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Tag:Big 12 Keys to the Game
Posted on: November 29, 2011 12:50 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Baylor vs. Texas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: The most important factor in this game will be the availability of quarterback Robert Griffin. Griffin did not play in the second half of Baylor's win over Texas Tech after taking a blow to the head and suffering a concussion in the second quarter. Ben Florence came in and did a very admirable job to lead the Bears to victory, but there's a giant difference between the Texas Tech defense and the Texas defense Florence would be facing this weekend. This isn't a knock on Florence, but the fact of the matter is that when you lose a player as dynamic and as special as Griffin, your chances to win a game do not increase. Still, whoever plays quarterback for Baylor in this game, the key will be finding a way to move the ball through the air against the best pass defense in the Big 12. Baylor has a balanced offense and is the only team in the country that averages over 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing per game. Odds are it won't reach both of those totals against Texas, but the good news is that with the struggles Texas has had on offense, Baylor's offense won't need to be at 100% to win this game.

TEXAS WILL WIN IF: Texas is not going to stop the Baylor offense for 60 minutes. The unit is just too explosive and will find ways to put points on the board, so the key for Texas in this game will be the Longhorns offense. Texas isn't built to compete with Baylor in a shootout, but this offense has struggled to put points on the board for most of the season. The good news for Texas is that its best games on offense came against Kansas and Texas Tech this season, who just happen to be the two worst run defenses in the Big 12. Well, the third-worst run defense in the Big 12 belongs to Baylor, as the Bears are allowing nearly 200 yards rushing per game and 5.26 yards per carry. It's also allowed 24 rushing touchdowns this season, more than any other defense in the Big 12 aside from Tech and Kansas. So the Longhorns will definitely want to try and move the ball on the ground in this contest.

X-FACTOR: Case McCoy. McCoy took over the starting job against Texas A&M last week, and although the Longhorns won that game, McCoy didn't exactly light up the A&M secondary, completing 16 of 27 passes for only 110 yards and no touchdowns. The big difference for McCoy this week is that he'll go from facing a defense that has 43 sacks on the season to one that has only 17. Which means McCoy should have a lot more time in the pocket to find open receivers, and if McCoy can finally get the Texas passing game going in this contest, then the Longhorns are a lot more likely to pull off a win. 
Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:56 am
 

Keys to the Game: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: For the first time in many years, the Cowboys come into this game against their in-state rivals and should be considered the better team. The most important thing Oklahoma State may have in this game is knowing exactly that, as it sometimes seems that the Cowboys have a "little brother" syndrome against Oklahoma. Aside from confidence, however, the Cowboys should pay attention to what Baylor did against Oklahoma a few weeks ago. The Bears threw for 485 yards against the Sooners and protected Robert Griffin from the Oklahoma pass rush. Which is exactly what Oklahoma State will need to do for Brandon Weeden. Another huge factor will be turnovers. The biggest reason Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State was not the Oklahoma State defense having one of its worst nights of the season -- though it surely didn't help -- it was the fact that Oklahoma State turned the ball over 5 times, including 3 interceptions by Weeden. It doesn't matter who you are, you turn the ball over 5 times, you're going to lose more often than not. So in order for Oklahoma State to beat Oklahoma, taking care of the football will be priority number one.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: When playing Oklahoma State, first and foremost you need to slow down the Cowboys offense, and the Sooners have a defense that is capable of doing that. The Sooners should have a simple three-word mantra for this contest, and that's "Get To Weeden." The Oklahoma State offensive line has allowed only 11 sacks this season, but this is an Oklahoma defense that is second in the Big 12 with 37 sacks on the season. Which means that the battle between the Oklahoma State offensive line and Oklahoma defensive line will be one of the most important matchups in this contest. Odds are whichever side wins is going to win the game. On offense for the Sooners, Landry Jones will have to follow the advice given to Brandon Weeden and protect the ball. Everyone likes to think the Oklahoma State defense is terrible, but it has a defensive pass efficiency rating that is better than Oklahoma's, and has 21 interceptions on the season compared to 13 touchdowns allowed. 

