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October 6, 2011

Week 6 preview in the Big 12

MORE PREVIEWS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | MWC | Pac-12 | SEC | Others

Thirteen teams from the Big Six conferences remain unbeaten, and 12 of them are included in the latest national rankings.

Texas Tech is the one unbeaten team that isn't ranked. It really doesn't deserve to be.

THE SCHEDULE
Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas, noon
Missouri at Kansas State, 3:30 p.m.
Kansas at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m.
Iowa State at Baylor, 7 p.m.
Texas A&M at Texas Tech, 7 p.m.
One of the Red Raiders' wins was over FCS member Texas State. The others were against teams with a combined 3-10 record. Texas Tech needed a last-minute touchdown to escape Nevada 35-34. The Red Raiders rallied from a 20-point deficit for a 45-34 victory over Kansas, which was blasted 66-24 by Georgia Tech in its previous games.

"We've gotten better," second-year coach Tommy Tuberville said. "But I don't know if we've gotten good enough to compete with a lot of these top-10 teams we're getting ready to play."

They don't have to be. Not yet, anyway. Games with top-10 teams Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas are several weeks away.

But the Red Raiders can make a statement - and likely move into the top 25 - if they can knock off No. 25 Texas A&M, a team that was in the top 10 just two weeks ago.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege wishes the Aggies still were ranked that high.

"I think the entire team wanted them undefeated and in the top 10," Doege said. "But I think any time A&M comes to town ... it's an exciting game for all of us. I don't think it really matters."

Indeed, A&M-Tech may be among the nation's most bitter feuds. Other rivalries are better known, but A&M-Tech can be as nasty as any.

Some say the animosity stems from a 1963 prank when A&M students were accused of stealing Tech's mascot horse. There was a post-game fight in 2001, when Red Raiders fans tore down the Jones Stadium goal posts after a 12-0 win and attempted to shove them into a section of the bleachers where a large number of A&M fans were gathered.

The tensions really increased when Mike Leach became Texas Tech's coach in 2000. Over the next 10 years, he chided the Aggies at every opportunity and beat them seven times.

"Growing up as a Tech fan, you always had a sour taste in your mouth for A&M," Doege said. "I'm guessing if you asked [A&M quarterback] Ryan Tannehill he would probably feel the same way about Texas Tech."

That's not all they have in common. Both teams have dynamic offenses and dubious defenses. The Red Raiders are seventh and the Aggies ninth in total offense. But Tech is 117th in the country in rushing defense, while A&M is 120th - last - against the pass.

COMING FRIDAY: TEXAS VS. OKLAHOMA
Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas is our national game of the week, and we'll have a more in-depth look at that game Friday.
Tech has had trouble getting started; the Red Raiders have had to rally from early deficits in their two most recent wins. A&M has had trouble finishing; the Aggies blew huge halftime leads to Oklahoma State and Arkansas in its losses.

Tech once posted seven consecutive victories over A&M in Lubbock. That streak ended in 2009, but the Red Raiders typically play the Aggies tough at Jones Stadium.

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This season, they have the triple-pronged incentive of gaining national respect, while adding to A&M's misery and perhaps ending the rivalry with a final victory. A&M is moving to the SEC next season, so it seems likely this will be the last game in the series for at least the foreseeable future.

Still, despite their recent collapses, the Aggies are better than any opponent Tech has faced.

"We'll probably be underdogs in all those games as we go through the year," Tuberville said of the remaining schedule. "But we have possibilities with this team if we can keep getting better and if we can stay healthy. We need a little luck on our side."

Best matchup: Texas offensive line vs. Oklahoma's defensive front. The Longhorns are averaging 206 rushing yards per game. If they can continue to control the line of scrimmage, they can get their offense going and can limit Oklahoma's offensive opportunities. Oklahoma's defense is allowing just 129 rushing yards per game. If the Sooners can neutralize Texas' running game, the Longhorns' fate will rest with young QBs Case McCoy and David Ash.

Player on the spot: Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles. Broyles, a senior, has 304 career receptions and needs just 13 more to set the NCAA career record. But he has been held in relative check against Texas. In three games against the Longhorns, Broyles has just 12 catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. A big performance from Broyles would not only enhance OU's chances to win the Red River Rivalry, but would figure to boost Sooners QB Landry Jones' Heisman campaign, too.

