|ESPN.com: Big 12||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are some trends I'll be watching in tomorrow's Big 12 games.
1. Texas Tech handling prosperity: Last week's emotional victory over Texas was the biggest in Tech's school history. And now, the Red Raiders must rebound and play in another big game this week against Oklahoma State. Only once since 1965 has a team been able to beat a No. 1 team one week and defeat another top 10 foe the next week. Oklahoma stunned Nebraska and then beat No. 3 Oklahoma State the next week in 1984. The Red Raiders' South Division title hopes will be riding on it.
2. Texas' secondary the week after the Tech collapse: The Longhorns' young secondary had a difficult learning experience against the Red Raiders, allowing Michael Crabtree to get behind them for the game-winning touchdown on the game's final play from scrimmage. They can't afford to mope on Saturday, as they will be facing the challenge of containing multi-talented Baylor freshman quarterback Robert Griffin.
3. Missouri's senior day: 23 Missouri seniors will play their final home game at Faurot Field Saturday -- including key players Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman and William Moore. But I'm just as interested to see who wears the Tigers No. 25 jersey in honor of the late Aaron O'Neal, who died after a 2005 conditioning drill and would have been a member of this senior class. It will be an emotional moment for Gary Pinkel and his program.
4. Oklahoma State's defense against Texas Tech: The underrated Cowboys unit has done a good job against other top teams earlier this season, holding Missouri 30 points under its scoring average, Baylor 26 under its average and Texas 20 under its average. They will be facing a similarly difficult test against the Red Raiders, who are third in the nation with a 47.0 scoring average per game.
5. Oklahoma State and Kansas try to stem long road losing streaks: The Cowboys will be trying to snap a nine-game losing streak in Lubbock, last beating the Red Raiders there in 1944. And the Jayhawks will be aiming for their first triumph in Lincoln since 1968, snapping a 19-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers. Both teams desperately need triumphs in order to keep their divisional title hopes alive.
6. Bo Pelini's sideline decorum: The bombastic Nebraska coach's bench antics have been called into question after several celebrated television shots during the Cornhuskers' 62-28 loss at Oklahoma last week have already become YouTube viewing staples. He'll be facing another challenge to cool his jets as his struggling defense will attempt to contain Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing and running back Jake Sharp, who is coming off a career-best 181-yard rushing effort last week against Kansas State.
7. The pillow fight in Boulder: All those fans who are looking for defensive stops in the Big 12 might turn to Versus Saturday afternoon for some moderation in scoring. Iowa State and Colorado are the bottom two teams in the Big 12 in terms of scoring offense, averaging a combined 44 points per game between them. That scoring average is topped by five individual Big 12 teams this season. And it means the first team to 21 points in the popgun battle between the Cyclones and Buffaloes likely will be the winner.
8. Oklahoma's pass rush against Jerrod Johnson: The Sooners lost preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Auston English with a knee injury that likely will keep him out of action until a bowl game. Replacement Frank Alexander has made a remarkable recovery after he was stabbed after the Sooners' first-game victory over Chattanooga. He's looked good in the last several games. But he'll be challenged against Texas A&M's resurgent offense keyed by sophomore quarterback Jerrod Johnson.
9. Kansas State reacts to the dismissal of Ron Prince: The Wildcats learned earlier this week their coach would not return after the end of the season. What kind of emotional factor will that produce as the Wildcats look to beat Missouri for the first time under Prince? It wasn't always a problem, as Bill Snyder won his last six games in Columbia as part of an overall 13-game winning streak over the Tigers when he retired. And the Wildcats can becoming bowl-eligible by winning two of their last three games.
10. Darrell Scott's big chance: The heralded Colorado freshman running back's season has been marked with injuries and disappointment. But he will be poised for his first career start Saturday against Iowa State. After Rodney Stewart's season likely ended last week when he broke his fibula, Scott will be the Buffaloes' prime offensive threat -- something they desperately need considering their season-long offensive struggles.