Big 12 Preview
Does anyone in the Big 12 even matter outside of Texas Tech and Texas?
Nebraska (2-1) (5-1) at Missouri (2-1) (4-2)
There are big time Big 12 North implications when Nebraska travels to Columbia to face Missouri. Both teams are (2-1) in conference play, along with Colorado. Missouri is coming off consecutive wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa State, nothing to write home about, but they do have some momentum heading to Saturday. After a heartbreaking loss to Texas Tech, the Cornhuskers rebounded with a road win at Baylor. Zach Taylor, Cory Ross, and Terrance Nunn continued to provide the bulk of the Husker offense, and the Black-shirt defense seemed to have Baylor under control throughout. Brad Smith has looked shaky, and the Tiger offense has been turnover prone. If Mizzou doesn't correct the turnover problems Nebraska will win, and set up a potential Big 12 North title game against hated rival Colorado.
Oklahoma State (0-3) (3-3) at Iowa State (0-3) (3-3) You guessed it, it's the "Who cares?" Big 12 game of the week. Both of these teams must be completely disheartened after disastrous Big 12 starts. Iowa State is (0-3) in the north division despite an auspicious start to the season when the beat instate rival Iowa, who was ranked in the top 10. Two overtime losses, at Nebraska and at Missouri, plus an embarrassing home loss to Baylor can't be good for morale. There is good news for the Cyclone fans though, this week Oklahoma State is in Ames. Sure that didn't help against Baylor, but Baylor is a much better team than Oklahoma State. The Cowboy defense has been giving up points in bunches, including 62 against Texas A&M. Iowa State's offense hasn't exactly been explosive, but Oklahoma State is AWFUL. Iowa State wins easily; Stevie Hicks has a big day rushing the football.
Texas A&M (2-1) (4-2) at Kansas State (1-2) (4-2) The Aggies are coming off a blowout victory; the Wildcats are coming off a blowout loss. Texas A&M shouldn't have a false sense of accomplishment, as stated earlier Oklahoma State is terrible. Kansas State, shouldn't be embarrassed about joining a growing list of teams to be blown out in Lubbock. Freshman quarterback Alan Evridge showed courage and ability while taking a beating from the Tech defense. This week things get easier for the young Q.B., as he faces a less than intimidating Aggie secondary. Kansas State's receivers have the speed and talent to get open and Evridge has the arm to hit them. A&M is (0-2) on the road and until I see them win one, or at least play decently, I can't pick them. Kansas State wins at home.
#10 Texas Tech (3-0) (6-0) at #2 Texas (3-0) (6-0)
Moved to national preview, due to national implications!!!
Kansas (0-3) (3-3) at Colorado (2-1) (4-2)
"We came down, they whooped our butts, and now we're going home." That's just about all Colorado coach Gary Barnett had to say about his teams trip to Austin. That quote makes me think Mr. Barnett isn't really worried about that game at all, he is doing what he should be doing, blowing that game off and continuing his teams roll to the North title. Roll is exactly what the Buffs should do when the struggling Jayhawks come to Boulder. The Kansas defense has held up their end of the bargain for Mark Mangino's squad this season. Unfortunately there's and old saying in sports; you can't win if you don't score. KU can't score, in the last two weeks the Jayhawk offense has limped their way to six points. Three last week in a 19-3 loss to Oklahoma, and three in a 12-3 loss to rival Kansas State. The Buffalo defense, playing at home, should have no trouble keeping that offense in a rut. Colorado wins something like 24-3.
Baylor (1-2) (4-2) at Oklahoma (2-1) (3-3)
In years past my preview of this game would be quite short. Baylor has no chance, Oklahoma wins. This year this game requires a little more ink. Baylor is coming off a tough home loss to Nebraska, but still will come in with much more confidence than in years past. Two weeks ago, the Bears notched their first ever conference road win at Iowa State and have another opportunity this week at Owen field. Norman is a tough place to play, but hey, TCU won there so anything could happen. I wish I could pick the Bears to move one step closer to bowl eligibility, but it's not going to happen. If anything has afflicted Baylor this year, it's a lack of offense. If the Oklahoma defense can put together another solid performance, which isn't a guarantee, they will get the win at home.
Around the Nation
#10 Texas Tech at #2 Texas
Does it get any better than this? Welcome to the Big 12 championship game on October 22. Everything is on the line for these two teams, in my estimation the winner will go on to win the Big 12 with ease, and have a shot at the Rose Bowl. Texas Tech will surely remember an embarrassing thirty point beating they took from Texas last season in Lubbock. The Raiders blamed their pre-game attitude and distractions for the lackluster performance, and this week they have a chance to prove that was the case. Both of these teams have been unstoppable all season, and have been on the right end of several blowouts. Vince Young is obviously a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy, and last year he ripped the Tech defense with his legs. This year he may try to do it with his arm as well, the last two weeks Young has shown improved accuracy while shredding two respectable defenses. Tech's offense led by Cody Hodges is loaded with weapons and as explosive as ever, and this year the defense is helping out. The Raider defense is only allowing 16.5 points per game, and has created numerous turnovers. The question is can they keep it up? Last year the Texas offensive line imposed their will, moving the ball up and down the field taking valuable time off the clock and finishing with points. This years Tech defense features more speed at the linebacker and safety positions, including a true intimidator in safety Dwayne Slay. Slay has six forced fumbles in six games, and he doesn't strip the ball from the offense, he separates it from them. If the same defense shows up in Austin and gives the Tech offense extra possessions, we will see an upset. Of course, that's a big if.
#17 Tennessee (2-2) (3-2) at #5 Alabama (4-0) (6-0)
Two of the three games between two top 25 teams this week take place in the SEC. In my opinion Tennessee at Alabama is the more intriguing of the two for some very interesting reasons. Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer is traveling to Tuscaloosa for the first time since court documents surfaced identifying him as a confidential source for the NCAA investigation which landed Alabama on probation. Needless to say Crimson Tide fans and players will be out for blood. Tennessee has been to the swamp and LSU's death valley this season so hostile crowds are nothing new to the Vols. Alabama is still hurting from the loss of wide receiver Tyrone Prothro, but have a seasoned senior signal caller in Brody Croyle. Croyle is playing the best football of his career and is a big reason for the Tide's (6-0) start. Tennessee's defense will be missing their emotional leader defensive back Jason Allen, that's not good news for a team that's struggling to score points. Tennessee uncharacteristically ranks 100th in the NCAA rushing the football, and have had issues at quarterback all season. Alabama is solid on offense and defense, and after losing four of the last five to Tennessee, their due for a big win.
#16 Auburn (3-0) (5-1) at #7 LSU (3-1) (4-1)
Night game in Death Valley usually means a sure LSU victory. Last time though, the Tigers choked a twenty one point half-time lead against Tennessee. Undisciplined play and turnovers have been the gripe of LSU fans this year, but sometimes with a first year coach, it happens. Last week the Tiger defense came through and had Florida quarterback Chris Leak running scared all day long. This week they'll try to do the same against Auburn's inexperienced quarterback Brandon Cox. In Auburn's first game against Georgia Tech, Cox turned the ball over on Auburn's final five possessions. Against a softer schedule, Cox has improved leading Auburn to five straight wins, but can he do it away from Jordan-Hare stadium? I say no. LSU quarterback JaMarcus Russell is improving each week, and running back Joseph Addai is a steady performer. Auburn hasn't beaten anyone of substance, and they won't start this week.