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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Today’s Big 12 games at a glance

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Tulsa (2-0) at No. 12 Oklahoma (1-1), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma by 17

Series Record: Oklahoma leads, 15-7-1

Last Meeting: 2007, Oklahoma 62-21

What’s at Stake

Oklahoma can prove it has bounced back from a season-opening loss against BYU as it faces stiff competition from the Tulsa offense that led the nation in total yardage the past two seasons. The Sooners also have a shot at setting a school record with a 26th straight home victory, while Tulsa can vault itself into position as a potential BCS buster with a win.

Key Matchup

Tulsa WR Damaris Johnson vs. Oklahoma’s defense/special teams. The 5-foot-8 receiver is not Tulsa’s go-to guy in the passing game, but on kickoffs and punts. He’s also second on the team in rushing. Stop the speedy Johnson, who had a punt return TD against Tulane, and the Sooners go a long way toward slowing Tulsa.

Players to Watch

Tulsa: LB Mike Bryan. Emotions could run high as Bryan returns to the site where his late father, former Oklahoma defensive lineman Ricky Bryan, was a college star. He’s also the leading tackler for the Golden Hurricane and has an interception.

Oklahoma: WR Ryan Broyles. The only experienced receiver for the Sooners set career-highs with seven catches, 155 yards and three touchdowns last week against Idaho State.

No. 19 Nebraska (2-0) at No. 13 Virginia Tech (1-1), 2:36 p.m.

Line: Virginia Tech by 41⁄2.

Series Record: Tied 1-1.

Last Meeting: 2008, Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30

What’s at Stake

The Huskers desperately need a road win over a ranked opponent for credibility’s sake. Virginia Tech’s national title hopes might have died with its season-opening loss to Alabama. If the Hokies don’t win here, the only way they get to a BCS game is by winning the ACC.

Key Matchup

Virginia Tech QB Tyrod Taylor vs. Nebraska’s defense. Everyone knows Taylor can hurt you with his legs. Nebraska found out last year that he can hurt you with the pass, too. If the Huskers’ young linebackers aren’t up to the task, it could be a long night.

Players to Watch

Virginia Tech: RBs Ryan Williams and David Wilson combined for 329 yards and 4 TDs last week against Marshall. But the yards won’t come as easily against Nebraska.

Nebraska: QB Zac Lee. It’s the first road start for Lee, and it comes at one of the most hostile venues for visiting teams. Lee has been fantastic through two games, but those were against Sun Belt Conference teams.

Connecticut (1-1) at Baylor (1-0), 4 p.m.

Line: Baylor by 10.

Series Record: Connecticut leads 1-0.

Last Meeting: 2008, Connecticut 31-28.

What’s at Stake

Baylor, which defeated Wake Forest in its opener, eyes its first 2-0 start since 2005. Connecticut looks to rebound from a bizarre loss last weekend. Huskies T Dan Ryan was flagged for holding in the end zone with 1:32 left, giving No. 24 North Carolina a 12-10 victory.

Key Matchup

Baylor QB Robert Griffin vs. Connecticut DE Lindsey Witten. Griffin, who had 177 total yards in the Bears’ 24-21 victory over Wake Forest, passed for 2,091 yards and rushed for 843 as a freshman in 2008. Witten has been a handful for opposing quarterbacks. The senior leads the nation with seven sacks, including four against North Carolina.

Players to Watch

Connecticut: RB Jordan Todman has rushed for 223 yards and two scores. The Huskies may need more from their running game since QB Cody Endres will make his first start of the season in place of Zach Frazer, who is out two weeks with a knee injury.

Baylor: LB Joe Pawelek will start his 35th straight game Saturday. The senior had seven tackles, a sack and his ninth career interception in the opener.

Rice (0-2) at No. 16 Oklahoma State (1-1), 6 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma State by 321⁄2

Series Record: Oklahoma State leads, 2-0-1

Last Meeting: 1923, Oklahoma State, 13-0

What’s at Stake

Oklahoma State tries to bounce back from a deflating upset loss against Houston as Conference USA’s other team from the city rolls into town. After a strong opener, OSU’s defense gave up 512 yards to Houston and will face another spread offense this week. Rice is seeking to avoid an 0-3 start, all on the road.

Key Matchup

Cowboys QB Zac Robinson vs. the Rice defense. The Owls bring in the worst pass defense in the country after facing Texas Tech last week, but Robinson hasn’t started the season up to his standards. All three of OSU’s turnovers last week could be blamed on Robinson, who fumbled a snap, threw an interception and botched a handoff.