Keep an eye on: Texas Tech QB Seth Doege. He has thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of the Red Raiders' four games and has passed for more than 300 yards three times. He's facing a Texas A&M defense that ranks last in the nation in pass defense. The Aggies are allowing 336.7 passing yards per game and have given up six touchdown passes.

Numbers game: Texas A&M WR Ryan Swope was a high school running back and still runs well with the ball. Thus far, he has 26 catches for 380 receiving yards. But half of his yards have come after the catch. Yards after catch (YAC) always is an important statistic for receivers. Obviously, Swope is excelling in that area.

Quotes of the week

"The next two weeks, we play two of the top five teams in the country. That will tell a lot about who we are." - Texas coach Mack Brown, whose Longhorns face Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in consecutive games

"I feel bad for Nebraska ... Couldn't win in the Big 12 then go to the Big Ten and can't win. Maybe Conference USA would be a better fit." - Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis, on Twitter, after former Big 12 member Nebraska's 48-17 loss to Wisconsin

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"You know, John Q. Fan, he can get in a car and drive to Big 12 games. Besides, Missouri is Midwestern, not Southern." - Big 12 interim commissioner Chuck Neinas, to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on why Missouri should stay committed to the Big 12 and resist seeking membership in the SEC

Poll watch: No. 1 Oklahoma heads a list of five Big 12 teams ranked in the top 25 in the coaches' poll. The Red River Rivalry showdown with No. 10 Texas is the Sooners' second game against a top-10 opponent this season. Oklahoma State is seventh, Kansas State has entered the poll at No. 21 and Texas A&M has fallen to No. 25. Baylor and Texas Tech could be included in next week's rankings if they post victories on Saturday.

Etc.: Baylor is the only FBS team averaging 300 passing yards and 200 rushing yards. ... Kansas is seeking its first road victory under coach Turner Gill and is trying to end a 10-game losing streak on the road. ... Coming off an upset victory over Baylor, Kansas State is ranked in the AP poll for the first time since 2007. The Wildcats are ranked 20th, which is their highest ranking since they were No. 13 in 2004. ... Oklahoma RB Brennan Clay (shoulder), CB Jamell Fleming (concussion) and S Aaron Colvin (concussion) are expected to play against Texas, and WR Trey Franks has been reinstated after serving a two-game suspension. ... With Oklahoma State G Jonathan Rush lost to a season-ending injury, Nick Martinez will move from tackle into Rush's vacated spot. Sophomore Parker Graham moves into the starting lineup at tackle. ... Iowa State OT Brayden Burris may miss the rest of the season with a broken bone in his leg. And Cyclones CB Leonard Johnson (blow to the head) is questionable for Saturday's game. ... Texas Tech DE Leon Mackey, who missed several games with a collapsed lung, is back in action. In addition, DE Scott Smith returns from a one-year suspension which started after the fourth game last season. ... Baylor's average time of possession on its 28 scoring drives in 1:49. ... Kansas State is seeking its first 5-0 start since 2000 ... Texas A&M TB Christine Michael's 230-yard rushing performance in last week's loss to Arkansas was the third-highest total in school history and the most by an Aggie since 1990. ... Oklahoma LB Travis Lewis will wear the No. 12 in memory of Austin Box in Saturday's game. ... Oklahoma State K/P Quinn Sharp was an extremely strong leg. Here's the proof: He is averaging 47.9 yards on punts, has had 22 touchbacks on kickoffs and has made a 46-yard field goal. ... Kansas State TB Bryce Brown was not at the Wildcats' game last week and his status with the team is uncertain. He reportedly is having "personal issues." ... Texas S Christian Scott (right wrist) is out indefinitely, and LB Jordan Hicks (hamstring) and C Dominic Espinosa (ankle) are probable for Saturday's game. ... Iowa State has committed nine turnovers in the first quarter. ... Kansas was in close contests at halftime of its past two games (trailing Georgia Tech by seven and leading Texas Tech by three), but the Jayhawks were outscored 49-0 in the third quarter of those games. ... A&M DE Jonathan Mathis (knee) will miss the rest of the season, and S Steven Campbell (leg) is expected to miss the next two games. ... Five Texas players have thrown touchdown passes. ... Texas A&M LB Sean Porter ranks second in the nation with five sacks in four games. ... Baylor WR Kendall Wright leads the nation in receiving yards and is coming off a performance against Kansas State in which he set a single-game school record with 201 receiving yards.

Olin Buchanan is a senior college football writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at olin@rivals.com, and you can click here to follow him on Twitter.

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