Big 12 powerhouses shaken up
Notebook: WVU's Smith stopped; Texas stumbles
Here's what we know about the Big 12 after this past Saturday's slate of games: nothing.
West Virginia's offense was supposed to be completely unstoppable; the call that Texas Tech's defense was much-improved was thought to be full of hot air after a poor showing a week earlier. Oklahoma and its senior quarterback Landry Jones was facing a down season; Texas was "back" to national prominence. TCU was going to struggle mightily without its starting quarterback; Baylor could put up points on anybody.
All soothsaying proved to be untrue this weekend. Down went West Virginia, Texas and Baylor. Up shot Texas Tech, Oklahoma and TCU. Even Iowa State and Kansas, which lost close games to Kansas State and Oklahoma State, respectively, showed promise.
"If we'd left our starting defense out there, I don't think the end would have been like it was," OU head coach Bob Stoops said, after his team blasted the Longhorns 63-21 in the Red River Rivalry.
Ouch. But it's fair — Texas' offense didn't account for a point until mop-up time in the fourth quarter.
As for the Mountaineers, they were undone on the High Plains thanks to a solid performance from Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege — 499 yards, six touchdowns. Now, WVU has to win this weekend against Kansas State at home in Morgantown, then hope the Red Raiders lose once more.
"They outplayed us, they outcoached us," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said after the 49-14 loss.
The conference nightcap in Waco, Texas, was close for three quarters until TCU pulled away, scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth to win 49-21.
Trevone Boykin, in place of Casey Pachall who is suspended the rest of the season, threw for 261 yards and four scores, warding off doubters who figured the Frogs were finished after a home loss to Iowa State the weekend before.
And that leaves us where? Not knowing much more than we did before a few days ago, but with plenty of questions to be answered the next seven weeks.
Baylor (3-2, 0-2 Big 12)
• It's hard to win when you turn the ball over six times, which Baylor did in its loss to the TCU. Senior quarterback Nick Florence, a couple weeks removed from leading an offensive charge that put up 63 points on the road, tossed four picks.
• It's also hard to win when you hardly have the ball. The Bears' measly 18:08 time of possession was by far their lowest of the season.
• This week's game against Texas may offer some relief. The Bears couldn't get much going against TCU's defense, which ranks No. 9 nationally. The Longhorns, on the other hand, are ranked 99th and have given up point totals of 31, 36, 48 and 61 in consecutive games. Baylor has won two consecutive games in the series.
Next Game: at Texas Oct. 20
Iowa State (4-2, 1-2 Big 12)
• There was no shame in falling to Kansas State. The Cyclones had their chances, closing the deficit to three points early in the fourth quarter with a Jeff Woody touchdown run. Quarterback Jared Barnett wasn't particularly great, completing 44 percent of his passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns and an interception but the Cyclones were still in it at the end.
• Barnett was the leading rusher for the Cyclones with 35 yards. The Wildcats were also led on the ground by their QB, but that was Heisman hopeful Collin Klein who finished with 106 yards on the ground. Running back Shontrelle Johnson's struggles continued, although his 17 yards wasn't even his lowest output this season. After rushing for 120 yards in the opener, Johnson hasn't gained better than 44 yards in a game since.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State Oct. 20
Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12)
• The Jayhawks might find it hard to win another game this season, but Saturday's 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State came with some positive signs. They were down 20-0 to start the fourth quarter, but rallied. Head coach Charlie Weis also might have found a new quarterback after benching Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist for running a "stagnant" offense. Redshirt-freshman Mike Cummings, a dual-threat QB, led Kansas to a late touchdown. Weis wouldn't say after the game what the plans are going forward, but said it'd be something to watch.
"He had great composure, he had fun and he put us in a position to win the game," Weis said of Cummings.
• It won't be surprising going forward if Weis starts giving a closer look to younger players so he can start building for the future. The Jayhawks will have to win five of their next six games to earn bowl eligibility, a hard feat to imagine.
Next Game: at Oklahoma Oct. 20
No. 4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12)
• The Wildcats moved up to No. 4 in the AP poll after holding off Iowa State and becoming the first Big 12 team to claim bowl eligibility. Now comes a much bigger test with a trip to West Virginia. The two teams couldn't be more different in philosophy. Kansas State uses a calculated ground attack with patient running from Collin Klein, who scored three times by foot last week. The Mountaineers run the normally high-scoring Air Raid spread offense, led by QB Geno Smith. It should be a fun affair considering the game could have national title implications for the Wildcats.
• KSU hasn't played a quick-fire offense that compares to West Virginia this season — Baylor and Texas Tech come later in the schedule — so it may a little concerning that the Wildcats are ranked 76th in pass defense. Either way, it will be an interesting angle to watch as the game unfolds.
