There can’t be a Game of the Century ever week in the Southeastern Conference, so matchups with a bit of an undercard feeling with have to do on Saturday.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
Alabama will be the latest to try and put the clamps on Johnny Football (Manziel), the Texas A&M redshirt freshman who has led the Aggies to an unexpectedly solid season. LSU will attempt to keep Mississippi State’s season sliding, and Vanderbilt-Mississippi is a nice matchup of teams that can be labeled overachievers.
In the Big 12, is Kansas State’s trip to TCU the best chance for a loss among the Wildcats’ final three games? It will be for certain if quarterback Collin Klein hasn’t recovered from his undisclosed injury.
Big 12 matchups
• Kansas at Texas Tech, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC: With five straight 100-yard rushing games, James Sims is having an outstanding year for the Jayhawks, and he’ll have to be on top of his game for Kansas to have a chance. As always, KU will need to dominate possession time and keep the potent Red Raiders off the field. Tech started 6-1 but has lost two straight.
• Iowa State at Texas, 11 a.m. on Longhorn Network: Texas will flash a wishbone alignment on its first play to honor former coach Darrell Royal, who died earlier this week. Will Iowa State counter with a wide-tackle six? The Cyclones were victorious in their last visit to Austin, but they’ve got a big task in slowing the running game, led by freshman Johnathan Gray, that has picked up steam. Iowa State’s Jeremiah George was credited with 17 tackles last week, the first without injured Jake Knott.
• West Virginia at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m. on ABC (Ch. 9): His team was stomped at Texas Tech, and now Dana Holgorsen returns to another old stomping ground. The Mountaineers started 5-0 but they’ve lost three straight and, like the Cowboys, aren’t part of the Big 12 race. Mike Gundy has kept quiet about a starting quarterback after Wes Lunt’s injury against Kansas State. But Clint Chelf played well for Lunt, so no drop off there. The quarterbacks split practice time this week.
• Baylor at Oklahoma, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: Baylor wide receiver Terrance Williams vs. the Sooners secondary should be a terrific matchup. Defensive backs Tony Jefferson and Aaron Colvin are at the top of their games. Oklahoma shouldn’t have problems scoring this week, and it will be up to the Bears to try and keep up. And the Sooners won’t forget their loss to the Bears last year, the first by OU to Baylor in school history.
• Kansas State at TCU, 6 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): Let’s say it’s a worst-case scenario and Collin Klein can’t play. How would the Wildcats fare? The game would fall to backup Daniel Sams, who would be ask to manage the offense, and running back John Hubert would likely carry a major share of the load.
• Arkansas at South Carolina, 11 a.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): Marcus Lattimore is out and the Gamecocks have to find a way to win without him. Senior Kenny Miles, who rushed for 626 yards in 2009 but lost time to injuries and Lattimore after that, steps back in. Arkansas has won three of four and last week’s victory over Tulsa was under appreciated. Quarterback Tyler Wilson will see a stout pass rush, but the Razorbacks saw that Tennessee’s Tyler Bray passed for 381 yards against South Carolina earlier this season.
• Missouri at Tennessee, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): Vols defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri has had a tough year. Tennessee ranks 112th nationally in total defense and allowed 721 yards to Troy last week. Head coach Derek Dooley is taking a more active role in the defense. The Tigers should get stops but can the Mizzou offense score enough?
• Louisiana-Lafayette at Florida, 11:21 a.m.: The Ragin’ Cajuns picked up a major victory last week against Louisiana-Monroe, but this would be a stunner on a different level. Florida’s offense was largely held in check by Missouri last week, but the Gators defense should be able to chomp down.
• Texas A&M at Alabama, 2:30 p.m. on CBS: After this for Alabama, it’s a home game against Western Carolina, which is a 1-9 Football Championship Subdivision program, and 2-7 Auburn. So the only teams standing between the Crimson Tide and a spot in the BCS National Championship Game is Texas A&M and the opponent in the SEC championship game, probably Georgia.
• Georgia at Auburn, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: A Bulldogs victory clinches the division, and Georgia has won five of the last six meetings. Only Cam Newton’s team defeated the Dawgs since 2005. Georgia linebacker is playing his best ball of the season. He’s up to 8 1/2 sacks, trailing only Texas A&M’s Damontre Jones for the SEC lead. If Alabama wins the SEC, who gets the Sugar Bowl? Would it be two-loss Georgia over a one-loss Florida team that lost to the Bulldogs?
• Mississippi State at LSU, 6 p.m. on ESPN: You knew this was coming for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs got off to a great start, winning seven straight. Then the schedule grew teeth and the Bulldogs enter this game off losses to Alabama and Texas A&M. The Tigers Zach Mettenberger came into his own in the loss to Alabama last week, and the Tigers are poised to run the table.
• Vanderbilt at Mississippi, 6 p.m. on ESPNU: Winner becomes bowl eligible, and that’s huge for programs that don’t count on postseason play every season. Vandy has won three straight and has matched up well against the Rebels in recent seasons.