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November 15, 2006

Big 12: Week 12 Breakdown

Buchanan's Big 12 picks
Rivals.com senior writer Olin Buchanan's predictions for the Big 12.
Saturday's games:
Oklahoma 56, Baylor 10
Missouri 38, Iowa State 16
Kansas State 28, Kansas 21
Oklahoma State 37, Texas Tech 35

Best matchup: Not only are a couple of bowl-eligible teams vying in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday, but Texas Tech-Oklahoma State also pairs two of the highest-scoring teams in the country. Oklahoma State averages 37.9 points per game, while Texas Tech averages 39.4. Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell ranks second nationally with 3,757 passing yards and 34 touchdown passes. Oklahoma State receiver Adarius Bowman has 47 catches for 966 yards and 10 touchdowns. Neither team is adept at preventing opponents from scoring, so the stage is set for a wide-open, high-scoring shootout.

Worst matchup: Oklahoma and Baylor are clearly two teams going in opposite directions. The No. 16 Sooners are on a five-game winning streak, have knocked off two ranked teams in that span and have emerged once again as a very attractive bowl team. Baylor has lost four of its last five and once again has failed to attain bowl eligibility. The Bears really have nothing to play for but pride, and how much of that is left?

The pressure is on: Kansas (5-5) has two shots to clinch bowl eligibility, but only one in Lawrence. That's this week against Kansas State, which might be due an emotional letdown after its 45-42 upset of Texas. The Jayhawks had better take advantage. They don't want their bowl hopes to be dependent on winning on the road against Missouri.

Upset alert: Playing at home makes Texas Tech a favorite over Oklahoma State, but the Red Raiders haven't exactly thrived at Jones Stadium this season. The Red Raiders are 3-2 at home with victories over SMU, Southeast Louisiana and Baylor. When tested they've fallen to Missouri and Texas. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State - although just 2-3 on the road - has the offense to match Texas Tech's.

Who's hot: Kansas State freshman quarterback Josh Freeman , aka the Human Torch, has completed 71.4 percent of his passes in the last three games for 681 yards and six touchdowns. By the way, those have all been Kansas State victories. The Wildcats have climbed into second place in the Big 12 North Standings. That's mighty impressive for a program that's coming off back-to-back losing seasons. Obviously, first year coach Ron Prince is hot, too.

Who's not: Baylor now ranks a startling 109th in scoring defense and is falling fast. The Bears, who allowed just 74 points in their first five games, have given up an average of 50 in their last five games and their performance has steadily deteriorated. They allowed Texas Tech 55 two weeks ago and followed that by giving up 66 to Oklahoma State. If the trend holds, they will allow Oklahoma 77.

BCS implications: With both Texas and Nebraska idle worshipping this week, there aren't really any BCS implications. The only game that could eventually have a BCS tie would be Oklahoma-Baylor. If OU wins out (which includes beating Oklahoma State on Nov. 26) and Texas falls to Texas A&M on Nov. 24, the Sooners would win the South Division and play Nebraska for the Big 12 championship and a spot in a BCS bowl.

Most to lose or gain: Though there's not much to gain (yet), Oklahoma has the most to lose. If the Sooners are somehow upset by Baylor they would officially be eliminated from the Big 12 championship race.

Must see TV: Kansas State at Kansas, Fox Sports Net. Intrastate rivalries are almost always fun, so for that reason alone Kansas State-Kansas is worth a look. The fact that Kansas is still hoping to go to a bowl game in consecutive years for the first time in school history adds some appeal. It's also another chance to watch Kansas State freshman Josh Freeman, who might be really special before he leaves Manhattan, Kan.

Newcomer/backup that could have an impact: Although he didn't step in for injured Allen Patrick in last week's victory, Oklahoma junior Jacob Gutierrez could make a big contribution this week against Baylor if Patrick remains sidelined. Gutierrez has done so before. Last season Gutierrez came on in place of injured Adrian Peterson and rushed for 173 yards and two touchdowns in a victory over Baylor.

