Big 12 2016 Football Previews - Week Nine

All ten Big 12 football teams are in action this week, with the slate serving as another preamble for the November match-ups among the league leaders to come. None can afford to stumble, though, as the pack chasing the three conference leaders will be looking to narrow the gap.

THE NOTES

The offensive show (or defensive nightmare) of the Oklahoma – Texas Tech game set or tied six FBS records. The 66-59 OU win included new standards for combined yards (1,708), combined passing yards (1,279) combined yards by two players (1,383) by quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Baker Mayfield, and total offense and passing yards (Patrick Mahomes). OU also became the only FBS school to have a 500-yard passer, a 200-yard receiver and a 200-yard rusher in the same game.

The notes generated for this game could fill up a database, but this one really stands out. Texas Tech had 109 offensive plays. Patrick Mahomes either passed (88) or ran (12) the ball on 92% of them.

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The Big 12 features three teams which are undefeated in league play in Baylor, Oklahoma and West Virginia. Theoretically, that state of affairs could remain until Nov. 12, when the Bears and Sooners meet.

Baylor and WVU are two of the seven remaining Power Five conference schools who remain unbeaten overall. The Big Ten is the only other P5 league with more than on undefeated member.

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Those in a rush to fire Texas coach Charlie Strong might note that the Longhorns have five true freshmen who have started at least one game this year, and has 18 first-time starters on the roster.

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Just a bit more than halfway through the season, only three Big 12 placekickers remain unblemished on extra point attempts. Kansas State’s Matt McCrane leads the pack with 26 successful conversions, followed by West Virginia’s Mike Molina (24) and Kansas’ Matthey Wyman (18).

THE PICKS

Kansas State travels to Iowa State to face the Cyclones, who are coming off an open date. This game could be the shortest, in terms of time, in the Big 12 this year as both squads are geared toward ground-pounding, clock-controlling tactics. It's just the kind of game ISU could keep close and win, but K-State excels in such situations, and typically comes up with a big play or capitalized on an opponent's mistake to win. After losing one such game to West Virginia this year, it's tough to see them doing it twice. The Wildcats get the nod on the road.

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West Virginia is on something of a stepping stone schedule. Each week, the Mountaineers face an opponent that is a little tougher and better than the week before. This Saturday, it's a trip to Oklahoma State for a meeting with the Cowboys, who can knock one of the league leaders out of the top spot and secure their own striking position heading into November. OSU has the tools to do so, but WVU will rely on its well-rounded team play to get a close and tough victory.

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Baylor was finally set to play someone this week, but then Texas hit the skids. The Longhorns are coming in with a 1-3 league mark and more hyenas on their trail than the cast of Daktari. UT is at home, however, where it does play better than on the road, and it's been nearly impossible to get a read on how good the undefeated Bears truly are. They might be great again – or it might just be the result of a Charmin-soft schedule. Texas has played well against Baylor in the past, so on something of a flier it's the burnt orange with the home win.

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TCU hosts Texas Tech in a game that both schools really need to win, the Red Raiders have lost three in a row, while the Horned Frogs are coming off their worst-ever Big 12 loss at the hands of West Virginia. TCU might have the better personnel and an improving defense, but Patrick Mahomes is playing several levels above Kenny Hill, and that's enough to give the edge to the visitors.

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Oklahoma gets to work on its defensive struggles at home against Kansas. It might be tough to judge the results in terms of future opponents, but the Jayhawks, who are again switching back and forth between quarterbacks, don't have the firepower to stay close on the road. The Sooners move to 5-0 in the league with a routine victory while fans get to enjoy a long day of anticipatory tailgating in Norman.


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