Welcome to week 11 in the Big 12 Conference. With a huge win Thursday night, the Bears were relaxing in Waco and nursing some injuries on gameday. Probably the most impactful injury from Thursday, not only from a production but also from a team dynamic standpoint was the dislocated wrist to Tevin "Sweet Feet" Reese. The injury required surgery on Friday and potentially will end Reese’s career at Baylor. Tevin, the Sunday morning quarterback thanks you for all of your contributions to the Bear's phenomenal season and wishes you a speedy recovery.
In other Big 12 action, every week is a big week at this point. The Big 12 championship picture is becoming clearer, and the teams in the middle of the pack are fighting for bowl eligibility. Without further adieu…
TCU 21 @ Iowa State 17
What a game this turned out to be. Coming into the weekend, this was the game that was least relevant to the Bears or to anyone else in the Big 12. Iowa State was at the bottom of the conference with a worse record even than Kansas, TCU was still not arithmetically eliminated from bowl consideration but at 3-6 it required winning out with trips to Ames and Manhattan as well as a date with Baylor in Ft. Worth still on the schedule.
This game started out as a sleeper with both defenses playing well. The offensives were exactly matched after two possessions each. They both had a net of -1 yards in total production and 2 punts. In fact in the first half the teams combined for a total of 12 punts. Casey Pachall got the start at quarterback for the Frogs with Trevone Boykin taking snaps at QB on running downs as well as snaps at receiver on passing downs. Grant Rohach started at QB for the cyclones. While neither team started strong, TCU started less weakly and was up 14-7 on two Trevone Boykin rushing touchdowns. Sam Richardson rushed for the lone Cyclone touchdown in the first quarter.
Very interesting that both backup quarterbacks came into the game and accounted for all of the scores in the first half and all of them on the ground. Boykin has been extremely versatile since the return of Pachall. He has been under center, lined up in the backfield and caught passes as a wideout. Pretty unselfish for a guy that was a starting quarterback only a short time ago. He was doing all of the above against Iowa State. This was shaping up to be a very odd but interesting game.
It got even more interesting when Iowa State’s DeVondrick Nealy took the opening kickoff of the second half back 98 yards and tied the score at 14. After the teams combined for another 5 punts, the Cyclones put together a 64 yard drive that ended in a field goal. Iowa State had the lead for the first time of the night late in the 3rd quarter, 17-14.
The teams continued to trade ineffective offensive series’ and midway through the 4th quarter, Pachall threw an interception that seemed to give all of the momentum to Iowa State. All they needed to do was to run the clock and get a score, but alas it was not to be for the Clones.
After a 6 play, two and half minute drive, Kirby Van Der Kamp had a 17 yard punt to set up TCU near midfield with 2:44 left on the clock. 17 yards….
13 plays later, Trevone Boykin took it over the line for the go ahead touchdown. Iowa State got a last crack at it with 38 seconds on the board, but was unable to move the ball.
To say that both offenses struggled would be a bit of an understatement. They combined for 21 punts and 4 turnovers with TCU racking up a paltry 368 yards and Iowa State only accounting for 283.
Kansas State 49 @ Texas Tech 26
|Final - 11.9.2013
|Kansas St. Wildcats
|Texas Tech Red Raiders
That game that Baylor "struggled" in is starting to look pretty good. So good, in fact, that I am extremely glad that it is in the history books with a W. Kansas State has gone from losing to an FCS team in the opening weekend of the season and playing pretty average ball early on, to looking like a solid bowl contender and a very tough out in week 11. The Snydercats are sitting at 5-4 needing to take one from either TCU, Oklahoma, or Kansas to get bowl eligible.
Texas Tech’s season is going in the other direction. After a 7-0 start and a top 10 rank, Tech has now lost 3 in a row and is effectively out of the Big 12 championship race. Tech was living on the edge during their run but after getting into the meat of their schedule, the mistakes that they were committing became irrecoverable.
Given that this game was in Lubbock, Tech had 11 more first downs than KSU, almost 100 more yards of offense and won the time of possession battle, a victory would have been expected. But when you take into consideration the 3 turnovers and the Snyder factor, this game wasn't even close past the 1st quarter.
Tech started the scoring with an opening drive field goal with Davis Webb at the helm. Two plays later though, John Hubert took a handoff over left tackle and went 63 yards to the house for an immediate momentum grabber. Tech stepped right back up and Webb put together a 17 play drive for a touchdown to take the lead back at 10-7. The game was starting to look like it would become a shootout that would go back and forth.
