Well, that was unexpected. On a day when three ranked Big 12 teams played three unranked conference foes, and the lone remaining matchup was between a preseason conference favorite and a team with a 20+ game conference losing streak, you can be forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a pretty boring weekend, with Baylor and OU doing their part to break the scoreboards in Manhattan and Dallas, respectively. Fast forward to today, and Mack still has a job! What happened?
This game obvious had a lot of implications for Texas going in, which I'm not going to go into. It was evident, however, that UT came out very fired up for the first half of this game and seemed to benefit greatly from it. UT was able to parlay two huge plays - a 31-yard interception return for a TD by defensive lineman Chris Whaley dropping back on a zone blitz, and 59-yard TD on a beautiful pass by Case McCoy to Marcus Johnson on a wheel route against a blitz - and general ineffectiveness by OU on offense into a 23-10 halftime lead. If OU's Roy Finch hadn't busted a 73-yard kickoff return after Johnson scored to up UT up 20-3, it's likely that OU wouldn't have scored a TD in the first half. Instead, they went into halftime down 23-10.
In the second half, neither team's offense could really get uncorked, but UT's Daje Johnson was able to break off an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown after OU's coverage team overshot him when trying to get downfield. The ensuing extra point was blocked...but Blake Bell threw another pick on the ensuing OU possession, and then Case McCoy threw another beautiful pass to Mike Davis for another UT touchdown, and holy smokes what the hell is going on here?! Needless to say, that escalated quickly. Even Case McCoy handing OU a pick-six in the 4th couldn't make this a game.
Stats of note: 130 yards rushing for OU on 33 carries, or 3.9 yards per carry. Even with sack yardage being mistakenly applied to rushing totals, this number is still a huge win for Texas, given all their problems against the run and the presence of Blake Bell in a Sooner uniform.
Also of note: 13-20 on third down for UT, 2-13 on third down for OU. The game was won in a lot of different ways for UT, but their dominance on both sides of the ball on third down (a product of Texas managing to stay ahead of the chains and OU getting stuck in passing downs) went a long way in keeping OU disjointed on offense and on the field on defense.
I don't know which offense was more inept in the first half of this game. TCU essentially gifted KU both scores in the first half, with an interception off of a tipped pass leading to KU's field goal, and a pick-six by Jacorey Shepard providing the lone touchdown. For their part, KU ran for 31 yards in the first half, on 20 carries. That includes sacks, but it does fine on its own as an indicator of their own offensive struggles. Combine that with 66 passing yards (with one play accounting for 50 yards of that total), and the first half was a mess for the Jayhawks. Still, because of the aforementioned mistakes by TCU, they went into the half tied, 10-10.
And then the wheels fell off immediately after halftime, as they are so often wont to do for KU. A 75-yard TD on a pass play from Boykin to David Porter on the first play from scrimmage for TCU. A fumble by James Sims on the ensuing KU possession (after a 30-yard gain, no less), which TCU drove in for a touchdown. That made the game 24-10 in favor of TCU, and if you've watched KU at all this year you know that's all the margin you need. KU's defense (or TCU's offense) kept the game close, but no matter how close they kept it KU wasn't ever going to threaten to take the lead.
Stats of note: 46 yards rushing on 34 attempts, for 1.4 yards per carry. This number is misleading in that it also includes Heaps' 5 carries for -39 yards (!), but you get the picture. KU needs to run the ball to be successful on offense, and even though they nominally tried to stick to the run in this game, TCU's defensive front was just too tough.
Also of note: TCU turned it over 5 times in what is becoming a tradition when they play KU, but they only allowed 10 points off turnovers (7 of those off of a pick-six).
Iowa State Cyclones at Texas Tech Red Raiders (L, 35-42)
This is one of those games that makes it difficult to determine whether one team's (Texas Tech) flaws were exposed, or if another team (Iowa State) is truly improving as the season goes along. As always, it's likely a bit of both. Tech is pretty much universally thought to be a tier above ISU this year, and while the score in this one was pretty close, the game bore that assessment out. ISU scored on a kickoff return, as well as scoring 12 points off of 3 Tech turnovers, otherwise this game would not have been as close. As it was, ISU remained within striking distance throughout the game, but their anemic passing attack was ineffective against Tech's defense, and they couldn't ever take the lead. As for that defense, ISU is hardly a powerhouse offensive attack, but it might be time to start listing Tech amongst the conference's best defenses. Tuberville did a good job of stocking the front-seven with talent, and that is paying dividends for Coach Dudebro this season.
Stats of note: 35-56, 415 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, 7.4 yards per attempt. Davis Webb had a very effective outing filling in for Baker Mayfield, and it is somehow looking like Tech might have 3 QBs and not just one.
Also of note: 15-38, 168 yards, 1 TD, 4.4 yards per attempt. Sam Richardson, on the other hand, did not have an effective outing. Those numbers pretty much fit the definition of "anemic" in terms of pass offense.
And now, time for the flavor of the week! That immolation of West Virginia appeared to make a lot of believers out of those on the fence, as Baylor garnered 90% of the vote last week. I'm interested to see what people thought of their performance in Manhattan. OU came in "second" with 6% of the vote, and in my dream world they get nothing this week. Finally, I've decided that the cutoff for the list is going to be three conference losses, as I can still see a world where 6-3 wins the conference if I really squint.