This felt like a statement weekend for a lot of programs. Baylor staked their claim as a national title contender for the second week in a row. OU looked to be making all the wrong kinds of statements before turning things around for a resounding win over ISU to set up a very interesting matchup with K-State. UT was looking to make it known that their comeback was to be taken seriously, but they ran into a more talented OSU team on a similar mission to gain respect. And boy, were they impressive. Finally, you have the Kansas Jayhawks, whose players showed they hadn't given up on a disappointing season by pulling off a relatively dominant win over West Virginia, a team that just can't seem to get off the bus on the road. On to the recaps!
Iowa State Cyclones at Oklahoma Sooners (L, 10-48)
The first half notwithstanding, this game went about as expected. ISU played both Oklahoma schools close for a half before folding, in this case going up 10-3 with less than six to go in the second quarter before giving up 45 unanswered points to "close out" the game. Blake Bell saw minimal action at QB, and while Trevor Knight is arguably a worse passer than Bell his explosiveness running the ball is something that OU really seems to benefit from, so that could be something to look out for next week. Regardless, OU's offense is still as one-dimensional as they come regardless of who the QB is.
Stats of note: 44 carries, 404 yards rushing, 9.2 yards per rush for OU. Of course, it's fine to be one-dimensional when you can get 9+ yards a play doing just the one thing. ISU is pretty terrible on defense without Knott and Klein this year, and OU had their way with them for the majority of this game.
Also of note: ISU had 20 first downs to OU's 21, which just goes to show you that first downs don't really matter if you can't convert them into touchdowns, or if the other team just keeps scoring in chunks.
West Virginia Mountaineers at Kansas Jayhawks (L, 19-31)
THE STREAK IS DEAD.
LONG LIVE THE STREAK.
Kind of crazy that KU can go from losing 27 conference games in a row to seriously contemplating winning two conference games in a row, but it's a definite possibility at this point. Something far more certain is the fact that West Virginia is terrible on the road in this conference, whether it be due to being in a different time zone, distance, bad luck, coaching, or (of course) a combination of everything. KU pounded WVU with the run game, something WVU looked unprepared for and unable to stop. Paul Millard was able to make some big plays with his arm (courtesy of some KU missed tackles, of course) to give WVU plenty of chances in this game, but he threw two extremely costly picks (including one returned into the West Virginia redzone) that contributed greatly to them only scoring 7 points against a defense that is probably average at best.
Stats of note: 22 carries, 211 rushing yards, 3 TDs for James Sims. I said it in the viewing thread but I'll say it again: James Sims doesn't deserve to have played on as many terrible teams as he has been on. He's a quality Big XII player with a shot at a pro future; it's just hard to see through the quagmire that KU has been stuck in of late.
Also of note: The last time KU won a conference game I was still on campus. Goddamn.
Oklahoma State Cowboys at Texas Longhorns (W, 38-13)
One of two well-hyped games in the conference this week, this one served up a pretty dramatic statement as to just where these two teams stand. As a lot of people thought, UT's resurgence was a little bit more smoke, mirrors, and luck than it was actual substance (at least, once you remove the very substantial Chris Whaley from their equation), while OSU is a legitimate conference title contender.
You'll probably remember people saying that Greg Robinson is very good when he's allowed to focus on taking one thing away, but he struggles when forced to defend multi-dimensional offenses. That's actually not a bad thing this year in the Big 12, as the only teams that are really effectively balanced are Baylor (duh), Oklahoma State (since Chelf has taken over), and the current iteration of Kansas State (gasp!). Unfortunately, you can see for yourselves what the results are against a good, balanced offense - UT was able to shut down Okie Lite's non-QB game, but the cost was letting Chelf have arguably his best day as a collegian. Combine that with Oklahoma State finally making Texas pay for starting a noodle-armed jump-passer in a major college conference, and you have the recipe for a blowout home loss. I'm imagining whatever good feelings UT's winning streak precipitated in its fans have been replaced by the worry for the program's future that likely never went that far below the surface to start. This is the kind of loss that brings back a lot of the same questions for UT, which has to be getting old.
Stats of note: 16-22, 197 passing yards, 9.0 yards per attempt, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 10 carries, 95 rushing yards, 2 TDs for Clint Chelf. Chelf accounted for 292 of OSU's 380 total yards, or roughly 77% of their offense. Not bad for a "backup."
Also of note: Meanwhile, Case McCoy was going 26-39 for 221 yards at 5.7 yards per attempt, with 0 TDs and 3 INTs, one of which was a pick-six to Justin Gilbert. Not a bad completion percentage, but nothing long and a lot of short routes were getting jumped. That's how you're supposed to defend under the Case Rules.
For those itching to see Baylor finally have to face some in-game adversity, the last two weeks have provided some much-anticipated tests. The Bears passed with flying colors against OU, and while Tech is fading fast, anyone who watched this game knows that they had ample fight and were no pushover opponent. Jace Amaro made an impact early with two first quarter TD grabs while Baylor took their time getting their offense on track, falling behind 14-0 and then 20-7 after Eric Ward scored on a 5-yard pass.
It looked as though maybe the loss of Tevin Reese at WR and the absence of Seastrunk and Martin at RB were having an effect on Baylor's comfort level on offense...and then Levi Norwood happened. Norwood scored the "7" in 20-7 on a 40-yard pass in which almost all the yardage came after the catch, and then he proceeded to return a Tech punt 58 yards to cut the deficit to 6 points at 20-14. A touchdown pass from Petty to Goodley followed to bring Baylor all the way back to up one at 21-20, and by that point you knew that the Bears were probably going to be alright.
The rest of the game featured a lot of exciting plays, mostly by Baylor, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt from the point Baylor neutralized Tech's early advantage. In a somewhat ridiculous display of an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, Baylor scored three touchdowns from the aforementioned Norwood to go with another two touchdowns from fourth-string running back Devin Chafin. Art Briles said that they "finally have Big XII depth." I'm wondering who else in the Big XII has depth like that.
Stats of note: Bryce Petty had 17 completions for 335 yards - that's almost 20 yards a catch, for an entire game. Tech was getting tore up from the middle of the first quarter onwards.
Also of note: Baylor ran for 340 yards and passed for 335 yards. Is that what they call balance?
And now, time for the flavor of the week! There're really only three options at this point, and only two of those are palatable to most and there is one other team that no one trusts yet still isn't eliminated, and it's not even Texas! For my part, I think Texas' chances of winning went out the window this weekend, but officially they still have a shot since everyone still has at least two games to play. Everything is pointing towards next week's Baylor - Okie Lite game deciding the conference championship, but there will be opportunities for others to play spoiler after that, so the season will hardly be decided. Still, that's the game to look forward to!