2009 Big 12 Fearless Picks - Week 8
Missouri WR Danario Alexander
Missouri WR Danario Alexander
Posted Oct 21, 2009

Can Missouri get back in the Big 12 title chase? Already at 0-2 in conference play, the Tigers desperately need to win at home against Texas or that will be it for the two-time defending North champions. Check out the Previews and Predictions for the Week 8 Big 12 Games.

2009 Big 12 Fearless Predictions

Week 8 ... Oct. 24

North Colorado | Iowa St | Kansas | Kansas State | Missouri | Nebraska
South Baylor | Oklahoma | Oklahoma State | Texas | Texas A&M | Texas Tech  
- 2009 CFN Big 12 Expert Picks & Roundup 

Big 12 Fearless Predictions
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- Week 8, Part 2 (OU at Kansas, A&M at Texas Tech, and More) 

Game of the Week

Texas (6-0) at Missouri (4-2), 8:00 EST, Saturday, October 24, ABC

Why to watch: A few weeks ago this seemed like a possible Big 12 Championship matchup, and while Texas has done its part with strong wins over Texas Tech and Oklahoma to take a stranglehold on the South, Missouri has politely bowed out of the race before it could even begin. In truth, there's still time for the Tigers to make some noise thanks to such a weak division, but after collapsing in the fourth quarter at home against Nebraska and with a 33-17 loss at Oklahoma State last week, there's no margin for error. That means Mizzou has to beat Texas for the first time since 1997 and for only the second time since 1916, but if it happens, the chance is there to go on a great run before the showdown at Kansas to end the regular season. For Texas, it has to reload after beating Oklahoma in a sluggish, strange game, but that wasn't a problem last year with a 56-31 win over the Tigers after the victory over the Sooners. This has been a strange year so far for a team that was supposed to be 6-0 at this point, but on a ten-game winning streak and with what amounts to a South title game next week at Oklahoma State, now is not the time for a letdown.
Why Texas might win: All of a sudden, Blaine Gabbert has turned into a sophomore playing his first year for a big-time program. The Missouri quarterback has more talent than Chase Daniel and he has the potential to be on an NFL team some day, and he played like it over the first four games with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions. But over his last two games against Nebraska and Texas, he has completed just 39-of-87 passes with a touchdown throw and five interceptions. The problem has been time, as he has been under pressure more over the last two games than he was in the previous four, and it's not like he's going to get a break this week against a fearsome pass rush that was in the Oklahoma backfield all game long. He has to be perfect, decisive, and on target with every throw, and coming off an ankle injury, he won't be.
Why Missouri might win: Texas is No. 1 in the nation in scoring offense and 13th overall. So why does it all seem so empty? Part of the reason is the lack of efficiency from Colt McCoy, who has been more than fine, but not exactly Heisman worthy, and part of it has been the sluggish first half starts. The Longhorns unloaded on UTEP and ULM early on, but for the most part they've needed a little while to warm up, and Missouri has to take advantage of that. The secondary is beatable on mid-to-deep throws while the Tiger offensive line, for the most part, has been decent in pass protection. Gabbert will be under pressure and there will be times when he'll have to accept the sack and eat it, but he'll get his chances to bomb away, and he has to make the most of them.
Who to watch: There's one problem for Gabbert, though, when he tries to throw deep: Earl Thomas. The sophomore defensive back has turned into one of UT's best all-around players making more things happen against the run while picking off five passes in his last four games. He returned a Cody Hawkins pass 92 yards for a touchdown in a game-changing play against Colorado, he made seven stops against Oklahoma and two tackles for loss with a forced fumble, and he made two interceptions against UTEP. He's the hottest defensive back in America, and Gabbert needs to know where he is on every play.
What will happen: Missouri will play better than it has over the last five quarters, but it still won't be enough. There won't be any room for Derrick Washington and the Tiger running game to operate against a Longhorn run defense that held Oklahoma to -16 yards, which means it's all going to be on Gabbert. He'll throw for over 300 yards, but he'll also get picked off three times.
CFN Prediction: Texas 27 … Missouri 17 ... Line: Texas -13.5
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) …  4
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Iowa State (4-3) at Nebraska (4-2), 12:30 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: It has been one of the more one-sided matchups in college football, with Nebraska winning 29 of the last 31 matchups, and most of them in a breeze, and this appeared to be another layup for the Big Red side before last week. And then, all of a sudden, the Huskers came up with an improbably bad performance in a 31-10 home loss to Texas Tech to open up the Big 12 North race that appeared to be closed just a week before. The Huskers used a great fourth quarter to beat Missouri 27-12 in Columbia, and with three home games in four weeks, looked to be all ready for a big run. But after last week's loss, and with Iowa State coming off a 24-10 stomping of Baylor, this now becomes an interesting game to keep an eye on. Iowa State might not have enough talent to get to a bowl game, but it's playing just well enough to pull off the upset if Nebraska plays like it did last week.
Why Iowa State might win: Nebraska can't score against BCS teams. The Huskers are 25th in the nation in scoring and average 385 yards per game, but most of the production came against Florida Atlantic, Arkansas State, and UL Lafayette. The offense didn't get into the end zone against Virginia Tech, did nothing for three quarters against Missouri, and needed a trick play to get into the end zone against Texas Tech. Of course, there was the 27-point explosion in the fourth quarter at Missouri, but that was more of a big momentum run, sparked by the defense, than it was an indicator of the team's explosiveness. Iowa State's defense hasn't been a rock, but the offense could control the clock and the game if it gets its running game, currently the best in the Big 12, going early.
Why Nebraska might win: But Iowa State might not get its running game going early, or at all. The Ndamukong Suh led Husker defensive front has been a rock against the run, giving up just 86 yards to Virginia Tech, 91 to Missouri, and 25 to Texas Tech. The three games Nebraska gave up more than 100 yards on the ground were all against Sun Belt teams, and they were mostly trying to eat up clock late to get the blowouts over with. To have any chance, Iowa State will have to throw and throw well, and that's not its game. This is an inefficient passing attack without the receivers to throw a scare into the Husker corners.
Who to watch: Iowa State's stars will play, but they'll be gimpy. RB Alexander Robinson leads the Big 12 averaging 105 rushing yards per game, and QB Austen Arnaud is ninth in the conference averaging 62 yards per outing. Robinson has a groin injury that he has been able to play through without much of a problem, while Arnaud has a banged up hand which isn't expected to be too much of an issue. However, if either of these two go down, even with backup QB Jerome Tiller looking decent against Baylor, Nebraska will roll.
What will happen: This is an awful matchup for the Cyclones. Nebraska might not have the most consistently dangerous offense, but it will get plenty of chances to produce on short fields with the defense stuffing the Iowa State running game.
CFN Prediction: Nebraska 35 … Iowa State 10 ... Line: Nebraska -18
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 2.5
-Free Expert Football Predictions

