November 11, 2004

Big 12 teams play for positioning this week

No. 6 Texas (8-1, 5-1 Big 12) at Kansas (3-6, 1-5)
Saturday, 11 a.m., CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Texas -21.5

Texas player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Vince Young has been criticized often this season, but he was tremendous in the Longhorns' 56-35 comeback victory against Oklahoma State last week. He passed for 278 yards and a touchdown and ran for 123 yards and a score. Young has accounted for 1,929 yards and 18 touchdowns this season.
Kansas player to watch: Junior linebacker Nick Reid ranks second in the Big 12 in tackles this season with 89, and he'll get plenty of chances to make plays against Texas' vaunted running game. Reid also has 10 tackles for losses and 2.5 sacks this season.
The inside scoop: The Jayhawks have played better than their 3-6 record would indicate, but they haven't played well enough to beat a team with as much talent as the Longhorns. Texas sleepwalked through the first half of its game with Oklahoma State last week before scoring the contest's final 49 points. If Kansas is to have any chance at an upset, it will have to slow the Longhorns' ground attack, which ranks second nationally with an average of nearly 307 yards per game. The Jayhawks have performed well against the run this season, giving up just 112 yards per game, the third-best total in the Big 12.
Texas will win ... and it could be easy if the ground game gets rolling early.
Kansas will … lose because it doesn't have the personnel to win the battle on offense, defense or special teams.
Notes: Texas has won four of the six previous meetings all time, including a 59-0 victory in the last matchup in 2001 … With two interceptions last week, Kansas sophomore Charles Gordon now leads the nation with six picks this season … The Longhorns have allowed just eight sacks in nine games this season.
The pick: Texas 33, Kansas 17


Texas Tech (6-3, 4-2) at Texas A&M (6-3, 4-2)
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CDT, ABC Sports
The Daily Line: Texas A&M -2.5

Texas Tech player to watch: With opposing teams trying to stop wideouts Jarrett Hicks and Nehemiah Glover, senior wide receiver Trey Haverty has been posting impressive numbers. He has 27 catches for 354 yards and four scores in the last three games, bringing his season totals to 57 receptions for 792 yards and five touchdowns.
Texas A&M player to watch: Senior cornerback Jonte Buhl will be playing his final game at Kyle Field, and he will get plenty of chances to have an impact against the Red Raiders' prolific passing attack. He has 60 tackles, including 3.5 for losses, five pass break-ups, an interception, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and a sack this season.
The inside scoop: The Aggies are coming off two tough losses and can't afford to drop this one at home, but Texas Tech has designs of its own on finishing the season in style. As always, the Red Raiders are going to pressure opposing teams with a dynamic passing attack. Senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie is averaging more than 400 yards per game through the air, meaning it will be a busy day for the A&M secondary. But the Aggies also field an outstanding offense, led by junior quarterback Reggie McNeal, and it will test the Raiders on the ground and through the air. The scoreboard operator can expect a busy afternoon.
Texas Tech will win if … it can win the battle in the trenches and Cumbie doesn't turn the ball over.
Texas A&M will win if … it can enjoy balance on offense and play with a sense of urgency.
Notes: The Aggies lead the series 33-28-1, but they were blasted last season, 59-28 … A&M has been held to less than 400 yards of offense just once this season … Only three Division I teams average fewer rushing yards per game than the Red Raiders, who average 85.6.
The pick: Texas A&M 37, Texas Tech 35


Nebraska (5-4, 3-3) at No. 2 Oklahoma (9-0, 6-0)
Saturday, 6 p.m. CDT, TBS
The Daily Line: Oklahoma -30

