Big 12 North Preview: Week 9

By Nate Latsch
FOXSportsKansasCity.com
October 30, 2010

Big 12 Conference North division leader Missouri took advantage of its nationally-televised showdown against undefeated and Big 12 South leader Oklahoma at Faurot Field last Saturday night and pulled off an impressive upset.

The challenge for the undefeated Tigers this week is to go on the road and earn another significant victory against rival Nebraska.

MISSOURI AT NEBRASKA

No. 6 Missouri (7-0 overall, 3-0 in Big 12 play) travels to No. 14 Nebraska (6-1, 2-1) for a Saturday afternoon contest that could determine the Big 12 North division championship.

“They’re obviously a great football team,� Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel told reporters this week. �Defensively, they’re one of the best in the nation. In several defensive categories, they’re in the top 20 in the nation as they were a year ago. Just a very good defensive football team. Offensively, they’re one of the best rushing offenses in the country and certainly we’ve got a great challenge ahead of us.”

The Tigers, who defeated Oklahoma 36-27 last Saturday, rank fourth among Football Bowl Subdivision teams allowing 13.1 points per game and are 23rd in scoring at 34.7 points per contest thanks to a passing game that averages 286.4 yards per game (16th nationally).

Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who committed to Nebraska in high school before later switching to Missouri, has completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 1,899 yards, with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Gabbert has thrown for 669 yards and four touchdowns without an interception in Mizzou�s last two wins against Texas A&M and Oklahoma.

The Tigers defense will have a tough test in defending Nebraska redshirt freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez, who has thrown for 1,046 yards with eight touchdowns and three interceptions and run for 870 yards and 12 touchdowns.

OKLAHOMA STATE AT KANSAS STATE

No. 17 Oklahoma State (6-1, 2-1) and Kansas State (5-2, 2-2) are both coming off of losses last week, with the Cowboys losing against Nebraska 51-41 and the Wildcats losing at Baylor 47-42.

Oklahoma State will be without the nation�s leading receiver, Justin Blackmon, and hasn�t won at Kansas State since 1988 when coach Mike Gundy was the Cowboys� quarterback.

This matchup features two of the top running backs in the Big 12, with Oklahoma State�s Kendall Hunter (1,031 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns) against Kansas State�s Daniel Thomas (895 rushing yards, nine touchdowns).

The road doesn�t get any easier for K-State, which will host Texas and then play at Missouri the next two weeks.

KANSAS AT IOWA STATE

Kansas (2-5, 0-3) takes a three-game losing streak to Iowa State (4-4, 2-2) on Saturday to face a Cyclones squad that snapped a two-game losing streak with a 28-21 win over Texas last week.

Iowa State, which will host Nebraska next week, is led by quarterback Austen Arnaud (1,196 passing yards, with 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions) and running back Alexander Robinson (608 rushing yards, seven touchdowns).

Kansas has had a rough season under first-year coach Turner Gill and has been outscored 159-24 the last three weeks in losses to Baylor, Kansas State and Texas A&M. The Jayhawks rank 112th in scoring (16.1 points per game) and 103rd in points against (33.9).

�It looks like KU will have a new quarterback this week with Jordan Webb doubtful with a shoulder injury and Kale Pick out with concussion-like symptoms. So the Jayhawks could turn to junior college transfer Quinn Mecham or Christian Mathews, a redshirt freshman wide receiver who played quarterback in high school.

COLORADO AT OKLAHOMA

Colorado (3-4, 0-3) has lost three straight games and 14 consecutive road games and now has to go on the road to face a No. 9 Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1) that is coming off a disappointing loss at Missouri last week that knocked the Sooners from the ranks of the unbeatens.

And the Buffaloes lost starting quarterback Tyler Hansen for the season when he had surgery to repair a ruptured spleen this week.

Stepping into the starting quarterback spot is former starter Cody Hawkins, who led Colorado to 27-24 victory over Oklahoma back in 2007.

“If you aren’t fired up when you’re going to play OU, then you’re in the wrong sport,” Hawkins told the Associated Press. “I think everybody is really excited about it and definitely having that experience before is something that gives you a little bit of confidence. But we know they’re going to be using that as motivation too.

“Even though we played decent last time we played them, we have to come out better this time because we’re going to be at their place and they’re a different football team.”

Oklahoma has won 34 straight home games, which is a school record and the longest active streak in the nation.