That was where the Tech side of the shootout ended though. The Cats rolled off 28 straight points to take a 35 -10 lead into intermission. The secret of their success? A dominant run game and taking control of the line of scrimmage. KSU hammered away at a suspect run defense and made Tech pay. In fact the Cats were into the 2nd quarter before they even attempted a pass. They had 4 attempts in the first half and 11 overall. That's it. Tech knew what was coming but still could not counter it.
On the offensive side for Kansas State it was the Jake Waters, Daniel Sams, and John Hubert show. Waters accounted for 3 of the five touchdowns, 2 on his feet and 1 through the air. Sams and Hubert had one each on the ground.
Give the Red Raiders some credit though, the "Never Quit" slogan that was on their jerseys was apropos for the game. They came out after halftime with Baker Mayfield replacing Davis Webb under center and scored 9 points on a touchdown and a field goal (blocked PAT, again…) in the 3rd quarter. At 35-19 things were getting a bit interesting.
But not that interesting. On the first play of the 4th quarter, Sams carried one over the line for a touchdown and 3 plays later Mayfield threw a pick six to Ty Zimmerman. Just like that the comeback bid was snuffed out and the cats went on to win 49-26.
This was a dominating game for the Cats and they have laid claim to being the top of the 2nd tier in the conference. With Kansas still on the schedule, they should be bowling.
Kansas 6 @ Oklahoma State 42
What a beat down. Oklahoma State took the opening kickoff to the house and never looked back. It actually wasn't that amazing of a play either. If you watch the footage, Kansas defenders were in position to make the tackle and just didn't do it. They let Justin Gilbert run right by them. That is how the rest of the game played out as well.
Clint Chelf started for the Pokes and had 265 yards and 3 touchdowns. The running attack never got going for OSU, but it really wasn't needed. Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith each scored a TD on the ground with Roland scoring one off a 19 yard Chelf pass as well. Tracy Moore caught the other two TD passes.
Kansas did play tough in the 3rd quarter and was able to cut the deficit to 28-3, but they never got any closer. Typically Kansas plays tough in the first half, but they also hung in there against Texas in the 3rd. It takes 4 quarters of football though to win a game and the other three were dominated by Okie State.
Kansas did have an outstanding performance from Andrew Wiggins with 16 points, 3 boards, 2 assists and 3 steals against Lousiana Monroe on Friday night. At least that is positive and that is what I expect most Kansas fans are talking about this morning.
Back to football though, not much else to say about this game, OSU took care of business and covered a 31 point spread. At 8-1 they are real contenders for the Big 12 title and will likely take a near top-10 ranking into their final stretch of Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Texas 47 @ West Virginia 40
|Final - 11.9.2013
|West Virginia Mountaineers
Wow what a game! I expected this to be a close one but not a 90 point circus act that required overtime to settle. This clearly has to be the game of the season in the Big 12 as far and tension and entertainment goes. Never mind that Texas got 5 turnovers from the Mountaineers and played against the 2nd string Paul Millard after Clint Trickett was taken out of the game with a perfectly legal but vicious hit in the first quarter, it was still entertaining to watch. Luckily Baylor was able to score 56 on the Mountaineers in the first half and did not have to put all the fans through the emotional rollercoaster that this game ended up being.
I also did not realize until this game that Mack Brown’s Longhorns have never played in an overtime session. Yes that is correct, the horns have played in 2 total, losing against Oklahoma in 1996, which was PM (pre-Mack).
This game was all Mountaineers from the beginning with a punt block into the end zone for a safety early on. While a great play, it was also a bit unlucky for the Eers, 4 times out of 5 it would have ended up a touchdown, but the ball got kicked around and scampered out of the back of the end zone before a defender could fall on it. After a 43 yard punt return after the safety, Charles Sims punched it in for a 9-0 lead. The very next series, Daje Johnson fumbled the ball, which the Mountaineers fell on at midfield. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, they were not able to do anything with that gift and punted 3 plays later. Texas’ next series ended in an interception also at midfield with the same result, a West Virginia punt. The interception was one of the best plays of the season. The ball, defender and the receiver reached the same point on the field at exactly the same time. They were separated from each other on impact with Nick Kwiatkoski diving in to make a finger tip grab off the turf. Great play.
The thing to note here is that in the first quarter alone, Texas had turned the ball over twice, both near midfield. They had also allowed a punt to be blocked into their own end zone. The fact that they were only down 9-0 was amazing. The Mountaineers could have jumped all over this one but didn't due in large part to the Texas defense that was continually harassing Clint Trickett and ultimately put him out of the game. The sack that took him out was a Desmond Jackson/Jackson Jeffcoat sandwich that resulted in a fumble at the WVU 26. Texas scored 3 points off of that turnover to draw their first blood in the game. The Texas front seven were dominant and recorded 4 sacks in the first quarter.
