There was an interesting slate of games on this week in the Big 12. In the middle of conference, Baylor and Oklahoma were both coming off of open weeks following upset losses and were looking to implement a scorched Earth policy against lower tier conference foes that would have made Napoleon blush. TCU scored 82 on Tech in the week leading up to the CFP committee placing them 6 spots ahead of a Baylor team that had beaten TCU earlier in the season and possessed an identical one-road-loss record. Does margin of victory matter? You bet it does. Sorry Kansas and sorry Iowa State. At the top of the conference, West Virginia and TCU were battling it out in the smoldering couch haze of Morgantown. Could West Virginia continue its Cinderella run? Are there any couches left to burn if they were to pull off another top-10 victory? Kansas State took on an OSU squad that 2 weeks ago was ranked #14 in the country. That ranking ended up being a bit of a mirage that began to evanesce rapidly when the Pokes stepped into the core of their schedule. Mirage or otherwise the Cowboys are not a team to look past though. Last and yes least, Texas and Texas Tech played in Lubbock. Both teams were maintaining slim bowl hopes with the loser of this game dropping out of the postseason picture.
Oklahoma (-16) 59 @ Iowa State 14
This game turned into the Trevor Knight show with the Sooner quarterback notching a double hat-trick of 3 touchdown passes and 3 touchdowns rushing. Knight was the leading rusher for Oklahoma at 146 yards and also had 230 yards in through the air. He set the stage early with by completing a 46-yard pass to Sterling Shepard on the first play from scrimmage and on the next play, scrambled for a 31-yard touchdown.
By the end of the 1st quarter it was 21-0 and the game was all but over. At halftime the land thieves had run the lead out to 35 -7 and were sharpening their knives on the sidelines in preparation for another half of feasting on Cyclone defenders. The Sooners ended up with 518 yards rushing and 751 yards overall, both near-record performances in Sooner program history. Alex Ross had 144 yards on the ground with Samaje Perine chipping in 110 in the victory.
Even with the benefit of home field and 3 Sooner turnovers, Iowa State never had a chance. The primary cause of the their issues was their highly permeable run defense. Giving up 518 yards on the ground with 3 runners going over 100 yards (including the quarterback) is not the way to win, especially when the goal is to upset a heavily favored opponent.
Oklahoma gets bowl eligible with the win and keeps its slender Big 12 conference title hopes alive. Iowa State theoretically could still make a bowl, but needs to win out to get to 6 wins. With TCU and West Virginia still on the schedule it is looking highly improbable for the Cyclones.
TCU (-6) 31 @ West Virginia 30
TCU served up a dose of comeback to West Virginia and came away with the slimmest of victories on a last second field goal on a cold, rainy day in Morgantown. The Mountaineers statistically dominated the game for the first 3 quarters but could not close out the upset bid.
The thing that ultimately doomed the ‘Eers was their 5 turnovers. Similar to the Baylor game, West Virginia was plagued by turnovers early. The Horned Frogs were not able to capitalize on the 3 first half takeaways and came away with no points. It was a different story in the second half though with the two Mountaineer miscues leading to 14 Frog points.
Even with their scandalous protection of the ball, West Virginia was still having their way with TCU and late in the 3rd quarter put together a touchdown drive and had a fumble recovery for a touchdown to go up by 13. Things were looking bleak for the Frogs, but the Mountaineers became inexplicably conservative in their stretch play calling. They had 3-outs for three drives in a row and were held to a -7 yards of offense in the 4th quarter. This used minimal time off the clock and gave TCU multiple opportunities to capitalize. Where one solid drive in the fourth would have salted the game away, the Eers couldn't make it happen. The Frogs were the opposite. They dialed up the offense and put up 150 of their 389 yards of offense in the 4th quarter alone.
One byline of this game was the fact that two of the hottest quarterbacks in the league were going head to head in what promised to be a shootout. Trevone Boykin was also getting considerable Heisman talk after his 7 TD performance in the Frog's 82-point humiliation of Tech in the preceding week. While the weather conditions certainly played a factor, neither quarterback had a particularly positive game with Boykin going 12/30 for 166 yards a touchdown and an interception for the Frogs and Clint Trickett going 15/26 for 162 yards a touchdown and 2 interceptions for the Eers.
BJ Catalon had an outstanding day in putting up 105 yards and 2 TDs on the board for TCU and made some key runs late in the game to extend drives and score points.