X-FACTOR: Blake Bell. The Belldozer has taken on a bigger role within the Sooners offense over the last few weeks since guys like Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles went down to injury. Well, that role may expand against Oklahoma State. Bell is a bruising quarterback in the mold of a Tim Tebow or Collin Klein. Well, Klein rushed for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Oklahoma State defense earlier this season, and if you don't think Bob Stoops is very much aware of that, well, trust me, he's very much aware of that. 
Posted on: November 22, 2011 12:13 pm
Edited on: November 22, 2011 12:14 pm
 

Keys to the Game: Texas A&M vs. Texas

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS A&M WILL WIN IF: The defense that shows up against Kansas last week returns for an encore performance. In the Aggies three-game losing streak before the Kansas win, they were allowing 44 points a game. Kansas only managed to score 7 against them last week, and though there's quite a difference in talent between Kansas and Texas, the Texas offense has been in a rut the last few weeks. Texas A&M needs to make sure they stay there. Especially considering that the Aggies offense has lost Christine Michael and may be without Cyrus Gray as well in this game. Which means Ryan Tannehill may have to shoulder a lot of the load, and it won't be easy to do against the best defense in the conference. The good news for Texas A&M is that the Longhorns don't provide much of a threat through the air, and that may be playing into Texas A&M's strength as the Aggies defense is allowing a conference best 2.74 yards per carry.

TEXAS WILL WIN IF: The Longhorns have had trouble establishing a passing attack all season long. They average only 181.6 yards passing per game, and the team's efficiency rating of 119.45 is the lowest in the Big 12 outside of Iowa State. If there were ever a week to find a passing attack, this may be it. While the Texas A&M defense leads the Big 12 in sacks, its secondary is also allowing 292.3 yards per game and nearly 3 touchdowns for every interception. So whether it's David Ash or Case McCoy under center on Thursday night, Texas would be well-served to try and move the ball through the air. The Longhorns defense is the best in the conference, but Texas A&M should be able to put up some points against it over 60 minutes, and I don't believe the Longorns offense can outscore the Aggies if it remains so one-dimensional.

X-FACTOR: Case McCoy. McCoy has been Texas' "throwing quarterback" for the most part this season. Despite the limited amount of time he's seen under center, he's thrown more touchdowns on the year than David Ash (4 to 3) and is also yet to throw an interception. So if Texas is going to get a passing game going against the Aggies on Thursday night, then it's going to be McCoy who has to get the job done for them. The more successful he is, the more successful the Longhorns will be.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:45 am
 

Keys to the Game: Texas vs. Kansas State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

TEXAS WILL WIN IF: The Longhorns are going to have to adapt to life without Fozzy Whittaker. He wasn't the team's leading rusher, in fact he's third on the team with 386 yards, but he was the key to Texas' Wildcat formation. The good news is that as long as Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron can play, the Longhorns still have plenty of talent at running back, even without the offense's vocal leader. Still, it won't be easy to find running space against a Kansas State defense that is third in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed per game (117.2) and has only given up 16 rushing touchdowns on the season. What's tougher than running against Kansas State? Keeping Kansas State, particularly Collin Klein, from running against you. Though this is a Texas team that has the best rushing defense in the Big 12 and has only allowed 9 touchdowns all season. This will be the toughest test that Manny Diaz's unit has faced this year. If it can prove capable of slowing down Klein, then the Longhorns can win this game.

KANSAS STATE WILL WIN IF: On defense the Wildcats are going to have to take away the Texas ground game. It won't be easy, but the fact of the matter is that this Texas offense needs to run to have success. David Ash is not a passing quarterback yet, and when the Longhorns lost Fozzy Whittaker last week it was ugly. If the Wildcats can avoid their recent trend of getting down early in games and actually build a lead and force Texas to throw more than it wants to, this could get out of hand quickly. On offense, the formula will remain the same. Collin Klein right, Collin Klein left, Collin Klein up the middle. Sprinkle in a pass here and there, mix, and voila! Touchdowns. Though it's not going to be easy against this Texas defense.

