It’s crunch time for teams that are playing for special things in the postseason. This is usually the time when we start playing games in the snow. Defense can help you there.
Every week, I give a shout out to teams, players, position groups or units that had a particularly outstanding performance the week prior. Let’s throw some praise to those who got it done on Saturday. Here they are, from best to least best. Props to…
Oklahoma: Defensive Line/Third Down Defense
We’ll see what the CFP brain trust has to say tonight, but in all likelihood the Sooners have themselves in prime position for a run at the National Championship.
They beat a top ranked team for the second week in a row on Saturday, but this time they didn’t have to score more than 50.
They only needed to score 21, as it turned out.
TCU was able to get into Sooner territory multiple times on Saturday, but they were also denied points multiple times.
Much of the credit for that success is due to the Oklahoma defensive line. The Sooners secondary could depend on their defensive line to get pressure on quarterback Kenny Hill, who was forced to make decisions under duress all night.
Disrupting the TCU running game was also key to the defensive effort of the Sooners, who were able to get into the backfield and get the Horned Frogs behind the chains.
TCU was forced to face second and third downs that were obvious passing situations. Oklahoma has struggled to defend the pass this season, but that task is a lot easier when you can see it coming.
Next, the Sooners travel north to Lawrence, Kansas as five touchdown favorites over the Jayhawks. If David Beaty has an tricks up his sleeves, Saturday’s the time to empty those sleeves.
Texas Tech: David Gibbs And His Turnover Magic
Okay, so it might not particularly notable when you beat a team with only one other win. What is notable, however, is when you’re a team known for offense and you rely on your defense.
Texas Tech forced Baylor into four turnovers on Saturday. Any guesses on how many points they got on those turnovers? Try 17 points. Guess on the margin of victory? Try 14 points.
That’s right, on a day when the Red Raider offense struggled to score without getting the ball past their own 45 yard line, the defense and special teams sealed the victory.
When you give up 523 yards on the day, that’s not great for your defense. Recovering three fumbles and getting one interceptions shows, however, that when you get turnovers, yards don’t matter.
These last two weeks of football may very well determine if Kliff is someone else’s offensive coordinator next year, but David Gibbs is earning his paycheck this year. His defense leads the Big 12 with 22 turnovers.
This week, the Red Raiders can get bowl eligible in their last 2017 home game against TCU. They’re good this year, right? Better hope the Horned Frogs hold onto the ball like actual horned frogs.
West Virginia: Second Half D
When your offense decides to stop scoring in the second, your defense has to step up its game. Against Kansas State on Saturday, the Mountaineer defense did just that by allowing only a field goal in the second half.
In those last two quarters, West Virginia stepped up by stuffing the Wildcat ground attack.
The Mountaineers held the Wildcats to 52 yards rushing in the second half. Against a team that likes to run the ball to stay ahead of the chains, that’s formula for success.
Their success against the Kansas State running game allowed the Mountaineers to make the Wildcats one-dimensional. That made it possible for West Virginia to contain a Wildcat offense that would manage only 179 yards passing on the day.
Next up, West Virginia plays Texas in Morgantown in an early game. Probably advisable to go with coffee over moonshine for that one.