Welcome back to the final week of “What We Learned”, the series where I explain one thing we learned in the previous week about each team in the Big 12. Only six teams were in action during “Championship Weekend”, so let’s get to it.
Baylor finished out their disappointing season with a close loss in Morgantown.
Baylor had an 11-point lead six minutes in after a 60-yard Zach Smith to KD Cannon score. West Virginia responded with a 15 play, 5 minute long scoring drive to cut the lead to 4 before the half. West Virginia took the lead for the first time late in the 3rd quarter on a 58 yard Gary Jennings touchdown reception, and they didn’t relinquish that lead for the remainder of the game. The Mountaineers scored again after a Baylor fumble and unsportsmanlike conduct put them right up on the goal line. Skyler Howard punched it in on fourth and goal from the 1, giving West Virginia a 10-point lead.
This week we learned a lot about this Baylor team. We learned, in the fourth quarter, that despite losing five (now six) straight games, the Bears still have some fight, as they cut the West Virginia lead to just 3 with an Ishmael Zamora touchdown reception late in the 4th quarter. The Bears forced a punt and had a chance to drive down and tie the game, but Smith was stripped on a pass attempt, and West Virginia recovered, sealing the game.
TCU had a chance at moving into the Texas Bowl on Saturday, though they needed to knock off Kansas State. Which proved to be a task too tall for the Horned Frogs.
Foster Sawyer started the game at quarterback, taking over for an injured Kenny Hill, a change that quickly proved unsuccessful. Sawyer threw for just 86 yards on 25 attempts before being replaced in the second half by Kenny Hill. Hill wasn’t much better, completing 5 of his 11 passes for just 52 yards, though, as I previously mentioned, he was injured. The Horned Frogs didn’t find the endzone all day, and were dominated for pretty much the entire game on both sides of the ball.
This week we
learned continued to learn that Kenny Hill is pretty important to the offense, and even if he’s no Trevone Boykin, TCU needs him to be healthy for the Liberty Bowl against Georgia.
KANSAS STATE (8-4)
Kansas State did everything they needed to do to finish Bill Snyder’s final season the right way. They won five of their last six and fought their way into a fourth place finish in the Big 12. This is one of the hottest teams in the country, mostly due to their potent defense and rushing attack, and their matchup with Texas A&M should be a very good one.
Moving back to their win over TCU, the Wildcats won the same way they have all year, with defense and by running effectively. TCU had nothing to do on offense all game due to a stellar defensive performance. Offensively, Jesse Ertz and Justin Silmon combined for 303 yards and 3 scores on 41 carries.
This week, we didn’t learn much about Kansas State, they looked really solid, and did what we expected them to do, and now they can look forward to their game against the Aggies in a couple of weeks.
OKLAHOMA STATE (9-3)
Oklahoma State couldn’t reach the 10 win regular season and Sugar Bowl mark they set last season (though that Sugar Bowl appearance is due to Oklahoma making the playoff) against Oklahoma on Saturday, losing 38-20 in Norman.
This game wasn’t as close as some expected, though it would’ve been a pretty big surprise for the 11 point underdogs. Mason Rudolph struggled, completing just 11 passes on what he described as a “rough day”, and while Justice Hill and Chris Carson both ran well, it wasn’t enough to combat the onslaught of big plays Oklahoma attacked the Cowboy defense with. Baker Mayfield was great as he usually is, and Oklahoma State will have to settle for the Alamo Bowl against Colorado, which should be a fun game to watch.
This week we didn’t learn anything new. We knew coming in that Oklahoma would probably win, and they did just that. Oklahoma State still isn’t on Oklahoma’s level, though they’re closing the gap.
WEST VIRGINIA (10-2)
West Virginia soared under the radar this week, struggling against but taking care of a scrappy Baylor team. Led by Skyler Howard, West Virginia found their offense in the second half, as the senior quarterback tossed for just 111 yards and two scores in his final game in Morgantown. The offensive star of the game was Justin Crawford once again, as the back picked up 209 yards on 28 carries. West Virginia is set to face off with Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl in what might be one of the best bowl games of the season.
This week we didn’t learn much about West Virginia, though it was good to see the running game help when Skyler struggled.
The Sooners knew exactly what would happen with a win on Saturday. A win over Oklahoma State would send Oklahoma to the Sugar Bowl, to play against Auburn. Bob Stoops rallied his team, and they got it done.
Oklahoma came into the year with playoff expectations, though a tough non-conference schedule caused two early losses, ultimately keeping Oklahoma rightfully out of the playoff discussion. A Sugar Bowl appearance is a pretty solid consolation prize though, and Oklahoma will have a great chance to improve public perception of the Big 12 if they can take care of business against Auburn. We’ll have more on that game here in the coming weeks.
Back to this week, Oklahoma looked great pretty much all game, and Mayfield picked apart the Oklahoma State defense despite his star receiver Dede Westbrook suffering an injury on a hard hit in the first half that sidelined him for the remainder of the game. Dede seemed to be okay in this video though, and we here at LGG wish him and Baker luck in New York.
This week, we learned that Oklahoma is still the best team in the Big 12 at getting the job done when it matters, as the Sooners locked up back to back conference titles.