Rivalries are a big deal in college football, but it takes a lot of time to build up the animosity and history that makes a rivalry great. This week wasn't about rivalries for most of the Big 12, though he conference's most nationally recognizable rivalry was played- this week was about revenge. Each of the four Big 12 matchups this week had a game that had come oh so close to going the other way last year, and those are the sorts of game that the players circle their mental calendars for next time. Who achieved redemption, and who was left with a grudge that will only deepen for next year? Let's get straight into it.
TCU Horned Frogs 24, Kansas Jayhawks 23
It happened again. Every year we talk about it, in our season previews we mention that somehow, some way, the Kansas game is going to be a hard fight. Then the season begins, Kansas is awful and we relax coming into Kansas week- it's not going to happen this time. This time it'll be the blowout we all expected. Then the game starts, and we remember that since we've joined the Big 12, TCU has never blown out Kansas, no matter how good we are coming into the game, or how bad Kansas has been to that point. The first year, TCU fumbled its way to a 14 point win that, while never really being in doubt, was certainly closer than anyone would have expected. In 2013, TCU went into halftime tied at 10 with the Jayhwks courtesy of a Boykin pick 6, but pulled away to a 7 point win in the second half. Then came the 2014 game that may have cost the Frogs a playoff shot, as the fourth ranked frogs trailed the Jayhawks late into the third quarter before a punt return TD gave them a lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Lastly there was the 2015 game, where Boykin got hurt early and doom hung in the air for four quarters- winless Kansas never led, but were again tied at 10 at the half, and there was never any thought that the Frogs were safe until the very last whistle.
On Saturday it happened again. Freak turnovers aplenty (Emmanuel Porter what the heck was that?), missed field goals, Kansas outgaining TCU through the air(!) and overall (!!), baffling coaching decisions (Why decline the leaping penalty? Why only two carries for TJ when he gained 12 and 5 on those two?), and Kansas not only leading through most of the second half, but attempting a field goal that would have won the game for them at the end. The story of the game to my eyes was that the Kansas front 7 simply whipped the TCU O-line repeatedly, hitting and flustering Kenny Hill to successfully get him to float around in the backfield for too long or chuck ill advised passes due to real or imagined pressure. TCU's offense didn't adjust to this by throwing in the zone reads, screens, draws or other constraint plays to punish the KU defense for its over aggression, and as a result it gave up the ball a lot, either through fumbles, picks or punting. Kansas' OL was similarly overmatched, as QB Ryan Willis was sacked 5 times and hurried countless others, but they did a much better job of adjusting to their issues and threw in more creativity (like the hook and ladder) that let their offense keep working even against a more talented defense. In the end, TCU's defense did enough to make KU's last field goal attempt more a theoretical threat than an actual one, but the Frogs will have some very big adjustments to make heading into their bye week, while KU has to be feeling confident heading into their next contest at Waco. And be prepared for 2017, because somehow, some way... it's going to happen again.
Our postgame where we're upset about almost losing to Kansas is here. Rock Chalk Talk is possibly more upset by this than we were. I know we're having a bit of an off year, guys, but it's not like you almost lost to Kans... Oh, right.
Oklahoma Sooners 45, Texas Longhorns 40
Rivalry, revenge and the rumor mill all rolled into Dallas on Saturday, with the combustible results that you've come to expect. Texas coach Charlie Strong came into the game hoping to silence the "Herman to Texas" talk by taking responsibility for the defense himself, but in hindsight it might have been wiser to make that switch after taking on OU, as the Sooners rolled up over 650 yards of offense in the Shootout. Texas managed to keep up through three quarters, as momentum shifted back and forth, and D'Onta Foreman had a great day running the ball for the Horns, but the QB half of the equation fizzled, as Shane Buechele was held to a completion rate just over 50% and Tyrone Swoopes' jumbo QB package didn't fool anyone. Although Baker Mayfield had another big day for the Sooners, what should really scare the rest of the Big 12 is that Samaje Perine was unstoppable... and they kept giving him the ball. Yes, Perine ground out 214 yards at 6.1 a clip, and there was simply nothing that Texas could do to slow the onslaught without leaving the secondary vulnerable- which Mayfield exploited to the tune of 12.3 yards per attempt. So the "Save Strong" movement hit a big snag on Saturday, as OU handed UT a loss that essentially knocks it from conference championship contention, while just a little later Houston's Playoff, Big 12 and Keep Herman bids all took a severe blow when the Cougars were upended by Navy.
Oklahoma State Cowboys 38, Iowa State Cyclones 31
Two different opponents. Two different stadiums. Two almost identical results for Iowa State, as for the second week in a row the Cyclones took a two score lead into the fourth quarter, and for the second week in a row they lost by giving up 17 fourth quarter points and scoring none. Perhaps they need to consult with TCU a bit about fourth quarter efforts? Iowa State gave up a crucial fumble late in the third quarter to give the Cowboys all the momentum they'd need as they scored the last 24 points of the game after falling behind 31-14. My suggestions for the Cyclones on how to snap out of this are as follows: 1. Give the ball to Mike Warren a lot, he's pretty good. 2. Pick a quarterback, Joel Lanning was good last week, why is he suddenly back to splitting time with a guy who threw two costly picks? 3. Running the ball means that there is less time for your defense to squander your lead- see point 1. Oklahoma State is back to not actually being able to run the ball very well, but Rudolph came through and made plays in the clutch, which is the biggest reason for OSU's win.
Texas Tech rolled up some pretty nice offensive numbers on Saturday- Mahomes threw for 500 yards at an over 70% completion rate, despite last week's injury scare, ran for three touchdowns and threw two more. However, when you have a defense that is as limited as Tech's is, you often need more than just pretty nice, as even with K-State gaining 400 fewer passing yards, the Wildcats hung tight with Tech, kept the ground game pounding along and took advantage of every opportunity to put Tech in to compliment their offense with supplementary points- adding a pick 6 as well as a kickoff return touchdown to their total to take them to 44 points on the day... Just like they scored in last year's Texas Tech/Kansas State game! The biggest difference between last season and this season, however, was that while Mahomes was great in both games, this season Tech doesn't have a DeAndre Washington in the backfield to compliment Mahomes, keep defenses honest and generally give that added dimension to the Texas Tech offense. to take it from good to terrifying. Tech will score on people, Mahomes is too good not to, but this is looking a lot more like another 7-5 Tech team than the dark horse Big 12 championship contender that some suspected they might be. On the Kansas State side... you can pretty well copy and paste what I've said about the cats every week here. Passing game: Bad, Running game: Pretty good, not great. Big plays: One. Defense: Pretty good.
The guys over at Viva the Matadors learned 5 things this week (just in case you were feeling less educated than usual due to us not putting up a 5 things from the KU game), while Bring on the Cats is in a similar boat as me- they didn't learn anything new.