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2023 Big 12 Football Recap: Week 9

For the most part, the favorites took care of business, but the best squad couldn’t hang on.

Oklahoma v Kansas Photo by Jay Biggerstaff/Getty Images

Saturday morning started with a bang as the unranked Kansas Jayhawks knocked off the #6 Oklahoma Sooners. The Jayhawks even completed this feat without star quarterback Jalon Daniels, as he missed his fourth straight game. The rest of the Big 12 slate went as expected. Multiple blowouts occurred and a few mid-tier squads asserted their dominance over the lower-tier squads. Find out which team is ascending and which team’s playoff hopes may have crumbled below.

#6 Oklahoma 33, Kansas 38

Well... not many people saw this one coming. And for good reason. But upon digging into the matchup a bit more; the point spread of seven looks reasonable. The Sooners came into the matchup as the sixth-ranked squad. However, the Sooners only had one marquee win on a neutral field. Oklahoma beat up on non-conference foes before Big 12 play. Besides a wallop against Iowa State, the Sooners' average margin of victory was 6.7 points. The offense has looked good, but not exceptional. And while the defense consistently makes plays, it’s also susceptible to long drives and chunk plays.

This held true against Kansas. The Sooners picked off Jason Bean twice and recovered a fumble, but looked poor against the run and gave up some chunk plays in the pass game. Kansas running back Devin Neal gauged the Sooners for 112 yards a score. Additionally, Bean added two scores on the ground and backup running back Daniel Hinshaw added 51 yards and two scores.

Oklahoma gashed Kansas on the ground to the tune of 269 yards and five scores. The passing game didn’t look nearly as good as it had in recent weeks. Heisman candidate Dillon Gabriel didn’t toss multiple touchdowns or throw for more than 250 yards, a first this season. With this loss, the Sooners playoff hopes significantly dropped as the Longhorns overtook them in the College Football Playoff rankings.

This weekend, Oklahoma plays their second biggest rival for the last time for the unforeseeable future. The Sooners (7-1, 4-1) take on the Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-2, 4-1) on Saturday, November 4 at 2:30 p.m. CT in a must-win game. The now-ranked Jayhawks (6-2, 3-2) are looking for another big win as they match up with Iowa State (5-3, 4-1) on Saturday, November 4 at 6:00 p.m. CT.

BYU 6, #7 Texas 35

BYU has now gone loss, win, loss, win, loss in Big 12 play. The Cougars can’t seem to find any consistency. One week the offense looks good, while the next it looks putrid. This past weekend, it looked the latter. Quarterback Kedon Slovis tossed two interceptions and failed to cross the 200-yard passing mark. The running game once again appeared sluggish. The longest run of the night was a 21-yard scamper by Slovis. The Cougars managed only 95 yards on 26 attempts. On defense, BYU looked good even though they allowed 35 points. They forced multiple turnovers, punts, and turned the Longhorns over on downs a couple of times.

This game was all about Maalik Murphy for the Longhorns. In relief for the injured Quinn Ewers, Murphy played well in his first start. Murphy started the game slowly, before finally tossing his first touchdown at the end of the second quarter. His rapport with receiver Adonai Mithell seemed to excel as the two connected on two scores. With a good ground game, Murphy likely won’t have to shoulder too much of a load without Ewers.

On Saturday, the Longhorns (7-1, 4-1) take on the Kansas State Wildcats (6-2, 4-1) who are back in the Big 12 Championship discussion. Texas will greet the Wildcats at 11:00 a.m. CT on November 4. On the other hand, BYU (5-3, 2-3) will square up against the Mountaineers later at 6:00 p.m. CT.

Houston 0, Kansas State 41

Two teams going in opposite directions clashed on Saturday. After a loss to Oklahoma State early in Big 12 play, the Wildcats have now rattled off three straight wins. Two of which were by 38 or more points. And in the present, the loss to the Cowboys doesn’t look as bad as it did since Oklahoma State is now ranked #22. Kansas State has a newfound life in its dual-quarterback approach. Original starter Will Howard has looked more efficient since freshman Avery Johnson started receiving reps. Since Johnson came into the mix, Howard has had his season's first, second, and fourth-highest passer ratings. Now with a running quarterback in Johnson, the Wildcats' offense truly looks unpredictable in the best way possible.

