Well what do you know? For once, everthing went as planned in the Big 12 with all the favorites pulling out victories this past weekend. The result is a status que in this week's power poll with everybody staying in the same spot they found themselves in a week ago. That's the first time that has happened in recent memory.
We are down to three weeks remaining in the season and several teams are still fighting for bowl eligibilty namely Iowa State, West Virginia, and Baylor. Oklahoma and even Texas still hold out hopes for a BCS bowl bid and oh yeah, there's that little thing called a national championship still on Kansas State's mind.
Here's how things lookin the Big 12 as we head for the home stretch.
1. (-) Kansas State (10-0): The Wildcats took care of business, yet again, by knocking of TCU, 23-10, Saturday night in Fort Worth. Following Alabama's loss to Texas A&M, K-State is now firmly in the driver's seat for not only the school's second Big 12 title, but their first ever appearance in the BCS national championship game. All that stands in their way are games against Baylor and Texas. Will the Cats feel the pressure now that they sit atop the BCS standings? Up next: @ Baylor.
2. (-) Oklahoma (7-2): The Sooners' victory over Baylor wasn't as easy as some expected, but it was a win nonetheless. The win allowed Oklahoma to keep their chances alive for at least a share of the Big 12 title. Now if someone could just beat Kansas State. OU has a tough three game stretch to finish the season, but if they can find a way to win out, a BCS bowl bid is still well within their reach. Up next: @ West Virginia.
3. (-) Texas (8-2): The Longhorns continue to get better by the week and Saturday against Iowa State, UT reeled off their fourth straight win since losing to Oklahoma. Texas has a week off before facing TCU on Thanksgiving although the game many are already focused on is their season ending clash with the number one ranked team in the BCS standings, Kansas State. Up next: bye.
4. (-) Oklahoma State (6-3): Playing with their third different starting quarterback of the season proved to be no problem for Oklahoma State as they handed West Virginia their fourth straight loss. The Cowboys now turn their attention to Texas Tech in a game that will have big say in who will go where when bowl season rolls around. Up next: Texas Tech.
5. (-) Texas Tech (7-3): Hey, nobody said it's always going to be easy. The Red Raiders needed two overtimes to dispense of Kansas but came away with a victory despite allowing the Jayhawks to rush for 390 yards. Even so, Tech's defense has still allowed the fewest yards per game of any Big 12 team this season barely edging out OU and TCU with two games remaining on the schedule. Up next: @Oklahoma State.
6. (-) TCU (6-4): The Horned Frogs became the latest victim of Kansas State on Saturday night. The TCU defense held up well against the Kansas State attack but their own offense couldn't mount any type of consistency. TCU now gets a week of rest to gear up for the final two games of their inaugural Big 12 season against who else, Texas and Oklahoma. Up next: bye.
7. (-) West Virginia (5-4): The Mountaineers hung right with Oklahoma State most of the night but couldn't overcome several special team blunders that led to their fourth straight defeat. It's back to the drawing board, yet again. This week's matchup isn't what most expected at the beginning of the season but still should provide plenty of excitement. Up next: Oklahoma.
8. (-) Iowa State (5-5): Is a bowl game in Iowa State's future? The Cyclones will need to win at least one of their final two games of the season to make sure it happens. They will have a great chance to get that sixth win this weekend although you can bet Kansas won't make it easy on them. Up next. @ Kansas.
9. (-) Baylor (4-5): The Bears deserve plenty of credit for continuing to fight even though the wins have been few and far between since Big 12 play began. They gave Oklahoma all they could handle in Norman and it certainly won't be any easier this week with Kansas State coming to town. Can they put a damper on the Wildcats perfect season? Up next. Kansas State.
10. (-) Kansas (1-9): It was close once again, but for the fifth time this season, Kansas was on the short end of the stick in games decided by a seven points or less. Whatever happens over the final two games, it' apparent that Kansas is far more competitive than they were over the past two seasons. It might not provide much solace to the guys in KU's locker room, but hey, nobody said crawling out of the Big 12 cellar was going to be easy. Up next: Iowa State.
It's no secret people like to make friendly wagers when it comes to their favorite team or favorite sporting event.
Who they make those bets with and what they are willing to put on the line in such cases was the focus of this week's Discover Fan Loyalty Poll.
The first question focused on who people would turn to when they felt confident their team was going to walk away with another victory.
You can chalk up my vote for any of the above because they are all solid options, although what I'm willing to wager might depend on who I'm making the bet with which leads us to the follow up question.
What would you be willing to bet? This here is where it gets really interesting.
The caveat to the question is that you are very confident your team is going to win the national championship or in other words, your team happens to be very good which might be one reason to up the stakes just a bit.
Would you be willing to wager any of the following knowing your team should win, but if they that somehow came up short, you'd be without one of the following for an extended period of time?
