Well, that was an unexpectedly exciting week! Unfortunately for the Big 12, there were some titanic matchups going on elsewhere (you may even have seen highlights) that meant that few were tuning into our games with any regularity. I must admit, I'm guilty of that behavior, but you can hardly blame me. Two of this week's matchups seemed like blowouts waiting to happen (with one of those living up to expectations) and the other game was between ISU and WVU. Of course, we should always know better than to go with our gut. On to the recaps!
There's really not that much to say about this game. Texas Tech opened the scoring with a 51-yard run on a fake punt by Ryan Erxleben (which is really pretty awesome, considering that's a punter outrunning everyone for 50 yards), but Texas essentially dominated the game from that point onwards. The fact that Texas' starting QB is Case McCoy kept the score close in the first half, but the game was never in doubt. Tyrone Swoopes even got in on the action late, scoring his first touchdown as a Longhorn, which I'm sure makes everyone in Austin feel so much better about burning his redshirt.
Stats of note: 281 rushing yards on 61(!) carries for Texas, good for 4.6 yards per rush. That's a familiar sight for Red Raider fans, as Tech has just been getting steamrolled on the ground down the stretch of the conference season. That total also includes 8 carries for 8 yards by freshman RB Jalen Overstreet, who I've never heard of before.
Also of note: 396 yards of total offense for Tech...on 80 total plays, good for 4.95 yards per play. That's probably good enough if you're running the triple option, but not so much if you're running the Air Raid.
This game, on the other hand, could really be the source material for its own odyssey. I'm not going to quite give it that treatment, but I may have come close. I didn't really expect much going into this one, but I was forgetting two very important things: 1) Baylor is a completely different team on the road, and 2) Gary Patterson is a heck of a coach. If I'm being honest, Baylor didn't deserve to win this one. Luckily for them, this season (and maybe last season, too) has just been cursed for TCU.
With less than 5 minutes to go in the first half, TCU leads 17-13 with the ball on their 32 yard-line. They then attempt a trick play WR pass that is snuffed out, leading to an intentional grounding penalty that pushes the ball back to their own 11. BJ Catalon fumbles on the next play. Baylor recovers on the TCU 1, with Bryce Petty immediately punching in the touchdown on the ensuing play. Baylor leads, 20-17. After three-and-outs by both teams, TCU takes over again and drives to the Baylor 26 in the final minute of the first half...only for Pachall to throw an interception returned 82 yards for a touchdown. Baylor leads going into halftime, 27-17. After getting the ball to start the second half, TCU drives to the Baylor 46...before Pachall decided once wasn't enough and throws his second pick-six. Baylor leads, 34-17.
As you can probably surmise from the scores I gave you, Baylor didn't do much offensively in this game without the help of TCU's offense. In what I can only assume was a gentlemanly effort to return the favor, the Baylor defense responded with personal fouls on each of TCU's next two drives, both of which were converted into touchdowns to cut Baylor's lead to 34-31. Baylor then came through with their only significant drive of the second half, finishing with a 33-yard pass to Levi Norwood for their final score of the game to put them up 41-31.
A Bryce Petty interception in the waning seconds of the third quarter allowed TCU to trim Baylor's lead to 41-38 on a Pachall TD pass on the first play of the 4th, setting up a very tight finish. In the fourth, both teams were able to move the ball but were unable to score. With 1:36 remaining in the fourth, Baylor punted to the TCU 27, but were penalized 15-yards for kick-catch interference, setting up TCU's final drive. Pachall was able to move the ball down to the Baylor 23 (well within range of a tying field goal)...before getting entirely too greedy taking a shot to the endzone with 11 seconds left. Pass intercepted, game over.
Stats of note: 370 offensive yards for Baylor on 90 plays, or 4.1 yards per play. I know I've been saying that Okie Lite has the best defensive unit in the conference, hands down, but I'd like to see what TCU's defense would have looked like with a competent offense backing them up. In this game alone, their offense gifted 21 points to the opposition, while their D otherwise held Baylor to 20 points.
Also of note: TCU actually outgained Baylor in this game, which I'm pretty sure could have won you some decent money if you were willing to bet on it.
Iowa State Cyclones at West Virginia Mountaineers (W, 52-44 3OT)
Say one thing for the two newest additions to the conference - they sure do aim to entertain, even if they aren't all that good at winning. I have to admit that I didn't see any of the game, much less the ridiculous ending. I say ridiculous, because I tuned out of even looking at the gamecast of this one with WVU up 31-7 in the second quarter (I KNOW). Again, I was forgetting the simple fact that WVU has of late been reverting to their 2012 form of "defense". I was also working under the assumption that ISU looking so good offensively in their last game against Kansas had to do more with their opponent than with their own performance, which may have been a bit dismissive on my part (then again, ISU just fired their offensive coordinator and their running backs coach, so I don't seem to have been the only one thinking along those lines).
Really, though, WVU probably just TCU-ed this game. With less than 10 minutes in the game and leading 38-28, WVU fumbled on their own 38. ISU only got a field goal out of that possession, but Clint Trickett was forgiving enough to give them another chance on the next WVU possession, throwing an interception on his own 33. ISU scored on a 19-yard pass from Rohach to Justin Coleman to tie the game up, which eventually led to overtime. Or, in this case, three overtimes. Skipping to the third overtime, the game was decided when West Virginia was unable to answer ISU's touchdown despite getting 1st and goal from the ISU 3. One-yard loss, incompletion, one-yard loss, three-yard pass. Game over, ISU wins, WVU finishes 4-8 (oof), and KU is assured of being all alone in last place.
Stats of note: 4 turnovers for WVU, just too much to overcome when you combine it with going 4-16 on third down (and 0-2 on fourth down). Holgo needs a quality QB in the worst way.
Also of note: 1095 yards rushing on the season for Charles Sims, putting him five yards behind James Sims for second place in the conference. You know you're in 2013 when the two leading rushers in the conference play for arguably the two worst teams in the conference.
And now, time for the ultimate (or last, I prefer to say ultimate for obvious reasons) flavor of the week! This last week of conference play has already more than lived up to the Big 12 scheduler's dreams. Texas and Baylor play one another for a share of the conference title, and that share would become an outright title if OU were to win against Okie Lite. Luckily for me, OU has been eliminated from contention, so no matter what I'll probably be happy with the outcome. In the case of Okie Lite, it's simple - win, and they clinch a share of the conference title and the Big XII auto-bid due to their head-to-head wins over Baylor and UT. Who needs a conference championship game?