The Big 12 Report

Find out which two Big 12 Title contenders are in danger of a late season upset

The Longhorns fans will be out in full force this week. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Week 11 was full of excitement as the Longhorns and the Sooners escaped with narrow wins to keep their Big 12 championship hopes alive. With just two weeks remaining in the college football season, there is no room for error as the Big 12 title still remains a four-team race. Week 12 has potential to provide fans with plenty of excitement as two of the conference’s top programs will face off against middle of the pack teams that are known for seizing the opportunity to collect a big upset win.

The Longhorns will have their hands full with the Iowa State Cyclones who took down No. 7 West Virginia to spark their five-game winning streak. Also, the 8-1 Mountaineers will take on an Oklahoma State team who upset Texas earlier this season and came just one point away from defeating No. 6 Oklahoma in week 11. Find out the specifics of each of these matchups and which players need to have big performances for their teams to walk away from week 12 victorious.

Must watch games week 12

(13) Texas vs: (18) Iowa State: After losing two straight the Longhorns saved their season with a big win against rival Texas Tech. Despite getting off to a slow start, Texas scored 17 points in the second quarter and continued to fight until they came out victorious 41-35. The game came down to the wire before a last-second touchdown catch by one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers Lil’Jordan Humphrey. A big story following the game was the absence of Humphrey’s counterpart WR Colin Johnson. The Longhorns will hope to have Johnson back vs. an Iowa State team who has now climbed to No. 18 in the nation after five straight victories. Both programs have talented playmakers on the offensive side of the ball that have given college football some of its most spectacular moments this season. Look for this matchup to come down to which defense can step up in the big moments. The winner stays alive in the Big 12 race.

(7) West Virginia vs. Oklahoma State: Another big-time matchup in week 12 will be the West Virginia Mountaineers vs. the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Mountaineers and quarterback Will Grier have been red hot in recent weeks, scoring 40+ points in each of their last three games. This offensive dominance can be attributed to the high level of play by quarterback Will Grier who has thrown for at least 340 yards and three touchdowns in those last three 40+ point performances. Oklahoma State on the other hand has struggled in their last two games, falling to Baylor by just four points and to Oklahoma by only one point. While these have been very disappointing losses for the Cowboys, it also shows just how dangerous they can be. West Virginia will need to make sure they don’t get ahead of themselves looking forward to their end of the season showdown with Oklahoma, because a slight laps in focus could be just enough of an opportunity for the Cowboys to steal a big win.

Players to watch week 12:

Texas Longhorns defense: The balance has shifted for a Longhorn team whose unexpected success in 2018 was sparked by a tenacious defense early in the season. Now Texas has survived by its offense in recent weeks who has scored nearly 40 points in their last three games. Despite their uptick in offensive production, the Longhorns defense has been on a downward spiral giving up 114 points since returning from their bye week. UT has a matchup with Iowa State this coming weekend who is one of the hottest teams in college football, winning their last five games. Because of the multitude of dangerous playmakers, the Cyclones possess, the Longhorns will need their defense to step up to keep their Big 12 championship hopes alive.

Iowa State QB Brock Purdy: The Longhorns were torched in week 11 by third string Texas Tech quarterback Jeff Duffey. The Texas defense allowed Duffey to throw for over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns, as well as rush for 80 yards. This should be reason for optimism for the Cyclones dual threat quarterback Brock Purdy. Since taking over as the starter Purdy as thrown for 1,315 yards and 13 touchdowns on his way to leading Iowa State to five straight wins. Not only has Purdy been extremely successful through the air, but he has also had at least ten rushing attempts in each game and has two rushing touchdowns. Look for the Cyclones to utilize their young quarterback's dual threat abilities to pick apart the Longhorn defense much like the Red Raiders did with Duffey.

West Virginia WR David Sills: One of the nation’s most reliable receivers has been playing at his highest level in recent weeks as he rides an impressive scoring streak. Sills has scored at least one touchdown in each of his last five games and is currently tied for fourth in the nation with 12 total touchdown receptions this season. On top of that, Sills also has also hauled in multiple touchdowns in four games. With this season coming to an end there is no doubt that the connection between Sills and QB Will Grier is reaching its peak as the two have combined for five touchdowns in their last three games. The Oklahoma State defense will have its hands full trying to slow down them down.

 

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Houston dropped two of three

Astros drop series finale to Oakland, A's win series

Jose Urquidy couldn't hold Oakland back on Saturday. Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With Oakland finally ending their drought against the Astros on Friday night to split the first two games of the series, and with the Angels staying in step with them as both teams started the day 6-2, the Astros needed a win to keep momentum in their favor on Saturday.

Instead, Oakland would outslug Houston once again to take the series finale and take the series win. The loss moves Houston to 6-3 and down to second place, at least for now, until the 6-2 Angels complete their game on Saturday evening.

Final Score: A's 7, Astros 3

Astros' Record: 6-3, second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Frankie Montas (1-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jose Urquidy (0-1)

Urquidy gives up four over six

Much like the night before, Oakland was able to bring in runs against Houston's starter, this time Jose Urquidy, Saturday afternoon in their second time through the order. Their first time through, Urquidy was cruising, allowing just one baserunner in the first three innings on a single in the top of the third.

Things shifted in the top of the fourth, with the A's getting back-to-back singles to set the stage for a two-run frame with dual RBI-singles to take a 2-0 lead. Oakland doubled that in the fifth, getting a two-out single to set up a two-run homer by Ramon Laureano to make it 4-0. Urquidy would go on to finish six innings, but with no run support to that point, would leave in line for the loss. His final line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 93 P.

A's pad their lead before Houston gets on the board

Meanwhile, although getting five hits, the Astros could not get anything on the board against Frankie Montas through six innings. Brandon Bielak took over out of the bullpen for Urquidy in the top of the seventh, but after loading the bases, he would allow a dagger two-RBI single to make it a 6-0 deficit for Houston.

With Montas starting the seventh looking to face a batter or two before Oakland moved to their bullpen, Kyle Tucker would finally get Houston on the board with a leadoff solo home run, cutting the lead to 6-1 and ending Montas' day. Houston would get a two-out rally going, with an RBI-double by Jose Altuve followed by an RBI-triple by Michael Brantley to make it a three-run game at 6-3.

Oakland takes the series win

Ryne Stanek tried to keep it a three-run game and give the Astros a chance to stay in it in the top of the eighth but instead would give up a two-out solo home run to push Oakland's lead back to four. That 7-3 score would go final as Houston would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

Up Next: Houston will have a day off on Sunday before continuing this homestand Monday night by welcoming in Detroit and former manager A.J. Hinch for three games. In the series opener, the Tigers will send young star Casey Mize (0-0, 2.25 ERA) to the mound, while the Astros will get another start by Zack Greinke (1-0, 1.38 ERA).

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