Once a kingmaker in the Big 12, Texas-Oklahoma this week almost seems to be an undercard for other matchups in the league in the coming weeks. While the Red River Rivalry is the top game in the Big 12 this week, Kansas State-West Virginia next week may do more to determine the conference champion.
In Dallas on Saturday, one team will remain in the Big 12 race while the loser will endure its second conference loss. Either Oklahoma or Texas won the Big 12 every season from 2004-10, but neither controls its own destiny as of the second week of October.
Kansas State and West Virginia, though, aren’t assured of getting to next week’s game unscathed. Both teams head on road trips (Iowa State and Texas Tech) against teams who have been known to play the role of spoiler.
Other Week 7 Previews and Predictions
Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 7:
What are the stakes in the Red River Rivalry?
Oklahoma and Texas started the season ranked first and second, respectively, in Athlon’s Big 12 preseason rankings, but one could be in danger of falling out of the Big 12 race with a loss in Dallas. For now, they’re both chasing West Virginia and Kansas State, who will face each other in Morgantown next week. Without the benefit of a conference championship game, two losses could be devastating. Even the winner of Texas-Oklahoma does not control its own destiny as long as West Virginia and K-State remain undefeated.
Did the Texas defense find something on which to build from last week’s loss?
No Kheeston Randall, Keenan Allen and Emmanuel Acho has made the Texas defense a shell of its former self, but the Longhorns insist there was progress last week against West Virginia. It certainly wasn’t against the run (192 rushing yards allowed) or on fourth down (5 of 5 converted). But Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said the Longhorns missed only seven tackles -- which says something about Texas being in position to make tackles against the Mountaineers. On the other side, Texas sacked Geno Smith five times. But the run defense must be better than the one that has allowed at least 170 yards in the last four games. A big help could be the potential return of starting linebacker Jordan Hicks.
Is the old Landry Jones back?
Oklahoma’s veteran starting quarterback started to look more like the veteran signal caller we saw up until the Ryan Broyles injury last season. Jones was 25 of 40 for 259 yards with two touchdowns against Texas Tech in the 41-20 rout. Against the Red Raiders, Jones spread the ball around to seven different pass catchers and settled into a groove with shorter and intermediate passes. Jones already has a good track record against the Longhorns (55 of 89, 603 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in the last two wins), and the Texas defense has looked nothing like the dominant unit we saw a year ago.
Will there be another track meet for West Virginia?
This may be the toughest stretch of West Virginia’s season. The Mountaineers answered their first Big 12 road trip to Texas, but will have to make the quick turnaround for another road trip to Lubbock, Texas, against the Red Raiders. Beyond that, a home date with Kansas State -- which could be the de facto Big 12 championship game -- is a week away. Lubbock’s not an easy place to play, even if Texas Tech’s last win as a home underdog was over Oklahoma at the end of 2009. With Seth Doege, a one-time recruit of West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, Texas Tech can put up points, and the Mountaineers have been happy to oblige opposing offenses the last two weeks.
What’s next for TCU and Casey Pachall?
After a driving while intoxicated arrest and a positive drug test in February, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall voluntarily withdrew from school to seek treatment for substance abuse. With Pachall gone, TCU likely will turn to freshman Trevone Boykin, who started last week in the loss to Iowa state. Boykin was 23 of 40 for 270 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. This week, he’ll be able to prepare as the primary quarterback, but he’s also making his first road start when the Horned Frogs visit Baylor. Sophomore Matt Brown, who backed up Pachall last season, remains in the mix as well.
Why isn’t anyone talking about John Hubert?
Bill Snyder is a great coach, and Collin Klein is a Heisman contender. Both are true, but let’s take a minute to appreciate someone else at Kansas State: Running back John Hubert is having a career year. With four touchdowns last week against Kansas alone, he matched his entire total from last season. In addition to doubling his touchdowns from last season to eight, Hubert has topped 100 yards in four of five games this year after only hitting the triple digits three times last season. This week, he’ll have an opportunity for a key matchup against Iowa State’s standout linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein.
Will Wes Lunt make his return?
It’s been nearly a month since Oklahoma State freshman quarterback Wes Lunt, named the starter in spring practice, was knocked out of the Louisiana-Lafayette game with an injury. His return could come as early as this week against Kansas, but coach Mike Gundy is playing it safe. It doesn’t hurt that backup J.W. Walsh has played well (39 of 57, 648 yards, six touchdowns, one interception, 130 rushing yards) the last two weeks.
Week 7 Big 12 Predictions
Week 7 Big 12 Games
Kansas St. (-7) at Iowa St.
Kansas St. 28-14
Kansas St. 42-17
Kansas St. 31-24
Kansas St. 27-17
Texas vs. Oklahoma (-3)
Oklahoma St. (-24) at Kansas
Oklahoma St. 48-14
Oklahoma St. 45-20
Oklahoma St. 52-17
Oklahoma St. 41-10
West Virginia (-4) at Texas Tech
West Virginia 35-31
West Virginia 38-24
West Virginia 41-38
West Virginia 44-24
TCU at Baylor (-8)
by David Fox
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