The Big 12 conference slate got very interesting this week with the Red River Rivalry descending on the State Fair of Texas and the Cotton Bowl. Serve up an extra corny dog to the Sooners… The other two key games came down to the wire in the Little Apple and in Morgantown. Two more 60+ point blowouts at the bottom of the league and that was week 6.
On to the game summaries -
OU (-14.5) 17 vs. Texas 24
Charlie Strong was not in danger of losing his job, but there has been a significant amount of grumbling amongst Horn faithful. After the 50-7 humiliation in Ft. Worth last week to the nouveau riche Horned Frogs, the volume turned up just a bit.
No more. Even if Charlie loses the rest of the games this season (he won’t by the way), he will still be as golden as the cowboy hat his Longhorns won this weekend. In fact, if he wears it to his first alumni fundraiser next season I expect that he will get a standing ovation even without a bowl berth. At 2-4 the Horns still have a tough climb ahead of them in getting to the post-season, but with a win over Oklahoma they proved that they have the talent to do it and they may have saved their season outright.
They won the game by playing hard-nosed, run-first, defensive football. OU lost the game by playing uninspired, overconfident, non-tackling football. Texas got things started on their second possession with a nifty shovel-pass sweep from Jerrod Heard to Marcus Johnson. Technically it went down in the stats as a pass, but it was little more than a handoff and power running around the edge. Two missed tackles later and it was Texas 7 OU 0. The Sooners fumbled the ensuing kickoff and gave the Horns a short field. 7 plays later, with Tyrone Swoopes running the short yardage offense, it was 14-0 Horns in the first quarter. Swoopes ran the final 14 yards in three plays himself, including a Snyder-esque pause-run over the left side where he bulled over a Sooner defender and hit pay-dirt. He fumbled going into the end zone but replay gave him credit for the score.
At this point in the game the Horns were grabbing momentum and the Sooners were reeling. In the first half, the Oklahomans had one drive that covered 67 yards and resulted in a field goal. Their other 5 possessions resulted in a total of 38 yards of total offense and 5 punts. The other thing that happened was that the Texas fans at the Texas State Fair heard that the Horns were winning and started streaming into the game. The burnt orange side of the Cotton Bowl had a bit more room than normal at kickoff, but that was quickly rectified. The Texas fans were making their presence known and the Horns had a 14-3 lead at half.
In the 3rd quarter the Horns extended the lead to 17-3 on a 62-yard drive to start the second half. OU answered back with a Baker Mayfield-fueled aerial drive that covered 87 yards. Sterling Shepard accounted for 58 of the yards on 8 and 50 yard receptions. The touchdown was a short pass from Mayfield to Dimitri Flowers.
At the end of the 3rd quarter Texas’ D’Onta Foreman broke lose on a simple mis-direction trap up the middle and rambled for 81 yards before being brought down in the Sooner red-zone. Sooner defenders had multiple opportunities to tackle Foreman, but he ran through several arm tackles and was finally pushed out of bounds. 3 plays later Swoopes hit Caleb Bluiett for a short TD pass and the upset was looking more and more likely to happen.
The Sooners scored on their next series with a 6 minute, 75-yard drive to pull within 7, but that is as close as they would get. The Texas offense smothered the clock on their next two drives and the defense held OU to a 5 play, -8-yard drive the only other time that the Sooners had the ball.
Texas is a dangerous team with a lot of talent. With all of the nonsense coming out of social media this week from the players, Strong was in danger of losing the locker room. It seems that he has it back though, and the Horns could definitely make some noise. OU seems to be destined to underperform yet again this season. They still have a lot of talent as well though and they weren’t ranked 10th in the nation for nothing.
Oklahoma State 33 @ West Virginia (-6.5) 26
This was a game that was intended to put some order in the middle of the Big 12 lineup. The Cowboys came in undefeated but needed a last second special-teams gaff to get by Texas and got help from the officials in a tight win against Kansas State. Ben Grogan, the Poke kicker, won both games on last second field goals. OSU was 5-0 though coming in to this game and looking good at the top of the league standings.
West Virginia came into the game with one of the league’s best defenses and a single blemish on their record at the hands of Oklahoma, a top-10 program coming into this weekend’s play. They did lose safety and defensive leader Karl Joseph this week and that was a big loss for the Mountaineers.
The game started out as an offensive slop fest with neither team looking like they wanted to win the game. There were 8 punts, 4 fumbles, an interception, 4 drives of negative yardage, and a safety - all in the first half. The drive chart was:
OSU punt (20 yards)
WVU fumble (6 yards)
OSU interception (13 yards)
WVU punt (-2 yards)
OSU punt (27 yards)
WVU fumble-6 (-8 yards)
WVU punt (16 yards)
OSU punt (22 yards)
WVU fumble (5 yards)
OSU TD (28 yards)
WVU fumble (69 yards)
OSU safety (-5 yards)
WVU punt (20 yards)
OSU field goal (76 yards)
WVU punt (8 yards)
OSU punt (-9 yards)
WVU half (28 yards)
This was an ugly game in the first half to be sure, particularly on the part of West Virginia. If you are counting, that is 314 yards of offense – total. Good defenses? That contributed for sure, but these offenses were looking pretty weak. To put it in context Baylor had 278 yards by itself in the first quarter against Kansas.
Long and ugly story short, OSU lead at the half 17-2 with their only sustained drive ending in a field goal. One touchdown came from a Skyler Howard shotgun snap misfire in the end-zone that the Poke defensive line jumped on and the other came from a short-field possession after another WVU fumble. The Mountaineer safety came on a sack of Mason Rudolph by a crafty stunt up the middle by Kyle Rose.
