Week 6 saw all 10 teams of the Big 12 in action on the same day for the first time this season. The week brought some premier conference matchups as well. At the beginning of the season most Big 12 pundits would have circled this weekend regarding Baylor's trip to Austin and the potential for a Gameday worthy matchup of league unbeatens. Unfortunately, that was then and this is now. That scenario did not happen, but Baylor v. UT is always a great matchup, especially with the smack talk flying out of Austin. It is really a head scratcher as to why the Horns felt the need to do that. They have lost 3 of the last four meetings against Baylor and are clearly not playing the same level of football that the Bears are playing. The Bears did not take the bait during the media sessions this week though and were quietly looking to shut down those twitter comments. The other game on this weekend that started to provide clarity in the league was Oklahoma v. TCU in Fort Worth. The Frogs only conference win at home since joining the Big 12 has come against Kansas, but the Frogs play tough in Amon Carter as all Baylor fans that were watching last season will attest. What a show that one ended up being.
In terms of the playoff, there were lots of impact games as well, with 9 of the top 10 teams playing against ranked opponents or on the road and several top 10 matchups to shake things out. This week saw the #2, #3, #4, #6 and #8 teams all lose and saw some teams that were on the fringe early in the season move into prime spots in their conference races. Overall it was a great weekend of football. Good luck selection committee.
Iowa State 20 @ Oklahoma State (-18) 37
Iowa State hung tough with the Cowboys and had a 6-0 lead late in the 2nd quarter. They had picked off two of Daxx Garman's passes and were playing considerably above their 1-3 record. Even though Garman was somewhat erratic in the first half, Oklahoma State did manage two scoring drives late in the 2nd quarter and tied the ball game at 6 with less than a minute to go in the half. Under normal circumstances, that is where the half would have ended. The next 43 seconds were far from normal though.
On the ensuing kickoff, both Iowa State return men came up and let the ball bounce behind them. It looked like they were playing punt coverage and trying to let the ball go into the end zone for a touchback. The only problem with that strategy is that the rules are a bit different on a kickoff... Oklahoma State pounced on the live ball around the 10-yard line completing essentially a 50 yard onside kick. It was an inexcusable special teams gaffe by the Cyclones. The Iowa State defense stiffened though to hold the Cowboys out of the end zone as time expired in the half. Paul Rhoads had to think his team had dodged a bullet on that series of play, but the officials had other ideas. They reviewed the play with no time on the clock and judged that Desmond Roland, who had been stood straight up on the run, did in fact cross the plane for a touchdown. The Iowa State staff complained bitterly about the call and probably rightfully so, but if they had not committed the special teams blunder 40 seconds earlier they would have gone into half time tied. Playing against a ranked opponent in their stadium with a 1-3 record, a tie ball game would have been an outstanding result.
It was about to get worse for the Cyclone special teams though, on the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, Tyreek Hill fielded the ball at the 3 yard line and took it right up the middle of the field for a touchdown. Once he got past the initial wave of defenders, no one had the speed to catch him and he was gone by a mile.
So in a span of 11 seconds Iowa State went from a 6-6 tie to a 20-6 deficit that they would never make up. Daxx Garman found his accuracy in the second half and started slinging the ball around connecting on several mid-range to long passes, one of which was a 40 yard strike to Jhajuan Seales to put the Cowboys up 27-13. The Cyclones never gave up and played a pretty clean game other than the 14 points given up by special teams. The final score of 37-20 was made more respectable by a late TD by Iowa State but OSU dominated the final 25 minutes of the game. Iowa State definitely is a better team than 1-4 though and they still might stun someone during this season. Then again, the football gods seem very angry at Rhoads and his team right now which is hard to overcome.
Oklahoma (-6) 33 @ TCU 37
What a barnburner this game turned out to be. This was the marquis matchup of the day in the Big 12 with playoff-stalking Oklahoma coming to Fort Worth to face an up-and-coming, ranked TCU squad. TCU answered a lot of questions in this game and cemented themselves as conference contenders with the upset victory.
TCU came out firing and on the opening series drove the ball straight down the field and scored. The touchdown came on a Trevone Boykin fumble/scramble/recovery by tight end Cliff Murphy in the end zone. A pretty ugly way to score, but hey, they don't ask you how, they ask you how many. After an ensuing 3 and out by the Sooners the Frogs once again took the ball and drove it into the end zone, this time on a more traditional 7 yard dive by B.J. Catalon. Just like that the Sooners found themselves in 14-point hole.
Trevor Knight was unfazed though and on the next series completed a 53-yard pass to Sterling Shepard that set up a Samaje Perine touchdown. The Sooners got the ball back 3 minutes later and needed only one play to draw even with the Frogs. Knight again connected with Shepard, this time for 75 yards on the score and the game was on.
Both QBs were spinning the ball well and Boykin hit Catalon for a 39 yard score midway through the second quarter. Knight answered with yet another long gainer to Shepard setting up Perine again for a punch-in touchdown. After trading field goals at the end of the 2nd, the score was knotted at 24 going into the break. This game had a similar feel to the OU v. West Virginia game with OU getting punched in the mouth early on the road but coming back with good quarterback play and bruising running.
