Welcome back to “What We Learned”, the series where I explain one thing we learned about each team in the Big 12 previous week’s games. The teams are ordered based on record, so if your team is talked about first it’s not because I hate them, it’s because they’re bad and deserve to be shunned.
IOWA STATE (1-5)
For the second straight week Iowa State scared a top-level Big 12 opponent until the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Cyclones, they also continued their streak of completely falling apart in the fourth quarter. After 3 quarters Iowa State led Oklahoma State 31-21. The Cowboys had struggled offensively for the whole game before scoring 17 points in 15 minutes to survive a scare in Stillwater, 38-31.
There’s something to be said for knowing how to play with the lead, and for the second straight week Iowa State’s inexperience with leading ultimately lost them the game. Iowa State isn’t the only “bad” Big 12 that has this problem though, and if they can figure how to play with the lead they could cause some chaos.
Enter the other “bad” team that can’t finish a game. This was the first game against a team with a pulse that Kansas has played close this year, and when it came down to the last few minutes, their time management and discipline completely fell apart. The Jayhawks surrendered 10 points in the final quarter, and ultimately lost after allowing an eight play, two-minute drive for TCU that ended in a field goal, giving TCU the lead, and giving Kansas just over a minute to get into field goal range.
Kansas started their final drive with two straight 9 yard completions. They followed the positive progress up with two straight sacks and a one yard run. One miraculous lateral later, Kansas had picked up all 22 yards needed plus two more, and was within striking distance. An offensive pass interference was immediately followed up by a 23 yard reception (I was right about Steven Sims Jr). After an incomplete pass Kansas let 34 seconds run off and shuffled out their kicker who was doomed to completely shank the possible 54 yard game winner before he even ran out. I’m sure Matthew Wyman is a great guy but he shouldn’t kick 54 yard possible game winners.
Texas isn’t back. Almost everyone wanted Texas to be back, but Texas isn’t back. Their impressive win over Notre Dame is no longer impressive, and the defense is broken beyond repair. Charlie Strong taking the reigns didn’t do anything to help the tackling problems, and this loss might be the final straw that was delaying a Brinks truck surprise delivery to Tom Herman’s front door.
TEXAS TECH (3-2)
Texas Tech getting outplayed offensively by Kansas State might have been the most surprising thing to happen in the conference this weekend. I knew this game would be close, but both teams completely abandoning defense and Kansas State being the team that came out on top after a shootout was extremely unexpected.
Oh, Patrick Mahomes is back, somehow. You can’t convince me that he’s not actually a robot. We learned that Kliff Kingsbury still has a fear of defense. We might need to send him to therapy.
KANSAS STATE (3-2)
Kansas State’s offense was surprisingly competent, but once again it was the defense and the special teams units that starred. A pick six and a kickoff returned for a touchdown, as well as 3 field goals were huge for Kansas State, and helped the Wildcats top Texas Tech’s powerful offense. Kansas State is a surprise team this year, and I could likely be talked into considering them a top Big 12 team this year, especially if they can improve the passing game, as Jesse Ertz threw for just 104 yards on Saturday.
While their rival might not be back, the Sooners very well could be back for their short-lived spout at the bottom of the conference. Oklahoma is in the top 25 for the second straight week, and appears to be very capable of winning out and taking the conference title. There’s just one glaring problem for the Sooners, and it’s the defense, especially the rushing defense, as they allowed 159 yards and two scores to D’Onta Foreman. The thing that ultimately won the game for Oklahoma was their own running attack, as Samaje Perine exploded for 214 yards and 2 scores.
TCU isn’t a good team. Last week some of you got very mad at me on Twitter for saying that, and then TCU almost lost to Kansas. They have a bad defense, their offense is inconsistent, and the expectations need to be lowered for the rest of this year. If I were a TCU fan, I would be happy with 8-4 regular season and a bowl win, and I think that’s just about where they’ll end up this year. It’s a step back, but this is a young team, watch out for next year.
OKLAHOMA STATE (4-2)
Oklahoma State took a page out of the Baylor book this week and almost lost to Iowa State. Oklahoma State suffers from the same problem all of the top teams in the Big 12 suffer from: they aren’t good enough to sleep through games but they still sleep through games. I don’t know if it’s a discipline problem or a coaching problem or anything else, but if the best teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma State included, continue to do this, the Big 12 will be locked out of the playoff just like they were in 2014.
WEST VIRGINIA (4-0)
West Virginia had a bye this week. They travel to Lubbock on Saturday.
Baylor had a bye this week. They host Kansas on Saturday.