Thursday, November 7, 2013
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 11
By Brandon Chatmon
Let's take a look at the top storylines in the Big 12 for Week 11:
1. Can Baylor remain dominant? The Bears have rolled to a 7-0 record, beating opponents by an average of 48 points, best in the nation. Yet Baylor hasn’t seen a team like Oklahoma this season. The Sooners bring talented athletes and a battle-tested coaching staff to Waco, so it will be interesting to see how the Bears respond in their biggest game of the season thus far.
2. Keep an eye on Texas outside of the state of Texas: The Longhorns haven’t exactly dominated when they’ve left their home state. They snuck out of Ames, Iowa, with a 31-30 win against Iowa State and were embarrassed by BYU in a 40-21 loss. If they want to add another brick to their “road to redemption” wall, the Longhorns will have to go to Morgantown and dominate a West Virginia squad that has struggled on offense through much of the season.
Sooners quarterback Blake Bell will have to keep up with Baylor's offense.
3. Don't question the Sooners: Few people are giving the Sooners a chance against Baylor. How will they respond? Oklahoma tends to circle the wagons and accept the challenge when people believe the Sooners are facing long odds. There are a lot of prideful competitors in the program, so don’t expect them to sit back and allow Baylor to embarrass them in front of a national audience.
4. Will Oklahoma State continue to roll? The Cowboys put themselves in the forefront of people’s minds last week with their 52-34 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock. If they really want to send a message, they will have to look dominant against Kansas on Saturday. Quarterback Clint Chelf was outstanding against Texas Tech, earning ESPN.com player of the week honors, but championships are won by consistency, so he needs to play just as well or better against the Jayhawks if Oklahoma State (7-1) wants to put the rest of the conference on notice.
5. Which unit in the crosshairs steps up in Thursday’s matchup? Oklahoma’s offense is in the spotlight, as everyone knows the Sooners want to control the game while scoring points if they expect to beat Baylor. The Bears' defense has been overlooked, but it has been just as impressive as their offense. They have the chance to prove themselves against OU.
6. Is Texas walking into a trap in Morgantown? The Mountaineers have been showing signs of improvement each week, topped off by their overtime win against TCU last week. Are they ready to take down Texas? Probably not. But if the Longhorns come in lacking focus in any way, the Mountaineers do have the talent and competitiveness to make them pay dearly.
7. Will Texas Tech get back to its winning ways? The Red Raiders are coming off back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and risk letting people brush off their outstanding 7-0 start if they lose to Kansas State. If they want to prove it wasn’t just a mirage, they have to beat the Wildcats in Lubbock.
8. Has Kansas State found its identity? On the flip side, K-State seems to have found a rhythm and confidence on offense, as its use of quarterbacks Daniel Sams and Jake Waters is becoming a strength of the offensive attack. The Wildcats have started taking better care of the football and likely won’t beat themselves against the Red Raiders. Look for K-State to play the type of sound football that could expose some of the inexperience on Texas Tech's roster.
9. Which team will finally get a win: TCU or Iowa State? The two have combined to go 1-9 in their past 10 games. Iowa State has been decimated by injuries and TCU isn’t far behind in that respect. The Cyclones have placed Grant Rohach atop the depth chart at quarterback as they try to find confidence on offense. TCU's offense looked much improved last week with Casey Pachall throwing to Trevone Boykin to spark the Horned Frogs, yet turnovers again kept them out of the winner’s circle. Both teams need a win badly, just for morale's sake.
10. Is Montell the future at quarterback for KU? Kansas took the redshirt off quarterback Montell Cozart for a reason and are working the true freshman into the game plan each week. He’s showing signs of improvement, and Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State could provide the freshman another chance to show he can make plays against a quality team.