It's November and that means it's time to start trying to sort out who will be going where for the bowl season.
For the Big 12 (and really the entire country), everything hinges on what happens with Kansas State and the other three teams that remain undefeated. All four teams in contention still have sizeable challenges ahead and how the final weeks play out is obviously going to have a huge impact on where everyone else ends up.
Predicting the future is never easy, but for now, here's a best guess at how things will shake out as we sit here on Nombembe 6th.
As the final month of the season winds down, these projections will be updated every Tuesday as teams play themselves up and down the bowl selection pecking order.
BCS National Championship: #1 Alabama vs. #2 Kansas State
It's anybody's guess as to what happens down the stretch, but given we're a bit biased towards the Big 12 around here, let's go on the assumption Kansas State runs the table and holds onto the number two ranking in the BCS. If that doesn't happen, however, that's going to have a huge effect on every bowl game below it, with KSU then likely headed to the Fiesta and OU possibly to the Sugar Bowl as an at large selection.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma vs. Florida
With Alabama and Kansas State playing for the title, the Sugar Bowl would get the first section to replace top ranked Alabama. Assuming they would take an undefeated Notre Dame team, that leaves the Fiesta Bowl with the next selection and the Irish off the table. Let's assume Oklahoma is the choice here with the Fiesta Bowl staying in the Big 12 to replace champion, Kansas State.
Once the Sugar and Fiesta have selected their replacement teams, the order of selection this year then goes Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange (the Rose would still pit the B1G champion vs. Pac -12 champ, in this case Oregon and possibly Nebraska).
With the Fiesta then having back-to-back picks, Florida would seem to be the next logical choice to be OU's opponent. That might not make the Sugar Bowl happy since they'd losing a team from SEC country, but that's the price to pay for if they would indeed select Notre Dame first. If they selected Florida (or another SEC team) over the Irish, however, would the Fiesta then choose a rematch between Oklahoma and Notre Dame from earlier this season?
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Texas vs. South Carolina
The race for third place in the Big 12 is still wide open, but given the fact that Texas has already beaten Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Longhorns are the most logical choice to stay close to home and play in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium. Assuming Georgia and LSU go to the Capital One and Outback Bowls, that would leave South Carolina as their opponent from the SEC.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
Here is where the guessing really begins. Four teams are currently in contention (OSU, TT, WVU, and TCU) for the Big 12's next selection. The outcome of Oklahoma State's games with both West Virginia and Texas Tech are going to have a huge impact on who goes where, but for now, let's give the slight advantage to the Cowboys edging out the other three.
As for the Pac-12, that is still wide open as well, but Stanford looks like a solid choice for the Pac-12's number two slot, although Oregon State, USC, and UCLA could also land here.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Northwestern
Since Texas Tech has already beaten West Virginia and considering the Mountaineers still have to play Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, the Red Raiders could very well be up next.
Whoever fills the Big Ten's side of the equation will be moving up a few rungs in the selection process since both Ohio State and Penn State are not eligible for the postseason. Northwestern's looks like a solid bet for that selection right now with Nebraska, Michigan, and Wisconsin likely already off the board.
Bridgepoint Holiday Bowl: West Virginia vs. USC
Who would have thought earlier in the season these two teams would be available at this point in the selection process? Obviously a lot can happen between now and then, but you would have to think the Holiday Bowl would be thrilled if this matchup became reality.
Meineke Car Care Bowl: Iowa State - Minnesota
That leaves two open bowl spots with two likely bowl eligible teams to fill them. TCU has already reached the necessary six wins and Iowa State can do so with a win over Kansas in two weeks.
Given the fact that Iowa State played in the Pinstripe Bowl last season and since they've already beaten TCU head-to head, let's assume the Car Care Bowl selects the Cyclones although with TCU's proximity to Houston, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Horned Frogs be selected here, either.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl: TCU vs. Big East #4 (or at large selection)
If Iowa State does indeed go to the Car Care Bowl, TCU figures to be the remaining bowl eligible team from the Big 12.
Since it's unlikely the Big East will have four teams with six wins (Syracuse would have to win two of three against Louisville, Missouri, and Temple), the Pinstripe Bowl would have to select an eligible team from another conference that has yet to find a home. That team could come from the Pac-12 depending on who remains between Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah, most likely.
Home for the Holidays: Baylor and Kansas.
Baylor still has an outside chance to get to six wins. The Bears are currently 4-4 although they would have to win two of four against OU, Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, not an easy chore given what we've seen from their defense so far this season.
1. (-) Kansas State (9-0): Kansas State is another step closer to an undefeated season after holding off Oklahoma State Saturday night. The Wildcats now hit the road for the next two weeks although the status of Collin Klein is the biggest lingering question surrounding the team. With him, you have to like their chances to run the table. Without him, all bets are off. Up next: @ TCU.
2. (-) Oklahoma (6-2): The Sooners picked up a solid road win at Iowa State coming off their loss to Notre Dame. Oklahoma's running game returned after gaining only 15 yards against the Irish. Brennan Clay was the featured back picking up 157 yards while OU's defense held ISU to under 300 yards. The win allowed Oklahoma to stay right on K-State's heels, although they're still in need of help to capture the Big 12 title. Up next: Baylor.
