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October 21, 2004

Questions answered in this week's Big 12

Kansas (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) vs. No. 2 Oklahoma (6-0, 3-0)
Saturday, noon, CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Oklahoma -26.5

Kansas player to watch: Junior linebacker Nick Reid has been the Jayhawks' best player on defense this season. He's tied for the Big 12 lead in tackles with 64 and also has 8.5 tackles for loss. Reid will be called upon to try to slow down Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma's standout freshman running back.
Oklahoma player to watch: Peterson and senior quarterback Jason White get most of the attention in Norman, but senior receiver Mark Clayton is among the nation's best. He has 30 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns this season, and he had a pair of scores in last week's 31-21 win against Kansas State. Clayton already holds eight school receiving records.
The inside scoop: The Sooners had their hands full in last week's 10-point win against the Wildcats, who earlier this season lost to the Jayhawks. Kansas has been solid defensively in 2004, especially against the run, allowing just 106 yards per game. But it hasn't faced a back this season like Peterson, who is emerging as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. Offensively, the Jayhawks have trouble moving the ball on the ground and rely heavily on sophomore quarterback Adam Barmann, who's passed for more than 1,200 yards. Kansas is an improved football team, but it doesn't have the athletes to pull off an upset on the road against Oklahoma.
Kansas won't win, ... but if you're a Jayhawks fan, you have to love the job coach Mark Mangino is doing in Lawrence.
Oklahoma will win … because it has a balanced offense, a dominant defense and better players.
Notes: Oklahoma leads the series 64-27-6, winning the last meeting in 2001, 38-10 … Peterson, who ranks fifth nationally in rushing with an average of 150 yards per game, is the only running back in Sooners history to open his career with six consecutive 100-yard games … Kansas' three losses this season have been by just 10 combined points.
The pick: Oklahoma 31, Kansas 17

No. 22 Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1) at Missouri (4-2, 2-1)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Missouri -3

Oklahoma State player to watch: Freshman quarterback Donovan Woods has been great at times, and he needs to continue to improve to take the pressure off the running game. He has connected on 41 of 78 throws for 726 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Missouri player to watch: Junior defensive lineman C.J. Mosley has been a force with 31 tackles, including nine for losses, and four sacks. He'll have to have a big day to help the Tigers slow Oklahoma State's vaunted running attack.
The inside scoop: The game plans in this one will be simple. Oklahoma State, which ranks fourth nationally in rushing offense with 268 yards per game, is going to try to pound Missouri on the ground on offense, while containing Missouri quarterback Brad Smith on defense. Containing Smith should be quite a challenge for the Cowboys, who were burned repeatedly by Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal, another mobile signal-caller, in last week's loss. The Tigers rank first in the Big 12 in total defense, but they were susceptible to the run in last week's 28-20 loss at Texas, allowing 193 yards.
Oklahoma State will win if … it can run the ball effectively and keep Smith from scrambling for big plays.
Missouri will win if … it can contain the OSU ground game and take care of the ball.
Notes: Missouri leads the series 27-19 and won a triple-overtime thriller, 41-38, the last time the teams met in 2001 … The Cowboys' Darrent Williams ranks third nationally in punt returns with an average of nearly 28 yards per attempt … With 5,505 passing yards, Smith ranks second in Missouri history.
The pick: Missouri 27, Oklahoma State 24

No. 8 Texas (5-1, 2-1) at Texas Tech (4-2, 2-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT, TBS
The Daily Line: Texas -2

Texas player to watch: It will be a busy evening for the Longhorns secondary against the pass-happy Red Raiders, who throw the ball nearly 60 times per game. Junior safety Michael Huff has been the team's best defensive back with 45 tackles, 11 pass break ups and one interception.
Texas Tech player to watch: There's no question that senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie is going to put the ball up early and often. He's 222-for-349 for 2,521 yards, which leads the nation, and 16 touchdowns. But the key for Cumbie is to not throw too many to the other guys. He's already thrown 12 interceptions this season
The inside scoop: Texas comes in with the lofty ranking, but it has to be concerned about this game. The Red Raiders have scored 70 points twice this season and rank sixth nationally with an average of 39 points per game. The Longhorns, meanwhile, have had their share of problems on offense, especially through the air. It would be unlikely that Texas could keep up in a high-scoring affair. The Horns will look to control the clock with their running game, which ranks second in the country with nearly 294 yards per game, keeping Cumbie on the bench. The Raiders rank just 63rd nationally against the run, allowing 143 yards per game.
Texas will win if ... it can hold the Raiders to less than 35 points and senior running back Cedric Benson has a big day.
Texas Tech will win if … it can slow the Texas running attack and turn the game into an offensive shootout.
Notes: Texas has won 38 of the 52 meetings, including a 43-40 victory last season … Benson leads the nation is rushing with an average of 165 yards per game … Tech receiver Jarrett Hicks leads the nation with 137 receiving yards per game.
The pick: Texas 36, Texas Tech 34

