Out of the conversation. It's what makes college football equal parts brilliant and heartbreaking. The Big 12 isn't a fun conference and the notion that anyone thinks or still thinks a team in this league can go undefeated is sort of crazy. It's proven that the last time a Big 12 team went undefeated was in 2009; proven by Oklahoma State blowing their dream season in 2011; Kansas State blowing theirs in 2012; the controversy in 2014. This league isn't kind. But it's the most fair.
I'd love to compare it to soccer and more specifically, the English Premier League, which contains one Welsh team and is a league where everyone plays everybody (twice to ensure no flukes) and no one disputes the winner at the end of the season. Ties are decided by goal-differentials. It it's all pretty clean, actually.
The Big 12 isn't clean.
If TCU arises from the pit from which they were kicked and they win out, true chaos could ensue. Though they only have one road game left, the Frogs will have to prove themselves a much tougher team on the road in Norman than they showed in Stillwater. They were simply pulverized in Stillwater. Oklahoma State not only played perfectly, but they got TCU on the ropes and didn't stop. The secondary was non-existent and even the offensive playcalling was flat.
It's not every day you see a team outgain another by 200 yards or so and lose by three scores. Like I said in the College Football Roundtable--which as I'm writing this, I'm not sure if it was ever actually published--and stealing from Al Pacino's wonderful speech in the way ahead of its time, Any Given Sunday: football, like life is a game of inches. People make fun of me quite often for getting worried about the coin toss--especially on the road. Games like Saturday is why I throw it back in your face. Some may argue the opposite, but if the Frogs kick off first, make a stop, they set a tone; the offense picks up on it, maybe they score, and now the Cowboys are fighting to stay in it. The opposite happened to them Saturday, and the Frogs played catch up for the entirety of the game. When you play a team that's better than Kansas State, you're not going to get the same luxuries and breaks.
It's still better to lose early than late. It would've been better if Aaron Green didn't make an amazing read on a highly thrown ball and failed to get the win in Lubbock; and then the Frogs would've buckled down and got their first win in Stillwater since joining the Big 12. The playoff committee clearly values who you beat over who you lost to, and given how I don't think a team in the Big 12 will go undefeated this year, the Frogs, yes, would've been much better off losing in Manhattan or in Lubbock. We saw how much that matters Tuesday night.
I'll take a little comfort in chaos. There's no question TCU has to win out if they even want to even sniff at the playoffs. A New Years Six Bowl is in jeopardy at this point whereas last year it seemed like an unjust consolation.
Kansas Preview | Getting the Groove Back
We're not going to pretend like Kansas isn't one of the worst teams in the country. I would, however, argue that the future is quite bright. David Beatty has enough offensive intelligence and enough Texas connections to rewrite the Kansas narrative, regardless of how slowly it will take. This Saturday is about getting healthy; it's about getting the confidence back. TCU has shown to be night and day in 2015 when being on the road versus being at home, so given that it's 2015's Kansas Jayhawks, Boykin and even the secondary should get their footing back.
Like Patterson said earlier Tuesday, Kansas played Texas great in the second quarter. Thankfully, football has three other quarters to it. At home, in the Carter, it'll be nothing like last year's game, even though the Frogs are wounded. The Jayhawks have barely racked up 3,000 total yards into November; quarterback Montell Cozart is going to have season-ending shoulder injury, and his replacement, Ryan Willis tramples on with a sore groin. My favorite Kansas Jayhawk, and former Northwest Austinite (before he moved to Lake Travis), Todd Reesing is long gone. However, I've liked what I've seen from running back Ke'Kaun Kinner and receiver Tre' Paramalee.
