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November 25, 2004
Final Big 12 weekend full of intrigue
Colorado (6-4, 3-4 Big 12) at Nebraska (5-5, 3-4)
Friday, 11 a.m., CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Nebraska -3
Colorado player to watch: Senior running back Bobby Purify has had an up-and-down season, but when he's been good, the Buffs have been tough to beat. He had 24 carries for 155 yards and two touchdowns two weeks ago against Kansas State in Colorado's last game and now has 880 yards and eight scores this season.
Nebraska player to watch: Senior Barrett Ruud will go down as one of great linebackers to ever play at Nebraska. His 423 career tackles are a school record and rank third all-time in Big 12 play. Rudd has 134 tackles, including 17 for losses, and three sacks this season.
The inside scoop: There's a lot on the line for both teams in this matchup. The Cornhuskers must win to qualify for a bowl game, while Colorado could still capture the Big 12 North crown with a victory and an Iowa State loss to Missouri. Both teams have had problems this season taking care of the ball. Nebraska is ranked 11th in the conference with a turnover margin of minus-10, while the Buffaloes are ranked 10th at minus-6. Both teams also have had trouble defending the pass, but the Cornhuskers have been much better against the run, giving up less than 95 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the nation. Defense and turnovers will decide this game's outcome.
Colorado will win if ... it can create at least two turnovers and Purify rushes for at least 100 yards.
Nebraska will win if it wins the turnover battle and connects on some big plays in the passing game.
Notes: Nebraska leads the series 44-16-2 and won 31-22 a year ago The Cornhuskers' 170 first downs are the fewest in the Big 12 this season Colorado ranks last in the conference with 28:16 of possession time per game
The pick: Nebraska 24, Colorado 21
Texas A&M (7-3, 5-2) at Texas (9-1, 6-1)
Friday, 2:30 p.m., CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Texas -11
Texas A&M player to watch: Jason Jack has come up big on the defensive line in his freshman season for the Aggies, and he'll have to play well Friday to help his team's defense slow Texas' vaunted rushing attack. Jack has 38 tackles, including five for losses, and two sacks this season.
Texas player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Vince Young rescued the Longhorns against Kansas with a fourth-quarter rally in a 27-23 win against two weeks ago. He's passed 1,538 yards and rushed for 794 this season, while accounting for 20 touchdowns.
The inside scoop: This rivalry may not get the attention that Michigan-Ohio State or Auburn-Alabama gets, but make no mistake, this game is a huge deal in the state of Texas and there's no love lost between the teams and fan bases. It's also a key battle for recruiting bragging rights in talent-rich Texas. The Aggies have bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2003 season, thanks mainly to the play of junior quarterback Reggie McNeal and a young, opportunistic defense. Texas, meanwhile, has overwhelmed opponents with a dominating ground game, which averages 305 yards per game, and a fast, aggressive defense that is led by Butkus finalist Derrick Johnson. This should be a good one.
Texas A&M will win if ... it holds Texas to less than 200 yards rushing and McNeal has a good game.
Texas will win if ... it keeps McNeal in the pocket and Young takes care of the ball.
Notes: Texas has dominated the series, 71-34-5, and won the last four meetings, including a 46-15 victory last season Johnson's six forced fumbles lead the nation Aggies kicker Todd Pegram has yet to miss a field goal this season in 12 tries, but he's missed four PATs.
The pick: Texas 36, Texas A&M 31
Missouri (4-6, 2-5) at Iowa State (6-4, 4-3)
Saturday, Noon, CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Iowa State -4.5
Missouri player to watch: Big things were expected of junior quarterback Brad Smith this year, but it's been a disappointing season for a player who was on some early-season Heisman lists. Still, he's accounted for nearly 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns and will provide the Cyclones defense with a stern test.
Iowa State player to watch: The Cyclones have played well offensively in recent weeks and a big reason why has been the running of sophomore tailback Stevie Hicks. He had a career-high 156 yards against Kansas State last week and now has 854 yards and three touchdowns this season.
The inside scoop: All that stands between Iowa State and the Big 12 North title is Missouri and a victory would land the surprising Cyclones in the conference championship game against Oklahoma. ISU has come on strong after a slow start, winning four straight games. Several young players on offense, including freshman quarterback Bret Meyer, have gotten better each week, while the defense has played well all season. The Tigers, meanwhile, might be the nation's biggest disappointment. They started the season ranked among the top 20 teams in the country but are now assured of a losing season, having dropped five straight games. Will Missouri have what it takes to come up with a great effort?
Missouri will win if ... it doesn't give up big plays through the air and Smith has a huge game.
Iowa State will win if it enjoys balance on offense and wins the turnover battle.
Notes: Missouri leads the series 54-33-9 and won last season, 45-7 The Cyclones are plus-11 in turnover margin during their current four-game win streak The Tigers haven't lost six straight games since 1995.
The pick: I haven't picked the Cyclones during their winning streak, so I'm not about to jinx them now. Iowa State 26, Missouri 27
Oklahoma State (7-3, 4-3) at Texas Tech (6-4, 4-3)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m., CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Texas Tech -5.5
Oklahoma State player to watch: Quarterback Donovan Woods is having an impressive freshman campaign in Stillwater. He's passed for 1,431 yards and 13 touchdowns and added 365 yards and 10 scores on the ground. He'll have to lead his offense to some points to win against the high-scoring Red Raiders.
Texas Tech player to watch: Sophomore receiver Jarrett Hicks has flourished this season in the Raiders' prolific passing attack. He's caught 62 passes for 1,012 yards and nine touchdowns, and his 101 receiving yards per game ranks seventh in the nation.
The inside scoop: Bowl position will be on the line when the Cowboys and the Red Raiders hook up Saturday in Lubbock in what should be a high-scoring affair. OSU leads the conference in scoring at 36.5 points per game, while Texas Tech ranks third with nearly 36 points per contest. How the teams score those points, however, is generally different. The Raiders do most of their damage through the air, while the Cowboys feature the running game. Turnovers could play a critical role in the outcome. OSU has committed just seven turnovers all season, while Tech has turned it over 21 times, including 17 interceptions by senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie.
Oklahoma State will win if ... it rushes for at least 250 yards and forces Texas Tech into turnovers.
Texas Tech will win if it takes care of the ball and slows the OSU ground game.
Notes: Texas Tech leads the series 18-10-3, but Oklahoma State won a shootout last season, 51-49 The Cowboys have scored 34 touchdowns in 43 red-zone trips The Red Raiders' Taurean Henderson needs just 40 receiving yards to become the first player in Big 12 history with 2,000 career rushing yards and 1,500 career receiving yards.
The pick: Oklahoma State 37, Texas Tech 30