Big 12: Andy Dalton

Baylor wants to have 'nothing to lose'

September, 2, 2011
9/02/11
9:00
AM ET
It didn't take long before all Baylor could do was hope a lesson could be learned. A win was out of the question pretty quickly.

"We had a face and there was dirt there, and next thing we knew, we found our face in the dirt," coach Art Briles told reporters this week.

In a little over seven minutes, a pair of long scores had TCU up 14-0. By halftime, the shaken Bears trailed 35-3. The Bears had a bowl streak to slay, and with a date against the top-five Horned Frogs, the nation would know Baylor with a win.

"As a team, I think we were extremely overhyped last year for that game," Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III said, "and it came up with a huge letdown.

Nobody would beat TCU the entire season, but Baylor didn't come close. Are things different this time? TCU's quarterback is different, at least. Baylor says it has a much different team this time around.

"Our mentality will be better, possibly, than what it was a year ago," Briles said. "Last year, we were certainly in a stage of wondering where we were as a football team."

This year, Baylor is a team that's tasted the postseason.

"I got a taste of what a steak dinner felt like, so now we’re looking to get back to the table and get a little bit more," Griffin said.

It's a team that knows it can move the ball against almost anyone, and it's a team that rediscovered its confidence when it began the season 7-2, despite finishing the season on a four-game losing streak.

"It was a wake-up call to the rest of the team that we just have to be better, It really helped us, it set us up for the rest of the year," Griffin said. "So, in all honesty, we can thank TCU for beating us last year, because it really woke us up."

This time, anyway, overhyping won't be the problem. National respect would come with a win over the defending Rose Bowl champions. A Friday night kickoff on ESPN assures that if it happens, millions will see it.

But opportunity? Baylor says it's best to ignore it. Briles has told his team this preseason that nobody wants to fight a boxer with nothing to lose.

"That’s the way we run it here. That’s the way any team wants to be. If you’re fighting and you’ve got something to lose, sometimes you can get a little conservative and you won’t attack your opponent," Griffin said. "So we’re going to go out and fight like there’s nothing on the line, like we have everything to gain and nothing to lose."

Mailbag: UT QBs, clubhouses, player quirks

July, 1, 2011
7/01/11
3:00
PM ET
Thanks for all the questions. Enjoy the Fourth of July weekend.

Cary in Japan asked: Can you see a scenario where Gilbert doesn't start again for Texas this year at quarterback? And have any of the other QBs made enough noise thus far to give Gilbert a short leash?

David Ubben: Yeah, it could happen. I don't think it will happen, but it might. I think he'll end up the starter on opening day, but he'll have a way, way shorter leash. He has to. None of the other guys got a real shot last year, and if he struggles early this season, you absolutely have to put Connor Wood or Case McCoy out there before conference play. You can't just leave him out there making mistakes and hope it clicks at some point. We've seen enough of him, and he didn't have a ton of plays last year that really showed flashes of him turning it around in games.


DeMarshawn in Southlake, Texas, asked: Ubbenator - Have you been inside all of the Big 12 locker rooms? If so, which teams have the nicest/fanciest set-ups? If you were a prospective player and were deciding which school to play for based solely on the locker rooms, which team would you choose?

DU: I've been in a pretty big percentage of them on various campus visits, but on game weekends, they're usually closed. I haven't been to all of them, but the two that stick out are Oklahoma State and Texas. Crazy, crazy nice. I'm sure that's no surprise with the recent renovations at the OSU facilities and Texas' general aura of cash.

The thing that puts Texas' over the top, though? All the players' towels are crafted from actual $100 bills.


Baylorfan in San Antonio asked: david, in your opinion, is baylor closer to a 10 win breakout season or an 8 loss letdown season?

DU: Interesting question. It's very, very close, I'd say. The tougher schedule and additional conference game make me lean toward eight losses, though.

If the defense steps up, I could see the Bears winning 10 games, but they still have to play TCU and now get Missouri on the schedule, which they didn't have last year. Baylor hasn't proven it can consistently beat the South teams enough, and if you look back at the games it did win last year, the Colorado, K-State and Texas games all could have gone the other way. Meanwhile, the only loss it didn't get outright outplayed in, and could have gone the other way was Texas Tech. I definitely think the Bears fall somewhere in the middle, but the chances of an eight-loss season are a bit better than a 10-win season.


