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October 13, 2011

Week 7 preview in the Big 12

MIDSEASON RECAP: League-by-league breakdown
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Those pesky little brothers always want to do what their big brother has done. And that should scare the daylights out of the Texas Longhorns.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys surely don't appreciate the term "little brother," but that's a common tag put on the "lesser" team in states with two major programs.

THE SCHEDULE
Baylor at Texas A&M, noon
Iowa State at Missouri, 2 p.m.
Oklahoma State at Texas, 3:30 p.m.
Kansas State at Texas Tech, 7 p.m.
Oklahoma at Kansas, 9:15 p.m.
Despite Oklahoma State's success in recent seasons, the Cowboys still have little brother status in their home state. They've posted 29 victories in the past three seasons. Oklahoma has 32. They tied for first in the Big 12 South race last season. Oklahoma won another conference championship. They're ranked No. 7 in the coaches' poll. Oklahoma is ranked No. 1.

But sooner or later, little brother strikes back.

If you recall, Michigan running back Mike Hart referred to Michigan State as the "little brother" back in 2007. But since then, the Spartans have made like Michael Corleone to Fredo and wacked their "big brother" three years in a row. They'll go for four this weekend.

Oklahoma State will have to wait two more months before getting its shot at Oklahoma. But they surely aim to follow in the Sooners' footsteps and walk all over Texas.

Oklahoma's 55-17 blowout win over the Longhorns last week enhanced the Sooners' profile in the national championship race. Now, If Oklahoma State doesn't post a similarly lopsided victory, there could be the perception that the Cowboys just aren't as good. And in the BCS system, which decides participants in the national championship game based on the opinions of observers, perceptions are extremely important.

[Week 7 primer: Huguenin picks them all]

Statistically, Oklahoma State's offense is even more threatening than Oklahoma's. So, it stands to reason the Cowboys also will blow out the Longhorns, right?

Well, maybe not.

"We know we're going to get their best shot because they're going to be hungry and they're going to want to get things back on the right page," Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden said. "It's going to be a hard, physical game. Their defense is really good. They have athletes. We can't overlook them, that's for sure, because they have plenty of weapons."

Perhaps there still is a measure of apprehension because of the Cowboys' history against the Longhorns. Despite often outplaying Texas, Oklahoma State endured a stretch of 12 consecutive losses to the Longhorns from 1998-2009. That skid ended last season in Austin with a 33-16 victory that wasn't that close. Weeden threw for more than 400 yards in that victory, which was big for the Cowboys' collective psyche.

"Just to finally put that behind us, get that monkey off our back where everybody was telling us we haven't won there in so long and all that stuff that goes along with it," Weeden said. "We're the same team, really. We lost a couple of key players, but we're still as hungry as we were last year."

[Midseason report: The good and bad from the first half of the 2011 season]

Maybe the Cowboys are even hungrier. Remember, last season they had a chance to win their first conference championship since 1976, but fell short. They lost to Oklahoma 47-41 in a showdown that was one of the most thrilling games of the 2010 season.

Oklahoma then won the league championship and went on to a BCS bowl game.

Oklahoma State wants to do what Oklahoma did.

Best matchup: Texas Tech's offense vs. Kansas State's defense. The Red Raiders are seventh in the nation in total offense. Texas Tech (4-1) has scored at least 35 points in every game and is averaging more than 45 points per game. Meanwhile, Kansas State (5-0) is 17th in the nation in total defense and has held four of five opponents to 24 or fewer points.

Player on the spot: Baylor QB Robert Griffin. He'll need to be extremely productive for Baylor to keep up with Texas A&M in what projects to be an offensive bonanza. A&M has scored at least 37 points in four of its five games and last season scored 42 points against the Bears. Baylor is No. 4 in scoring offense, at 47.6 points per game. Griffin will have to be at his best for Baylor to win what may be the last "Battle of the Brazos."

[Heisman video: Is RGIII heading to NYC?]

Keep an eye on: Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden. A strong Heisman candidate, Weeden is second in the country in passing yards per game (376.0 ypg). Saturday, he faces a Texas defense that last week was ripped by Oklahoma QB Landry Jones for 367 yards. Last season, Weeden passed for 409 yards against the Longhorns.

Numbers game: In last week's 55-17 annihilation of Texas, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops recorded his 43rd career victory over a ranked opponent. That ties Barry Switzer's school record. Stoops is 43-17 vs. top-25 opponents. Switzer was 43-21-4.

