Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week Eight
None of the league’s four ranked teams face each other this week, so call it “Maintenance Saturday”. TCU, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and West Virginia need to win to hold pace, or advance, in the national rankings, and set up bigger contests to come. For Iowa State and Texas Tech, though, it’s a huge positioning day. The winner probably claws its way into the Top 25, while the loser falls a notch or two in the league standings and faces a difficult climb to get back into the national picture.
The performance isn’t as flashy as some of those put up by full-time skill position players, but Joel Lanning of Iowa State has been oustanding in his duties as a two-way player. Lanning has been a Paul Horning Award honoree the past two weeks for his play as a quarterback, linebacker and special teams standout. Is there any player who has been better over a wider range of duties this year? He backed up his showing against Oklahoma a week ago with 10 tackles on defense, eight carries for 34 yards as a wildcat quarterback, and also participated on eight special teams snaps. Get the shipping labels for the Hornung Award preprinted for Ames now.
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Oklahoma and Oklahoma State can join TCU as bowl-eligible teams with wins this Saturday. Only Kansas and Baylor look to be completely out of that race for now.
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OSU receivers James Washington and Marcell Ateman have each topped the 100-yard receiving mark in four consecutive games. That’s the longest such streak for a duo of FBS pass catchers since 1996.
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Scoring touchdowns once a team has reached the red zone is of great importance, but coming away with at least a field goal is a decent consolation. Getting nothing on a point-blank possession? That’s ugly. And so it has been for several Big 12 schools this season. Texas Tech has seven trips inside the red zone that have resulted in the goose egg (four missed field goals and three turnovers). Oklahoma State scores at such a prolific rate that its five empty trips (four and one) haven’t hurt a lot, but Texas (two and two) could definitely have used a few more points in any of its three losses.
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Typically by this point in the season, kickers have risen to the top of the scoring statistics. West Virginia wide receiver David Sills is holding off Big 12 kickers so far, averaging 12.3 points per game. That’s also the top number in the nation.
Oklahoma State (5-1 / 2-1) at Texas (3-3/ 2-1) Sat Oct 21 12:00 PM ABC*
Texas might have the defensive tools to at least bother the Cowboy offense, which had an epic 741 yards last week. It has gotten some dynamic quarterback play, and nearly toppled Oklahoma. Try as we might, though, there’s just not enough there to pick an upset. UT has ball hawking defensive backs and nine interceptions, but Mason Rudolph has the passing game hotter than a blacksmith’s forge. For the second week in a row, Texas falls to an invader from the north.
Iowa State (4-2 / 2-1) at Texas Tech (4-2 / 1-2) Sat Oct 21 12:00 PM FS1
What will the mental state of the Red Raiders be after losing an 18-point second half lead in a road loss to West Virginia? That was a stomach-punch of a result, and could be one of the biggest factors in this game. The Cyclones’ frame of mind couldn’t be better as they are in good position to earn a bowl bid, but can they score enough or grind the clock enough to get a road win in Lubbock? A bounceback for the home team is in the cards – or in the flying tortillas.
Oklahoma (5-1 / 2-1) at Kansas State (3-3 / 1-2) Sat Oct 21 4:00 PM FOX
K-State has quarterback injuries and issues. OU doesn’t. That pretty much puts the lid on the hope for an upset in the Little Apple, even though the Wildcats do seem to play so much better there than in road venues. It’s a bit tempting to select the Wildcats at head coach Bill Snyder’s epnymous stadium, but the Sooners have too much offense to overcome, and K-State’s rushing attack hasn’t been up to par lately.
Kansas (1-5 / 0-3) at TCU (6-0 / 3-0) Sat Oct 21 8:00 PM FOX
The only question about this game is the attendance. TCU fans haven’t exactly been packing Amon G. Carter Stadium, even though the Frogs are in the thick of the CFP chase. If they can’t sell out for a Top 25 match-up (even using extremely generous attendance calculation methods), how many might be expected for the game against the Jayhawks? The Horned Frogs’ score will probably exceed the first two digits of the attendance figure.
West Virginia (4-1 / 2-1) at Baylor (0-6 / 0-3) Sat Oct 21 8:00 PM FS1/2
The Bears return home for the first time in nearly a month, and will be trying to craft a reversal of last year’s season, when they started 6-0 but then suffered six consecutive losses. BU was again hit with injuries last week, and might be hard-pressed to slow West Virginia’s passing attack. The Mountaineers get their first-ever road win over Baylor in the Big 12.
* All Times Eastern