Nebraska player to watch: The Cornhuskers have been committed to throwing the ball this season, but junior running back Cory Ross has still had a good season. He needs just 63 yards to reach 1,000, and he's scored six touchdowns. Ross must have a good day to help keep Oklahoma's explosive offense on the sideline.
Oklahoma player to watch: With standout cornerback Antonio Perkins injured, the Sooners are relying more heavily on junior safety Brodney Pool. He leads OU in tackles with 65 and pass break-ups with nine. Poole also has two interceptions, and the Cornhuskers have been plagued by picks all season.
The inside scoop: It's a good bet that legendary Nebraska coach Tom Osborne never thought he'd see the day that the Cornhuskers would be 30-point underdogs against rival Oklahoma, but that will the case Saturday. Osborne probably has seen a few other things this season that he never thought he'd see from Nebraska, most notably the 18 interceptions thrown by Huskers quarterbacks this season. If NU can't take care of the ball against the Sooners, it will be a long day. Oklahoma has been clicking on all cylinders on offense in recent weeks, but the defense has given up an alarming 70 points in the last two games. Look for OU to try to post an impressive win to keep the pollsters from turning their attention to No. 3 Auburn, which could turn heads with a big win against Georgia.
Nebraska will lose ... but hey, the Huskers got a commitment from Marlon Lucky this week, so the news isn't all bad.
Oklahoma will win ... and it won't be close if the Huskers can't hold on to the ball.
Notes: Oklahoma leads the series 40-37-3, but Nebraska won the last meeting in 2001, 20-10 … The Cornhuskers have committed 28 turnovers this season, the most in the Big 12 … The Sooners convert on third-down attempts 53.6 percent of the time and are the only Big 12 team above 50 percent.
The pick: Oklahoma 42, Nebraska 20


Kansas State (4-5, 2-4) at Colorado (5-4, 2-4)
Saturday, 12:30 p.m. MDT
The Daily Line: Kansas State -3

Kansas State player to watch: Senior running back Darren Sproles had a huge game with 160 yards and two touchdowns as the Wildcats stayed in bowl contention with a 35-24 win at Missouri last week. He now has 1,096 yards and nine touchdowns this season and will have to continue to play well for Kansas State to finish with two wins.
Colorado player to watch: The Buffaloes have had their share of problems this season, but they've been able to count on the play of sophomore cornerback Lorenzo Sims. He has 47 tackles, seven pass break-ups, three interceptions and a sack.
The inside scoop: Many observers had left Kansas State for dead, but last week's win against the Tigers and games with Colorado and Iowa State left on the schedule have Wildcats fans thinking bowl game. The Buffaloes, meanwhile, are also in position to get bowl eligible with a win against KSU or in their season finale against Nebraska. The two teams mirror each other in terms of offensive production, but it's the Wildcats who have the better defense. Kansas State has been especially good against the pass, allowing just 195 yards per game and a completion percentage of just 53.5. CU, meanwhile, ranks last in the Big 12 in total defense, giving up nearly 431 yards per game.
Kansas State will win if ... it can force Colorado into turnovers and Sproles rushes for at least 150 yards.
Colorado will win if … it takes care of the ball and senior running back Bobby Purify rushes for 100 yards.
Notes: Colorado leads the series 41-17-1, but the Wildcats won last season, 49-20 … CU punter John Torp ranks second nationally with an average of 47.1 yards per kick … Kansas State's opponents have scored 25 touchdowns in 32 red-zone trips.
The pick: Kansas State 28, Colorado 20


Baylor (3-6, 1-5) at No. 25 Oklahoma State (6-3, 3-3)
Saturday, 1 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Oklahoma State -25.5

Baylor player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Shawn Bell has played fairly well since taking over for injured Dane King. He's 67-for-108 for 534 yards and six touchdowns this season. Bell, who's yet to throw an interception, must have a great game for the Bears to have any chance.
Oklahoma State player to watch: Junior running back Vernand Morency is having an outstanding season, rushing for 1,346 yards and 12 touchdowns. There's a good chance those numbers will increase dramatically against a Baylor rush defense that allows 184 yards per game and ranks last in the Big 12.
The inside scoop: The Cowboys have suffered two tough losses in a row, so a visit from Baylor might be just what the doctor ordered. But these Bears have been competitive most of the year and won't lie down. If Oklahoma State isn't ready to play, this game will be far closer than most expect. If Baylor is to have a chance, Bell will have to play well and not turn the ball over, and the defense will have to find a way to slow the Cowboys' rushing attack, which is ranked eighth nationally with an average of 246 yards per game. OSU's freshman quarterback Donovan Woods has played well this season, but he's struggled when his team has been forced to rely on the pass.
Baylor won't win ... but it won't get blown out. Coach Guy Morriss has done a good job this season.
Oklahoma State will win … but expect a sluggish outing from the heavily favored Cowboys.
Notes: The series is tied 11-11, with Oklahoma State winning last season, 38-21 … In addition to his 11 touchdown passes, Woods has had at least one rushing touchdown in all but one game … Baylor has forced just nine turnovers this season, six fewer than any other Big 12 team.
The pick: Oklahoma State 34, Baylor 24



 

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