This conference is a cluster of epic proportions in 2017, with no clear front-runner after the Sooners laid an egg on their home field to lowly Iowa State. The conference looks strong this season from top to almost bottom, just look at Bill C’s S&P for week six:
New S&P+ rankings out soon, but holy crap:— Bill Connelly (@SBN_BillC) October 8, 2017
Avg. S&P+ rating by conf:
1. B12 (+8.2)
2. SEC (+7.9)
3. B1G (+7.8)
4. ACC (+7.8)
5. P12 (+6.8)
But that might actually hurt the Big 12 when it comes to playoff time. I don’t see any team running through the schedule unscathed, and only OU can likely overcome a loss and make it to the Final Four. Well, unless that loss is to... Iowa State.
But that wasn’t the only big game of the week six slate, let’s dive in.
West Virginia 24, TCU 31:
The only ranked game of the conference weekend was an... entertaining, I guess, one. With ESPN’s College GameDay on campus, the matchup between two of the most efficient offenses in the country was an
offensive explosion defensive battle early, as four gorgeous Adam Nunez punts pinned the Eers inside the five, and four long fields led to just three points. On the other side, the Horned Frogs’ offense sputtered, punting on their first three drives as they collected just a single first down and held the ball for all of five minutes. TCU would score on their fourth possession of the game with the help of a muffed WVU punt, then return to punting and generally being inept against a Mountaineer D that was finally healthy and very effectively aggressive.
And then, halftime happened. There were just four punts total in the second half, as the two teams traded blows up and down the field. Big plays by Will Grier and his bevy of talented receivers matched Kenny Hill and TCU shot for shot, and with just minutes remaining, the Frogs’ got the final stop and the W. I am still not sure just how good the Frogs are, but one thing I do know after Saturday is that the Eers are for real.
We had 14 takeaways, while The Smoking Musket is still lamenting the so-called poor officiating and saying they weren’t beat, they gave the game away. I mean, it was a close game, a tough loss, but the sour grapes over there must really burn.
Next Up: TCU travels to Manhattan to take on Kansas State, while the Eers welcome RANKED Texas Tech to Morgantown in a HUGE showdown.
Iowa State 38, OU 31:
Will there be a more shocking result in the Big 12 this season? I think not. Matt Campbell’s Cyclones blew into Norman, overcame a two score deficit, and planted their flag, literally and metaphorically, in Oklahoma.
Let’s look at everything ISU was up against. Starting QB Jacob Park: out. Down 24-10 at one point. Backup QB Joel Lanning was playing linebacker. Newly minted starting QB Kyle Kempt had two career passing attempts. Oklahoma was the #3 team in the country, playing at home, and 31 point favorites.
But the Clones just got it done. This wasn’t a trick play heavy, weird bounces, fluky win - this was Iowa State coming into Norman, believing they could get the job done, and scoring 21 straight points in the second half to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Lanning was 2-3 for 25 yards through the air, collected another 35 yards on the ground, and added eight tackles and a sack. Kempt went for 334 yards on 18 completions with four ISU receivers going for 40+ against a Sooner defense that has serious questions after their last two games. The Sooners went for 300+ on the ground and through the air, but were held to just a single score in the second half as the Cyclones defense tightened.
While few programs deserve this moment more than Iowa State, who have an awesome fanbase and a great SB Nation blog, this is, of course, horrible for the conference’s post-season aspirations. A one-loss OU might still get in, but any other program hoping to make it to the final four is hurt by not getting to beat a top five, blue-blood program on their way there.
It’s a got dang party over at Wide Right, Natty Lite, as it should be, while Crimson and Cream Machine is questioning Mike Stoops and the defense instead of blaming the officials and claiming the game was stolen from them.
Next Up: An already intriguing Red River Rivalry has even more juice this weekend for OU, while the Cyclones will try and put together a win streak when they return home to face Kansas.
Texas Tech 65, Kansas 19:
Oh. I guess there was no real emotional letdown after the Red Raiders fell short a week ago at home to Oklahoma State, instead they chose to take their anger out on the always susceptible Jayhawks.
There’s not much to say about this game, that was well over by halftime. Nik Shimonek had an efficient 223 yards with two TDs and a pick in 24 attempts, Justin Stockton had a big day with 161 yards, but second stringer Desmond Nisby was the real star: 11 carries, 93 yards, and FOUR touchdowns.
Meanwhile, KU tried the ol’ two QBs are better than one, and they decidedly were not, going a combined 23/43 for 256 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. They couldn’t pass the ball, they couldn’t run the ball, and they couldn’t stop Tech. But hey, it’s almost basketball season!
Viva the Matadors is glad to get a win, while Rock Chalk Talk is questioning two 4th-and-one calls and I want them all to go back and read my Q&A regarding Doug Meacham’s questionable play-calling last season.
Next Up: Texas Tech goes to Morgantown as a ranked team, while Kansas catches a red hot Iowa State team in Ames.
Kansas State 34, Texas 40:
Texas found a way to get a win for the second straight week, this time in Double OT, making them just one of two Big 12 teams to start the conference season 2-0. I have to say, having watched a good portion of this game, I have NO idea what to make of these two teams. The Texas defense was absolutely torched by K State’s backup QB, who piled up 79 yards on what was basically the same two plays run over and over again. Meanwhile, the much maligned Jesse Ertz went for 224 through the air but was ineffective as a rusher, managing just four yards on nine attempts before having to rotate in and out due to some injury issues. Ertz is as tough as they come, and he proved something by going 12/18for 224, two scores, and a pick against what looks like the best secondary in the conference. But Alex Delton gave the Cats a spark they needed late, and almost led them back to a win. Instead, it was Delton moving backwards in the second overtime leading to a missed field goal, while Texas, who couldn’t run it outside of Ehlinger all night, bullying their way into the end zone for a W.
On the other side, Sam Ehlinger looks like the real deal; he still struggles with accuracy and making reads, but the kid is really hard to sack, super athletic out of the pocket, and has all the IT factor you could ever hope for as a coach or a fan. He’s going to be really, really good for the Longhorns, and sooner rather than later. If he goes and beats the Sooners this weekend, watching for the hype train to get revved back up in Austin - who get Oklahoma State and Texas at home but have to go to Fort Worth and Morgantown. Dark-horse Championship Game contender? It’s starting to look like it, if they can find a way to run the football even just a little bit.
That being said... the UT offense is a bit of a mess, as is Kansas State’s. Both defense are really solid, but the Horns took advantage of a really small secondary for the Wildcats to make key third down conversions down the stretch. I have no idea how good these teams are or are not right now, but both get big chances to prove their place in the pecking order Saturday.
Burnt Orange Nation likes the way the Texas program is moving, and believe Sam should start from here on out. Bring on the Cats has questions for the coaching staff after a frustrating loss.