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Thursday, October 15, 2009
What to watch in the Big 12, Week 7

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Here are 10 things I’m looking for this week from around the Big 12

1. Colt McCoy vs. Sam Bradford: The two runner-ups in the Heisman Trophy balloting get to re-stage their storied rivalry one more time at the Cotton Bowl. Both players have won one previous game with Saturday’s winner claiming the rubber match. Bradford will be throwing to a gaggle of young receivers while McCoy will be aiming mainly for Jordan Shipley and Dan Buckner. Whoever gets the best protection likely will win this battle.

2. The BCS controversy revisited: Texas fans are still irate that Oklahoma claimed the Big 12 South Division title despite losing to the Longhorns last season. Those ill feelings prompted airplane flyovers and even an asterisk in the Texas meeting room where they "claimed" a share of the Big 12 title. Those feelings haven’t gone away on either side and will simmer until kickoff on Saturday.

3. Texas Tech's quarterback controversy: Steven Sheffield and Taylor Potts are involved in the first quarterback controversy that Mike Leach has ever had on one of his Tech teams. Sheffield threw seven touchdown passes last week against Kansas State while Potts recovered from a concussion. Earlier in the season, Potts similarly threw seven touchdown passes against Rice. Whoever gets the start will be facing a huge challenge against Nebraska’s strong defense key by the Cornhuskers' fearsome pass rush.

4. Suh vs. Carter: The Big 12’s top defensive tackle, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh, will be often matched up against the Big 12’s most notorious guard in Texas Tech’s Brandon Carter. Suh was mentioned on some Heisman watch lists this week after his big game against Missouri last week. Carter is back in the lineup after a one-week suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules earlier this season. He'll need a big effort to protect whoever is his starting quarterback.

5. How Missouri’s secondary responds to last week’s late struggles: The Tigers allowed 27 points in the fourth quarter to allow Nebraska to escape Faurot Field with a wild comeback victory. It won’t be any easier for them at Oklahoma State -- even without Dez Bryant playing. The Cowboys displayed a deep collection of wide receivers like Hubert Anyiam, Josh Cooper, Dameron Fooks and Tracy Moore. It will be a test for the Tigers to blot memories about that late collapse.

6. Missouri tries to gets its running game untracked: The zone reads of Missouri’s rushing attack haven’t been nearly as effective this season as some basic north/south runs for the Tigers earlier in Gary Pinkel’s tenure. The Tigers are averaging 3.6 yards per carry and 132.6 yards per game this season, compared to 5.2 and 153.8 yards per game last season. The wheels started coming off for the Tigers last season when OSU limited them to 64 yards. They must do better Saturday night in Stillwater.

7. Can Kansas’ defense rebound: The Jayhawks were blistered for 512 yards by Iowa State and were lucky to escape with a 41-36 victory. Coach Mark Mangino promises personnel changes as the Jayhawks get ready for their upcoming meat-grinder schedule that begins next week against Oklahoma. Colorado should provide a tune-up for the Jayhawks’ defense.

8. Colorado installs Tyler Hansen at quarterback: After initially strongly hinting he would take a redshirt season, Hansen decided to play this season and took over for Cody Hawkins in the latter stages of Colorado’s loss to Texas. It will be interesting to see what the addition of Hansen will do to a Colorado offense that has sputtered most of the season.

9. Jerrod Johnson’s interception streak: The Texas A&M quarterback has stretched his Big 12 record streak without an interception to 228 passes. He’ll be facing a Kansas State secondary that was blistered for eight touchdown passes by Texas Tech quarterbacks last week. If Johnson can be productive and keep his streak alive, the Aggies should have a good chance to escape Manhattan with a victory.

10. What losing streak will fall in Ames? Baylor approaches the game at Iowa State with a streak of 12 straight conference road losses, dating back to a victory at Colorado on Oct. 7, 2006. Iowa State has lost 11 conference games in a row since beating Colorado on Nov. 10, 2007. Something will have to give Saturday night.