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September 27, 2006

Big 12: Week 5 Breakdown

Buchanan's Big 12 Week 5 picks
Rivals.com national writer Olin Buchanan's predictions for Week 5 in the Big 12.
Saturday's games:
Kansas State 20, Baylor 16
Missouri 24, Colorado 17
Iowa State 41, Northern Iowa 20
Nebraska 31, Kansas 20
Texas 59, Sam Houston 3
Texas Tech 31, Texas A&M 24
Best matchup: Although it's probably a result of playing low-caliber competition, Texas A&M is ranked No. 6 in the nation in pass defense. The Aggies are allowing only 127.5 yards per game. Conversely, Texas Tech ranks third nationally in pass offense at 336.5 yards per game, but has also feasted on questionable competition. Texas A&M went to a 4-2-5 defensive scheme this year to shore up what was the nation's worst pass defense in 2005. Safety Devin Gregg has flourished in the new system with two interceptions and 20 tackles. Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown for at least 245 yards in each game, and last week welcomed back receiver Jarrett Hicks. After having eligibility issues cleared up by the NCAA, Hicks caught three passes in his return - including a 48-yard touchdown.

Worst matchup: Adding a 12th game to the schedule left a lot of teams scrambling to find another opponent, but couldn't Texas have done a little better than Sam Houston? The Division I-AA Bearkats finished 3-7 in 2005 and are 2-1 this season. The loss was a 45-14 trouncing by SMU, Sam Houston's only Division I-A opponent this season. Seventh-ranked Texas (3-1) ranks 11th nationally in total defense and 23rd in total offense. Ouch.

The pressure is on: A 4-0 start has made Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione's hot seat a little cooler, but no team outside of Austin is more loathsome to Aggies than Texas Tech. Franchione is 1-2 vs. Tech and won the last time the game was played in College Station. However, the two losses have been by lopsided margins. Franchione is 1-8 against Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech the upper echelon of the Big 12. A loss to the Red Raiders may signal another poor finish in the Big 12 South, especially with Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas remaining on the schedule.

Upset alert: Missouri has the nation's top-ranked defense, but hasn't played any good offensive teams. Winless Colorado isn't very good offensively, either, but perhaps the Buffaloes are starting to figure out first-year coach Dan Hawkins' scheme. Colorado rolled up 313 yards last week against a Georgia defense which had posted back-to-back shutouts. Defense, in fact, may keep Colorado in contention. The Buffaloes have not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season, and that's against a schedule which includes Georgia and Arizona State.

BCS implications: No. 21 Nebraska is still considered the North Division's best bet to reach a BCS bowl, which would first require winning the North. That quest starts against Kansas, which like the Cornhuskers is 3-1.

Most to gain or most to lose: Kansas' goal entering the season was to reach back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. A victory over Nebraska would make the Jayhawks legitimate contenders to win the Big 12 North. It might even make them favorites considering they do not play Texas, Oklahoma or Texas Tech. Also, a victory would snap a losing streak in Lincoln that stretches back to 1968.

Must see TV: Kansas upset Nebraska 40-15 last season, and now KU is looking for consecutive victories over the Cornhuskers for the first time since 1967 and 1968. The Jayhawks are 3-1 as is Nebraska, setting the stage for what has become a key match-up in the Big 12 North.
Also: Colorado at Missouri (FSN), Texas Tech at Texas A&M (ABC).

Who's hot: Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, who has four consecutive 100-yard games and is one of the leading Heisman Trophy contenders, would be an easy choice. But who wants to take the easy route? We'll take Nebraska sophomore running back Marlon Lucky, who rushed for 156 yards on 10 carries last week - including touchdowns runs of 34, 45 and 51 yards.

Who's not: Baylor has not beaten a Division I team, and close losses are still losses. The Bears just can't close the deal. They've led at halftime in all three of their losses, but have been outscored 51-16 in the second half.

Newcomer who could have an impact: Texas has been waiting for redshirt freshman tight end Jermichael Finley to show off his talent. Last week, the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Finley did just that. Finley had two catches, including a 10-yard touchdown pass he yanked away from an Iowa State defensive back. He figures to get more opportunities as the season progresses.

Key stat: Nebraska has held Kansas to fewer than 10 points in 24 of the last 35 games. Nebraska has posted 10 shutouts in that span.

Take the line: Three defeats in a row. Ugh. I've lost my shirt, the farm and even some self respect, but never the optimism. This week I'd give one point and take Texas Tech to cover on the road against Texas A&M. Though A&M's pass defense is ranked sixth nationally, they've played two teams whose pass offenses have ranked among the nation's bottom seven. Texas Tech, meanwhile ranks third in pass offense and just got receiver Jarrett Hicks back. A word of caution, though. The last two meetings in College Station ended with an A&M victory and a one-point loss in overtime.
Season record: 1-3

They said it: "People are saying, 'Same old Oklahoma State.' Go tell those people that told that same old lie to go ahead and jump off the ship like a bunch of roaches. That's OK, because that's what they are, a bunch of roaches." -- Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Vance Bedford on criticism after the Cowboys' 34-25 loss to Houston.

Injury update: Colorado center Mark Fenton broke a fibula last week and will be out two to four weeks. Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy had surgery to repair a ruptured tendon in his right ring finger last Friday and it is uncertain when he'll return. Defensive end Brian Robison has an apparent bruised leg and his status for Saturday's game is unknown. Nebraska running back Cody Glenn and linebackers Steve Octavien and Clayton Sievers sat out last week's game with strained hamstrings, but are all probable for this week.

Worth noting: Nebraska has 14 rushing touchdowns this season, which is four more than the Cornhuskers managed all of last year. Iowa State's Todd Blythe and Jon Davis both caught the 100th passes of their careers last week, marking the first time in history Iowa State has had two 100-catch receivers on the same team. Missouri has started 4-0 for the first time since 2003 and only the fifth time since 1925. Missouri and Florida are the only teams in Division I to have their offense and defense to rank among the nation's top 10. Missouri has not trailed in a game this year. Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell has passed for at least 200 yards in six consecutive games. Kansas running back Jon Cornish has exceeded 100 yards rushing in three of four games. Kansas State penetrated Louisville's 30-yard line three times without managing to score in Saturday's 24-6 loss. Nebraska posted its first shutout in three years with a 56-0 thrashing of Troy last week. Texas has set a Big 12 record with 16 consecutive conference victories. Colorado quarterback Bernard Jackson's 85 rushing yards last week were the most by a CU quarterback since Kordell Stewart had 143 against Notre Dame in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma's blanking of Middle Tennessee State marked the Sooners' ninth shutout under coach Bob Stoops. Texas A&M sophomore running back Jorvorskie Lane already has scored 10 touchdowns this season. A&M quarterback Stephen McGee has thrown 92 passes without an interception dating back to last year's game against Texas. Texas Tech has won 11 in a row at home to tie a school record originally set during the 1973-74 seasons.

Looking back: Colorado took a 13-0 lead and stayed ahead until the final minute of a 14-13 loss to No. 9 Georgia. Meanwhile, Texas posted the first Big 12 conference victory of the year with a 37-14 victory over Iowa State in a game which was delayed more than an hour because of severe weather. Texas A&M and Missouri remained undefeated, while Oklahoma State and Kansas State endured their first losses. Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas Tech posted lopsided shutout victories. Kansas won a close one, and Baylor lost in overtime to Army.

Freshman who impressed: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy completed 18 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in a 37-14 victory over Iowa State. He has completed 80.6 percent of his passes over the last two games.

More Week 5 Conference Previews: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC



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