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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today’s Big 12 capsules

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No. 20 Oklahoma (5-3, 3-1 Big 12) at Nebraska (5-3, 2-2), 7 p.m

Line: Oklahoma by 6.

Series Record: Oklahoma leads 44-37-3.

Last meeting: 2008, Oklahoma 62-28.

What’s at Stake

Surprisingly little considering the history of this series. With the Big 12 South title almost out of reach, Oklahoma is playing for the best possible bowl, likely the Cotton. Nebraska is in the thick of the North race but the margin for error is closing.

Key Matchup

Oklahoma’s defensive front seven vs. Nebraska running game. If the Huskers can’t run, they probably can’t win. With Roy Helu Jr. banged up, Nebraska has not had a consistent threat in Big 12 play. Look for freshman QB Cody Green to call his own number early and often against an Oklahoma defense that ranks No. 3 nationally against the run.

Players to Watch

Oklahoma: DE Jeremy Beal and DT Gerald McCoy will merit special attention from Nebraska’s offensive line. Beal has 8.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, and McCoy has 12 stops behind the line. The duo could make it a long night for the Huskers.

Nebraska: Freshman QB Cody Green is making his second start, and he’ll be doing it in a game that could swing the season. Offensive coordinator Shawn Watson kept things simple for Green last week against Baylor. Now Green faces one of the most athletic defenses in the country.

Facts & Figures

Oklahoma has won four straight in the series. ... OU’s Ryan Broyles leads the nation with 10 touchdown catches. ... OU’s Landry Jones completed his last 14 passes against Kansas State last week and finished with 294 yards and four TDs. ... Nebraska’s offense has three touchdowns in the last three games. ... Huskers DT Jared Crick is coming off a 13-tackle, five-sack outing against Baylor.

No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (5-4, 2-3), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma State by 71⁄2

Series Record: Oklahoma State leads 24-17-3

Last meeting: Oklahoma State 59-17 (2008).

What’s at Stake

Oklahoma State needs to bounce back from a 41-14 loss to No. 2 Texas with a solid effort against a revived Iowa State team. A win over the Cowboys would make the Cyclones bowl-eligible for the first time since 2005 and give first-year coach Paul Rhoads a signature win.

Key Matchup

Oklahoma State’s passing game vs. Iowa State’s secondary. Cowboys QB Zac Robinson is the Big 12’s highest-rated passer and the Cyclones rank 94th nationally in pass defense. If Iowa State can’t contain Oklahoma State’s air attack, this game could be over in a hurry.

Players to Watch

Oklahoma State: RB Kendall Hunter. Oklahoma State’s star running back has been hobbled all season, but coach Mike Gundy said the Cowboys are hoping to get him some playing time. Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards and 16 TDs last season.

Iowa State: QB Austen Arnaud. After missing two weeks with a bruised throwing hand, Arnaud will be back this week. His return couldn’t come soon enough for the Cyclones, who averaged just 9.5 points a game in his absence.

Facts and Figures

Oklahoma State is 16-6 in its last 22 games, and five of those losses came against teams ranked in the top 15. ... Iowa State is averaging over 200 yards rushing a game through nine games for the first time since 1999. ... Don’t expect many sacks in this one. The Cowboys have allowed just four in eight games, best in the nation, while Iowa State ranks eighth with six in nine games.

Central Florida (5-3, 3-2 Conference USA) vs. No. 2 Texas (8-0, 5-0 Big 12), 11 a.m.

Line: Texas by 36.

Series Record: Texas leads 1-0.

Last meeting: 2007, Texas 35-32.

What’s at Stake

It’s all about the BCS and poll position, and the Longhorns don’t want to look sloppy after two dominant road wins. This game was supposed to be played in mid-September and Central Florida was supposed to be a tuneup for Big 12 play. The game got moved so Texas could play Texas Tech on national TV.

Key Matchup

Texas S Earl Thomas vs. Central Florida QB Brett Hodges. Thomas is on a tear with a team-high six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. Hodges has thrown seven picks to go with his 10 touchdowns and is completing less than 60 percent of his passes.

