Week 7 Big 12 Preview
College Contributor Network
Game to Watch
No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. CST
A week after shocking then-No. 4 Oklahoma in Ft. Worth, the Horned Frogs travel down I-35 for another Top-25 matchup, this time against Baylor in Waco.
Once again, TCU will be the underdog, but it proved last week that it can hang with anyone in the Big 12. Gary Patterson's bunch capitalized on a couple big plays from their defense, including Paul Dawson's pick-six, against the Sooners, and they'll need more of the same to get by the mighty Bears at McLane Stadium this Saturday. Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frog offense have been better than expected, but they'll need some help from the defense to keep up with Baylor's high-powered attack.
Despite an "off-week," in which Petty and Co. "only" put up 28 points against a staunch Longhorn defense, the Bears' offense still leads the nation with an average of 51 points per game. Petty and his receiving corps are back at full health, so we can expect the usual pass-heavy attack from Art Briles' squad. But don't sleep on running back Shock Linwood, who carried the Baylor offense when the passing game struggled against Texas.
Matchup to Watch
Oklahoma's running backs vs. Texas' linebackers
It's no secret that the Sooners are a run-first team this year. Quarterback Trevor Knight's inconsistency has led Bob Stoops to lean heavily on the run game in 2014, and he's had success doing it. Led by star freshman Samaje Perine, who has over 500 yards and eight touchdowns already, Oklahoma's running backs have accounted for 43 percent of the Sooner offense this season. Keith Ford is out against Texas, so it will be up to Perine and sophomore Alex Ross, who both like to pound it between the tackles, to get past the Longhorns' crop of veteran linebackers.
No unit has been better for Charlie Strong than his linebackers. Seniors Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond have been all over the field, combining for 134 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, four sacks and two interceptions through five games. An athletic group, Texas' linebackers have shown the ability to stop inside runs and get to the sidelines when necessary. They'll need some help from the interior defensive linemen to stop Oklahoma's bruisers this week, but they're certainly capable of getting the job done.
Player to Watch
Junior quarterback Trevone Boykin, TCU
Boykin, a Dallas native, has been a pleasant surprise for the Horned Frogs this season. After splitting time between quarterback and receiver in his first two years on campus, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound athlete has taken over as the full-time signal caller for TCU in 2014. Through five games, Boykin's been able to avoid the costly mistakes that had plagued him in the past, tossing 10 touchdowns compared to just two interceptions, and completing 62 percent of his passes. He came up big for the Horned Frogs in the upset over Oklahoma, throwing for 318 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 77 yards.
Oklahoma's defense has been a bit of disappointment this season, but Baylor's crew has been surprisingly solid. Against the Bears, Boykin may have to rely on his legs to extend plays, as Baylor has shown a propensity to get to the quarterback this season. If he can do that, and lead his team to victory, Boykin may quickly find himself in the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year conversation.
Texas at No. 11 Oklahoma (-14.5)
Emotions will run high in the annual Red River Rivalry, and Texas will keep it close, but the Sooners are simply too much for the Longhorns to keep up with this year.
Prediction: Oklahoma, 21–17
West Virginia (-5.5) at Texas Tech
Texas Tech's defense is one of the worst in the country, and the offense isn't good enough to make up for it. Trickett and Co. roll past the Red Raiders.
Prediction: West Virginia, 35–24
Toledo at Iowa State (-3)
The Cyclones are better than their 1-4 record would lead you to believe, as they've been able to hang with some of the top teams in the country. Paul Rhoads' squad should have no trouble at home against Toledo.
Prediction: Iowa State, 24-13
No. 9 TCU at No. 5 Baylor (-8)
TCU came up with a statement win over Oklahoma, but Baylor is an even tougher foe. Petty's got all his weapons back and it's tough to beat the Bears in Waco.
Prediction: Baylor, 38-24
Oklahoma State (-21) at Kansas
No matter who's pacing the sidelines, Kansas doesn't have the horses to compete in the Big 12 this year. Oklahoma picks up an easy win in Lawrence Saturday.
Prediction: Oklahoma State, 38-13
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