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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It's all about Deshaun. Photo by Getty Images. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

The Texans moved to 3-7 following their 27-20 win over the Patriots. They are still without a permanent head coach and general manager. There lies the problem, and those problems will be settled this upcoming offseason. The new general manager and head coach will steer this franchise in the direction it needs to go in. Undoubtedly, Deshaun Watson will be at the forefront of what they do. How can he not be? You don't take a job like this with a quarterback like him and not consider him the centerpiece. What else would make one take either of those jobs? The salary cap hell the team is facing? The lack of draft picks coming off a terrible year? The faith ownership has placed in the NFL's version of Littlefinger?

Watson is the lone attraction to the flaming dumpster fire Cal McNair allowed to occur on his watch. If he's not careful, it could get worse and he'll find it hard to recover from. Watson signed an extension that'll keep him in Houston for another four years. He'll still be in his prime (barring any serious, career-threatening injury), and be eligible to hit the market as a free agent before he turns 30. So who do the Texans hire as head coach that can get the most out of Watson? Who can convince him to stay and re-sign after his extension is up?

The main cast of characters will most likely take better jobs. The Jets job is more attractive because of the cap space and draft picks. If the Falcons job opens up, so is it because of Matt Ryan and that offense. What coach/coaches would be interested in taking on this job that would be viable candidates given that the best of the best would take other jobs? Jayson Braddock and I tackled this topic not too long ago on Late Hits. Here are a few guys off the beaten path we felt were contenders:

Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator: Daboll is a guy who, according to NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, is openly campaigning for this job. The work he's done with Josh Allen has been remarkable. Allen has gone from a raw prospect with all the physical tools to an MVP candidate. Who wouldn't want a guy like that in Watson's ear guiding him over the foreseeable future?

Greg Roman, Ravens offensive coordinator: Roman has done wonders for Colin Kaepernick and Lamar Jackson. He helped Kaepernick reach a Super Bowl with the 49ers and turned Jackson into last season's league MVP. Given his history with athletic quarterbacks, he should be a natural fit and given full consideration.

Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Here's where it gets interesting. Elliott has been the OC (or co-OC) at Clemson since 2015. He has an established relationship with Watson and a proven track record as a coordinator of high-powered offenses in college. He's the type of hire that won't cost as much as some big names will, but might be able to provide the same spark.

Note that all three of these guys are offensive coaches. I fully understand that the defense is an issue and needs help desperately. I also understand that the previous two coaches were offensive guys as well. But Watson is your franchise quarterback and the most attractive piece in a pile of flaming dung that resides on Kirby. If anyone is going to take this job, it'll be because of number four. I know these aren't the sexy names most folks would want to hear, but these names are more realistic as candidates. None of them has head coaching experience. That fact cheapens their price tag and lends itself to them being long shots. A lot of this depends on the general manager hire. We'll get into that in another articel. For right now, dwell on this and let me know what you think.

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