Week 3 saw Tech notch an impressive victory over the Hogs in Fayetteville and Texas lose a heartbreaker to the Cal Bears in Austin. Baylor coaches watched closely as OU beat Tulsa. TCU was in a dogfight with SMU and around the rest of the league things went pretty much to script.
Yesterday ushered in the start of Big 12 league play with two very interesting games. OSU was visiting Austin to take on the Horns and TCU traveled to Lubbock to take on a surprisingly red-hot Tech squad. OSU and Tech both had the same singular focus, win the game and prove that they deserved to be in the Big 12 championship discussion. Both have shown flashes in the undercard games, both have shown vulnerabilities, and both were undefeated. The Big 12 championship discussion is suddenly getting very long-winded with a number of teams wanting their arguments heard.
On to the game summaries -
Kansas 14 @ Rutgers (-14.5) 27
Rutgers snapped a two game losing streak with a big in Piscataway at the expense of the Kansas Jayhawks. At 7, Rutgers might be the only team that can boast having more player dismissals due to arrest or disciplinary violations this season than the Big 12 combined. Even though they have more arrests than the Big 12, it has been pointed out that none of them are nearly as bad as what happened to the southwest of them. This veiled shot at the Big 12 surely should have spurred Kansas on to victory, but alas it was not to be. It was explained later that it was not a jab at the felonious activities in Big 12 land but merely an observation about the drought in Southern California. Good to know, because negative commentary like that is not a good look. Focusing on your own program and letting others focus on theirs is really a keystone principle in college sports, so I for one was relieved to hear that news.
Rutgers jumped out to a 13 point lead on the Jayhawks in the early part of the game. Kansas did answer back with a touchdown to make it 13 – 7 but that was as close as it got. Rutgers scored again late in the 2nd to take a 20-7 lead into halftime and scored first in the 3rd quarter to put the game away. Kansas scored late to make the score respectable but was never a threat in the second half. Kansas is in for a long season. Again.
Maryland 6 @ West Virginia (-16.5) 45
Skyler Howard lit up the Terps with 294 yards through the air and 4 TDs. Wendell Smallwood also had a big day with 147 yards on the ground. The Maryland offense was only able to put up 326 yards and were feeling quite charitable, handing the Mountaineers 6 turnovers. The Eer defense obviously can take a lion’s share of the credit for the dreadful performance of the Terrapins and continues to look very strong. They were pitching a 45-0 shutout deep into the fourth quarter until the Terps scored in garbage time.
West Virginia continues to impress, behind a salty defense and a more than serviceable offense fueled by Howard and Smallwood, this team will definitely make some noise in the league. Next week will be a big test for the Mountaineers when they visit Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State (-3.5) 30 @ Texas 27
This was the second week in a row that Texas was looking to take a team into overtime and the second week in a row that an ignominious special teams play enabled the visitor to snatch victory from the Horns. OSU came out on top in this one by a slim, field goal margin, 30-27.
This game was a tough fought affair throughout, but OSU jumped out to a 14-6 lead in the first quarter and looked to be taking control of the game. That changed early in the second. With OSU driving again, Mason Rudolph dropped back to pass and inexplicably dropped the ball. Just dropped it. It wasn't batted out, hit from behind, etc., he just lost the handle. Texas’ 300 lb Hassan Ridgeway was Johnny on the spot, scooped up the ball and rumbled 34 yards for a Horn TD putting the score within 1. I love to see a big man score (even if it is for Texas…). Texas took the lead later in the quarter on a Tyrone Swoopes scramble for a touchdown and the score was 20-17 going into halftime.
In another strange twist in this game, JW Walsh came in for Mason Rudolph in the second half and started a QB rotation. He accounted for a short touchdown pass to Jeremy Seaton early in the 3rd and the Pokes were back on top 24-20. That didn't stand for long though. Later in the third, a Mason Rudolph pass was picked off by Holton Hill and he took it 41 yards to the house. Texas 27 – OSU 24. Texas Defense 14 – Texas Offense 13.
The fourth quarter saw a disastrous chain of events late that set in motion the Texas loss. With only a precious few minutes left in the game, Texas was called for a string of penalties, including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct on Coach Strong, who was making an animated complaint about another penalty, which moved the Pokes to the Texas 19 yard line. After a defensive stand by the Horns, Ben Grogan trotted on for the Cowboys and slotted through the evener, 27-27.
