The Big 12 is two years removed from hosting a championship game, but the league’s BCS bid and title will still come down to two teams in the final week.
Kansas State remains in control of its own destiny for the Fiesta Bowl if it defeats Texas, an opponent the Wildcats have handled in each of their last four meetings. After losing to the Wildcats in September, Oklahoma must hope for a Kansas State loss in addition to a Sooners win over TCU.
Although Baylor’s win over Kansas State two weeks ago will shut the Big 12 out of the BCS title game, the league’s postseason picture is rosy. All but Kansas is bowl eligible. West Virginia (against the Jayhawks) and Baylor (against Oklahoma State) will attempt to clinch winning seasons this week. Six Big 12 have already crossed the seven-win barrier.
Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 14:
Can Collin Klein reclaim his Heisman mojo?
The Kansas State quarterback hasn’t been as sharp since leaving the Oklahoma State win with a possible concussion on Nov. 11. Klein had completed 71.1 percent of his passes through the Oklahoma State game and has completed 54.9 percent thereafter. His four interceptions in the last two games (including three in a loss to Baylor) doubled the interceptions he had thrown in the first nine games. The Kansas State offensive line has struggled in the last two games. The normally stout Wildcats defense has as well, allowing 342 rushing yards to Baylor. But as the Heisman race narrows, not to mention the Big 12 title race, all eyes will be on Klein.
Case McCoy is starting for Texas, but will the supporting cast show up?
Texas starting quarterback David Ash is questionable this week, meaning backup Case McCoy will start for the Longhorns in Manhattan. McCoy didn’t fare much better than Ash in relief against TCU on Thanksgiving, but Colt’s brother helped salvage a win over Kansas on Oct. 27. McCoy may work without much of a safety net against Kansas State -- punter Alex King is the third string quarterback and will be the backup if Ash is unable to play. McCoy will be a focal point, but so will the supporting cast. Texas’ momentum in the run game came to a halt against TCU as the Longhorns rushed for 38 yards. Texas also surrendered a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which could be problematic against the Wildcats. Kansas State leads the nation in both kickoff and punt returns.
How will the Oklahoma defense adjust to the TCU changeup?
In the last three weeks, Oklahoma has faced Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. All are among the top 10 passing offenses in the country. All also are among the top four in the Big 12 in offensive plays per game -- Oklahoma itself is third in that category. TCU offers a changeup. The Horned Frogs’ 72.1 plays per game are the third fewest in the Big 12. TCU was able to rely on its run game against Texas with 217 yards and two touchdowns against the Longhorns. After surrendering 231 points against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, perhaps the Sooners defense is ready for a change of pace, but Oklahoma’s two losses have come against teams running fewer than 70 plays per game (Notre Dame and Kansas State).
Will this be the final game for Gary Patterson at TCU?
It’s another offseason with high-profile jobs open and another year of TCU coach Gary Patterson showing up on wish lists. He’s resisted so far with good reason. The TCU job is better than the one he took over with the Horned Frogs proving they can hold their own in the Big 12. Keep in mind Patterson took the job when the Frogs were in Conference USA. He also makes nearly $3.5 million in Fort Worth. But there’s always the question if Patterson would want to try his hand at a different job -- maybe even one in the SEC.
Meet the Big 12’s newest breakout player: Lache Seastrunk
Baylor’s offense didn’t need to be any more dangerous, yet the breakout player for the second half of the season for the Big 12 is Lache Seastrunk. It’s been a long, uncertain journey for Seastrunk: He was one of the nation’s most decorated recruits out of Temple (Texas), but he signed with Oregon. In Eugene, he was more involved with the Willie Lyles controversy than he was in the offense. He transferred back to his home state and was a bit player until the last month. In the last four games, Seastrunk has rushed for 515 yards, four touchdowns and 7.4 yards per carry. In the finale against Oklahoma State, he’ll give Baylor a chance at a seven-win season for the third consecutive year. Baylor has not won seven games or more in three consecutive seasons since 1949-51.
Does Kansas have any chance to save face to end the season?
Kansas has lost 10 in a row for the second consecutive season. To avoid loss No. 11, the Jayhawks will need to defeat West Virginia, which ended its own losing streak last week. If Kansas is going to have a chance, it will have top hope its productive run game matches up favorably with West Virginia’s defense. Behind the play of running backs James Sims and Tony Pierson, Kansas has crossed the 20-point mark in each of the last two games, something that didn’t happen at all in the five previous games. And no matter the Kansas quarterback, Dayne Crist or Michael Cummings, it’s conceivable the West Virginia defense could give up plays in the passing game. The Kansas defense stopping Tavon Austin is another matter, though.
Week 14 Big 12 Predictions:
Week 14 Big 12 Games
Oklahoma St. at Baylor
Oklahoma St. 41-35
Oklahoma St. 45-38
Oklahoma St. 60-49
Oklahoma at TCU
Kansas at West Virginia
West Virginia 32-28
West Virginia 38-17
West Virginia 48-20
West Virginia 49-21
Texas at Kansas State
Kansas State 35-17
Kansas State 38-24
Kansas State 38-27
Kansas State 27-20
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