The second half was a different story with both teams mounting sustained drives and scoring in more traditional fashion. Even after a disastrous first half, the Mountaineers hung tough and came out swinging for the second. They scored touchdowns on two of their first 3 possessions to open the 3rd quarter. The first was a long run by Wendell Smallwood and the second was an absolutely gorgeous over-the-shoulder strike covering 48 yards from Skyler Howard to Shelton Gibson. JW Walsh was running the OSU offense inside the red-zone and threw a touchdown pass to Blake Jarwin and the score was 23-16 going into the final period.
The teams traded field goals, to maintain the 7-point Poke advantage but on the last series of regulation Skyler Howard scrambled to the right and dove into the end-zone to finish a 68-yard drive and tie it up.
In overtime the Pokes got the ball first and at 4th and 1 from the 2 yard line the Cowboys decided to gamble and go for a touchdown rather than a field goal. Walsh took a shotgun snap and threaded his way through a tiny seam in the line for the touchdown. On the road, in a place as hard to win as Milan Puskar, I can’t say that I disagree with the decision. It was gutsy, but it turned out to be the right call. After a failed series by the Mountaineers, this one was in the books. OSU is 6-0, bowl eligible and with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma all coming to Stillwater later in the season, are looking like the dark-horse contender that we all thought they were. West Virginia, at 3-2, still should make a bowl and can play spoiler later in the season if anyone chooses to overlook them.
TCU (-6.5) 52 @ Kansas State 45
TCU needed another miracle finish in the Little Apple to escape with a shootout win against the wizard-coach and that is exactly what they got. The frogs were down 35-17 at half-time and the upset was brewing. The Frogs opened up the scoring with an 86 yard run by Aaron Green and a fantastical catch by Josh Doctson late in the first quarter. Jaden Oberkrom nailed a 50-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter as well. Joe Hubener and Charles Jones put the Wildcats on their back though and scored 5 touchdowns between them in the first half. Hubener scored on runs of 2, 17 and 1 yards and Jones scored on runs of 28 and 7 yards. At the break the Cats were up 35-17.
Twitter was filled with images of wizards with super-imposed pictures of coach Snyder’s face. Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson had something to say about the upset bid though. TCU started the second half scoring with a 60-yard pick-6 by Derrick Kindred to cut the score to 35-24. Aaron Green scored from 8 yards out later in the quarter and the Frogs were within 4. The Cats came back though and early in the fourth quarter scored on a 1-yard dive from Hubener. 42-31 Cats.
Trevone Boykin then scored on back to back drives on runs of 14 and 69 yards. After one failed and one successful two-point conversion, the Frogs were in front 45-42. Boykin was scrambling, running, throwing and generally carrying the whole team on his shoulders. He turned in a awesome performance to be perfectly honest. The Cats drove late and scored a field goal to tie it up, but with less than a minute on the clock, Boykin hit Doctson in stride for a 55-yard nail-in-coffin touchdown.
TCU scored on plays of: 86, 32, 50 (FG), 60 (pick-6), 8, 14, 69 and 55 yards. They were only in the red-zone twice. Big-time offensive firepower was on display, particularly in the second half.
Kansas State scored on plays of: 2, 17, 28, 7, 1, 1 and 37 (FG) yards. They were extremely deliberate and controlled the game just as they planned. They just didn't have quite enough for the upset.
One or two plays going a different direction and the upset could have happened, but with Boykin and Doctson, the Frogs are never out of a game. They scored 21 points in the 4th quarter in less than 6 minutes of possession. The defense looked pretty porous giving up 45 points to the Cats, but the offense was cooking.
Iowa State 31 @ Texas Tech (11.5) 66
Iowa State hung in there with Tech through the first quarter and had their best offensive output of the season. Early in the second quarter the score was 17-14 in favor of the Red Raiders. That was short-lived though. The Red Raiders began an offensive barrage that saw them score 66 points on 776 yard of offense.
Patrick Mahomes was incredible throwing for 428 yards, 5 TDs and 0 Interceptions. His mobility seemed to be back to 100% after his minor injury against TCU. He had several amazing scrambles that resulted in manufactured touchdowns. DeAndre Washington had 72 yards on 12 carries. Jakeem Grant had 166 yards of receptions and 2 of the TDs.
For the Cyclones, the bright spot was Mike Warren raking up 245 yards on 23 carries. At over 10 yards a pop, it was an impressive performance. Sam Richardson threw 3 interceptions though and put to rest any question of Iowa State taking a win out of Lubbock.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
The Bears went to Kansas and put a football blitzkrieg on the Jayhawks. The offense looked razor sharp, outside of the first series the defense was aggressive and stifling. The offensive starters came out from halftime with no pads on. The defensive starter’s pads came off soon after. The second team defense pitched a shutout and the second team offense scored immediately on 2 drives and then mercifully ran the clock out, not scoring in the final 20 minutes of play.
The only blemish on the Bears was on special teams with a fair-catch, forget to get out of the way if you don't catch it, turnover by Lynx Hawthorne. The defensive secondary allowed a few passes that could have been caught by Jayhawk receivers but were dropped. Other than that it was tour de force, albeit against a team likely to go 0-12. The Bears have a stiffer challenge next week with West Virginia but they are looking good.
In terms of the rest of the league, OSU and TCU seem to be the competition at this point. Both are undefeated but both have needed multiple theatrical finishes to stay that way. OU had an incredibly uninspired performance this week and got beaten down by Texas. West Virginia, Tech, and Kansas State are all hanging around the middle of the pack ready to make noise or ruin someone’s season. It should be a very interesting second half of the season.
Go Bears, 5-0…