3. (↑2) Texas (7-2): It's splitting hairs for the third, fourth, and fifth spot in the poll, but given the fact that UT has already beaten Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, the Longhorns jump up two spots in this week's rankings. Texas had an impressive showing Saturday in Lubbock which makes it three wins in a row following the destruction in the Cotton Bowl. Don't look now, but the December 1st game with Kansas State is looking more and more interesting by the week. Up next: Iowa State.
4A. (↓1) Oklahoma State (5-3): The Cowboys hung tough with K-State despite losing Wes Lunt to an injury, although Clint Chelf played great in his absence. A repeat of the Big 12 title may now be out of their grasp, but this will still be a dangerous team over the final month of the season. The Cowboys will welcome back on old friend this weekend and they should well up to speed on how to stop their offense. Up next: West Virginia.
4B. (↓1) Texas Tech (6-3): Saturday's matchup with Texas certainly didn't go the way the Red Raiders had hoped. Texas Tech came within a two point conversion of tying it late in the third quarter, but the Tech defense couldn't get the stops when it needed too. They should have a week to recover before a very important game in Stillwater. Up next: Kansas.
6. (↑2) TCU (6-3): The Horned Frogs are officially going bowling after their victory in Morgantown, although I'm guessing Gary Patterson can do without the overtime games, their second in the past three weeks. TCU has a team very capable of giving Kansas State all they can handle this weekend, especially in Fort Worth. Up next: Kansas State.
7. (↓1) West Virginia (5-3): Almost wasn't good enough as the Mountaineers lost for their third straight game, this time to TCU in double overtime. The WVU defense played better, but the offense, surprisingly enough, continues to be plagued with inconsistency. What's the over/under on the number of times Dana Holgorsen gets asked about returning to Stillwater this week? I don't know, but it will be a lot. Up next: @ Oklahoma State.
8. (↓1) Iowa State (5-4): The Cyclones are still looking for win number six after falling to the Sooners on Saturday. They'll now turn their attention towards Texas who they defeated the last time they were in Austin during the 2010 season. Iowa State will need to dial up some kind of running game if they hope to do it again. Up next: @ Texas.
9. (-) Baylor (4-4): The Bears finally picked up their first Big 12 win of the season and did it in rather dominating fashion. Baylor's defense had its best game of the season but they'll need to play even better if they hope to keep it close this weekend. Up next: @ Oklahoma.
10. (-) Kansas (1-8): Another week, another loss for the Jayhawks. Running back James Sims continues to rack up yards for an offense that gets absolutely no help from the quarterback position. They'll need a herculean effort on the road this weekend if they hope to end their Big 12 losing streak which now stands at 18 games. Up next: @ Texas Tech.
West Virginia's defense has received its fair share of criticism over the past several weeks and rightfully so. The Mountaineers had given up an average of 53 points per game in their first four Big 12 games.
Saturday against TCU, the Mountaineer defense was finally able to stop the bleeding for a good portion of the afternoon. They held TCU quarterback, Trevone Boykin, to 12 of 29 passing, gave up just three yards per rush, and came up with three turnovers. They also forced seven three-an-outs.
Had it not been for an inexplicable breakdown in the game's final minutes of regulation when Boykin found Josh Boyce running free and hit him for a 94 yard touchdown pass that sent the game to overtime, it was a much improved effort overall.
"Other than that one play, I was proud of how we played. Created turnovers, got three-and-outs, got pressure, everything that we've been trying to get accomplished over the course of the first seven or eight games. We got better," Dana Holgorsen said in his post game press conference.
The offense however, well, didn't generate quite the same positive remarks from their head coach.
The Mountaineer's offense has sputtered the past two weeks only scoring 14 points in each of the two losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State. While there were certainly issues they tried to get corrected over the bye week, the offensive struggles were overshadowed to an extent because their defense had been so miserable.
That might be changing this week as West Virginia gets ready to head to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State next Saturday.
"The tackled a lot better than we blocked. They whipped upfront. I thought the O-Line played bad. The receivers didn't make many plays. Geno was probably as bad as he's been since he's been here. It falls on me. We'll look at it and figure out what we have to do to get better offensively," Holgorsen said.
"What we've done over the last three weeks it totally unacceptable offensively."
So much for sugarcoating the offensive's performance.
It certainly isn't the unit that wowed everyone against Baylor and Texas, although the defenses they've seen in each of the past three weeks are three of the top four ranked defenses in the Big 12 in terms of total yards allowed.
Baylor and Texas rank eighth and tenth in that category.
Even so, WVU's inability to amount any type of consistency of the past three games is perplexing to say the least. The ground game has been non-existent since the Texas game which hasn't helped.
Stedman Bailey's leg injury hasn't made things any easier, either.
West Virginia converted just six for 22 on third downs (27.3%) Saturday against TCU, although they did convert three of four fourth downs.
But this is West Virginia. This is the team that put 70 points on Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This is Geno Smith who only a month ago was the leading candidate to bring home the Heisman trophy. This is Dana Holgorsen's offense that few have had success in slowing down, ever.
