Week 14 in the Big 12 saw its biggest game played on national television on Thanksgiving evening in Austin between TCU and Texas. This game got a huge amount of press mainly due to the recent resurgence of Texas and the possible vulnerability that TCU showed on the road against Kansas. The rest of the slate was made up of "need to take care of business games" with heavy favorites squaring off against teams desiring to dial up a late season dose of spoiler.
TCU (-4.5) 48 @ Texas 10
The eyes of a thankful nation were on Austin Thursday night when the Horned Frogs and Longhorns squared off on a nationally televised matchup. Leading up the game a number of pundits were predicting a Horn victory on the suddenly strong QB play of Tyrone Swoopes and an improved offensive line. Texas' defense had been salty all season, that had never been the issue. Now with a clicking offense and TCU struggling mightily to come from behind on the road against Kansas, it seemed like the potential for an upset was very real.
None of that happened. TCU won the game by a convincing 38-point margin. Take nothing away from the Frogs, but this was much more about Texas self-destructing than TCU dominating. All the steps forward that Swoopes had taken in the past few weeks were retraced, leaving the Horns wondering whether he is their quarterback of the future or not. He turned the ball over 5 times with 4 interceptions and a fumble. The fumble and one of the interceptions were returned for touchdowns. Throw in another botched punt return and the Horns gave the ball to TCU 6 times on turnovers resulting in 31 points. The game ended in upset all right, Coach Strong was upset. He was dressing down players on the sidelines, notably his quarterback, and was clearly disappointed in his post game interview.
On the TCU side of the ball, there were numerous mentions of style points, and sending the committee a message, etc. in the post-game interviews. The Frogs certainly strengthened their resume with a big win, but TCU's game MVP was definitely Tyrone Swoopes with helmet stickers going to the entire Texas Offensive Line. The TCU defensive front was running through the Texas offensive line like rain through a gutter. Trevone Boykin had a solid day for TCU but also got bailed out by his receivers on some pretty risky throws. Josh Doctson in particular made an amazing catch on an underthrown prayer ball downfield that 3 times out of 5 gets intercepted. It was a mediocre pass but a spectacular catch. Boykin also ran for another highlight reel, 360-degree cartwheel touchdown that I am sure made Coach Patterson's heart skip a beat.
Overall the Frogs were the far better team and won big. They now have to overcome Iowa State for an 11-win season. Texas is limping into their bowl game with lots of questions still left to answer.
Kansas 13 @ Kansas State (-27.5) 51
Kansas State has been quietly racking up wins in impressive fashion and though they have fallen a bit out of favor in terms of media coverage and focus, they are a strong team and proved it against struggling Kansas. After Kansas took TCU to the wire two weeks ago, it was thought that they were beginning to turn the corner. But after getting hammered in Norman last week and in the Little Apple this week, the Jayhawks still have work to do.
The big story in this game was Tyler Lockett's continued assault on the Kansas State record books. The receiver had 9 catches for 119 yards and took over top spot in career catches for Kansas State. The previous holder of the record? Kevin Lockett, Tyler's father. Jake Waters was outstanding as the K State quarterback throwing for 294 yards and 4 touchdowns. Curry Sexton also had 9 catches for 141 yards as well for the Snydercats.
Kansas State now sits on top of the conference tied with rivals Baylor and TCU and can win a share of the conference title with a win a Waco next week. They will likely crack the top 10 this week after the dominant victory and will have revenge on their minds when they roll into central Texas next week for their season closer. McLane Stadium will see a cracker of a ball game next week for sure.
Kansas looked hapless throughout this game and had two interceptions on a tipped ball and bicycle kicked ball. Absolutely nothing went right for the struggling Jayhawks. They finished the season now 3-8 and have a head coach search underway to replace Charlie Weis who was fired at mid-season. There will be lots of uncertainty in Lawrence for the foreseeable future.
West Virginia (-10) 37 @ Iowa State 24
West Virginia looked poised to run their losing streak to 4 games after going down 21-7 early, but were able to outscore Iowa State 30-3 in the stretch run of the game and pulled off a solid victory. Skylar Howard started at Quarterback for the Mountaineers in place of a concussed Clint Trickett and was brilliant throughout. He threw 3 touchdown passes and amassed 285 yards in his first career start. He also ran for 69 yards. Rushel Shell ran for 146 yards in the game. At 7-5 the ‘Eers solidified their bowl position a bit and might have moved slightly ahead of Texas in the pecking order.
At 2-9 overall, 0-8 in league play, Iowa State seems destined to finish on the bottom of Big 12 standings with only TCU left on their schedule. This has clearly been a tough year for the Cyclones and although Paul Rhoads' chair might be heating up a bit, it should still be safe for the upcoming season. Turn in another dud next year though and it might be a different story.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
The biggest news this week for the Bears was that they won. They got ahead early, saw their quarterback take a vicious helmet to helmet hit and get knocked out of the game and weathered an upset bid by the nothing-to-lose Texas Tech Red Raiders. This was pretty similar to the 2011 game that saw RG3 get knocked out of the game and Nick Florence burning his redshirt to win a shootout. A win is a win though and as Florida State is proving on a weekly basis, the Bears should continue to hold strong in the rankings.
Other big news for the Bears happened in other parts of the country. With most pundits predicting that with identical records, Baylor would sneak past TCU in the final poll, the 4th playoff spot microscope turned to Ohio State and Mississippi State. Rivalry weekend was big in both the SEC and the B1G with the Egg Bowl and the Michigan vs. Ohio State game.
Barring a miracle, Michigan was never going to beat Ohio State so it was a moot point on that front. What did happen to the Buckeyes is that starting QB JT Barrett suffered a broken ankle late in the game and is out for the season. Sophomore Cardale Jones will be the likely starter next week in the B1G championship game against the Wisconsin Badgers. Obviously you never like to see an injury happen and we wish JT a speedy recovery. Jones has seen some playing time this year in blowouts so he is not completely untested. Injuries are said to be a factor though in committee decision making.
In the Egg Bowl, Ol' Miss ended the Cinderella run that Mississippi State was having by beating them in Oxford. Mississppi State is now virtually eliminated from playoff contention. For the SEC a doomsday scenario is lurking on the horizon. Missouri will represent the SEC East in the championship game with a terrible loss to Indiana and a shutout loss to Georgia. If they were somehow able to beat Alabama, the SEC could face the very real chance of not having a team in the playoff at all. It is highly improbable, but not impossible.
The most important thing for the Bears to do is to win next week. With Georgia, UCLA and Mississippi State all losing, Kansas State should be a top 10 team coming into Waco and the winner of that game deserves a slice of the conference championship and a major bowl if not playoff slot. Hopefully Bryce is back healthy and McLane is hopping.
Go Bears, 10-1...