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October 11, 2006
Best matchup: Unbeaten Missouri proved it was for real in defeating Texas Tech last week. The Tigers travel to face once-beaten Texas A&M, which is 5-1 and riding the momentum of a come-from-behind victory at Kansas last week.
Worst matchup: Technically, this weekend's Baylor-Texas game is a showdown for supremacy in the Big 12 South. Realistically, it should be a Texas blowout victory. Baylor is unbeaten in conference play, but its two victories are over Kansas State and Colorado. Texas has decisive victories over Iowa State and Colorado. Still not convinced? Baylor has been held to fewer than 21 points four times. Texas has held four of its five opponents to 14 or fewer points. Only No. 1 Ohio State, which had 24 points, managed more than two touchdowns against the Longhorns.
The pressure is on: Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell shouldn't feel much pressure to lead the Bears to their greatest upset since toppling Texas 34-24 in 1974. However, Bell will likely feel pressure from the Texas defense. Baylor has allowed 15 sacks this season, while the Longhorns have recorded 20.
Upset alert: Iowa State has shown a tendency to play to its competition. The Cyclones have been respectable in losses to Iowa and Nebraska and unimpressive in victories over UNLV and Northern Iowa. This was supposed to be the year the Cyclones could win the Big 12 North, but they've been largely disappointing so far. Iowa State does have a decent passing attack with quarterback Brett Meyer and tall receivers Todd Blythe and Austin Flynn. Also in their favor, Oklahoma's secondary has been inconsistent. The Sooners could have a hangover after an emotional loss to Texas last week. A word of warning, however: Iowa State has not won in Norman since 1990.
Who's hot: Jorvorskie Lane, Texas A&M's 240-pound bulldozer of a running back. Lane scored two touchdowns against Kansas, including the game-winner in the final minute. He has scored at least one touchdown in every game and has 13 on the season, the most in the nation.
Who's not: Three weeks ago, the Texas A&M pass defense ranked No. 2 in the nation. But after games against Louisiana Tech, Texas Tech and Kansas the Aggies have dropped to No. 36, They figure to fall further after facing Missouri. However, that's still significant improvement from last season, when the Aggies finished last nationally in pass defense.
BCS implications: Texas is the highest ranked Big 12 team at No. 6, so winning the conference championship is the best bet for a Big 12 team to get into a BCS game. A victory over Baylor would give Texas at least a one-game lead in the Big 12 South and the inside track at getting to the championship game. Also, if Texas can win the remainder of its games, the Longhorns could conceivably get back into the national championship picture.
Most to lose or gain: Dennis Franchione has been called a coach on the hot seat, but if Texas A&M can deal Missouri its first loss that seat will cool considerably. That would clinch bowl eligibility, which would be the first step in appeasing impatient Aggies. A victory over the No. 19 Tigers may silence detractors who have dismissed A&M's 5-1 start as a result of scheduling poor competition.
Must see TV: Missouri at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m., ABC. One of the year's most surprising teams, Missouri hopes to notch its second consecutive victory in Texas after knocking off Texas Tech in Lubbock a week ago. The Tigers defense is ranked 11th nationally, while A&M's offense is No. 22. Footnote No. 1: The last time Missouri came to College Station was Nov. 16, 2002. The Tigers captured a 33-27 victory that likely sealed the fate of then-A&M coach R.C. Slocum, who was fired after the season. Footnote No. 2: Missouri has six Texans in its starting lineup,
They said it: "Gene, Gene, please don't take the Miami job. This job is yours in 10 years."
Newcomer/backup that could have an impact: Oklahoma State freshman running back Keith Toston rushed for 109 yards on 14 carries and scored a touchdown in last week's loss to Kansas State. That was the most attempts he's had all season. If he produces like that, the carries will increase.
Key stat: Nebraska has rushed for 18 touchdowns this season, almost doubling the amount (10) the Cornhuskers managed all of last season.
Take the line: Twice I've lost in the last minute this season ? last week when Texas A&M rallied to beat Kansas and on Sept. 16 when Missouri gave up a meaningless touchdown to New Mexico that enabled the Lobos to cover the spread. With that in mind, I'm avoiding the game in which Missouri is a 2? point favorite. Instead, I'd give Kansas State 10? and take Nebraska. Kansas State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman rallied the Wildcats to a 31-27 victory over Oklahoma State last week, but Nebraska is a much better team with hopes of winning the Big 12 North. The Cornhuskers had a strong showing in last week's 28-14 victory over Iowa State. Season record: 2-4
Injury update: Colorado safety Ryan Walters figures to play against Texas Tech after missing the Baylor game with a stinger. Center Mark Fenton remains out with a broken fibula. ? Texas Tech receiver Edward Britton is questionable with a hamstring injury. ? Missouri defensive end Ziggy Hood is expected to return to action this week. ? Texas guard Cedric Dockery, who left Saturday's game against Oklahoma, is questionable for Saturday's game against Baylor.
Worth noting: Nebraska now has 799 victories all-time. Should the Cornhuskers defeat Kansas State this weekend they would become only the fourth program in Division I-A history to notch 800 wins. The others are Michigan, Notre Dame and Texas. ? In the last three games Texas A&M has limited opponents to 16 percent success rate (6-for-36) on third down. ? Baylor's Trent Shelton and Dominique Zeigler have become the most prolific receiving duo in school history. They have combined for 276 receptions as teammates, which betters the previous mark of 265 set by Reggie Newhouse and Robert Quiroga. ? Texas Tech running back Shannon Woods moved up to second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage behind Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson. Woods' average of 144.7 all-purpose yards is the most by a Red Raider since 2003 when Wes Welker averaged 146.8 yards. ? Tech kicker Alex Trilca needs just two points to pass Lin Elliott and become the school's all-time high scoring kicker with 221 points. ? Should Colorado lose to Texas Tech on Saturday the Buffaloes would set a dubious school record with their 11th consecutive loss. ? Colorado quarterback Bernard Jackson threw his first career touchdown in last week's loss to Baylor. ? Kansas running back Jon Cornish posted his fifth 100-yard performance in six games last week. ? Iowa State linebacker Alvin Bowen leads the nation in tackling with an average of 14.3 per game. He had 17 in last week's loss to Nebraska. ? Missouri has not trailed in a game this season. The Tigers are 7-0 for the first time since 1973 and only the fourth time in school history. The other times were in 1899, 1960 and '73. ? Nebraska running back Cody Glenn rushed for 148 yards against Iowa State last week, which were the most by a Cornhusker in a Big 12 game since Cory Ross rushed for 194 against Missouri in 2004. ? Oklahoma State defensive end Victor DeGrate has recorded a sack in four consecutive games and had two in lat week's loss to Kansas State. ? Texas captured its 17th Big 12 victory in a row last week to extend its league record. ? The Longhorns have six interceptions in the last three games. ? Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee had career highs in completions and attempts against Kansas. He completed 25 of 45 passes for 240 yards and no interceptions. ? The five touchdowns Missouri scored last week were the first allowed by Texas Tech in Lubbock this season. ? Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson's 38 rushing yards in the second half of Saturday's loss to Texas was by far his lowest output. In the Sooners' four previous games he had 351 rushing yards after halftime.
Freshman who impressed: Kansas State running back Leon Patton rushed for 151 yards on 23 carries, had 117 yards on kick returns ? including a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown - and 33 receiving for 301 all-purpose yards in a victory over Oklahoma State.