Iowa State at Texas, Saturday, 11 a.m.
Texas believes it got its swagger back in last week’s rugged upset of Nebraska. Now it’s time to strut it.
The Longhorns, following a three-game stretch that has included losses to UCLA and Oklahoma and the emotional road win over the Huskers, return home to face a reeling Cyclones squad that has surrendered 120 points the past two weeks.
Texas, hoping to climb back into the South Division race, added a wrinkle to its struggling offense at Nebraska with quarterback Garrett Gilbert running some option — effectively. The Longhorns will be looking to build on that success, needing to get more playmakers involved.
For the Cyclones, this is the next step in a gauntlet that has included games against national powerhouses Utah and Oklahoma. Talent-wise, Iowa State just can’t match up.
Nebraska at Oklahoma State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Few figured the Cowboys to be the unbeaten one when these teams met in Stillwater. Yet Oklahoma State continues to be among the surprise squads in the Big 12, entering at 6–0 overall and 2–0 in conference play.
Nebraska, meanwhile, finds itself in a need-to-win, if not must-win situation concerning its North championship hopes, coming off a home loss to Texas.
This is a clash of style and cultures. The Cowboys like to spread it and throw it, while mixing in enough of the running game with Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle to create explosive balance.
The old-school Huskers prefer to pound the running game, with tailbacks Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez the focus. The mentality of Martinez could be in question, after he was benched in the third quarter of the Texas loss and seemed to pout on the sideline.
Nebraska carries history and tradition into the matchup and owns a decided series advantage. But the “new money” Cowboys have won three of the last four.
The key matchup: OSU’s passing tandem of quarterback Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, both among the nation’s leaders, against a Huskers secondary led by projected first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara.
Kansas State at Baylor, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Baylor, at 5–2, can sniff bowl eligibility for the first time in the history of the Big 12. According to oddsmakers, the Bears are favored to achieve that against the Wildcats. Not that it’ll be easy. Baylor has never reached six wins as a member of the Big 12.
Kansas State, an ugly night against Nebraska aside, seeks the same bowl-eligible status at 5–1. The Wildcats will challenge Baylor’s defense with a steady dose of Daniel Thomas off tackle, testing how far the Bears have truly come. And ’Cats quarterback Carson Coffman is coming off one of his best games, accounting for five TDs in a 59–7 rout of archrival Kansas.
For the Bears, the storyline is the same as always: Robert Griffin III. Baylor’s electric quarterback has lifted the program to this point and is capable of taking it further — perhaps this week, if he can replicate the way Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez carved up K-State in the run game.
Texas Tech at Colorado, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
The Red Raiders and Buffaloes have their eyes on possible bowl bids, if they can just get eligible. This game looms large for both teams, with each entering at 3–3 overall.
Tech and Colorado have endured similarly uneven seasons, marked by encouraging wins and distressing losses. It was more of the latter for both a week ago, with the Red Raiders falling at home to Oklahoma State and the Buffs losing at Baylor. That’s put an added emphasis on this matchup.
Tech, which has never won at Folsom Field, hopes to get quarterback Taylor Potts back on track after a rough outing against the Cowboys. He threw for just 226 yards and a score, modest numbers for Potts.
The Buffs continue to seek balance, with mixed results. They may need more from quarterback Tyler Hansen through the air, if Potts gets it going again for the Red Raiders.
Texas A&M at Kansas, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Both teams are skidding. Combined, they’re 0–4 in the conference and occupying the basements of their respective divisions in the Big 12. One, for at least a week, gets a reprieve.
The Aggies never figured to be in this spot, but have slumped as quarterback Jerrod Johnson has slumped. The preseason pick for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Johnson has been mostly offensive of late, in a bad way. He’s turned the ball over at an alarming rate and in last week’s loss to Missouri failed to produce altogether. The Aggies fan base even wondered if Johnson should be benched. A&M needs Johnson — the good Johnson — so that isn’t likely, yet.
Kansas’ problems are more far-reaching, yet also include shaky quarterback play. The Jayhawks biggest issues have come on defense, where they’ve allowed an average of 57 points in conference play.
Oklahoma at Missouri, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Once again these two meet in a Big 12 showdown. For once, the Tigers would like to show up. The Sooners have won seven straight in the series and 19 of the past 20 meetings. And lately, the stakes have been high, with the last two clashes in the Big 12 title game — both OU romps. Still, there’s reason for optimism this time, with Mizzou bringing a different asset into the game: a stout defense. The Tigers are allowing just 10.8 points per game, ranking second nationally in scoring defense. That includes a shutout of Colorado and a 30–9 win at Texas A&M to open league play.
The Tigers’ offense is high-charged, as usual, behind quarterback Blaine Gabbert and wideout T.J. Moe forming a dynamic combination.
As far as the spotlight, it’s homecoming in Columbia, ESPN GameDay is on hand, and at No. 11, the Tigers occupy their highest point ever in the BCS Standings. Furthermore, Mizzou is seeking its first 7–0 start since 1960.
On the other side, the Sooners are No. 1 in the BCS, trying to navigate one of the tougher road trips on a hopeful run to a title game berth. OU will attack Missouri’s improved defense with a balanced attack. Landry Jones-to-Ryan Broyles rates among the nation’s most productive connections. And running back DeMarco Murray is the school’s all-time touchdown leader, quite a feat at a tradition-steeped school like Oklahoma.