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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Today’s Big 12 games encapsulated

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No. 20 Oklahoma State (6-1) at Kansas State (5-2), 11 a.m.

Line: Oklahoma State by 4.

Fun facts: Oklahoma State leads the all-time series, 33-22. The Cowboys won the last meeting, 41-39 in 2007, in Stillwater, Okla.

Player to watch: Oklahoma State receiver Josh Cooper. The junior could see more passes thrown his way than normal with the suspension of star receiver Justin Blackmon (arrested for DUI complaint early Tuesday morning). Cooper, a junior from Mustang, Okla., is OSU's second-leading receiver with 36 catches for 400 yards and a touchdown. He could be a favorite target of quarterback Brandon Weeden today.

Key matchup: Kansas State pass offense vs. Oklahoma State pass defense. In the Big 12, only Nebraska has a worse passing offense than Kansas State, which only averages 180 yards through the air per game. If there’s any game to feast in the air, it’s against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are a horrid 115th in the country (286 passing yards surrendered per game) against the pass. Now paging Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman: Can you show up?

No. 7 Missouri (7-0) at No. 14 Nebraska (6-1), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Nebraska by 71⁄2.

Fun facts: Nebraska leads the all-time series, 64-36-3. The road team (Nebraska last year, Missouri in 2008) has won the last two matchups. The Tigers and Cornhuskers have combined to represent the North in the past four Big 12 Championships (Nebraska last year and 2006, Missouri in 2007, 2008).

Player to watch: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. In three Big 12 games this season, the junior has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions. The Tigers have only hit the road once this season, but Gabbert thrived at Texas A&M, throwing for 361 yards and three scores. His biggest test of 2010 will come today against Nebraska, which is No. 3 in the country in pass defense (140 yards given up per game).

Key matchup: Nebraska rushing offense vs. Missouri rushing defense. In Nebraska’s one loss this year, Texas held the Huskers to only 125 rushing yards. NU averages 290 rushing yards per game, the best mark in the Big 12 and fifth in the country. If Missouri, which holds opponents to 115 rushing yards per game, can keep the Huskers anywhere from their average to 150 rushing yards, the Tigers will have a chance at disappointing a ton of fans in Lincoln.

Texas Tech (4-3) at Texas A&M (4-3), 2:30 p.m.

Line: Texas A&M by 7.

Fun facts: Texas A&M leads the all-time series, 35-32-1. The road team has won six of the past seven battles. A&M won last year’s game, 52-30, in Lubbock, Texas.

Player to watch: The Aggies’ quarterback...whomever that may be. Senior Jerrod Johnson and junior Ryan Tannehill both took snaps in A&M’s 45-10 cakewalk over Kansas. Johnson was 12-of-20 for 139 yards, while Tannehill was 12-of-16 for 155 yards and three touchdowns. Tannehill may have the edge.

Key matchup: Texas A&M quarterbacks vs. Texas Tech secondary. First-year Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, with his SEC background at Auburn, was supposed to bring more of a defensive mentality to the Red Raiders. It hasn’t happened yet. Tech is giving up 30 points per game and is second-to-last in the country in giving up 298 passing yards per week. A&M should find some weaknesses in the TTU secondary.

No. 25 Baylor (6-2) at Texas (4-3), 6 p.m.

Line: Texas by 71⁄2.

Fun facts: Texas leads the all-time series, 73-22-4. UT has won 13 of its 14 meetings against BU in the Big 12 era. The Longhorns own a 12-game winning streak in the series. Baylor has scored at least 30 points in seven of its eight games this season.

Player to watch: Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin. Should Baylor end its losing streak against Texas, Griffin will be the primary reason. Last week against K-State, Griffin passed for 404 yards and running back Jay Finley rushed for 250 yards. If the Bears come even close to matching that balance, they’ll have a chance at the upset.

Key matchup: Texas red zone offense vs. Baylor red zone defense. If UT gets scoring opportunities, it must come away with points, something the Longhorns didn’t do last week against Iowa State. In its first four red zone trips, UT came away with only six points with a missed field goal and an interception.

Colorado (3-4) at No. 11 Oklahoma (6-1), 8:15 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma by 24.

Fun facts: Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 39-16-2. The last time the two teams met, Colorado stunned then-No. 10 Oklahoma, 27-24 in 2007, in Boulder, Colo. The Buffaloes have lost their past 14 road games.

Player to watch: Oklahoma running back Roy Finch. The true freshman carried nine times for 57 yards (6.6 yards per carry) in OU’s loss at Missouri last week. He didn’t play in the first five games, but received his first look two weeks ago against Iowa State, rushing for 92 yards on 16 carries. Should the Sooners jump to a big lead, the 5-foot-8 speedster from Niceville, Fla., could continue to receive looks from coach Bob Stoops. Senior back DeMarco Murray remains the starter, but Finch has cut into Murray’s carries.

Key matchup: Colorado passing offense vs. Oklahoma passing defense. Teams have thrown the ball successfully on Oklahoma this season. The Sooners are 91st in the country in passing defense with 239 yards per game given up through the air. Will the Buffaloes be able to pass today? CU’s starting quarterback, Tyler Hansen, will miss the remainder of the season due to a ruptured spleen. Senior Cody Hawkins will take over. He’s made appearances in two games, going 38-for-68 for 407 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. How will he fare in a hostile Norman environment, where the Sooners shut out their previous opponent (52-0 against Iowa State) and hold a 34-game home winning streak?

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