Archive for Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday’s Big 12 games encapsulated

November 27, 2010


No. 14 Oklahoma (9-2) at No. 10 Oklahoma State (10-1), 7 p.m.

Line: Oklahoma State by 21⁄2

Fun facts: The stakes of today’s Bedlam matchup have never been higher. The winner likely will represent the South in the Big 12 Championship game next Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Oklahoma State has never won the Big 12 South. Oklahoma has represented the South in the Big 12 title game in six of the past eight seasons. Oklahoma leads the all-time series, 80-17-7. The Sooners have won the past seven meetings. ESPN’s College Gameday will be on hand in Stillwater tonight.

Player to watch: Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon. If there’s a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender in the Big 12 this season, it’s Blackmon, the most dominant receiver in the country. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James are likely ahead of Blackmon in the race.

The sophomore OSU receiver has exceeded all expectations this season. That’s kind of the thing: There were barely any expectations of him on a national scale. Blackmon’s name was absent from just about every preseason All-Big 12 list. The guy came out of nowhere, to the point that it still seems like all-world receiver Dez Bryant lines up for coach Mike Gundy’s Cowboys on Saturdays. Young receivers need to ask Blackmon how he trained before the season, because his offseason improvement is probably one of the best efforts in the history of the Big 12. Last season as a freshman, Blackmon caught 20 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Nice for a freshman, sure, but nothing special. This season, Blackmon leads the country with 1,560 yards (156 receiving yards per game) and 17 touchdowns. Imagine having this guy on your fantasy team on Sundays. There’s going to be a lot of offensive firepower at Bedlam tonight. Blackmon is probably the most lethal of any weapon on either side of the ball.

Key matchup: Oklahoma defense vs. Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden. The Cowboys’ junior quarterback has had the best season of any signal caller in the conference. If Oklahoma wants to win tonight, it should look back to OSU’s one loss this season. It was against Nebraska, on Oct. 23, in Stillwater. Weeden, who has completed at least 22 passes in every other game this year, only completed 18 against Nebraska. Weeden also completed his lowest percentage of passes (51.4) against the Huskers. The Oklahoma State offensive line does an incredible job of protecting Weeden, to the point where he could sit back with a lemonade in the pocket before making his reads. He’s only been sacked once in the past four games. In that time, Weeden’s tossed nine touchdowns and only one interception. The Sooners’ defensive line must apply pressure to Weeden and at least get that lemonade out of his hands. Force him to leave the pocket.

Kansas State (6-5) at North Texas (3-8), 3 p.m.

Line: Kansas State by 141⁄2

Fun facts: The last time these two teams met, Kansas State routed North Texas, 45-6, in 2008 in Manhattan. Before that, K-State beat UNT, 54-7, in 2005 in Manhattan. North Texas is only 13-57 dating back to 2005.

Big 12 player to watch: Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas. A line of 150 rushing yards and a pair of scores could be on the low end for what the K-State back could accumulate today. North Texas gives up 167 rushing yards per game and has allowed 18 touchdowns on the ground in 11 games this season.

Key matchup: None. If K-State doesn’t win by at least two scores, it probably doesn’t belong in a bowl game this season.

Houston (5-6) at Texas Tech (6-5), 7 p.m.

Line: Texas Tech by 10

Fun facts: Houston defeated Texas Tech, 29-28, last season when it scored the winning touchdown with 49 seconds left on the clock. It was the Cougars’ first-ever victory over a Big 12 opponent.

Big 12 player to watch: Texas Tech running back Baron Batch. Yes, the Red Raiders are a pass-first team, but Batch’s eyes should light up when he takes a look at Houston’s rush defense, which surrenders a whopping 217 yards on the ground per game, fifth-to-last in the country.

Key matchup: Houston pass offense vs. Texas Tech pass defense. The Cougars can fling the ball around the field. They are seventh in the country in pass offense, with 316 yards through the air per game. Chances are the Cougars will have their opportunities against a Texas Tech defense that allows 293 yards in the air per game, third-to-last in the country. This game could very well be a shootout.


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