X-FACTOR: John Hubert. This Texas defense is good enough against the run that it can slow down Collin Klein if the Wildcats become too dependent on their quarterback. The best way for Kansas State to make sure that doesn't happen will be if Hubert can find some room and make the Texas front seven respect the option. If Hubert isn't able to pick up yards and the Texas defense is allowed to key solely on Klein, Kansas State could be in trouble.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:26 am
 

Keys to the Game: Baylor vs. Oklahoma

Posted by Tom Fornelli

BAYLOR WILL WIN IF: Baylor will have to win this game the same way it does in every game it emerges victorious: by outscoring Oklahoma. This is a team that's ranked 108th in the country in scoring defense, after all, allowing 36 points per game. The good news for Baylor is that it has an offense more than capable of putting up points in a hurry. Of course, taking care of the ball while it has it would help a lot too. In the blowout loss to Oklahoma State the Bears turned the ball over 5 times, and last week against Kansas the Bears turned it over 4 times, forcing Robert Griffin to lead a 21-point comeback in the fourth quarter. The best way to limit turnovers will be to protect Griffin from an Oklahoma defensive line that can get to the quarterback, as it's second in the Big 12 with 34 sacks this season. If Griffin gets time, he can pick apart any secondary.

OKLAHOMA WILL WIN IF: It can overcome the injuries on offense. Normally I'd put Oklahoma's offense on par with Baylor's, but is that still the case now that the Sooners have lost Dominique Whaley and Ryan Broyles in the last two weeks? We can't know for sure because we haven't seen it play without those two yet. Which means that Landry Jones will have to adjust to life without his favorite target and security blanket. Remember, Landry Jones has never played a game as a Sooner in which he didn't have Broyles around to throw to. In the backfield, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have to step up to fill in for Whaley and give the Sooners balance on offense. On defense, the Oklahoma defense needs to pressure Griffin and understand that it's likely going to give up points. It just needs to make a few stops each half too. Something it has proven more than capable of doing all season.

X-FACTOR: Jaz Reynolds. Landry Jones is going to miss having Ryan Broyles around, and is going to need one of his receivers to step up and make some big plays. That player should be Jaz Reynolds, who has stepped up in a big way in Oklahoma's last three games. In that span Reynolds has caught 4 touchdowns, though he only has 215 yards. Against this Baylor secondary, with Jones forced to look his way more often, he could approach that yardage total in just one game.
Posted on: November 15, 2011 5:02 am
 

Keys to the Game: Iowa State vs. Oklahoma State

Posted by Tom Fornelli

IOWA STATE WILL WIN IF: It plays the game of its season. Though don't think that it's not possible, even if it does sound totally crazy. There are a few factors at play here. First of all, this is the last game on Oklahoma State's schedule before Bedlam, and it wouldn't be the first time a football team got caught looking ahead. Second of all, Iowa State was off last weekend, so it has had an extra week to prepare. The question is will that extra week be enough for the Iowa State defense to figure out how to stop the juggernaut that is the Oklahoma State offense. Well, this Cyclones defense isn't terrible. It's only allowing 392.2 yards per game at home this season, but it's also allowed 28 points per game in those contests. It also hasn't faced an offense of this caliber, so Paul Rhoads' team is going to have its hands full.

OKLAHOMA STATE WILL WIN IF: It gets its mind off of Oklahoma and a national championship and focuses on the task at hand. On paper this Cowboys team is simply better than Iowa State and can overmatch it. Pushing things further in Oklahoma State's favor is the turnover battle. We all know that Oklahoma State has forced more turnovers (34) than any team in the country. Well, do you know which team in the Big 12 has turned the ball over the most? Yep, Iowa State, which has 23 turnovers, or 2.56 turnovers per game. If that continues on Saturday in Ames then Oklahoma State shouldn't have much trouble with the Cyclones.

X-FACTOR: Jared Barnett. Since the freshman quarterback took the starting job from Steele Jantz, he's played reasonably well. He hasn't done a lot of damage with his arm, as he's completing only 49% of his passes and has 1 touchdown pass in three games. What Barnett has done well, however, is use his legs. In his three starts Barnett has averaged 94.33 yards rushing per game. The toughest time the Oklahoma State defense had this season was a few weeks ago against Kansas State and Collin Klein -- a quarterback who is much more dangerous on the ground than through the air. If Barnett and the Cyclones can take a page from Kansas State's book in that contest, it may make this game a lot more interesting than anyone expects it to be.
 
 
 
 
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