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October 11, 2007
Overview: Home field has proved a huge advantage for Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas Tech in the past, and figures to be again this week. The Sooners and Missouri play Saturday in a matchup that appears to feature the Big 12's two best teams. But the game is in Norman, where Oklahoma has lost just twice in 8? seasons under coach Bob Stoops. Missouri has not won in Norman since it eked out a 10-7 victory in 1966. Oklahoma State has waited even longer to win in Lincoln; the Cowboys haven't won on Nebraska's home field since prevailing 7-6 in 1960. Meanwhile, Texas Tech has won six in a row over Texas A&M in Lubbock, a streak that Aggies RB Jorvorskie Lane promised would end Saturday. On the other end of the spectrum, Texas never has lost to Iowa State in Ames ? or anywhere else for that matter (Texas leads the series 6-0).
Best matchup: Missouri vs. Oklahoma. Undefeated Missouri and once-beaten Oklahoma might be playing the first of two games when they collide Saturday in Norman in what promises to be an offensive showcase. Missouri QB Chase Daniel has thrown for at least 294 yards and two touchdowns in every game, while OU QB Sam Bradford has thrown at least three touchdown passes in five of the Sooners' six games. Both teams average more than 40 points per game. OU has a history of playing in big games. Missouri does not.
The pressure is on: Nebraska defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove. He is looking more and more like a scapegoat for the Huskers' disappointing showing. They have allowed more points than any team in the Big 12 and have given up an average of 522 yards in the past four games. Twice in the past three games, the Huskers have allowed more than 600 yards. There is no rest for the weary. This week the Huskers face Oklahoma State, which averages 473 yards per game. By the way, the Cowboys blasted Nebraska 41-29 last season. Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione is certainly under pressure. The controversy over selling inside information to boosters hasn't subsided, and this week his Aggies must face Texas Tech's pass-catch combo of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, who have combined for 17 touchdown passes. The Aggies have lost by 31 and 39 points in their past two trips to Lubbock. Another blowout would make Franchione's status even more tenuous.
Who's hot: Missouri's Chase Daniel completed 70.2 percent of his attempts for 401 yards and two touchdowns in last week's win over Nebraska. He has completed at least 58.7 percent of his passes and thrown at least two touchdown passes in every game. ? Kansas CB Aqib Talib has intercepted passes in each of the past three games. Talib, who also plays offense, has scored a touchdown in every game this season via receiving or interception return. ? Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson had 10 catches for 137 yards and beat Talib on a 68-yard touchdown grab in last week's loss to Kansas. Nelson has 47 catches for 462 yards in the past three games.
Who's not: Nebraska's rushing offense gained 413 yards against Nevada in the season opener. However, the Huskers have rushed for 464 yards ? total ? since. That's 92.8 rushing yards per game in the five games. ? Texas A&M RB Mike Goodson, who averaged 6.7 yards per carry while rushing for 847 yards last season, has managed just 116 yards in the past three games.
Keep your eye on: Colorado TB Hugh Charles was slowed earlier in the season by a strained hamstring. But he has rushed for more than 100 yards in three consecutive games and is averaging 5.6 yards per carry. This week he faces Kansas State, which allowed 170 rushing yards in last week's loss to Kansas. On the other side, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman had a breakthrough game last season against Colorado, when he was 22 of 26 for 251 yards. Can he duplicate that success against the Buffaloes?
Numbers game: Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree has set a national freshman record with 17 touchdown catches. He also leads the nation with 70 catches and 1,074 receiving yards. ? Kansas LB Joe Mortensen is fourth in the nation in tackles for losses with 10.5. ? Kansas State WR Jordy Nelson is averaging 10.4 catches per game and has 52 receptions. He needs 23 more to tie the school's single-season record. ? Texas TB Jamaal Charles has lost four fumbles. ? At No. 20, Kansas is back in the national rankings for the first time since 1996. ? No. 11 Missouri has reached its highest ranking since it was No. 9 on Oct. 4, 1980. The Tigers fell to No. 17 Penn State the next week. ? Last week, Nebraska failed to score a touchdown against Missouri for the first time since 1959.
Injury update: Texas A&M OT Yemo Babalola (undisclosed injury) is questionable for this week's game, and WR Howard Morrow (wrist) is out for the season. ? Colorado TE Tyson DeVree (concussion) and OT Edwin Harrison (knee) are probable. WR Stephone Robinson (leg) and CB Jalil Brown (concussion) are day-to-day. ? Texas Tech WR L.A. Reed (knee) is doubtful ? Baylor LB Antonio Jones (ankle) and WR Mikail Baker (broken collarbone) are questionable. OT Thad Boatner (knee) is out. ? Kansas CB Anthony Webb (undisclosed) is questionable. ? Kansas State C Jordan Bedore (hand) is questionable, and LB Antwon Moore (undisclosed) is out for the rest of the season. ? Nebraska DTs Ndamukong Suh (undisclosed) and Ty Steinkuhler (knee) are questionable. G Andy Christensen (knee) is out the rest of the season. ? Oklahoma State CB Martel Van Zant (toe) and LB Chris Collins (turf toe) are questionable. ? Texas DE Aaron Lewis (fractured elbow) is out for Saturday's game, FB Luke Tiemann (fractured wrist) is out at least two weeks and WR Limas Sweed (wrist surgery) is out the rest of the season.
They said it: "We're going to win in 2007. That's a guarantee. I promise you."
"He's a fast guy. He's one of their better players. I know he's picked as defensive player (of the) century, man of the year, forever and ever. They've got a lot of names, they've got a lot of stars. So do we. They've had the recognition and we're starting to get it. We're moving up."
"Our kids understand very well the value of hard work and preparation. I can assure you we won't take anything for granted."
Etc.: Missouri and Kansas have both started 5-0 for the first time since 1905. ? Colorado freshman WR Josh Smith was benched for the first half of last week's game for being late to a team meeting, but still posted a team-high 103 receiving yards. ? Texas Tech sophomore WR Ed Britton will get his first career start this week. ? Kansas State sophomore FS Chris Carney filled in for injured Marcus Watts last week and had two interceptions. ?. In six seasons as Kansas' coach, Mark Mangino has beaten rivals Kansas State and Missouri six times ? but has just six victories against the rest of the Big 12. ? Texas A&M has not won at Texas Tech since 1993. ? Baylor is 3-2 against Kansas, which is the only Big 12 team it has a winning record against. ? Nebraska's 1997 national-championship team will hold a reunion this week during the game against Oklahoma State. ? Missouri freshman TB Derrick Washington could get significant playing time if starter Tony Temple remains hobbled after spraining his ankle last week against Nebraska. ? When Texas faces Iowa State this week, the Longhorns will be going against former defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, who is in his first season as the Cyclones' coach.
Olin Buchanan is the senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.