Saturday's 338 yard output was the third lowest since he's been at West Virginia. The 243 yards against Kansas State two weeks ago was the worst and the other was their 291 yard performance in his first game as head coach in a game that lasted only three quarters because of the weather.
Should this have been expected? They struggled to an extent the final three games of the 2011 season prior to the Orange Bowl explosion. Maryland also kept them under control earlier this year.
That's for the coaching staff to figure out although it doesn't appear there are any easy answeres. One week is maybe a fluke, two leaves you scratching your head, and three might be an indication there are bigger underlying problems that aren't easily correctable.
Whatever the cause, there isn't much time left to spend looking for answeres with the season quickly winding down.
West Virginia has just four games left with road tilts at Oklahoma State and Iowa State sandwiched around a visit from Oklahoma. What once looked like a possible Big 12 championship season has quickly turned into one fighting for survival.
Maybe that's a bit dramatic, but another couple losses and a 7-5 record is a real possibiity. Of course, they could also win all four and finish a very respectable 9-3, although given the results of the past three games, that seems about as likely as the Mountaineers chances of getting themselves into this position did back in early October.
It's game day. Your favorite team is set to take the field and you were given free tickets. It seems like the obvious response is to pack the car with all the game day essentials and head to the stadium. The only problem, you also have to work that day. What do you do?
College football fans were asked that same question in this week's Discover Fan Loyalty Poll and an overwhelming 70% said they would do the honorable thing and tell their boss the truth and ask for the day off. Seems logical, no?
The only potential problem with that line of thought is what if the boss says no, then what? Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) that scenario wasn't posed to the fans.
The response was nearly universal across all the conferences, although some fans of the Big East apparently have other ideas. Only 52% said they would ask their boss for the day off, easily the lowest response of any conference. Don't mistake that for the Big East fans having ulterior motives, however.
The Big East had the largest response among any conference of "refuse the tickets, and go to work." Now that's some dedication.
The flip side to that dedication is that the Big East also had the largest response (14%) of "call in sick." Interesting results, indeed.
Maybe the simple answer to the Big East's variation among the other conferences is that they're just the most honest fans of the bunch. Just a thought.
Overall, only five percent of college football fans said they would call in sick. Here's a look at all the results.
So why not just ask the boss to come along? Depending on who your boss is, this could either be a really great idea, or maybe not so much, especially if he's a fan of the rival team.
College football fans were asked that exact question, as well. If your boss was a diehard fan of the rival team, would you invite him/here along?
Nineteen percent responded with a yes vote, leaving us to believe 81% either don't want to sit with a rival fan or they wouldn't want to spend the day with the person signing their paychecks. I'll let you be the judge on that.
College football fans also held onto their belief this week that Alabama is the best football team in the country. The Crimson Tide have held the top spot since the beginning of the season, although that could possibly change this week depending on the result off their showdown in Baton Rouge with LSU which is set of Saturday night. LSU is currently in the seventh position in this week's poll.
Here's a look at how the fans voted for the best team in the country.
Oregon, Kansas State, and Notre Dame all picked up some ground this week after Florida's 17-9 loss to Georgia last weekend. The Bulldogs win over the previously undefeated Gators also moved them back into the poll all the way up to number five.
Florida dropped seven percentage points as a result of the loss but are still holding strong in the top ten.
Turfburner.com is excited to be an official correspondent for the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll throughout the rest of the season.
Discover is the official sponsor of the 2013 BCS National Championship game as well the 2013 Orange Bowl. You can keep up with the latest happenings at Discover by following them on Facebook as well as Twitter.
Discover also announced this week that it is giving its cardmembers access to exclusive fan experiences leading up to the BCS title game and the Discover Orange Bowl. That includes the opportunity purchase lower level tickets to either game which gives them access to not only the game, but the Discover tailgate, game day fan zones and a sneak peek at the Orange Bowl halftime show. Not a bad deal at all, I'd say.
The 15-week Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 800 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online.
Discover launched the Fan Loyalty Poll to give die-hard fans a platform to showcase their dedication and love for their favorite college football team leading up to the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. Each week the poll will offer new questions about what college football fans are thinking this season
TCU (5-3) @ #19 West Virginia (5-2)
It's the Big 12. It's TCU and West Virginia!
Take yourself back to just over a year ago when few people had any idea that just 12 months later, there would be Big 12 game previews being written between West Virginia and TCU, both of who happened to be in other conferences at the time. Or at least not as far as the Big 12 was concerned.
I mean, the Big 12 was happy with ten teams, right (sounds familiar)? Not to mention, TCU was on their way to join West Virginia in the Big East. This should be a Big East game preview, no?
But as we all found out soon enough, conference realignment wasn't finished. The people running Texas A&M got antsy and Missouri decided enough was enough and so here we are.
While losing A&M and Mizzou was unpleasant at the time, it's nothing more than water under the bridge at this point. They're gone, for better or worse, and West Virginia and TCU were more than happy to take their place which was undoubtedly for the better. Both have been and will continue to be great additions on the football field, although each have already taken their share of body blows as they get adjusted to the new surroundings.
West Virginia was flying high to start the season winning their first five games which included their first two Big 12 wins over Baylor and Texas. They torched Baylor for 70 points and went into Texas and came out with a three point victory and a top five ranking.
