Thursday, December 1, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 14
By David Ubben
We've only got three games to watch this week, but there's a few good ones. Here's what I'm watching for.
1. Oklahoma State transforming into politicians. Mike Gundy and his players shied away from campaigning for inclusion into the BCS National Championship Game this week. But what if they beat Oklahoma? Can OSU prove the difference between them and Alabama is much closer than people think? Appeal to voters that oppose a rematch? It'll be interesting to see if the Cowboys change their tune. There would be no reason not to, and if I was an OSU fan, I'd want them to do it.
Will Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy change his tune and campaign for a title shot should his Cowboys beat Oklahoma?
2. Oklahoma's pass rush. The Sooners won't have one of the league's best, Ronnell Lewis. They will, however, have the league's best, Frank Alexander. OU needs to get as much push as possible with its front four. Brandon Weeden's smart. If Oklahoma starts needing to bring a lot of guys to get in his face, big plays will follow. Alexander and Lewis' replacement(s), David King and R.J. Washington, can do it. Will they?
3. Texas' containment. You saw it on the game-winning drive against Oklahoma two weeks ago. Robert Griffin III made Texas Tech pay, too. Keep Griffin from running and life gets a bit easier for the defense. The Texas defensive line is one of the best in the Big 12 at getting upfield, but do it too aggressively, and the linebackers are going to chase Griffin all day, most likely with little success.
4. RG3's psyche. Griffin took a big shoulder/forearm to the head last week on an impressive scramble that shortened his day considerably. Texas' defense hits much, much harder than Texas Tech's. Is he at all tentative to test the Texas defense with his legs, especially knowing it might shorten his day like it did against Texas Tech? Griffin said he felt fine last week and wanted to go in if Texas Tech got any closer than 52-42. We'll see if that frustrating exercise changes how he plays.
5. Collin Klein's fresh legs. Klein's probably taken more hits than anybody in the Big 12 this year. He's withstood them all, but practiced sparingly, if at all, late in the season. The off week gave him time to heal, and he's back practicing. Will that work carry over into the field, either as a more spry runner, or as a passer more in tune with his receivers?
6. The battle at the second line of defense. Kansas State loves to pound. So do Iowa State's linebackers, Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. They're two of the best in the league, which is arguably the best unit of any in the Big 12. That'll be fun to watch. Winner takes this game.