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November 22, 2006

Big 12: Week 13 Breakdown

Buchanan's Big 12 picks
Rivals.com senior writer Olin Buchanan's predictions for the Big 12
Nebraska 27, Colorado 16
Texas 28, Texas A&M 17
Missouri 23, Kansas 20
Oklahoma 34, Oklahoma State 14

Best matchup: Texas and Texas A&M is a heated intrastate rivalry, even when nothing is at stake. With a shot at the conference championship on the line for Texas, it's even hotter this season. The Longhorns must win to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 2. The Aggies have no championship possibilities. However, at A&M the second best thing to winning a championship would be preventing the Longhorns from winning one. The Aggies are averaging 207.4 rushing yards per game to rank eighth nationally in rushing offense. Texas leads the national in rushing defense, allowing 42 yards per game.

Worst matchup: In most years the Nebraska-Colorado game is highly anticipated. This year, not so much. The Cornhuskers and Buffaloes have combined for 10 victories this season. Nebraska has accounted for eight of them. The Huskers won the North Division two weeks ago. Colorado was eliminated from the North division race long ago.

The pressure is on: Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione is 2-10 in November as coach of the Aggies, which includes three losses to Texas.

Upset alert: Missouri has lost three in a row, although a bogus penalty was the culprit in the Tigers' 21-16 loss to Iowa State last week. Still, the Tigers are not playing well. Their defense, which was among the nation's leaders early in the season, has allowed an average of 375.5 yards during the three-game slump. Meanwhile, the pressure on Kansas eased a bit last week when the Jayhawks clinched bowl eligibility with a victory over Kansas State. The Jekyll-and-Hyde Jayhawks have the ability to upset Missouri. It's just a matter of which Kansas team shows up this week.

Who's hot: Kansas running back Jon Cornish is coming off a 201-yard rushing performance in a victory over Kansas State. It was the seventh time this year that Cornish, the Big 12's leading rusher, has exceeded 100 yards. He has rushed for at least 80 yards in 10 of the Jayhawks' 11 games.

Who's not: The Texas pass defense has allowed more than 300 yards in four of the last five games. The Longhorns have dropped to 111th in the national pass defense rankings.

BCS implications: A victory puts Texas in the Big 12 championship game against Nebraska, with the winner headed for the Fiesta Bowl. A loss would open the door for Oklahoma to advance to the championship game if the Sooners can defeat Oklahoma State.

Most to lose or gain: If Texas is upset by Texas A&M, the Longhorns' hopes of winning the Big 12 South will be dependent on Oklahoma State upsetting Oklahoma. Also, that would end a six-game Texas winning streak against the Aggies and might lessen the Longhorns' recruiting advantage in the talent-rich state.

Must see TV: Friday's game between Texas and Texas A&M might be the most watched television show of the week in Oklahoma and Nebraska. The Sooners and Cornhuskers have a vested interest. If A&M pulls off the upset, OU can advance to the Big 12 title game by defeating Oklahoma State on Saturday. Nebraska fans will be watching to learn which team they will likely face in the championship game. And by the way, folks in Texas will also be watching to see if the Aggies can end the Longhorns' six-game winning streak against their in-state rival. By the way, Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Stephen McGee is 4-0 in road games. Prior to his taking over as the starting QB, A&M was 3-13 in its last 16 games away from Kyle Field.

Newcomer/backup that could have an impact: Freshman Jared Perry steps into the Missouri starting lineup at wide receiver in place of injured Will Franklin. Perry has 27 catches for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Franklin was the Tigers' leading receiver with 46 catches for 793 yards and six touchdowns.

Key stat: Under coach Mack Brown, Texas is 13-2 in games following a regular-season bye week. The Longhorns have not lost consecutive games since 1999.

They said it: "We're going to go in with fire in our eyes and try to hit them in the mouth and kick their butt. So when they go in there and play in the Big 12 championship, they're going to be limping in. That's our goal."
-- Colorado running backs coach Darian Hagan on playing rival Nebraska

Take the line: Texas is a 13-point favorite over Texas A&M, which seems a little steep considering the Longhorns' pass defense has given up seven touchdown passes of 30 yards or more in their last five games. The Aggies don't pass a lot, but that doesn't mean quarterback Stephen McGee can't throw. He'll probably look to pass more than usual this week. The Longhorns should win - especially in Austin - but take A&M and the points. Season record: 6-6

Injury update: Missouri receiver Will Franklin will miss the remainder of the season with a torn labrum. Colorado defensive tackle Jason Brace (concussion) and linebacker Marcus Burton (fractured tibia) are doubtful and defensive tackles Marcus Jones (concussion) and Taj Kaynor (stinger) are probable. Cornerback Terrence Wheatley (concussion) is day-to-day. Texas A&M defensive tackle Red Bryant (knee) is out for the season Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (pinched nerve) and guard Justin Blalock (knee) will play. Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson (broken collarbone) remains out and will not play against Oklahoma State.

Worth noting: The Big 12 supervisor of officials admitted a holding call that nullified a Missouri touchdown last week was incorrect. The score would have given the Tigers a victory over Iowa State Colorado has allowed just five plays from scrimmage of 40 yards or longer this season. Baylor's Daniel Sepulveda completed his career with 94 punts that covered at least 50 yards. Iowa State's Shawn Moorehead set a single-season school record with 8 sacks. He also set the school's career record with 18. The Cyclones' victory over Missouri closed coach Dan McCarney's tenure in Ames. McCarney, who last week announced he was stepping down as head coach, finished as Iowa State's all-time winningest coach with a record of 56-85. He led the Cyclones to five of their nine bowl games. Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer set a school record by throwing the 41st touchdown pass of his career. Kansas forced a season-high six turnovers in its victory over Kansas State last week. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, whose job was thought to be in jeopardy when the season started, received a five-year contract extension. By rushing for 169 yards in a victory over Baylor, Oklahoma's Chris Brown joined Adrian Peterson and Allen Patrick as the third Sooner to enjoy a 100-yard rushing game this season. Oklahoma State junior receiver Adarius Bowman joined Rashaun Woods and Hart Lee Dykes as the third player in Cowboys' history to record 1,000 receiving yards in a season. Bowman has 51 catches for 1,051 yards. For the first time in school history Texas Tech has more than one receiver with at least 10 touchdown catches in a season. Joel Filani has 12 and Robert Johnson has 10. Tech sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown 10 interceptions, which is the second lowest by a Mike Leach-coached quarterback. Kliff Kingsbury had only nine in 11 games in 2001.

Looking back: Iowa State gave coach Dan McCarney a nice going-away gift by notching its first conference victory of the season with an upset of Missouri. Meanwhile, Kansas clinched bowl eligibility for a second consecutive season by toppling Kansas State. Texas Tech held off Oklahoma State and Oklahoma trounced Baylor.

Freshman who impressed: Oklahoma tailback Chris Brown rushed for 169 yards and a touchdown in the Sooners' 36-10 victory over Baylor.

Bowl watch: By defeating Kansas State a week ago, Kansas became the conference's ninth team to secure bowl eligibility. The Big 12 has only eight possible bowl tie-ins, but if one or more conference teams makes a BCS game that should open up a spot for Kansas. The Jayhawks are hoping to make consecutive bowl appearances for the first time in school history.


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