The thing that did not happen in this game was OU dominating the line of scrimmage and setting the pace throughout the 2nd half. They did come out and score on a run dominated drive to take the lead on the first series of the 3rd quarter, but the Frogs immediately tied the game at 31 on the next series with a 29-yard pass from Boykin to Deante Gray.
The score would stay tied at 31 until early in the 4th when the Frog defense stepped up. Paul Dawson made a beautiful play on the ball from his OLB position and stepped in front of a Knight pass for an interception. He then proceeded to ramble 46 yards untouched to the end zone to put the Frogs up by 6. The point after try ended in an odd fashion, in fact I don't think I have seen this play all season. The attempt was blocked and then the live ball was scooped up by Zack Sanchez and returned the length of the field for a defensive 2-point conversion for OU. That made it a 4 point ball game at 37 - 33.
Late in the game both teams had opportunities to take control on turnovers, but neither team capitalized. With 7 minutes to go in the game Boykin fumbled the ball on his own 20, recovered by OU's Eric Striker. Two plays later Knight was picked off by Chris Hackett. The next play after that, Catalon fumbled and it was recovered by OU on the TCU 46. With 5 minutes to play, OU had the ball at midfield needing a touchdown to win. They drove it to the 22 and on 4th and 1 handed the ball to Perine to gain a yard and keep the drive alive. Defender Marcus Mallet drove through the middle though and put the hammer down on Perine to give the ball to the Frogs. TCU ran the clock on a 3 straight plays but failed to get a game closing 1st down and were force to punt it away to OU for a final, last-second try. OU through a Hail Mary to finish the game but it landed safely out of bounds and the field storming was on in Amon Carter.
Texas Tech 13 @ Kansas State (-15) 45
The Wildcats jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the 2nd quarter and never looked back in this one. Jake Waters was superb, throwing for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns against no interceptions. He also ran for 105 yards and another score. Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton both had receiving days over 120 yards and 2 TDs apiece.
Tech continued it self-destructive ways with Davis Webb throwing 4 picks in the game. The Red Raiders were also penalized for 89 yards. While this is an improvement over last week it was still a pretty dreadful performance. There were also a number of dropped balls and generally poor play that killed drives and never allowed Tech to be much of a threat in this one.
Kansas State continued to impress and even with a heartbreaking loss to Auburn on their record could very much contend for the Big 12 championship. Auburn is most likely to be the #2 team in the country when the polls come out later today after hammering LSU so that loss doesn't sting nearly as much.
Tech on the other hand is just flat playing bad football. They were surviving the mistakes early in the season against weak competition, but no more. They have been exposed by stronger conference foes and with Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, and TCU still on the schedule, things could get even more ugly for the Red Raiders.
Kansas 14 @ West Virginia (-29) 33
New coach, same result. After firing Charlie Weis last week after a shutout loss to Texas, Kansas installed interim coach Clint Bowen to take the helm. Bowen's Jayhawks were unable to do much against a tough West Virginia team. Bowen did a great job of firing up fans and alumni this week but no amount of enthusiasm will be able to fix the issues that Kansas has in the short-term, this will be a longer term turnaround project. Sorry Jayhawk fans but it is best to prepare yourselves. West Virginia completely dominated this game and if not for a number of special teams bumbles and turnovers the score would have been significantly more lopsided. The Eers put up 557 yards of offense against an parsimonious 176 for the Jayhawks. The only scores managed by Kansas were a punt return and a short field drive after a West Virginia fumble in their own red zone.
Clint Trickett continues to play well with 302 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception. Rushel Shell led the Mountaineer ground attack with a season high 113 yards. Down 26-0 at halftime, Bowen benched starting Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart in favor of Michael Cummings but the game was all but decided at that point.
West Virginia is still a very salty 3-2 team but will need to clean up the mistakes to make a run at more formidable competition in the conference. Kansas? What can I say, keep your chins up.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Regardless of Texas' current struggles, going to DKR Memorial stadium and clawing out a win is no small feat. The Bears almost had the shutout but gave up a late touchdown that was meaningless to the outcome of the game.
Baylor actually needed this type of game. It was a tough, gutsy contest against a top 15 defense in a hostile environment. Let us not forget, although the video game scoreboard was not activated this week, the Bears never trailed in this game and pitched a 28-0 shutout through 58 minutes. It was a solid performance and another headline win. Baylor still controls its destiny in the conference but with TCU knocking off OU, next week's encounter with the Frogs in Waco has some serious conference and playoff implications. Kansas State and OSU are also undefeated in conference play and although they don't have signature wins yet, will still be dangerous. The bottom of the league is still swirling around with Kansas clearly in the bottom spot with Tech, Iowa State and Texas fighting to emerge from the bottom tier.
Baylor has the chance to have a signature win in Waco now with TCU expected to rocket up the polls after their win over OU. The Bears will need to stay focused and take care of business to make that happen. This could be a College Gameday weekend in Waco as well, but the Auburn v. Mississippi State game will probably get the nod. Either way it will be a great weekend of football and after 3 games on the road the Bears will be welcomed back into their Palace on the Brazos.
Go Bears, 5-0...