October 14, 2004

Payback and the South highlight this week's Big 12

No. 2 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) at Kansas State (2-3, 0-2)
Saturday, 11 a.m. CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Oklahoma -20

Oklahoma player to watch: The Sooners showed the nation in last week's shutout win against Texas that their defense is among the nation's best. Senior defensive end Jonathan Jackson -- en route to being named the Big 12's defensive player of the week -- had a season-high eight tackles and two quarterback hurries. He's tied for fourth in the conference with three sacks.
Kansas State player to watch: It might sound like a broken record, but senior running back Darren Sproles remains the key for the Wildcats. In two KSU wins, he's averaged 257 yards rushing, but in the team's three losses, that number drops to 57 yards per game. Once considered a Heisman candidate, Sproles has no shot at that prestigious award. But he has to get going if Kansas State hopes to salvage this season, and that won't be an easy proposition against the OU defense.
The inside scoop: The Wildcats have to be considered among the nation's biggest disappointments. At 2-3, with the running game sputtering, the passing attack inconsistent and the defense mediocre at best, a run at another Big 12 title looks out of the question. The news only gets worse with the powerful Sooners on the schedule this week. And Oklahoma will be looking for revenge after getting beaten up by the Wildcats in last year's Big 12 championship game, 35-7. OU, however, didn't have freshman sensation Adrian Peterson at running back, and the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder enters this game as the marquee back on display, not Sproles.
Oklahoma will win ... and it will win in impressive fashion, with Peterson topping the 100-yard mark for the sixth consecutive game.
Kansas State could stay close if … Who am I kidding? Whether or not they will admit it, the Sooners are looking for payback, and the Wildcats are headed to the woodshed.
Notes: Oklahoma has dominated the all-time series, leading 66-17-4 … After his 225-yard outing against Texas last week, Peterson now ranks fourth in the nation with an average of 154 yards per game … Sproles ranks first nationally with 206 all-purpose yards per game.
The pick: A few late scores make this one closer than it was. Oklahoma 40, Kansas State 20

Iowa State (2-3, 0-2) at Colorado (3-2, 0-2)
Saturday, 11:30 a.m., MDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Colorado -10

Iowa State player to watch: The Cyclones can't settle on a quarterback, but they have a talented group of young receivers, including sophomore Jon Davis. He leads the team with 25 catches for 325 yards and played well in last week's 34-3 loss to Texas A&M with five grabs for 86 yards.
Colorado position to watch: The Buffs offense can't seem to establish an identity. Part of the problem has been inconsistent play from junior quarterback Joel Klatt, who was knocked out of last week's 42-14 loss to Oklahoma State with a strained neck. Sophomore James Cox came on to complete 15 of 21 passes for 175 yards, but he also was picked off twice.
The inside scoop: Colorado enters this game as a 10-point favorite, but Iowa State's strengths are the Buffaloes' weaknesses. The CU offense is mediocre at best and the Cyclones have been formidable on defense, allowing just 315 yards per game. ISU also has very good receivers and could exploit Colorado, which ranks last in the Big 12 in pass defense, if its quarterbacks, Austin Flynn and Bret Meyer, play well. With quarterback questions of its own, look for Colorado to try to feature its running attack, led by Bobby Purify and Lawrence Vickers.
Iowa State will win if … its quarterbacks play well, and it can hold Colorado to less than 150 yards rushing.
Colorado will win if … it can run the ball and control the clock, and it doesn't give up big plays in the passing game.
Notes: Colorado leads the series 45-12-1 and won last year's meeting, 44-10 … Purify ranks ninth in school history at CU with 2,460 career rushing yards …Iowa State has yet to allow an opponent to convert on fourth down in five chances this year.
The pick: Colorado 23, Iowa State 21

Missouri (4-1, 2-0) at No. 9 Texas (4-1, 1-1)
Saturday, 2:30 a.m. CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Texas -14.5

