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October 28, 2004
Big 12 Preview: North and South lead could change
Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) at Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1)
Saturday, 11 a.m. CT ABC
The Daily Line: Oklahoma -12
Oklahoma player to watch: Defensive lineman Dan Cody will have his hands full this week with running back Vernand Morency and the Oklahoma State offensive line. Cody is tied for the conference lead in sacks (five) and is at the top in tackles for loss (7.5).
Oklahoma State player to watch: Vernand Morency will be on everyone's mind, but his conterpart on defense safety, Jamie Thompson, gets the nod this week. Thompson leads the team in tackles (49) as well as forced fumbles (three) and ranks in every other category. He'll be expected to be the final line of defense against Adrian Peterson and still be expected to get involved in stopping the Sooner passing game.
The inside scoop: You'd usually say, "throw the records out the book" during these in-state rivalries, but there's no need to in this case. The two teams have proven themselves on the field and know how to win. It will be a grueling game as both teams will pound the running game at each other. Keep an eye out for a long distance play-action pass for a touchdown from both teams
Oklahoma will win if ... it can keep the Cowboy rushing attack contained. The Sooners will score enough, on the ground or through the air, to win this game if all other factors remain the same.
Oklahoma State will win if... Morency rushes for more than 175 yards. The Cowboys haven't shown they can consistently move the ball through the air.
Notes: Saturday's game will be the 99th all-time between OSU and OU, with the Sooners owning a commanding lead in the series. The teams have met 45 times previously in Stillwater, with Oklahoma owning a 34-6-5 advantage, although the Cowboys have won two of the last three on their home turf.
The pick: Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 17
Missouri (4-3, 2-2) at Nebraska (4-2, 2-2)
Saturday, 11 a.m CT. FSN
The Daily Line: Missouri -2
Missouri player to watch: The Tigers will be without the services of starting running back Damien Nash. Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel suspended Nash indefinitely this week. Redshirt freshman Marcus Woods and true freshman Tony Temple will try to pick up the pieces for Nash. It should be interesting to see how they respond in a tough environment, and all eyes will be on Temple the first time he steps on the field.
Nebraska player to watch: It should really be the whole Nebraska defense. Defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove's Blackshirts have given up an average of 447 yards per game the last three outings. Right now, everybody on Nebraska's defense has been placed under the gun, and they have promised a better effort this week.
The inside scoop: Last week, Kansas State quarterback Allen Webb ran all over the Husker defense, so Pinkel and his staff will likely attack the Blackshirts with a similar approach.
Missouri will win if ... Smith runs the ball effectively and its defense forces Nebraska into some early turnovers.
Nebraska will win if... Its defense can find a way to come back together and its offense can get some early confidence.
Notes: As silly as it sounds, the winner of this game will also move into the driver's seat in the Big 12 North Standings. Nebraska has won 13 straight games over Missouri in Lincoln...The Tigers defeated the Huskers 41-24 last season in Columbia.
The pick: Missouri 24, Nebraska 20
Kansas (3-4, 1-3) at Iowa State (3-4, 1-3)
Saturday, 1:00 pm (CT)
The Daily Line: Kansas -4.5
Kansas player to watch: Charles Gordon gives the Jayhawks game-altering ability. He leads the team in interceptions (three), ranks seventh in tackles and has also forced a fumble to go along with his 279 all-purpose yards. Gordon's athleticism and knack for making the big play should come into play Saturday.
Iowa State player to watch: Freshman wide receiver Todd Blythe is on the watch list for the Rivals.com Freshman All-America team and will be expected to have a big day against the conference's worst pass defense (Kansas, 308.5 yards per game). Blythe has 23 receptions and eight touchdowns.
The inside scoop: There's a reason this game isn't going to be televised, but it's not just the records. The two offenses have had a hard time finding an identity and both teams lack chemistry at times. However, this one should be as exciting as Iowa State's 26-25 win over Baylor and could come down to the end. Kansas is going to have to find a quarterback to get the job done this week. The Iowa State defense is solid against the rush, allowing just 124.3 yards per game.
Kansas will win if ... it gets any kind of production from quarterbacks Adam Barmann and Jason Swanson. The Jayhawks will need one of those guys to step up.
Iowa State will win if ... it does not commit turnovers and running back Stevie Hicks continues to improve. Everyone wants to avoid turnovers, but it's imperative that the Cyclones do this to give them a shot.
Notes: This is the 84th meeting between the Cyclones and Jayhawks ... Kansas holds a 20-18-3 advantage in Ames, but ISU has a 7-6-1 lead at Jack Trice Stadium ... The home team has won the last two meetings in the series as KU captured a 36-7 victory last year in Lawrence ... Saturday's game against Iowa State marks the first time in KU's last five games that the Jayhawks will not square off against a team that participated in a bowl game last year.