Colorado (4-2, 1-2) at Texas A&M (5-1, 3-0)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Texas A&M -17.5

Colorado player to watch: The Buffs have a weapon in sophomore kicker Mason Crosby, who tied a Big 12 record with a 60-yard field goal in last week's 19-14 win against Colorado. He's 10-for-13 on field goals this year, and if his team can find a way to keep this one close, Crosby could win it at the end.
Texas A&M player to watch: Junior quarterback Reggie McNeal is playing as well as anyone in the country, helping the Aggies to five straight wins. He's passed for 1,325 yards, rushed for 454 and accounted for 14 touchdowns this season. In last week's 36-20 win at Oklahoma State, McNeal accounted for 386 yards and four scores.
The inside scoop: The Aggies are rolling behind the versatile McNeal and a young, opportunistic defense that has forced 15 turnovers. Colorado, meanwhile, has looked average on both sides of the ball all season. The Buffaloes especially have struggled on defense, allowing 434 yards per game. That doesn't bode well against an A&M offense that is averaging 437 yards and 32 points per game and can move the ball equally well on the ground or through the air. Making matters worse for the Buffs is that the game is being played at raucous Kyle Field. Look for this one to be over by halftime.
Colorado won't win. ... Actually, wait a second … No, never mind, there's no chance.
Texas A&M will win, … and its reserves will see plenty of action after intermission
Notes: Colorado has won four of the five meetings between the teams … Sticking with the kicking theme for CU, punter John Torp ranks fourth nationally with an average of 46.1 yards per kick … Texas A&M has turned the ball over just once this season.
The pick: Texas A&M 31, Colorado 13

Nebraska (4-2, 2-1) at Kansas State (2-4, 0-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Kansas State -5.5

Nebraska player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Joe Dailey has received his share of criticism this season, much of it warranted. But he was tremendous last week in a 342-yard, five-touchdown outing in a 59-27 win against Baylor. More importantly, Dailey, who's thrown 12 interceptions this season, did not throw a pick against the Bears.
Kansas State player to watch: I bet you thought I was going to say Darren Sproles. Wrong. Sophomore quarterback Dylan Meier gets the nod this week. He's played well the last two weeks, albeit in losses to Texas A&M and Kansas. For the season, Meier is 87-for-145 for 1,063 yards, eight touchdowns and just three interceptions.
The inside scoop: This is a crucial game for both teams. The Cornhuskers still have a shot at the Big 12 North title, while the Wildcats are looking to turn their season around. Quarterback play, especially turnovers by the respective signal callers, will go a long way in determining the outcome. Nebraska ranks No. 2 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 67 yards per game, so don't look for Sproles to have a big game for Kansas State. But the Wildcats have their backs against the wall and should come out with a sense of urgency, while Nebraska isn't very far removed from the 60-point loss it suffered at Texas Tech two weeks ago.
Nebraska will win if ... it shuts down the run and Dailey limits his mistakes in a hostile environment.
Kansas State will win if … it can have success on the ground and play with confidence.
Notes: Nebraska has dominated the series 72-14-2, but it got whipped last year, 38-9 … Sproles ranks 11th nationally with nearly 120 rushing yards per game, but that number ranks just fourth in the Big 12 … The Cornhuskers didn't turn the ball over last week against Baylor, the first time this season they haven't had at least one turnover.
The pick: Kansas State 27, Nebraska 34

Iowa State (2-4, 0-3) at Baylor (2-4, 0-3)
Saturday, 2 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Iowa State -7.5

Iowa State player to watch: The Cyclones have struggled to get the running game going in 2004, but the best option has been sophomore Stevie Hicks, who's rushed for 472 yards on 126 carries. He should have a chance to up his 3.7-yard-per-carry average this week against a Bears defense that gives up more than 200 yards per game on the ground.
Baylor player to watch: Senior wide receiver Marques Roberts has emerged as the top target for quarterback Dane King. Roberts had seven catches for 99 yards and a touchdown against Nebraska last week. For the season, he's caught 21 balls for 297 yards and five scores.
The inside scoop: This will be the best chance for each of these young teams to post a conference win this season. The two offenses are the worst in the Big 12, but the Cyclones have a decided edge on defense, where they rank fourth in the conference. The Bears, meanwhile, rank 11th in the Big 12 in total defense and have given up 133 points in three league losses. If Baylor plays well defensively, it will have a good shot at pulling the upset.
Iowa State will win if ... it forces King into turnovers and enjoys success running the ball.
Baylor will win if … it can have balance on offense and stop the Cyclones running game.
Notes: Iowa State has won three of the five meetings between the two teams, including a 41-0 victory in the last meeting three years ago ... The Cyclones have scored on just 7 of 21 trips into the red zone this season … The Bears have turned the ball over 17 times and rank last in the Big 12 in turnover margin at minus-12.
The pick: It's the one chance I have to pick Baylor during conference plan, and I'm taking it. Iowa State 13, Baylor 14


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