Big 12 preview: Week 9

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By STEFAN SCRAFIELD
College Contributor Network

Game to Watch

No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CST
ESPN


Coming off one of the biggest upsets in college football this season, No. 22 West Virginia travels to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State in what sets up as a trap game for the Mountaineers this weekend.

West Virginia shocked Baylor in Morgantown last weekend and now controls its own destiny in the Big 12. If Dana Holgerson's bunch can win out, they will claim the conference title in just their third year in the league. Ever since claiming Nick Saban's daughter was his first kiss, Mountaineer quarterback Clint Trickett has been absolutely on fire. The senior has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,525 yards and 15 touchdowns through seven contests this year.

If he can keep that up, and the defense continues to exceed expectations, West Virginia has a chance to run the table. If it does, the College Football Playoff isn't entirely out of the question for a team that's only losses came to then-No.2 Alabama and then-No. 4 Oklahoma.

Despite having dropped out of the rankings after last weekend's blowout loss to TCU, Oklahoma State is still a one point favorite at home this weekend. Up until their embarrassing performance in Ft. Worth, it looked as though the Cowboys were going to be able to survive the loss of quarterback J.W. Walsh. But the Horned Frogs put the Pokes back in their place and drove them right out of the polls in the process. Nonetheless, Oklahoma State still sits at 5-2 and 3-1 in the Big 12, with an outside chance to win the conference, so this should be a good one in Stillwater.

Matchup to Watch

Kansas State's receivers vs. Texas' secondary

Everyone knows how much Bill Snyder loves to use the option run game at Kansas State, but this year's option attack has been particularly effective. The reason? The Wildcats have one of the top receiving corps in the Big 12, forcing opposing defenses to respect the pass, too.

Senior wide-outs Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton have given defenses fits all season, combining for 71 catches, 897 yards and six touchdowns through just six games. Both undersized, Lockett and Sexton make up for it with top-end speed, great hands and an even better route-running ability.

Texas' secondary, which has been one of the best in the country at times this year, will have its hands full trying to stop the Wildcats' dynamic duo Saturday. After locking down some of the best passing attacks in the country in the first half of the season, the Longhorn defensive backs took a step back against Iowa State.

The Cyclones found the weak spots in Texas' secondary and attacked them all night in Austin last weekend. Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas have been very good on the outside for Charlie Strong's defense this year, but everyone else has been very inconsistent. The Longhorn safeties, and whoever rotates in at the nickel spot, will have to be much better in Manhattan to give Texas a chance to pull off the upset.

Player to Watch

Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes -- Texas

Over the past couple weeks, Swoopes has done things that Longhorn fans haven't seen since Colt McCoy led Texas to a national championship game appearance in 2010. After a rocky first four games as a starter, the Whitewright, Texas native has found his legs, literally, in the last two games.

Swoopes accounted for 800 yards of total offense against Oklahoma and Iowa State, something only McCoy and Vince Young have ever accomplished at Texas. Now that the staff has opened up the playbook for Swoopes, starting to use more of the read option, the second-year gunslinger appears to be finding his rhythm.

Kansas State's defense is better than that of the Sooners and the Cyclones, so this week will pose a new challenge for the Longhorn pivot. The Wildcats play a very disciplined, hard-nosed brand of defense, so Swoopes will have to be sharp and avoid some of the rookie mistakes that have plagued him all season. If he is able to do that, Swoopes is certainly capable of leading his team to an upset this Saturday.

Game Picks

Texas at No. 11 Kansas State (-10)

Swoopes has the Longhorn offense playing as well as it has all season, but a trip to Kansas State is just too much for Texas to handle at this point.

Prediction: Kansas State, 27–17

No. 22 West Virginia at Oklahoma State (-1)

West Virginia is as hot as any team in the Big 12 right now and Oklahoma State is still healing its wounds after last week's humiliating loss at TCU.

Prediction: West Virginia, 38-28

Texas Tech at No. 10 TCU (-23)

TCU absolutely annihilated a solid Oklahoma State team in the friendly confines of Amon G. Carter Stadium last weekend. This Saturday's home matchup with a Texas Tech squad that's in disarray could get even uglier.

Prediction: TCU, 41-17


Stefan Scrafield is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin. He has a passion for college sports, professional baseball, golf and early retirement. Follow him on Twitter: @stefanscrafield
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