Air Raid vs. Blackshirts is intriguing
A nation's attention will be focused on the annual Oklahoma-Texas clash, but just as intriguing Saturday is the game in Lincoln, Neb.
Texas Tech visits Nebraska, and there aren't two league teams feeling better about themselves today.
Both are coming off games in which they played to their identities, Texas Tech in a 66-14 trashing of Kansas State, and Nebraska in a 27-12 shutdown at Missouri.
So now, it's going to be Air Raid vs. the Blackshirts in the Contrast Bowl, featuring Big 12 players of the week Steven Sheffield, the Tech quarterback, and Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Sheffield is coming off what may have been the most productive first start in college history with 490 yards and seven touchdowns. He was pitching in relief of Taylor Potts, who suffered a concussion in the previous game.
"What they asked him to do, he did extremely well," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.
Only at Tech could a guy with Sheffield's numbers not be guaranteed a next start. Coach Mike Leach doesn't talk about injuries and said his game-time decision whom to start "adds to the excitement and drama" of the game.
But it may be in Tech's best interest to start Sheffield, who goes by the nickname "Sticks," because of his better mobility.
The Cornhuskers are playing defense at a high level. They've held their last three opponents, including two ranked teams in road games, to fewer than 300 total yards and have surrendered a total of four touchdowns in five games.
Suh continued his amazing season against the Tigers with an interception, sack and forced fumble. He's leading the Huskers in tackles, which is amazing for a tackle.
"The things he does athletically at that size, he's a dominant player," Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said. "It's hard for a guy who plays inside to get outside guy, defensive end numbers."
Leach, as he often does, offered limited praise for an opposing player.
"We're not nearly as concerned about him as the Nebraska Cornhuskers overall," Leach said. "Overall, he's a key player but part of a really good team. The whole Nebraska team is a big concern."
These teams played one of the most dramatic Big 12 games last season, with Tech grabbing a 37-31 win in overtime. The Cornhuskers held the Red Raiders to a season-low 284 passing yards partly because Nebraska had more than 40 minutes of possession time.
Since that game, Nebraska had gone 10-2 with losses only at Oklahoma and Virginia Tech.
Ranking the Big 12
Team (prev. rank) Saturday's opponentComment
1. Texas (1) Oklahoma (at Dallas) Run game woes
2. Nebraska (3) Texas TechSuh for Outland
3. Oklahoma (5) Texas (at Dallas) Can Bradford be protected?
4. Kansas (2) at ColoradoMany defensive concerns
5. Okla. St. (5) MissouriGut-check victory at A&M
6. Texas Tech (7) at NebraskaStarting QB? Doesn't matter
7. Missouri (4) at Oklahoma StateBad quarter leaves bad taste
8. Texas A&M (10) at Kansas StateNo Ints for Johnson this season
9. Iowa State (11) BaylorGoing to get somebody
10. Baylor (8) at Iowa StateGood for half at Oklahoma
11. Colorado (12) KansasShowed life at Texas, new QB
12. K-State (9) Texas A&MForget Tech, move forward
Big 12 on TV
Texas vs. Oklahoma at Dallas, 11 a.m., ABC
Texas Tech at Nebraska, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Kansas at Colorado, 6 p.m., FSN
Baylor at Iowa State, 6 p.m., TBA
Texas A&M at Kansas State, 6 p.m., FCS
Missouri at Oklahoma State, 8:15 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, Oct. 24
Iowa State at Nebraska, 11:30 a.m., FSN
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 11:30 a.m., VERSUS
Oklahoma at Kansas, TBA, ABC
Texas at Missouri, TBA, ABC