Not every week in the Southeastern Conference is a blockbuster.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
On Saturday, there are three conference games on the slate, and the rest of the SEC is involved in non-league affairs. Athletic programs from the Southern and Southland Conferences are about to cash a nice guaranteed paycheck. The worst of the games is Alabama against Western Carolina, which is 1-9.
In the Big 12, is this the week Kansas’ 19-game conference losing streak ends? The Jayhawks, who play host to Iowa State, are coming off their most encouraging performance of the season, a double-overtime loss at Texas Tech.
Big 12 matchups
• Texas Tech at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: The Cowboys end the season with road games against Oklahoma and Baylor, so Oklahoma State, which has won four of five, wants to finish the home schedule strong. Kansas ran for 390 yards at Lubbock last week. Look for Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle to have a big game.
• Oklahoma at West Virginia, 6 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): Remember when this looked like the game to decide the Big 12? Now, the Mountaineers, who started 5-0, still aren’t bowl eligible. Oklahoma should reach a BCS bowl by winning out. Look for Landry Jones to come up big against a passing-efficiency defense that ranks next to last in college football.
• Iowa State at Kansas, 6 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: True, KU has lost 19 straight conference games. But because of a scheduling quirk, the Jayhawks have won their last four in Lawrence against the Cyclones, dating to 2001. The last two games have been in Ames. Linebacker Jeremiah George has gotten the snaps in place of Jake Knott, who is out for the regular season because of shoulder surgery, and has recorded consecutive double-digit-tackle games.
• Kansas State at Baylor, 7 p.m. on ESPN: Here are the stats for Quarterback A: Averages of 355 passing yards and 395 total yards (passing and rushing). Quarterback B: 330 passing yards, 384 total yards. Quarterback C: 202 passing yards, 277 total yards. Who are they? A is current Baylor quarterback Nick Florence. B is the Bears’ quarterback from last season, Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III. C is Kansas State quarterback, and this year’s Heisman favorite, Collin Klein. The big edge for Klein is he gets himself into the end zone: 19 times this season and 27 last year.
• Arkansas at Mississippi State, 11:21 a.m.: A battle of two programs on the skids. The Razorbacks have lost two of three. But a bright spot all season has been wide receiver Cobi Hamilton, who leads the SEC in receiving. The Bulldogs started 7-0, but then the schedule grew fangs and they’ve lost three straight, all by at least 20 points.
• Western Carolina at Alabama, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): It’s about us, not them, Tide coach Nick Saban said. He’s right about that. For Alabama’s preparation, it can’t be about the Catamounts of Western Carolina, an 1-9 FCS program.
• Jacksonville State at Florida, noon: Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel was on crutches earlier this week because of a sprained right ankle. Jacoby Brissett finished the Louisiana-Lafayette
game and could start this week. “We feel like (Driskel) will be available, but who knows?” Florida coach Will Muschamp said.
• Wofford at South Carolina, noon: The Terriers aren’t a FCS lightweight. They’re 8-2, tied for first in the Southern Conference and run a triple-option offense. They’ve played the Gamecocks tough twice in the Steve Spurrier era.
• Georgia Southern at Georgia, 12:30 p.m.: One of the teams tied with Wofford is Georgia Southern. Is this a letdown weekend for the Bulldogs, who have wrapped up league play until the SEC title game on Dec. 1? Maybe, but all that would mean is a slow start. Georgia has played its best ball of the season in the last few weeks.
• Alabama A&M at Auburn, 1 p.m.: With Alabama left as the lone SEC foe, Auburn likely won’t win another league game. But the Tigers can go 3-1 in the nonconference part of the schedule with what should be a victory over Alabama A&M.
• Mississippi at LSU, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): The Rebels had built up a head of steam until two weeks ago. Losses to Georgia and Vanderbilt have put bowl hopes in peril. LSU and quarterback Zach Mettenberger are finishing strong, and the team wants to put itself in the best bowl possible.
• Sam Houston State at Texas A&M, 2:30 p.m.: Hey, Sam Houston State can score. The Bearkats haven’t been below 41 in their last seven games and lead the FCS at 46.2 points per game. They’re tied atop the Southland standings and own an 8-2 overall record. But the Aggies are flying high after last week.
• Syracuse at Missouri, 6 p.m. on ESPNU: Gary Pinkel couldn’t remember the last time one of his teams played a nonconference game this late in the season. There will be one on this weekend next season as well. But Mizzou has fared well in these spots, with an 18-game winning streak in nonleague home games.
• Tennessee at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: The Vols are in a tough spot here. They’re winless in league play, must win out to become bowl eligible, and play at a Vandy team that’s won four straight. Plus the Commodores probably have a long memory. Tennessee won last year’s game in overtime, and in the locker-room celebration coach Derek Dooley said, “The one thing Tennessee always does is kick the (stuff) out of Vandy.”
• Samford at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.: The 1-9 Wildcats have had a rough season, but they’ll have a chance to send the seniors off as winners in their final home game. Same for coach Joker Phillips, who has already been fired.