Here's a look at how the fans voted:
Let's for a second assume these five choices are the only options, none of which are all that appealing in my opinion.
No alcohol for a month - this led the pack among the people that actually answered the question. This probably isn't terribly surprising given that not everyone drinks alcohol in the first place so those people wouldn't be really giving up anything in those cases.
For those drinkers, however, hmmmm, it gets a bit interesting. Sports fans are definitely known as a group that likes to indulge in their favorite beverage, especially when their favorite team is playing. No alcohol for a month? Doable? Yes. Worth the risk? I'll let you be the judge of that.
No cell phone for a month - While this could be painful, it might be worth the risk. Are there even such things as payphones anymore in case of emergency?
No internet for a month - This might be OK for some, but not here, since this is what I do for a living.
No TV for a month - Painful yes, but I could make it work assuming it wasn't football season in which case it would probably be last on the list.
No car for a month - This is out. No exception really needed, is there?
And considering 62% answered with a "not sure" response, they obviously have something else in mind. Or maybe those folks just wanted to shorten the time frame in case of a loss. Any of the above would be far less painful if the wager was, for example, a week in time instead of an entire month.
So onto last week's fan poll results as it relates to the nation's best college football teams. Alabama continued to lead the way at the top of the rankings, although that will surely change when this week's results are released after the Crimson Tide were knocked off their perch by Texas A&M on Saturday.
Behind Alabama were the other three undefeated teams, Oregon, Notre Dame, and Kansas State. Here's a look at the full results.
It will be interesting to see how the fans react to Alabama's loss on Saturday. The latest college football polls that were released on Sunday still had the Crimson Tide ranked fourth - not terribly damaging - leaving open the possibility that Alabama could still play for the national title if two of the three undefeated teams lose over the next couple weeks.
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
If Blake Bell does this too many more times, the Oklahoma coaching staff might just start using him in some third and long situations in addition to his role around the goal line and in short yardage situations using their Belldozer package.
With Baylor continuing to hang around closer than Oklahoma would have liked Saturday night, Oklahoma turned to Bell on third and one in hopes of keeping their drive alive early in the fourth quarter. Bell not only picked up the first down, but a whole lot more as he took it to the house for a 55 yard score.
Not bad speed for a guy that is listed a 6'6" and 254 pounds. The run was the longest by a Sooner quarterback in 14 seasons and brought back memories of Jamelle Holieway and OU's wishbone quarterbacks routinely doing damage to opposing defenses on the ground.
The run was Bell's 23rd rushing touchdown in the pass two seasons and 10th in 2012.
With Landry Jones departing for the NFL next year, Bell figures to be first in line to assume the Sooners' starting quarterback position next season.
Given Bell's running ability, it's easy to wonder how OU will use him next season when he is on the field every snap (even if it is another ten months away). Not that OU would ever completely abandon their passing attack, but you don't have to look hard to see a few similarities in another Big 12 quarterback who's having a little bit of success this season, as well. Let the Collin Klein comparisons begin!
Ten games up, ten wins down.
Kansas State inched one step closer to playing for the school's first every national championship by taking out TCU, 23-10, Saturday night in Fort Worth.
All that stands between the Wildcats and a shot in the BCS title game are a trip to Waco to face Baylor and a season ending matchup against Texas in Manhattan, who the Cats have beaten each of the last four times they've faced each other.
It was anybody's guess as to how the title chase was going to shake out had Alabama, Oregon, and Notre Dame - along with KSU - all finished undefeated, but thanks to former Big 12 mate, Texas A&M, Alabama is no longer a concern after the Aggies pulled the shocking upset over the defending national champions on their home field.
What A&M's win ensures is that Kansas State now more than likely controls its own destiny, if it didn't already. Beat Baylor and Texas and they'll be in Miami on January 7th to likely face Oregon, or possibly Notre Dame, or maybe somebody else if both teams happen to stub their toe over the season's final weeks.
Who they play is of little concern to the Wildcats, however. All they need to worry about it taking care of their own business and the rest will sort itself out. What more could a team ask for with just two games to go until they reach the finish line?
Snyder was obviously jubilant when he found out the news that top ranked Alabama had lost. Well, maybe not so much. “I have no thoughts about it whatsoever," Snyder said when asked about Texas A&M's upset . "I am just going to ask my guys as I always to do to try to get better at practice on Monday. Someone just told me about it in the locker room.”
Did you expect anything else?
Kansas State's chief concern at the moment is staying healthy. An injury last to Collin Klein in their victory over Oklahoma State raised some doubt this past week. Klein looked to be his normal self Saturday night though, even if he didn't put up gaudy numbers (145 yards passing, 50 yards rushing) but credit a very good TCU defense for that.
