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November 1, 2006

Big 12: Week 10 Breakdown

Buchanan's Big 12 picks
Rivals.com national writer Olin Buchanan's predictions for Week 10 in the Big 12.
Saturday's games:
Texas A&M 17, Oklahoma 14
Nebraska 28, Missouri 24
Kansas State 23, Colorado 20
Texas Tech 38, Baylor 21
Texas 42, Oklahoma State 31
Kansas 35, Iowa State 20

Best matchup: Not only are No. 18 Oklahoma and No. 21 Texas A&M both ranked and riding three- and four-game winning streaks, respectively, but they've had tremendous duels at Kyle Field in recent years. The Sooners rallied for a 35-31 victory there in their 2000 national championship season. In 2002, the Aggies upset top-ranked OU 30-26. In 2004 – a year after losing 77-0 in Norman – A&M came up just short of upsetting the No. 2 Sooners again, falling 42-35. Behind running backs Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson and quarterback Stephen McGee, Texas A&M ranks 13th nationally in total offense. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has climbed to No. 19 in total defense and has allowed just 20 points in the last three games.

Worst matchup: For all of Kansas' issues this season – and there have been many – the Jayhawks can score. They average almost 28 points per game and have exceeded 30 points five times. They figure to make it six against an Iowa State defense which hasn't been able to stop anyone of late. The Cyclones' last seven opponents have all scored at least 27 points, and that includes Division I-AA Northern Iowa. Last week Iowa State allowed 24 points to Kansas State, which ranks 88th nationally in total offense. Complicating matters for the Cyclones is the fact they've been held to fewer than 20 points six times.

The pressure is on: Iowa State, Kansas and Baylor all entered the season with lofty aspirations. Iowa State believed it could win the Big 12 North. Kansas was hoping to reach a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Baylor was aiming for its first bowl appearance since 1994. Those schools are in jeopardy of falling short of the necessary six victories to qualify for bowl eligibility. Iowa State (3-6) must win its remaining games against Kansas, Colorado and Missouri to qualify, while Kansas and Baylor (both 4-5) must win two out of their last three. Kansas faces Iowa State, Kansas State and Missouri. Baylor must play Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.

Upset alert: Oklahoma State has flirted with upsetting Texas the last five seasons, but has never been able to close the deal. The Cowboys blew a 28-12 halftime lead last season and a 35-14 halftime lead in 2004. This season's Cowboys (5-3) are surely riding high after a 41-29 victory over Nebraska last week, and Texas has escaped upsets against Nebraska and Texas Tech in consecutive games. Meanwhile, the Longhorns' pass defense has been torched for 1,141 yards and seven touchdowns in its last three games – 519 and three TDs last week. Oklahoma State's passing game is hot, especially receiver Adarius Bowman. He has 16 catches for 434 yards and seven touchdowns the last three weeks.

Who's hot: Texas loses Vince Young and looks like it has replaced him with an all-conference quarterback. Colt McCoy has completed at least 61.1 percent in every Big 12 game, has thrown 12 touchdown passes and just two interceptions in the last two games and has led the Longhorns to come-from-behind victories in their last two games. McCoy has thrown 24 touchdown passes this season, which is the third highest total in the nation behind Hawaii's Colt Brennan (33) and Texas Tech's Graham Harrell (28). Yet, McCoy has thrown 94 fewer passes than Brennan and 217 fewer than Harrell.

Who's not: The Big 12 North is again getting dominated by the South. North teams are 3-13 against their Southern counterparts, with Kansas State-Texas and Nebraska-Texas A&M yet to be played. Only Nebraska and Missouri have clinched bowl eligibility, and it's not impossible that the other four North teams won't get the six victories necessary for postseason play.

BCS implications: Texas remains No. 7 in the BCS standings, but figures to advance a spot or two if it continues to win. However, the fourth-ranked Longhorns need a lot of help to get back into the national championship picture.

Most to lose or gain: Missouri (7-2, 3-2) and Nebraska (6-3, 3-2) square off in Lincoln, Neb., to determine the North Division representative in the Big 12 Championship game. The winner will essentially have a two-game lead with two to play, and both teams have victories over third place Kansas State. Nebraska hasn't reached the championship game since 1999 and Missouri has never played in it.

Must see TV: This week's game at Kyle Field would match two one-loss teams had Oklahoma not been robbed by Pac-10 officials at Oregon. As it is, the matchup between the No. 18 Sooners and No. 21 Texas A&M is one of just three on Saturday pitting two ranked teams. A&M is 3-2 at home against OU since the creation of the Big 12 Conference. The two losses were thrillers – 35-31 in 2000 and 36-30 in 2004.

Newcomer/backup that could have an impact: Baylor redshirt freshman Blake Szymanski takes over as starting quarterback for injured Shawn Bell. Szymanski has thrown just five passes this season, with one touchdown and one interception.

