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November 18, 2004

A lot riding on a few games in the Big 12

No. 2 Oklahoma (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) at Baylor (3-7, 1-6)
Saturday, 11 a.m., CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Oklahoma -33.5

Oklahoma player to watch: After nine straight 100-yard games, freshman running back Adrian Peterson, who's nursing a sore shoulder, finished with just 58 yards on 15 carries in last week's 30-3 romp against Nebraska. He now has 1,431 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, but he probably needs a big day against the Bears if he hopes to be invited to New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony.
Baylor player to watch: The Bears have struggled at times defensively this season, but hard-hitting junior safety Willie Andrews has played well. He is third on the team with 57 tackles, including 10 for losses, and leads the team with three sacks. Andrews also has five quarterback hurries, two pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
The inside scoop: Much to the dismay of Coach Bob Stoops, the Sooners have seen their BCS lead over Auburn shrink in recent weeks. That might be bad news for the Bears, as Oklahoma will be trying to impress the pollsters with a big win. But truth be told, can you beat Baylor by enough points to come across as impressive? Stoops tried to tack on a late score in a one-sided win against the Cornhuskers last week and the perceived lack of sportsmanship was not well received by Nebraska's players and coaches, as well as many onlookers around the country. The Sooners will win this game, and they'll win the Big 12 championship game against an inferior opponent from the North Division. But will they get to play for a national title?
Oklahoma will win ... and someone will wind up getting embarrassed.
Baylor will … lose, but have I mentioned that Guy Morriss is the man?
Notes: Oklahoma has won all 13 previous meetings with the Bears, including a 41-3 decision last season … The Bears allow 196 yards per game on the ground, which ranks last in the Big 12… The Sooners lead the Big 12 with 29 sacks.
The pick: Oklahoma 53, Baylor 10

Iowa State (5-4, 3-3) at Kansas State (4-6, 2-5)
Saturday, 11 a.m. CDT, Fox Sports Net
The Daily Line: Kansas State -10.5

Iowa State player to watch: Freshman receiver Todd Blythe is having a tremendous rookie season. In the Cyclones' last game, a 34-27 victory against Nebraska two weeks ago, he had eight catches for 188 yards and a touchdown. For the season, Blythe now has 31 catches for 666 yards and nine scores, which is a new school record.
Kansas State player to watch: I've talked about Darren Sproles almost every week, and with this being his final game, I'll talk about him one more time. The diminutive tailback has had a tremendous career for the Wildcats, and even though this season hasn't gone exactly as he would have liked, Sproles has still managed to rush for 1,151 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The inside scoop: It's the Cyclones who have everything to play for in this meeting. If it can beat Kansas State and then win at home against Missouri next week, Iowa State will be the Big 12 North champions and face Oklahoma in the conference title game on Dec. 4. The Wildcats, meanwhile, mercifully will see their disappointing season end on Saturday regardless of this game's outcome. Anyone else wondering why Kansas State is a 10.5-point favorite? Nobody has taken the Cyclones seriously all year, but they just keep finding ways to win, usually courtesy of a balanced offense and a stingy defense. The Wildcats have the better personnel and are at home, but will they be motivated? Expect this one to be close.
Iowa State will win if … it converts some big plays in the passing game and holds Sproles to less than 100 yards.
Kansas State will win if … if it plays with passion, desire and heart. Wow, that was really cheesy.
Notes: The Cyclones lead the series 46-37-4, but they were drilled last year, 45-0 … Sproles is the Big 12's career leader with 6,552 all-purpose yards … Iowa State has forced 12 turnovers in its last four games.
The pick: I want to choose the Cyclones and finally show them respect, but the spectacle around Sproles' final game gives the Cats a slight edge. Kansas State 31, Iowa State 30

Kansas (3-7, 1-6) at Missouri (4-5, 2-4)
Saturday, 1 p.m. CDT
The Daily Line: Missouri -10

Kansas player to watch: Sophomore cornerback Charles Gordon is having a solid year for the Jayhawks. His six interceptions lead the Big 12 and are tied for the top spot nationally, and he's also recorded 53 tackles, six pass break ups and a sack.
Missouri player to watch: Junior quarterback Brad Smith has played well this season, but he'll have to be at his best the rest of the season if the Tigers plan on going to a bowl game. He's passed for 1,773 yards and 17 touchdowns and rushed for 493 yards and three scores this season.
The inside scoop: It's simple: Missouri has to win its final two games to climb back above .500 and qualify for a bowl game. Two wins could also land the Tigers in the Big 12 championship game as the representative of the North Division. Kansas, meanwhile, must be reeling after last week's 27-23 loss to Texas. The Jayhawks had a big lead late in the fourth quarter, but they couldn't hold on for the win. Kansas has played well defensively this season, but the offense has been suspect, especially since starting quarterback Adam Barmann was lost for the season with a shoulder injury. Missouri, meanwhile, has been inconsistent all season. They should win this game, but will they?
Kansas will win if ... its defense can keep Smith in the pocket and the running game is productive.
Missouri will win if ... it plays with a sense of urgency and Smith takes care of the ball.
Notes: Missouri leads the series 52-51-9, but Kansas won last year's meeting, 35-14 … Five of the Jayhawks' seven losses have come by fewer than seven points … The Tigers allow just 133 yards per game through the air, the third-best total in the nation.
The pick: Missouri 24, Kansas 18


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