Quotes of the week

"We're going to go back there and have a lot of fun again. We're going to go back there and get another 'W,' and we're going to come back here and enjoy it." - Oklahoma State WR Hubert Anyiam, on playing Texas in Austin for the second year in a row

"I can't do anything about Texas Tech being upset. Every one of those injuries was legitimate. We've never told our guys to take a dive. I wouldn't do that." - Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman, responding to suggestions that the Aggies might have faked injuries last week to slow the tempo of Texas Tech's offense

Poll watch: Six Big 12 teams are in the coaches' top 25, but half are in jeopardy of falling out this week. Oklahoma remains No. 1 and that doesn't figure to change with hapless Kansas next on the schedule. Oklahoma State is No. 7 and needs a victory at No. 21 Texas to remain in the national title hunt. Texas is one of three teams that will likely fall out of the rankings with a loss. No. 18 Kansas State faces a tough road trip to Texas Tech, and No. 23 Texas A&M is at home against No. 24 Baylor. The loser of that game likely will fall out of the rankings.

[Y! Sports Shop: Show your school colors with college football team gear]

Etc.: Saturday's "Battle of the Brazos" between Baylor and Texas A&M will mark only the seventh time in the 108-year meeting that both teams are ranked in the AP top 25. ... Texas Tech leading rusher Eric Stephens (dislocated knee) has been lost the rest of the season. He'll be replaced by either fifth-year senior Aaron Crawford or true freshmen DeAndre Washington or Kenny Williams. ... Oklahoma senior DE Frank Alexander has had a largely mundane career, but he appears to be going out with a blaze of glory. He has 28 tackles, 7.5 sacks, four pass breakups, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. ... Missouri All-America K Grant Ressel has hit just 6-of-13 field-goal attempts and is in danger of losing his job to Trey Barrow. ... Iowa State RB Shontrelle Johnson is doubtful for the game against Missouri because of a neck injury. He did not play in last week's loss to Baylor. RB James White, in place of Johnson, rushed for 148 yards against Baylor. That included a 76-yard TD run, which was the longest run for Iowa State since 2002. ... Oklahoma State has won seven consecutive road games. ... Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill has surpassed 3,000 career passing yards. He's the first FBS player with more than 3,000 passing yards and 1,500 receiving yards in his career. ... The 70 points Kansas allowed in last week's loss to Oklahoma State tied for the second-most in school history. The Jayhawks were beaten 71-10 by Oklahoma in 1987. ... Indications are Texas true freshman OT Josh Cochran will start ahead of senior Tray Allen this week. And DT Calvin Howell is now listed as the starter ahead of Ashton Dorsey. ... Texas Tech K Donnie Corona tied a school record with four field goals in last week's loss to A&M. He hit two from 49 yards. ... Kansas State leads the nation in time of possession with an average of 35:57. ... Missouri is petitioning the NCAA to grant a sixth year of eligibility for injured senior LB Will Ebner (ankle) and senior OT Elvis Fisher (knee). ... LB Sean Porter leads A&M with 6.5 sacks. He had 1.5 in his two previous seasons, but has gotten to the quarterback in every game this season. ... Kansas State climbed to No. 17 in the AP poll, its highest ranking since 2004. The Wildcats are 5-0 for the first time since 2000. ... Oklahoma State is sixth in the nation in forced turnovers with 17, including eight in the past two games. ... Baylor leads the nation in passing efficiency and is third in total offense, fourth in scoring and 14th in passing offense. Baylor WR Kendall Wright is third in the nation in receptions per game and fourth in receiving yardage per game. ... Iowa State kickers are struggling. The Cyclones are 2-of-6 on field goal attempts and have missed two extra points. ... Kansas sophomore QB Jordan Webb had a career-high 316 passing yards last week. It was Kansas' first 300-yard passing game since 2009. ... Including last season, Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden has thrown multiple touchdown passes in eight consecutive games. ... K-State is 21-of-24 on opportunities in the red zone. The Wildcats have 14 touchdowns and seven field goals. ... Mizzou redshirt freshman Braylon Webb will start at free safety against Iowa State. G Austin Wuebbels (shoulder) is questionable. ... Texas has not allowed a TD in the first quarter. ... Texas A&M WR Jeff Fuller (concussion) is probable and S Steven Campbell may return this week after missing the last two games with a leg injury.

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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