Oklahoma-Baylor is a week away, so this week the Big 12 action will boil down to a game between the other Oklahoma school and the other pass-happy surprise team in Texas.
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech meet both with one conference loss in a game that will all but eliminate the loser from Big 12 championship contention.
The Cowboys were the preseason favorite in the league, but the Cowboys have struggled all season to find an identity on offense. From a changing starting quarterback to changing ball-carriers, Oklahoma State is hardly reminiscent of past Pokes’ teams.
Meanwhile, Texas Tech is coming off its first loss of the season with a 38-30 defeat at Oklahoma. With a high-powered passing game, Texas Tech doesn’t lack for offensive identity, but the Red Raiders need to find a run defense in a hurry.
Outside of the matchup in Lubbock, you’d be hard-pressed to find an intriguing game in the Big 12 this week with OU and Baylor out of action.
Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Big 12 Week 10 Game Power Rankings
All games Saturday, All times Eastern
1. Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox)
The Cowboys will try to repeat what they did last week against Iowa State in the run game when Desmond Roland more than doubled his rushing output for the season by running for 219 yards against Iowa State last week. That's a key development for a running game that struggled to find a top ball-carrier all season. Freshman Rennie Childs also showed flashes this season, but he carried only twice last week against Cyclones. Part of the success in the run game may be credited to an offensive line that is finding consistency after starting six different combinations this season. Keeping the Texas Tech offense off the field — as Oklahoma did last week — will be a key for the Cowboys. Texas Tech needs to do its part to stay on the field, too, after finishing minus-6 in turnover margin the last three games. Red Raiders quarterback Davis Webb will need to mindful of Oklahoma State quarterback Justin Gilbert, who has an interception in each of the last two games and four picks this season.
2. Iowa State at Kansas State (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Kansas State ended its three-game losing streak by defeating West Virginia 35-12 last week. With home dates against the Mountaineers, Iowa State and TCU in a four-game span, Kansas State should push closer to bowl eligibility. Iowa State visits Manhattan a wounded team. Aaron Wimberly, the Cyclones’ breakout tailback, likely will miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Sam Richardson also missed part of last week’s loss to Oklahoma State after taking a shot to the head. His status is day-to-day. Kansas State, meanwhile, is getting healthier and more consistent. Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson returned last week as the K-State defense picked up three takeaways against West Virginia.
3. West Virginia at TCU (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall returned from a broken arm, but the return of the former starter did little to boost the offense on the scoreboard. TCU coach Gary Patterson said Pachall’s leadership hadn’t diminished and he wasn’t rusty despite sitting since the second game of the season. Pachall was 13 of 34 for 169 yards with an interception against Texas, but if there’s a chance for him to get back into the groove, it will be against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are last in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. West Virginia has allowed the last three opponents (Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State) to complete 71.2 percent of their passes for an average of 11 yards per attempt.
4. Kansas at Texas (3:30 p.m., Longhorn Network)
Texas is making good on its optimism to save the season by winning the Big 12. Texas is 4-0 in the league with upcoming games against Kansas and West Virginia. Thank the defense, which has picked up 16 total sacks in four games against Big 12 competition. Kansas could get a boost of its own on defense with the return of linebacker Ben Heeney. The Jayhawks’ top defensive player was given an extra week of recovery time last week before facing Texas’ above-average running game. Kansas running back Tony Pierson’s return, however, remains a mystery after he felt dizzy after three plays against Baylor last week.
Off: Baylor, Oklahoma
Big 12 Week 10 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Bo Pelini, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, Miami-Florida State and more Week 10 action in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Oklahoma State passers
Texas Tech made Blake Bell look like a Heisman contender last week as Oklahoma’s quarterback averaged 11.3 yards per attempt against the Red Raiders. No other opponent had topped 6.5 yards per attempt against Texas Tech this season. Like Oklahoma has in Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma State has a receiver who can break open a game in Josh Stewart. That said, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf are completing only 46.8 percent of their passes with five touchdowns with six interceptions in Big 12 play this season.
Texas Tech’s run defense
The Red Raiders have allowed 603 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in the last three games. Of those three opponents, only Oklahoma ranks in the top five in the Big 12 rushing. Texas Tech’s play up front will need to improve in a hurry when as the Red Raiders enter the toughest part of their schedule.
West Virginia’s offensive line
West Virginia’s offensive line has been a mess all season with injuries and ineffective play. The latest was an ankle injury to veteran center Pat Eger. Guard Quinton Spain had his best game of the season against Kansas State, but the Mountaineers will need to find a way to stop a TCU pass rush that leads the Big 12 in total sacks.
Montell Cozart, Kansas
With quarterback Jake Heaps struggling, Kansas has started to give freshman Montell Cozart a look. He split snaps with Heaps last week, completing 4 of 14 passes for 69 yards against Baylor, but he’ll get more playing time this week. For the second time in two seasons, Charlie Weis has backed off a high-profile transfer (Dayne Crist and Heaps) to give reps to a freshman quarterback. Michael Cummings eventually became the starter over Crist last season, but Cummings has attempted only four passes as a sophomore.
DeVondrick Nealy, Iowa State
The Cyclones running back had one of the highlights of last Saturday by leaping over an Oklahoma State safety into the end zone. Nealy will need more than highlight reel plays against Kansas State. With Wimberly out, Nealy and Shontrelle Johnson will take the bulk of the carries for an Iowa State team that has struggled to find a consistent run game.
Big 12 Week 10 Picks
West Va. (+13) at TCU
Iowa St (+17) at Kansas St
Kansas (+28) at Texas
Okla. St (+2.5) at Texas Tech