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October 25, 2006

Big 12: Week 9 Breakdown

Buchanan's Big 12 picks
Rivals.com national writer Olin Buchanan's predictions for Week 3 in the Big 12.
Saturday's games:
Texas A&M 24, Baylor 21
Colorado 17, Kansas 14
Iowa State 28, Kansas State 21
Oklahoma 23, Missouri 20
Nebraska 35, Oklahoma State 24
Texas 31, Texas Tech 17

Best matchup: This weekend's clash matching No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 23 Missouri in Columbia, Mo., is the only game in the nation featuring two ranks teams. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who has thrown 19 touchdown passes and only five interceptions, directs an offense which ranks 14th nationally. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma defense has improved to No. 11 nationally after allowing nine or fewer points in three of their last four games.

Worst matchup: Iowa State and Kansas State have combined for one victory in conference play, and the Wildcats needed a furious rally to top Oklahoma State three weeks ago. Kansas State enters this game having lost four of its last five. Iowa State is on a three-game losing streak since escaping with a 28-27 victory over Division I-AA Northern Iowa.

The pressure is on: Kansas and Iowa State are both 3-5. With only four games remaining, they still need three more victories to earn bowl eligibility. If either loses this week, they will be facing postseason elimination the rest of the season. By the way, the Jayhawks play the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa on Nov. 4.

Upset alert: If Nebraska is experiencing any hangovers from its 22-20 heartbreaking loss to Texas last week, the Cornhuskers could be in trouble. Pass defense isn't exactly the Huskers' forte, and the Cowboys have managed 10 touchdown passes in their last three games.

Who's hot: Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell passed for a school record 394 yards and five touchdowns three in the fourth quarter in a 36-35 come-from-behind victory over Kansas last week. In the last four games he has thrown for 1,251 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Bears have gone 3-1 in that stretch.

Who's not: The Kansas defense linemen, linebackers, safeties, cornerbacks, nickel backs and anyone who coaches that unit. The Jayhawks have squandered double-digit leads in the second half of their last three games and have been outscored 54-15 in the fourth quarter in that span. The last two quarterbacks they've faced Oklahoma State's Bobby Reid and Baylor's Shawn Bell both set school records (Reid for total yardage, Bell for passing yardage) and combined for 10 touchdown passes.

BCS implications: Texas, which this week goes to Texas Tech and has a history of struggling in Lubbock, is No. 7 in the BCS standings. No other Big 12 team is higher than 19th (Oklahoma), so at this point only games involving the Longhorns have significant meaning to the BCS race.

Most to lose or gain: The hot seat Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione was on at the beginning of the season has turned into a throne or at least an easy chair because the Aggies are 7-1. He's getting praised again in College Station and the Aggies are in control of their destiny in the Big 12 championship race. However, all that will change on Saturday if the Aggies fall to Baylor. As a collective group, the Aggies don't want to acknowledge that the Bears have reached competitive balance with A&M under coach Guy Morriss. Last year the Aggies needed overtime to subdue the Bears. Two years ago they were beaten in overtime in Waco.

Must see TV: The best matchup is Oklahoma-Missouri, while Oklahoma State-Nebraska might be most conducive to an upset. But if you can only watch one Big 12 game this weekend, tune into Texas vs. Texas Tech on TBS. The No. 5 Longhorns have won 19 consecutive conference games, and haven't lost a Big 12 game on the road since losing 42-38 against Tech in Lubbock in 2002. Crazy things often happen when Tech hosts Texas in a night game, and that could be the case again. Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown for 2,505 yards the nation's third highest total and every starter in the Texas secondary is nursing some kind of injury.

Newcomer/backup that could have an impact: True freshman offensive tackle Trent Williams moves into Oklahoma's starting lineup after starter Branndon Braxton suffered a season-ending fractured tibia in last week's win over Colorado. OU praised Williams' play in that game, and he'll need to continue performing at a high level this week against Missouri. The Tigers rank eighth nationally in sacks. However, Brian Smith, the Tigers' leading pass rusher with 7 sacks, suffered a fractured hip in last Saturday's victory over Kansas State and will miss the remainder of the regular season.

Key stat: Missouri has not beaten Oklahoma and Nebraska in the same season since 1969. The Tigers (7-1) face Oklahoma on Saturday and Nebraska next week.

Take the line: Oklahoma State has allowed at least 31 points in its last four games. That's reason enough to give up 5 points and take Nebraska - even though the game is in Stillwater, Okla. Zac Taylor is a solid quarterback and the Cornhuskers get excellent production at running back. Now, if they can figure a way to get Maurice Purify the football more than two or three times a game they could score in the 30s, too. Oklahoma State's offense can be explosive, and the Huskers may still be in a state of shock after losing to Texas. However, they still should be able to top the Cowboys by a touchdown. Season record: 3-5

Injury update: Texas defensive tackle Derek Lokey is out for the season with a fractured leg, while cornerbacks Tarell Brown (toe) and Aaron Ross (wrist) are probable. Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid left last week's game against Texas A&M with a "head ding," but is expected to play against Nebraska. Texas Tech running back Baron Batch is out for Saturday's game against Texas, while offensive lineman Manny Ramirez and linebacker Fletcher Session are questionable.

They said it: "We have a big strong runner and then a really, really fast one. It's like a fastball and a really good changeup."
Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione on the hulking Jorvorskie Lane and the shifty Mike Goodson

Worth noting: Nebraska hasn't won it Stillwater since the 1995 season opener. Oklahoma State won in 2002, and the 1998 game - which was scheduled for Stillwater - was moved to Kansas City and Nebraska won there. Texas A&M running back Jorvorskie Lane has 16 rushing touchdowns, which is just three short of the all-time A&M single-season record set in 1927. Graham Harrell's six touchdown passes in last week's victory over Iowa State were the most by a Texas Tech quarterback since B.J. Symons threw eight against Texas A&M in 2003. Texas Tech is tied with Nebraska and Clemson for second place nationally with 15 touchdown drives consuming less than two minutes. . Missouri defensive back Trenile Washington is out and cornerback Domonique Johnson is doubtful for the week. Kansas quarterback Kerry Meier is questionable with a injured shoulder. Baylor's defense has forced at least one turnover in 10 consecutive games. Colorado linebacker Thaddaeus Washington posted a career-high 19 tackles against Oklahoma. Buffaloes' kicker Mason Crosby is 11 of 12 on field goals in the final 8 minutes of games. His six misses this season have come from an average of 49.8 yards. Iowa State kicker Bret Culbertson's 52-yard field goal against Texas Tech was the longest of his career. Kansas running back Jon Cornish rushed for a career-high 196 yards against Baylor to notch his sixth 100-yard game of the season. Missouri safety David Overstreet scored the first touchdown on his career on a fumble return. Starting in place of injured tailback Adrian Peterson, Oklahoma's Allen Patrick rushed for a career-high 110 yards. Oklahoma will play four of its final five games on the road. Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has five touchdown passes of 50 yards or more, including four in the last four games. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee has a streak of 103 passes without an interception. He's been intercepted just once in his last 204 attempts.

Freshman who impressed: Oklahoma State redshirt freshman safety Andre Sexton recorded a career-high 15 tackles, one tackle for loss and forced a fumble in last week's overtime loss to Texas A&M.

Week 9 conference previews: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC



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