It's not often a team has a must-win game just six outings into the season. Most division and conference races go down to the wire, with a team getting a win in the last week or with two games to play that clinches things for them.
Not this week. Iowa State
loses this game against Nebraska and they are out of the Big 12 North
race – it's simple as that.
Iowa State already has one conference loss
on the season and falling to the Huskers would quickly put them in a 0-2 hole.
With games against Oklahoma and Texas Tech forthcoming, this team
is looking at three losses minimum, maybe four to start their league schedule.
That is, unless they can beat Nebraska.
The Huskers aren't likely to lose
more then twice in Big 12 play. Nebraska plays
Texas in a
couple weeks, but that's the only menacing presence on their schedule.
Texas A&M could give the Huskers problems, but the likelihood of Big Red
going 5-3 in conference play is very slim. That's why Iowa State needs this game. If they truly want
to play for the Big 12 title in Kansas
City, this is a must win.
Nebraska has been clicking on all
cylinders offensively this season, averaging over 200 yards a game both passing
and rushing. Iowa
State's defense has
struggled – giving up points and yards in bushels all season long – and they
didn't get any help this week.
Linebacker Adam Carper's knee
injury is a huge blow for the Cyclones. While Alvin Bowen and Tyrone McKenzie
are getting the attention with their nice numbers and powerful tackles, Carper
has been the most steady, consistent performer on the defense. He's not flashy,
but he does more then get the job done. Carper has graded out better then Bowen
and McKenzie after all five of Iowa
State's games, and that includes the
where Bowen had 20 tackles. Carper is the rock of the defense and will be missed
much more then anyone realizes.
If the Cyclones want to win this
game they have to control the football. The less time Nebraska's offense is on
the field, the better. If the Huskers are given chances, they will take
advantage of them. Iowa State needs to minimize
the time Nebraska has the ball, and that means a HUGE
game from Stevie Hicks and the offensive line. The ISU defense also has to come
up big, making stops, especially on third down. UNI was over 50 percent on third
down last week, something that can't happen if the Clones are going to
THE PICK – Iowa State
And now we move about the rest of
I was a perfect 6-0 last week
(surviving scares from Iowa State, Nebraska and
Texas Tech). I was literally seconds away from hurling myself off the roof of
the Jack Trice Stadium press box on multiple occasions last Saturday. So if
you're listening Big 12, please go easy on me this week. For the season I'm
46-7. Take that Chris Burman.
Texas at Oklahoma
This is the game of the week and
honestly, the game of the Big 12 season. This game is bigger then the Big 12
championship game. In fact, it is the Big 12 championship
Whoever wins this wins the
conference, easy as that. The loser of this game gets second and the North plays
for the chance to get filleted by the winner on national TV. So there's a lot on
Both these teams have one loss,
and the loser is out of the national title hunt, as well as the BCS game race.
If Texas wins,
they have a legitimate argument – provided there is only one team with no losses
at the end of the regular season, which could happen – that they should play for
the national title. Their defense is stingy and they have an offense that is
getting better with time.
Adrian Peterson is a great running
back, but he can't win a game on his own, especially against Texas. The Sooners don't
have a reliable passing game yet, and the Longhorns will key on Peterson in an
attempt to shut him down. Now there is a good chance he will still have a huge
game, but it just won't be enough to win.
Welcome to the BCS Texas. You've just won
the Big 12.
THE PICK – Texas
Missouri at Texas
Missouri is ranked for some reason, even
though they haven't played anyone even remotely worth mentioning (Murray State, Mississippi,
New Mexico, Ohio and Colorado). Those teams are a combined 6-19 on
the season. That's not going to look good in the strength of schedule rankings.
While Missouri has been pretty
stingy with their pass offense (143 ypg) they haven't played a legitimate team
yet. This is their ‘welcome to real football' moment and they come up way
THE PICK – Texas
Texas A&M at Kansas
This game might be as
uninteresting as it looks. Both these teams are bad, although somehow A&M
will make a bowl this season. They will reach about 7-2 before tanking and
losing their final three to Oklahoma,
Nebraska and Texas. Not a fun way to finish the season. The
Jayhawks somehow took Nebraska to overtime, but that's about as high
as their season is going to get. They are a bad team and things can only get
worse as head coach Mark Mangino has already used the team's budget on his
THE PICK – Texas
Oklahoma State at Kansas State
If there is one game not to watch,
it's this one. These could be the two worst teams in the Big 12. Wake me when
this is over.
THE PICK – Kansas State
Baylor at Colorado
This game really intrigues me. For
some reason, I like Baylor (I know, it's that little brother syndrome). They're
my team. Plus they used to have a lot of talent in their student newspaper's
sports section. Kudos to the three people who know what I'm talking about there.
Baylor is trying, they're trying
really hard and Guy Morriss will turn them around in time. They almost made a
bowl last season and had a chance to make one this year if they played
perfectly. Alas, that was not to be. But they're still good enough to pound an
THE PICK –