No bowl games means no additional practice time, so teams without a December schedule are making the most of the remaining weeks of the regular season. Like Iowa State.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
The Cyclones are 1-8, assured of no bowl for the first time in three years.
“So let’s take advantage of all practices,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “Let’s be smarter, use better fundamentals, use better technique. There’s been a positive approach to the practices.”
Iowa State already has lost more games than in any of Rhoads’ previous four seasons. Injuries have been a factor. Quarterback Sam Richardson is dealing with a thumb injury and Grant Rohach will start against Oklahoma. Rohach was 18 for 38 for 148 yards in his first start, against TCU last week.
But the season got off to a bad start, with a loss to Northern Iowa, and never got better. There have been crushing losses, at home to Texas and TCU by a combined five points. But Rhoads liked the effort from last week and expects the same at Norman.
“I’m looking for them to play with same energy and emotion and passion that they displayed Saturday,” Rhoads said.
Saturday’s Big 12 games
• West Virginia at Kansas, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports KC: The Mountaineers crushed KU in last year’s meeting 59-10, That day, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith completed 21 straight passes. These Mountaineers have lost four of five but last week’s was an overtime heartbreaker to Texas. Quarterback Clint Trickett suffered a concussion against the Longhorns and his status for Saturday is uncertain.
• Iowa State at Oklahoma, 11 a.m. on Fox Sports 1: Neither arrives to kickoff in a good frame of mind. The Cyclones are leaking oil in many areas and dropped a home game to TCU in the final minute. The Sooners are coming off a disappointing loss to Baylor. In that game, Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell was lifted on a few occasions for Trevor Knight.
• TCU at Kansas State, 2:30 p.m. on Fox Sports KC: Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson returns to his alma mater needing a victory to keep bowl hopes alive. But he’s facing a hot Wildcats team that’s won three straight and is coming off its best effort of the season, a 49-26 victory at Texas Tech. The big news for K-State in that game: no turnovers.
• Oklahoma State at Texas, 2:30 p.m. on Fox (Ch. 4): The Cowboys have won two in a row in Austin, and a victory keeps them in the thick of the Big 12 race. The Longhorns lost running back Johnathan Gray to a torn Achilles in last week’s West Virginia victory, but Malcolm Brown is ready to carry the load. Special teams may make a difference here. Oklahoma State has a big edge, especially in the return game.
• Texas Tech vs. Baylor at Arlington, Texas, 6 p.m. on Fox: Tech is skidding. Three straight losses have taken the Red Raiders out of the Big 12 race, and Baylor looks to pad its credentials in the national championship picture. The Bears are dealing with injuries. Running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin are banged up, and wide receiver Tevin Reese has a wrist injury.
Saturday’s SEC games
• Troy at Mississippi, 11 a.m. on ESPNU: It’s the first meeting between the programs. Troy needs one more victory to become bowl eligible but is heading in the wrong direction with two straight losses. Mississippi is playing its best ball of the season and should keep rolling before facing Missouri and Mississippi State.
• Kentucky at Vanderbilt, 11:21 a.m. on KSMO (Ch. 62): Not long ago, this was the Wildcats’ sure bet for victory. Kentucky went 12-3 in this series between 1996-2010. But Vandy has won the last two by a combined 78-8 score, and the Commodores are a confident bunch, coming off the 17-point victory at Florida. One more victory makes Vandy bowl eligible for the third straight year. The program had been to four bowl games in its history before this streak.
• Georgia at Auburn, 2:30 p.m. on CBS (Ch. 5): The Bulldogs head back to Auburn for the second straight year, but nobody’s thinking they’ll duplicate the 38-0 pasting from last season. The Tigers will look to establish the run with Tre Mason. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall wore a Georgia uniform two years ago as a reserve defensive back. He leads SEC quarterbacks in rushing with 734 yards.
• Florida at South Carolina, 6 p.m. on ESPN2: The Gamecocks look to keep pace with idle Missouri in the SEC East race. This was a bizarre game last year. Florida mustered only 183 total yards, and won 44-11 by taking advantage of four Gamecocks turnovers. The Gators are less charmed this season and need two victories to reach bowl eligibility.
• Alabama at Mississippi State, 6:45 p.m. on ESPN: The top-ranked Crimson Tide mark the fifth ranked opponent for Mississippi State, and that doesn’t count Auburn, which was unranked when they met in September. The Bulldogs have lost them all. Quarterback Dak Prescott has an elbow injury but he played last week against Texas A&M, less than a week after his mother, Peggy, lost her battle with colon cancer.