With Klein's health looking up, the concern now is the status of wide receiver Tyler Lockett and safety Ty Zimmerman, but who left with apparent leg injuries in the second half against TCU and didn't return.
Lockett is tied for the team lead with 36 receptions on the season and is one of the best kick returners in the country. Zimmerman, along with Arthur Brown, is the leader of the defense that held TCU to 274 yards and kept them out of the end zone until the final minute of the game after the outcome had long been decided.
There was no update on either's status following Saturday's game and I wouldn't expect there to be any throughout the week given Snyder's penchant for guarding injury information with his life.
There's always a little bit of luck in any championship run and so far this season, luck has been on their side, but losing either for their final two games of the season would be a big blow they may be forced to overcome.
But for now, all Kansas State has to worry about is beating Baylor, a team that has to win two of their last three games if they want to play in a bowl game for the third straight season.
Saturday night, it was more of the same for Kansas State. Enough offense ("we were conservative in order to get the game over with,” Snyder said), plenty of defense, and mostly mistake free football (they did have two turnovers, but only one penalty on the night).
"You can’t think that they’re going to make a mistake,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said. “That can’t be the answer.”
No, it can't. They simply don't beat themselves and so far, nobody else has been able to do it, either. Hopefully they can be saying the same thing three weeks from now and given the results of the past 10 games, there's little reason to believe that won't be the case.
#3 Kansas State (9-0) @ TCU (6-3)
Well this should be interesting. Former Kansas State player and Kansas native, Gary Patterson, gets his first shot at his alma mater with a chance of putting an end to Kansas State's national title hopes.
It's been an up and down first season for the Horned Frogs in the Big 12. We knew coming in they were going to be a young team, but they've also been forced to deal with injuries and/or suspensions to their top two offensive players, quarterback Casey Pachall, and running back Waymon James.
Redshirt freshman quarterback, Trevone Boykin, has done a decent if not good job taking over for Pachall since his departure. He has thrown 13 touchdown passes this year but TCU would love nothing more than for him to cut down on his seven interceptions but so goes life with a redshirt freshman quarterback. You have to take the good with the bad.
There's no question Boykin has plenty of upside, however, and he's more than capable to breaking down an opponent's defense whether it be via the run or the pass.
One advantage working in TCU's favor Saturday night is the fact that Kansas State's defense has yet to play a dual threat quarterback with Boykin's ability yet this season.
The only quarterback the Wildcats have faced all year that was a slight threat to run was Iowa State's Jared Barnett and even then, he only had eight carries against KSU in what was the closest game they've played all year outside of Oklahoma.
Landry Jones, Dayne Crist, Geno Smith, Seth Doege, and Wes Lunt/Clint Chelf are all solid quarterbacks (did I say Dayne Crist?), but none of them have the ability to run the way Boykin does.
On the other side of the ball, TCU's defense has been stout against the run allowing a Big 12 best 96.6 yards per game. They've yet to face a rushing attack like the one they'll see Saturday night, but then again, there aren't any offenses in the Big 12 with the playbook the Wildcats are utilizing.
How the Horned Frogs defense holds up against the Wildcats rushing attack will be one of the keys to the game so it goes without saying, they'll need strong play from their front seven if they hope to have any chance of pulling the upset Saturday night.
The biggest question mark facing Kansas State is obviously the health of Collin Klein. All signs point to him being at or near 100% but until we see him on the field, you can never be too sure with the way Bill Snyder guards his injury reports.
With Klein, Kansas State can exploit whatever and wherever a defense is the weakest. Against West Virginia, the Mountaineers did a nice job slowing the KSU run game so Klein took to the air completing 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. It's pick your poison when he's in the game which is one reason he's a leading candidate for the Heisman trophy.
If Daniel Sams comes out under center, the Wildcats will likely rely almost entirely on the ground game if for no other reason than Sams inexperience running the KSU offense. You'll also see plenty of the Wildcat formation KSU showed last week against Oklahoma State featuring running back Angelo Pease taking the snaps.
That's all the discussion we need about Sams because I'll be shocked if Klein isn't under center come 6:00 Saturday night.
TCU, Keys to the Game.
1. Don't turn the ball over. It's like a broken record playing because when do turnover not play a big part in a game? It's always a key and it will be even more so in this matchup because TCU turns the ball over and Kansas State does not.
In TCU's three Big 12 losses, they were -8 in turnover margin. In their three Big 12 wins, they were +3 in turnover margin helped in large part by Baylor's six turnovers, but you get the point. If they hold onto the ball Saturday night, they'll be right in this until the final gun.
2. Trevone Boykin. He has to play well for TCU to win. As was mentioned in the opener, Kansas State hasn't had to defend a true dual threat quarterback all season.