Key stat: In three previous seasons under coach Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M has posted a miserable 2-8 record in November - which includes a 0-6 mark vs. Oklahoma and Texas. A&M's November schedule includes Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas, and will determine whether the (8-1) Aggies have a good season or a great one.

Take the line: Momma once told me it's not wise to bet, so I set the over-under line at 12 for reasons why. Now, I'm agreeing with mom after missing on Nebraska, which last week lost to Oklahoma State for only the fourth time in school history. What are the odds of that, mom? These are desperate times, and that calls for desperate measures. Nothing could be more desperate than taking Kansas, and giving points on the road no less. Actually, it's only one point against Iowa State. The thinking here is that Iowa State's season is dropping faster than my winning percentage, while the Jayhawks still have a chance to make school history with back-to-back bowl appearances. The Jayhawks did lose four in a row before last week's win over Colorado, but could have won all four and probably should have won three.
Season record: 3-6

Injury update: Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell tore in the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Saturday's loss to Texas A&M and will miss the remainder of the season. … Colorado backup quarterback James Cox broke his right thumb against Kansas. … Missouri running back Tony Temple suffered a dislocated shoulder against Oklahoma, but is expected to play against Nebraska. Safety William Moore (concussion), receiver Brad Ekwerekwu (knee) and cornerback Domonique Johnson (knee) may also play this week. … Iowa State running back Stevie Hicks isn't expected to play Saturday against Kansas due to a knee injury, and receiver Jon Davis is recovering from a collapsed lung and won't play. Cornerback DeAndre Jackson and linebacker Adam Carper are out for the season with torn ACLs. …Texas linebacker Robert Killebrew has two bruised knees and did not play against Texas Tech. He's status for this week is uncertain. … Cornerback Tarell Brown is slowed by a toe injury.

They said it:"You're not allowed to fumble. I don't know what else to tell you. I don't mean to be cold, but you're not allowed to fumble."
-- Missouri coach Gary Pinkel on demoting running back Tony Temple to second string.

Worth noting: A great year and a season-ending injury to Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson almost ensures that Kansas' Jon Cornish will be the Big 12's rushing champion. Cornish has 1,041 yards, which is 379 more than Missouri's Tony Temple. Barring a major collapse, Cornish will become only the fifth Jayhawk to win a conference rushing title since 1962, joining Gale Sayers (1962, '63), John Riggins (1970), Nolan Cromwell (1975) and Tony Sands (1991). … Speaking of Peterson, the Sooners were obviously going to get a drop in production when he was lost for the regular season. However, the drop hasn't been dramatic. Peterson averaged 155.8 yards in six games. In the two games since his injury, backup running back Allen Patrick has averaged 136 yards. … Half of Texas receiver Limas Sweed's 10 touchdown catches this season have covered more than 40 yards. … Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee has thrown 134 consecutive passes without an interception. … Colorado safety Ryan Walters posted the second-longest fumble return in school history when he raced 95 yards for a touchdown last week against Kansas. … Kansas State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman threw his first career touchdown pass last week. … Missouri safety David Overstreet has had double-digit totals in tackles the last three games. … Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson has gone three games without throwing an interception. … Baylor did not force a turnover in its loss to Texas A&M, which ended a streak of 10 consecutive games with at least one turnover. … Iowa State receiver Todd Blythe, who had made 32 career starts, did not play for the first time in his career in last Saturday's loss to Kansas State because of a virus. … Four Kansas State players started for the first time last week: running back James Johnson and defensive backs Devin Anderson, Courtney Herndon and Joshua Moore. … Nebraska's loss to Oklahoma State was the first under coach Bill Callahan when the Cornhuskers led at halftime. Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor needs just 318 yards to surpass David Humm's school record 5,035 career passing yards. … Oklahoma has had a player rush for at least 100 yards in every game this season. OU sophomore receiver Malcolm Kelly reached the 1,000-yard mark for career receiving yards. It took Kelly 19 games to reach the mark, which is quicker than another other player in OU history. … Oklahoma State junior defensive end Nathan Peterson returned a fumble 19 yards against Nebraska for his first career touchdown.

Looking back: Oklahoma State defeated Nebraska for only the fourth time ever in a 41-29 upset. Meanwhile, Texas rallied from a 21-point deficit to defeat Texas Tech 35-31 and narrowly avoided an upset for the second consecutive week. Oklahoma capitalized on five Missouri mistakes for a 26-10 victory, and freshman Todd Reesing took off the redshirt and rallied Kansas over Colorado 20-15. Injury-plagued Iowa State remained winless in conference play with a 31-10 loss to Kansas State, and Texas A&M extended its winning streak to four with a 31-21 victory over Baylor.

Freshman who impressed: True freshman quarterback Todd Reesing came off the bench to complete 7 of 11 passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns and also rushed for 90 yards and a touchdown to lead Kansas over Colorado 20-15.

Bowl watch: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Nebraska and Missouri are eligible; Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State need one more victory. Kansas and Baylor need two wins and Iowa State must win its last three. Colorado is already eliminated from bowl consideration.

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