Larry in Columbia, Mo., asked: David,It's official: Former Mizzou QB Tyler Gabbert is transferring to Louisville. I wish him well, but I have to think he's making a mistake. At Mizzou, he was within a hair of winning the starting job and could have easily ended up playing a lot this season. At Louisville, he will need to sit out a year and then compete with star recruit Teddy Bridgewater who maybe have already established himself as the starter by then. Seems like he loses a year of eligibility to go to a worse situation. Your take? Love the blog! Larry

DU: That might be true, but it fits his personality. On some level, I agree with you, and though I don't know Tyler well, I've talked to his coaches about him a bit, and everything I've heard about him is he's by far the most competitive quarterback Missouri had.

That obviously carried over to his decision to transfer. It won't be easy there, but Gabbert believes he can win the job, or else he wouldn't have gone. I definitely think he's capable of starting at the BCS level. Is that at Louisville?

We'll see.


Blaine in Fort Worth, Texas, asked: Ubbs,I saw the great comment about "Tank Carder and his gratuitous arm bands", and I'll admit that I did laugh out loud. It makes me think about players over the last few years that overindulged on equipment/eyeblack/get ups. One that comes to mind is Tech's Brandon Carter. Can you give us a list of your favorites?

DU: Glad you enjoyed it. Carder is a heck of a player, but those things crack me up every time I see them. There aren't a ton of equipment quirks in the Big 12 that jump out, but Markelle Martin's tights always make him stick out on the field.

Obviously it has a pretty clear purpose, but Robert Griffin III's knee brace when he came back last year gives him a bit of a robotic look. You don't see QBs with that much protection too often.


Evan in Missouri asked: You posted a poll today who the readers thought was the 2nd best team. While I don't disagree that those 2 teams have the potential to be very good. But what about Mizzou? Yes, I'm a homer, but I honestly believe the Tigers have the potential as well. You know, as long as James Franklin is at least decent.

DU: At the end of the season, sure. No question that could happen. But the poll is asking about the beginning of the season. And there's no way Missouri is ranked higher than either OSU or Texas A&M. I'm higher on Mizzou heading into this year than most (I had them 16th on my post-spring poll, but I'll probably bump them down a few spots in the preseason poll), but they're going to have a lot to prove during the season before people take them seriously as a Big 12 contender.


Scott in Lilbourn, Mo., asked: Hello Mr. Ubben. I have been a regular visitor to your blog ever since Mizzou beat OU last season. I have a question for you. Lets say that James Franklin has a breakout first season and plays great from start to finish, where will Missouri end up if this were to happen? Thanks.

DU: I'd say 11-1 and in a BCS bowl. Franklin's a first-year starter. No matter how good he is, he's going to have some games that drive fans crazy. Look out for a 12-of-30, 175-yard, TD, two-INT night at some point. Maybe a couple of those. The good news is, Missouri is good enough everywhere else to pick him up when he does inevitably struggle at some point and it might not lose those games. It can lean on the running game and the defensive improvements will help make sure the Tigers don't need to hang 40 every time out to win a game.

Franklin's got the capability to have plenty of big nights, too, a 26-34, 310-yard, 3 TD kind of outing, and he'll have the capability to carry the team on some nights, but like any first-year guy, it won't be every night.


Jon in Davis, Calif., asked: Ubben,I am surprised this TCU v. Baylor game isn't picked as an upset special of the week. All of the markers are there for it: Home game for the Bears. Lots of offensive talent returning for the Bears. TCU loses most of its offensive team from last year, including its senior, experience rich QB.I mean really, do we all underestimate the value of Dalton that much? We saw what happened to UT once Colt left..that vaunted UT defense played admirably, but was crippled by that offense. I could see the same thing playing out here, with the obvious exception that BU doesn't have the talent on defense that UT does. But I digress...

DU: I'd say it's pretty close to being an upset, but you basically pegged all the reasons it should be a great game. TCU's got to feel good about Casey Pachall, but you'd have been hard-pressed to find a Texas fan not feeling even better about Garrett Gilbert a year ago. Look back at Oklahoma in 2009, too. They were replacing offensive line starters just like TCU, too. The thing has upset written all over it, but Baylor has to make it happen. TCU is still probably a better team, but it might take it awhile to get its sea legs underneath it with so many new faces.

Jason in Ames writes: With Danny Wuerffel being in the top 20 on the Simply Saturday list and having beaten Troy Davis by less the 200 points in the 1996 Heisman voting and having finished 5th the previous year on top of being the first guy to rush for 2,000 yards in consecutive years do you feel he should have represented the cyclones on the list? I logged on every day almost expecting him to be on it, haha. He was a great college player on a terrible team and put up so many yards even though every person in the stadium knew he was getting the ball. He is an Iowa State legend, not that it means much in the landscape of college football, but it would have been nice as a cyclone faithful to see him recognized.