It'll be interesting to see how they defend Boykin on Saturday night. He's dangerous with his feet, not to mention, having to account for quarterback with the ability to tuck it and go can open up plenty of other things for an offense.
K-State has seen plenty of great offenses already, but defending TCU might actually pose the toughest challenge they faced all year, strictly from a matchup standpoint.
3. Defense. Watching Gary Patterson's defense matchup with Bill Snyder's offense is going to be about as good as it gets from a schematic point-of-view.
TCU is going to have success clogging the running lanes, but can they do it for four quarters against a very good offensive line without getting worn down? And can they do it while not getting burned over the top by KSU's very underrated receivers? This is one not to miss for this reason alone.
Kansas State, Keys to the Game:
1. It's been said a million times already, but Kansas State simply doesn't beat themselves. If they continue to play mistake free football - and given the results of the past nine games there's no reason to believe they won't - they'll find themselves 10-0 on Saturday night.
2. The passing game. There's no doubt in my mind TCU's run defense will give KSU trouble running the ball. The question then becomes, how effective will Kansas State's passing game be?
Klein's arm has carried them through several games already this year and might have to again on Saturday night. They will need to get continued strong play from Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett, and Tramaine Thompson to make it happen.
3. Field position. TCU has struggled at times this season because they've shot themselves in the foot with turnovers, not to mention they're the second most penalized team in the Big 12. This plays right into K-State's hands.
The Wildcats have used a bend-but-don't break philosophy on defense this season and it's worked because teams often times end up stopping themselves. If they can force TCU into having to sustain long drives repeatedly, you can expect the Horned Frogs to make a costly mistake somewhere along the line.
4. The pass rush. Kansas State's pass rush has been great this season led by Meshak Williams and Adam Davis. The Wildcats are tied for the Big 12 lead with 21 sacks on the year.
The secondary rush will be equally as important Saturday night because even if KSU's defensive ends can get pressure, Boykin has plenty of ability to escape which is something Arthur Brown and the Kansas State's linebackers will have to be ready for.
Plenty of people around the country like to place Kansas State on upset alert on a weekly basis and every single time Kansas State responds with another victory.
Sure, TCU has the tools to get it done mainly because TCU's defensive game plan will likely be the best Kansas State has seen all season. But even so, it's not going to happen.
Kansas State is simply too good, too experienced, and too sound overall to let this one slip through their hands.
TCU will give them all they can handle and then some, but the Wildcats offense will wear down the Horned Frogs defense in the fourth quarter led by Klein pounding away as he usually does.
Boykin will play his best game yet as a Horned Frog, but a couple costly turnovers will be too much to overcome. Kansas State 30 TCU 24.
West Virginia (5-3) @ Oklahoma State (5-3)
The Cowboys enter Saturday's reunion with former offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen, winners of three of their past four games since falling to Texas after a controversial late touchdown was allowed to stand.
What's maybe the most remarkable aspect of the Cowboy's recent success is that they've been doing it having to play three different quarterbacks. First it was freshman, Wes Lunt. Then it was redshirt freshman, J.W. Walsh. Then back to Lunt for a game and-a-half before Clint Chelf was forced into action in the second half last week and performed remarkably well considering it was his first meaningful snaps of the season.
How many teams in the country could play three quarterbacks - two of them freshmen - and score 42 points per game and rack up 575 yards of offense every time out? Not many.
Of course, it hasn't all been roses for the Cowboys. They have three losses on the season. In two of those three losses to Arizona and Kansas State, the Cowboys' offense turned the ball over nine times including seven interceptions from their freshmen quarterbacks.
Oklahoma State has been helped along by their running game that ranks second in the Big 12 at 220 yards per game sitting behind only Kansas State. And their defense has held their own since giving up 59 points to Arizona and even then, it was turnovers by the offense including a pick six that did in the Cowboys.
On the other sideline, what a difference a month makes for West Virginia. Since beating Texas on October 6th for a perfect 5-0 start to the season, the Mountaineers have lost three straight games. Their once unstoppable offense all of sudden became very average and their defense has continued to get shredded on a weekly basis.
There were signs of getting back on track last week against TCU, but mistakes at inopportune times, a major breakdown on defense late in the fourth quarter, and a six for 22 conversion rate on third downs led to yet another lose, this time in double overtime.
Now West Virginia has to take the show back on the road after failing to defend its home field the past two weeks. The good news - or bad new depending on your point of view - is that they play Oklahoma State where Holgorsen and a lot of his coaching staff spent time before coming to West Virginia.
Both teams will know each other better than most. Who does that favor? We will see on Saturday, but I'll give the slight advantage to Oklahoma State and it has nothing to do with the coaching staffs knowing the other's playbook inside and out.