Boykin and Doctson, Still Great; TCU, Getting Healthier Better Late Than Never
Josh Doctson's state is still uncertain. However, his cryptic yet seemingly optimistic tweet made it sound like the All-American will be back in 2015, and if that's at the cost of missing his penultimate home game, and his final Saturday game in the Carter, I'll live with that. He'll live with that. We'll all live with that. He's still listed as probable for Saturday, but I'd personally rather have him heal another week and rest up for Oklahoma. Elsewhere, David Porter could be back this weekend, adding much needed size to the outside receiver position, and another one of Boykin's old favorites, Ty Slanina could be back for Oklahoma as well. Again, this is not just about talent; because Jarrison Stewart, Shaun Nixon, and Desmon White have plenty of it; it's about trust and familiarity. With Doctson out, the load became too heavy for the young guys. The Cowboys knew without Doctson, they could effectively double-cover Listenbee and thus Boykin had to rely on shorter throws. Hence the number of the number of plays reaching the triple digits. With the some more depth coming back for Oklahoma and Baylor, it gives the Frogs a good chance of getting back up.
The reporting of Boykin in tears after Saturday's loss broke my heart as I'm sure it broke yours. Baylor fans had a good laugh with that one on Twitter. The good news for the dynamic duo? It's far from over. And not just for them, but for this team. They still have a chance to win the conference, and--barring a little chaos--they have a chance to get their first win in Norman as a Big 12 member, and first since their stunning upset in 2005. As we all know by now, they get to close out with a chance at revenge against Baylor on Black Friday.
I'm not an offensive genius, and I'm sure even the guy who gives me my Coke Zero at McDonalds everyday and twice before 5pm will tell you that I'm wearing a tinfoil hat for Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, particularly the latter. I'd keep them locked in a basement like the very underrated Kevin Pollack and Jamie Lee Curtis classic, House Arrest if I had to in order to keep them in Fort Worth. That being said, it's no secret that the offense was one of the moving parts struggling and wading through quicksand on Saturday.
Losing Josh Doctson obviously hurts, and some of the relationships with Boykin and the younger receivers aren't nearly what they are with Doctson. Granted, some of that was pressure that these young guys have never really felt; you can say Kansas State, but that was just a surging offense that was making up for defensive errors while Saturday they were just as much to blame--none of it clicked. The running plays were mismanaged; they weren't used early to (a) keep the ball out of Oklahoma State's hands and (b) pick up key, short yardage, they were used too much too late, namely on the nearly 7-minute drive, which was about 2.5x TCU's normal scoring-drive time, in the 4th quarter when you should be using your killshots to Kolby Listenbee.
Again, the credit all goes to Oklahoma State. They played perfectly. They broke both of TCU's legs early and the Frogs never could get up. So, Saturday starts rebuilding the confidence. I think we'd all like to see a little balance. Establish the running game earlier, and use the pass when you're going for the throat. Melissa's fabulous piece of the missing running game came into fruition in a nightmare of ways in Stillwater. You can get away with that when you're playing a wounded West Virginia team at home, and maybe even a Baylor team later this month, again at home; but you're not going to get away with passing like that in Stillwater or Norman, especially early. Kyle Hicks is the next great American Hero, and Trevorris Johnson looked really on Saturday as well. Use them. Pick up more first downs, and worst case, you eat up some clock and give Mason Rudolph fewer chances to throw to wide open receivers. Even if those plays do work, and your corners treat the Cowboys receivers as if they were told to cover planet Earth and only covered land, leaving the water unguarded, you at least get to police the ocean a little bit and catch some breath before heading back out again.
Gary Patterson's teams have always responded well to this sort of thing. They lost against Boise in the Fiesta Bowl, and then didn't lose a game the next season. Baylor had a stunning comeback? Well, they won out that season and didn't lose a game until last Saturday. It's almost impossible to make this not sound like a cliche-ridden motivational speech. However, you know, and I know, that TCU, led by Trevone Boykin, isn't going down without a fight. They've been knocked in the mouth, but like their namesake, their ready to spit that blood right back.
Score Prediction: TCU 63, Kansas 17
Nothing much else to say. It's sad that the last Saturday home game has arrived. Despite being completely dominated in Stillwater, they'll rebound quite nicely and get some much needed confidence back; and since the follow up is Oklahoma and Baylor, they'll need it.