A good week to be a team from Oklahoma, a bad team to be a team from Texas and potentially a good week for the Big 12’s slim playoff hopes. The spectacle of the weekend was often brutal and unexpected- Let’s get into it.
Kansas State Wildcats 42, BU Bears 21
If you would like to see what it means when someone refers to exa team being “mentally fragile”, this game would be an ideal example. Baylor actually came out showing a bit of fire in this one, the defense stood strong in the first half, they capitalized on KSU turnovers and pushed things out to a 14-7 lead. Once Kansas State really started to push the Bears back, though, Baylor did everything but wave a physical white flag. The Wildcats did what they do every week- run the ball decently, throw the ball poorly and play excellent defense, which meant that once the Cats took the lead the Bears started to press to try and keep up, which is when Baylor's unfortunate freshman QB Zach Smith threw at interception that made the KSU run 21 straight points and gave the cats a two score lead. They pressed harder, and after a few first downs, Smith threw another pick. It didn't signal the end of the game, as Baylor did come back to score another touchdown, but it really seemed to drive the belief out of the Bears- and as Kansas State returned the ensuing kickoff down to the Baylor 23, there was simply no hope. More pressing, another pick and another KSU touchdown. The Baylor running game simply couldn’t make consistent headway and the passing game alternated from productive to self-destructive, and the defense simply couldn’t make consistent stops once KSU’s underutilized star RB Alex Barnes came into the game in the second half. Kansas State was... Kansas State-y, and that was enough.
Our Daily Bears is just waiting for the season to be over, while Kansas State is relieved to get the Baylor monkey off their back and prepares for what they hope will be Coach Snyder’s 200th win next week.
Oklahoma State 31, TCU 6
If the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then TCU’s offensive playcallers are in severe need of being institutionalized. Two weeks after unveiling a creative and efficient offensive identity in a blowout win, TCU seemed to simply show up to a clash with Oklahoma State without having done their homework. The innovative wrinkles that made the ground game flourish the previous week were either ignored or underutilized, resulting in 25 touches for Kyle Hicks in the run game, where he racked up more negative runs in one game than he has had in every other game this season combined. This forced the game entirely into Kenny Hill’s hands, as well as the none-too-sure hands of the TCU receiving corps, which resulted in another uneven performance and not a lot of time on the field for the offense. Meanwhile, the defense fought valiantly for the first half, being occasionally gashed on the ground, but playing solid coverage and bending but not breaking, despite being left on the field for unreasonable stretches. The one failing of the defense in the first half was that, despite three excellent chances, they were unable to turn OSU QB Mason Rudolph’s aggression into an interception that would have changed the complexion of the game and provided a spark of momentum for an offense that seemed to lack confidence. The feather in the cap of incompetence, though, was TCU continually breaking out a Wild Frog formation with Hicks as the quarterback at a time when every single OSU defender was keying on him. Rather than a zone read or option with Hill and Hicks, or even Hicks and Johnson, the Frogs simply direct snapped to Hicks and watch him get nothing or slightly less than nothing almost every time. The exception was a poorly executed halfback pass on fourth and goal from the one yard line which was somehow even more frustrating than sending Hicks to bang ineffectually into the wall of bodies. Hicks needs space and room to get going for him to work his wonderful craft, and he got none today due to iffy blocking and miserable playcalls. As for the second half... is it enough to say that there was absolutely nothing that went well?
Cowboys Ride for Free actually put up a postgame for this one, probably just to make our morning after experience more unpleasant. Frogs O’ War is here, kudos to you for finding it.
Iowa State Cyclones 66, Texas Tech Red Raiders 10
Ah, the blowout we were all expecting and... wait, are those names in the right order? All of those thoughts of gradual improvement about Tech’s defense over the past few weeks have just gone up in smoke as Iowa State rolled up 608 yards of offense on a whopping 9.4 yards per play. Texas Tech’s offense came into the game second in the nation in third down efficiency, but Iowa State converted 10 our of their 13 third down opportunities and simply destroyed the Raiders in every phase of the game. Tech was held to a meager 306 yards of total offense, almost 200 less than Patrick Mahomes alone averaged per game before the Raiders hit Ames. On the Iowa State side, there were simply no nits to pick- the Cyclones did everything great, the offense clicked like never before, the defense came out determined not to allow Tech any breathing room to get things going- and succeeded. On Tech’s side, Kingsbury failed to adjust for the pressure and different looks ISU was putting out, and as a result, the Raiders stalled repeatedly on offense and never really got clicking, while on the defensive side... I think there were two times where it looked like they were going to tackle someone. Keep reaching for that rainbow, guys.
Kansas Jayhawks 24, Texas Longhorns 21
You’re a good man, Charlie Strong. That message is important, even when you’ve just pulled off the football equivalent of getting undressed by a comebacker. For the first time this century, Kansas has beaten Texas in football. For the first time since the formation of the Big 12, Kansas has beaten Texas in football. For the first time since 1938, Kansas has beaten Texas in football, and it will likely spell the end of Coach Strong’s tenure in Austin. Going into this game I thought it would likely be close, as KU’s run defense has been solid and so much of the Longhorn’s success has come from RB D’Onta Foreman, but I don’t think anyone actually saw the scoreboard working out as it did. The Longhorns did indeed lean heavily on D’Onta Foreman, who averaged an impressive 5 yards per carry and scored two touchdowns- but he also fumbled twice, contributing to five total turnovers on the day for the Longhorns. The other culprit in those turnovers was quarterback Shane Buechele who had a pretty ordinary day himself in passing for just 165 yards and threw three picks, including a pick six and the one that ultimately decided the game in the first overtime period. On the KU side, the Jayhawks didn’t do anything particularly special on offense, collecting just 2.9 yards per rush, 5.2 per pass and just one play of over thirty yards, they just stayed close, never gave up (which has been a common thread through this season, and is a credit to coach Beaty), scoring 14 straight points to force overtime and then secure the win. KU still doesn’t have a lot of talent, but it is being developed and put into as good a position as possible- and this win will likely ensure that coach Beaty sticks around for another year or two to try and get out of the scholarship hole left by Weis.
Oklahoma Sooners 56, West Virginia Mountaineers 28
Welp, this turned out to be a massacre. The box score makes it look like it might have gotten a bit out of hand, that OU was the better team of course, but maybe West Virginia had just gotten a bad break or two that made it look worse than it was. It depends on your point of view, I suppose, but to me this looked brutal. Oklahoma’s ground game pummeled the Big 12’s leading defense, with just the two headed monster of Perine and Mixon going over 300 yards rushing, and West Virginia couldn’t get out of its own way, fumbling the ball three times and Skyler Howard had another rough day throwing the ball, completing less than half of his passes and throwing a pick that turned a chance to start the second half with momentum into a back breaker. Well... If OU hadn’t already broken the Mountaineers by running off thirty four straight points to start the game. That’s right, in the Big 12’s game of the year and showcase of top ten teams, the team that went 1-2 in non-conference play rolled up to a 34 point lead before the home team managed a single score. Man, maybe TCU’s loss to OSU wasn’t so bad in comparison? The Mountaineers did attempt to rally and make a game of it in the second half- they pulled within two scores and actually outgained the Sooners on the whole, but simply couldn’t stop OU’s offense consistently or do enough to make up for the early hole. We all know a 31 point lead is ripe for a comeback, but a 34 point lead is simply too much to overcome, and so West Virginia’s bid for the Big 12 title came to a catastrophic end. Mastery over the Big 12 simply can’t be had without mastery over the state of Oklahoma.