By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
As the calendar flips to November, the Big 12 Conference football schedule could use a horse racing announcer Dave Johnson’s famous phrase: “And down the stretch they come.”
Eight of the 10 games between the five teams in the top half of the schedule have yet to play each other. Only Oklahoma-Texas and Oklahoma-Texas Tech have played. Texas and Baylor are both 4-0 while Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and OU each have one loss.
The No. 12 Cowboys visit the No. 15 Red Raiders Saturday in what could best be labeled an elimination game. Winning the Big 12 with two losses would require a stunning turn of events.
“It’s going to be fun,” Texas Tech linebacker Terrance Bullitt said. “Going to be a lot of elimination games coming up. We just have to take care of our part.”
The Red Raiders (7-1, 4-1) are coming off their first loss of the season, a 38-30 defeat at Oklahoma last Saturday. The game with Oklahoma State sold out earlier in the week and the school is staging a “black out” with fans encouraged to wear black.
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury has provided extra motivation for his team. The number 98 has been plastered around the locker room and the football offices; that’s the total margin of defeat for the Red Raiders in their last two games with the Cowboys.
“That’s close to a hundred. That’s what they beat us by the last two years,” Kingsbury said, “so I just wanted to make sure they knew that, and hopefully they’ll have some pride in themselves when they see that.”
Another message from Kingsbury following the loss at OU was that Texas Tech still controls its destiny if it wins out. While the Red Raiders would lose in a head-to-head tie breaker with the Sooners, the basic meaning remains: Keep winning.
Oklahoma State, which lost its Big 12 opener at West Virginia on Sept. 28, was the preseason pick to win the Big 12. The Cowboys could fulfill that prophecy if they win their final five games.
“We’re going to have to win this one have a shot at the Big 12,” Oklahoma State wide receiver Charlie Moore said. “This game is huge. A win this weekend would give us a ton of momentum. But it all starts this Saturday.”
All times Central
Kansas at Texas
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Darrell K. Royal/Memorial Stadium, LHN.
Records: Kansas 2-5, 0-4; Texas 5-2, 4-0.
Scouting Kansas: The Jayhawks have been outscored by more than 100 points in their four Big 12 losses. However, last season Kansas nearly pulled the upset as Texas had to drive late in the game for a game-winning touchdown in the final minute. KU running back James Sims is third in the Big 12 in rushing yardage.
Scouting Texas: The Longhorns have won four in a row thanks to a revived and revised defense plus the play of senior quarterback Case McCoy; he is 3-1 as a starter. Sophomore running back Johnathan Gray is the Big 12’s second-leading rusher. Against Texas' defense, Oklahoma and TCU combined to convert on 20.7 percent of their third downs.
This and that: Kansas has not allowed an opposing offense to score on its opening drive through seven games this season. … The Longhorns are 10-0 against KU in Big 12 play, outscoring the Jayhawks by an average of 43.6 to 14.5 during those games. Texas' offense is averaging 43.6 points and 537.8 yards per game against Kansas in those 10 victories.
Iowa State at Kansas State
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, FS1.
Records: Iowa State 1-6, 0-4; Kansas State 3-4, 1-3.
Scouting Iowa State: The Cyclones are allowing nearly 40 points per game. Despite an offense that displays flashes, that’s too much for Iowa State to overcome. Sophomore quarterback Sam B. Richardson has been banged up all season as the offensive line, which has been plagued by injuries, has allowed the most sacks (26) in the Big 12.
Scouting Kansas State: The Wildcats continue to use a two-quarterback system – sophomore Daniel Sams and junior Jake Waters. K-State, based on statistics, is in the middle of the Big 12 offensively. However, receiver Tyler Lockett has developed into a big-play threat; he has 39 receptions and averages 15 yards per catch.
This and that: Only one player - redshirt freshman Daniel Burton - has started all seven games on the Iowa State offensive line this season. That unit has already started seven different lineups in 2013. … Iowa State has not won in Manhattan since 2004. … Kansas State has held fourth-quarter leads in three of its four losses this season, but also had a combined eight turnovers in those three games.
West Virginia at TCU
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Amon G. Carter Stadium, ESPNU.
Records: West Virginia 3-5, 1-4; TCU 3-5, 1-4.
Scouting West Virginia: The Mountaineers, like their opponent, need to win three of their last four games to become bowl eligible. After a solid start to the season, West Virginia’s defense is showing signs of fatigue; it has allowed at least 35 points in four of the five losses. Senior running back Charles Sims is a productive runner and receiver.
Scouting TCU: The Horned Frogs’ offense has been a disappointment, ranking ninth in the Big 12. Senior quarterback Casey Pachall returned to action last week against Texas but the attack produced just seven points. TCU is third in total defense and leads the Big 12 with 15 interceptions.
This and that: West Virginia running back Charles Sims is second in the Big 12 in rushes of 10-plus yards with 21 this season, just seven behind Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk. … Under coach Gary Patterson, TCU is 27-9 in regular-season games following losses. Patterson has never lost three straight games. … TCU has a chance to be the first team to lead the Big 12 in both interceptions and sacks in a season since Nebraska did in 1996.
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Need to know: 6 p.m., Jones AT&T Stadium, FOX.
Records: Oklahoma State 6-1, 3-1; Texas Tech 7-1, 4-1.
Scouting Oklahoma State: The Cowboys’ struggling running game got a boost from junior Desmond Roland, who had 219 rushing yards against Iowa State. Oklahoma State’s starting quarterback remains a mystery; Clint Chelf started last week but J.W. Walsh also could play. The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in turnover margin.
Scouting Texas Tech: Freshman quarterback Davis Webb has started the Red Raiders' last three games. No FBS quarterback has put up more passing yards in that span than Webb's 1,262 yards. The biggest problem for the Texas Tech offense has been turnovers; it ranks ninth in the Big 12 in turnover margin.
This and that: Oklahoma State is going for its fifth straight win against Texas Tech this weekend and three straight in Lubbock. … Since 2011, Texas Tech is 1-7 in the month of November and 0-8 against the four teams left on its schedule: Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. … No team in the country has settled for more field goals in the red zone (16) than Texas Tech.