MORGANTOWN - After weeks of teasing fans the Big 12 Conference race heats up for real as all 10 members begin the round robin play that will eventually crown a champion and garner the league's automatic berth in the final Bowl Championship Series.
Action began on Thursday night when Texas (2-1, 1-0 Big 12) traveled to Ames, Iowa, to take on a Cyclones (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) team that had tasted victory only once in their previous 10 meetings with the Longhorns.
Texas is averaging 483 yards per game of total offense led by running back Jonathan Gray's 350 rushing yards (No. 3 in the Big 12). The Horns are averaging 210.5 yards on the ground and 272.5 in the air.
They will face an Iowa State team that is coming off of its first win of the season-a 38-21 victory over Tulsa. Running back Aaron Wimberly set career highs in carries (19) and yards (137) against Tulsa. This will be the Cyclones second-consecutive Thursday night game.
"It's good that we got to play Tulsa on a Thursday night to prepare our kids for the this game," ISU head coach Paul Rhoades said. "Texas is a different team, however, so we will have to play a whole lot better if we want to come out with a win."
The final eighth teams in the league will do battle on Saturday with No. 22 Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) heading to Lawrence to take on Kansas (2-1, 0-0 Big 12), Kansas State (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) traveling to Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1 Big 12), No. 10 Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) playing host to TCU (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) and West Virginia (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) making the trip to Waco to face the No. 16 Baylor Bears (3-0, 0-0).
The Red Raiders are 93-5-4 since 1970 when holding their opponents to 10 points or fewer. Tech is 33-0 since 1996 when its opponent scores 10 or fewer points in a game.
In the Jayhawks' victory over Louisiana Tech, quarterback Jake Heaps completed a career-high 28 passes for 279 yards and a touchdown. Punter Trevor Pardula set a school-record for punting average in the game, averaging 57.6 yards on five punts.
"The good thing about having the week off is that our kids got a chance to rest and we (the coaching staff) got a chance to cover the country in recruiting," Kansas head coach Charlie Weis said. "The bad thing is now it's nine weeks in a row of Big 12 action."
Something the Jayhawks have not been very good at over the years.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett has tallied 469 receiving yards through four games for the Wildcats while K-State extended its scoring streak to 207 consecutive games. The streak is the eighth-longest in the country.
OSU has amassed at least 400 yards of offense in its last 12 games and 29 of its last 30. The Cowboys have won five straight home games and 13 of their last 14 in Boone Pickens Stadium.
"I think we will repond fine," OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "It was obvious the mistakes we made. We were poor in the kicking game and turnovers."
OU's defense has succeeded at forcing turnovers with six takeaways through four games. The Sooners have registered 42 points off of those turnovers while surrendering no points off four giveaways.
TCU is coming off of a 48-17 win over instate rival SMU. The Horned Frogs top the Big 12 in sacks (15) while ranking fifth nationally at 3.75 per game. TCU is also No. 1 in the conference and No. 5 in the country with nine interceptions.
"They (TCU) are always very good on defense," Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. "They are one of the better defenses out there. More importantly, they know they can go into a tough environment and know they can play."
"We'll see how we do this week," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "We are playing the best offense in college football in Baylor. You have to step up and play at the highest level possible every week."