Things to watch in Week 11 of the Big 12 Conference season, when two huge games Saturday will impact the upper half of the standings.
GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 9 Kansas State at No. 6 TCU. The game matching Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson against his alma mater will have huge implications in the Big 12 race – and the College Football Playoff rankings. While K-State (7-1, 5-0) tops the league standings ahead of TCU (7-1, 4-1), the Frogs are sixth in the latest playoff rankings, a slot above the Wildcats. This will be TCU’s fifth ranked opponent in its last six games, and their only loss was 61-58 loss at Baylor four weeks ago when they blew a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter. K-State beat TCU 33-31 last year after a field goal with 3 seconds left – just more than 2 minutes after the Frogs kicked a go-ahead field goal. This is the first of three road games against ranked teams for the Wildcats to end the regular season. They also have to go to No. 24 West Virginia and No. 10 Baylor, with a home game against Kansas.
BEST MATCHUP (OK, the other big game in the Big 12): No. 10 Baylor at No. 16 Oklahoma. The defending Big 12 champion Bears (7-1, 4-1, No. 12 CFP) have won two of the last three games against the Sooners (6-2, 3-2, No. 15 CFP), the eight-time league champion who before that had won all previous 20 games in the series. Baylor has never won at Oklahoma, and can’t afford another loss if the Bears want to stay in playoff contention. The game features the league’s top two rushers – Baylor’s Shock Linwood (97.1 yards per game) and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine (95.9 ypg) – against two of the league’s best rushing defenses. The Bears allow only 99.9 yards per game, while Oklahoma is third, giving up 117.9 a game.
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INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Since opening the season with seven consecutive 100-yard games and being the first receiver in the nation over 1,000 yards, West Virginia senior Kevin White has only six catches for 55 yards the past two games. … Five of the league’s 10 teams have already reached bowl eligibility. … As Big 12 foes, West Virginia and Texas have played two close, high-scoring games won by the road team. WVU won 48-45 two years ago, and Longhorns won 47-40 in overtime at WVU last year.
LONG SHOT: Iowa State or Kansas (both 2-6 overall, 0-5 Big 12) avoiding a losing record. One team will get its first Big 12 victory Saturday since they play each other in Lawrence, Kansas. The loser is guaranteed a losing season. After that, both still have to play No. 6 TCU and another ranked opponent – Iowa State also has West Virginia, while Kansas plays its instate regular-season finale against No. 9 Kansas State.
IMPACT PLAYER: Oklahoma junior Sterling Shepard leads the Big 12 with 119.6 yards receiving a game, and is only 43 yards shy of a 1,000-yard season. Shepard has accounted for 46 percent of the Sooners’ receiving yards.
Compiled by AP Sports Writer Stephen Hawkins in Fort Worth, Texas.
Follow Stephen Hawkins on Twitter at www.twitter.com/hawkaptexas .