DU: Yeah, he probably deserved a spot, but it was a tough, tough group. Look at the Big 12 player lowest on the list, Jason White. He threw for over 8,000 yards, won a Heisman and carried his team to the national championship twice. And he barely made it. Davis' yardage is impressive, and I'm sure you wouldn't have heard many complaints if he'd made it, but in any exercise like this, guys have to get left out.

Previewing Week 1: Baylor

June, 30, 2011
6/30/11
2:45
PM ET
You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten Blog.

We'll start this series at the top of the alphabet.

Baylor Bears

Week 1 Opponent: Texas Christian

Coach: Gary Patterson (98-28, 12th season)

2010 record: 13-0 (8-0, Mountain West)

Returning starters: 10 (four offense, four defense, two specialists)

About the Horned Frogs: I didn't feel great about Baylor's chances to actually beat TCU last year in Fort Worth, but I thought it had a good chance to make things interesting. After the first quarter, it was 21-0.

This year, I think the same, but the Bears should have a much better shot of pulling the upset.

TCU loses more talent from last year's team than any team in the country except Auburn, which brings back just seven starters. That heavy turnover, plus playing in the season opener at home versus the third game of the year on the road last year, should favor the Bears, who will play host at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.

TCU must replace NFL-bound quarterback Andy Dalton, three offensive linemen and standout receiver Jeremy Kerley. Linebacker Tank Carder and his gratuitous arm bands are back, but both safeties must be replaced. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III loves to go vertical to Josh Gordon and Kendall Wright, so look for him to do it, and the Horned Frogs' secondary coach, Chad Glasgow, is now at Texas Tech.

TCU should start the season somewhere in the top 20, but Baylor will have a great opportunity to notch an attention-grabbing win with a Friday night kickoff on national TV. The game will be broadcast at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Random factoid: TCU leads the series between the former Southwest Conference foes, 50-49-7. Baylor can even it up with a win.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Baylor wins: 42 percent. Baylor has lots of experience, especially on offense, and it's hard to imagine the defense being much worse than it was last year, especially against Dalton and the Horned Frogs' offense, which did anything it wanted to the Bears' D.

Will the player turnover be enough to offset TCU's advantages in overall talent and depth?

Breaking down the offensive draft boards

April, 27, 2011
4/27/11
1:00
PM ET
You've surely seen plenty of mock drafts and draft boards by position by now, but those are all put together by mashing together players' total skill sets.

So what would happen if you broke down those skill sets and re-ranked players in the draft? Todd McShay did exactly that for every draftable offensive player.

Here's a look at what he had to say.

Quarterbacks Insider
  • Missouri's Blaine Gabbert was No. 3 in intelligence and decision-making, behind Greg McElroy of Alabama and TCU's Andy Dalton.
  • Gabbert was No. 1 in throwing accuracy.
  • He's the Big 12's only draftable quarterback, according to McShay, and ranked No. 1 overall on his positional draft board.
Running backs Insider
  • McShay ranked DeMarco Murray as the No. 1 running back in the draft, according to receiving skill.
  • Murray was also No. 1 in pass blocking. Kansas State's Daniel Thomas was No. 2.
  • Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter is the Big 12's top back on his positional draft board. Hunter ranks No. 4. Thomas is No. 5. Murray ranked 10th.
Offensive line Insider
  • Baylor's Danny Watkins ranked No. 2 in pass blocking among draftable guards.
  • Watkins also ranked No. 2 in run blocking among guards.
  • He ranked No. 1 in "toughness" among guards.
  • Watkins was the No. 6 overall offensive line prospect available. Texas' Kyle Hix was his No. 42 available and Missouri's Tim Barnes was No. 50.

Brandon Weeden a Manning Award finalist

November, 30, 2010
11/30/10
9:45
AM ET
Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden is the only Big 12 member of the list of 10 finalists for the Manning Award, given to the top quarterback in college football.

It's the only award voted on after the bowl games, and takes quarterbacks' bowl game performances into account.

Texas' Colt McCoy won the award last season.

Here's the full list of finalists:
That's a pretty stacked list. Baylor's Robert Griffin III and Oklahoma's Landry Jones are usually in the conversation for discussions like these, but I'm not sure either of those guys have an argument to be on this list over anyone who made it.

