It wasn’t a particular big week in the college football universe, and the Big 12 isn’t much different. Only six conference teams were in action this week, and in all three games, the favorite came away with the win. This week, What We Learned ponders Jacob Park, takes a look at the hardest place to play in the Big 12, and considers trying out to play quarterback for Baylor. Oklahoma, Kansas, West Virginia and TCU all had a bye this week, so they will not be discussed.
OKLAHOMA STATE (4-1)
Oklahoma State and Texas Tech played in what was easily the most entertaining conference game of the week, combining for nearly 80 points in an electric Lubbock atmosphere. After a tough loss to TCU last week, the Cowboys had to face yet another tough test on Saturday, as Tech seems to be much improved from years past. Despite the weirdness that tends to happen in Lubbock, Oklahoma State was able to hold the Red Raiders off, thanks in large part to an extremely efficient offense.
Mason Rudolph averaged nearly ten yards a pass, Justice Hill picked up more than five yards a carry, and the Pokes just overwhelmed an improved Texas Tech defense. The Cowboys still have plenty of room for improvement, but with back to back road trips to Texas and West Virginia coming in the month of October, improvement will need to come quickly.
KANSAS STATE (3-1)
After a bye week last week, following a loss to Vanderbilt, Kansas State got back on track on Saturday, with a 13 point win over a scrappy Baylor team in Manhattan. Despite being outgained by the Bears, the Wildcats were obviously the better team on Saturday. They were more efficient, and when it came down to it, just a more talented football team. Jesse Ertz struggles once again in the air, but ran the all well, and continued to lead Kansas State’s offense well. Alex Barnes looked solid, though his numbers were buoyed by a 38 yard run.
Despite a solid Baylor performance, the Wildcats pulled away late, sparked by two Baylor turnovers, on their way to a valuable, if not forgettable 33-20 victory. Kansas State heads to Texas this weekend, and has a chance to reestablish their place among the best of the conference.
TEXAS TECH (3-1)
The number one thing to take away from this game for Texas Tech, is that the Red Raiders are still very good at passing, they’re still efficient, and their defense is better than it was last year. The missing piece? They still can’t run at all, and when their defense isn’t forcing turnovers, it can’t play “bend don’t break” and expect to win. Oklahoma State only punted once all game, and if it wasn’t for some missed opportunities, the Cowboys would’ve likely won this game by much more.
Without the ability to consistently run, or stop offenses that are capable of holding on to the ball, Texas Tech’s ceiling drops significantly. With Kansas on tap this week, the Red Raiders should be able to grab their fourth win, but with a trip to Morgantown after that, it’s a rough road ahead for the rushing challenged Red Raiders.
The first Big 12 game of the week was the complete opposite of a traditional Big 12 game. Texas headed into Jack Trice Stadium on Thursday night, fresh off a bye week, and two weeks removed from their incredible overtime loss to USC. Just as it was in that game, Texas’ new and improved defense, led by Todd Orlando was on display once again Thursday night. The Longhorns held Iowa State to just seven points, as they doubled up the Cyclones in time of possession. Offensively, Texas still looked pretty feeble regardless of the quarterback, but seemingly shifted their identity a bit, running over 50 times.
Even without a dangerous offense, Texas still looked like a team that could win as many as seven or eight games on defense alone. Obviously, the most important thing is if they can sustain this level of effort, but right now, the Longhorns look legit, and can prove it in two weeks against Oklahoma.
IOWA STATE (2-2)
I have no idea what to think of Iowa State. I don’t think they have much a defense, despite holding Texas to 17 points, because Texas has no offense. I like Jacob Park’s game, but on Thursday, he looked downright awful at times, and probably the most talented Cyclone outside of Allen Lazard, David Montgomery, only had nine carries. Iowa State can’t win with their personnel by running an air raid, it just won’t work. They need good defense, and they need to run to set up Park with open passing lanes, and they didn’t do that on Thursday.
With a trip to Norman on the schedule this week, Iowa State needs to figure out their offensive woes quickly to have any kind of chance against the third ranked Sooners.
Baylor did something immensely stupid on Saturday (shocking, right?). The Bears, for some unseen reason, put freshman quarterback Charlie Brewer in the game for exactly two plays, a one yard loss and a hand off, and then took him out, effectively burning his redshirt. Some have speculated that it was to send a message, but the only message it sent was that Matt Rhule didn’t know the redshirt rules. If the Bears were planning on actually using him, it’d be different, but unless Zach Smith (who didn’t even play that badly) and Anu Solomon both went down with injuries, Brewer will likely never be needed.
If Baylor so desperately wants a capable quarterback to replace Zach Smith (there are reasons for this, they just aren’t necessarily public), maybe I, an undersized blogger that lives over 1000 miles from campus and hasn’t played quarterback once in his entire life, should give Matt Rhule a heads up that I’m ready to go (I’m absolutely not ready to go, please don’t burn my redshirt or tear my ACL, Matt Rhule).