Welcome back to “What We Learned”, the series where I explain one thing we learned in the previous week about each team in the Big 12. 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 (1-7)
This Iowa State team is so close. They’re so close to being competent, to joining the pack that half the Big 12 has fallen into. It seems like as the season has progressed, Iowa State has as well, as the young team has grown in front of our eyes, not only in talent, but in their ability to get really close without winning. Obviously this game was different from their last few close losses. They didn’t blow a big lead and completely fall apart in the fourth quarter, they did the opposite.
Iowa State improved throughout the game, cultivating in a 4th quarter boom, making the game closer in score than it truly was, but Iowa State showed something young teams have to show to improve: they never gave up. When they were down 31-10 heading into the fourth, just after giving up a crippling 3 minute touchdown march, they didn’t give up. Jacob Park stepped up when participating in Matt Campbell’s weird quarterback carousel, and should likely just let the Sophomore start the rest of the year, because nothing else has worked for the Cyclones in what will go down as rebuilding year.
If anyone is going to put Kansas out of their misery, I want it to be me. They’re my experiment, and if they have to go, I should be the one to do it. I really wanted to believe in those mythical birds, and week after week they’ve reminded me why love is bad and no one should experience it. My affinity for Kansas started as a joke, but as the season progressed, I started to truly root for Kansas.
I started to love the unlovable Jayhawks. I dubbed a nickname for their reckoning that the official team twitter account has recognized. Some may say that believing in the team that hasn’t won a conference game in nearly two years and didn’t win a single game last year is wrong. but if blind trust in one receiver (Steven Sims Jr) who has no quarterback or defense is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
Kansas was demolished in Norman 56-3, as the Jayhawks only managed 170 yards to Oklahoma’s 538 yards. That’s not because Oklahoma had the ball longer. They had the ball almost an equal amount. Kansas is just really terrible. The win probability measure on ESPN is just a straight line at the 100% mark. Kansas travels to Morgantown this week, and if you want to watch something to make you feel better about your team (unless your team is Kansas) then I have just the game for you.
It turns out that Trevone Boykin was pretty important to TCU’s success last year. TCU looks like a completely different team this year. While that can be attributed to a bevy of departures on both sides of the ball. Although it’s hard to understand how the talent and experience behind the stars of last year is so lacking that TCU misses a bowl appearance one year removed from being 11-2 and winning the Alamo Bowl. However, when looking at the remaining games for the Horned Frogs, it becomes apparent that if TCU doesn’t fix their offense they won’t play a 13th game. Putting up 17 points in regulation against the worst defense in the country is pathetic, and TCU has a long way to go if they want to turn this season around.
TEXAS TECH (4-4)
After reading the section on TCU, you’re probably expecting me to congratulate Texas Tech for being better than people thought and playing a good game. Well, I’m not. Texas Tech was terrible too, they just picked the right times to be terrible.
They decided that running the ball 49 times instead of letting their dominant quarterback throw the ball would be the way to win against TCU’s 97th ranked pass defense. They started the game with an interception and got scared because for some reason an NCAA record for passing means nothing. Once the game got into overtime, both teams seemed to have an offense again, but if it wasn’t for a missed kick, Texas Tech probably would have lost this game. Texas Tech needs to stick to what they know, if they do, they’ll be bowl bound at the end of the year.
Last week I said that a Texas win over Baylor would be huge, but it wouldn’t save Charlie Strong. They pulled it off with a “bend don’t break” defense in the final minutes, and an incredible D’Onta Foreman performance. Shane Buechele only completed 12 passes, but they were big ones, as he accounted for 2 scores and 291 yards. Texas finally showed improvement, and while they were out-gained and caught quite few lucky breaks, Texas now has something to build on for the rest of the year. The defense still didn’t show a ton of improvement, but they forced Baylor into some mistakes that really shaped the outcome of the game.
KANSAS STATE (5-3)
The curse of Jack Trice Stadium nearly knocked Kansas State back to .500, after a feverish 16 point fourth quarter comeback attempt from Iowa State fell just short. Kansas State avoided the upset bid with excellent 2nd and 3rd quarter performances to make their cushion big enough to avoid the final surge from the Cyclones.
Kansas State was out-gained by nearly 100 yards, though without a last-minute score, the score would have had an either larger margin, meaning that Kansas State basically made their yards count more than Iowa State did. In the future, if Kansas State wants to avoid close calls like this one, they should probably go to their running game, as they have 3 capable backs (Silmon, Barnes, Jones) and a quarterback that can run.
WEST VIRGINIA (6-1)
If it weren’t for three bad turnovers, West Virginia would probably still be undefeated. Oklahoma State scored 24 points off 3 turnovers and a missed field goal from West Virginia. The Moutaineers out-gained the Cowboys, but Mason Rudolph stepped up huge, and made West Virginia pay for their turnovers.
Skyler Howard struggled to find space to throw the ball, as West Virginia didn’t have a downfield passing game all day, with their longest completion going for 20 yards. Howard didn’t just struggle with finding yards in the air, he threw two picks, and had a fumble, all of which contributed to West Virginia being knocked out of the group of unbeatens, and almost certainly out of playoff contention.
Baylor, just like West Virginia, was knocked from the group of unbeatens on Saturday. It wasn’t a good week for the Big 12’s playoff hopes, as 1 loss Big 12 champion will not get in over a 1 loss champion of any other power five conference. This game was back and forth for pretty much the whole game, and near the end, following a 4th quarter field goal that gave Baylor a 34-26 lead with 8 minutes, Baylor seemed to think they had the game in hand. They obviously didn’t, as Texas scored 9 points in 8 minutes, with a game winning field goal coming with 46 seconds left.
Baylor had a lot of success running the ball, specifically Terrance Williams, as he ran for nearly 200 yards on 24 carries, and to get back on track, they should stay on the ground, especially if Seth Russell is sidelined with a concussion like is rumored.
OKLAHOMA STATE (6-2)
Oklahoma State got their first signature win of the year, after coming up short in their first big match-up earlier in the year against Baylor. Following their 37-20 win over West Virginia, Oklahoma State has finally jumped into the top 25 for the first time since their loss to Central Michigan.
Their jump is big for a few reasons. Firstly, Oklahoma State has now established themselves as one of the best teams in the Big 12 this year, and if they can win out, with a Baylor loss, they would be the conference champion, putting them in the Sugar Bowl, an accomplishment that seemed impossible just a few weeks ago. Secondly, the more teams ranked in the top 25 from the Big 12, the better chance that a one loss team has of making an at large NY6 Bowl. While it’s unlikely, if Oklahoma State and West Virginia both win out, Oklahoma State would go to the Sugar Bowl, and West Virginia would likely head to the Cotton Bowl with an at large bid. While it is unlikely, it would be a big boost for what many consider the worst power five conference right now.
Oklahoma flew under the radar this week. A blowout win over a 1-7 team isn’t really significant, and not much can really be taken from a game like that. Looking at Oklahoma’s stats, they really didn’t put up huge offense number yardage. Baker Mayfield had another good week with 236 yards and 4 scores, but for the most part, Oklahoma didn’t really have to do much to beat Kansas because the Jayhawks did it for them. Kansas only had 170 yards and 3 points, and a performance like that from the opponent pretty much makes Oklahoma’s stats insignificant, as if they had played an average team, for example Kansas State or Texas, they would have struggled quite a bit more with the numbers they put up this week, but because they faced Kansas, not much can really be learned, because Oklahoma didn’t really show us anything new.