Week seven saw not a lot of drama in the lead up to Saturday, most of the week's press focused on how TCU and Baylor were stealing the spotlight from the Red River Rivalry. Frankly, with the Christian private school matchup in Waco being a game of unbeatens with both TCU and Baylor carrying top 10 rankings, it should have overshadowed Texas OU. There was quite a lot of press regarding Texas going down to Baylor and OU going down to TCU and how unlikely that would have been a short few years ago. There was also discussion about how those games were potentially signaling a powershift in the Big 12. The bottom line was that someone was leaving Waco with a signature victory and a firm grasp on the Big 12 championship reins.
West Virginia (-7) 37 @ Texas Tech 34
Texas Tech showed their potential in this game by jumping out to an 11-point halftime lead. They also had the game well in hand midway through the 4th quarter up by 14. Alas, it was not to be for coach Bro and his Red Raiders. The Mountaineers stormed back with three scores in the last 7 minutes of this game the last of which being a career long 55-yard field goal by Josh Lambert on the last play of the game giving West Virginia a slim 37-34 victory.
West Virginia had plenty of opportunities to give up in this game and at points were getting soundly beaten on the field, but they hung in there and converted what seemed to be a virtual lock to go to overtime into a victory. Both quarterbacks went over 300 yards with Davis Webb connecting for 34 and 76 to Devin Lauderdale for touchdowns in the first quarter. Late in the 2nd Webb connected with Jakeem Grant for 43 and another TD and seemed to be in full control of the game.
Tech maintained that control with a steady dose of DeAndre Washington who had 129 yards on the ground and extended a number of key drives throughout the game. The real difference in the game though was the Tech defense, or lack thereof, in the 4th quarter. Wendell Smallwood hammered away at the Red Raider front 7 on the ground gaining 68 of his 123 total yards in the 4th quarter alone.
With 52 seconds left in the game, the Eers took over on their own 20 after a Red Raider punt that resulted in a touchback. The game seemed certain to go into overtime tied at 34, but with two timeouts, some great passes by Clint Trickett, some solid runs by Smallwood and an outstanding kick by Josh Lambert, West Virginia escaped West Texas with a narrow win. Clint Trickett continues to overachieve this year throwing for 301 yards and 2 TDs against no interceptions.
Tech bounced back with a much better performance than they have had in the previous 2 weeks but could not quite close this game out. West Virginia continues to win and now is two victories away from a bowl berth.
Texas 26 vs. Oklahoma (-15) 31
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
For Texas OU weekend, you can throw out the rankings, throw out the line and throw out everything on paper that makes sense. Everything that would make sense in this matchup was a beat down by a former top-4 Oklahoma against a struggling UT team that managed only 7 points at home in garbage time against Baylor the week before.
None of that happened. Texas stepped up and held OU to 29 total yards in the first half and dominated the line of scrimmage. Overall, Texas racked up 482 yards vs. OU's 232, they held the ball for 38 minutes and managed 24 first downs to OU's 11. The UT defense harassed Trevor Knight all game and held him to 129 yards passing and a single touchdown. They also had Sam Perine's number, holding him to a 3.4 yard average and 62 yards total. Game over for OU right? Wrong.
To OU's credit, they somehow, someway managed to scrape out a 5-point win in Dallas. They did it with a 96-yard kickoff return by Alex Ross for a touchdown, a 43-yard pick-six by Zack Sanchez and by taking advantage of 80 yards of penalties by UT.
To be honest UT dominated most phases of this game but shot themselves in the foot just enough times to give the game away. They came out after halftime a bit flat and gave up 14 points, but battled back and had a chance to win it at the end. They also made a few sloppy mistakes. One particular example is the handling of the PAT after scoring a touchdown to pull within 5 points late in the game. A classic go-for-two scenario, the Horns did not have a play called and ended up having to call time out. A time out that was sorely needed at the end of the game. Tyrone Swoopes threw for 334 yard and 2 touchdowns, but his pick six put OU up by 2 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter.
