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 (1-8)
Iowa State remained winless in conference play Thursday night with a ten point loss at the hands of Oklahoma, though the loss was not due to lack of effort from the Cyclones. The largest lead Oklahoma held was 14 points, after knocking through a 36 yard field goal to cap off a 15 play, 50 yard drive that took nearly 8(!!!!!) minutes.
Iowa State responded with a touchdown early in the 4th quarter, but couldn’t find their way back to the end zone for the remainder of the game, as Oklahoma drained the clock with 2 five plus minute drives in the final quarter to keep the ball away from Jacob Park, with the first drive resulting in a field goal to extend the lead to 10. Speaking of Jacob Park, he wasn’t great, but he certainly didn’t light the world on fire, throwing for just 160 yards on 16 completions. He also tossed two scores, and kept the ball away from Oklahoma defensive backs, as he avoided throwing an interception.
Iowa State was held under 300 yards, and their leading rusher was backup quarterback Joel Lanning, though that’s mostly due to a 41 yard 2nd quarter score on a draw play. Iowa State once again couldn’t decide on a quarterback, although it seems like they plan on mostly using Park for throwing and Lanning for running, which is fine, though a little predictable. This week we learned that the Jack trice Stadium curse can only do so much for a bad team.
It wasn’t fair to expect much from Kansas this week, and no one did. Everyone who follows college football knows that Kansas is years away from competing, and that West Virginia is on a whole other level than the hapless Jayhawks. Throw in the fact that the game is on the road, and it becomes even more unlikely that the blind Jayhawk finds the end zone and stops the other team from getting in the end zone many, many times. Kansas, if you didn’t know, hasn’t won a road game since 2009, as they have now lost a whopping 40 straight.
Montell Cozart lost his job for what seems like the 100th time, though this one wasn’t just due to his poor play, as he was showing concussion-like symptoms about halfway through the third quarter. He was replaced by Carter Stanley, who performed well, completing 9 of his 11 passes for 127 yards and 2 scores, though he did toss an interception.
This week we learned that maybe Kansas should just let Steven Sims Jr play quarterback, as he threw for a 40 yard gain early in the 4th, and is obviously the most talented player on the team.
Fun fact: Kansas was the only D1 school to offer Sims, because every team in D1 except for Kansas has no idea how to scout, apparently.
TEXAS TECH (4-5)
Texas Tech continued on their downward spiral on Saturday, as they’ve now lost 4 of their last 5 games following an 8 point loss to Texas. It’s hard to win when someone on the other team is as dominant as D’Onta Foreman was on Saturday, he rushed for 341 yards and 3 scores on 33 carries.
Even with that incredible performance, Texas tech was still in the game at the end, and had a chance to win until their final offensive play, when Patrick Mahomes was intercepted in the end zone after scrambling away from pressure and trying to make something happen on 3rd and 10. Texas Tech was outgained by nearly 200 yards, but stayed in the game because neither team bothered to field a defense, which isn’t really a new development.
This week we didn’t learn anything new about Texas Tech, because we already knew that they have a really good offense and their defense hates every offensive player and wants them to suffer.
KANSAS STATE (5-4)
Kansas State managed to pull defeat from the jaws of victory an Saturday, as terrible decisions and a complete inability to defend the pass paved the way for an Oklahoma State come from behind victory. Kansas State basically let Chris Carson walk into the end zone to give Oklahoma State the lead with just under 2 minutes to go, which would be okay if Kansas State had any reason at all to trust their ability to run a 2 minute offense. That ability remained
on the sidelines in hiding as Kansas State got down to the Oklahoma State 1 yard line before a last second offensive pass interference pushed them back (the game would’ve ended at the 1 if it wasn’t for the penalty) that led to a desperation heave from 18 yards out from Jesse Ertz that lead to a game sealing interception. We learned that if Kansas State wants to win, they really need to avoid making as many terrible decisions as they did on Saturday.
Well, that was unexpected. TCU came into their matchup with the previously 17th ranked team in the CFP poll (this will change tonight) as big underdogs, Baylor entered the game -7 and lost by 40. This performance came as a shock to pretty much everyone. TCU had lost 3 of 4 before this game, and hadn’t shown many reasons to be optimistic, but they showed what they can be on Saturday, at the expense of Baylor.
TCU answered a lot of questions with this game. They showed that they absolutely can still win out and make a bowl game, but they also showed that they’re at their best on offense when they spread the ball around. Baylor couldn’t do anything to stop TCU’s running attack, as 5 players had more than 4 carries, and all of them found success with those carries, though Kyle Hicks led the way with 26 carries for 192 yards and 5 scores. A prolific rushing attack gave TCU’s offense the boost it needed, as Kenny Hill was able to play comfortably, and looked like a completely different player in the role of facilitator rather than superstar.