Wrapping the Big 12 afternoon games

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
7:28
PM ET
Nebraska 56, Washington 21: What a dominating second half from the Huskers on both sides of the ball. The defense limited Jake Locker and forced him into a pick-six that gave them a four-touchdown lead. And we can probably count on seeing Taylor Martinez channel more T-Magic throughout the rest of the season. Washington's defense isn't anything to be scared of, but Martinez still looked like a guy the Huskies had no hope of covering. Nebraska's offensive line paved the way for three 100-yard rushers, led by Martinez with 137 yards. If Nebraska's offense keeps playing like this, it's bad news for the rest of the Big 12. The defense hasn't looked dominant, but to win a Big 12 title, they won't have to be if the Huskers keep running the ball like this. Tonight they're gonna party like it's 1999. Sorry, Bill Callahan.

Colorado 31, Hawaii 13: A good win for Colorado on Saturday, and a much-needed one. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a good sign that the Buffaloes eliminated the big mistakes that led to them getting romped in California, but two other big things pop out: Negative momentum has caused the Buffaloes plenty of pain in the past two seasons, but they fell behind 10-0 early in this one. They rebounded to outscore the Warriors 31-3. We haven't seen that from Colorado in awhile. Also, Toney Clemons showed off some of the talent that made him the Preseason Newcomer of the Year in the Big 12, catching a 73-yard score from Tyler Hansen, who didn't have an interception after throwing three last week. Clemons' first touchdown was a big one. All good things for the Buffaloes -- who now get two weeks to prepare for Georgia -- to build on.

Oklahoma 27, Air Force 24: Is this how it's going to be for Oklahoma? Air Force is a good team and a unique defensive challenge, so who knows exactly what to take away from this, but Oklahoma let Air Force into the game late with two sustained drives. Landry Jones looked very pedestrian against a better defense (26-of-42, 254 yards, TD), but he played well enough to win. If Oklahoma bounces back like they did after nearly losing to Utah State, look out Cincinnati. The Bearcats host Oklahoma next week after getting beaten soundly by NC State on Thursday night. Ryan Broyles continues to be quietly outstanding, catching 10 balls for 116 yards, but was held without a touchdown.

TCU 45, Baylor 10: Clearly the Bears have a long way to go. I still like their chances for a bowl, but they can expect more blowouts like this if they play to a similar level against Oklahoma, Texas or other teams in the Big 12 South. TCU completely dominated this game, and there's not many positives to take away for the Bears. They let Ed Wesley run all over them for over 160 yards and Andy Dalton took anything he wanted from the secondary, completing 21 of 23 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Not a good showing, and maybe that 21-point line Vegas set for the game really was crazy. Just not like I thought.

Blowouts breaking out all afternoon

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
6:07
PM ET
So much for drama in Seattle and Fort Worth.

Consider the Huskers (and Taylor Martinez) verified, especially their offense.

Baylor's defense? Better hold off on that.

Martinez broke off another long touchdown run, an 80-yarder, on the first play of the second half and it's been all Huskers since. They added a pick-six --their third in two weeks -- off Jake Locker and lead 49-21 late in the third quarter.

Baylor, meanwhile, has been dominated by TCU on both sides of the ball, but quarterback Andy Dalton has just one incompletion and the Horned Frogs' top two running backs are averaging nearly 10 yards a carry.

Robert Griffin has completed just 7-of-13 passes for 50 yards and has run for 10 yards on six carries. The Horned Frogs 35-3 lead in the second quarter shouldn't be too surprising.

Receiver Kendall Wright struggled in the first game but topped 100 yards receiving against Buffalo, including a 61-yard score. TCU's defense has held Baylor's top receiver without a catch.

Both games wouldn't have been shocking upsets, but we've clearly seen a pair of top-10 teams play like top-10 teams, the Huskers on the road and the Horned Frogs at home.

Big 12 mailbag: How the Big 12 coaches rank

November, 6, 2009
11/06/09
3:48
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Happy Friday. Here are some of the better e-mails and questions I received this week.

Brian Gardner from Seattle writes:

Hey Tim, could you use your extensive political power with ESPN to get some Big 12 games to actually be shown on ESPN out in Seattle? I'm a Nebraska transplant that has had to deal with both the Virginia Tech and Oklahoma games not being included in our broadcasting packages out here. I know I'm in Pac 10 territory, but an angry USC beatdown of ASU this weekend doesn't seem like it's even worth watching. Also, I love your column. Being way out here it helps keep me connected into the Big 12. Your weekly rankings of the teams are great, but what about a current ranking for the coaches up to this point in the season?