This Texas team continues to improve in each game and if they can get their stable of athletes playing more disciplined football they can be dangerous late in the season. OU on the other hand seems to be just hanging on for everything they can get, surviving on special teams touchdowns and big defensive plays. Not the type of football that makes a playoff statement.
Toledo 30 @ Iowa State (-3) 37
Iowa State got of to a slow start against the Rockets going down 13-6 late in the 2nd quarter but came back strong in the 2nd half to pull out a hard fought 37-30 victory. Sam Richardson had a fine day passing, tossing the ball for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns. Allen Lazard led the way for the Cyclones with 96 yards and 8 other receivers got into the action as well.
The Rockets focused on the ground game and gained 236 yards running the ball. Another interesting fact in this game was that it was largely about the kickers, especially in the first half. There were a total of 6 field goals attempted and 6 field goals made, 5 before halftime. The kickers also made 7 out of 7 PATs. So that is 13 strikes of the ball, all of which were good. Well done to the special teams.
Add a last second game winner by West Virginia and by Baylor and this weekend was truly a kicker's dream.
Oklahoma State (-21) 27 @ Kansas 20
The Cowboys rode out to a 20-7 halftime lead and this game seemed to be going in the direction of so many other Kansas efforts. The typical Kansas result this season is to be down at the break and even more down at the end of the game. The difference in this one was that Kansas had other plans in mind. The Jayhawks came out after the break and scored 13 straight points to tie the game at 20 and had an incredible amount of momentum on their side. The Cowboys were largely ineffective after halftime with their drives resulting in 4 punts, a fumble and an interception. Kansas was in the process of significantly outgaining OSU and was winning the turnover battle and time of possession. Neither Daxx Garman of OSU nor Michael Cummings of Kansas were putting up an outstanding QB performance, but Cummings was making more plays in the second half.
With 6:43 left in the game, Tyreek "I have the speed to beat you from anywhere" Hill took over. On the ensuing kickoff after Kansas' tying score, he scampered 99 yards to pay dirt and cruelly eliminated any fleeting hopes that the Jayhawks had of winning this game.
Honestly this was fairly ugly for OSU having to win in the 4th quarter on a special teams gem against a struggling Kansas squad. On the other side of the coin it was encouraging for the Jayhawks. The proved that they could hang with the #16 team in the country and give themselves a chance to win the game. Kansas is running out of chances but I would not be surprised if they pulled an upset somewhere along the way.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Baylor has now passed two significant tests in as many weeks. Those tests are a road victory in Austin, which is never easy to get, and this week a gutsy home comeback against top 10 arch-rival TCU. The schedule haters can now hang up the phones and stop blasting Baylor for not having played anybody. They have a top 10 win and 3 road victories already in this young season.
It is easy to look at the TCU game and dwell on the special teams breakdown that lead to a B.J. Catalon runback, the 58 total points given up (only 44 by the defense though) and the three turnovers, but I am extraordinarily enthused about this game and I will tell you why.
Baylor is playing nowhere near its potential and still knocked off a top 10 opponent. That opponent was up by 21 in the 4th quarter and after a pick-six looked to bury the bears. This Baylor team is never out a game. Never. Imagine when they get the defensive side of the special teams tuned up and make adjustments on defense overall. With OU looking vulnerable against Texas, the trip to Norman might not be as terrifying as expected.
Lets also not forget that TCU had the #1 defense coming into this game and the Baylor offense put up 58 on them. Obviously we can't count the special teams punt snap snafu at the end of the first half by TCU that gave Baylor a free field goal against the defense, but those 7 touchdowns and 3 field goals certainly count. And how about Chris Callahan, did he ever come through. Coming into the game 1-6 he drilled 11 PATs and field goals in a row in the game including the game winner. Several people were saying in the leadup to this game that they hoped it didn't come down to a field goal. Well it did and Callahan made them eat their words.
Baylor has to keep going out and winning games though to stay in the hunt and that starts with another road test in Morgantown this week against a feisty Mountaineer squad. Lets keep taking care of business.
Go Bears, 5-0...