Houston, Houston, Houston. What happened? The Cougars looked abysmal this week after a near-upset against the Longhorns a week prior. Houston nearly recorded 200 yards less in this matchup against the Wildcats. And, the Cougars ceded 10 more points to the Kansas State offense. Quarterback Donovan Smith had by far his worst game of the season. He failed to eclipse triple-digit passing yards and turned it over once. Despite a good-looking offense and poor defense to begin the season, the offense is now questionable going into the final third of the season.

In week 10, Kansas State (6-2, 4-1) takes on the Texas Longhorns (7-1, 4-1). The Cougars (3-5, 1-4) travel to Waco to battle the Baylor Bears (3-5, 2-3) on Saturday, November 4 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

West Virginia 41, UCF 28

Coming into the season, West Virginia was picked to finish last in the Big 12 by the media. As of now, the Mountaineers are ranked seventh as the only squad with two conference losses. West Virginia could easily have only one loss. Back in week seven, they lost on a last-second Hail Mary to the Houston Cougars. And in their other loss, they were tied with the Cowboys in the fourth quarter before seizing three touchdowns in the final seven minutes. In this contest, West Virginia prioritized the ground game to defeat the Knights. Quarterback Garrett Green rushed for three scores and the team totaled 286 yards and five touchdowns by the way of the run. On defense, West Virginia turned over UCF four times to keep control of the game. Cornerback Beanie Bishop II recorded two picks to add to his total of two on the year.

Looking for their first Big 12 victory, the Knights shot themselves in the foot. Quarterback John Rhys Plumless has looked good, but he’s turned the ball over far too often. He tossed three interceptions and fumbled once. The Mountaineers took advantage of three of those untimely turnovers, scoring 21 points off Plumlee’s misfortunes. UCF is now tied for the sixth-worst turnover margin in all of college football.

On Saturday, UCF (3-5, 0-5) may have its best shot of the season to defeat a Big 12 foe. At 2:30 p.m. CT on November 4, the Knights take on the Cincinnati Bearcats (2-6, 0-5), who are also a winless squad. As for the Mountaineers (5-3, 3-2), they’ll battle the BYU Cougars (5-3, 2-3), who are undefeated coming off losses this season.

Iowa State 30, Baylor 18

After this victory, the Cyclones have miraculously joined Big 12 powerhouses, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Oklahoma State, in a five-way tie for first in the conference. Iowa State is improving week-by-week on both sides of the ball. The team looked well-balanced on offense, passing for more than 230 yards and gaining more than 160 on the ground. While the offense isn’t overly explosive, they play an efficient brand of football. The Cyclones went 9-of-15 on third down. And with a solid run game, Iowa State possessed the ball for more than half the game, thirty-three minutes.

Baylor’s inability to run the ball is a huge detriment when it comes to controlling the game. Additionally, the lack of a run game hurt the Bears on third down. Baylor went 4-of-14 on third down, which forced the Bears to go for it six times on fourth. Baylor quarterback Blake Shapen threw for 239 yards and a score but also tossed an interception. Perhaps Baylor just struggles at home. This season, the Bears have only one victory in Waco, against an FCS squad, Long Island.

Iowa State (5-3, 4-1) will battle the Jayhawks (6-2, 3-2), who are coming off a massive win. This contest will occur at 6:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, November 4. Despite a loss, the Bears have looked better in recent weeks. Baylor (3-5, 2-3) takes on the Houston Cougars at 2:30 p.m. CT the same day.

Cincinnati 13, Oklahoma State 45

Ollie Gordon II. That’s all that needs to be said in this blurb. The sophomore sensation once again dominated on the ground for the Cowboys. He racked up 271 yards and two scores on the Bearcats defense. Gordon II’s ascension has cemented the Cowboys with a true identity. This team can run the ball down their opponent's throat and pass when need be. Quarterback Alan Bowman has looked like a competent passer after beginning the season in a quarterback competition. He threw for 286 yards and two scores.

Despite a strong start to the season for quarterback Emory Jones, the Bearcats might be exploring all options behind center. Jones was replaced late last game after only completing 6-of-16 passes and tossing an interception. The Bearcats gashed the Cowboys for 277 yards on the ground but only managed one score. The passing game was too far behind the ground game to keep the game within reach.

Luckily for the Bearcats (2-6, 0-5), they’ll go up against the UCF Knights (3-5, 0-5) on Saturday, November 4 at 2:30 p.m. CT. One of these Big squads will have to earn their first conference win. The Cowboys (6-2, 4-1) will look to keep rolling as they take on the Sooners (7-1, 4-1) as a part of the historic Bedlam series. These two teams will collide at the same time as the aforementioned contest on ABC.