The high-flying act was short lived, however, after the wheels came flying off in Lubbock. The defense that had surrendered 108 points in their first two Big 12 wins was further exposed and this time their Air-Raid offense was nowhere to be found to bail them out.
The story repeated itself the following weekend when Big 12 leading Kansas State came to Morgantown and left with a 41 point win in their back pocket.
TCU also got off to a fast start, although in much less dramatic fashion. The four wins to start the season were expected to an extent given the competition. What wasn't expected was losing their starting quarterback and best running back in the process.
Waymon James suffered a season ending knee injury in the second game against Kansas which preceded quarterback Casey Pachall being arrested for driving under the influence four games into the season and subsequently deciding to give football a break to enter substance abuse treatment.
Since then TCU has dropped three of its last four games including a 56-53 loss to Texas Tech in triple overtime two weeks ago.
So where does that leave us for Saturday's game which will be only the second time in history these two programs have met on the football field?
That's probably a question both Dana Holgorsen and Gary Patterson wish they knew the answer too.
West Virginia had a bye week following their 55-14 loss to K-State to try and sort out the issues that have plagued them the last two times out.
The Mountaineers' defense has been a train wreck in Big 12 play. In four conference games, they given up 53 points a game. The problems have been twofold. One, Joe Deforest is in his first season as a defensive coordinator. Not only is he learning on the job, but so are his players who have had to adjust to new schemes and a new way of going about their business entirely.
And two, inexperience. Against Kansas State, the Mountaineers played six true freshmen on defense and four more redshirt freshmen. Regardless of their talent level, that's a recipe for disaster with so many young guys on the field at the same time especially given the offensive firepower they've been forced to try and defend.
West Virginia, TCU feels your pain. The Horned Frogs have played 16 true freshmen, and 28 freshmen overall, this year to help deal with the losses from graduations, injuries, and suspensions. That's a mind boggling number, but it hasn't stopped the Horned Frogs from being competitive every time out. Their biggest loss happened last weekend to Oklahoma State by 22 points in a game that wasn't decided until the middle of the fourth quarter.
TCU, Keys to the Game:
1. Turnovers. No surprises here. In TCU's three losses, they've turned the ball over 11 times and gotten only three in return. In their five wins, they are +10 in turnover margin. Sometimes the game isn't really that complicated.
2. Trevone Boykin. The redshirt freshmen has had his ups-and-downs since taking over for Pachall. Saturday in Morgantown would be a good time to be up. The West Virginia secondary has been absolutely torched this season and TCU has more than enough talent at wide receiver to exploit the WVU defense, yet again. Will Boykin be able to get them the ball?
West Virginia, Keys to the Game:
1. Find their offensive rhythm. Say what you want about the Mountaineer defense, but it becomes much less of an issue when West Virginia is putting big points on the board. Dana Holgorsen needs to get Geno Smith going early to help find the spark they had going early in the season when Smith seemed like a near lock for the Heisman trophy. If Smith is everything he's cracked up to be, here's guessing he responds with an impressive showing.
2. Slow down the TCU ground game. As bad as their pass defense has been, the Mountaineers have been decent in stopping the run most of the season. The Horned Frogs ground game has suffered a bit due to the injuries, but this is still a Gary Patterson coached team and you know he wants to run the ball. If West Virginia can stop the run, it will at least force a freshmen quarterback to have to beat them.
This is tough, really tough.
When a game is close, who usually wins that game? The team with the better defense. Who has the better defense here? That would be TCU.
If West Virginia's past four games are any indication, TCU is going to be able to score points. West Virginia has been able to stop no one over that span and even if there is improvement coming off the bye week, how much better can they really be, even if TCU's offense isn't as explosive as the others they've seen thus far?
On the other side, West Virginia's offense has been explosive, yes. But they've also been explosive against Baylor and Texas who happen to have two of the worst defenses in the Big 12. Against the two best defenses they've faced (Tech and KSU) they've scored a combined 28 points.
West Virginia will likely top that on Saturday, but it still won't be enough because the Mountaineers will have trouble containing guys named Boyce, Carter, Dawson, and Brown, otherwise known as TCU's wide receivers.
TCU picks up a hard fought road win and becomes bowl eligible as a result. TCU 38 West Virginia 34.
Buckle up your chin straps because we're all in for a wild ride on Saturday.
The schedule is absolutely loaded this weekend and ust a word of warning, you're going to need more than a few TV sets to keep up with all the action in the 2:30 and evening time slots.
Alabama - LSU is the headliner of the day, but Texas - Texas Tech, Oklahoma State - Kansas State, Nebraska - Michigan State and USC - Oregon are just a few of the other games that should provide plenty of intrigue.