Oklahoma State (5-1) at Baylor (3-3), 12:30 EST, Saturday, October 24

Why to watch: Shhhhhhhh. Ever since losing at home to Houston 45-35, Oklahoma State has found plenty of seats open up on the bandwagon. Losing WR Dez Bryant for violating the NCAA's liar liar pants on fire rule, and RB Kendall Hunter to an injury, didn't help the perception. But very quietly, the Cowboys have gone on a four-game run and can have a shot to take the lead in the Big 12 title chase, and be in the national title hunt, if they can beat Texas at home next week. First, they have to get by a dying Baylor team that hasn't been able to recover from the loss of star QB Robert Griffin to a knee injury. The Bears lost their last two games to Oklahoma and Iowa State by a combined score of 57 to 17, but they get three of the next four games at home.
Why Oklahoma State might win: The Baylor running game has gone bye-bye. The loss of Griffin is a killer, but the ground game also took a hit with RB Jay Finley suffering a leg injury. Baylor is now 0-3 this season when running for under 150 yards (and 3-0 when going over), and Oklahoma State has been great against the run so far allowing just 108 yards per game with an aggressive front that makes a lot of mistakes, but makes a lot of big plays, too. There's simply no scoring pop on the Bears right now, and if OSU can get up early, it should be able to coast.
Why Baylor might win: It's not like the Oklahoma State offense if firing on all cylinders. It has been fine with the loss of two of its stars, and the passing game has been efficient, but the running game has been underwhelming, with the stats inflated by a 321-yard, five touchdown day against Grambling, and the passing attack lacks the scary-good element it had with Bryant at wideout. Baylor's defense has struggled against the good offenses, but it's a smart back seven with LB Joe Pawelek and S Jordan Lake decent at keeping the big plays to a minimum.
Who to watch: The Cowboys need a new receiver to step up and make things go for the passing game with Bryant out, and last week, sophomore Hubert Anyiam became that guy with ten catches for 119 yards and a score in the win over Missouri. In the last three weeks he has caught 16 passes for 223 yards and two scores, and he has shown off the ability that made him such a superstar of a recruit in 2007. He started to look the part of a top option this offseason, and now he'll be a No. 1 target as the year goes on.
What will happen: Baylor is overdue to come up with a decent game, and Oklahoma State will likely be looking ahead to Texas, but this will still be an easy Cowboy win. The Bears just don't have enough firepower.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma State 30 … Baylor 16 ... Line: Oklahoma State -10
Must See Rating: (Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyer's Cut) 5 ... This Is It 1) … 2
-Free Expert Football Predictions  

- Week 8, Part 2 (OU at Kansas, A&M at Texas Tech, and More)