Thursday, November 10, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 11
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm watching in this week's games.
1. The first half in Lubbock. Upsets happen when the underdog hangs around or races to an early lead. Oklahoma State has been really strong in the first half, but if it's close early on or if the Red Raiders jump out to a lead? We've got a ballgame.
2. The line of scrimmage in Columbia. Who wins the battle up front in Mizzou and Texas' game on Saturday? Both running games are versatile, with Henry Josey and James Franklin going up against the Longhorns' Malcolm Brown, David Ash and others. That said, this boils down to the battle up front. Lose that, and none of those ballcarriers will do much.
Where does Joe Bergeron, who had a career day Saturday, fit in Texas' offense?
3. Joe Bergeron. The freshman burst on the scene with a career-high 191 yards and three scores last week while Brown was sidelined with turf toe. Against Missouri this week, is Brown back to health after spending this week in a boot? If he is, how are carries distributed? What did Bergeron earn with his performance last week?
4. Texas A&M's second half. The Aggies were right there with Oklahoma last week, trailing just 13-10 after a physical first half. Then, after a span of about seven minutes, the Aggies trailed 41-10. Second halves have become the story of this team this season, and by now, correcting it won't bring back the goals already lost.
5. Collin Klein's passing. Klein had a career day through the air against Oklahoma State and took a step in the right direction. He'll get more opportunities this week against the nation's last-ranked pass defense. The Aggies' front seven is stingy, but Klein might lead the Wildcats to a win with his throwing.
6. Texas Tech's run defense. I mentioned this Wednesday, but the only chance Texas Tech has to win on Saturday is if it slows down Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. If OSU gets the running game going, the game's over. If it slows that down, OSU might still win with the pass, but the chances of an upset are much higher. Tech may do that with points early on like it did against OU, but the rushing yards will tell the story of this one.
7. Robert Griffin III's rushes. Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett ran for 125 yards in a win over the Jayhawks last week. He's the Big 12's least experienced quarterback. Griffin is the Big 12's most experienced quarterback and much more athletic than Barnett, as well as a better passer. Griffin's topped 100 yards on the ground just once this week. He might not need to on Saturday, but will he do it anyway?
8. Kansas' offense. The Jayhawks were improving big time early in the season, but they've hit a snag the last two games, averaging just five points a game in their last two Big 12 games. Kansas is the only Big 12 team worse in total defense than Baylor. If the Jayhawks can't put a few points up against the Bears, who are they going to score against?