Another big week for the Longhorns, as Texas got their first road win of the year in Lubbock on Saturday. Texas has now won 3 of their last 4, and is trending way upwards after another great game from star halfback D’Onta Foreman. I mentioned him earlier, but 341 yards and 3 scores is an incredible boost to an already potent offense, and Texas is really hard to beat when he plays that well.
It wasn’t just Foreman that had a good game, as Shane Buechele added in another 2 scores and 244 yards in the air. It’s obviously not reasonable to expect that kind of performance from the offense every week, and Texas Tech was still in the game and had a chance to tie on their final drive despite the Texas offensive explosion, meaning that the defense still has work to do, though judging them against an offense on the level of Texas Tech’s really isn’t fair, but this week we learned that Texas has the talent, and when they play to their potential, they’re very hard to beat.
To start this off with a non-football note, the selling of #CAB shirts prior to their game on Saturday by some Baylor fans and those fans continued support of their disgraced former coach is a horrendous show of support for an indefensible situation that Art Briles allowed to happen. I feel for the players that weren’t involved, and just want to play for the school they love without being lumped in with the faction of school and fan base that remains completely unaware of the culture they’re promoting.
Rant over, let’s get to the football. It was a no good, very bad week for the Bears, as TCU flexed their offensive muscles, dropping 62 points on what looked like, for much of the game, a hapless Baylor defense. It wasn’t just the defense that struggled though. The offense only put up 22 points, mostly due to a lack of a running game, as Terence Williams led the way with just 68 yards. They struggled with sustaining drives for the whole game, and we learned that Baylor has quite a few more weaknesses than many once thought.
WEST VIRGINIA (7-1)
West Virginia appears to be back on track after their first loss of the season 2 weeks ago, though a win over Kansas really isn’t a great gauge for where a team is at. This week will be a much better test for the enigmatic Mountaineers, as they face a surging Texas in Austin.
Looking back at the performance against Kansas, West Virginia looked solid on both sides of the ball. Skyler Howard had a really nice game, throwing for 260 yards and 3 scores, while halfback Justin Crawford added in 129 yards and another score on the ground on just 13 carries, while the aforementioned Howard and freshman Kennedy McKoy added 191 yards on 29 combined carries, with Skyler finding the end zone twice more on the ground. The defense was solid, and managed to avoid allowing too many big plays, instead forcing an offensively challenged Kansas team to sustain drives, a feat that the Jayhawks likely will not be able to accomplish against any defense this year, let alone against a consistently good West Virginia defense.
If West Virginia can play like they did on Saturday for the rest of the year, they could find themselves in an NY6 bowl at the end of the year.
OKLAHOMA STATE (7-2)
For the second straight week the two Oklahoma teams were the best in the conference, and at this point it’s pretty much a tossup between the two. It took an impressive 4th quarter comeback for Oklahoma State to take care of Kansas State, but two final period touchdowns and some solid “bend don’t break” defense from the Cowboys at the end helped secure a tough win.
Oklahoma State would’ve lost if it weren’t for some terrible Kansas State decisions late in the game, so I can’t give them too much credit, but Mason Rudolph had another incredible game, throwing for nearly 500 yards and 5 scores, as his excellent showing certainly helped keep his team in the game and ultimately contributed greatly to Oklahoma State getting the win. The running game was pedestrian once again, but Oklahoma State still outgained Kansas State by more than 200 yards, and if it weren’t for their 3 turnovers, they likely wouldn’t have needed the poor decisions from the other side late to pull off the comeback.
We learned that if they want to win against more talented opponents (such as Oklahoma in 3 weeks), Oklahoma State has to cut back on turnovers, and they’ll likely need to find some form of a running attack.
Oklahoma won their 6th straight game in Ames on Thursday, with a pretty solid win against an unpredictable opponent. The game wasn’t really very pretty, but another great game from Baker Mayfield, and a solid game from Dimitri Flowers helped propel Oklahoma to a closer than expected win over the one win Cyclones.
Mayfield threw for 328 yards and 4 scores, while Dimitri Flowers filled in well for Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, picking up 115 yards on 22 carries, and while he didn’t find his way into the end zone, he helped set up the passing game and had no problems finding holes in Iowa State’s defense.
It looked like Iowa State was going to find their way back into the game after an early 4th quarter touchdown, but Oklahoma’s excellent time management and solid defense helped squash any attempt at a comeback. Oklahoma has their biggest Big 12 game of the season to this point coming up on Saturday, as they’re set to face off with Baylor, and even with the Bears struggling a bit right now, this will take a great game from both sides of the ball for Oklahoma to stay unbeaten in the Big 12.