The pick: Kansas 24, Iowa State 22
Texas (6-1, 3-1) at Colorado (4-3, 1-3)
Saturday, 1:30 pm (MT), Folsom Field
The Daily Line: Texas -14
Texas player to watch: Vince Young established a Texas quarterback-record last week against Texas Tech with four rushing touchdowns. The sophomore dual-threat was named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week. He should have a chance to rack up some passing yards this Saturday, playing against a Colorado pass defense which ranks 113th in the country.
Colorado player to watch: Back in the starting role against Texas A&M last week, junior quarterback Joel Klatt had his best game of the season, passing for 346 yards and two touchdowns and spreading the ball around to eight different receivers. He needs to replicate last week's performance for the Buffs to have a chance against the Longhorns.
The inside scoop: Texas looks to continue the Big 12 South's dominance over the North when it heads to Boulder. Things could get ugly if Colorado can't find away to slow down the Longhorns rushing attack. The Buffs' defense has allowed more than 200 yards rushing in four of the last fives games, while Texas comes in with the second-ranked rushing offense in the country. Colorado, coming off a disheartening overtime loss at Texas A&M, needs a win to stay in the Big 12 North hunt.
Texas will win if ... it doesn't beat itself.
Colorado could win if ... it can put the Texas A&M game behind and play mistake-free football.
Notes: Colorado owns a slight 7-6 edge in the series, which resumes for the first time since the two did battle in the 2001 Big 12 Championship game, when CU emerged with its first conference title with a 39-37 victory. However, Gary Barnett has a losing record coaching against UT and Mack Brown is 2-1 against Colorado.
The pick: Texas 31, Colorado 17
Texas Tech (4-3, 2-2) at Kansas State (3-4, 1-3)
Saturday, 6pm cst, FSN
The Daily Line: Kansas State -2.5
Texas Tech player to watch: Texas Tech senior linebacker Mike Smith is the vocal leader of a defense that was pounded by the running game last week against Texas. If Smith can get his troops focused enough to slow down the Wildcat running game, the Red Raiders will have a chance. Otherwise, they'll be staring at a .500 record.
Kansas State player to watch: Where have you been all year, Allen Webb? Webb started at quarterback for the Wildcats against Nebraska for the injured Dylan Meier and ended up having a career day; rushing for 147 yards on 34 carries and four touchdowns. A similar effort from Webb on the ground Saturday will allow the Wildcat offense to control the clock and dictate the pace of the game. It would also likely get them a win and back in the Big 12 North race.
The Inside Scoop: Something has to give for Kansas State. The Wildcats will celebrate Homecoming Saturday and they have won their last 14 Homecoming games. However the Wildcats are also "camera shy" lately and mired in an odd four-game streak. Bill Snyder's Wildcats have lost the last four games in which they have appeared on television (Ohio State, Fresno State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma). This game is also a battle for a bowl slot. The loser takes a serious hit at even becoming bowl eligible, while the winner likely sets itself up for improved positioning when those selections are made in early December.
Texas Tech will win if ... The Red Raiders show an ability to slow down the rushing attack of the Wildcats. A solid effort from the duo Webb and Darren Sproles on the ground could mean doom for Tech no matter what Mike Leach's high-powered offense does.
Kansas State will win if ... The Wildcats can dictate the tempo of the game on the ground and limit Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie's chances to score with the high-powered Red Raider offense.
Notes: Texas Tech leads the all-time series 4-3. However, the Wildcats have won three of four since the two schools joined the Big 12 in 1996 ... Sophomore Red Raider wideout Jarrett Hicks is averaging an NCAA-best 127.7 yards receiving a game ... Kansas State allows just 170.3 passing yards per game.
The Pick: Kansas State 31, Texas Tech 27
Texas A&M (6-1, 4-0) at Baylor (2-5, 0-4)
Saturday, 6 p.m. CST
The Daily Line: Texas A&M -23.5
Baylor player to watch: More like position to watch this week. Quarterback Dane King led the Bears to 450 yards of total offense last week against Iowa State, but is out for the season with a broken right hand sustained in that game. In his place, Shawn Bell steps in with Terrance Parks backing him up. Bell is 26 for 36 with 189 yards and two touchdowns in 2004.
Texas A&M player to watch: Reggie McNeal has been arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12 this season, and his performance last weekend against Colorado did nothing to dispel that notion. McNeal racked up 382 yards of total offense and led the Aggies on a game-tying drive with a minute left in regulation.
The inside scoop: This is a game of two teams headed in opposite directions. The Aggies haven't lost since their season opener and are one of the hottest teams in the nation. A&M is already bowl-eligible and every additional win means a move up the bowl pecking order. For Baylor, a winning non-conference record has turned sour as the Bears have lost all four of their Big 12 games, including a 26-25 heartbreaker to Iowa State on Homecoming last weekend.
Texas A&M will win if ... the Aggies don't have a Utah relapse.
Baylor will win if ... the players play the games of their lives and the Aggies are caught looking toward a showdown with Oklahoma next week.
Notes: Texas A&M leads the series 62-29-9...The Aggies haven't lost to the Bears since 1985 ... Baylor hasn't scored on A&M in Waco since 1998.
The pick: Texas A&M 41, Baylor 10