Bill Snyder's underrated defense faces Oklahoma State this week
After last week, we know the Big 12 has one team chasing the national championship. Oklahoma likely played itself out of contention with a 30-13 loss at home to Notre Dame, leaving undefeated Kansas State as the only Big 12 team in the BCS top 10.
The road to the BCS title game is not guaranteed, no matter the resume or record, as Kansas Stateâs opponent this week can confirm.
Other Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Big 12âs Top Storylines to Watch in Week 10:
Will the Kansas State defense start to get its due?
Collin Klein may have a historic season, delivering Kansas State its first Heisman trophy. And the columns applauding the career achievements of Bill Snyder made their rounds several weeks ago. What shouldnât be lost in the play of the K-State defense. That until will be tested this week by an Oklahoma State team that leads the nation in total offense despite injuries to quarterbacks Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh this season. In Big 12 games, Kansas State: 1.) Is one of two teams holding opponents to fewer than five yards per play at 4.9 (Oklahoma leads at 4.7), 2.) Is tied with Iowa State for the most takeaways (14), 3.) Is tied with Texas for the most sacks (2.4 per game).
Oklahoma Stateâs defense has been solid lately. Can the momentum continue against Kansas State?
Oklahoma Stateâs defense has enjoyed a rebound since the loss to Texas. The Cowboys will find out in the coming weeks if the October defense has been a fluke or a product of facing Kansas, Iowa State and TCU, starting this week against Kansas State. The Cowboys allowed only 38 total points in three games in October -- not bad for a defense that allowed 59 to Arizona and 41 to Texas. The reasons for the turnaround are pretty clear: Oklahoma State can defend in clutch situations. The last three opponents converted only a quarter of third downs (12 of 47) and a third of red zone attempts (2 of 6). Oklahoma State State has allowed the last three opponents to complete only 50 percent of their passes and rush for one rushing touchdown total. Those are impressive numbers, but chances are they look less so against Collin Klein.
Will West Virginia return to form after a disastrous two losses and an off week?
It seems like ages ago Geno Smith was the Heisman frontrunner and the West Virginia offense was unstoppable. That was before Texas Tech, Kansas State and an off week. Itâs been out of sight, out of mind for West Virginia. Smith has completed 51 of 88 passes for 421 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his last two games, but more shocking has been the play of the defense, which has given up 1,155 total yards and 13 offensive touchdowns in the two-game losing streak. Coach Dana Holgorsen said heâd like to see his team return to the tempo of earlier in the season. That seems possible, but the defense is a bigger question. The Mountaineers have transitioned from former coordinator Jeff Casteelâs 3-3-5 to a more traditional 4-3/3-4 defense. The transition has been less than smooth. Perhaps an off week and playing at home against TCU instead of Kansas State or Texas Tech will put the defense back on a better path.
Could injuries and depth issues cost TCU a bowl game?
The list of key players who have missed time this season for TCU has been staggering: Quarterback Casey Pachall (last four games), defensive end Stansly Maponga (last two games), running back Waymon James (six games). And that doesnât count possible starters Tanner Brock, Devin Johnson and D.J Yendrey, dismissed after a campus drug bust. Pachallâs replacement, Trevone Boykin, is expected to start against West Virginia, but he left last weekâs loss to Oklahoma State early with an injury. What started as a promising 5-1 season with a 2-1 start in the Big 12 has suddenly become questionable one for the Horned Frogs after back-to-back losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. TCU will finish the season with four teams ranked in the BCS top 25: No. 21 West Virginia, No. 2 Kansas State, No. 23 Texas and No. 12 Oklahoma. A bowl bid is not guaranteed.
Mack Brown is spending more time with his defense. Whatâs that supposed to mean?
Embattled Texas coach Mack Brown is spending more time in defensive meetings in Austin. This might not be a big deal if this were, say, Bob Stoops, but Brownâs background is on offense. And past Texas defensive coordinators -- Will Muschamp, Gene Chizik and Greg Robinson -- have used the position to build names for themselves. Current Longhorns coordinator Manny Diaz was in that category just a year ago. But Diaz probably hasnât forgotten how to coach. After all, he got the Texas job after a successful stint at Mississippi State. However, Brownâs involvement in the defense is another sign of the dire situation down in Austin, especially as the Longhorns face Texas Techâs Seth Doege in Lubbock this week.
Will the Oklahoma run game return to form?
The Sooners rushed for a mere 15 yards against Notre Dame. Part of that was the Irish defense, but coach Bob Stoops said, in hindsight, he would have put more focus on the run game. Oklahoma faces Iowa State this week, which ranks sixth in the Big 12 in run defense. Damien Williams has run for only 63 yards on 21 carries the last two games. Some of the focus will be on Williams, but also on Dominique Whaley. Last yearâs breakout runner hasnât appeared in the last two games, but Stoops says he is ready to go.
Can Kansas finish the job against Baylor?
Kansas put a scare into Texas last week before losing 21-17 in the final 12 seconds. That may have said more about the state of the Texas program than Kansas, but it wasnât the first close call the Jayhawks have caused. Kansas lost 20-14 to Oklahoma State in a rainy game in Lawrence and gave Kansas State trouble for a half. Kansas isnât a good team, but the Jayhawks may have a Big 12 win in them. This week against Baylor might be a good opportunity. James Sims has topped 100 rushing yards in four consecutive games, including 176 yards against Texas. Meanwhile, the Baylor defense hasnât been able to stop anyone. If Kansas can play defense like it did a week ago, the Jayhawks might be able to pull an upset in Waco.
Week 10 Big 12 Predictions
|Week 10 Big 12 Games||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Oklahoma at Iowa State||Oklahoma 38-21||Oklahoma 35-21||Oklahoma 34-17||Oklahoma 30-20|
|TCU at West Virginia||West Virginia 35-28||West Virginia 34-24||West Virginia 38-31||West Virginia 37-33|
|Kansas at Baylor||Kansas 24-21||Baylor 42-24||Baylor 41-31||Baylor 44-16|
|Texas at Texas Tech||Texas Tech 38-28||Texas Tech 30-24||Texas Tech 38-24||Texas Tech 30-27|
|Oklahoma St. at Kansas St.||Kansas St. 35-21||Kansas St. 55-24||Kansas St. 34-30||Kansas St. 34-30|
by David Fox
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