Big 12 Report week 9

The top Big 12 teams begin their final push at the college football playoffs

The eyes of Texas will be on Sam Ehlinger's injury. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

Must watch game week 9:

(6) Texas vs. Oklahoma State

The Longhorns return to action in Week 9 vs. Oklahoma State after a much-deserved bye week. Texas fans probably appreciated the bye week just as much as the actual team, because it meant a chance for star quarterback Sam Ehlinger to rest his hurt throwing shoulder for UT’s playoff push. Texas now sits just one spot outside of the Top 5 thanks to an upset lost suffered by Ohio State, but have no time to relax with dangerous teams such as No. 13 West Virginia and Texas Tech remaining on their schedule. As for their matchup this weekend, Oklahoma State has lost their last two games after an embarrassing performance against Kansas State in week 8 when they fell 31-12. This weekend will provide the Longhorns with a good opportunity to settle back into the swing of things and make any necessary last-minute adjustments.

Texas Tech vs. Iowa State

Another noteworthy matchup in Week 9 is Texas Tech vs. Iowa State. While Iowa State has not necessarily impressed thus far this season with a 3-3 record, the Cyclones did what they have become known for and provide the Big 12 with a major, tide shifting upset. Iowa State dominated what was an undefeated West Virginia team 30-14 in Week 7, much like they took down No. 3 Oklahoma in 2017. Another point to be made is the fact that the Cyclones have won three of their last four games and seem to be finding a rhythm midway through this season. With all of that said, the Red Raiders have proven themselves difficult for any team to take down this season with a 4-2 record despite battling an abundance of injuries at the quarterback position. This Week 9 showdown will definitely be an interesting one due to the uncertainty surrounding both teams as well as the untapped potential each of them have shown.

Baylor vs. (13) West Virginia

The final game I have pointed out this coming weekend is West Virginia vs. Baylor. There are a few reasons why this game is so intriguing, the first and most prevalent being the fact that the Mountaineers suffered the first loss of the season in Week 7 before going into their bye week. It will be interesting to see how West Virginia responds and if they return any more motivated or driven. The second reason being that the Bears were able to take the 6-1 Longhorns down to the wire in their last game and fell just six points short of pulling off the upset. Both teams will be looking to have bounce back performances and should be bringing a renewed energy to the field.

Players to watch week 9

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger: After being forced out of their Week 7 game vs. Baylor with what was later confirmed as a sprain to his throwing shoulder, Longhorn fans will be paying close attention to Ehlinger's return. This makes him one of the must watch players in Week 9 because Ehlinger's physical and dynamic playing style is instrumental to UT’s offensive success. The young star's powerful running style not only keeps defenses on their toes, but also opens up a dangerous play action passing attack that allows big time playmaking wide receivers Collin Johnson and Lil’ Jordan Humphrey to take advantage of one-on-one matchups. We will see if Ehlinger will be able to continue his strong first half play, or if his normal playing style will be limited.

West Virginia QB Will Grier: Mountaineers quarterback and Heisman hopeful Will Grier was forced to sit through his bye week with the agony of defeat and without a doubt is ready to return to the field for a chance at redemption. Grier cannot help but feel painfully responsible for his team's devastating loss to Iowa State in Week 7, as he put up his worst performance of the year with only 100 yards passing and one touchdown. Keep an eye on one of the nation’s most dangerous quarterbacks who will not only be looking to redeem his team but also himself.

Oklahoma RB’s Kennedy Brooks & Trey Sermon: Since the Sooners lost workhorse running back Rodney Anderson to a season ending knee injury in Week 2, a dangerous backfield tandem has now come to fruition. Freshman Kennedy Brooks and Sophomore Trey Sermon have combined for 492 yards rushing and six touchdowns in the last three games and look to only be heating up. Oklahoma has a favorable matchup vs. Kansas State in week 9 and should look to let this talented duo run free, especially after both backs surpassed 100 yards in their last game vs. TCU.   







 

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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