One, Oklahoma State is at home and two, West Virginia has not shown the ability to stop anyone with any resemblance of a passing game. Remember Baylor's 63 points? How about Seth Doege's 499 yards and six touchdown passes? Collin Klein - who some still say can't throw the ball, completed 19 of 21 passes against the Mountaineers pass defense.
Oklahoma State, Keys to the Game:
1. Don't kick to Tavon Austin. The senior wide receiver will get his share of catches on offense, but there's little reason to take your chances by kicking to him on special teams. He has five career TD returns including a 100-yarder against Kansas State and his first ever punt return for a touchdown last week against TCU. Quinn Sharp might be the best kicker in the Big 12, but he can also prove he's the smartest by kicking if far away from Austin.
2. Throw, throw, and throw. I'm not saying forget about Joseph Randle or abandon the run game, but the Cowboys are going to make their hay by throwing the ball on Saturday. Even if West Virginia knows what's coming, they still have to execute and cover whatever it is, something they've yet to prove they can do when it comes to an opponent's passing game. Whoever the quarterback is - Lunt or Chelf - should have a field day.
3. It really goes without saying, but the Cowboys can't turn the ball over. If they can avoid the costly mistakes on Saturday, they win. If not, well, they're rolling the dice which is something that didn't work out to well against Kansas State last week.
West Virginia, Keys to the Game:
1. Get off to a fast start. What West Virginia needs more than anything is a shot of confidence. Nothing would help that more than a couple quick scores to set the tone for the rest of the day.
2. Get the ball in Tavon Austin's hands. Good things happen when Austin is toting the rock. Throw it to him, run him on jet sweeps, whatever is necessary, just get him the ball. In the losses to Kansas State and Texas Tech, he had 16 total touches on offense. He should have at least that many on Saturday alone.
3. Figure out how to run the ball, somehow, someway. Everyone always talks about Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid offense, but one thing his offenses have always been able to do is run the ball.
That hasn't been the case since their game against Texas. Whoever it is; Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison, Shawne Alston or even Austin, give them the ball and give it to them often. That just may be the medicine Geno Smith needs to help cure his ills in the passing game.
This game might have much bearing on the Big 12 title race, but it's still the most intriguing game of the weekend in the Big 12. The coaching staffs are downplaying the whole "Dana Holgorsen returns" angle, but you know neither wants to be on the losing end on Saturday, even more so than your typical Saturday.
Oklahoma State has had the better defense this season, but they haven't exactly been a steel curtain against the best offenses they've faced thus far. Arizona scored 59 points, Texas 41, and Kansas State 44.
Can West Virginia finally bust out of their offensive doldrums? Yes and no. Geno Smith will get his share of yards, but it's the lack of a running game that will do in the Mountaineers, once again.
As for the Pokes offense, here's guessing the Cowboys give Chelf the start and he proves he's the best third string quarterback in the nation.
In a game that won't be decided until the final quarter, the Cowboys balance on offense proves to be the difference. Oklahoma State 38 West Virginia 30.
Iowa State (5-4) @ #17 Texas (7-2)
Iowa State, losers of three of their past four games, is still searching for that all-important sixth win to ensure it will be heading to a bowl game when the postseason rolls around.
The Cyclones also continue the search for more offense averaging just 24.4 points and 360.6 yards per game. Both stats rank ninth in the Big 12.
Quarterback Steele Jantz is back in charge of the Cyclone offense and has played reasonably well the past two weeks since once again taking over for Jared Barnett. Jantz has thrown for 572 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 61% of his passes in his last two starts.
The Iowa State defense, after playing reasonably well holding Kansas State to 27 points and 364 total yards, has had their share of issues slowing down opponents over the past three weeks. Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Oklahoma averaged 586 yards of offense in those three games putting additional stress on an offense that has struggled to keep pace.
As for Texas, Paul Rhoads said during his weekly conference that the Longhorns are the hottest team in the Big 12 right now. Outside of Kansas State, he's probably right. After getting drilled by Oklahoma, Texas has responded with three straight wins and probably had their best game of the season last week in defeating Texas Tech in Lubbock, 31-22.
After struggling against Kansas and giving way to Case McCoy, quarterback David Ash was back on his game throwing for 264 yards including touchdown passes to Mike Davis of 75 and 25 yards in the win over the Red Raiders.
The biggest take away from their victory over Tech, however, was the emergence of an actual run defense. It's no secret that UT's defense has been shredded by anyone and everyone that is able to run the ball. But on Saturday, they held Texas Tech to 128 yards on 28 carries which was a major improvement.
Even with that performance, the Texas defense still ranks last in the Big 12 in rush defense allowing 206 yards per game.
As for the recent history between these two teams, Texas manhandled the Cyclones in Ames a season ago. Iowa State came in undefeated after three nonconference wins but turned the ball over twice in the first quarter and fell behind 35-0 at the half. The Cyclones did hold Texas to just a field goal in the second half but still went down in a ball of flames, 37-14.
