Those national media folks love the fireworks of fancy offensive plays. Here, we value execution and discipline.
Every week, I give a shout out to teams, players, position groups or units that had a particularly outstanding performance the week prior. This week we have three defenses who gave up 23 points combined. That’s 7.67 per team per game for those of you without calculators handy.
Let’s throw some praise to those who got it done on Saturday. Here they are, from best to least best. Props to…
OKLAHOMA STATE: THE BIG THREE (WELL, SOMETIMES FOUR) UP FRONT
The Pokes won a close game on Saturday when one OSU player jumped up and snagged a pass out of the air. He landed in bounds, cradling that pigskin like it was a newborn.
Was it one of those flashy Cowboy wide receivers? No, in fact it was defensive back Ramon Richards. His pick in overtime against Texas won the game for Oklahoma State, 13-10.
That, however, is only part of the story. The defensive line for the Pokes might as well have been wearing hockey masks and sporting chain saws for all the terror they caused in the Texas backfield on Saturday.
Tuning out all the love given to the other side of the ball, the Cowboy defense brought their lunch pails on Saturday. The Pokes allowed only 1.3 yards per rush on Saturday, all while keeping only six or seven defenders in the box.
The pass rushers for OSU had a great day, but the three sacks and one quarterback hurry doesn’t tell the whole story. Oklahoma State managed to harass Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger all day while only rushing three or four guys.
After giving up only ten points on Saturday, the Cowboys are quietly taking care of business in the scoring department, giving up an impressive 22.3 points per game. Glenn Spencer’s crew continues to improve, showing the kind of defense that can win championships.
Up next, Oklahoma State gets to go to Morgantown to stop Will Grier and that high-flying offense in blue and gold. Better pack a thermos along with that lunch pail.
IOWA STATE: THE HAUNTED HOUSE THAT IS THE RUN DEFENSE
What about these guys, eh? We knew they were good, but Holy Turnovers, Batman!
The Cyclones managed to keep a Kliff Kingsbury-coached offense to under fourteen points for the first time since…they did it last year. They are the only team to do that during Kliff’s tenure in Lubbock.
Iowa State invites teams to run the ball, an invite that is about as cozy as one to the Bates Motel. Texas Tech found that out the hard way and ran the ball 41 times for a pedestrian 129 yards.
Other Big 12 defenders could probably learn some things from this group. John Heacock’s back seven have come to quite a realization: when you are a defender and the offensive guys are trying to block you, don’t get blocked.
The Cyclones also tackle well in space and that was good enough to allow Texas Tech to pick up only 6.7 yards per catch as a team. ISU gave them the short stuff and the Red Raiders took the short stuff all day.
That is how you get an explosive offense out of its modus operandi. That is usually when turnovers happen and Iowa State got three of those.
The last one was a pick-six by Marcel Spears, who knew that when it looks like a screen pass, smells like a screen pass and quacks like a screen pass, it’s a screen pass. Congratulations Mr. Spears.
TCU: ALL THE DEFENSIVE GUYS WHO WORE BLACK
Spooky things happen in Fort Worth after dark. Well, spooky for whoever plays the TCU defense.
Were you betting that the fourth ranked Frogs would have a let down as a heavy favorite?
Now that would have been one bad bet. Horned Frog defenders were popping up more often than that serial killer from Scream on Saturday.
In case you hadn’t heard, they set some records in their 43-0 shutout of Kansas. They allowed Kansas to amass the fewest yards of any FBS team in two decades. They also allowed a negative 0.8 yards per rush. No, I didn’t mistype that. On average, Gary Patterson’s crew made a Division I football team go backwards on the ground.
TCU is allowing an impressive 15.25 points per game in Big 12 play thus far. That’s after having played two quarterbacks that have caught the eyes of NFL scouts.
The Horned Frogs defense is scary-good and continue to come to play. They play great team defense to stop the run and prevent big pass plays. Up next, they go to Ames to play Iowa State, who is also playing great defense right now.
They say defense usually travels. Matt Campbell is probably hoping that the TCU defense doesn’t make it through security.