Editor's Note: G&BI submitted this to me yesterday, and I missed it, so we're running it today. Sorry, G&BI!
Welcome to Week 6 in the Big 12. The Bears finally back in action this week after what seems like forever. Week 5 saw Iowa State finally notch a skin, the biggest shocker of the year in Morgantown and Oklahoma stepping up into "most dangerous" status in the Big 12. I still am befuddled about that OSU v WV game, I guess that is why they play the games.
Texas (-7) 31 @ Iowa State 30
Mack Brown’s quixotic notion of winning the Big 12 stays alive for another week after this come from behind victory in Ames. UT went into Jack Trice stadium as a touchdown favorite. Ames is a location that has been notorious for spawning upsets (just ask Oklahoma State) so Texas was on high alert. Texas clearly has more talent than the Cyclones and it could be argued that they were building a bit of momentum with their ugly win vs. the Snydercats last week. So the line seemed appropriate. When David Ash was scratched from the traveling squad midweek, this one got really interesting. The line held fairly steady though without a lot of movement.
This game started out with Texas lighting things up in the first quarter. The typically solid Iowa State defense gave up a cutback, up-the-gut touchdown run to Jonathon Gray from near midfield that should have resulted in about a 5-yard pickup. Texas finished the quarter with 10 points to the Cyclone’s goose egg.
Iowa State came roaring back though scoring 13 unanswered points on solid drives to take the lead. On the last play of the half the horns connected on a Hail Mary bomb to the end-zone that put them on top 17-13. Although there were 4 defenders in the area and the ball came floating in, inexplicably none of the Cyclone defensive backs raised their hands at all. A pretty poor way to end the half if you are an Iowa State fan and an exhilarating way to take back the momentum that was lost if you are a Texas fan.
That momentum did not stay for long though. Early in the third Sam Richardson connected with Quenton Bundrage for a 97-yard touchdown. Yes you heard that correctly – 97 yards, the longest in Cyclone history. Actually it was about a 6-yard slant that a touch of speed and some bad angles by the defense turned into a touchdown. The Horns had Iowa State at 3rd and 9 from their own 3-yard line and then that happened. Unbelievable really: ISU 20 - UT 17.
After scoring again to take the lead in the 3rd, the Horns were on a path to self-destruction with two fumbles lost in the 4th quarter and staring at a 6-point deficit with just over three minutes to play in the game. To Texas’ credit they took the ball on their own 25-yard line and drove it down deep into ISU territory. They called the defensive pass interference play twice on the drive, which was very clever of Mack Brown. The second of those penalties gave the Horns first and goal at the 2. Those two penalties plus a personal foul by Iowa State really helped keep things going for the Horns. From an ISU perspective, it is inexcusable to give up those types of penalties when protecting a lead late in the game like that.
The play of the game came on first down from the 2 when Jonathon Gray took the ball into the scrum over center to try and bull his way in for a touchdown. An ISU defender stole the ball and took it the other way for a touchdown. Ames was rocking… But wait, Gray was called down and the Horns lived once more. You should check out the footage as well as the post game comments by Paul Rhoads. Very interesting stuff and Coach Rhoads really lets his feelings be known. As an objective watcher, I would say that ball gets called a fumble about 85 times out of 100. Not 100 times out of a 100, but clearly the majority of the time.
That ended up being the seminal moment of the game with UT scoring two plays later, taking a 1-point lead and then picking off a Richardson tipped ball to seal it.
Say what you will about the fumble play, but if Iowa State had made a routine pass defense in the second quarter, not let a running back go free up the middle early for a long strike, and not given up 2 pass interferences and a personal foul on the last drive, they would have won the game. They probably deserved to win it anyway, but they can definitely look in the mirror to identify one of their biggest issues. Texas on the other hand must be ecstatic about being perched atop the Big 12 standings, their championship aspirations still alive and seeing the coaches and AP writers vote them back into the top 10 (top 15 at least…) this week. This was another ugly win but luckily for Mack Brown, they don't ask you how, they ask you how many…
Texas Tech (-16.5) 54 @ Kansas 16
Wheeling into Lawrence on homecoming weekend as big favorites had me thinking "letdown" for the Red Raiders. I was sure that they would win the game, but I was really thinking that the spread was at serious risk. While still undefeated, Tech has had some pretty tepid showings and has not looked overly convincing yet this season especially against reasonable competition.
