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Big 12 Roundup: Hubris and Hill

A big upset and a big beatdown marked Week 6 in the Big 12.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

So what did we learn from Week 6 in the Big 12? Let’s dive right in.

If you’re a Top 5 team from Oklahoma, never play Iowa State. At all. Ever.

Oklahoma hosted Iowa State last Saturday in Norman. Oklahoma was a 31-point favorite over Iowa State. Oklahoma was on an 18-game win streak against Iowa State. So, of course, Oklahoma lost to Iowa State 38-31.

Recall that a few week ago, Baker Mayfield had planted the OU flag at midfield at Ohio Stadium and been both applauded and criticized for this fun but slightly obnoxious moment. Well, what goes around comes around:

Props to Iowa State though, because a teammate immediately yelled at Evrett Edwards for the stunt, an assistant yanked out the flag, and someone apologized to the Sooners. It was the final slap down to Oklahoma’s hubris on a day that absolutely belonged to the Cyclones.

So what did Iowa State do to earn the shocking upset? They did everything better than Oklahoma. Backup quarterback Kyle Kempt, playing in relief of the absent Jacob Park, became an instant superstar. He had 343 yards on 18/24 passing with three touchdowns, while Mayfield had 306 yards on 24/33 passing with two scores. Iowa State was +1 in turnovers, and the Cyclones were 3/3 on field goals on a day when Oklahoma kicker Austin Seibert—already only 50% on the season—missed a key 44-yard attempt. Iowa State’s defense gave up more yards on the ground to the Sooners, but also tackled better and sacked Mayfield twice in the game.

For the Sooners, the big problem was not their offense but their inability to stop Iowa State. I could go into a lot of detail, I could make snarky commentary about Mike Stoops, or I could just rely on a former Sooner instead:

The day belonged to the Cyclones, but mostly to Joel Lanning, the quarterback-turned-linebacker who played on offense (2/3 for 25 yards passing, 9 rushes for 35 yards) and on defense (8 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL), recovering a key fumble in the fourth quarter. He even played on special teams. Just call him Superman already!

Oh, and before I forget, this thing finally makes sense:

TCU has quietly risen to the top of the Big 12 heap

West Virginia took an early 3-0 lead in the game and held on to it for a quarter and a half before TCU scored on a 2-yard run from Sewo Olenilua in the second quarter. TCU would go on to win the game 31-24, and if anything, the game was even closer than the scoreline might suggest.

The two teams came alive in the second half though. Will Grier threw an interception early in the third stanza, but then woke up. With two fabulous pitch-and-catch plays in the space of about two minutes, Grier had two touchdowns and the ‘Eers had a tie ball game.

Then Kenny Hill happened. He threw for a 45-yard score, caught a 48-yard touchdown pass, and with less than three minutes to go, he ran in a score from three yards out to score what turned out to the game-winning touchdown. Hill became only the second player to throw, run, and catch for a score in a single conference game ever. Hill has had a long and checkered journey since the “Kenny Trill” days at Texas A&M, and now he’s finally grown into the role he was always intended for: star quarterback for a great team.

This was supposed to be a contest between two competent defenses, and for a half, it sort of was. The Horned Frogs gave the ‘Eers so many different looks in the first half that even Will Grier was surprised. TCU hurried Grier constantly, sacking him twice, breaking up six passes, and picking him off once. But you can only contain Grier for so long. Ultimately, he’ll get his, and in this game, that was to the tune of 366 yards through the air for three scores. The ‘Eers’ Justin Crawford added another 111 yards on the ground, and in total, TCU’s vaunted defense gave up 508 yards and didn’t look good doing it.

Still, 5-0 and leading the Big 12 is where TCU finds itself, and nobody’s really complaining. Definitely not Gary Patterson.

Texas Tech is doing Texas Tech things

Six weeks into the season, only one thing about Texas Tech is perfectly clear. The offense can score at will, and usually does. That the Red Raiders beat Kansas is no surprise at all (because Kansas), but the 65-19 thrashing Tech delivered to KU is the worst beatdown of the Jayhawks this season (so far).

The most interesting thing about this game was that Texas Tech only had 27 pass attempts total. Instead, the Red Raiders chose to win this game with an unexpected and devastating rushing attack. Texas Tech racked up 313 yards on the ground, including a 161-yard day for Justin Stockton and 93 yards off just 11 carries for Desmond Nisby who also had four touchdowns on the day.

So Texas Tech is now 4-1 and would be undefeated if the stars had aligned against Oklahoma State. It’s a long season and anything could happen, but for a guy on a very hot seat just a few weeks ago, Kliff Kingsbury is doing just fine.

By halftime, Kansas was trailing 35-7, and although switching out the struggling Peyton Bender for Carter Stanley did provide a bit of a spark, it was definitely not enough. The Jayhawks managed to close the gap to 35-19, but an interception from Stanley turned into points for Tech on the next series, and that was that.

The 2.5 Kansas fans who still care about football (less than X days to basketball!) would like to fire everyone.

Did someone say fire?