Anthony Aldridge and the Houston Cougars host a pivotal game against Marshall this week.
Only two weeks remain in the regular season in the Big 12 and Conference USA. Though the selection of the Texas Bowl participants in only a few weeks away, several teams are still in the running to be playing at Reliant Stadium on December 28. There is lots of football yet to be played, so finding out which teams will be playing in the Texas Bowl will probably come down to the wire! Here is a look at some of the big matchups in the Big 12 and Conference USA this weekend:
Texas Techends its regular season at home when they host #4 Oklahomaat Jones SBC Stadium on Saturday. The Red Raiders have lost six of their last seven meetings with the Sooners, but won the teams' last matchup in Lubbock on November 19, 2005. To pull of the upset, Texas Tech will need huge production from their two offensive stars, junior quarterback Graham Harrell and freshman wide receiver Michael Crabtree. Harrell leads the nation in total offense and Crabtree is the nation's leading receiver. For the Sooners, the sensational freshman season for running back DeMarco Murray continued last weekend against Baylor. The future superstar turned in the best game of his young career by rushing for three touchdowns and returning a kickoff 91 yards for another score. The Red Raiders defense will certainly have their hands full with Murray's game-changing playmaking ability.
Still needing one more victory to become bowl eligible, the Oklahoma StateCowboys may see their last chance for a win come this weekend when they travel to Waco to face Baylor. Oklahoma State faces rival Oklahoma on the road next weekend to close their regular season, so a win against the Bears is critical for their bowl chances. Though the Cowboys lost last week to Kansas, senior running back Dantrell Savage's 106 rushing yards was the most allowed by the Jayhawks defense this season. Savage's effort was also his seventh consecutive game with over 100 yards rushing. For Baylor to have a chance of beating the Cowboys, the Bears' defense will have to slow down the high-powered Oklahoma State attack. With their defense having caused turnovers in 10 of their 11 games this season, Baylor's defense has proven that they can take the ball away from opposing offenses.
Kansas State, a Texas Bowl participant last season, is in a similar boat to Oklahoma State. The Wildcats need just one more win to become bowl eligible, but will have a difficult time this weekend as they host #5 Missouri. Kansas State is looking to recover from their 73-31 rout from Nebraska last weekend and hope that their home crowd can give them the boost they need to pull off an upset. Senior receiver Jordy Nelson is finishing his college career in a big way, trailing only Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree in receptions (9.9) and receiving yards (134.7) per game. As for the Tigers, junior quarterback Chase Daniel finds himself in the race for the Heisman Trophy and is looking to lead his team to their best finish since 1960. Daniel is set to surpass the school passing records he set last season (completions, yards, touchdown passes). If he posts a performance on par with his production so far this season, he should shatter his own numbers.
Other Big 12 games
Iowa Stateat #3 Kansas
After losing to Tulsa last week, the HoustonCougars fell into a first place tie in C-USA West with the Golden Hurricane, but return home this weekend to host Marshall. The Cougars are looking to avoid being the second consecutive upset victim of the Thundering Herd. Last weekend Marshall defeated East Carolina to win for the second time in three games after losing their first seven contests. A big reason why Houston lost last weekend was because Tulsa was able to contain the Cougars' two best offensive players, senior running back Anthony Alridge and senior wide receiver Donnie Avery. The senior leaders will need to get back on track to keep Houston's hope of a C-USA Conference Championship Game bid alive.
Speaking of the Golden Hurricane, Tulsatravels to upstate New York to face Army at Michie Stadium. Tulsa senior quarterback Paul Smith continued his incredible season last weekend, throwing for 313 yards and five touchdowns against Houston. Smith's performance was his tenth consecutive game going over the 300 yard passing mark this season. Army will have a tough time keeping pace with the prolific Tulsa offense. The Black Knights have lost four consecutive games and rank among the bottom in most offensive categories.
Central Floridacan take one step closer to locking up the C-USA East division with a win over Southern Methodist. Knights junior running back Kevin Smith posted the biggest game of his career last weekend against Alabama-Birmingham when he rushed for 320 yards and four touchdowns. Smith trails only Tulane's Matt Forte in total rushing yards this season. As for Southern Methodist, their offense is doing a good job moving the football, but their defense has a hard time stopping anyone. The Mustangs are trying to end an eight-game losing streak and are looking for only their second win at home this season.
Other Conference USA games
Southern Mississippiat Texas-El Paso