Well Kansas definitely had upset in mind jumping out to a 10 point lead in the first quarter with the defense looking very solid from the Jayhawks. The atomic fireball helmets seemed to be helping. Baker Mayfield got the start in the game and had an interception on Tech’s opening drive that resulted in 3 points for Kansas. Mayfield did settle down late in the 1st quarter and the 2nd quarter and started throwing pinpoint passes and extending plays with his legs. At 7:45 in the second the Red Raiders tied the game on a Kenny Williams dive into the end zone. Tech got significant help from the Jayhawks on that drive with a roughing the passer and pass interference penalties. Not the type of thing that you want to do when trying to pull off a major upset. Things really went downhill when the Jayhawks attempted a fake punt on 4th and 13 from their own 16 yard line. There are gutsy calls and then there are stupid calls. This one was the latter of the two… The funniest thing I heard from a sports writer was along the lines of: "The only scenario where I would have attempted that fake punt was if I had Adrian Peterson as my punter." Two plays later and a nifty Baker Mayfield draw up the middle for for 19 yards, Tech was up 17-10.
At that point the rout was on. Tech went on to score 54 straight points and Kansas assumed its normal identity. They dove into a phone booth dressed as Superman and came out to play the rest of the game as Clark Kent. The line fell down hard and Charlie Weis was left shaking his head on the sidelines, again.
Baker Mayfield played very well in this game and solidified himself as the starter. I would expect that Michael Brewer will be his backup if he keeps playing like this. He did leave the game with what appeared to be a knee injury in the fourth quarter with the game already a foregone conclusion. It looked like it could be serious, we will have to watch for an update. That is why you pull your starters Baylor fans, regardless of how many points you want to score.
Kansas State (+13.5) 29 @ Oklahoma State 33
This game was unexpectedly very evenly-matched and was definitely still in question up until the final minute of the game. In Stillwater after an embarrassing loss to WVU, I fully expected Oklahoma State to take no prisoners in this one. I was imagining coach Gundy after the game apologizing to a downtrodden Bill Snyder. "Sorry Bill, but we needed a statement game after that spot of bother with the Mountaineers last week. No one would ever believe we can beat Baylor unless we hung 80 on you…"
Kansas State drew first blood with a Daniel Sams bomb to Glenn Gronkowski for 67 yards. Oklahoma State scored less than a minute later on a flea flicker to tie it up, but Kansas State regained the lead later in the second quarter with a blocked field goal touchdown. This was a back and forth affair with Oklahoma having the final say in the first half with a late touchdown that gave them a 17-14 lead going into the locker rooms.
Daniel Sams threw a touchdown pass to Torell Miller to open the second half though and K State was very fired up. They were in great position to win this game in the second half. They proceeded to start fumbling and turning the ball over though, ultimately finishing with 5 turnovers. Credit to the Cat’s defense, they held Oklahoma State to field goals twice late in the game after the offense turned the ball over to the Cowboys in their own end of the field.
Even with the 5 turnovers and 92 yards of penalties, the Cats got the ball late in the game only down by 1 and it was very conceivable that they could pull off the upset. One last interception later and it was over.
Interestingly, both Clint Chelf and Jake Waters came into the game off the bench to replace their respective starters. The game was very much in question at that point so I am not sure how a cold QB gets asked to come in and save the day, but it happened.
Kansas State has some soul-searching to do. This is their worst start since 2004 and if they want to salvage their season they need a marquee win over a quality opponent and they need it soon.
TCU (+9.5) 17 @ Oklahoma 20
This was a defensive struggle from the start with a combined 9 punts from both teams in the first half alone. TCU only had 11 yards at halftime and was looking pretty hopeless. The Sooners had only managed two quality drives as well and were up by 10 at that point.
TCU, as they always do, made some changes at half-time and came out looking much better. They scored on their second possession of the half and made it interesting for OU. It was ironic given the defensive nature of this game, that the play that put this game out of reach was a 76-yard run up the middle by Brennan Clay in the fourth quarter. At that point the score was 20 to 10 and Trevone Boykin was not going to lead a comeback. TCU did score again late but the game was never really in question again.
Blake Bell was solid again in running the offense and Boykin was serviceable and scored a touchdown on the ground. This game had a real Big 10 feel to it. Neither team played poorly, not a lot of turnovers, and a lot of good defense. As a comparison Baylor had scored about the same number of points as these teams combined for the game with the only difference being that we had done it by the end of the first quarter…
Sunday Monday Morning Quarterback
After this week’s game and another 56-14 halftime score, I am starting to feel pretty comfortable with Baylor’s chances to win the Big 12 this year. I don't see anyone out there that can hang with this offense. The defense is playing a much better brand of football as well and the 42 points given up last night was not indicative of the performance of the Bears D. Statistically they still played well with the first teamers only giving up 14 points.
I thought the competition was going to be OSU but they seem to have lost their way a bit especially on the offensive side. Oklahoma is solid but playing a plodding, grinding version of football that will find itself having to come from behind in Waco. Texas Tech, Texas and K State are all trap games with good talent on the field and good coaching. We definitely can’t look past them.
At this point, I would say that the number one challenge that Coach Briles has is to keep the team dialed-in and keep them performing at the level that they are performing at presently. There is nothing to think that we won’t continue to do that, but I think the only way that we lose in conference is if we beat ourselves. Stay focused guys.
Go Bears, 4-0…