Big 12 Sports.com Correspondent
Oklahoma at Baylor
Need to know: 11:30 a.m, Floyd Casey Stadium, FSN.
Records: Oklahoma 4-0, Baylor 2-2.
Scouting Oklahoma: The top-ranked Sooners open Big 12 play on the road. They're aware that they're every opponent's target as long as they carry the No. 1 ranking. The Sooners will try to clamp down Baylor's running game and make the Bears try to win through the air. Oklahoma's offense is explosive and balanced. Sophomore quarterback Sam Bradford is second in pass efficiency and has complete command of an attack that can run it, throw it, play fast, play slow.
Scouting Baylor: The Bears are 0-17 against Oklahoma and have never beaten a top-ranked team in 12 tries. Baylor has been outscored 156-10 in three games against No. 1-ranked Big 12 teams. The Bears have been solid running the ball and will need to try to maintain possession with the ground game. Freshman quarterback Robert Griffin, who a year ago was getting ready for Texas high school district play, is an x-factor player who has the ability to keep the Bears competitive. “You either want to be No. 1 or play No. 1,” he said.
Kansas at Iowa State
Need to know: 11:30 a.m., Jack Trice Stadium, Versus.
Records: Kansas 3-1, Iowa State 2-2.
Scouting Kansas: The No. 16 Jayhawks are one of three Big 12 teams that have fewer running plays than pass attempts. The other two - Missouri and Texas Tech - average nearly six yards per running play. Kansas averages just 3.4 per attempt. In non-conference play, Iowa State's defensive strength has been against the pass. Quarterback Todd Reesing is a marvelous player but Kansas needs more offensive options than his arm.
Scouting Iowa State: The young Cyclones have shown improvement in coach Gene Chizik's second year. While no official announcement has been made, it appears that sophomore Austen Arnaud is the team's QB. Iowa State rallied twice from 21-point deficits with Arnaud at quarterback in its loss at UNLV. The Cyclones running game has struggled in the team's two losses.
Texas Tech at Kansas State
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, 2:30 p.m.
Records: Texas Tech 4-0, Kansas State 3-1.
Scouting Texas Tech: The eighth-ranked Red Raiders lead the nation in passing and are third in total offense and ninth in scoring. Running backs Shannon Woods and Baron Batch have provided a running threat and could have a big day in Manhattan. Texas Tech's pass defense ranks 10th in the Big 12 and will be tested by Kansas State QB Josh Freeman.
Scouting Kansas State: If the Wildcats' offense can play at a high level, it could be a shoot out. Kansas State is eighth nationally scoring offense and averages close to 300 passing yards per game. The flip side is not as bright. The Wildcats' defense has struggled in the last two games, especially against the run. Against Texas Tech, KSU has to worry about a prolific passing attack plus a running game that averages six yards per carry.
Texas at Colorado
Need to know: 6 p.m., Folsom Field, FSN.
Records: Texas 4-0, Colorado 3-1.
Scouting Texas: The fifth-ranked Longhorns will be on upset alert; a year ago, Oklahoma traveled to Boulder and lost its Big 12 opener. Quarterback Colt McCoy is off to a scintillating start and is UT's heart and soul. The defense has given up a lot of passing yards but that's because running against the Longhorns has been a losing propostion. Texas is tied for the national lead in sacks with 16.
Scouting Colorado: Buffs fans are complaining the Colorado is throwing the ball too much but the offense averages 37 rushes and 34 passes per game. Colorado, though, has just three rushing TDs. Freshman Rod Stewart has been the Buffs' most impressive runner. Fellow rookie running back Darrell Scott, who selected Colorado over Texas, has yet to make an impact. The Buffs are second in the Big 12 in pass defense but haven't faced a quarterback as talented as Colt McCoy.
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State
Need to know: 6 p.m., Boone Pickens Stadium.
Records: Texas A&M 2-2, Oklahoma State 4-0.
Scouting Texas A&M: If it's what's up front that counts, then the Aggies appear to be lacking. Texas A&M is last in the Big 12 in rushing offense and rushing defense. The Aggies have just two rushing touchdowns (both coming in the season opener). Senior quarterback Stephen McGee re-injured his right (passing) shoulder last week against Army. For A&M to have a chance to win its conference opener, the defense will need to play its best game.
Scouting Oklahoma State: The Cowboys lead the nation in rushing offense and are No. 4 in total offense. Oklahoma State's offensive line has been dominant in four victories and that trend should continue against a Texas A&M front seven that has struggled. If the Cowboys' running game stalls, the Zac Robinson-Dez Bryant connection is difficult to stop. If the Aggies are forced to throw, Oklahoma State's pass rush needs to step up; the defense has just two sacks.
Missouri at Nebraska
Need to know: 8 p.m., Memorial Stadium, ESPN.
Records: Missouri 4-0, Nebraska 3-1.
Scouting Missouri: The third-ranked Tigers are averaging 596 yards and 54 points a game. Quarterback Chase Daniel is the leading candidate for the Heisman Trophy. Missouri's defense hasn't put up great numbers but it spends a lot of time on the field because the offense scores so quickly. The Tigers, who blasted Nebraska 41-6 last season in Columbia, haven't won in Lincoln since 1978.
Scouting Nebraska: The Huskers' first loss set off some alarm bells with high-powered Missouri coming to town. Nebraska's defense allowed 35 points to a Virginia Tech offense that is one of the nation's least-lethal units. Also, the Huskers' running game was almost non-existent. To knock off the Tigers, Nebraska will need significant improvement on defense and in the running game.