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October 4, 2006
Best matchup: Oklahoma's amazing Adrian Peterson, who has rushed for 643 yards after four games, is the nation's premier running back. He has not been held to fewer than 128 yards in a game this season. Meanwhile, Texas' run defense ranks second nationally and has allowed just 36.6 yards per game. Opposing runners are averaging 1.4 yards per carry against the Longhorns. UT held Ohio State's Antonio Pittman (ranked 12th in NCAA rushing) to 74 yards rushing and Iowa State's Stevie Hicks (ranked 52nd nationally) to 62.
Worst matchup: Perhaps only the residents of Manhattan, Kan., and Stillwater, Okla., can muster interest in the Kansas State-Oklahoma State game. Maybe not even them. Kansas State is coming off a 17-3 loss to Baylor, while Oklahoma State was idle last week following a 34-25 loss to Houston.
The pressure is on: The fans in Ames, Iowa were optimistic this was the year Iowa State could finally win the Big 12 North. But the Cyclones' hopes are probably over if they lose at home against Nebraska on Saturday. That would put Iowa State two games behind the Cornhuskers in the North Division race, and Iowa State still has South powers Oklahoma and Texas Tech remaining on the schedule. In fact, now that Kansas and Missouri have proven themselves to be solid teams, the 3-2 Cyclones can't take going to a bowl game for granted.
Upset alert: Both Kansas and Texas A&M are coming off difficult losses, with Kansas falling in overtime at Nebraska and the Aggies losing to Texas Tech on a long pass in the final minute. But the emotional edge would seem to be with Kansas (3-2), which might have gained validation by rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit on the road to force overtime against the 22nd-ranked Cornhuskers. Yet, while the Jayhawks can be encouraged, the Aggies (4-1) are likely discouraged. A&M failed to hold a late lead at Kyle Field against the only opponent they've faced that has a winning record. Also, the Aggies - who must travel to Lawrence - have not been a good road team in recent years. The Kansas game will be A&M's first venture outside the state of Texas this season.
Who's hot: Texas Tech receiver Robert Johnson caught only four passes against Texas A&M last week, but three went for touchdowns. He caught a 5-yarder for a score nine seconds before halftime and caught a 37-yarder to clinch a victory with 26 seconds left in the game. He leads the Big 12 with 38 catches for 351 yards and six touchdowns.
Who's not: Kansas State quarterbacks. Starter Dylan Meier was benched in favor of freshman Josh Freeman in last week's 17-3 loss to Baylor. Meier, who completed 11 of 22 before getting pulled, is now backing up Freeman - who completed 11 of 33 with three interceptions against Baylor. Despite losing his starting job, Meier still fared better than three former Kansas State quarterbacks who elected to transfer before the season: Kevin Lopina (Washington State), Allan Evridge (Wisconsin) and Allen Webb (Texas College).
BCS implications: No Big 12 game ever has more BCS ramifications than Texas-OU (or OU-Texas, if one lives north of the Red River). The winner has gone on to claim three of the last four conference championships and has played for the national championship four times in the last six seasons. Both the No. 7 Longhorns (4-1) and No. 14 Sooners (3-1) still have national championship hopes.
The most to gain or lose: Adrian Peterson has the most to gain, that is if he can gain enough. Peterson and Ohio State quarterback Troy Smith are the top two contenders for the Heisman Trophy, and some view Smith as having a slight edge based on his performance against Texas on Sept. 9. A three-digit rushing total against the Longhorns could put Peterson in a virtual tie with Smith. An even more productive output that proves instrumental in an OU victory could vault Peterson into the lead.
Must see TV: Texas vs. Oklahoma, ABC, 3:30 p.m. Eastern. ? The intensity between the teams makes this prime viewing any year. The fact that each is ranked and the winner will have the inside track for the Big 12 South Division championship adds to the excitement.
They said it: "This ain't a video game. You can't just keep going for it on fourth down. You've got to punt."
