Welcome to the 10th iteration of “10 Burning Questions”, where I ask the most important questions in the Big 12 for the upcoming week. A few of last week’s questions were answered over the weekend, but the action also raised some new ones. There are plenty of unanswered questions around the conference, but I’ll keep it to one per team.
10. IS STEVEN SIMS JR THE BEST QUARTERBACK OPTION FOR KANSAS?
While he is the leading receiver and most talented player, Steven Sims Jr at quarterback wouldn’t likely be a successful experiment, despite his 40-yard completion against West Virginia. At this point, playing a wideout at quarterback would at least add something interesting into a horrendous Kansas offense. Kansas just having fun and being weird for the rest of the season would certainly get some attention, and would be much more bearable to watch.
9. Can Iowa State get another win?
For the Cyclones the questions is easy. Can Iowa State close out a game. To coach Matt Campbell’s credit, they’ve been competitive throughout the season. It just isn’t showing up in the W/L column. That can change this week as they travel to Lawrence to face the Jayhawks. Campbell is shaking things up on the depth chart, and on Saturday, he needs to show the fan base that he can get the team over the hump.
8. IS A BOWL GAME STILL IN PLAY FOR TEXAS TECH?
The loss to Texas on Saturday was possibly the worst thing that could have happened for the Red Raiders, as they now sit at 4-5. Meaning, they’ll likely have to win 2 of their last 3 games. (5-7 teams went undefeated in bowl games last year but I doubt Texas Tech would be selected at 5-7)
While they’ll likely be able to handle Iowa State, they have to beat either Oklahoma State or Baylor, which, while possible, is very unlikely for Texas Tech and their defensive incompetence.
7. CAN KANSAS STATE UPSET BAYLOR AFTER THEIR BYE?
Kansas State has a much-needed bye week on tap this week, that they’ll use to try to recover from their heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State. They’ll also use this week to fix some decision-making problems, and to prepare for a struggling Baylor team. It’s very possible that Baylor will 6-3 coming into that matchup, and if Kansas State has a good game plan, and finds a way to put up points, they could very possibly put a 4 in the loss column.
6. WHERE HAS THIS TEXAS TEAM BEEN ALL YEAR?
Texas has played their best football of the year these last 2 weeks, as they looked like what they were supposed be all year in close wins over Baylor and Texas Tech. It seems that the key is D’Onta Foreman (who, for the record, should be in the Heisman discussion), as when he plays well Texas follows, and their last 2 wins are direct results of Foreman having great games. The rest of the offense plays better when Foreman has a good game, and even without a defense, if Foreman can continue to play like he has been, Texas is very hard to beat.
5. WHERE HAS THIS TCU TEAM BEEN ALL YEAR?
The same question goes to TCU as well. Although the cause of their big win is a little more foggy than the cause of Texas’ recent success. TCU looked like they were going to continue their recent skid heading into the Baylor game, and then they flipped the narrative, and beat the Bears about as thoroughly as they could have possibly beaten them. The running game was great, and made it a lot easier for Kenny Hill to pass the ball. TCU needs that kind of production on the ground for their last 3 games, as they’re scheduled to take on Oklahoma State, Texas, and Kansas State after their bye week this week.
4. WAS BAYLOR’S RECORD A RESULT OF COMPETITION?
After taking 2 straight L’s to teams they expected to beat handily, Baylor is looking for answers right now, and they likely won’t find them this week as they face the top team in the Big 12, Oklahoma, without their star halfback, Shock Linwood. In both losses, Baylor had no answer for the ground game defensively, and pretty much just let Texas and TCU have anything they wanted when they ran. When a team can run with no worry of being stopped, it makes the entire offense better, and right now, Baylor doesn’t have the running game right now to support the offense in shootouts, a popular format of game in this offense heavy conference. Baylor’s tough late season path continues with their biggest game of the year on Saturday, as they travel to Norman.
3. IS WEST VIRGINIA’S RUN DEFENSE GOOD ENOUGH TO STIFLE FOREMAN?
D’Onta Foreman has rushed for over 100 yards every game this season, but he has stepped up to another level the last two weeks, rushing for 591 yards and 5 scores on 65 carries in his last 2 games, an average of 9.1 yards per carry. That’s a very dangerous player to have to face off against, and that’s exactly what West Virginia is set to do on Saturday. West Virginia is 46th against the run coming into this gae, and they’ll need to perform above that ranking to slow down the dangerous Texas running attack.
2. IS WINNING OUT A POSSIBILITY FOR OKLAHOMA STATE?
Anything is possible in college football, and while Oklahoma State certainly can win out, which would put them in the Sugar Bowl, I don’t think they will. The Cowboys have 2 very winnable games in the next 2 weeks, home against 4-5 Texas Tech and on the road against 5-4 TCU, both games I expect them to win, but then they have to travel to unfriendly confines, Norman, to face Oklahoma in what will likely be the de facto Big 12 championship game. Both teams are hitting their groove right now, and that game will be a great one, and likely the most important of the season in the conference.
1. HOW MUCH DOES SHOCK LINWOOD’S SUSPENSION HELP OKLAHOMA?
If you asked me this a few weeks ago, it would be a much different answer, but with the surge of carries for sophomore Terence Williams this becomes a much less significant loss for a Baylor team that is hoping to catch a break sometime soon. Oklahoma has been solid on offense for the entire year, and with the way Baylor has struggled to stop the run as off late, if Oklahoma can establish a ground game this probably won’t be close. But in terms on Linwood’s suspension, Baylor will still have Terence Williams, and against a bad Oklahoma secondary Seth Russell should still be able to excel even without a consistent running attack to help him out.