THE BIG 12 REPORT

The Longhorns' collapse in Stillwater re-opens the door for Oklahoma and West Virginia

Kyler Murray and OU benefit most from Texas' loss. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Longhorns' miracle season came to an abrupt ending on Saturday night in Stillwater, Okla. During their six-game winning streak Texas looked to be one of the top teams in the nation with legitimate national champion potential, all of which is distant memory now. After the Cowboys took an early 31-14 lead, the Longhorns fought their way back to just a three-point deficit making the score 31-28 late in the fourth quarter. Just as UT felt like they had the comeback in hand, Oklahoma State scored once again to strike the final blow. What this means for the Big 12 is it has for the time being, it has become a two-team race between Oklahoma and West Virginia, and to make things even more interesting, they are set to face off in the final week of the season. While the Longhorns playoff hopes are lost, they are still not completely out of the picture. If Texas is able to win the rest of their games, they would likely be in a position to contend for the Big 12 championship.

Must watch games week 10:

(12) West Virginia vs. (15) Texas

The most exciting game in Week 10 will without a doubt be the showdown between the Mountaineers and Longhorns. Not only is this game a must watch because both teams will arguably be fighting for a chance to compete in the Big 12 championship, but this will also be a faceoff between two of the most exciting playmakers in the Big 12, quarterbacks Will Grier and Sam Ehlinger. This will be an interesting matchup of opposites as both teams are known for completely different schemes. West Virginia has created a name for themselves through their air raid offense while Texas has grown to rely on a more physical style of play and an option-based offense that utilizes the play action to create big play opportunities. Despite their differences, both teams have found plenty of success this season and will do everything in their power to continue that in week 10. One thing to keep any eye on in this matchup is the Longhorns defense. While Texas has relied heavily on the dominant play of their defense this season, the Longhorns D struggled mightily in their 38-35 upset loss to Oklahoma State giving up over 300 yards through the air and three touchdowns. UT’s defense will need to have a bounce back week if they hope to take down the 6-1 Mountaineers.

(7) Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech

The second premiere matchup of week 10 is Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech. The Sooners will be playing with new life after Texas; the only team to defeat them this season went down in Week 9 to Oklahoma State. Oklahoma now sits atop the Big 12 standings tied with West Virginia, who also holds a 6-1 record and is quickly making a push back into the playoff conversation. While this is all exciting news for the Sooners, the season is far from over for a team that could make a lot of noise if they are able to win out the rest of the season. The Red Raiders on the other hand lost a little life in Week 9 as they fell to a hot Iowa State team 40-31. Texas Tech struggled to stop Iowa State’s offense on any level which is a dangerous problem to have heading into a game against one of the most explosive offenses in the nation. While there is no doubt that OU will be the better of the two teams, don’t count the Red Raiders out with gunslinger Alan Bowman at quarterback.

Players to watch week 10

Texas Tech WR Antoine Wesley: If the Red Raiders hope to have any chance of knocking off the No. 7 Sooners, they will need their big play receiver Wesley to have one heck of a game. Standing at 6’5, Wesley’s combination of size, speed, and ball skills are a matchup nightmare for defensive backs and his stats prove it. The towering target leads the Big 12 with 58 receptions and 977 receiving yards and is tied for fourth in touchdown receptions with seven. Wesley has also surpassed 100 yards receiving in four game this season, three of which have come in Texas Tech’s last four games. Look for Wesley to be targeted early and often in hopes of sparking momentum for a Red Raider team that will need all the help they can get.

Iowa State WR Hakeem Butler: Another physically impressive receiver makes the list of players to watch this week, 6’6 Hakeem Butler. Butler has been a highlight machine for the Cyclones this season, make some of the most acrobatic and jaw dropping catches in all of college football this season. Iowa State's go-to man has been playing his best football as of late with over 100 yards receiving in his last two games and a touchdown reception in each of his last three games. Since Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy took over the starting job he has shown an immediate connection with Butler which can only be expected to grow stronger as the two get more playing time together. This could very well mean that Butler’s best play is still ahead of him and will look to build off his recent success against an inconsistent Kansas team.

Kansas State RB Alex Barnes: The final player to keep an eye on this week is the Big 12 rushing leader Alex Barnes. While being the highlight of Kansas State’s season, Barnes has had a quietly impressive year leading the Big 12 with 816 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. Though the Wildcats have struggled this season with just three wins, Barnes has played his best two games as of late when he rushed for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns vs. Baylor and 181 yards and 4 touchdowns vs. Oklahoma State. Kansas State will have a chance to take down a disjointed TCU team in week 10 but will need Barnes to set the tone with the rushing attack.








 

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The Astros are the toast of the town. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The signing of free agent first baseman Jose Abreu on Monday shows one more time that baseball is Jim Crane’s world and 29 other teams are supporting players on a reality show called Keeping Up with the Astros.

Crane, owner of the World Series champs, parted ways with general manager James Click earlier this month. So what does Crane do without a front office boss during this free agent season? He turns around and negotiates a deal on his own with former MVP and 3-time All-Star Abreu, one of the most coveted free agents who just happens to fill a hole in the Astros lineup.

Crane is now Jerry Jones, both team owner and general manager, with one big difference: Crane’s team has won titles this millennium.

What does the Abreu signing mean for the Astros’ chances of repeating as World Series champions in 2023? And what does it mean for arch rival Yankees?

One headline Tuesday put it this way:

“Yankees Season Over Before It Even Started.”

Abreu, who puts the “every” in everyday player (he played 157 games last year and hit .304), will take over for Yuli Gurriel at first base. Gurriel, who is a free agent, may be brought back by the Astros as a utility player.

If you’re looking for hardware, Ace is not the place – try the Astros batting order. Manager Dusty Baker will fill out a lineup card with Jose Altuve (MVP, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove, 3 batting titles), Jeremy Pena (ALCS MVP, World Series MVP, Gold Glove), Yordan Alvarez (Rookie of the Year, ALCS MVP, Silver Slugger), Alex Bregman (All-Star Game MVP, Silver Slugger), Kyle Tucker (Gold Glove), Jose Abreu (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Silver Slugger).

Don’t be surprised if Justin Verlander, the last piece of Crane’s announced puzzle, returns to the Astros next year, and two years after that. Verlander is chasing career goals like 300 wins. Where does he stand the best chance of getting there?

At the moment, the 2023 Astros batting order falls off the cliff 7-9 with Chas McCormick (.245 in 2022), Jake Meyers (.227) and Martin Maldonado (.186). But who’s to say that general manager/owner Crane is done dealing?

The Astros aren’t just successful on the field. They’ve won the hearts and minds of Houstonians. Astros baseball has become sort of a religion in recent years.

In 1966 John Lennon told a magazine writer that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Lennon caught hell for that remark and had to apologize. On a less ecumenical matter, the Astros might say they’re more popular than Thanksgiving and sorry not sorry.

Earlier this month, the Astros drew a million people to their downtown World Series celebration. Last week, they held the Thanksgiving Parade in Houston and many of the sidewalks looked like the upper deck at Texans games – maybe 20,000 people at the parade and I’m being generous.

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