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2023 Big 12 Football Recap: Week 8

The top two teams almost fell, while the mid-tier squads handled business.

UH vs Texas Jason Fochtman/Houston Chronicle via Getty Images

The 2022 Big 12’s best team was absolutely destroyed by the 2022 Big 12’s second-best team this past weekend. TCU looked hapless against a mediocre Kansas State football team that has since regained hope. In other news, two of the bottom-tier Big 12 squads almost upset the top teams. The middle squads appear to be moving closer to the top or bottom of the conference. What’s up with Oklahoma State? Are they their third-best team out of nowhere? And, how does BYU look like an FCS squad against the Horned Frogs, then demolish the Red Raiders? Find out more, as we dive in to discuss the results of this past weekend.

#6 Oklahoma 31, UCF 29

The two big storylines in this affair revolved around each quarterback. Former UCF quarterback, Dillon Gabriel, faced his former squad for the first time. And, UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee finally came back to action after an injury sidelined him for nearly a month. Gabriel got the best of Plumlee, but it was much closer than expected.

Gabriel went 25-of-38 for 253 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Plumlee went 16-of-30 for 248 yards and two scores through the air and one on the ground. Each quarterback targeted their star receiver frequently in this one. UCF’s Javon Baker caught five passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Baker’s deep-threat ability was on full display against the Sooners. On the other side, Nic Anderson continued to demonstrate his big-play ability. He went off for five receptions to go along with 105 yards and two scores.

Despite each quarterback and their favorite target playing well, the squads are moving in separate directions. Oklahoma is now 7-0 and aiming for a College Football Playoff birth. UCF has now dropped four games in a row. The Knights have yet to record a win against a Big 12 squad.

This Saturday, Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) battles the Kansas Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2) in Lawrence. The Sooners play another morning game, once again at 11:00 a.m. CT, this time on October 28.

Houston 24, #8 Texas 31

The Longhorns came out victorious, but at what cost? Texas lost their star quarterback, Quinn Ewers, to a shoulder injury after he took a big hit from a Houston defender. Ewers is slated to miss a few weeks. Backup quarterback Maalik Murphy will take the reigns, while Arch Manning will continue to sit out his freshman season.

Even though Texas lost Ewers, the Longhorns are loaded with playmakers. Running backs Jonathan Brooks and CJ Baxter combined for 141 yards and a score on the ground. Wide receivers Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy combined for seven catches, 106 yards, and two scores. The offense looked great in the first quarter, but quickly fizzled out. After going up 21-0, the Longhorns punted and turned it over on downs twice before scoring a field goal late in the third.

Houston surely dug themselves into a hole in the first quarter and a half. However, quarterback Donovan Smith played well to spark a Houston comeback. He threw for 378 yards and three scores. In the fourth, Smith led a long drive that was stymied in the red zone. If not for a controversial call, Smith and the Cougars may have scored to even the game.

The Cougars (3-4, 1-3) travel to Manhattan to take on the Kansas State Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) at 11:00 a.m. CT on October 28. Murphy and the Longhorns (6-1, 3-1) will look to carve up the BYU (5-2, 2-2) defense as those two squads face off on October 28, at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Cincinnati 29, Baylor 32

Cincinnati almost pulled out their first win as a member of the Big 12. Despite going down 29-14, the Bearcats fought hard to get back in the game. Cincinnati outgained the Bears in the game and totally outclassed them on the ground. The Bearcats rushed for 288 yards and two scores. While Baylor only rushed for 80 yards and a score on 2.8 yards per carry. Cincinnati quarterback Emory Jones played well to begin the season, but has had consecutive poor showings as the Bearcats continue to look for their first win. Although the quarterback play has been subpar, the running game has looked good. It’s looking like the Bearcats will lean on the run as they hunt for a victory.

The Bears once again excelled through the air but struggled on the ground. The Bears have an identity, airing it out. Quarterback Blake Shapen has thrown for more than 290 yards and a score in every game. The Bears ran the ball well to start the year, but the ground game has fizzled since. If Baylor can become a more well-balanced squad, the wins might outnumber the losses.

Cincinnati (2-5, 0-4) is looking for its first Big 12 win, as they head to Stillwater on Saturday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m. CT. Baylor (3-4, 2-2) takes on the Iowa State Cyclones (4-3, 3-1) at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, October 28.

West Virginia 34, Oklahoma State 48

Oklahoma State began the year with a quarterback conundrum. The starter wasn’t decided upon until week four. And while quarterback Alan Bowman has played well, the other starter who emerged during week four is the team's true star. Sophomore running back Ollie Gordon II has ascended to stardom quite quickly. Since week four, he’s accumulated 707 rushing yards and six scores on an absurd 7.3 yards per rush. With Gordon II to rely on, Bowman will look like a much better quarterback. And he did in week eight. Gordon demolished the West Virginia defense adding 282 yards and four scores. Suddenly, the Cowboys are looking like one of the better teams in the Big 12.

This was a pivotal game and while West Virginia played well, their defense looked atrocious. And unlike earlier in the season, the defense has now looked subpar for two straight contests. The team is far different than they once were. Quarterback Garrett Greene looks like a fantastic dual-threat passer and the run game is great when called upon. West Virginia has now lost two straight winnable games. This team is above-average in the Big 12, but needs to put it all together to compete with the best squads.

This upcoming Saturday, West Virginia (4-3, 2-2) gets to travel to the Sunshine State to battle the UCF Knights (3-4, 0-4), while the Cowboys (5-2, 3-1) take on the Cincinnati Bearcats at 7:00 p.m. CT.

BYU 27, Texas Tech 14

What to make of this BYU squad. The Cougars gone win, loss, win, loss, win against its recent Power 5 opponents. And the defense that looked so poor against the Horned Frogs a week ago dominated the Red Raiders. BYU recorded five turnovers, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. This time, the Cougars started off quickly. BYU led 24-7 after the first half. BYU scored on their first possession, punted, and then recovered a fumble to go up by two scores.

Texas Tech still put up a good amount of yards on the Cougars, but were far too turnover-prone to keep things on track. And the turnovers have been a big problem. The week prior, Texas Tech turned the ball over three times. Take away quarterback Jake Strong’s interceptions, and he played a good game passing for 236 yards and a score. Running back Tahj Brooks rushed for 100-plus yards once again and scored a touchdown.

This Saturday, BYU (5-2, 2-2) faces its toughest task yet as they travel to Austin to take on the Longhorns (6-1, 3-1). BYU destroyed Texas in 2013 and 2014. Surely this game will be different, but the Longhorns are starting a new quarterback which brings some intrigue. As for the Red Raiders (3-5, 2-3), they get a bye before battling the Horned Frogs in a Thursday night battle.