The Cotton Bowl will be filled to the brim this Saturday in the Big 12's annual marquee matchup between the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns.
A wild week of upsets around college football made Week 5 one to remember. Half of the top ten teams in the country lost, shaking up the rankings quite a bit. The upset bug bit the Big 12 as both #10 Oklahoma and #19 Texas dropped games before their big showdown this week. Several high-profile matchups are on tap this weekend for the Texas Bowl-participating conferences, so let's have a look at the premier games.
Though the game has lost some luster after last week's upsets, the Red River Rivalry game between Texas and Oklahoma never fails to deliver excitement and remains the biggest game in the Big 12 this week. Last week, the Sooners committed two crucial turnovers in the fourth quarter, leading to their upset on the road at Colorado. This will be freshman quarterback Sam Bradford's first test against Texas and certainly the biggest stage he has played on in his young career. As for the Longhorns, sloppy play combined with an aggressive Kansas State defense led to a 41-21 defeat at home to the Wildcats. For the second consecutive season, quarterback Colt McCoy was injured against the Wildcats, but he did return to action. McCoy says he will be healthy for the game against the Sooners, but he will need to play much better than he has so far this season if he is to lead the Horns to victory. The sophomore quarterback has already surpassed his interception total from last season, throwing nine thus far.
In another matchup of ranked teams, #25 Nebraska travels to Faurot Field to take on the #17 Missouri Tigers. The winner of this game will hold the early inside track to winning the Big 12 North. The Tigers are looking to go 5-0 for the second consecutive season, led by junior quarterback Chase Daniel. The former Southlake Carroll Dragon currently ranks second in the Big 12 in passing, throwing for 1,311 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Huskers offense is led by junior running back Marlon Lucky, who leads the Big 12 in rushing with 565 yards and six rushing touchdowns. Lucky also threw a touchdown pass in last week's victory over Iowa State, the second one of his career.
In the Sunflower Showdown, Kansas will visit Kansas State and battle for the Governor's Cup. Kansas enters the game with the best scoring defense in the country, allowing only 5.8 points per game. Junior cornerback Aqib Talib, currently tied for second in the conference with two interceptions, returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown, the longest in school history. Talib also has three touchdown receptions as a part-time wide receiver. Kansas State is riding high after their dominating victory over Texas in Austin last weekend. Senior wide receiver Jordy Nelson led the way for the Wildcats with 12 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown. Nelson also returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown near the end of the third quarter, sealing the win.
Other Big 12 games
Coloradoat Baylor Iowa Stateat Texas Tech Oklahoma Stateat Texas A&M
In the game of the week in Conference USA, the Houston Cougars make the trip to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama and Nick Saban. The Cougars dropped a heartbreaker to East Carolina 37-35 last week. In the loss, senior wide receiver Donnie Avery turned in an unbelievable performance with 9 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. Avery and senior running back Anthony Alridge will need to play at their best if they the Cougars are to pull off the upset on the road. Junior quarterback John Parker Wilson leads the way for the Crimson Tide, throwing for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. On the ground, freshman running back Terry Grant is having a great season thus far, rushing for 519 yards and five touchdowns.
In a battle for supremacy of C-USA West, Tulsa visits Texas-El Paso at the Sun Bowl. The Golden Hurricane come in with the third-highest producing offense in the nation, with over 570 yards per game. Tulsa senior quarterback Paul Smith turned in his fourth consecutive game with over 300 yards passing, throwing for 333 and three touchdowns in last week's victory over Alabama-Birmingham. The Miners are coming off a hard-fought win in Dallas last week against Southern Methodist. Senior running back Marcus Thomas led the way for UTEP, rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns. Thomas is averaging 5.3 yards per carry this season, eighth-best in the conference.
In a clash of C-USA East foes, East Carolina hosts Central Florida at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Last weekend, the Pirates benefited from two late-game missed field goals to hold off Houston 37-35. East Carolina is looking for its second consecutive win over the Knights, having won last year's matchup in Orlando 23-10. Central Florida continues to play impressive football, winning their last two contests over Memphis and Louisiana-Lafayette. Junior running back Kevin Smith ranks third nationally in rushing yards with 713. Smith piled up 223 yards and added three more touchdowns in last week's victory over the Ragin' Cajuns.
Other Conference USA games
Memphis 24, Marshall 21 (10/2)
Rice31, Southern Mississippi29 (10/3)
Alabama-Birminghamat Mississippi State