The year prior, however, Iowa State scored their first ever victory over Texas and they did in Austin, nonetheless, in a season every Texas fan would like to forget. The loss to the Cyclones sent Texas into a tailspin as the Longhorns dropped three more games in a row and missed a bowl game for the first time ever under Mack Brown.
Iowa State, Keys to the Game:
1. The biggest question for Saturday's game is whether or not Iowa State can run the football. Texas has been brutal at stopping the run so far this season, although they showed signs of life last week against Texas Tech. Iowa State's run game ranks last in the Big 12 at 137 yards per game, but the Longhorns defense has made bad running teams look good plenty this season. That's what the Cyclones will be hoping for on Saturday. Even with the lack of success at times, ISU does have two backs in Shontrelle Johnson and James White that are capable of picking up yards if the Cyclones offensive lines can create some running lanes.
2. If Iowa State can't move the ball the conventional way - handing off - then they need to turn to the short passing game as another alternative. Redshirt sophomore Jarvis West has came on strong the last two weeks scoring four touchdowns against Baylor and Oklahoma. West has the speed and quickness necessary to make it tough on Texas and ISUwould be wise to continue to get the ball into his hands.
3. Iowa State's defense needs to start playing the way it did earlier in the season. That's easier said than done without Jake Knott on the field, but Iowa State isn't going to win a track meet so it will be up to the defense to keep the Cyclones in the game.
It's no coincidence that in ISU's two Big 12 wins over TCU and Baylor, the Cyclone defense came up with nine turnovers. Texas has only turned the ball over eight times themselves all season, but if ISU can create a couple on Saturday, their chances of winning in Austin for the second straight time go way up.
Texas, Keys to the Game:
1. Build off last week's momentum. As mentioned above, Texas' defense took a big step forward last week against Texas Tech. Granted it was just one game, but whatever they did to slow down a very good Tech offense, they need to do again this week against Iowa State.
2. Win the turnover battle. Stats: Iowa State has turned the ball over 19 times this season. Texas has turned the ball over eight times. If that trend continues, Texas wins by three touchdowns or more.
3. Field position. This goes hand-in-hand with the turnovers above, but if Texas wins the battle of field position on Saturday, they win the game. Iowa State doesn't have the type of offensive firepower than can consistently drive the length of the field to score.
Texas' has been excellent in the punting game this year and the deeper than can pin the Iowa State in their own territory when their offense stalls, the more likely it is that the Longhorn defense will be able to capitalize on ISU's own mistakes and maybe even score a touchdown or two of their own.
The Cyclones are still looking for their annual-signature-upset of the season and they're also running out of chances with only three games remaining. Is this the week it happens?
While Texas has been far from dominant in 2012, Iowa State will have to keep looking for that upset, not to mention that all important sixth win.
Yes, the Longhorns defense has given up big yards and is far from the unit most thought it would be, but Iowa State simply doesn't have the offensive firepower to exploit UT's weaknesses the way other teams have.
Steele Jantz will hit on a couple big pass plays to keep it interesting, but the Cyclones will lose the battle in the trenches and the game as a result.
The Longhorns make it four in a row. Texas 35 Iowa State 20.
For the first time in quite some time, the bulk of the best games of the day aren't in the prime time evening slot, but rather the afternoon 2:30 (CST) slot this weekend. How about Oregon-Stanford, Texas A&M - Alabama, West Virginia - Oklahoma State, and Penn State - Nebraska? It's maybe not quite as good a schedule as last weekend, but it's not at all bad, either.
The evening games are highlighted by Kansas State's visit to TCU, Notre Dame at Boston College, and Mississippi State's trip to LSU.
Here's a look at who, when, and where to help you play your Saturday. As always, enjoy your Saturday. There aren't many left.
(H/T to awfulannouncing.com for the broadcast teams).
