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Big 12 Football Preview - Week Nine: Top-Bottom Match-ups In Four League Games

While two teams get a timely week off to address their ailing quarterback situations, four other Big 12 football games feature match-ups between teams holding down decidedly different positions in the conference standings. Can any of the bottom division squads begin working their way back with an upset?

THE NOTES

Seth Russell's season-ending injury removed one competitor from what was shaping up to be a very exciting total offense race this year. TCU's Trevone Boykin (425 yards per game) has a decent lead over Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes (393) and Russell (358), but Mahomes' Red Raiders have already faced two of the top three teams in the conference. The Boykin-Mahomes battle will still be fun to watch, but it's disappointing that Russell won't be in the mix for the total yardage crown.

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Leaders in punt and kick return average almost always have a couple of long runbacks that boost their overall numbers, but Iowa State's Allen Lazard has built his resume on consistency. He leads the Big 12 with a 16.9 yards per punt return average, but his longest runback of the year is just 34 yards.

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The race for bowl eligibility probably begins in earnest next week, as the top four schools in the conference standings -- Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU -- have reached the necessary six wins. Texas Tech is one win away, but Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia must double their current win totals of three to give the Big 12 their expected eight bids.

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More than 43% of West Virginia punter Nick O'Toole's boots have traveled more than 50 yards this year. His next closest competitor in that regard, Texas Tech's Taylor Symmank, has exceed that distance on just 32% of his kicks.

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Oklahoma State designated goal line QB J.W. Walsh had a fantasy player's dream of a game against Kansas. Walsh, who makes appearances when the Cowboys get into point-blank scoring range, accounted for five touchdowns on 11 touches last week. Walsh threw a pair of scoring passes and ran for three more while doing his best Tim Tebow impression.

THE PICKS

A pair of injury-ravaged defenses square off in Fort Worth as West Virginia (3-3 / 0-3) visits TCU (7-0 / 4-0) for a primetime Thursday night encounter. Those absences should help the offenses on both sides and entertain the audience, but the Horned Frogs have more proven performers on offense. The Mountaineers will stay in the game, but TCU will send the metro crowd home happy with a win.

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Oklahoma (6-1 / 3-1) gets a home breather against Kansas (0-7 / 0-4) and names the score to stay one-half step behind the league leaders.

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Oklahoma State (7-0 / 4-0) and Texas Tech (5-3 / 2-3) match up in the epitome of Big 12 football – all offense, all the time. The over/under on this game should be in the 90s, and it truly could be a case of last team with the ball wins. The upset feeling is strong with this one, for some reason, so the Red Raiders get an edgy pick at home to knock the Cowboys from the ranks of the unbeaten.

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Iowa State (2-5 / 1-3) has shown a lot of fight against the league's high-scoring teams. The Cyclones will roll a new QB and a different offensive coordinator into the fray against visiting Texas (3-4 / 2-2). The Horns are totally ground-bound, giving ISU a chance to load up its defense agaisnt just one play phase. That will be enough to give the home team the win – but will it be enough to save head coach Paul Rhoads' job?

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Baylor (7-0 / 4-0) and Kansas State (3-4 / 0-4) both have off weeks to nurse their critical quarterback injury situations.


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