Thursday, October 13, 2011
What to watch in the Big 12: Week 7
By David Ubben
Here's what I'm watching for in Saturday's games.
1. Have mercy, Oklahoma. At this point, it's mostly just curiosity. It won't get any worse for Kansas this year, but I remember checking my phone on the field at the Cotton Bowl last Saturday and seeing OSU led 35-7 at the end of the first quarter. I shouldn't have been surprised. I was. Oklahoma's winning this game. The biggest question is by how much.
2. Whaddaya got, Wrecking Crew? Especially you guys at the back. There's no reason Texas A&M should be this bad defending the pass. It's a definite anomaly. The Aggies rank last nationally and are giving up 113 more yards per game through the air than in 2010, but it is second nationally in sacks. Want to prove you're not that bad? Shutting down or slowing down Baylor will do it.
3. Baylor's front seven. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is fully capable of running over just about anybody in the league, and definitely Baylor. The Bears rank 82nd nationally in rush defense, and that could mean a big day for Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray.
4. Kansas State's time of possession. Caring about this stat has gone out of style everywhere but Manhattan, it seems. The Wildcats average 35:56 a game, which is almost three full minutes more than anyone in the league. Tech, meanwhile, is one of seven Big 12 teams under the 30-minute mark. Will a win in this stat mean a win on the scoreboard?
5. Does home field matter...at all? Can the crowd in Kansas do anything to help stave off an ugly loss for the Jayhawks?
6. Which side is more desperate? Iowa State needs this game to keep its hopes of a bowl game alive. If Missouri loses, the possibility of missing the postseason becomes very real, too. Win and the Tigers may get some momentum moving forward. This is a classic case of a must-win for both sides. That usually produces great football.
7. Henry Josey. I'm guessing most of you didn't know the man who started the season as Missouri's third-string running back is leading the Big 12 in rushing. He's been outstanding. That's what happens when you average more than 10 yards a carry. Will Missouri keep handing him the ball as its other backs get back to health?
8. Texas' pass rush. There's no truth to rumors that Landry Jones consuming both a corn dog and a fried Snickers in the backfield last week, but he had enough time to do it if he wanted to. The Longhorns can't let Oklahoma State's quick-release offense do the same. Brandon Weeden must be pressured, or OSU will roll in this one easily.
9. Case McCoy and David Ash. How will the distribution between these two Texas quarterbacks look? Ash is the more physically impressive quarterback, but he made big, big mistakes against Oklahoma's experienced defense. These guys have to play well and move the ball consistently for the Horns to pull the upset.
10. OSU stays consistent? The Cowboys, outside of a game last year without Justin Blackmon, was the Big 12's most consistent team a year ago. That's been the case again this year, and OSU has won seven consecutive road games. Texas has never lost the week after the Red River Rivalry under Mack Brown, but this is likely the toughest team the Horns have seen in that 13-game stretch. Austin is generally a tough place to play, but OSU made it look easy last year. Will this year look the same?