|Big 12 Games|
|Iowa State @ #17 Texas||Kansas @ Texas Tech|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: LHN (ABC in Iowa)||TV: FSN|
|Sirius Channel: 117||Sirius Channel: 137|
|Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham (LHN)||Announcers: Ron Thulin, Brian Baldinger|
|Announcers: Mark Neely, Ray Bentley (ABC)|
|West Virginia @ Oklahoma State||Baylor @ #13 Oklahoma|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: ABC/ESPN2||TV: FSN|
|Sirius Channel: 92||Sirius Channel: 117|
|Announcers: Dave LaMont, Kelly Stouffer||Announcers: Steve Physioc, J.C. Pearson|
|#3 Kansas State @ TCU|
|Game Time: 6:00|
|Sirius Channel: 91 (KSU) 117 (TCU)|
|Announcers: Gus Johnson, Charles Davis|
|National Games of Interest|
|Arkansas @ #11 South Carolina||Miami (FL) @ Virginia|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: CBS||TV: ABC (regional)|
|Sirius Channel: 91||Sirius Channel: 136|
|Announcers: Spero Dedes, Steve Beuerlein||Announcers: Tom Hart, Jon Congemi|
|#10 Louisville @ Syracuse||Army @ #20 Rutgers|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: ABC (regional)||TV: ESPNU|
|Sirius Channel: 85||Sirius Channel: 134|
|Announcers: Bob Wischusen, Danny Kannell||Announcers: Joe Beninati, Pete Najarian|
|Purdue @ Iowa||Northwestern @ Michigan|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: BTN||TV: ESPN|
|Sirius Channel: 138||Sirius Channel: 92|
|Announcers: Josh Lewin, Chris Martin||Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese|
|Wisconsin @ Indiana||Colorado @ Arizona|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 12:30|
|TV: ESPN2||TV: FX|
|Sirius Channel: 113||Sirius Channel: 93|
|Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway||Announcers: Justin Kutcher, Eric Crouch|
|#2 Oregon @ #15 Stanford||Arizona State @ #22 USC|
|Game Time: 2:00||Game Time: 2:00|
|TV: FOX||TV: Pac-12 Networks|
|Sirius Channel: 139||Sirius Channel: 94|
|Announcers: Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt||Announcers: Ted Robinson, Glen Parker|
|#14 Texas A&M @ #1 Alabama||Penn State @ #16 Nebraska|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: CBS||TV: ABC/ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 91||Sirius Channel: 85|
|Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson||Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman|
|Maryland @ #8 Clemson||Air Force @ San Diego State|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: NBC Sports Newtork|
|Sirius Channel: 136||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Anish Shroff, Dan Hawkins||Announcers: Ari Wolfe, Blaine Fowler|
|Minnesota @ Illinois||Tulsa @ Houston|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 4:00|
|TV: BTN||TV: CBS College Sports|
|Sirius Channel: 113||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Eric Collins, Derek Rackley||Announcers: James Bates, Aaron Taylor|
|#23 Mississippi State @ #9 LSU||#5 Georgia @ Auburn|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 6:00|
|TV: ESPN||TV: ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 85||Sirius Channel: 92|
|Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge||Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard|
|Vanderbilt @ Ole Miss||#24 Boise State @ Hawaii|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 6:00|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: NBC Sports Network|
|Sirius Channel: 136||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb||Announcers: Paul Burnmeister, Rod Woodson|
|Southern Miss @ SMU||#4 Notre Dame @ Boston College|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 7:00|
|TV: FSN||TV: ABC|
|Sirius Channel: Not listed||Sirius Channel: 129 (ND) 113 (BC)|
|Announcers: Joel Meyers, Gary Reasons||Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit|
|Idaho @ BYU||#12 Oregon State @ Cal|
|Game Time: 9:15||Game Time: 9:30|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: ESPN|
|Sirius Channel: Not listed||Sirius Channel: 85|
|Announcers: Joe Davis, Jay Walker||Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen|
|#19 UCLA @ Washington State||Fresnon State @ Nevada|
|Game Time: 9:30||Game Time: 9:30|
|TV: ESPN||TV: NBC Sports Network|
|Sirius Channel: 92||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Adam Amin, Tom Luginbill||Announcers: Todd Haris, Anthony Herron|
|Utah @ Washington|
|Game Time: 9:30|
|TV: Pac-12 Network|
|Sirius Channel: 139|
|Announcers: Kevin Calabro, Adan Archuleta|
It's no secret that the game of football is often a chess match between coordinators. Watch film, study schemes and personnel, and then try to devise a game plan that takes advantage of an opponent's weaknesses in hopes of giving your team the best chance to win all while the guy on the other sideline is trying to do the exact same thing.
The chess match continues during the game on Saturday with coaches being forced to adjust on the fly to counter whatever new wrinkles the opponent installed during the prior week of practice.
It's the same each and every week during the season and Saturday in Stillwater will be no different when West Virginia takes on Oklahoma State, expect this one will a have few added components that coaches aren't usually forced to deal with on a weekly basis.
"I’ve watched a couple of their TV copies here, and I can call out about 90 percent of their plays, so I’d assume that’s something that is on their mind as well (changing signals) as it is on our mind. We have to be careful what we do from both an offensive standpoint and a defensive standpoint," West Virginia head coach, Dana Holgorsen, said during his Tuesday press conference.
It's been well documented this week already, but you may remember Holgorsen was Oklahoma State's offensive coordinator in 2010 and the Cowboys, by and large, are still running the same offense. Not to mention, since he was named WVU's head coach, he has brought along six former OSU staffers that are now part of his staff in Morgantown in one capacity or another.
