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's bats have a hot night

Astros clobber Rangers to win series opener

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

After dropping two of three in Seattle, the Astros entered the regular season's final series still waiting to clinch their playoff berth. Luckily their matchup favored them, with four games against the 19-37 Rangers, which they have done well against in recent years. Here are highlights from the opener:

Final Score: Astros 12, Rangers 4.

Record: 29-28, second in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Cristian Javier (5-2, 3.48 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Lance Lynn (6-3, 3.32 ERA).

Astros put up 10 on Lynn 

Houston had no trouble getting acquainted with the Rangers' new stadium, jumping out to an early lead in the top of the first inning. After a lengthy at-bat against Lance Lynn, Jose Altuve reached on a one-out single, then scored from first on a two-out RBI-triple by Alex Bregman. They'd double their lead in the next at-bat on an error, making it 2-0.

They extended that lead even more in the next inning, getting back-to-back singles to start the inning to set up a big three-run dinger by George Springer to straightaway center-field to make it 5-0. Bregman added two more RBI to his night in the top of the fifth, capitalizing on a leadoff single by Michael Brantley by hitting a two-run homer to make it a 7-0 lead. Altuve would push the total to double-digits in the top of the sixth, lifting a three-run home run of his own to make it a 10- lead.

Javier with a decent start, bullpen closes out the win

Meanwhile, Cristian Javier was doing well on the mound against the Rangers. He allowed just three baserunners through the first five innings, a double in the first, a hit batter in the second, and a single in the fifth. He would falter a bit in the bottom of the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then a two-run homer, then later in the inning a sac fly, making it 10-3 before Houston would turn to their bullpen. Javier's final line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 1 HR, 95 TP.

Luis Garcia would get the final out of the sixth then returned for the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff double that would score on a two-out RBI-double, making it a six-run game before Garcia finished the frame. Brooks Raley was the next reliever and notched two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 inning in the eighth.

Josh Reddick gave Houston two more insurance runs, joining the home run barrage with a two-run homer in the top of the inning to make it 12-4 going to the bottom half. Brandon Bielak was given a low-leverage opportunity to throw in the bottom of the ninth. He erased a two-out double for a scoreless inning to wrap up the lopsided win, lowering Houston's magic number to 1.

Up Next: The second game of this four-game set between Houston and Texas will start Friday at 7:05 PM Central at Globe Life Field. The pitching battle will be Kyle Cody (1-1, 1.53 ERA) for the Rangers and Jose Urquidy (1-1, 2.78 ERA) for the Astros.

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