Players to Watch

Texas: QB Colt McCoy. Seems obvious, but McCoy has done well since his rough outing against Oklahoma. He’s got one month to keep it going to remain a Heisman favorite and will be up against a Central Florida defense that sacked Miami’s Jacory Harris six times.

Central Florida: RB Brynn Harvey. UCF’s leading rusher ran for 212 yards against Memphis but will butt heads Saturday with the nation’s top-ranked rush defense. The Longhorns have allowed just two rushing TDs all season.

Facts & Figures

Texas has scored nine non-offensive touchdowns this season with six on kick returns or blocks and three interception returns. ... McCoy is 40-7 as a starter, with a 21-3 mark at home. ... Central Florida practices with jet noise to simulate the sound of playing in front of large crowds. Texas has had more than 101,000 fans at each of its four previous home games this season.

Baylor (3-5, 0-4) at Missouri (5-3, 1-3), 1 p.m.

Line: Missouri by 17.

Series Record: Missouri leads 10-2.

Last meeting: 2008, Missouri won 31-28.

What’s at Stake

Missouri trying to climb back into contention in Big 12 North after first 0-3 conference start since 2002, coming off easy 36-17 victory at Colorado. Defense forced four turnovers and had eight sacks, three by redshirt freshman DE Aldon Smith. Baylor has scuffled since losing QB Robert Griffin (knee) for season in late September, and has lost four in a row. Bears averaging only 8.5 points in conference play and hasn’t scored a TD in first half last three games.

Key Matchup

Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert vs. Baylor defense. Sophomore Gabbert was hobbled by high right ankle sprain in all three losses, two of them at home, but appeared much more nimble last week and was rarely hit by Colorado defense. Baylor had slow start overall last week, trailing 20-0 at half, but held Nebraska to 11 first downs for best showing since 2004.

Players to Watch

Baylor: WR Kendall Wright has 20-game reception streak, with at least four catches in six straight games. LB Joe Pawelek will start 42nd straight game and has 388 career tackles, most among active players.

Missouri: LB Sean Weatherspoon is 59 tackles away from school career record of 434 set by James Kinney from 2001-04. ... WR Danario Alexander has 58 receptions for 824 yards and 7 TDs, including 2 TDs last week. ... Smith has eight sacks, three off the school record.

Texas A&M; (5-3, 2-2 Big 12) at Colorado (2-6, 1-3), 11:30 a.m.

Line: Texas A&M; by 31⁄2.

Series Record: Colorado leads 5-3.

Last meeting: 2008, Texas A&M; 24-17.

What’s at Stake

Colorado’s season went from bad to worse this week when sophomore RB Darrell Scott decided to leave the program. Scott was the crown jewel recruit for coach Dan Hawkins, who is 15-30 in his fourth season and piling up more votes of confidence than wins. The Buffs need to win out to become bowl eligible in a season where Hawkins had talked about 10 victories. The Aggies’ confidence is soaring as they have hit their stride under coach Mike Sherman with back-to-back big wins over Texas Tech and Iowa State.

Key Matchup

Colorado QB Tyler Hansen vs. Texas A&M;’s Garrick Williams, who has 55 tackles, 34 of them solo, and Von Miller, who has 131⁄2 sacks. Against the Aggies last year, Hansen set a school record for most single-season rushing yards by a true freshman QB with 216. And the Aggies have struggled defensively this season, allowing 400 yards and 30 points per game.

Players to Watch

Texas A&M;: Miller, who ranks No. 1 in the nation with 131⁄2 sacks, and RB Cyrus Gray, who has consecutive 100-yard rushing games, giving him 567 yards and five TD runs. He is a dynamic addition to an offense that ranks third in the nation in total offense at 490.5 yards per game while averaging more than 35 points.

Colorado: RB Rodney Stewart, the Buffs’ short and speedy tailback who’s stunning emergence played a role in Scott not getting as many snaps as he would have liked.

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