They don't ask you how, they ask you how many. And for TCU, the win column went up by 1. Although an ugly win, the Horned Frogs are still the team to knock off in the Big 12. WVU went from being one of the best 2-loss teams in the country to definitely being the best 3-loss team in country. The have lost by a combined 23 points to the #2, #4 and #7 teams in the country, not bad for a team picked to finish near the bottom of the conference. Throw in a big win over Baylor, and WVU has had a nice showing this year. With that said, their Cinderella run to the Big 12 title is over and at this point they are playing for bowl positioning and as a possible spoiler of Kansas State.
Texas 34 @ Texas Tech (pick) 13
After taking a step back last week, the Texas offense was able to click against a porous Tech defense and notched a big win in Lubbock to keep Longhorn bowl hopes alive. Malcolm Brown had his first 100-yard game of the season and Tyrone Swoopes put in an improved performance over last week throwing for 228 yards and a touchdown. John Harris was his primary target hauling in 165 yards of passing production.
This game was close early with Tech taking a 6-3, 1st quarter lead on a Swoopes sack/fumble in the end zone that was recovered by the Red Raiders for a TD. The extra point attempt failed. Patrick Mahomes returned the favor in the second quarter fumbling deep in his own territory after a big hit by Quandre Diggs. Texas scored a touchdown a few plays later but the worse news for the Red Raiders was that Mahomes left the field for the locker room with a suspected concussion. Next in line at QB for the Red Raiders was Vincent Testaverde, son of Heisman winner Vinny Testaverde. Testaverde was 3rd on the depth chart behind Mahomes, who was starting in relief of an injured Davis Webb.
Testaverde did lead the Red Raiders on a touchdown drive on their next series and Tech retook the lead at 13-10. That would be it for Red Raider scoring though with the Texas defense locking down the Tech offense in the 2nd half and the Texas offense coming to life behind the ground game of Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray.
Texas now has to win 2 out of their last 3 games to go bowling. They will have to upset either West Virginia or TCU in Austin and beat OSU in Stillwater. It is a tall order, but certainly not impossible. Tech is officially out of the post-season race and is also almost out of quarterbacks. They can still play a spoiler role though with game dates looming against Oklahoma and Baylor.
Oklahoma State 14 @ Kansas State (-13.5) 48
Kansas State fell behind early, but stormed back on the heals of a big special teams return and outstanding quarterback play by Jake Waters. OSU drove the ball straight down the field on their opening drive and set the tone for the game. Until the next play... Morgan Burns took the following kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and completely shifted the momentum back to the Snydercats.
Oklahoma State would not score any more offensive points in the game with their only other score coming from a late pick-six after the game had been decided.
Curry Sexton had a huge game receiving with 159 yards and a touchdown for the Cats. Jake Waters threw for 223 yards and 2 TDs, ran for 34 took most of the fourth quarter off after building up a big lead.
Oklahoma State's offensive malaise continued in a big way. After the opening touchdown drive of 84 yards, the Pokes were only able to put up 177 yards of offense total with a paltry 48 in the second half. The 12 drives following the touchdown ended in 9 punts, 2 interceptions and a fumble. Daxx Garmin threw for only 148 yards and 2 interceptions. Tyreek Hill was the one bright spot with 102 yards of offense on the ground and 34 through the air.
Kansas State, while not the trendy pick to win the conference based on their brutal road schedule, still quietly sits on top of the Big 12 with a narrow loss to Auburn as their only blemish. Clearly they will have a say in the final Big 12 standings. Oklahoma State on the other hand has dropped 3 straight and is still in search of their elusive 6th victory to secure bowl eligibility. Their best opportunity is when Texas visits Stillwater in 2 weeks.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Baylor did exactly what it needed to do this week and had a big game against an overmatched opponent. Everyone on the team got to play with the 3rd string offense kneeling the ball to end the game. Corey Coleman was incredible and Bryce Petty looked much better than in his outing in Morgantown. The offense could have made things worse by trading some touchdowns for field goals, but the game was never in question regardless.
The conference race is still wide open with TCU, Kansas State, and Baylor all eyeing the prize. With two conference losses, WVU is effectively out of the race now but, like Oklahoma, is a good team that can really make things interesting down the stretch for the remaining contenders. One dynamic that could be very interesting is how the CFP committee measures the head to head match-ups in the Big 12. If Kansas State runs the table, then they will win the conference, but the more interesting speculation is that they fall to TCU and Baylor and that those two teams share the conference championship. Baylor would hold a head to head tiebreaker but likely would be ranked lower in the polls. A very interesting situation indeed. There is still a lot of football to be played and none of that really matters until the Bears prove things on the field, but I just can't help myself.
Make history next week, Go Bears, 7-1...