Our weekly look ahead at six Big 12 players who are poised to surprise or might be due for a big performance.
TCU QB Trevone Boykin: He's had a terrific season. He's made big plays and won big games. He's had a couple Heisman moments along the way. On Thursday night, the spotlight shines bright on Boykin in front of a national TV audience and against the Big 12's No. 1 scoring defense. A huge game just might secure Boykin's ticket to New York. Oh, and TCU also needs to win to keep it College Football Playoff hopes alive.
Texas Tech CB Tevin Madison: The true freshman has quietly had a really solid debut season (six pass breakups, 49 tackles, one INT) and will be put to the test by Baylor in a week when top corner Justis Nelson (concussion) is questionable and might also have to play some safety. No matter which Bears receivers he gets matched up against, Madison and fellow rookie Nigel Bethel II have to hold their own. No question Bryce Petty will try to pick on them.
Texas WR/RB Daje Johnson: When will the Texas speedster finally get unleashed? Since returning from suspension and a subsequent injury, Johnson has been used almost exclusively on sweep plays. He's averaging 12.5 yards per rush. Against No. 5 TCU, the program he decommitted from to become a Longhorn, Texas will need all the offensive firepower it can muster. So now might be a good time to let Johnson loose and see what he can do in the pass game and in the open field.
Kansas State RB Charles Jones: Last week, I put K-State running back DeMarcus Robinson on this spotlight list. That did not go well. His six rushes against West Virginia netted minus-7 yards, and the Wildcats had a grand total of 1 rushing yard on the night. So how about you, Charles Jones? What do you have to offer this week against the Kansas defense that just gave up the best rushing performance in FBS history?
Baylor CB Ryan Reid: Give the Bears credit: Entering their final two games of Big 12 play, they have few lingering injury issues. They've replaced their losses on the right side of the offensive line and at defensive end. Tion Wright did a solid job of replacing Reid last week, but Art Briles says the starting corner's hip injury won't hold him out this week. He's a critical piece for the finale against Kansas State and especially if the Bears make it into the playoff.
Iowa State RB DeVondrick Nealy: What is it going to take to win a conference game? The Cyclones came close against Texas Tech and might be able to surprise a slipping West Virginia team. You have to like what Nealy provided last week with 109 total yards of offense, his best performance since the last time ISU won a game (Oct. 11 vs. Toledo). Get the ball in this dude's hands and see if the Mountaineers can catch him.