What a week in the Big 12. While no Big 12 titans fell this past weekend, an unexpected result did occur. The Horned Frogs were favored by two scores at home against the West Virginia Mountaineers but ultimately lost by three points, in part to a poor second-half performance. As for the rest of the Big 12 action, the remaining contests typically followed the script, except for one game. Baylor pulled off a miraculous comeback to defeat UCF. More on this later, as we dive into the action-packed past weekend of Big 12 football.
Cincinnati 27, BYU 35
The Cougars recorded their first Big 12 win this past Friday, as they defeated the Cincinnati Bearcats 35 to 27. However, the Bearcats actually outgained the Cougars in this one. BYU could hardly muster up any offense in the first half. BYU scored off an interception return in the first quarter, before finally scoring again off a Kedon Solvis touchdown pass with six seconds left to go in the second quarter. During the second half, the Cougars looked like a brand-new team. Slovis continued to roll and freshman running back L.J. Martin scored twice on the ground.
Even though Cincinnati lost, they played well. The Bearcats’ offense totaled 498 yards, with a whopping 242 on the ground. Cincinnati had three rushers rush for more than 60 yards on the day. And quarterback Emory Jones tossed three touchdowns. Although the Bearcats executed well, their inability to score put a damper on things. Cincinnati ran 84 plays and held the ball for 34 minutes, but turned the ball over on downs twice and had to settle for a couple of close field goals.
Both Cincinnati and BYU will take a breather this weekend as each team is on a bye week.
#24 Kansas 14, #3 Texas 40
Oh, what could’ve been? This matchup between Kansas and Texas was primed to be one of the best battles in the Big 12 thus far. But, a late scratch to the game drastically altered the outcome. Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels sat out the game on Saturday. Prior to the weekend, it was expected that Daniels would be operating behind center, but the quarterback ultimately suffered from tightness in his back and remained on the sidelines. Backup quarterback Jason Bean started in place for the injured Daniels but did not fare well against the Longhorns’ defense. Texas held Bean to only 136 yards and a QBR of 17.2. The ground game chipped in 124 yards, but the Jayhawks offense looked like a lost cause. Kansas went 0-of-8 on third downs and only managed 20 minutes and 19 seconds worth of possession time.
The Longhorns started slow, as they have in several games this season, but finished strong. Texas only led 13-7 in the first half before scoring a quick touchdown to start the third. Next, Kansas quickly answered, but it was all Texas from there. The Longhorns were equally dominant on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for 325 yards and a touchdown. His star receiving duo of Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy combined for 17 receptions and 234 yards. On the ground, running back Jonathon Brooks had a stellar day. Brooks compiled 218 yards on only 21 attempts, and he found the end zone twice.
The Jayhawks (4-1, 1-1) take on the UCF Knights (3-2, 0-2) on Saturday, October 7 at 3:00 p.m. CT on Fox. The Knights are looking for their first Big 12 victory of the season, while the Jayhawks are looking for revenge after losing their first Big 12 contest.
Houston 28, Texas Tech 49
The battle between perhaps the two worst Big 12 squads proved to be an exciting one. With almost 900 combined total yards of offense, each team managed to do what it wanted as defense became optional. No turnovers were committed in the ballgame and both teams converted more than 50 percent of their third down attempts. Despite two fantastic offensive showings, the Red Raiders also got it done on special teams. Drae McCray returned a kick for 100 yards to give the Red Raiders their first score of the game. Then, in the second quarter, wide receiver Loic Fouonji caught a touchdown and recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in the span of two minutes. These back-to-back scores gave Texas Tech a 28-21 lead. The Red Raiders went on to score three more touchdowns, two on the ground and one through the air.
Former Red Raider Donovan Smith played a great game. The Houston quarterback passed for 336 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 58 yards on the ground. While the offense looked sharp in this performance, the defense once again lacked the ability to stop a Power 5 team. Houston’s defense has looked especially poor against quality programs. However, the Rice Owls also dropped 43 points on the Cougars defense. The Cougars field the worst defense in the Big 12 and must improve on that side of the ball if they plan on winning another game.
Houston (2-3, 0-2) has a bye this upcoming week, but the Red Raiders (2-3, 1-1) travel to Waco to take on the Baylor Bears (2-3, 1-1). This contest will be held on Saturday, October 7 at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN2.
Baylor 36, UCF 35
The Knights had this game in the bag. In the third quarter, UCF led Baylor by 28 points. But, the tides soon turned, as Baylor rattled off a miraculous 29 straight points to win the game. This comeback was the largest comeback in Baylor history. The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball in the fourth quarter to complete the comeback. Baylor turned UCF over twice, both leading to scores.
The first turnover occurred in the third quarter. Freshman defensive back Caden Jenkins picked off UCF quarterback Timmy McClain to spark the comeback. Baylor scored on the following drive, then scored, and completed two consecutive two-point conversions to trim the lead to nine. The aforementioned Jenkins came up huge again, as he recovered a fumble and took it the distance, cutting the Knights’ lead to two. After a quick three-and-out, Baylor received the ball once again with almost five minutes to go. The Bears traveled down the field and kicked a field goal to complete their absurd comeback.
The UCF offense looked great in the first half. The passing game was efficient and multiple huge plays on offense and defense led to a big first-half lead. But, UCF looked lost in the second half, as the Knights turned it over twice and only managed three quick drives before a punt or missed field goal.
UCF (3-2, 0-2) takes on the Kansas Jayhawks (4-1, 1-1) in Lawrence and the Baylor Bears (2-3, 1-1) play their intra-state rival Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-3, 1-1) in Waco.
Iowa State 20, #14 Oklahoma 50
Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel once again displayed why he’s one of the best players in the Big 12. Gabriel accounted for five touchdowns, three through the air and two on the ground, to help the Sooners demolish the Cyclones. Gabriel has now thrown over 300 yards in four of Oklahoma’s five games. Additionally, the Oklahoma signal-caller hasn’t fielded a completion percentage below 66 percent. The Sooners are rolling right now and it doesn’t look like this train will stop anytime soon. That is unless a potentially insurmountable foe awaits them...
The Sooners (5-0, 2-0) travel south of the Red River to square off against the third-ranked Longhorns (5-0, 2-0) in what’s shaping up to be an incredible iteration of the Red River Rivalry. Both teams look much better than a season ago, especially the Sooners. Oklahoma has dominated each opponent they’ve come across, while Texas has looked dominant in its own right. The Sooners have yet to earn that marquee victory, unlike Texas, but could this be the week Oklahoma proves its worth? Tune into the Red River Rivalry on Saturday, October 7 at 11:00 a.m. CT in Dallas, Texas. The game will be aired on ABC.