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Big 12 Roundup: Separation

Recapping a week of strange results in the Big 12

Louisiana v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Week 6 is the midpoint of the regular season of college football, and generally when there is true separation between the top and bottom of the conference. We certainly had that this week, although the results themselves fell somewhere between odd and insane.

For Kansas State fans licking their wounds after the debacle in Stillwater, there was maybe some tiny consolation in knowing other teams were knocked off their high horses too? It’s not much, but we’ll take it.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss

If the last-ever clash of Oklahoma and Texas as Big 12 teams needed more drama, it got just that in the form of the teams’ rankings and unbeaten records. But, as has happened many times before in this conference storied (LOL) history, the Sooners prevailed in a tightly contested 34-30 game. A late TD pass from OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel (23/38, 285 yards, 1 TD) iced the game, and on a day when Gabriel was also the team’s leading rusher (14 carries, 113 yards, 1 TD), that’s all the Sooners really needed. OU came into the game an underdog, and left it as the conference’s only real contender. Plus ça change...

That brings us to the real question here: is Texas back? Well,

In fairness to the Horns, they were in the game till the bitter end, and if it wasn’t for two first half interceptions from Quinn Ewers (how very K-State of him), the outcome might have been different. Indeed, it was Ewers who dragged Texas back into the game in the second half. But the Horns could not muster much offense in the red zone and the defense’s inability to generate turnovers was as costly as Ewers turning the ball over early in the game.

Still, in order to make a trip to the Big 12 title game (and maybe earn a spot in the College Football Playoff), Texas can use the loss as motivation, but will have to be perfect from here on out. It remains to be seen if the team is even capable of that.

Both teams are off this week.

What is this I don’t even

Joining Texas at 5-1 and still very much in contention is Kansas. That’s not even a typo. It hurts to admit this, but the Jayhawks are decent. Jason Bean only completed 8 passes for 91 yards, but the team barely missed a beat, trucking UCF 51-22, while rushing for nearly 400 yards, maybe in honor of legendary running back Tony Sands. Want another shocking stat? KU only punted once the entire game. Also, Kansas does things like this now. Sigh.

Be afraid for that streak, EMAW fam, be very afraid.

Meanwhile, UCF just cannot get out of its own way. Desperate for a conference win, the Knights started injured quarterback John Rhys Plumlee against Kansas, but to little avail. He left the game early, leaving Timmy McClain to struggle. On a day when the defense just couldn’t get off the field, having the offense go scoreless in the first half was not a formula for success.

UCF finally catches a break this week, because even the Knights can’t lose to BYE. Kansas, on the other hand, will takes its newfound swagger to Stillwater to take on a suddenly resurgent Oklahoma State squad.

The road is fine

Texas Tech has struggled on the road for several seasons, but a 39-14 blowout win over Baylor in Waco may signal the end of those struggles and a much-needed turnaround for the program in Joey McGuire’s second year. Behren Morton passed for 186 yards and running back Tajh Brooks nearly matched him on the ground with 170 yards. Has this team found some swagger, a much-needed identity after the long post-Kingsbury hangover? Maybe, and the rest of the season will be more revealing.

But what we learned in this game is that Tech is absolutely capable of just lining up and hitting the other team in the mouth. The Red Raiders dominated Baylor at the line of scrimmage, ultimately holding the Bears to an embarrassing rushing total of just 17 yards. On top of that, despite quarterback Blake Shapen throwing for 324 yards (he also took three sacks), the offense only managed one touchdown late in the game, showed little firepower, and generally seemed like a shadow of its former shelf.

Like UCF, Baylor will get a bit of a breather by being off this week, while Texas Tech plays Kansas State.


Joining the logjam of teams with just one conference loss is Iowa State, an unexpected late addition to the mix. Wearing throwback jerseys in honor of Jack Trice, the Cyclones played well within themselves and still managed to beat TCU 27-14. More physical on both sides of the ball than their opponents, the Clones rushed for 215 yards as a team, and the defense managed to keep the Frogs out of the end zone for much of the game before TCU closed the gap a little with a garbage-time score.

For TCU, the season has gone from bad-to-worse, and it’s easy to forget that the program is barely months removed from an appearance in the CFP title game. The game against Iowa State might have gone better, but starter Chandler Morris was lost to a gruesome injury, and his backups were not quite up to the task. All in all, the three QBs accounted for four interceptions, possibly the most turnovers the Cyclones have had since that insane 9-7 win over Nebraska in Lincoln back in 2009.

In fact, in honor of that game, we’ll skip the near-obligatory Matt Campbell GIF. Instead, here’s Nebraska turning the ball over eight times, set to the tune of (what else?) Yakkety Sax.

Iowa State plays Cincinnati next and TCU will host former MWC rival BYU.