Look away TCU and Kansas State fans. Last year’s Big 12 Championship squads have taken a turn for the worse. While a slight decline was expected, neither TCU nor Kansas State have displayed the qualities of a bowl-eligible team. To make matters worse, the Horned Frogs lost their starting quarterback, Chandler Morris, for the foreseeable future as he went down with a knee injury against Iowa State. The Wildcats’ once-promising quarterback, Will Howard, played perhaps his worst game as a college starter. More on that later. While two teams are declining, a few are on the rise. Find out how each Big 12 squad fared in week six here.
Kansas State 21, Oklahoma State 29
The Cowboys are one of the more mysterious teams in the Big 12. Three weeks after losing in ugly fashion to South Alabama, the Cowboys defeated one of the better teams in the league, the Wildcats. However, Kansas State may not be one of the better Big 12 anymore. Initially, Kansas State was ranked the second-best team in the Big 12 Football Media Preseason poll. The Wildcats began the season ranked sixteenth in the nation, but have since gone unranked after a loss to the Missouri Tigers. Fast forward to this past Friday, and the Wildcats bowl hopes are dwindling. Although that may be an overreaction, this Kansas State team isn’t what we thought they were.
The Wildcats dominated on the ground, accumulating 202 yards and two scores, but couldn’t muster much through the air. Quarterback Will Howard struggled mightily. Rightfully so, Howard used his legs as he rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. But, whenever Howard looked to make plays through the air, an interception or incompletion was the most likely result. The Cowboys picked off Howard three times and held him to a completion percentage below 50 percent. Prior to Saturday, the Cowboys had only recorded one interception on the year.
Next Saturday, Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1) takes on the Kansas Jayhawks (5-1, 2-1). The Cowboys once again get a home game as the Jayhawks will travel to Stillwater to take on the Cowboys at 2:30 p.m. CT on October 14. Later that day, Kansas State (3-2, 1-1) travels to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-3, 2-1) at 6:00 p.m. CT.
#12 Oklahoma 34, #3 Texas 30
The Red River Rivalry was quite a spectacle. The Sooners and Longhorns went back and forth all day long. The Sooners capped off the spectacular battle with a touchdown as the clocker neared zero. Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel eluded defenders and tossed a touchdown to freshman receiver Nic Anderson with only fifteen seconds to go. Gabriel shined in this Red River Rivalry game after he had to miss this game a season ago due to an injury. Gabriel carved up the Texas defense through the air and on the ground. The former UCF star passed for 285 yards and a score to go along with 113 yards and another touchdown on the ground. While Gabriel and the offense played well, the defense made a plethora of plays. The Sooners sacked Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers five times and picked him off twice.
After a rough start, Ewers shook off the early mistakes and completed nineteen straight passes to keep Texas in the ball game. The Longhorns continued to demonstrate a well-balanced attack. Ewers threw for 346 yards and running back Jonathon Brooks rushed for 129 yards and a score. The most decisive play of the day came when Head Coach Steve Sarkisian opted for a field goal instead of a fourth down attempt on Oklahoma’s 29-yard-line. Kicker Bert Auburn nailed the 47-yarder, but the Sooners got the ball back with over a minute play. And with Gabriel’s heroics, the Sooners marched down the field, 75 yards, in only 56 seconds of game time to score the go-ahead touchdown.
Both the Longhorns (5-1, 2-1) and the Sooners (6-0, 3-0) are idle in Week 7.
UCF 22, Kansas 51
Less than 100 passing yards and over 50 points? A rare sight in college football nowadays. But the Jayhawks did it. Quarterback Jason Bean, who once again filled in for the injured Jalon Daniels, only needed to pass the ball twelve times. Bean did throw a touchdown, but almost all the damage was done on the ground. The Jayhawks rushed 51 times for 399 yards and 5 touchdowns. A truly remarkable game on the ground. Running back Devin Neal, who rushed for 154 yards on only 12 rushes is now the ninth leading rusher in Kansas Jayhawks history. Neal only needs 285 yards to surpass NFL legend Gale Sayers on the Jayhawks’ leaderboard.
Besides against its two FCS opponents, the Knights defensive unit has looked abysmal against the run. UCF allows the tenth most rushing yards per game in the nation at 197.3 yards per game. Oddly enough, UCF actually allows more yards on the ground than through the air. Of course, this Kansas game does skew the numbers, but this UCF defense must focus on improving against the run. On offense, quarterback John Rhys Plumlee made his return but played sparingly as he only attempted seven passes against the Jayhawks. Backup quarterback Timmy McClain came in for the previously injured Plumlee and sparked a second-half run. McClain tossed two touchdowns in the second half, which accounted for two of the three UCF touchdowns, all coming in the latter part of the contest.
UCF (3-3, 0-3) gets a bye in Week 7, while Kansas (5-1, 2-1) travels to Stillwater to take on the underdog, Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Jayhawks are once again ranked, coming into the weekend as the 23rd-ranked squad.
Texas Tech 39, Baylor 14
The Red Raiders played well for the second week in a row behind newly anointed starting quarterback Behren Morton. Morton only threw for 180 yards, but did so efficiently. He went 19-of-26 and tossed three touchdowns. Wide receiver Myles Price has looked like Morton’s go-to guy, as he had another good performance. Price caught 10 passes for 90 yards and was targeted 14 times. The Red Raiders made sure to keep the offense balanced. Running back Tahj Brooks rushed 31 times for 170 yards and a score. Moreover, the defense surprised Saturday. Up until Saturday, the Red Raiders had only accumulated eight sacks. But, Texas Tech got after Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen, sacking him six times.
The Bears used an anti-Kansas game plan against the Red Raiders. Baylor rushed 30 times for only 17 yards. Additionally, the longest Baylor rush was only a 12-yarder. After going down early, the Bears went to the air. Shapen threw the ball 38 times and completed 22 of his passes. He recorded 324 yards and a touchdown through the air. Besides big-play threat Monaray Baldwin, who is now averaging 23.8 yards per catch, Shapen spread the ball evenly to his cast of receivers. Unfortunately for Shapen, the Tech pressure forced him into many incompletions and a few fumbles. Although the Bears only lost one of Shapen’s fumbles, he fumbled a total of three times.
Baylor (2-4, 1-2) gets a break in Week 7, while Texas Tech (3-3, 2-1) takes on the reeling Kansas State Wildcats (3-2, 1-1) on Saturday evening.