It's win or stay home time for TCU and West Virginia.
At 4-6, and with two games remaining on their respective schedules, neither the Horned Frogs nor the Mountaineers have any room for error if they want to get to a bowl. And TCU has an especially daunting final two games against Kansas State and Baylor.
What does each team need to do to get to 6-6 for eligibility? Here's a to-do list.
Let's start with the Mountaineers because, let's face it, they have a significantly easier path to a .500 record. WVU heads to Kansas this Saturday and then finishes the year at home against Iowa State.
Get the ball out of the quarterback's hands quickly
WVU's offense has been more miss than hit, but it had a lot of success against Texas when quarterback Paul Millard was making quick throws to his wide receivers. In fact, Millard seems to play better the quicker the tempo becomes. If nothing else, the longer Millard, or Clint Trickett, holds on to the ball, the more likely bad things are going to happen. The offensive line just isn't capable of holding up too long.
Feed Charles Sims over and over
The Mountaineers have one of the most versatile, yet under-appreciated, weapons in the Big 12 with running back Charles Sims. He will be the best player on the field, and neither Kansas nor Iowa State should be able to stop him since their respective run defenses rank in the top 90. Getting Sims the ball has been oddly difficult for WVU in a few games this year, but there's no reason he shouldn't touch it 25-30 times a game.
Dial up those blitzes
West Virginia doesn't face a consistent quarterback in the next few weeks, and the Mountaineers were at their best against the Longhorns when they were getting pressure on Case McCoy. Stopping the run isn't an issue for WVU, at least early on, and a young secondary is actually getting better with some new faces like Daryl Worley. It shouldn't be difficult to get Kansas or Iowa State off their game.
B/R bowl projection: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Cincinnati (which is basically Big 12 purgatory for WVU)
The Frogs wish they had it as good as West Virginia, but this is the scheduling straw they drew. Perhaps, no team is hotter in the Big 12 than Kansas State, and Baylor is the conference's best team. Winning two in a row is going to be challenging, to put it lightly, but here's how it can be done.
Keep up the interceptions on defense
There are literally only a handful of teams in the country better than TCU at intercepting passes. The Frogs' stellar secondary will have to capitalize on more against two offenses capable of piling up points.
Kansas State is a run-first team and didn't attempt a pass in the first quarter of its win over Texas Tech last Saturday, so TCU will definitely have to seize opportunities. Baylor is able to adapt its offense and do pretty much whatever it wants. Intercepting Bryce Petty means one less opportunity for the Bears to score.
Make it all about the (current and former) quarterbacks
Senior quarterback Casey Pachall has been hot and cold since returning from a broken forearm. He'll need to be more consistent and show why he was one of the best pure passers in the country two years ago. Meanwhile, Trevone Boykin, who has moved from quarterback to an all-around offensive weapon, will have to be one of the go-to guys on offense. Boykin has had great moments at receiver, running back and short-yardage quarterback. He presents opposing defenses with a matchup nightmare since there are so many different ways he's used.
Take full advantage of every opportunity that comes along
As part of its turnaround, K-State has done a fantastic job limiting the turnovers and penalties that were so costly earlier in the season. Baylor is fascinatingly clean and efficient given how fast they play. Point being, neither is going to hand opponents too many opportunities. TCU must capitalize on anything and everything that bounces its way. Even more than that, good special teams play or field position cannot be followed without a score.
B/R bowl projection: None