Big 12 conference clashes continue in earnest this weekend as positioning and records begin separating contenders and pretenders. For the players involved, there’s quite a bit at stake. Geno Smith’s Heisman campaign could come to a crashing halt in Morgantown if Baylor upsets the Mountaineers. A middling performance from a young star may sway the attention of multiple coeds of variable morality to ignored texts. Is David Ash really giving up interceptions in 2012?
As the college football schedule hits week five, these units sit squarely in the put up or shut up crosshairs.
West Virginia Mountaineers Defense:
Yes, all eleven starters, the two-deep, the defensive coordinator and the graduate assistant who sets out cones are all on notice. Art Briles and the Baylor Bears see no problem in allowing 63 points if you score 70. In a double-digit defeat of the Maryland Terrapins last weekend, the Mountaineers were gashed through the air. If Nick Florence is given the same open windows, West Virginia won’t keep that top ten ranking for long.
TCU Horned Frogs Red Zone Offense
Six turnovers while sniffing a scoring opportunity for Gary Patterson’s squad belies a strong start to 2012. That those giveaways occurred against the Kansas Jayhawks and Virginia Cavaliers only serve to question how the Horned Frogs will handle their November gauntlet. If the same problems plague them against the SMU Mustangs this weekend, expect some grass to burn.
Texas Longhorns Defense
The unit commanded by Manny Diaz received considerable hype prior to the first snap this season and since then, they’ve been solid, if unspectacular. Tackling and long gains don’t worry Jimmy Normal Fan in the stands when the scoreboard reads 66-31, but those issues keep defensive coordinators up at night. The Ole Miss Rebels couldn’t exploit the Longhorns enough to beat them, but that’s not the case with the Oklahoma State Cowboys.