Here's a rundown of who, when, and where everything is taking place on Saturday. As always, enjoy the day and thanks for stopping by.
|Big 12 Games|
|#12 Oklahoma @ Iowa St.||TCU @ #19 West Virginia|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 2:00|
|TV: ABC/Gameplan||TV: FOX|
|Sirius Channel: 117||Sirius Channel: 138|
|Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham||Announcers: Justin Kutcher, Eric Crouch|
|Kansas @ Baylor||#22 Texas @ #20 Texas Tech|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: FSN||TV: ESPN/ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 112||Sirius Channel: 117 (UT) 137 (TT)|
|Announcers: Steve Physioc, Brian Baldinger||Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kanell|
|#24 Oklahoma State @ #3 Kansas State
|Game Time: 7:00|
|Sirius Channel: 92|
|Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit|
|Nationa Games of Interest|
|Temple @ #10 Louisville||#16 Texas A&M @ #18 Mississippi State|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: ABC/Gameplan||TV: ESPN|
|Sirius Channel: 92||Sirius Channel: 91|
|Announcers: Dave Lamont, Kelly Stouffer||Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge|
|Missouri @ #9 Florida||Vanderbilt @ Kentucky|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: ESPN2||TV: ESPNU|
|Sirius Channel: 85||Sirius Channel: 123|
|Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese||Announcers: Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb|
|Air Force @ Army||Michigan @ Minnesota|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: CBS||TV: BTN|
|Sirius Channel: 134||Sirius Channel: 113|
|Announcers: Ben Holden, Randy Cross||Announcers: Kevin Kugler, Chris Martin|
|#15 Stanford @ Colorado||Pitt @ #4 Notre Dame|
|Game Time: 1:00||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: FX||TV: NBC|
|Sirius Channel: 94||Sirius Channel: 91 (Pitt) 129 (ND)|
|Announcers: Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt||Announcers: Tom Hammond, Mike Mayock|
|Ole Miss @ #6 Georgia||#21 Nebraska @ Michigan State|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: CBS||TV: ABC/ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 123||Sirius Channel: 92|
|Announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein||Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Speilman|
|Illinois @ Ohio State||Penn State @ Purdue|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: ESPN||TV: ESPNU|
|Sirius Channel: 113||Sirius Channel: 85|
|Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway||Announcers: Tom Hart, John Congemi|
|Iowa @ Indiana||Florida Atlantic @ Navy|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: BTN||TV: CBS College Sports|
|Sirius Channel: 136||Sirius Channel: 134|
|Announcers: Eric Collins, Derek Rackley||Announcers: Grant Boone, Todd Christensen|
|#2 Oregon @ #17 USC||#9 Clemson @ Duke|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 6:00|
|TV: FOX||TV: ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 128 (UO) 85 (USC)||Sirius Channel: 135|
|Announcers: Gus Johnson, Charles Davis||Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard|
|Uconn @ South Florida||SMU @ Central Florida|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 6:00|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: CBS College Sports|
|Sirius Channel: 136||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Anish Shroff, Dan Hawkins||Announcers: Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous|
|#1 Alabama @ #5 LSU||Arizona State @ #13 Oregon State|
|Game Time: 7:00||Game Time: 9:30|
|TV: CBS||TV: ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 91 (Ala) 86 (LSU)||Sirius Channel: 85|
|Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson||Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen|
|Arizona @ UCLA||San Diego State @ #14 Boise State|
|Game Time: 9:30||Game Time: 9:30|
|TV: Pac-12 Networks||TV: CBS College Sports|
|Sirius Channel: 139||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker||Announcers: James Bates, Aaron Taylor|
#12 Oklahoma (5-2) @ Iowa State (5-3)
The Lowdown: Iowa State suddenly found their offense last weekend which came in the form of Steele Jantz's right arm. The senior quarterback once again took over the starting quarterback position after watching from the sideline the past three games. His comeback performance was more than impressive as he threw for 381 yards and five touchdowns earning himself another start this weekend against the Sooners.
Of course, putting up those types of numbers against Baylor is one thing, doing it against Oklahoma is another thing entirely.
The Sooner's defense is ranked second in the Big 12 giving up just 17.4 points per game. They held Texas Tech and Kansas State to 20 and 24 points, respectively, both of which were season lows for two of the Big 12's best offenses.
That's bad news for Iowa State who has struggled to put the ball in the end zones at times this season, although inconsistent is probably the best word to describe the Cyclones through the first two-thirds of the season.
They scored 30 or more points in wins over Tulsa, Western Illinois, TCU and Baylor, yet they managed just nine points against Iowa (and won), 13 against Texas Tech and 10 against Oklahoma State in two of their three losses.
Maybe the most surprising aspect of Iowa State's offense this season has been the fact that they are bringing up the rear in the Big 12 rushing for just 141.9 yard per game. It's no coincidence, however, that in their best wins of the year against Tulsa, TCU, and Baylor, the Cyclones rushed for an average of 166 yards per game.
In losses to Texas Tech, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, they averaged just 94 yards per game on the ground. There's no question the competition was better in the those games, but if Iowa State wants to crack into the top half of the Big 12 standings, they need to fiigure out how to run the ball more consistently regardless of the opponent.
As for Oklahoma, they are coming off their second disappointing loss of the season after falling to Notre Dame on Saturday. Oklahoma tied the game early in the fourth quarter but couldn't sustain the momentum finally succumbing to the Notre Dame defense which simply wouldn't allow them in the end zone.
The loss was especially disappointing considering the fact that OU had been playing their best football of the season coming into the game beating Texas Tech, Texas, and Kansas by a combined 98 points.
It's now back to the drawing board for the Sooners who still have hopes of winning a Big 12 title even if their national title hopes have come to an end. To get there, however, they likely need to win out and that starts this weekend in Ames.
