For the winless, this weekend presents opportunity in the Southeastern Conference and the Big 12.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Baylor and Kansas square off in Waco, Texas, with each seeking a first conference triumph.
Kentucky, 0-6 in the SEC, plays host to Vanderbilt and it might be the Wildcats’ best chance at a league victory. Kentucky played well at home this season against South Carolina and Georgia.
Auburn can’t get an SEC victory this week but should halt its five-game losing streak when New Mexico State visits. Tennessee has lost four straight but should get into the victory column against Troy.
Big 12 matchups
• Oklahoma at Iowa State, 11 a.m. on ABC (Ch. 9): Sad to know Jake Knott, the hard-nosed Cyclones linebacker, won’t play for the rest of the regular season after undergoing shoulder surgery earlier this week. Still, the Sooners have a tough task at hand. They’re coming off the deflating Notre Dame loss that eliminated them from the national championship picture. Cyclones quarterback Steele Jantz was aces last week against Baylor.
• TCU at West Virginia, 2 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): The Big 12 newcomer bowl. The Mountaineers haven’t tasted victory in three weeks, with two losses and an open date since winning at Texas. Geno Smith got off to a great start — 25 touchdown passes, no interceptions. In his last two games: two touchdowns, two picks. Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin injured his knee in last week’s loss to Oklahoma State but will start Saturday.
• Texas at Texas Tech, 2:30 p.m. on ABC (Ch. 9): David Ash gets the start at quarterback for Texas even though he was yanked late during last week’s victory at Kansas. Tech’s improved defense got chewed up in the second half at Kansas State last week but it has been terrific at home this season. The Red Raiders bust out new uniforms for this one, all-red “Lone Star Pride,” with a red, white and blue star on the shoulders.
• Kansas at Baylor, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: Somebody’s going to get their first Big 12 victory. The Jayhawks are coming off their most encouraging game of the season, a four-point loss to Texas. KU kept it close by sticking to a James Sims-led running game. The Bears have been awful defensively but can put up points in a hurry.
• Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 7 p.m. on ABC (Ch. 9): The Cowboys are coming off their two best games of the season, convincing home victories over Iowa State and TCU. Quarterback Wes Lunt returned to the lineup and threw for 324 yards, recovering nicely from an early pick six. The league’s best kicking games are pitted here, with Cowboys punter/kicker Quinn Sharp ranking among the nation’s best and Wildcats kicker Anthony Cantele the league’s most accurate (11 of 12 on field goals).
• Missouri at Florida, 11 a.m. on ESPN2: Gators coach Will Muschamp is familiar with the Gary Pinkel/David Yost offense from his Texas days. The Tigers have been competitive with only one of the three heavyweights on the schedule — Georgia. Mizzou’s defense will have to keep the Tigers in this game.
• Texas A&M at Mississippi State, 11 a.m. on ESPN: Who saw this as a great matchup in the preseason? A&M has been superb with only narrow losses to Florida and LSU spoiling a prefect start. Quarterback Johnny Manziel, the SEC’s rushing and total offense leader, continues to gain Heisman buzz. The Bulldogs lost their first game last week at Alabama but they have a chance at an excellent record and high-profile bowl game.
• Vanderbilt at Kentucky, 11 a.m. on ESPNU: Vandy is two victories away from becoming bowl eligible, and it appears running back Zac Stacy will play after missing most of last week’s victory over Massachusetts because of an ankle injury.
• Troy at Tennessee, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC Plus: The Vols are 3-5 but they’ve played Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina tough. They may be ready to put a hurt on Troy, which is middle-of-the-pack in the Sun Belt.
• Tulsa at Arkansas, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson originally committed to Tulsa. He de-committed and became the first pledge of new coach Bobby Petrino. The Golden Hurricane lost its opener at Iowa State and has won seven straight. Pass protection is key. Tulsa leads the nation in sacks.
• New Mexico State at Auburn, 11:30 a.m. (no local TV): Auburn will get a break from its nightmarish season. New Mexico State is 1-7 and winless in the WAC. The Aggies have one of the nation’s worst offenses. Tigers coach Gene Chizik said freshman Jonathan Wallace will make his first career start.
• Mississippi at Georgia, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Georgia has taken control of the SEC East race but could squander it with a loss. Quarterback Bo Wallace was terrific for the Rebels in their victory over Arkansas last week and Mississippi is one victory away from bowl eligibility. Few in the preseason saw a bowl game as a possibility for this team.
• Alabama at LSU, 7:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Nick Saban went 4-1 as LSU’s coach against Alabama, and as the Crimson Tide’s coach he won the biggest game between the schools, last season’s BCS National Championship Game. The game has obvious national implications with Alabama first and LSU fifth in the BCS standings, but it is also for SEC West supremacy. An Alabama loss, which is what happened last year in Tuscaloosa, gives the Tigers the inside track.