Quarterback questions for contenders going into big games
The Big 12 championship could be decided by backup quarterbacks — as could a few other rivalry games this weekend.
Quarterback injuries are looming over several games and in many cases coaches tend to be coy about the status of their key players. Michigan State gave no clue that Connor Cook was not going to play against Ohio State until he didn’t.
A look at the teams entering a critical week with quarterback questions.
No. 5 OKLAHOMA
Things seem to be looking up for Baker Mayfield, who went through concussion protocol after taking a shot to the head against TCU last Saturday.
Bob Stoops said he expects his star quarterback to play against No. 9 Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday. A victory gives the Sooners the Big 12 title and a good chance to be part of the College Football Playoff. Mayfield also has Heisman Trophy hopes and one more big game could send him to New York for the award ceremony on Dec. 12.
Trevor Knight would fill in for Mayfield if he has any setbacks this week.
No. 6 MICHIGAN STATE
Cook said after the Ohio State game he was having some pain in his right shoulder so we’ll see if he is ready to go against Penn State on Saturday. The Spartans only need to win Saturday to lock up the Big Ten East and play in the conference title game.
If coach Mark Dantonio and his staff can come up with a plan to win at Ohio State without Cook, beating the Nittany Lions (7-4) with Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry should be more than doable.
No. 7 BAYLOR
The Bears went to third-stringer Chris Johnson, who had been moved to receiver earlier this season, in their win against Oklahoma State when Jarrett Stidham went down with a leg injury. And Baylor rolled to a victory that kept its Big 12 and playoff hopes alive.
The Bears bring those hopes to No. 15 TCU on Friday night, and Stidham’s status is at best uncertain.
“Right now, doesn’t look real good. I would have him as questionable,” coach Art Briles said Monday.
No. 15 TCU
The Horned Frogs know all about playing a third-string quarterback. With star Trevone Boykin (ankle) out last week, TCU used two of his backups — Bram Kohlhausen and Foster Sawyer — and still nearly beat the Sooners in Norman.
Coach Gary Patterson said Boykin returned to practice on Sunday.
“He’s doing his best to try and get back,” Patterson said.
If Boykin, who was a Heisman contender before his injury, can’t go Kohlhausen will likely get the nod, Patterson said.
No. 20 WASHINGTON STATE
Cougars quarterback Luke Falk was carted off the field with a scary looking head injury last week against Colorado.
Washington coach Mike Leach goes to the extreme when it comes to not talking about injuries, but the Falk situation was serious enough for the athletic director to say Monday that the school was following concussion protocols. His status for the Apple Cup game against Washington was uncertain.
WISCONSIN AND MINNESOTA
Paul Bunyan’s Axe is on the line and bowl eligibility for the Gophers — and both quarterbacks are dealing with injuries.
Wisconsin’s Joel Stave took a hit that left him woozy at the end of the Northwestern game, leaving him iffy for the rivalry game.
Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner tweaked his left ankle in last week’s win against Illinois and said he was hopeful he would be ready to go.
AP college football website: collegefootball.ap.org