Next Game: at West Virginia Oct. 20
No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1 Big 12)
• The Sooners don't do anything particularly fancy, but boy are they effective. Fullback Trey Millard had 119 yards and a touchdown, hurdling a would-be tackler while subsequently giving another a forearm shiver. Running back Damien Williams had a 95-yard touchdown and Blake Bell had four short rushing touchdowns and also converted several third downs. In dispatching Texas, this squad looked vastly improved from the one that fell at home to Kansas State on Sept. 22.
• Bob Stoops seems to have Mack Brown's number. There's the 63-14 win in 2000. The 65-13 win in 2003. The 55-17 victory last year. And now, 63-21. The Longhorns managed eight points through the first three quarters, returning an attempted PAT and then scoring on a pick-six, but missed the extra point. Then in the fourth, they scored two touchdowns in cleanup time to make the score look a little bit better. A little.
"Those are pretty special and this is right there with them," Stoops said of the knockout wins against UT.
• Now comes the challenge of keeping form the second half of the season, considering the Sooners stumbled down the stretch in 2011.
Next Game: vs. Kansas Oct. 20
Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12)
• Last Saturday, the Cowboys got their first win since Sept. 15 -- the day QB Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury -- with a 20-14 victory against Kansas. It was thought he would be ready to play the Jayhawks, but backup J.W. Walsh played the entire game, throwing for 255 yards, a touchdown and an interception. It was clear after the game, however, that the staff knew of Lunt's status early in the week.
"If you're going to build your offense around J.W., then I think you have to give him the reps. Sometime during the week, you've got to decide that [Lunt] is really not ready to go," offensive coordinator Todd Monken said.
• The Cowboys aren't undefeated as they were last year when they fell to Iowa State in Ames, but there's the chance to exact some minor revenge against the Cyclones this week. The Cowboys may want to get back to scoring more points though. Their 20 points last Saturday vs. KU were the fewest since the 2010 Cotton Bowl against Ole Miss.
Next Game: Iowa State Oct. 20
Texas (5-1, 2-1 Big 12)
• The staff will find bones to pick all around — offense, defense and special teams, which missed an extra point — after a 63-21 loss that qualifies as one of Mack Brown's worst. But how about the Longhorns being outgained 677 to 289, their largest yardage deficiency since 1950?
• The shots of quarterback David Ash' left wrist were gruesome. The UT staff wouldn't offer any information after the game other than the obvious — he had to leave the game — but backup Case McCoy got in a good day's work in one quarter, tossing two touchdowns and breaking the 100-yard barrier.
• Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, beloved by the media for his quips, hasn't seen his unit play up to standard, especially with such high expectations to begin the season. Texas has given up an average of 44.5 points in the last four games. It gets no easier Saturday against a Baylor offense that's averaging 47.6 points per game.
Next Game: vs. Baylor Oct. 20
No. 18 Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1 Big 12)
• The Red Raiders struggled against Oklahoma, giving up 5.51 yards per play. But a week later in a 49-14 home upset against West Virginia, the defense lived up to its early No. 1 national ranking. TTU held the Mountaineers' vaunted offense to 14 points while limiting QB Geno Smith to one touchdown and an average of five yards per completion.
• Kind of scary that Seth Doege's six touchdowns only tied his career record. He credited his protection afterward.
"When you don't have a pass rush, it's a lot easier to make your reads," Doege said.
Next Game: at TCU Oct. 20
TCU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12)
• Trevone Boykin filled in admirably for Casey Pachall, who is no longer in school for personal reasons after being arrested on suspicion of DWI. Part of the reason Boykin was so much better — 22 for 29, four touchdowns, no interceptions — in the 49-21 win was longer preparation time. Pachall was arrested early Thursday morning before the Iowa State game.
"Trevone got to practice four days this week, not one," head coach Gary Patterson said.
• Where's the national respect for the Horned Frogs? Sure, they've looked sloppy at times this season, but they're one of four one-loss teams in the Big 12 and have the nation's ninth-ranked defense. Sunday afternoon rolled around and TCU was in the "also received votes" tier in the AP Top 25.
• One weapon Boykin can rely on as he settles into the starters' role: wide receiver Josh Boyce has caught a pass in 26 consecutive games.
Next Game: vs. Texas Tech Oct. 20
No. 17 West Virginia (5-1, 2-1 Big 12)
• The Mountaineers' defensive deficiencies finally caught up with them in the 49-14 loss to Texas Tech as they gave up 676 total yards. West Virginia has now allowed 1,080 yards of total offense in its last two games.
• Geno Smith's Heisman campaign might take a short-term hit after the disappointing loss, but West Virginia has a huge game this weekend in Morgantown against Kansas State that will attract attention. Smith's stat line also garners a look: 2,271 yards, 25 touchdowns, no interceptions and a completion percentage of 75.3. The Red Raiders never sacked Smith, but were in his face all afternoon.
"Those guys did a great job of just attacking us," Smith said. "They attacked us all day."
Next Game: vs. Kansas State Oct. 20