Players to Watch

Rice: FS Andrew Sendejo. One of only two senior starters on the Owls’ defense, Sendejo is the NCAA’s career leader with 187 solo tackles.

Oklahoma State: RBs Keith Toston and Beau Johnson. The duo combined for 148 yards and two touchdowns last week after starter Kendall Hunter left with a sprained ankle. Coach Mike Gundy has said it’s “doubtful” Hunter will play against Rice.

Furman (2-0) at Missouri (2-0), 1 p.m.

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

Missouri looks to bounce back after a sluggish 27-20 win over Bowling Green in a home opener that saw the Tigers trailing 20-6 late in the third quarter. The uneven performance knocked Missouri out of the Top 25 after cracking the poll just one week earlier. Junior tailback Derrick Washington had 120 yards rushing on a career-high 23 carries.

Furman hopes to become the first Football Championship Subdivision team to defeat Missouri. The Tigers are 8-0 against teams from former Division I-AA dating to 1992. The Paladins defeated Southern Conference rival Chattanooga 38-20 last week.

Key Matchup

Furman offense vs. Missouri’s “Scorpion” defensive scheme. The Paladins lead the FCS in third-down conversions at 72.7 percent. New Missouri defensive coordinator Dave Steckel employs the Scorpion scheme by replacing a starting defensive tackle with talented redshirt freshman defensive end Aldon Smith to bring more pressure on the quarterback in passing situations.

Players to Watch

Furman: RB Tersoo Uhaa (pronounced oo-HA’) rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns last week and another 96 yards in a season-opening defeat of Presbyterian. Senior QB Jordan Sorrells has thrown for more than 400 yards and four scores. Receiver Adam Mims leads the team with nine catches.

Missouri: Senior LB Sean Weatherspoon is living up to the preseason hype. The prospective All-American, who led the Big 12 in tackles last season and finished fifth in the country, again leads the conference after two games. He racked up 14 tackles against Bowling Green.

Texas Tech (2-0) at No. 2 Texas (2-0), 7 p.m.

Line: Texas by 171⁄2

Series Record: Texas leads 43-15.

Last Meeting: 2008, Texas Tech 39, Texas 33

What’s at Stake

For Texas, it’s all about revenge. Last season’s loss essentially knocked Texas out the national title chase. For Texas Tech, a win would be another stick in the eye of the Longhorns and make them front-runners in the Big 12 South. It would also surely get them ranked in the Top 25.

Key Matchup

Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts vs. Texas safeties Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas. Potts, a junior, is the latest gunslinger for Tech and leads FBS quarterbacks with 861 yards and nine TDs already in just two games. Gideon dropped what could have been a game-winning INT against Tech last season and Thomas got beat on Tech’s winning touchdown.

Players to Watch

Texas: LB Sergio Kindle. Texas’ best pass rusher doesn’t have a sack yet and could be used more as a linebacker this week as tackling in the open field is key to stopping Red Raiders.

Texas Tech: Potts. Everyone expects Tech QBs to put up big numbers and Potts will be on the big stage for the first time. There will 101,000 fans and a national TV audience watching to see what he’s got.

Facts & Figures

Earliest Big 12 game for Texas since 1998 and the earliest Texas and Texas Tech have played each other since 1955. Game was moved from Nov. 7 to fit a prime-time television slot ... Potts threw seven TD passes last week against Rice, one shy of a school record ... Last week against Wyoming, Texas special teams had a punt blocked and failed to convert a fake punt and a fake field goal.

Utah State (0-1) at Texas A&M; (1-0), 6 p.m.

Line: Texas A&M; by 19

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

Texas A&M; is heavily favored again after a 41-6 win against overmatched New Mexico in the season opener. A&M; has won 57 of its last 63 games against non-conference opponents at Kyle Field and is 12-0 overall against the Western Athletic Conference. Utah State is trying to snap a nine-game losing streak against the Big 12 and has lost 12 of its last 13 games in September.

Key Matchup

Texas A&M; QB Jerrod Johnson vs. Utah State’s secondary. Johnson threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns against New Mexico and completed passes to 10 different receivers. Utah State plays man-to-man defense, and A&M;’s 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver Jeff Fuller is eager to test the Aggies’ much shorter cornerbacks. Utah State allowed 286 passing yards against Utah.

Players to Watch

Utah State: Senior S James Brindley picked off his seventh career pass in the opener and has 206 career interception return yards, second-most in school history. He also made 14 tackles, one shy of his career high.

