All offseason long, the Big 12 pointed to Nov. 8 as its season-defining weekend, featuring a showdown of epic proportions that will likely decide the league championship and a possible College Football Playoff berth.
We all just thought that game would be taking place in Norman rather than Fort Worth. Kansas State visiting TCU is a matchup of two top 10 teams and could not only end up deciding the Big 12 this fall, but the winner also has an inside track on a spot in the inaugural playoff. Baylor-Oklahoma still has plenty of juice and will be equally as entertaining — as does West Virginia's trip to Austin — but all eyes will be focused on two shades of purple in Amon Carter Stadium.
Week 11 Previews and Predictions:
Big 12 Week 11 Game Power Rankings
1. Kansas St (+6) at TCU
7:30 p.m., FOX
This is why you join the Big 12. TCU has played big games in Fort Worth before but none like what will take place on Saturday. There couldn't be more on the line for both teams and this matchup will feature two great signal-callers and two historic coaches. Jake Waters and Bill Snyder bring a blue-collar approach and toughness into the battle while Gary Patterson and Trevone Boykin are winning with a finesse offense. Boykin posted season lows in most categories against WVU last weekend and now faces the Big 12's top scoring (18.6 ppg) and total defense (321.0 ypg). This is a unit that has stuffed Auburn and Oklahoma so Boykin will need to be at his best against a very physical front seven. On the flip side, the Wildcats will line up and run downhill against a TCU front that has given up some yards on the ground (169.2) in league play. Both teams have excelled against ranked teams this fall and won't shy away from the big stage. Kansas State appears to be the better team, but the buzz on campus should buoy the Horned Frogs. Snyder is 2-0 against Patterson in the Big 12. Pick your shade of purple and sit back and enjoy, folks.
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2. Baylor (+5) at Oklahoma
Certainly, some luster has been removed from this meeting after three combined losses in the first 10 weeks, but the Bears' trip north is still must-see TV. Baylor, who is clearly "Ready for OU," has never won in Norman in the history of the program (0-11) but has gained significant ground in the series by winning two of the last three overall. Traditionally, this rivalry has been an offensive affair with the winner topping 40 points in four straight and 30 in the past 15 meetings. But both defenses could take center stage, as each unit gets after the quarterback and create turnovers. So as expected, Bryce Petty and Trevor Knight will have to protect the football, make quick decisions and possibly make plays outside of the pocket.
3. West Virginia (-3.5) at Texas
3:30 p.m., FS1
Defense will be the name of the game in Austin. West Virginia and its 3-3-5 defense has done an excellent job stopping big-time offenses of late after holding both TCU (389 yds) and Baylor (27 pts, 318 ids) to season-low performances. Texas has held five of its last six opponents to less than 400 yards of offense and 5.0 yards per play allowed. And both quarterbacks are coming off lackluster showings. Clint Trickett posted season lows in yards (162), attempts (26), completions (15) and passer rating (107.34) in the loss to TCU, while Tyrone Swoopes was very efficient but didn't make many plays (224 total yards) in the win over Texas Tech. The good news for Texas, aside from being at home, is the running game posted its best outing of the year last weekend with 241 yards on the ground. If the Horns can find room on the ground, it could neutralize the Mountaineers' effective 3-3-5.
4. Iowa St (-4) at Kansas
Someone has to win a Big 12 game, right? Both teams are in desperate need of a victory and this is likely the best chance for either to get into the win column in the Big 12. Iowa State has had some painful final scores, losing by four to Kansas State and Texas. Kansas hasn't been nearly as competitive, losing only once all year by only one score (Oklahoma State). With three elite games in the Big 12 holding national implications and Paul Rhoads relatively safe in Ames despite the record, it's hard to make any case whatsoever to keep an eye on this game. Other than the loser likely goes winless in the Big 12.
Big 12 Predictions:
KSU (+6) at TCU
Baylor (+5) at Okla.
WVU (-3.5) at Texas
Iowa St (-4) at Kansas