Key stat: Texas Tech has scored a combined total of just 13 points in the second half of its five losses. The Red Raiders did not score in the second half against TCU, Texas and Oklahoma, while managing only seven against Missouri and six against Colorado.

They said it: "We coach our guys to score. The quarterback is going to get hit. He's going to get hit a lot. But if you've got 6 inches to go, it's hard to take the ball away from the goal line.''
-- Texas coach Mack Brown on calling the quarterback sneak on which Colt McCoy was injured.

Take the line: Baylor took Oklahoma into overtime before falling 37-30 last year, and that was in Norman. The Bears also beat Oklahoma State last year and were destroyed by the Cowboys a week ago. Baylor's defense has been atrocious for five weeks and its offense has suffered since losing quarterback Shawn Bell to injury. Meanwhile, Oklahoma's defense hasn't allowed more than 17 points in its last five games (Texas Tech scored on an interception return last week). With that in mind, taking Oklahoma and giving 20 points seems like a sound play. Season record: 5-6

Injury update: Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has a shoulder stinger, but expects to play against Texas A&M on Nov. 24. Guard Justin Blalock's status is uncertain with a knee injury. Nebraska lineman Matt Slauson (high ankle sprain) and receiver Nate Swift (head) should be ready to play against Colorado on Nov. 24. Texas Tech receiver Jarrett Hicks is doubtful for Saturday's game against Oklahoma State. Texas A&M defensive tackle Red Bryant (knee) is questionable for the game against Texas. Missouri tight end Martin Rucker (turf toe) expects to play Saturday. Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick (knee) is day-to-day, while receiver Manuel Johnson (concussion) won't play on Saturday against Baylor.

Worth noting: This season Nebraska will play 14 games for the first time in school history. Texas A&M gained 171 yards on five third down conversions against Nebraska. The five plays covered 13, 15, 53, 57 and 33 yards. Texas Tech receiver Joel Filani joins current Miami Dolphins receiver Wes Welker as the only Red Raiders to post consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. Filani had 1,048 yards last season and has 1,049 so far this year. Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson has completed 61.2 percent of his passes this season. The only two other OU quarterbacks to complete at least 60 percent of their passes in a season are Jason White, the 2003 Heisman Trophy winner, and Josh Heupel - a Heisman finalist in 2000. OU receiver Malcolm Kelly tied a school record with 11 receptions against Texas Tech. Baylor receiver Dominique Zeigler moved into second place on the Bears' all-time receptions list with 164. Colorado kicker Mason Crosby increased his career point total to 305 and is the first CU player to pass the 300-point mark. The field goals Crosby have converted this season have come from an average distance of 40.6 yards. His average miss is from 51.8 yards. Bret Meyer tied an Iowa State school record by throwing his 40th career touchdown pass. Kansas cornerback Aqib Talib leads the nation with an average of 2.6 pass breakups per game and is sixth with five interceptions. Kansas State's Ian Campbell has 11.5 sacks this season, which ties a school record. Texas' Michael Griffin recorded the eighth blocked kick of his career last week. He has sole possession of second place on the NCAA all-time career list. Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee has completed 62.1 percent of his passes and is on track to break the existing school record for single season completion percentage of 60.7 set by Kevin Murray in 1986.

Looking back: Kansas State posted the biggest upset of the year with a 45-42 victory over Texas, while Nebraska clinched the North Division with a last minute rally to beat Texas A&M. Oklahoma avenged last year's controversial loss to Texas Tech, Oklahoma State blew out Baylor and Iowa State endured its sixth consecutive loss, falling to Colorado - which posted its second victory.

Freshman who impressed: Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman completed 19 of 31 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Wildcats to an upset of Texas.

Bowl watch: Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas State are eligible. Kansas needs to win one of its remaining two games to become eligible.

Week 12 Conference Previews: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

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