Missouri player to watch: Don't look now, but in a league with several great defenses, the Tigers rank first in the conference and eighth nationally in total defense, allowing just 259 yards per game. Leading the way is senior linebacker James Kinney, who leads the team with 36 tackles and two recovered fumbles.
Texas player to watch: The passing game let the Longhorns down in last week's 12-0 loss to Oklahoma. Coach Mack Brown said he's going to look to throw the ball more, and with limited experience at the receiver positions, senior wideout Tony Jeffery must step up his level of play. He has 16 catches for 168 yards and two scores this season, but he had just one catch for four yards against the Sooners.
The inside scoop: This is a big game for both teams. Missouri has designs on winning the Big 12 North, while Texas is looking to bounce back from its fifth straight loss to rival Oklahoma. The Longhorns have the better talent on both sides of the ball, as well as home-field advantage, but they can't afford to come out flat after last week's disappointing defeat. As mentioned above, the Tigers defense has been stingy this year, and quarterback Brad Smith is among the most dangerous players in the country. Texas is a two-touchdown favorite in this one, but don't believe the hype. This will be a close game.
Missouri will win if ... it can slow the Texas ground attack, especially senior running back Cedric Benson, and Smith doesn't turn the ball over.
Texas will win if … it forces Smith to make all of his plays from the pocket and the passing game produces some big plays.
Notes: Texas has won 13 of the 18 meetings in the series … Benson was held to 92 yards last week against OU, but he still ranks second nationally with an average of 168 yards per game … Smith, who has 5,310 career passing yards, needs just 43 yards to move past Phil Bradley into second place in school history.
The pick: Texas 28, Missouri 23

Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0) at Oklahoma State (5-0, 2-0)
Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Oklahoma State -7

Texas A&M player to watch: Sophomore running back Courtney Lewis has rushed for 369 yards and five touchdowns in four games for the Aggies, winners of four straight. He had 171 yards and a touchdown in last year's loss to OSU and is sure to be a focal point of the Cowboys defense.
Oklahoma State player to watch: Sproles, Benson and Peterson garner most of the headlines among Big 12 running backs, but it's Vernand Morency who is the nation's leading rusher with an average of 174 yards per game. He's coming off a 165-yard, two-touchdown performance in last week's 42-14 win at Colorado.
The inside scoop: The nation is wondering of Oklahoma State is for real, and it will get an answer this week. The Aggies and the Cowboys are two of the most physical teams in the nation and should wage a battle in Stillwater. Statistically, the two teams are almost identical. If you're looking for an X-factor, it would probably be quarterback play. Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal has come into his own this year, getting the job done through the air and on the ground. For OSU, freshman Donovan Woods hasn't been asked to do as much, but he's gotten better each week.
Texas A&M will win if ... it can hold Oklahoma State to less than 200 yards rushing and McNeal takes care of the ball against an opportunistic Cowboys defense.
Oklahoma State will win if … it can avoid getting burned by McNeal when he scrambles and the offense continues to move the ball on the ground.
Notes: Texas A&M leads the series 13-6, but the Cowboys won last year, 38-10 … The Aggies lead the Big 12 with 18 sacks …OSU leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-15.
The pick: Oklahoma State 31, Texas A&M 23

Baylor (2-3, 0-2) at Nebraska (3-2, 1-1)
Saturday, 1 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Nebraska -23

Baylor player to watch: The Bears rank 11th in the Big 12 with just 92 yards per game on the ground and average just 2.8 yards per carry. The running game needs to improve to take some of the pressure off quarterback Dane King, and Paul Mosley is the best candidate for the job. He has 49 carries for 259 yards and two touchdowns.
Nebraska player to watch: Junior running back Cory Ross needs to get the ball. He's averaging 105 yards per game, but he's getting less than 20 carries per game. As poor as the Cornhuskers quarterbacks have been, Nebraska needs to try to establish its running game if for no other reason than to avoid turnovers.
The inside scoop: Nebraska is among the most storied programs in the nation, but it was thoroughly embarrassed in a 70-10 loss at Texas Tech last week. With struggling Baylor on the schedule this week, it will be interesting to see how Coach Bill Callahan's team responds to the whipping it received in Lubbock. Will the Huskers come out angry and focused or will they come out feeling sorry for themselves, expecting to beat Baylor with their reputation? Another poor outing, and it's hard to imagine that Nebraska will be able to right the ship this season.
Baylor won't win, ... but Bears fans need to stay patient as better times are on the horizon.
Nebraska will win, … but will the Cornhuskers show the heart of great Nebraska teams of the past? That remains to be seen.
Notes: Nebraska has won seven of the eight meetings in the series, winning most recently in 2001, 48-7 … Huskers linebacker Barrett Ruud needs just five tackles this week to become the school's all-time leader in that category … Five of Baylor's 22 starters are former walk-ons.
The pick: Nebraska 45, Baylor 17


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