Thursday, October 27, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 9
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm watching for in the Big 12 this weekend.
1. Kansas State Snydering so hard on Oklahoma. No risky plays for big losses. No head-scratching turnovers (seven in 2011, the fewest in the Big 12). No penalties (only OU has fewer than K-State's 41) and opportunistic special teams and defense. Oklahoma's more talented, but K-State has put itself in position to win games this year ... and then won them. I'd be surprised if K-State wasn't in position to win another game via Snyderball.
Will Kansas State coach Bill Snyder have his team in position to win another game and remain unbeaten?
2. Bounce back for the Sooners' stars. Landry Jones' accuracy was off last week against Texas Tech. Ryan Broyles had a dropped pass and an inexplicable fumble that we haven't seen from him often, if ever. Kansas State's defense will be better than Tech, but will the Sooners' offense rebound? Those two will need to make it happen.
3. RG3 on the loose. Oklahoma State fans love noting that the most-often statuesque Brandon Weeden (19 yards) outrushed the track star Robert Griffin III (15) in last year's win over Baylor. Will that be the case again? Or will RG3 go back to having success as a true dual threat?
4. Brandon Weeden's complementary threats. The Cowboys think Justin Blackmon is going to play after getting "dinged" in the head last week and undergoing concussion tests this week. If he does, he won't have Hubert Anyiam with him. Isaiah Anderson slides into his role, but does Weeden look Josh Cooper's way more without his fellow No. 2 target?
5. Which Kansas shows up? Texas is a winnable game for KU, but the Jayhawks went from showing some fight for a game and a half against OU and Kansas State to getting trounced in the second half. A win on Saturday would be the biggest for Turner Gill at Kansas, and would go a long way toward inspiring some confidence in the future. The Jayhawks are just 1-18 in their past 19 Big 12 games, dating back to the final seven games of 2009, before Gill arrived.
6. The Texas quarterback shuffle.Case McCoy and David Ash have split reps in practice this week, despite Ash playing the entirety of a loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago. Does anyone make a case for himself as the full-time starter this week against Kansas? Or does this dance continue? My bet is the latter.
7. Texas Tech's receivers. Darrin Moore was on the field, but clearly not healthy against Oklahoma last week. Alex Torres and Eric Ward picked up the slack very nicely. Does the offense get another boost as Moore returns to being the big-play weapon he was in the first couple of games this season?
8. Jared Barnett. Iowa State's freshman quarterback is making his first start, after filling in with lots of good moments and a few bad ones against Texas A&M last week. Can Darius Reynolds help out after struggling last week, and can Josh Lenz keep making plays to help the Cyclones pull the upset?
9. Big plays, but for whom? Texas A&M might have the most fascinating defense in the country this year -- leading the nation in sacks, but giving up more passing yards than anyone. Which does Missouri quarterback James Franklin see more of on Saturday? It'll be a tough atmosphere, but these are two of the best rushing teams in the league.
10. S-E ... see? I mean, this just has to be awkward. Do Texas A&M fans and Missouri fans engage in a flirtatious S-E-C chant? Does either team begin a misguided taunt before realizing the other is coming with them? Hopefully there's some pregame conversations to discuss chanting logistics.