Wednesday, November 23, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 13
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm watching in the Big 12 this week:
1. Cyrus Gray's status. Mike Sherman said that what trainers originally thought was a bruised shoulder was a stress fracture and that Gray would be day to day. Without Christine Michael, that would be a huge loss. Gray alone is worth 7-8 points in this game. If A&M can't run the ball, it will be forced to play into the Longhorns' biggest strength: pass defense. If Gray doesn't play, this game's a near toss-up.
2. Texas' quarterback shuffle. We're in late November, and Texas still has quarterback problems. It looks like Case McCoy will get the start, but will he finish? Texas A&M's pass defense is vulnerable, but the Aggies have punished opposing quarterbacks this season. McCoy seemed to have chemistry with Jaxon Shipley this season, but Shipley seems unlikely to play.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops will have his hands full keeping his team motivated this week.
3. Oklahoma's resolve. The Sooners still have to win to keep their Big 12 title hopes alive. Iowa State proved it's capable of a lot last week when it beat an OSU team that is better than OU, all things considered. Without a national title on the table, this will be a test for Oklahoma's motivation.
4. RG3's Heisman chances. Texas Tech's defense doesn't scare too many folks, and Robert Griffin III racked up almost 600 yards against a solid Oklahoma defense last week. That propelled him into Heisman contender status, if not the favorite, and we'll see what he's got in store for an encore. A week before the OU upset, the Bears almost lost to KU.
5. Iowa State's defensive revival. The Cyclones gave up huge points in their first four lopsided conference losses. They're 3-0 since and bowl eligible with Jared Barnett at quarterback. The defense gave up seven points to Texas Tech, 10 to Kansas and held an OSU offense to 24 points in regulation, tied for the fewest of any team in the past 22 games. It's also the fewest points OSU has scored with Justin Blackmon in the lineup. Can Iowa State continue that level of play against Oklahoma?
6. Kansas' desperation. A win against Mizzou would make a 3-9 season about as bright as a 3-9 season could possibly look, but the Jayhawks were close before taking a bunch of steps backward against Texas A&M last week. Missouri isn't blowing very many teams out this season. We'll see if the Jayhawks make a game of it before Mizzou heads to the SEC.
7. Missouri's reaction. Gary Pinkel will be back on the sidelines this week after watching last week's win against Texas Tech from his condo in Lake of the Ozarks. He'll return to the team on Thursday and take his team to Saturday's game in Kansas City. What's his team's reaction? Will we see an awkward performance, or an inspired one as good as we've seen all season.
8. Bounce back for Darrin Moore? Moore's been banged up all season, but he looked amazing against Missouri last week. He's as physically gifted as any receiver in the Big 12 (yes, even Blackmon), but we'll see how well he can harness it and turn it into production. Baylor's secondary will have a big task.