Week 12 Big 12 preview
College Contributor Network
Game to Watch
Texas at Oklahoma State
Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CST
In a relatively quiet week in the Big 12, this matchup between the league's two most desperate teams stands out. The Longhorns will head north to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys in a meeting of a couple squads facing what essentially amount to must-win situations.
Texas is playing as well as it has all season, coming off back-to-back victories over Texas Tech and West Virginia. The key to the Longhorns' recent success has been the resurrection of a run game that had struggled mightily all season. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray were expected to be one of the best backfield tandems in the country this season but, through the team's first eight games, neither back managed to reach the century mark.
However, now that the patchwork offensive line in front of them is starting to come together, the two backs are finally living up to expectations. Each back has gone over one hundred yards over the past two contests, combining for a total of 383 yards and six touchdowns during that stretch. Sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes has regressed, but the defense is still stellar and the run game has done enough to carry the team to victory.
Charlie Strong and Co. will need to win at least one of their final two games to gain bowl eligibility and, with the other contest coming against TCU, a playoff contender, this weekend's game against Oklahoma State may be their only realistic chance to do that.
The Cowboys enter the weekend under similar circumstances, but are trending the other way. After opening the season 5-1, Oklahoma State has lost each of its last three contests by an average of more than 30 points per loss. Daxx Garman, who initially looked solid in place of J.W. Walsh, has really struggled over that stretch, tossing six interceptions compared to just one touchdown in his last three starts.
Given the expectation of poor weather conditions in Stillwater Saturday, it will likely be up to the Cowboys rushing attack to carry the load, and that doesn't bode well for Mike Gundy's bunch. Desmond Roland, the Pokes' top back, has seen a decline in his numbers this year, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Against a stout Longhorn front seven, he'll have a hard time getting things going this weekend.
Oklahoma State has three chances to get that elusive sixth win and earn a bowl birth but, with road trips to Baylor and Oklahoma still on the schedule, this weekend is certainly its best chance to do it.
Player to Watch
Junior QB Trevone Boykin – TCU
Even if Boykin plays his worst game of the season, the Horned Frogs will likely still cruise past the lowly Jayhawks, but his performance this weekend is about more than just beating Kansas.
Boykin has worked his way into the heart of the Heisman conversation, and a statistical explosion against the miserable Jayhawk defense would certainly boost his stock. A receiver just a year ago, the junior quarterback has taken the Big 12 by storm this season, throwing for 2691 yards and 23 touchdowns while only tossing four interceptions all year. But it's his athleticism, the kind that enabled him to be a successful receiver, that separates Boykin from the rest of the league's top quarterbacks.
He's rushed for seven touchdowns and 546 yards this season, an incredibly high number when you consider that sacks count against that total. But it is his ability to evade those sacks, and extend plays, that has made him so valuable to the Horned Frogs this season.
If Boykin and the high-flying TCU offense can light up the scoreboard in Lawrence this weekend, he will inch closer to the Heisman lead and the Horned Frogs will further their case to be the Big 12's representative in the College Football Playoff.
No. 4 TCU (-27.5) at Kansas
It's basketball season, so Jayhawk Nation won't be too concerned about the absolute drubbing that will take place in Memorial Stadium Saturday
Prediction: TCU, 48-17
Oklahoma (-13) at Texas Tech
This will be the best game of the week in the Big 12. Oklahoma is without its starting quarterback as it travels to a hostile Lubbock environment, but their defense is simply terrible and won't hold up against the Sooners.
Prediction: Oklahoma, 27-24
Texas (2.5) at Oklahoma State
The Longhorns are trending upward and the Cowboys are trending downward. Given the poor weather conditions, the run game will have added importance, which favors Texas.
Prediction: Texas, 28–20
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