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. If teams had a bye week, we’ll just assume we didn’t learn anything and skip over them. 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.
The season has finally come to a close for Kansas. 2-10 is an improvement from 0-12, obviously, but Kansas was likely looking for at least 2 wins in conference this year. David Beaty likely has one more year to prove that he’s worth keeping, and he’ll probably need at least 5 wins to make his case. Kansas has some good pieces but they need consistency at a bunch of positions, most significantly at quarterback to improve next season. Carter Stanley is the presumed starter for next season, as he closed out the season pretty well, throwing for 820 yards on a near 60% completion rate for 5 scores and 5 picks in November.
That’s not great, but Kansas doesn’t need great. Look for Steven Sims Jr to dominate next year if he gets consistent quarterback play. The offense isn’t the only problem though, as the defense surrendered 342 yards and 4 scores on the ground to Kansas State on Saturday. The defensive unit has struggled all year, and Kansas will need some younger guys to step up next season to see some improvement.
This week we learned how far Kansas has to go, though we may have known how far behind they were all season.
IOWA STATE (3-9)
Iowa State’s came to a disappointing end on Saturday as well, dropping the final game of the year to West Virginia, 49-19. Iowa State had no answer for the West Virginia offense, specifically Skyler Howard and the passing game. Offensively, despite Jacob Park throwing for 371 yards, he didn’t find the endzone once, and the offense struggled all day.
If it wasn’t for placekicker Cole Netten knocking through 4 field goals, Iowa State’s only points of the day would’ve been from a Kene Nwangwu first quarter kickoff return that he housed. Skyler Howard threw for 5 scores, and Martell Pettaway found little to no resistance on the ground, picking up 181 yards and a score on 30 carries.
This week we learned that even with momentum in their favor, Iowa State is nowhere near West Virginia in terms of talent.
TEXAS TECH (5-7)
Texas Tech closed out their season on a good note, giving Baylor their fifth loss of the year, 54-35. Patrick Mahomes II was excellent as always, tossing for 586 yards and 6 scores, and he got some help on the ground, with Da’Leon Ward picking up 82 yards and a score on the ground.
The defense wasn’t horrible, but it certainly wasn’t great, with Zach Smith throwing for nearly 400 yards. 4 turnovers from Baylor helped the Red Raiders quite a bit, even if Texas Tech only turned one of those turnovers into points. While this season certainly didn’t go how Texas Tech wanted it to, they may still make a bowl game on APR, though I wouldn’t expect it.
TOUCHDOWN TOM IS HEADED TO AUSTIN. He has three years from Sunday’s press conference to prove himself, apparently, and I expect him to prove himself in a big way. I watched Herman coach a third string quarterback to a championship at Ohio State, and expect him to mold Shane Buechele into a first round pick in a couple of years.
The only question about Tom Herman is his defense, and Houston was consistently very solid on that side of the ball. He’s bringing a horde of coordinators with him, and Austin can officially start watching for the Texas resurgence. If you want to celebrate this hire, we have just the shirt for you. In other news, the loss to TCU on Friday was expected, and Texas may still get a bowl bid with the aforementioned APR, despite not reaching 6 wins.
While some teams may make bowl games without six wins, Baylor shouldn’t even make one even with that 6th win. Baylor is playing horrible football right now, and is just one West Virginia matchup away from losing their final 6 games.
Zach Smith isn’t horrible, but he’s no Seth Russell, and the defense has regressed horribly since the start of conference play. Baylor should accept a bowl bid if one is extended for the extra practice, but don’t be surprised when a mid rate PAC 12 team smacks up Willie Taggart’s (this is the correct hire and Baylor needs to make it happen) future team in late December.
TCU finally reached bowl eligibility with their win over Texas, and has a chance to improve where they finish this Saturday against Kansas State, in the battle for the Texas Bowl. Kansas State is surging right now, and Bill Snyder will certainly have his boys ready to play in what will be his final regular season game as a coach.
TCU has struggled to the finish line, but as we’ve learned all season, if Kenny Hill finds his groove and avoids dumb mistakes, TCU has a chance to win this one at home.
KANSAS STATE (7-4)
Kansas State was 6 points against Oklahoma State away from 5 straight wins, and is playing like one of the best teams in the conference right now. Jesse Ertz is minimizing mistakes and running the ball well on keepers, while the stable of halfbacks are finally hitting their stride and dominating the way they have to for the Wildcat offense to be successful.
The defense is still the best in the Big 12, and a win over TCU would put Kansas State up against an SEC school in the Texas Bowl. If the running game is successful on Saturday, expect Kansas State to beat the +4.5 spread against them pretty easily.
WEST VIRGINIA (9-2)
West Virginia certainly didn’t seem to give up on the year with their tough loss to Oklahoma, as the Mountaineers exacted some revenge on Iowa State, 49-19. Skyler Howard and Martell Pettaway both dominated Iowa State’s hapless defense easily on their way to an offensive outburst led win. The defense was great too, forcing 4 turnovers, 3 of which led to West Virginia touchdowns. Generally, combining a dominant air attack with a solid running game and a swarming defense is a recipe for victory, especially against a conference bottom feeder like Iowa State. W
est Virginia still has one game left, against Baylor, but this week we learned what bowl West Virginia will head to: The Russell Athletic Bowl, likely to take on Virginia Tech. Maybe we’ll get lucky and Pitt will stumble into the RAB so we can watch a hilarious bar fight at the end of December.