Newcomer/Backup that could have an impact: Cornerbacks Del Howard, a true freshman, and Paul Simpson, a junior college transfer, will be Missouri's third and fourth cornerbacks now that starter Domonique Johnson is out for the year with a knee injury. Both will likely be on the field often on Saturday against Texas Tech, which ranks third nationally in passing offense.
Key stat: Texas A&M is 4-12 on the road under coach Dennis Franchione, and that includes an "away" game this season against Army, which was played in San Antonio. A&M, which travels to face Kansas, has lost six of its last seven on an opponent's home field. In contrast, Kansas has a nine-game home winning streak.
Take the line: Consider the above category. Now, consider that Texas A&M allowed 392 passing yards to Texas Tech last week, while Kansas accumulated 405 passing yards last week against Nebraska. So, take the 1? points Kansas is offered and try not to think about the fact that North Division teams usually lose to South Division teams. Season record: 2-3
Injury update: Texas defensive end Brian Robinson missed last week's game with a bruised knee, but is expected to play. ? Missouri starting cornerback Domonique Johnson tore an ACL last week and is out for the season. Also, Tigers defensive tackle Ziggy Hood is considered doubtful and safety Pig Brown is probable for this week's game with Texas Tech. ?Nebraska linebacker Steve Octavien and offensive tackle Carl Nicks have been cleared to play Saturday against Iowa State. ? Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee suffered a concussion last week, but is expected to start against Kansas. Receiver Pierre Brown left last week's game with ice on his left knee and his status is uncertain. ?Texas Tech offensive lineman Louis Vasquez has missed the last two games with a leg injury and remains questionable for this weekend. ? Baylor safety Jordan Lake has a broken collarbone and could miss the remainder of the season.
Worth noting: The 574 yards of total offense Kansas accumulated against Nebraska last week is the most against the Huskers since their 62-36 loss to Colorado in 2001. The 94 plays Kansas ran were the most ever against the Huskers. ? Texas A&M's Travis Schneider has played well in place of injured offensive tackle Yemi Babalola. When Babalola returned for last week's game against Texas Tech, Schneider remained in the starting lineup. He figures to start again this week. ? Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell tied a school record by passing for at least 200 yards in seven consecutive games and tied another by notching his 12th 200-yard game. ? Colorado kicker Mason Crosby kicked two field goals last week, which enabled him to set a Big 12 career record with 59. He also became Colorado's all-time leading scorer with 256 points. He's one extra point shy of the school record of 95. ? Iowa State's Jon Davis set career highs with seven catches for 117 yards in a win over Northern Iowa last week. Also, Cyclones quarterback Bret Meyer completed a career high 82.7 percent of his passes (24 of 29) in that game. ? Missouri defensive lineman Brian Smith has 31 career sacks and needs four more to set the Big 12 record. Missouri has outscored opponents 62-3 in the first quarter this season. ? Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor recorded the three longest pass plays of his career in last week's win over Kansas with scoring throws of 75, 75 and 78 yards. ? Oklahoma's Malcolm Kelly had a school-record 134 receiving yards in the first quarter of the Sooners' 59-0 victory over Middle Tennessee State last week. The previous record was 128 yards set in 1962. ? Oklahoma State has scored 58 points in the second quarter this year, which is only three fewer than the Cowboys managed in the second quarter all of last season. ?. Texas A&M's Kerry Franks had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week. It was the Aggies' first score on a kickoff return since Jason Carter turned the trick against Nebraska in 2004. Unfortunately, the Aggies lost both games. Quarterback Stephen McGee was intercepted last week for the first time this season, ending a streak of 90 attempts without a pick.
Freshman who impressed: Missouri receiver Jared Perry caught an 8-yard touchdown pass last week against Colorado, his second touchdown of the season. He now has 12 catches for 146 yards and has emerged as the Tigers' third receiver.