Tim Griffin:

First, thanks for the compliment. But my power at ESPN and four quarters might be able to get you a cup of coffee in the lunchroom in Bristol.

My suggestion would be to invest in ESPN GamePlan, which does a good job of bringing a lot of out-of-market games into all areas across the country. For example, the Nebraska-Oklahoma game this week is available on ESPN GamePlan. I think it’s well worth the cost because you get to see games all day long.

Interesting question about the coaches. Here would be my ranking of the jobs that coaches in the Big 12 have done to this point in the season. I reserve my option to switch them before the end of the season, but heading into this week’s games this is what I see.

Here's how I would rank them on what they have accomplished to this point of the season.

1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State – Proving it again with another Manhattan Miracle.

2. Paul Rhoads, Iowa State – Most amazing thing is how hard the Cyclones are playing.

3. Mack Brown, Texas – Has the league’s best talent, but he’s had to manage it.

4. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – No surprise he’s kept the wheels on for the Sooners despite amazingly bad run of injuries.

5. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State – He’s done a good job of coaching the Cowboys without Dez Bryant and Kendall Hunter for most of the season.

6. Mike Sherman, Texas A&M – Young Aggies have responded to his motivational ploys. And he one-upped Leach, which the A&M former students enjoy.

7. Mike Leach, Texas Tech – He’s done a good job coaching around his quarterback injuries, but he hasn’t won much respect from his players’ girlfriends.

8. Bo Pelini, Nebraska – Cornhuskers have a fearsome defense, but have looked unprepared on offense.

9. Gary Pinkel, Missouri – Some drop-off was expected with all of the new players, but a three-game losing streak is still too much.

10. Mark Mangino, Kansas – Has the best personnel of any of his previous teams, but the team’s recent slump has him making some treacherous personnel choices.

11. Art Briles, Baylor – Griffin’s injury was a killer, but the Bears haven’t come close to winning in the conference.

12. Dan Hawkins, Colorado – Burning Hansen’s redshirt and then taking him out of the game two weeks later was the sign of a desperate coach.




Ric from Boston writes:

In reference to your post earlier today about cross division scheduling...In my opinion, the Big 12 missed a golden opportunity to strengthen their schedules by not adding a ninth conference game. In this scenario, each team would play four teams from the other division. Every two years, they would drop two of those teams and pick up the other two that they did not play the previous two years. In this way, each school plays all the other division schools four times in six years; equally home and away. Thus, in any 12-season span each team has played every other division team eight times rather than six times, as occurs now. The best part of this is that, no matter which team is up or down in the other division, it minimizes the number of times that any team misses out on the two strongest teams from the other division. This certainly would lend strength toward arguing the difficulty of going undefeated in the Big 12.

Tim Griffin:

I agree with you. I received a lot of e-mails about that post and different readers’ idea to better make things equitable. I still like the idea of every team playing every other team every season. But I think that makes too much sense – we’ll never see coaches and administrators go along with that. It will be interesting to see what the conference’s board of directors finally comes up with.


(Read full post)

Sooners aim to end TCU's success in Norman

September, 27, 2008
9/27/08
6:25
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

NORMAN, Okla. -- Greetings from Owen Field, where TCU will attempt to keep up its surprising recent winning ways over the Sooners.

  

The Horned Frogs don't figure to be intimidated by any kind of aura about playing at Owen Field. They've won four of their last five games in Norman, including the shocking opener from the 2005 season. Several key Oklahoma players are still around from that game.

Oklahoma has much to play for tonight. Their performance will be judged against the winner of the Georgia/Alabama game to determine the No. 1 position when the polls are released.

The Sooners haven't been No. 1 since Mike Stoops left the program to become the head coach at Arizona. It's been fashionable in many circles to say that Bob Stoops has never been able to return the program to that level since then, particularly from national sources who don't realize the domination the Sooners have had in the Big 12. So it would be an important accomplishment for Bob Stoops if his team could rise to that level.

But TCU would be able to show something to the country with an upset. The Horned Frogs cracked the Top 25 and could continue a march to the first BCS bowl berth in school history with a win tonight.

TCU is a much better program than in 2005, at least in terms of personnel, because TCU coach Gary Patterson has been attracting better athletes into his program. The best example of that is along the defensive front. Many teams would have taken a step back after losing key producers like Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz. So what has Patterson done? Just plug in guys like 2008 starters Jerry Hughes and Matt Panfil.

