Growing pains, throwing pains and shoulder pains are the big stories of the Big 12 this week as the conference starts either its road to redemption by running the table with one of its two undefeated programs or bringing them down into the muck with the rest of the conference and devouring each other. Let's face it, the latter is more fun- and if this weekend's results are anything to go on, more likely. Let's get to it!
What to say about this one? I almost just posted this link, but there was a bit more to the game than just the unfortunate injury to Patrick Mahomes. Tech's defense actually put up a very solid effort in this one, which is interesting even with a fairly limited offensive opposition like Kansas, but what's just as interesting is that this was actually a game in the third quarter, and looked like it may turn the other way as the Jayhawk's surge to within 9 points came as Mahomes left the contest. Fortunately for Tech, much like his former Head Coach, Kingsbury was able to plug in a replacement QB and duplicate many of the same results, as backup QB Nick Shimonek continued to shred the KU defense and piled up 271 yards on 71.4% passing and 4 touchdowns. The Jayhawks rotated quarterbacks, but were unable to get much going through the air against a suspect Raiders secondary and fell behind too much for the run game to be much of a threat. Tech remains the glass cannon that you thought they were- but with Mahomes out it looks a little bit more glass than even that.
Baylor Bears 45, Iowa State Cyclones 42
Ready for some words I don't think anyone was rationally expecting before this one? Baylor should have lost to Iowa State. Iowa State's quarterback, who looked like he'd been usurped in last week's outing against San Jose State, thoroughly outperformed the pre-injury 2015 Heisman frontrunner in every single passing category. Iowa State led Baylor by two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Baylor only outscored Iowa State in one quarter all game.
All of that didn't end up mattering, because Baylor's defense finally rose to the occasion and let their ground game continue to destroy the Cyclones. Shock Linwood ran for 237 yards, Terrance Williams picked up 126 and Seth Russell slightly made up for his relatively poor performance passing with 88 rushing yards and 2 TDs. Iowa State is still pretty much the same team that got beaten by an FCS team, got demolished by a team that lost to an FCS team (and Northwestern), got wrecked by a team that struggled with an FCS team for four quarters and beat a team whose only win is an FCS team. So there's definitely some cause for concern that the Bears took their first lead of the game on their game winning field goal with three seconds remaining. Iowa State was able to both pass with consistent success, but also do much more damage on the ground than Oklahoma State managed.
Here's the biggest argument for the "Oh my goodness, the Big 12 is awful" of the week. So since defeating Oklahoma State on the controversial extra play, Central Michigan was the first win of the season for the Virginia Cavaliers (who were yet another FCS victim, incidentally) and were absolutely mauled at home by fellow MAC-ian Western Michigan. After starting the season with a supposed marquee win over Notre Dame has picked up losses to Michigan State (who has since lost to Indiana) and Duke (whose only other win was against an FCS team). Still, the thought was that coach Strong's defense would be improved and would see the Longhorns make key stops in shootouts and... that did not happen. Instead OSU and the Longhorns traded haymakers through 60 minutes, the Longhorns leaned heavily on the run game as you'd expect and OSU's passing game was even more lethal than last week... but this time it had backup, as OSU actually repeatedly gashed Texas' four star laden defensive front, with freshman (and noted fumbler) Justice Hill ripping the horns for 135 yards, more than enough of a running threat to keep the UT defense honest... and incredibly vulnerable to being bombed on. UT's run game was again very strong, but lost momentum in the second half, only scoring with a single 62 yard TD run before OSU pushed things to the final score in the fourth. This (along with TCU and OU) is going to set the perception of defenses in the Big 12 back years.
So I'd gotten a bit of criticism from KSU fans about my complaining about their lack of big play ability in previous Power Rankings- but this is why. Kansas State used the running game to control the pace, jumped out to a solid 13 point lead twice and held that lead all the way to the fourth quarter. Still, West Virginia battled back and got the win, in no small part due to the Wildcat's inability to change field position in just one play, forcing the offense to be efficient with every run and pass attempt to make up for it. KSU's run game is pretty consistent and KSU's defense is pretty solid, but the passing game is miserable. KSU's Jesse Ertz completed 33% of his passes with a pick and no touchdowns, and that's an even more miserable ratio when you see he had 30 attempts, and their kicker ended up missing a field goal that would have won the game for the Wildcats. On the WVU side the offense was less consistent and more turnover prone, but far more explosive as well. Throw in another another stellar performance from their defense, and the result is that the Mountaineers remain undefeated for another week. The secondary will get its first big test of the season next week in Lubbock though, where coincidentally the Mountaineers last undefeated start to Big 12 play went to die.
Oklahoma Sooners 52, TCU Horned Frogs 46
I wrote the postgame recap for this one, so I'll save you from rereading similar thoughts. Let's condense!
Crimson and Cream is happy with the escape, but wonders where the defense is.