That includes new defensive coordinator Joe DeForest who spent the past 10 seasons in Stillwater coaching the safeties and coordinating OSU's special teams. It's probably safe to say that West Virginia will have a better idea on specific players' tendencies that do most teams come game day.
So who has the advantage on Saturday? With both teams running nearly the same offense, both defenses have the luxury of having seen it through spring practice and fall camp. It goes without saying, but the scout team offense should be able to provide both teams a solid look this week in practice.
"It’s the same offense," Holgorsen said. "If you look at it the very closely, it’s called the same and a lot of the routes are the same. There’s always going to be tweaks here, tweaks there, an added formation, a different run play, a different pass play or a different set."
Whether or not one team has an advantage or not on Saturday, it still boils down to players making plays as it always does. "It comes down to the effort being there," Holgorsen added." They play with tremendous effort, so we have to play with tremendous effort."
Looking at the numbers, Oklahoma State has been much better on defense so far this season, although they've benefited from already having played Kansas and Iowa State, the two lowest scoring teams in the Big 12. West Virginia has yet to play either team instead playing Texas Tech and Baylor, neither of whom the Cowboys have played yet.
That is one certainly one reason for the disparity the defensive statistics. In five Big 12 games, West Virginia has given up 50.2 points per game while Oklahoma State has given up half of that at 24.6 points per game. Regardless of the opponent, West Virginia has held just one Big 12 opponentt under 40 points and that was TCU who scored 39 last week in double overtime. Alarming number to say the least.
Will it help knowing either team knowing what the other is going to do? Maybe, but even if the coaches recognize what is coming, they'll still have to relay that to the players (if they haven't already figured it out themselves), and then the players still have the plays, something West Virginia has struggled with more so this season than has Oklahoma State.
Whatever happens Saturday, the matchup between coaching staffs who already know what the other is thinking is going to provide plenty of added intrigue as both teams try and avoid loss number four on the season.
Advantage, who? Advantage to the team that makes the fewest mistakes and doesn't turn the ball over. Mabye Saturday's game won't be so different after all.
The so called Champions Bowl between the SEC and Big 12 that was announced in May finally has a permanent home. The game will be held in New Orleans, LA which beat out Arlington, Texas to host the game for 12 years starting with the 2014 season.
With the announcement, the Champions Bowl name which the game was coined following the original announcement is also a thing of the past. The game will take over the Sugar Bowl name and be played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as the Sugar Bowl has been in the past.
The Sugar Bowl will also be in the rotation to host the semifinals in the new four team playoff that will also start in 2014. If I'm hearing Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby correctly, in those years where the Sugar Bowl plays host to a semifinal game, the Sugar Bowl pitting the Big 12 and SEC, won't be held as such.
"We think it will be four times during the course of the 12 years that they would host the semifinals. It could still end up being three on occasions and if that's the case, will play nine times in the Sugar Bowl against the SEC but right now it looks like it will be four semifinals," Bowlsby said.
If that is indeed correct, there's been no announcement to my knowledge where the Big 12 and SEC teams would go in those years when the Sugar Bowl is part of the playoff.
And even in the years when the Sugar Bowl does host a Big 12 and SEC team, it's unlikely that both champions will be in game since one or both will likely be part of the playoff. In that case, the second place team in each conference would move up to fill the void in the Sugar Bowl.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN and played on January 1st each year in primetime following ESPN's broadcast of the Rose Bowl. The schools will split the $80 million that ESPN will reportedly pay to broadcast the game, the same ESPN is paying for the rights to the Rose Bowl.
Even though New Orleans beat out Arlington for the right to host the game, it will still be put together as a neutral site game even though it's at a location the SEC fans know all too well.
"We share stadium revenue. We will manage the games like a neutral site game so despite the fact it's in SEC territory, we're going to do everything we can to make sure it's a neutral and fair environment," Bowlsby added. "That will include the Big 12 teams being the home team on alternating years. That will include rotation of hotels, rotation of uniforms and sidelines and all of the things that make it a neutral site."
Although Bowlsby didn't mention it in the interview below, it's likely the tickets would be divided evenly between the two conferences so even though Big 12 fans may have to travel a bit farther depending on who qualifies, the game shouldn't be outrageously one sided as far as fan attendance goes, assuming Big 12 fans are willing to make the trip, of course.
Big Ten teams routinely have to travel to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl which hasn't typically affected their team's fan attendance and I'm guessing the same will hold true for Big 12 teams that find themselves in the Sugar Bowl.
You can watch Bob Bowlsby's full nterview on the game and what it means for the Big 12 below.
General College Football
Saturday Down South (SEC)
Holy Turf (Big 12 and SEC)
Eye and Eer (Ohio State & West Virginia)
Big 12 team sites are on the team specific pages