Paul Millard entered the game and struggled initially. His passes were off and the Texas defense was harassing and sacking him as well. On Millard’s second series, he was sacked deep in his own territory and fumbled ala Trickett. Malcolm Brown was able to convert this one into a touchdown though.
So for those keeping score at home: WVU blocked punt in the endzone and 2 turnovers = 2 points; Texas 5 sacks and two turnovers = 10 points. Where the Eers could have put the boot on the neck of Texas, they didn't and ultimately went into halftime with a 19-13 lead and Texas very much in the game.
Texas scored first in the third with a field goal to cut the lead to three, but West Virginia responded with a 91 yard drive capped off by a Charles Sims 1 yard dive into the end zone. Millard had settled down and was looking relatively sharp by this point. WVU up by 10, 26-16.
The next score came on a McCoy to Davis, 49 yard TD reception to cut the score to 26-23. Later in the third, Joe Bergeron took an 8 yard run over the line for the first Texas lead of the game, 30-26. Also of note is that Jonathon Gray left the game in the third with what appeared to be a calf injury. It was one of those fluky injuries that happened in the open field and was not contact related. He did not return and status is uncertain at this point.
From the fourth quarter the game went back and forth on successive series:
- Dreamius Smith 8 yard rushing touchdown for a WVU lead at 33-30
- McCoy to Shipley 10 yard passing touchdown for UT to retake the lead at 37-33.
- Millard to Mario Alford on a 72 yard bomb for a 40-37 Eer lead.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Mountaineers had a lead and the momentum but could not hold it. They had a chance to run the clock out with their offense late and had to punt, then could not hold Texas out of field goal range at the end of regulation to set up overtime.
Texas was living on the edge late in the game needing to convert two fourth downs to keep their tying drive going, but they did it.
In overtime the horns scored a touchdown on a beautiful play action pass in the flat to Alex De La Torre from McCoy. On the other side, the Texas defense stiffened at the goal line and intercepted a Millard pass on 4th and goal from the 4. Game over.
They don't ask you how, they ask you how many, and that is all Mack Brown needs to know at this point.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Good week of football. Some exciting games with the biggest by far coming on Thursday night.
Baylor got over a huge hurdle and soundly defeated a top-10 opponent in convincing fashion. To the fans at the game though, you know that the offense did not play the explosive brand of offensive football that they have been playing throughout the season with 3 major injuries against a very solid defense. They still put up 500 yards and 41 points. Not a bad day at the office, but still room to improve. The chips will now land where they will, Baylor needs to just keep playing hard and winning and hopefully good things will happen. One piece of the puzzle fell into place with Oregon going down to Stanford, but FSU and Alabama both looked invincible.
As far as the Big 12 goes, the Bears would be everyone’s clear favorite, but with a tough schedule left, any lack of focus or slip-up could result in a loss. All of the teams on the docket have the strong potential to beat Baylor, so the Bears need to stay focused and take care of business.
Objectively I am not as worried about the Tech game as I was a few weeks ago. They are a talented team with a lot of upside but they are not quite there as a unit. They were winning ugly and it caught up to them. Remember, most people were picking Tech as a borderline bowl team so they have clearly over-achieved already at 7-3 and a mid-season top 10 ranking. The Bears have played them tough recently, but while Baylor should be a comfortable favorite, Tech is not a team that can be overlooked.
Texas has the same feel. They are winning, but winning ugly and needing heroic play to do it, just like Tech was at the beginning of the season. The major difference between Texas and Tech is that Texas has a herd of thoroughbreds in their stable. They will be very dangerous if they clean up their play and start living up to expectations. McCoy showed some flashes of brilliance in the game this weekend and is now playing reasonably solid though not outstanding football. The Jonathon Gray story will be very important. If Texas plays like they played last night, they will be wearing a sad face when they leave Waco on December 7th. If they improve and play to potential, who knows.
The biggest test game to me at this point is in two weeks in Stillwater. I was nervous about this game from the beginning of the year and one loss to West Virginia by the Pokes has only minimally lowered my apprehension level. The Cowboys are playing solid defense and their offense has started to find its footing and is playing well. They are definitely not up to their offensive billing at the beginning of the season, but they are getting much closer. Close enough to win a lot of games for sure. It will be very interesting to see what happens next week in Austin. If Okie State falls there, then they are essentially out of the Big 12 race but can still be a major spoiler. If they and Baylor take care of business next week, this is a potential top-10 matchup the week after, the second this season for Baylor and the State of Oklahoma.
Stay focused Bears, 8-0.