Texas A&M;: Fuller caught 10 passes for 111 yards in the opener, both career bests. He led the Aggies with nine TD catches in 2008 and grabbed another one against New Mexico.

Wyoming (1-1) at Colorado (0-2), 2:40 p.m.

Line: Colorado by 7.

Series Record: Colorado leads the series, 23-2-1.

Last Meeting: Sept. 27, 1997, Colorado, 20-19.

What’s at Stake

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins set the bar at 10 wins. But after opening the year with losses to Colorado State and Toledo, that goal looks way too rosy. The Cowboys are heading out on the road for the first time this season and face another Big 12 foe. Wyoming was wiped out by No. 2 Texas last week after leading 10-6 in the first half.

Key Matchup

Colorado RB Darrell Scott vs. Wyoming DL John Fletcher. Scott, a prized recruit who hasn’t yet turned into a dominate player, had 85 yards on 12 carries in the loss at Toledo. Fletcher is the anchor of the Cowboys line. He has two sacks this season, both in the opener against Weber State.

Players to Watch

Wyoming: Junior FS Chris Prosinski had a career high 17 tackles against Texas last week and a pair of sophomores — LB Brian Hendricks and CB Marcell Gipson — added 14 and 12 tackles, respectively. LB Weston Johnson tied a career high with 11 tackles.

Colorado: Junior QB Cody Hawkins was knocked woozy after a helmet-to-helmet hit near the end zone against Toledo. But he’s expected to start again. The Buffaloes are trying to avoid stripping speedy QB Tyler Hansen of his redshirt year.

Kansas State (1-1) at UCLA (2-0), 9:15 p.m.

Line: UCLA by 121⁄2

Series Record: First meeting.

What’s at Stake

After finishing 4-8 last season in head coach Rick Neuheisel’s first season, UCLA is off to a 2-0 start with one week before they start Pac-10 play. Kansas State is in desperate need of a win after being upset a week ago at Louisiana-Lafayette with the Big 12 slate just around the corner.

Key Matchup

Kansas State RB Daniel Thomas vs. UCLA’s linebackers. Thomas is averaging 120 rushing yards per game on a team whose leading rusher a year ago, converted wide receiver Lamark Brown, ran for just 412 yards on the year. The Bruins’ linebacking corps returns only one starter, but has plenty of experience. Senior Reggie Carter topped the Bruins with 83 tackles last season.

Players to Watch

Kansas State: RB Daniel Thomas. Thomas, a junior-college transfer, showed his ability as a multifaceted player last week when head coach Bill Snyder unveiled the “Wildcat” offense against the Ragin’ Cajuns. He ran for 136 yards and a touchdown and threw for another score in the loss.

UCLA: FS Rahim Moore. A sophomore, Moore has started every game in his collegiate career and currently leads the nation with five interceptions through two games. He will look to make an impact against a K-State team that has struggled through the air, averaging just 181.5 yards passing.

Iowa State (1-1) at Kent State (1-1), 6 p.m.

Line: Iowa State by 3.

Series Record: Seventh meeting. Iowa State won 48-28 in 2008.

What’s at Stake

Is this the end of the road woes for Iowa State? The Cyclones have lost 17 straight road games dating to the 2005 season. Feeling confident after a season-opening win over North Dakota State that snapped a 10-game losing streak, Iowa State was rocked 35-3 by in-state rival Iowa last week. A win over a Mid-American Conference school — the Cyclones have beaten the Golden Flashes the past two years — won’t do much to enhance ISU’s national image, but a loss would be worse.

Key Matchup

Kent State’s running game vs. Iowa State’s defense. The Golden Flashes took two major hits this week. Fifth-year senior running back Eugene Jarvis was lost for the season with a kidney injury and sophomore quarterback Giorgio Morgan will sit out with a sprained left ankle. Coach Doug Martin said the school with petition the NCAA for a sixth season of eligibility for Jarvis, who ran for nearly 1,700 yards as a sophomore.

Players to Watch

Iowa State: QB Austen Arnaud was benched midway through the third quarter of last week’s loss to Iowa after throwing four interceptions. Arnaud, who was 10 of 22 for just 79 yards, didn’t lose his starting job but he’s on shaky ground after his meltdown against the Hawkeyes.

Kent State: LB Cobrani Mixon, who broke his foot last season, has been all over the field. He leads the Golden Flashes with 20 tackles — 14 of them solo stops — and he’s tied for the team lead with three pass break-ups.

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