Blowouts, comebacks and attempted comebacks. Just your normal week in the Big 12 2016 where nothing is ever certain- the conference title contenders are whittled down to three and the once written off for dead rise again toward bowl eligibility.
Oklahoma Sooners 34, Iowa St. Cyclones 24
By now you've seen the sort of game that Iowa State plays this season to know about what to expect. The Cyclones had bouts of extreme competence on both sides of the ball and looked very dangerous, taking the lead against a conference contender. Then the wheels fell off, the offense lost its consistency (due in part to the shuffling of QBs) and the Contender went on a 17+ point run to regain the lead and momentum and pull the heart out of Iowa State. This week it was Oklahoma's turn, and the Sooners took it to the Cyclones without either of their star running backs- once again Baker Mayfield turned in a great performance, including a momentum shifting 65 yard touchdown pass just 14 seconds after Iowa State took a 17-14 lead. Meanwhile the Cyclones offense became even more split in its QB usage, with Joel Lanning throwing just one pass all night, while Jacob Park threw 29 times for just 150 yards. Meanwhile Lanning ran well, was the Cyclones leading rusher in fact, while Park carried the ball once (outside of sacks) for 4 yards. It's essentially what OSU did with their 2 QB system a few years ago, but with less talent on offense to make it work. I still think the Cyclones scheme can be effective in time, but until they have a true dual threat QB it will be very difficult to have consistent results.
Texas Longhorns 45, Texas Tech Red Raiders 37
The life of Patrick Mahomes as Texas Tech QB continues to be a sad one, as another efficient performance was wasted by Tech's O-line and defense. Texas went after Mahomes early and often, holding Tech's leading rusher to an extremely rare negative yardage game and continually hitting him and forcing him to make throws. The Longhorns on the other hand actually did their scouting on the Texas Tech defense (unlike TCU last week) and simply ran D'Onta Foreman at them over and over- 33 times in fact, as part of a 49 carry effort by the Longhorns. Foreman repaid the trust with an insane 341 yard game and, if not for a goal line fumble that was returned the other way for 6 by Tech, would be a shoo-in for the Big 12's offensive player of the week. Buechele did enough to bail the Horns out of a few tough situations, but mainly protected the ball, completing just 50% of his passes at about 6 yards per attempt. When you can run the ball at will, why force things through the air, right? . . . Great, now I'm sad again. I wonder if there's another game result this weekend that will cheer me up? I won't get my hopes up too high, but it would be nice...
Oklahoma State Cowboys 43, Kansas State Wildcats 37
In the end it was the exact sort of game that Kansas State was built to win, they just couldn't quite be Kansas State-y enough to finish the job. The Wildcats went back to what we've seen from them all year- a good rushing attack with no passing game to get them out of trouble if they end up in third and long. KSU QB Jesse Ertz had a fantastic game running the ball, going over 150 yards on the ground with three rushing TDs, but his passing contributions of just 87 yards on less than five yards an attempt kept the Wildcats from staying on the field long enough to secure a win that would have kept them in the fringes of the Big 12 title conversation. Instead the Cowboys inconsistent and occasionally self destructive offense prevailed, as Mason Rudolph completed over 75% of his passes for 12 yards an attempt, redeeming himself from an early third quarter pick 6 that gave the Wildcats the lead that they didn't relinquish until there were less that two minutes left. The Cowboys also had a surprisingly good effort from their running game against a KSU defense that has been very solid, keeping the KSU defense honest and forcing them to respect the run enough to keep the passing lanes open. With the win (and thanks to one of the other results on Saturday) the Cowboys have control of their own destiny when it comes to the Big 12 championship again, as if they win out with a win over OU they would win the tiebreaker over either the Sooners or the Mountaineers. For Kansas State, the championship dream was likely already dead, but it would have been nice to clinch a bowl big before the bye.
Bring on the Cats is lightly questioning Bill Snyder's game theory, while Cowboys Ride for Free is Ride for Freeloading a bit and hasn't posted a postgame thread.
West Virginia Mountaineers 48. Kansas Jayhawks 21
On the surface, this looks like one of those mildly respectable blowouts- you know, the better team clearly established itself as the better team, but the underdog did enough to stay in the game for parts and could have reasons for optimism for the future. This is certainly not the case, as the Mountaineers took a 31-0 lead into the half, and expanded it to a 45-7 lead in the third quarter before closing down shop and letting the Jayhawks play a little with the scoreboard in exchange for having the game be over sooner. Kansas still doesn't really have an offensive identity, West Virginia put on a show on offense and defense and made you think really hard about their blowout loss to the Cowboys again. Man, what was the deal with that, anyway?
The Smoking Musket has the mildly pleased feeling that I understand people get when they beat Kansas by a lot (I hope to experience that myself someday), while Rock Chalk Talk admits the offense just isn't working.
TCU Horned Frogs 62, Baylor Bears 22
On a day where the divide in Baylor students, players, alumni and even coaching staff was laid bare (no pun intended) as a result of the blackout to support Art Briles, TCU arrived fresh off of a disappointing home loss to Tech and mired in quarterback controversy. Things started out roughly for the visitors, a sure pick wasn't collected and Baylor scored on the next play, taking a 7-0 lead in the first 22 seconds of the game. After that though, it seems that something clicked- as for the first time this season, TCU didn't just play at the level they've played in their best quarters all year, they surpassed it- and even more impressively, maintained it through all four quarters. TCU added some tweaks to the running game such as giving the running back a motion to gain momentum on the option, put in an outside zone-ish handoff where one back lead blocks for the other outside (props to TJ for his blocking) and really worked the zone stretch in a way that Baylor was never able to stop. This was part of a very balanced attack where Kyle Hicks got most of the glory (and rightfully so, 5 TDs on 26 runs, 192 yards), Kenny Hill showed why he was always a better choice than Foster Sawyer by having the best game of his TCU career, and the OCs consistently putting the Frogs in more advantageous second down positions than they've had in any game this season. Throw in the continued improvement of the defense (including a pick 6 from the formerly maligned, now forgiven for all time Ranthony Texada), and the Frogs simply dominated both sides of the ball to the point where Kenny Hill alone was outrushing the Bears through a significant portion of the game. While the Bears did occasionally have some big plays, they never put them together with any consistency, and never seemed like a real threat to come back after Texada's pick made it 31-7. Baylor did score again in the first half, but TCU managed to answer yet again with just 7 seconds left in the half. For the Bears the beatdown was thorough and brutal on many levels, as the coaching staff started pointing fingers (and getting shoved in response) after spending the week coordinating synchronized tweets instead of gameplanning. I enjoyed this one, but it's still hard to find anything to enjoy about anything involving Baylor at the moment
Our Daily Bears adapts #truthdon't lie into a scathing attack on the divide in the program, kudos to them for their attitude throughout this. Frogs O' War is... right here, well done!