As we gear up for Week 10 of the college football season (where is this season going?!), the contenders and the pretenders will begin to separate themselves. There are a couple of marquee games in the Big on Saturday, plus finally a full slate of five games on Saturday for the first time in several weeks. So here are the top five storylines I’m watching in the Big 12 Conference heading into Week 10.
1. Can Oklahoma State keep up its momentum?
The Cowboys are coming off a huge win over No. 6 Texas last week in Stillwater. But is there a hangover effect? This team has been incredibly inconsistent with a 19-point loss to a bad Kansas State team that was then followed up by last week’s win. Also, the Pokes have Bedlam next week, so is this a perfect trap game against a Baylor team at 11 a.m. that is desperate for a win to try a become bowl eligible.
2. Kansas Encore
The Jayhawks are coming off their first Big 12 win in nearly two years. So what do they have in store for an encore? Is there anything in store? The Jayhawks welcome in Iowa State, who is playing some of the best football in the Big 12 this side of Oklahoma. Does Iowa State take its foot off the pedal a bit going into Lawrence? Did KU spend too much time celebrating this week? It’ll be interesting to see the attitude of each of these teams on Saturday, which is also an early kick off (11 a.m.).
3. How does TCU bounce back?
The Horned Frogs had one of their worst weeks since they entered the Big 12 Conference. QB Shawn Robinson was shut down for the season, Gary Patterson had to kick off his most dynamic player in KaVontae Turpin and then they capped it off with a loss to Kansas. It doesn’t get much worse than that. OK, so has this team regrouped? Or did they totally cash their chips in on the season? With GP in charge, I have a hard time seeing them giving up the rest of the way, but on Saturday they face a Kansas State team that has also had itself a very disappointing season. So it’s a battle between two desperate teams needing a win to have a chance at a bowl game.
4. Big 12 Championship Elimination
That’s what the game in Austin is between Texas and West Virginia. The winner is in great position to make the Big 12 title game in Arlington next month. The loser? Not so much. Both teams are 4-1 in conference play and have lost a game in the past couple of weeks. West Virginia against Iowa State and Texas to Oklahoma State. WVU fans came into the season with expectations this team could reach the Big 12 Championship game, and to have those hopes go up in smoke by November 3rd would be nothing short of a disappointment to many. As for Herman, he might have his program a year ahead of schedule if they are able to reach Arlington. I know there is always pressure at Texas, but in this case, there is more pressure on Holgorsen.
5. Oklahoma’s continued defensive improvement
Since firing Mike Stoops, OU has allowed 17 points in its last six quarters against TCU and Kansas State. Granted, not against the most efficient offenses in the Big 12, but still, it’s something. That defensive improvement will be put to the test this weekend against Texas Tech in Lubbock. Kliff Kingsbury and Alan Bowman could not figure out Jon Heacock and the Iowa State defense last week in Ames, scoring just 17 offensive points. But Kingsbury is still an offensive mastermind and will make the proper adjustments to try and expose the Oklahoma defense.
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