Thursday, October 14, 2010

Saturday’s Big 12 football games encapsulated


No. 24 Missouri (5-0) at Texas A&M; (3-2), 11 a.m.

Line: Texas A&M; by 31⁄2

Fun facts: A&M; leads the all-time series, 7-2. Missouri won the last matchup, 40-26, in 2007 in Columbia, Mo.

Player to watch: Texas A&M; quarterback Jerrod Johnson. The senior has tossed nine interceptions in his last three games. The Aggies have turned the ball over 18 times this season, the second-worst mark in the country.

Key matchup: Johnson vs. Missouri defense. The Tigers will enter Saturday’s game ranked No. 3 in the country in scoring defense, surrendering only 11.20 points per game. Missouri is 12th in the country with 14 turnovers created. If MU can force Johnson into more bad decisions, it will have a solid chance at a road win.

Texas (3-2) at No. 5 Nebraska (5-0), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Nebraska by 91⁄2

Fun facts: Texas leads the all-time series, 9-4. The two teams met last December in the Big 12 Championship, with Texas prevailing on a (literally) last-second field goal, 13-12, to advance to the BCS Championship. Nebraska cited UT’s mighty athletic budget as a primary reason it left to join the Big Ten. Furthermore, Nebraska made a video for this game before the season even started with the catch phrase, “Wear Red. Be loud. Beat Texas.”

Player to watch: Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez. The red-shirt freshman has run wild on several slower and smaller defenses this season. The Corona, Calif., native averages a first down (10.84 yards, tops in country) every time he registers a rushing attempt. But will Martinez find holes against a UT defense that will be the fastest the Cornhuskers has seen all year?

Key matchup: Martinez vs. UT defense. For Texas to win, the Longhorns must limit the Nebraska ground game, which ranks second in the country with 337.60 yards per game. Martinez accounts for roughly 43 percent of those yards (147 per game).

No. 22 Oklahoma State (5-0) at Texas Tech (3-2), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Texas Tech by 31⁄2

Fun facts: Texas Tech leads the all-time series, 21-13-3. The home team has won the previous eight times.

Player to watch: Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. In a game that has shootout written all over it, Blackmon figures to see his share of looks. The sophomore leads the country in receptions per game (9.40), receiving yards per game (149.60) and touchdown catches (11). Texas Tech’s pass defense surrenders 279 yards per game through the air. Feast time for Blackmon.

Key matchup: Will the OSU or TTU pass defense step up? As bad as Tech’s pass defense is (114th out of 120 Div. I teams), only one Big 12 team is statistically worse: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have been lit up for 290 yards per game through the air (118th in country). Idea for Saturday: First to 100 wins.

Iowa State (3-3) at No. 6 Oklahoma (5-0), 6 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma by 24

Fun facts: Oklahoma leads/dominates the all-time series, 67-5-2. The Sooners have won their past 33 games in Norman, a program record. It’s also the best current streak in the country.

Player to watch: Oklahoma receiver Kenny Stills. The true freshman caught his first touchdown of the season two weeks ago against Texas. He’s caught 13 passes in his last three games, and is emerging as Landry Jones’ second option behind Ryan Broyles. As the season gets deeper, Stills figures to mature and see more opportunities in the red zone.

Key matchup: OU running back DeMarco Murray vs. ISU rush defense. The Cyclones give up 201 yards per game on the ground, second-worst in the Big 12. It’s tough to completely shut down OU’s passing attack, but if the Sooners mix an effective Murray with Jones through the air, Iowa State won’t have much of a chance at the upset.

Baylor (4-2) at Colorado (3-2), 6 p.m.

Line: Baylor by 1

Fun facts: Colorado leads the all-time series, 9-6. The Buffaloes won the last matchup, 43-23, in 2007 in Waco, Texas.

Player to watch: Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen. The junior struggled last week against Missouri (15-of-21, 117 yards, three sacks) and was pulled in favor of Cody Hawkins (16-of-25, 133 yards, INT, sack). Coach Dan Hawkins insisted Hansen was still his guy and named him the starter for Saturday’s game against Baylor. Monitor the situation, though, because Hansen probably doesn’t have as long a leash as he once had.

Key matchup: Colorado offense vs. Baylor defense. Pretty broad matchup, yes. But the Buffaloes failed to score any points in last week’s 26-0 disappointment at Missouri. Baylor’s defense didn’t show much in last week’s 45-38 loss to Texas Tech in Dallas. It seems Colorado would have chances to score on Saturday. If not, the Buffaloes are in trouble.


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