What just happened? Recapping the Big XII, Week 1

Cooper Neill

Alright guys, here is my first attempt at recapping last week's action in the Big XII. Let me know what you think, and if there are any things you would like me to focus on/add/ignore in next week's edition. Thanks for reading!

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. SMU Mustangs (W, 41-23)

As one of the few Friday night games, most of us probably would have seen a lot more of this game if the evening had gone as hoped. Instead, most of us were far too busy with…things… to pay attention to this game. This game essentially can be ignored until the 4th quarter, when Baker Mayfield blew open a 20-16 game by accounting for three touchdowns (2 passing, 1 rushing) to push the score to 41-16. SMU scored again late, and even recovered the ensuing onside kick, but by that point it was pretty much all she wrote.

Stats of note: 43/60, 413 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs. That’s Baker Mayfield’s stat-line, the first true-freshman walk-on QB to start at a BCS school. Not too shabby.

Also of note: 41/62, 388 yards, 14 carries, 53 yards, 1 TD. That is Garrett Gilbert’s stat-line, which is really only of note because I didn’t know it was possible for him to throw 20 passes without a pick, much less 62.

West Virginia Mountaineers vs. W&M Tribe (W, 24-17)

I actually watched a decent amount of this game, and could tell you next to nothing about it. This was one of the few games I’ve seen where the secondary for both teams looked completely outmatched, yet neither team was able to get any offensive rhythm. For WVU, there were some positives, namely that Charles Sims made it readily apparent that Andrew Buie was correct in seeking transfer. Paul Millard also looked like a decent option at QB, and definitely a lot better than their grad-transfer backup, Clint Trickett. Finally, WVU’s defensive line looked stronger and more explosive than last year…..but, William and Mary. And when your secondary doesn’t even look passable against the Tribe, lookout when Big XII play begins.

Stats of note: 23 carries, 120 yards, 1 TD, 1 reception, 12 yards. It’s the Tribe, but that stat-line in addition to what I saw at Houston leads me to believe that Charles Sims is ready to introduce himself to the Big XII.

Also of note: 3.9 yards per carry. That’s what WVU averaged against W&M. Meanwhile, W&M averaged 7.7 yards per pass against WVU’s secondary.

Oklahoma State Cowboys vs. MSU Bulldogs (W, 21-3)

This was the big matchup of the afternoon, so most of you were probably watching. However, I am here for those who weren’t. Essentially, Okie Lite was unable to get anything going on offense with Clint Chelf under center against MSU’s defensive line pressure (or, the POWER of ESS-EEE-SEE FOOBAW according to the announcers), and had to insert J.W. Walsh and his wheels in order to move the ball. Once OSU unveiled their "Trey" formation (Walsh lined up in the pistol, one RB on either side, one RB behind), MSU was left scrambling, unable to adjust their gameplan to account for the changes in coverage and man assignments necessary against such a packed-in formation. This enabled Okie Lite to score one touchdown a quarter for the rest of the game, and they ended up only needing the first one. That is because the true heroes in this matchup ended up being OSU’s defense, in particular their front seven, as they held MSU to 3 yards per carry and forced Tyler Russell to make throws before he wanted (2 INTs).

Stats of note: 16 yards, 416 yards. The first is the number of yards of offense gained by Okie Lite under Clint Chelf, the second is the number of yards gained with J.W. Walsh behind center. Now, Chelf only got two drives, but it was readily apparent that J.W. Walsh just gives Okie Lite so many more options on offense, especially since Chelf was not quick enough with his reads to take advantage of his superior arm.

Also of note: 5.0. That’s the number of yards per pass attempt for J.W. Walsh. The Trey formation may have saved Okie Lite’s bacon this week, but they are going to have to figure out how to get the ball out wide to Stewart and Moore (only 4 catches each for less than 80 yards total) if they want to continue their pointsploding ways.

Aside: This game shows exactly why it is of great benefit to play a name opponent the first week – not only do the fans get psyched up, but the coaches and players do as well. Additionally, there is no overriding urge to "hide" things from future opponents, and thus we get to see game-winning adjustments like Okie Lite’s "Trey" formation.

Oklahoma Sooners vs. ULM Warhawks (W, 34-0)

This was the only Big XII game I was unable to catch any of this weekend, since I really don’t like OU and am not really interested in watching their team grow over the season. It appears that the fears many had for the defense may have been overstated, as Kolton Browning was held to 3.3 yards per attempt on 39 attempts. Not a typo. That’s quite a bit of dinking-and-dunking. Somehow, OU’s freshman phenom, Trevor Knight, was even worse, averaging 3.1 yards per attempt (albeit with 3 TDs tossed as well). It seems like the aerial attack that OU has been known for since the days of Jason White may have to go by the wayside this season, as OU managed only 124 passing yards against ULM, compared to 305 rushing yards. Bob also loves to run on people in the non-con, so it could just be that…but then you see that Knight was 11/28 for 86 yards and realize he’s probably not the second coming of Sam Bradford.

Stats of note: 0. The number of minutes I spent watching this game, which was a win for me.

Also of note: I said it earlier, but 124 yards. That’s the number of passing yards OU had in this game, which is about what Ryan Broyles averaged per game his last three years as a Sooner.

Baylor Bears vs. Wofford Terriers (W, 69-3)

I think we all know what happened here. Baylor, unsurprisingly, looks like they have a competent successor to whatever QB just finished leading the NCAA in offense (I’m saving this line so I can use it again next year). Wofford, despite being a quality FCS outfit, was quite rapidly drawn, quartered, and rendered into meat and sinew. That is how you are supposed to greet FCS visitors.