The Horns got the ball deep in their own territory with 1:33 left in the game and went 3 and out, running only 1 minute off the clock. Coming on for a routine punt, Michael Dickson, an Aussie Rules Football player from Sydney saw a perfect snap go right through his hands and trickle into the backfield. He was able to corral the ball and get off a punt of -6 yards. Yes, you read that correctly, -6 yards on the punt. With the ball on the 18, Grogan came on to kick another field goal, this time the game winner, with 6 seconds on the clock. Two field goals in the last 90 seconds of the game and Texas had unfortunately given up another one.
The Texas defense looked ok, but the offense was in a funk the whole night. Jerrod Heard, after scorching Cal for 527 yards last week came down to earth and showed that he is still learning as a red-shirt freshman. He passed for 119 yards and 1 interception. Even behind reasonable performances by the defense, Texas’ anemic offense has to be able to put up more points to win in the Big 12. At 1-3 Texas will be extremely lucky at this point to go to a bowl game.
TCU (-6.5) 55 @ Texas Tech 52
Wow, what a barnburner we had in Lubbock this weekend! With a high flying Tech offense powered by Patrick Mahomes and a battered TCU defense limping into West Texas, this one was setting up to be special. It was a game that I had circled as "must watch" TV and it proved to be exactly that. There were 11 lead changes in this game, 4 coming in the 4th quarter alone. It was an offensive slugfest with both teams landing blow after blow and the luckiest of catches in the final seconds making the difference in this game. The teams combined for 1357 yards of offense and 188 total plays. It was the highest point total in the Big 12 since a certain game in Waco last year that put up 61 + 58 points.
Patrick Mahomes was was injured in the first quarter and wore a knee brace for the remainder of the game. He was noticeably limping on the sidelines but still turned in a brilliant performance, throwing for 392 yards and 2 TDs. DeAndre Washington had a huge game, rambling for 188 yards and 4 TDs. The Tech offense looks more balanced this season than I have seen in quite some time.
TCU also had some mind-boggling stats with Trevone Boykin throwing for 485 yards and 4 scores. In watching Boykin play, there is no doubt that he is an incredible talent but a number of his passes looked like prayers. I am not sure if he is just throwing it up and getting baled out by an outstanding receiving corps lead by Josh Doctson or if he is brilliantly intending to throw those balls knowing that they will be caught, tipped, etc. into his receiver’s hands. Speaking of receivers, Doctson hauled in 18 catches for 267 yards and 3 TDs. Several of those catches were absolute circus acts. Unbelievable stuff to be sure which is why I am thinking that Boykin is getting away with some risky passes. Time will tell if that is true. If it is West Virginia will definitely prove it. Aaron Green ran for 162 yards and 2 TDs. Green also caught a TD pass, but we will get to that in a minute…
It was the pass that Doctson didn't catch that ended up being so important. After a back and forth fourth, TCU found itself down by 4 with 3 minutes to play. They drove into Tech territory and seemed poised to take back the lead with a first and goal. The Tech defense stiffened and held the Frogs on 3 straight plays. At 4th and goal and the ball game on the line, Boykin dropped back and threw a high fastball to his favorite target, Doctson. The ball was considerably too high but Doctson leapt and got a hand on it, tipping it seemingly out of play. With the game all but over on an incompletion, Aaron Green dove after the ball and caught it while flying out of the back of the endzone. Video replay showed a toe tap before going out and the TD counted.
It wasn't over though. With 23 seconds on the clock, Tech got the ball back and tried to make something happen. On the last play of the game, a scrambling Mahomes threw a pass over the middle to DeAndre Washington. Washington ran into traffic and lateraled back to Le’Raven Clark who then lateraled it back to Jakeem Grant. Grant was able to run it to the 10-yard line before he was finally trundled out of bounds. The collective sigh of relief from Ft. Worth was heard all the way in Lubbock.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
The Bears had their most complete game in a 70-17 thumping of a good Rice team. Seth Russell was sharp but even more importantly, the defense came to play. Questions were answered but many remain as well. At this point there are 6 teams still undefeated in the league and 5 of them (Baylor, TCU, OU, WVU, OSU) could legitimately challenge for the conference championship. The 6th, Kansas State, while not having looked as strong as the others in the early games, certainly could get into the picture. Don't count out the Red Raiders either, they were 23 seconds and a one in a million tipped ball touchdown catch away from beating the #3 team in the country. The Big 12 is shaping up to be an entertaining conference to watch in the stretch.
Go Bears, 3-0…