Welcome to week 4 in the Big 12. In week 3, we saw the Big 12 race start to illuminate. Still a lot of football left, but we now have a pretty good feeling for where most of the teams in the league are. Texas continued their downward spiral by getting spanked at home at the hands of a solid Ole Miss team. Will Mack Brown say, "Thank you sir may I have another," to Bill Snyder this week? Tech and TCU duked out an ugly game in Lubbock with Tech coming out on top and landing a national ranking. Iowa State is in trouble still showing a goose-egg in the win column and West Virginia and Kansas State ganged up on ESPN’s #1 and #3 bottom ten teams. The biggest mystery solved last week was whether OU was for real or not. They hammered a reasonable Tulsa team and looked every bit the part of a top-10 program with a resolved QB situation.
The press potentiated the Bears again during the week as Heisman contenders and BCS aspirants. The Bears also moved up in the polls based on nothing more than the halo hanging over victories in Weeks 1 and 2. Finally we heard that A&E will be filming the crew of Duck Dynasty in Waco this weekend, in from their normal West Monroe flyway. Another great week of football….
LA Tech (+10.5) 10 @ Kansas 13
Lousiana Tech is a shell of last year’s team that finished 9-3. One of those losses was a midyear, two point loss to Texas A&M. Late in the season they were ranked 20th and were in line for a bowl game. A bit of hubris on behalf of the athletic department kept them out of postseason play, but that is a different story. They might have regressed further than any team in the FBS according to their performance in the first three games this season. If Kansas was looking to swipe another win, this home date was a good one to circle.
The Bulldogs were able to oblige the Jayhawks by missing 2 field goals and fumbling twice in the 4th quarter, once while going into the end zone. With 14 minutes left in the game the Bulldog’s quarterback seemingly went in for a touchdown that would have put the game out of hand at 17-3. After further review the play was ruled as a fumble and a touch back for Kansas. Kansas answered with a touchdown but La Tech was in position to win with 1:33 to play, deep in Kansas territory. A second untimely fumble ended the threat though. A field goal later the celebration was on in Lawrence.
Both of these teams played pretty mediocre ball with fumbles and penalties between them, but a win is a win. Congratulations Kansas.
West Virginia (+5) 0 @ Maryland 37
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A very interesting match-up here. Although West Virginia has not looked particularly impressive this year, I did not expect them to be an underdog going into this game. Maryland is 3-0 and this game was in Baltimore, but if I were a betting man, I would have taken West Virginia at +5. With an established, albeit young quarterback at the helm of Dana Holgorson’s offense, this seemed like the potential for a strong showing by an urgent if not mildly desperate Mountaineer squad. Next on the schedule for WV are three ranked opponents, and a loss to Maryland could start a multi-game tailspin.
After watching this game, I am sure glad that I am not a betting man. This was a complete domination by the Terps and a complete meltdown by West Virginia. West Virginia played an absolutely awful game with 6 first downs, 175 total yards of offense, 59 yards of penalties and 6 turnovers. Ford Childress came crashing back to earth after showing well against Georgia State last week. He completed 50% of his passes for 62 yards and a 2.8 yard average. Tie that together with 2 picks and it was a dreadful performance.
As a result, the Mountaineers are in deep kim-chi unless they are able to make some serious improvements. With OSU and Baylor next on the docket, things are likely to get worse.
Texas State (+27.5) 7 @ Texas Tech 33
Texas State is one of the milder surprises of the year at 2-0 going into the 4th week of the season. They have played some pretty lowly competition though, nothing along the lines of Texas Tech. Although Tech looked sloppy last week against the Frogs, There is no doubt that they have speed and talent, definitely in a different league than Texas State.
Tech won this game in fairly convincing fashion but not by the blowout score that many predicted. Early in the 3rd quarter this game was close at 13 – 7 in favor of the Red Raiders. Tech steadily put the game out of hand with two more touchdowns and two more field goals.
Davis Webb relieved starting quarterback Baker Mayfield in the 2nd quarter and was re-relieved by Mayfield in the 4th. The quarterback play for Tech was a bit dodgy with 3 interceptions but they did combine for 434 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tech was also penalized for 65 yards.
The story in this game was not the Tech offense though, it was the defense. They were solid overall giving up just 240 yards total and taking advantage of 3 turnovers of their own. This could be a factor later in the season, especially if Tech sorts out its offensive situation.
Kansas State (+5.5) 21 @ Texas 31
The game we were waiting all week. Well make that other game that we were waiting for all week. A loss to the Snydercats and a 1-3 season start would virtually end the Horn’s season and very possibly Mack Brown's career in Austin. Talk about a team desperate for a win…
This game was not a crisp affair with neither team looking particularly strong, especially on defense. Texas got out to a 17 point lead but let the Cats sneak back into it. They never got within 10 though. The feel throughout was that Texas was building momentum and would win this game, but Kansas State hung in until the end, threatening to score up until late in the 4th quarter.
One story line of this game is that David Ash was knocked out of the game with another concussion. He took a legal though savage hit in the first half and did not return after half time.
Kansas State employed a 2 quarterback set throughout the game and split time between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters. Waters did all of the passing while Sams was utilized in running situations. Kansas fumbled the ball 3 times in this one and the defense was a bit porous. Texas’ defense was not much better but did stiffen when needed.
Mack now must feel that the pressure valve has been released to a certain extent but he is still on the hot seat. With a trip to Iowa State on the schedule for next week the Horns should have another tune up before the Red River Rivalry in two weeks.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
The Bears had another huge win, and the main competition in league, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, were off. West Virginia looked atrocious and Tech continued their winning ways. Kansas State looked fairly weak and Texas looked slightly less weak in beating them.
The bedlam teams definitely have someone to worry about in Baylor, the Big 12 championship is not an all Oklahoma affair anymore.
The most impressive thing that I saw this weekend was the Baylor defense. Granted ULM is not a top team, but the defense shut them down. We had tackles for losses in bunches and had two pick 6s. The other thing that was impressive is that we were playing with backups in the defensive down lineman positions. The secondary got burned a few times similar to last week but Meech Goodson was back and that seemed to help. Another interesting fact that was pointed out to me by my son was that at 7 points allowed, the defense had held ULM to the square root of the Baylor halftime score. Not sure that has happened in a while.
We should match up extremely well against all of the league competition. If/when the defense starts to give up some points, the offense will still be scoring loads. The defense is playing at a level far exceeding last year’s squad and the offense is downright ridiculous. That should bode well for our chances to win the Big 12 as long as TGCAB keeps up the intensity.
Go Bears, 3-0...