The Baylor Bears' hopes of becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1995 are rapidly dimming. They must claim two victories in their final three games to get there. It starts Saturday against No. 2 Texas, which has beaten them seven straight times and in 11 of their last 12 meetings. Baylor's defense should challenge the Longhorns, but the Bears' sputtering offense will be hard-pressed to produce consistently. Baylor coach Guy Morriss hasn't decided who his starting quarterback will be against Texas. "We'll see," Morriss said. "I haven't thought about it too much. I just went home and moved some rocks. I needed some time by myself." Starter Shawn Bell was 13 of 21 passing for 127 yards against Texas Tech, but was pulled early in the fourth quarter after throwing his second interception. Terrance Parks replaced him, but struggled with three straight three-and-out possessions that enabled the Red Raiders to ice the victory. The recent turnaround has captured the attention of long-suffering Baylor fans. Attendance is up 31.8 percent for Baylor games from last season, with back-to-back crowds of 40,000 turning out at Floyd Casey for Baylor's last two home games. The largest crowd of the season is expected Saturday for Texas, which will be the highest ranked team to visit Floyd Casey Stadium since Texas was ranked No. 2 in the 1983 season.
After a narrow 23-20 triumph at Kansas State last week, the Buffaloes can wrap up the North Division title by beating Missouri if Iowa State and Nebraska lose Saturday. Like every other Big 12 team, the secret to clamping down the Tigers' potent defense Saturday will be keeping QB Brad Smith in check. "There isn't a script [to beating them]," Colorado coach Gary Barnett said. "If there was, everybody would have followed it. You've got to play good, solid defense, tackle, be a little bit lucky and your offense has got to keep him away from the ball." Colorado senior players called a team meeting two days after the narrow victory at KSU to refocus team goals. "A little of it was the result of last week, but most of it was because of the game coming up," Barnett said. "They realize how important the game is and we have to play better than we did last week." Colorado K Mason Crosby has been clutch throughout his career and his game-winning 50-yarder against Kansas State with six seconds left was no exception. Crosby's kick made him 9 for 9 in his career in the final 8½ minutes of a game. Seven of those kicks came from at least 41 yards. The kick was even more remarkable because he was "iced" for more than 15 minutes as injured Kansas State WR Jermaine Moreira was carted off the field. "What do you say about Mason Crosby?" Barnett said. "That kid, he's a stud."
The streaking Cyclones will be gunning for their third-straight victory when they host struggling Kansas State. It might be argued that Iowa State is playing as well as any North Division team after its convincing 42-14 dismantling of Texas A&M at College Station. ISU took control of the A&M victory with two scoring drives to start the second half. The Cyclones need to follow the same plan against the Wildcats, running TB Stevie Hicks and taking advantage of their size advantage at wide receiver by lobbing balls to Todd Blythe and Austin Flynn. A victory could keep their bowl hopes alive before a huge game next week against Colorado. ISU coach Dan McCarney didn't learn that Hicks would be available last week until about 15 minutes before kickoff, during pregame warm-ups. Hicks, who had missed the last three games with an undisclosed injury, produced a season-best 122 rushing yards. "It's almost hard to put into words what he means to this team," McCarney said. "We didn't know if he would last for two plays or be able to play for the whole game. And when he told us he would be ready, it gave all of our players and coaches a lift." Former president George Bush was among the fans at Kyle Field who witnessed ISU's upset victory over A&M. "George Bush was in the stands, but he couldn't come out and block or tackle any of our guys," McCarney said, chuckling. Iowa State erupted for season-high totals of 178 yards rushing, 371 yards passing and 549 yards of total offense against the Aggies. The key was ISU's success converting on third-and-long situations. ISU converted 6 of 10 third downs of 6 yards or longer. And Blythe produced touchdown catches of 53 and 19 yards on two of those third-and-long plays.