franklin. The Sooners let Florida State's EJ Manuel make some big plays with his feet last week. Franklin is much more apt to run, so OU will be keyed in on stopping it, but can Missouri out-execute the Sooners and get Franklin loose? He's much more effective when defenses are forced to account for that.
7. Henry Josey's carries. The 190-pound Missouri running back needed just 14 carries to top 260 yards last week, and he did that in one half. Is he stout enough to handle 20-30 carries against a very, very physical OU defense coming off its best defensive performance in years? We'll find out Saturday, but look for Greg White and 250-pound walk-on Jared Culver to take some heat off the shift back.
8. Roy Finch's contribution. Oklahoma's home-run hitting back has been MIA through two games this year, and the Sooners have relied on Brennan Clay and walk-on Dominique Whaley. Bob Stoops insists Finch isn't in the doghouse, and Clay and Whaley have taken steps forward, rather than Finch taking a step back. Will we see Finch finally make an impact?