A third of the way through the conference schedule, some things are really starting to shake out. Teams in the hunt for some trophies are getting stops when they need them.
Every week, I give a shout out to teams, players, position groups or units that had a particularly outstanding performance the week prior. There are more and more rumblings about parity in the Big 12. Does defense have something to do with that? You betcha.
Let’s throw some praise to those who got it done on Saturday. Here they are, from best to least best. Props to…
Oklahoma: Pass Defense/Defensive Line
When you have a coach named Lincoln and a quarterback named Baker, it’s hard for the defense to make the presses.
Good thing that’s what we do here.
After a rough week against Iowa State, the Sooners pass defense acquitted itself well on Saturday, holding the Texas starting quarterback to an unremarkable 48.8 completion percentage.
The OU defensive line harassed quarterback Sam Ehlinger all day, notching eight quarterback hurries in the Cotton Bowl. With Du’Vonta Lampkin and Obo Okoronkwo up front, the Sooners can make a good case for being the best D-Line in the league.
Oklahoma defenders battled through fatigue and injury to come up with a couple of fourth quarter stops that secured the 29-24 win. That kind of performance helped the Sooners keep themselves in the hunt for another Big 12 championship.
Up next, the Sooners go to Manhattan, Kansas for a conference game pitting a septuagenarian against a tricenarian. That would be a more unique factoid if Kliff Kingsbury and Matt Campbell had been born during the Nixon administration.
You’re welcome for those SAT words of the day, by the way.
Iowa State: Joel “Chuck Bednarik” Lanning & Co.
Last week, I put the Cyclones in my props. I failed to mention Joel Lanning, though, also known as modern football’s version of Chuck Bednarik. That’s right, Mr. Lanning plays both ways for the varsity, because why? Chutzpah. Pure and simple.
The senior linebacker plays on a D that is starting to make a name for itself.
The Cyclones more or less opened up a can of whoop you-know-what in their shutout victory over Kansas on Saturday, holding quarterback Peyton Bender to a 3.5 QBR. They held Kansas to 1.7 yards per pass and 1.9 yards per rush on their way to pitching a shutout.
Okay, yes, it’s true: Kansas has had offensive performances that probably make their fans glad that Hoops Season is upon us. Here’s some math for you folks at home, though: Iowa State is averaging 16 points per game in the Big 12. No small feat that.
Much of Iowa State’s defensive success is due to the gutsy play of their defensive line, which will travel to West Texas this week to play the Red Raiders.
If the Cyclones keep up this level of play on D, they might just spoil Homecoming for the mascot with the red handlebar mustache.
TCU: Scoring Defense
The Horned Frogs are quickly becoming the Meryl Streep of the Defensive Props. And no, I don’t say that because I thought Gary Patterson was also good in The Deer Hunter (he was terrible).
Credit will continue to be given where credit is due and credit is certainly due to the TCU defense, which didn’t give up a touchdown on Saturday.
Kansas State is a different team offensively without Jesse Ertz, but TCU didn’t let that or a little rain delay distract them from being dominant on Saturday. The Horned Frogs kept the Wildcats from crossing midfield for much of the game to get their 26-6 win.
TCU is allowing only 2.9 yards per rush right now, a statistic that has helped keep them undefeated and eyeing the College Football Playoff. If ever we can get Northwestern, Washington, LSU and TCU all undefeated come season’s end, we’ll have a Purple Football Playoff.