Iowa State, Keys to the Game:
1. Run for 150+ yards. It was mentioned in the opening, but when Iowa State runs the ball effectively, they win. The Sooners defense has been decent against the run at times, but in their two losses, both Kansas State and Notre Dame rushed for 200+ yards. While Iowa State doesn't have the same firepower as either of those teams, they need to find a way to pick yards on the ground if they hope to have any chance of pulling the upset on Saturday.
2. Steele Jantz, has to take care of the football. Jantz is once again the man under center for the Cyclones and that's good in a lot of ways, but one of the big reasons he was sent to the bench in each of the last two seasons, is because of his poor decisions with the football. He turned it over just once last week against Baylor and will need to have a similar performance, if not a turnover free performance, on Saturday. That leads us to point number three.
3. Take what the defense gives you. The Sooners have a very good secondary meaning Jantz would be best suited to make a few yards with his feet when his receivers are blanketed rather than risk turnovers swinging the momentum in OU's favor. Oklahoma's defense never gives up much, but it'll be up to Jantz to take advantage of the opportunities when they present themselves.
Oklahoma, Keys to the Game:
1. Keep up the pace. There are not many teams in college football that run their offense at a faster pace than do the Sooners and that should work to their advantage on Saturday in Ames. Oklahoma State laid out the blue print for moving the ball on the Cyclones running 89 plays while racking up 625 yards in the process. Iowa State's defense is good, but not necessarily deep. Oklahoma's frantic pace should pay dividends especially in the second half once ISU's defense starts reaching for the oxygen mask.
2. Defend the pass. Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz is coming off his best performance of his Cyclone career. Not to take anything away from Mr. Jantz, but that was against Baylor's woeful secondary.
There aren't many secondary's in the nation that cover better than does OU and if the Sooners can keep a blanket on ISU's receivers, Jantz will likely start making ill-advised throws that have plagued him during his Cyclone career. Oklahoma should have more than a few chances at a some interceptions as a result.
Iowa State had the breakout game they were looking for on offense last weekend, but let's keep that in perspective. The Cyclones did it against a Baylor defense that hadn't held a Big 12 opponent under 40 points all season. The Sooners' defense is in another world compared to they one the saw last weekend.
The Cyclones defense will keep them in it for a while - even without Jake Knott - but the ISU offense won't be able to sustain enough drives to give their defense a break.
Oklahoma will rediscover their running game and the Sooner defense will come up with a couple game changing turnovers. The Sooners win going away.
Oklahoma 38 Iowa State 17
Well, here we are, two months down, and one to go.
To say the season is flying by would be the understatement of the year. But even so, there's plenty to look forward to the rest of the way.
The Big 12, once again, has a national title contender entering the final stretch and they'll be more than enough talk about who is going bowling where to keep you occupied at the water cooler.
Here's a rundown of what to expect over the final five weeks of the season along with some of the biggest questions yet to be answered as we get set to enter month of November.
Most likely to win the conference title:
Kansas State. While the Wildcats are the odds on favorite to win their second ever Big 12 title, they can't afford to take their foot off the gas. Even one loss would open the door for either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State who would each have to win their final five games to create a tie should Kansas State indeed drop a game. (Only one of those two can win out, however, since OU and OSU still have to play each other).
Will Kansas State play for the national title?
I'd say yes. Their remaining schedule isn't easy, but at the same time, their toughest tests are behind them.
The Wildcats likely have the easiest remaining schedule of the four contenders which actually could hurt them in the BCS rankings over the next month. That being said, they're complete body of work will be just as impressive as anybody's should they go 12-0.
Not to mention, it's highly likely the season finishes with four undefeated teams. There's still plenty of football to be played and if college football has taught us anything over the years, it's too assume nothing.
Toughest remaining schedule:
TCU. The Horned Frogs have to go to West Virginia and Texas while getting Oklahoma and Kansas State at home. With TCU sitting on five wins with four games to go, it would be easy to think they're a slam dunk to qualify for a bowl game. With that schedule, however, it's far from a given especially if the knee injury to quarterback to Trevon Boykin requires him to miss any significant playing time.
Team with the most to gain/lose over the season's final month:
Texas. Kansas State notwithstanding (what's at stake for the Wildcat's is obvious), the Longhorns season has been a mixed bag of results thus far. Texas can still win out and finish the season with a 10-2 regular season record. Or they could lose three of four and finish 7-5. That's a rather large discrepency yet to be determined.
They have to go on the road to Texas Tech and Kansas State sandwiched around home games with Iowa State and TCU. Is the program heading back in the right direction? Those four games will go a long way in determining how people answer that question this offseason.
Following another blowout loss to Oklahoma and a narrow escape over Kansas, the perception of Texas is trending down right now, but there's still time to change that. Yes, November is an important month for the folks in Austin.
Will Kansas win a Big 12 game in 2012?
Yes! It would be easy for a team with one win in eight games to pack it in and just play the season out. But coming off a narrow losses to Oklahoma State and Texas, there's plenty yet to build on in November for the Jayhawks.
