Thursday, October 6, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 6
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm looking for in Saturday's first full slate of conference games.
1. Not what I'm eating. I suggest you do the same. Goodness. I love this weekend so, so much. I'll be at the fair on Friday and again on Saturday, and I will be consuming a whole lot of fried foods. It's all a part of one of the best weekends in college football, featuring two great teams and fans split at the 50-yard line cheering for either side. The Big 12 at its absolute best.
2. Texas' secondary vs. Oklahoma's passing game. Oklahoma will be chugging along at full strength with Landry Jones, Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills, James Hanna, Trey Franks & Co. Texas' inexperienced corners will be charged with stopping them, and try to do it without safety Christian Scott, too. Can what may be the game's biggest underdogs make an impact?
The Aggies have blown huge leads against Oklahoma State and Arkansas the past two weeks.
3. The Aggies ... after halftime. Good grief, A&M. You know the story by now. Texas A&M lost 17- and 18-point leads to Oklahoma State and Arkansas, respectively. All of a sudden, a possible top-5 ranking has turned into hanging onto a spot in the top 25. Texas A&M is better than Texas Tech. Can it prove it for 60 minutes?
4. Texas Tech ... before halftime. Tech, meanwhile, can't crack the top 25 despite being undefeated. The biggest reason has been unimpressive starts against Texas State and Kansas, in which the Jayhawks led 20-0 in the first quarter and Texas State led 10-9 at half. The Red Raiders also needed a clutch late drive to beat Nevada, 35-34. Any questions about the Red Raiders' legitimacy would be gone if they knock off A&M.
5. Some fight from Kansas. Nobody thinks the Jayhawks, 32-point underdogs at Oklahoma State, have a shot in this one. It's the largest gap facing a major-college underdog this weekend, and Kansas is taking on one of college football's best offenses with arguably the worst defense. But KU's offense is vastly underrated with a solid running game and an improving Jordan Webb at quarterback. Can it make things interesting?
6. Collin Klein's health. The big man is getting beat up lately. Can the Kansas State quarterback keep rolling through defenses? Klein has carried the ball 91 times this season, more than any ballcarrier in the Big 12.
7. Missouri's balance. Tigers quarterback James Franklin has carried the ball 72 times, a hefty number itself. Do the Tigers try to test Kansas State's much-improved front seven or look to pick apart the secondary and/or stretch the field? The easy answer is whichever is most effective, but which will that be?
8. Bounceback Bears. Baylor's offense was less than impressive late against Kansas State, but we'll see if the Bears get back to their blazing ways after being shut out in the fourth quarter of the loss.
9. Iowa State's decison-making. Steele Jantz has thrown seven interceptions, more than any quarterback in the Big 12. The Cyclones are last nationally in turnover margin. They can't continue to win putting up numbers like that. Ask Texas' 2010 team.
10. Darrin Moore? Texas A&M's secondary has given up 948 passing yards in two weeks, helping two schools break school records. That probably ends this week, but Texas Tech's big target may return after injuring his knee and ankle earlier this season. He was on an unbelievable pace before going down, and if he's back and effective, Tech's chances of springing the upset get a huge boost.