A hot night is expected with temperatures expected to be around 90 degrees at kickoff. Here are some things I'm interesting in watching from the (thankfully) air-conditioned press box tonight.

(Read full post)

Big 12 predictions: Nebraska, Colorado face big tests

September, 25, 2008
9/25/08
9:09
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I'm hoping that playing all of the conference games on Saturdays again will help boost my percentage after last week.

Here's what I've got.

Florida State 27, Colorado 17 -- Neither Christian Ponder and D'Vontrey Richardson played well last week at quarterback for the Seminoles, but their defense kept the game close. With four projected defensive starters returning from suspension, the Buffaloes struggled down the stretch before escaping with a field goal in overtime to beat West Virginia. The guess here is that the Seminoles simply have too many athletes for the Buffaloes, who have tried to prepare for the trip to humid Jacksonville by swigging Gatorade all week. They should stay close before wilting at the Gator Bowl in the fourth quarter.

Kansas State 45, Louisiana-Lafayette 28 -- Coach Ron Prince was so perturbed by his team's defensive performance last week at Louisville that he made them run in the middle of the night as soon as they returned to Manhattan. Louisiana-Lafayette has a strong ground game that is averaging almost 6 yards per carry, but the Wildcats will be up for the test after last week's struggles. Look for Kansas State QB Josh Freeman to return to form and feast on the Ragin' Cajuns' weak defense.

Nebraska 28, Virginia Tech 24 -- The Cornhuskers have been lightly tested in their first three games of the season. This game should be an indicator if the Cornhuskers are legitimate North challengers, as well as an early litmus test of coach Bo Pelini. Virginia Tech is heavily run-based with QB Tyrod Taylor, which should play right into the Cornhuskers' defensive philosophy. Nebraska QB Joe Ganz has shown he can beat top opponents by passing before, but will be challenged by Tech's tough secondary. Give the Cornhuskers a narrow edge, mainly because of a better passing game and the home-field advantage.

Oklahoma 37, TCU 14 -- The Sooners are still smarting from TCU's last visit to Norman, when Horned Frogs shocked OU with an upset victory and the kind of physical whipping that rarely happens to a team coached by Bob Stoops. That was OU's most recent home loss -- the team has charged to a nation-best 20-game home winning streak since then. The Horned Frogs won't be intimidated, considering they have won three of their last four games in Norman and have a seven-game winning streak of their own, tied for third-best in the nation. TCU leads the nation in rush defense and will be a tough matchup against the Sooners' mammoth offensive front. TCU QB Andy Dalton will need to make some downfield plays, something he hasn't done much of this season. Look for the Sooners' superior talent to win this one and make it a runaway late.

Oklahoma State 44, Troy 31 -- After losing at Troy last season, the Cowboys will be ready to play in the rematch. They should be better prepared as their balanced offensive attack, which has hung half a hundred on each of its last two opponents, will keep humming along. Troy looked good in flashes against Ohio State, but could find a bigger defensive challenge this week in trying to keep the Cowboys' multi-faceted offense in check. Look for another big game from Oklahoma State TB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant, who was shut out in his most recent game after producing nine catches the previous week.

Texas 45, Arkansas 14 -- This one won't be much of a matchup between the two storied former Southwest Conference rivals. The Longhorns' emerging defense will make life miserable for Arkansas QB Casey Dick. Alabama gashed the Razorbacks for 9.4 yards per carry last week, providing a nice recipe for Texas' backfield-by-committee of Fozzy Whittaker, Vondrell McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya. And Texas QB Colt McCoy will have a chance to boost his Heisman candidacy with a big day against Arkansas' leaky pass defense. I'm wondering if Texas fans will be chanting "Big 12, Big 12" to celebrate a victory in this game after Arkansas fans chanted "SEC, SEC" following wins over Texas in two of the last three games of the series.

Texas A&M 24, Army 10 -- Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman will be looking for his first victory at Kyle Field after opening the season with back-to-back losses, the first time that's happened since 1972. The Aggies' quarterback rotation remains iffy after both Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson missed practice this week due to sprained shoulders. The Aggies shouldn't get too much of a test from an Army team that has been outscored 85-20 this season and has lost nine of its last 10 games on the road. Even the offensively challenged Aggies should be able to move the ball on the Black Knights, providing a grind-it-out victory.

My predictions last week: 7-2 (77.8 percent)

My predictions for the season: 38-3 (92.7 percent)

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