So who is going to be the victim? I'm guessing it happens this weekend at Baylor. After the Bears, the remaining schedule includes road trips to Texas Tech, West Virginia along with a home game versus Iowa State.
Where will West Virginia finish?
Three weeks ago, this will a top five team. Now following back-to-back blowout losses, nobody knows what to expect from the Mountaineers.
Even though West Virginia has proven they're far from great, this is still a better than average team. I'll predict a 3-2 finish with losses coming to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State or Iowa State and a final 8-4 record. Not great, but then again, not bad considering how young their defense is this season.
It's obvious the expectations placed on this team go blown a little out of proportion early in the season which may make an 8-4 finish seem more disappointing than it really is.
Big 12 offensive player of the year:
Geno Smith was the preseason pick, but he has plenty of ground to make up on Collin Klein, who has to be the odds on favorite through two thirds of the season. Tevon Austin deserves some recognition, as well, as does Seth Doege, Joseph Randle, Terrance Williams, and Stedman Bailey.
Big 12 Defensive player of the year:
There are plenty of contenders here and it's nearly impossible to predict the winner although I'll give the early vote to Arthur Brown at Kansas State. Alex Okafor was the preseason choice and he's still in the running (second in the Big 12 in sacks) along with A.J. Klein, Tony Jefferson, Devonte Fields and Cody Davis, among others.
Newcomer of the year:
Devonte Fields, TCU. This award might already be decided. Fields leads the Big 12 in both sacks and tackles-for-loss as just a freshman. Oklahoma running back Damien Williams would be the likely runner up. (OU wider receiver, Trey Metoyer, was the preseason choice).
Who is the conference favorite for 2013?
Wait, what? Yes, there's still plenty of football yet to come this season, but how this final month plays out will go a long ways in determining people's perception are heading into next season.
One thing we know for sure is that the Big 12 will have a whole bunch of new quarterbacks next season. Collin Klein will be gone. So will Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Seth Doege, Steele Jantz, Dayne Crist (is he already gone?), and Nick Florence.
That leaves Oklahoma State and Texas as the only teams with real experience returning at the QB position (Iowa State also has Jared Barnett coming back, as does TCU with Trevone Boykin and possibly Casey Pachall who all will have starting experience).
Like I mentioned, there's plenty that will happen between now and then, but if I had to pick a favorite for next season, I'd go with Oklahoma State. They'll have both Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh back for their sophomore season plus Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith are both only juniors meaning they'll be back, as well. They'll also have plenty of talent returning at the receiver position and on defense to go along with it.
Even with Oklahoma and Texas Tech both losing this past weekend, there's not much movement in this week's power poll, althought Oklahoma State is making up ground in a hurry after dropping two early season games. They'll have a chance to prove exactly how good they are this week when they take on the Big 12's best who is coming off a second straight dominating performance.
Here's a look at how the rankings shake out heading into the final month of the season this will see Kansas State continue it's bid to get into the BCS title game, while Oklahoma State and Oklahoma cling onto Big 12 title hopes. Everyone else will be simply jockeying for bowl position with TCU and Iowa State searching for the all important sixth win somewhere in November.
1. (-) Kansas State (8-0): Another contender up, another contender down. The Wildcats continued their impressive run through the Big 12 with a 31 point victory over Texas Tech. The talk of playing in the BCS national championship will only continue to increase over the final month so long as the Wildcats continue their winning way. They'll have another tough challenge on their hands this week. Up next: Oklahoma State.
2. (-) Oklahoma (5-2): The Sooners chance of playing for the national title are likely over following their loss to Notre Dame. Even so, their hopes for a possible Big 12 title are still alive and well. Now if somebody could just beat Kansas State. The Sooners need to win out to keep their chances alive and will have do it three times on the road starting this weekend. Up next: @ Iowa State.
3A. (-) Texas Tech (6-2): Things got off to a great start against Kansas State but then the second half happened and the Red Raiders couldn't keep up. All is not lost for Texas Tech, however. They have four winnable games ahead which would leave them with a 10 win regular season if they win them all. Not bad for a team that was predicted to finish ninth in the conference. Up next: Texas.
3B. (↑1) Oklahoma State (5-2): Nobody has been talking much about the Cowboys who have quietly won three in a row while being forced to juggle freshman quarterbacks because of injury. Beating TCU was nice, but Oklahoma State has a chance to make a gigantic statement this weekend in Manhattan.
Last year the Cowboys had their national title hopes dashed in Ames. Can they play the role of spoiler this year? If so, their reward could be a second straight Big 12 title. Remember, the Pokes have just one conference loss although the upcoming schedule is brutal. Up next: @ Kansas State.
5. (-) Texas (6-2): Well, that was a little to close for comfort. The Longhorns escaped Lawrence by the skin of their teeth scoring the winning touchdown with just 12 seconds remaining. And you think the howls coming from Austin were loud following their loss to OU, I can't imagine what it would have been like had they lost to Kansas. Case McCoy directed the winning touchdown drive although Mack Brown said on Monday David Ash is still his guy.
The Longhorns now head to Lubbock for a game that will have a big say in the Big 12's bowl pecking order. Up next: @ Texas Tech.