Stats of note: All of Baylor’s stats are both notable and trivial at the same time. One of the more impressive stats I read was that Baylor scored on 71.4% of their possessions, both with Petty and afterwards with their backup QB. I think that’s called plug-and-play, folks.

Also of note: Baylor’s stats would be more impressive if I didn’t achieve them every week in NCAA Football 14. Come on guys, step it up.

Iowa State Cyclones vs. UNI Panthers (L, 20-28)

Ah, schadenfreude. If only it wasn’t the two most down-to-earth programs in the Big XII having to engage in it with one another…Over at WRNL, they are calling this the most "nut-crushing" loss of Paul Rhoads’ tenure, and I can see where they are coming from. This is probably the only loss they’ve had under Rhoads that came to a team that is (or at least, seems to be on paper) less talented than they are. NIU came out hot, scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions while ISU got acclimated. Unfortunately, that never really happened, as the ISU offensive line consistently let NIU defensive linemen and linebackers get into Sam Richardson’s face, forcing him to throw the ball away and/or scramble for a ton of short gains. That is worrisome, to say the least, against an FCS foe. ISU was able to mount a comeback, but their last real drive with a chance of tying things up ended with a false start on 3rd and 10 and a subsequent sack. Pretty indicative of the offensive line’s day as a whole.

Stats of note: 316 total yards, 242 passing, 74 rushing, 6 yards per play, 2 passing TDs. That’s the total yards from scrimmage for Sam Richardson, who seems like he might be a legit quarterback assuming he can get some help from his offensive line.

Also of note: 50 yards. The number of rushing yards Sam Richardson had if you take out his longest carry, leaving him with 50 yards on 20 attempts. That’s a lot of your QB running around trying to avoid getting his head knocked off, and likely means you will be starting a new QB at some point if it continues.

(Speaking of schadenfreude, I originally had the winning team here as NIU instead of UNI, about the third or fourth time I've mixed up those two teams since they both beat teams from Iowa. Then again, losing to NIU this year probably doesn't even qualify as a bad loss unless you are an elite team, and Iowa hasn't been that for a while.)

Texas Longhorns vs. NMSU Aggies (W, 56-7)

2:28 left in the 2nd quarter. The Aggies have just gone ahead 7-0 after David Ash threw his second pick of the game, to go along with a fumble by Mike Davis and a failed 4th down conversion by Joe Bergeron. UT fans are dreaming about how much money Deloss Dodds is going to offer Chris Petersen. Actually, at this point they are probably dreaming about how much money it would take to fire Deloss Dodds. Fast forward 16 plays for Texas on offense. They are now leading 35-7 with 8:11 to go in the third. Mack Brown is taking us back to the Rose Bowl, folks! If you don’t love college football, you aren’t paying close enough attention.

Stats of note: 345 yards. The amount of yardage gained by UT during that 16 play stretch. That includes a 54-yard TD pass to John Harris, a 66-yard TD pass to Daje Johnson, a 24-yard TD run by Daje Johnson, a 30-yard pass to Malcolm Brown, a 55-yard TD run by David Ash, and a 74-yard pass to Malcolm Brown. That’s Baylor-esque, right there.

Also of note: UT went from down 7-0 with less than 3 to go in the first half, to piling up 56 points and a school-record 715 yards of offense . My how quickly things can change…

TCU Horned Frogs vs. LSU Tigers (L, 27-37)

This is another one that I’m pretty sure almost all of us caught, but I’ll try to lay out the important bits regardless. The game almost started out as badly as it could for TCU, as LSU was able to get to TCU’s 6 on its first drive in addition to forcing a fumble on TCU’s first kickoff return. However, the Horned Frog defense did its part, and held LSU to two field goals. For us fans at home, this was an extremely welcome sign, as we now just had to wait for Casey Pachall to come on the field and show what the TCU offense could look like with a real QB. Only…not so much. Pachall looked (unsurprisingly, really) rusty after an entire year away from football, and playing his first game at night in Death Valley Jerry World (Thanks, Itchy) against LSU probably didn’t help matters. If not for a kickoff return for a touchdown, TCU would have been in dire straits after the first half. As it was, they went into the locker room down only 16-10.
On TCU’s first drive of the second half, Pachall was intercepted on a deep route, ending his night. When LSU converted the INT into a touchdown I thought TCU was done, but Trevone Boykin had other ideas. In a truly impressive performance, the QB-turned-RB-turned-QB-turned-backup-turned-savior showed that he didn’t go into the summer willing to hand the starting QB position back to Pachall. Displaying an improved throwing motion and quicker reads in addition to his effective running ability, Boykin was able to start moving the offense more consistently and his insertion paid immediate dividends as TCU was able score a touchdown on his first drive to pull to within 23-17.The remainder of this game was very intense and very fun, but I’m not going to summarize everything that happened. Suffice to say that TCU was able to ride a stellar defense and Boykin-led offense to within 3 points of LSU at 30-27, before the kickoff team gave up a 75-yard return that allowed LSU to punch in the clinching TD. Overall, I was highly impressed by TCU’s defense, especially given that they were missing arguably their best player. On the other hand, TCU’s offense did not look as good as I expected, but I think Pachall needs a better opportunity than a night game against LSU to work out some kinks before we can really say whether he is done as a starting QB or not.

Stats of note: 13. That’s the number of first downs that TCU had all game, 4 of them coming on their first drive. LSU is not the kind of defense you can nickel-and-dime and expect to be successful.

Also of note: 448. The number of yards given up by TCU’s defense. The reason I bring this up is because they were still somehow very impressive despite all those yards, which is hard to do.

That’s it for this week, hope you enjoyed the recaps! I have to say, I will probably tone them down a bit next week as this took a lot longer than I anticipated (always does), but hopefully once the conference season comes around I can flesh them back out again as there will only be 5 games a week.

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