6. (-) West Virginia (5-2): West Virginia watched all the action from the sidelines this weekend. Did they find any answers to what was ailing their team following back-to-back blowout losses during the bye week? We'll find out on Saturday when they take on TCU who has had a few issues of their own over the past several weeks. Up next: TCU.
7. (↑1) Iowa State (5-3): Steele Jantz is back! Paul Rhoads gave Jantz another chance and he didn't disappoint throwing for 381 yards and five touchdowns. It was a huge win for the Cyclones and moves them within one game of bowl eligibility. Rhoads' squad won't have much time to savor the win, however, with Oklahoma and Texas coming up the next two weeks. Up next: Oklahoma.
8. (↓1) TCU (5-3): The Horned Frogs lost for the second straight week falling to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Things looked to be heading in the right direction after one quarter with TCU holding 14-3 lead but unfortunately, there were still three more quarters to play and TCU wouldn't score a point the rest of the way.
TCU is sitting on five wins with a month left but with games against West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs will need to pull an upset somewhere along the way if they want to go bowling for the holidays. Up next: @ West Virginia.
9. (-) Baylor (3-4): The good news on Saturday for Baylor, they held their first Big 12 opponent under 40 points this season. The bad news, their offense only scored 21 points and turned the ball over four times. Baylor's chance of playing in the postseason look less and less each week. The Bears will try to end a four game losing streak this weekend against a Kansas team that for the first time in three seasons isn't a pushover. Up next: Kansas.
10. (-) Kansas (1-7): Oh, so close. The Jayhawks hung right with Texas all afternoon but came up one play short. Hey, it might be just baby steps, but KU has made a bunch of them this year even if it doesn't show in their record. Is their first Big 12 win under Charlie Weis on the horizon? Up next: at Baylor.
"This kid can do no wrong."
That's what Fox play-by-play man Gus Johnson had to say following Collin Klein's 22 yard run in the third quarter of Kansas State's 55-24 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.
He may have been referring to Klein specifically, but the exact same thing can be said for the entire Kansas State team who dispensed of yet another top 25 team hoping to get themselves in the mix for a possible Big 12 title.
This time around Texas Tech was the victim and the Red Raiders suffered the same fate as Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, and West Virginia before them.
Take a look at Saturday's box score and you might have guessed it was a rather close game. The total yardage was nearly even (442 for Texas Tech, 426 for Kansas State) as was time of possession. “We didn’t get adjusted as quickly as you’d like but that’s an awfully good offensive football team" Bill Snyder said. "Then we did get a feel for what was going on. They moved the ball but you didn’t see a lot of points going in the end zone.”
Take a closer look at the box score, however, and you'll see one big reason why they weren't finding the end zone and why the Wildcats walked away with a 31 point win, their fifth win by 30 or more points this season. Texas Tech turnovers; three. Kansas State turnovers; zero. So what else is new?
Kansas State increased their lead in turnover margin to +15 on the season picking up two Texas Tech fumbles, both which set up K-State inside the 20 yard line resulting in 10 points. The Wildcats then returned Seth Doege's lone interception of the day for six points and a commanding 48-17 lead. And that, folks, is your ball game.
As for Klein, the guy really could do no wrong as Johnson alluded to during the broadcast. He rushed for 83 yards on just 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. Through the air, he added another 233 yards on 19 of 26 passing plus two scores.
You would have to think that one of these days, people will stop the saying the guy can't throw the ball because every single week, that's exactly what he does. He leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency ahead of every other top flight quarterback in the league who apparently looks better doing it than does Klein. He's completing 70.9% of his passes on the year with 12 touchdowns and against just two interceptions.
As a team, Kansas State is yet another step closer to running the table in what is without a doubt one of the toughest leagues in the country.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, there are still big tests ahead against Oklahoma State and Texas, and TCU and Baylor aren't exactly pushovers.
With Notre Dame's big win over Oklahoma and Oregon's continued strong play, there has been and will be plenty of talk what will happen should all three teams finished undefeated to go along with Alabama, whose destruction of the SEC continued this week by knocking off undefeated Mississippi State, 38-7.
Before anybody gets too worked up, let's let this season play out. More times than not, these things have a way of working themselves out. Will all four teams finish unbeaten? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.
All Kansas State needs to worry about is beating Oklahoma State Saturday in Manhattan and let everyone else worry about what will happen when the postseason rolls around.
As it stands today, Kansas State's resume is as impressive as anyone's in the country, but that is today and today doesn't mean a hill of beans when it comes to the BCS. The same thing can be said for the next four weeks. All that matters is where every stands come the morning of December 2nd.
Right now, Kansas State has as good a chance as any to run the table. But that's all it is, a chance, which is what you've have when you're sitting with eight wins and zero losses heading into November.
I will agree with another thing Johnson mentioned on the broadcase, however. "All things considered, I'd buy a ticket to watch these guys play Alabama." Yeah, me too, and so would a lot of other people that have watched Kansas State play this year. Will it happen? Your guess is as good as mine but beat Oklahoma State this coming weekend, and they're one step closer to making it happen.
|09/07/13||Southern Miss||5:00, BTN|
|09/21/13||S. Dakota State||TBA|
|11/23/13||@ Penn State||TBA|
|12/07/13||Big Ten Champ.||TBA|