Kansas State earns its dues
Notebook: Texas offense steps up; Smith struggles
With half the season down in the Big 12, it is time to pass out the awards honoring the best of what we have seen so far this season.
Player of the Year: Kansas State QB Collin Klein
In perhaps the biggest conference game of the season, Klein led an annihilation against West Virginia and its quarterback Geno Smith, who a week ago was the Heisman frontrunner. Klein has pole position now and, though national pundits might be slow to give the Wildcats their due, his numbers speak for themselves: 1,402 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, two interceptions, 556 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns.) In two monster wins against Oklahoma and West Virginia, Klein amassed eight total touchdowns. Klein is second nationally in quarterback rating, yards per attempt and seventh in completion percentage. Only four players in the FBS have scored more touchdowns on the ground.
Coach of the Year: Kansas State Bill Snyder
Picked sixth in the Big 12 to begin the season, the Wildcats are suddenly in the national title picture. By recruiting those passed over by bigger schools and snatching up top JUCO players, Snyder has built a team in his mold: patient, disciplined, rock-solid.
Defensive Player of the Year: Iowa State LB Jake Knott
Knott is third in the conference in tackles per game (9.7), has two interceptions and six tackles for loss. He's part of a tremendous Iowa State linebacking duo, teaming with A.J. Klein, the reigning co-conference player of the year. Knott has three consecutive games with double-digit tackles.
Newcomer of the Year: Texas Christian DE Devonte Fields
Forget newcomer of the year, Fields has a strong case for overall defensive player of the year. He's tied with the conference lead with 7.5 sacks, helping pace a defense ranked 17th nationally. He's added two more quarterback hurries, broken up three passes and forced three fumbles.
Most Underrated Player: Baylor LB Bryce Hager
Hager, a middle linebacker, gets docked for being part of a Baylor defense ranked last in the nation, but he's been a pleasant surprise. The son of Britt Hager, Texas' all-time tackles leader, is fourth nationally with 11.67. That's pretty impressive considering the Bears have mostly played spread teams, where the tackles to be made are generally out on the sidelines.
Baylor (3-3, 1-2 Big 12)
• The Bears have scored 134 combined points in their last three games, all losses. The 56-50 loss to the Longhorns was just a defensive comedy of errors: Baylor gave up an 84-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, a two-play, a 75-yard scoring drive for Texas and forced no turnovers.
• Terrance Williams became the fourth receiver in school history to gain over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season. Clearly, after six games, Williams is at a prolific pace. Williams has the second-most 100-yard receiving games in school history and moved into sixth place on Baylor's career receptions list (152).
• At the halfway point, Baylor is going to need to take care of business against Kansas in two weeks and pull off a road win at Iowa State this weekend to give itself a good chance at a bowl berth. Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech loom.
Next Game: at Iowa State Oct. 27
Iowa State (4-3, 2-2 Big 12)
• A disappointing trip to Stillwater, Okla. for the Cyclones, who fell to Oklahoma State 31-10. Iowa State scored the game's first touchdown and finished the first quarter with a 10-7 lead. As simple math will tell you, the Cyclones didn't score another point.
• The Cyclones pride themselves on defense — Saturday not withstanding — but the team needs to figure out its offensive plan of attack. They gave running back Shontrelle Johnson the ball only eight times on Saturday, so maybe it's not establishing the run. If it's the air game — Shontrelle Johnson threw the ball 39 times — then they've got to have better efficiency than Johnson's 5.3 yards per attempt and interception.
• Another spread team's on the docket Saturday, with Baylor and its No. 3 offense coming to town. Little relief after playing the nation's No. 1 offensive team, OSU.
Next Game: vs. Baylor Oct. 27
Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12)
• The Jayhawks likely didn't expect to win at Oklahoma, but a week after an encouraging showing against OSU, they were hoping for better results than 52-7. Redshirt freshman Michael Cummings is clearly Kansas' quarterback going forward, based on his 21 passing attempts to Dayne Crist's six, but he struggled against OU, throwing two interceptions.
• Kansas was down 38-0 at halftime, which made it tough for coach Charlie Weis to rally his troops.
"What good could you say?" Weis said. "What positive could you say when the score's 38-0 other than the fact that, 'Is this going to be 76-0?'"
• The Jayhawks have to win to make a bowl game. A home date against Texas on Saturday is the first test.
Next Game: vs. Texas Oct. 27
No. 4 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
• What an unbelievable job by the Kansas State defense to hold West Virginia's vaunted offense to 14 points in Morgantown. Likewise, KSU's slow-and-steady offense putting up 55 points?
"I think we all felt comfortable tonight," KSU quarterback Collin Klein said, who completed 19 of 21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns. "The coaches did a great job of building a game plan and putting us in positions to succeed."
• Wideout Tyler Lockett, who scored twice and notched 194 yards receiving, has been lost in the Klein hype. Kansas State will need offensive help this week against Texas Tech, which only once this season not scored 40 or more points.
Next Game: vs Texas Tech Oct. 27
No. 8 Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1 Big 12)
• Two dominating weekends in a row for Oklahoma, which dispatched Kansas with ease 52-7.
• Roy Finch scored on a 100-yard kickoff return while Penn State transfer Justin Brown took a punt back 90 yards for a score, the first time the Sooners have ever scored on a punt and kickoff return. Pretty sweet for Finch, last year's leading rusher who only has six attempts on the ground the season.
"I just try to make the best of the opportunities I have," Finch said. "I was so happy to take it back."
• If the Big 12 gauntlet isn't tough enough, now the Sooners get to play host to undefeated Notre Dame this weekend.
"We just wanted to close out Kansas and we know that the game ahead of us next Saturday is going to be a crazy game," Finch said.
Next Game: vs. Notre Dame Oct. 27
Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12)
• Still no Wes Lunt, but the Cowboys are one of only two teams in the conference who completely control their own destiny after beating Iowa State 31-10. Their lone conference loss was to the Longhorns, who have now lost twice, thus eliminating the tie-breaker. Sadly for the Cowboys, that tidbit might be more indicative of the rest of the schedule ahead since their six remaining opponents are either ranked or have been ranked this season.
• J.W. Walsh, while auditioning for a starting role with Lunt, still hampered by a knee injury, played very well, completing 68 percent of his passes for 415 yards and a touchdown.
"I feel much more comfortable," Walsh said. "It's crazy how the time and the reps you get change everything for your confidence."
• Head coach Mike Gundy became Oklahoma State's all-time winningest coach Saturday, notching his 63rd win and surpassing Pat Jones.
"It's a group effort, but obviously it means a lot to our staff and to me to be able to do it here at the place where I played," Gundy said.
Next Game: vs. TCU Oct. 27
Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
• The Longhorns seemed resigned to the fact that their defense just won't be very good this season, but an efficient and effective offfense like the one displayed Saturday in the 56-50 win against Baylor can help overcome a lot of that. Quarterback David Ash took care of the ball and spread it to his playmakers, such as Daje Johnson, who had 104 yards from scrimmage and Mike Davis, who averaged 24.7 yards a catch and scored a touchdown.
"You want to divvy it up so different guys have touches," co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said.
• Joe Bergeron scored five touchdowns, two away from the school record held by Ricky Williams. He's tied for fifth nationally with 14 rushing scores, with nine in his last three games. The sophomore has scored every seventh carry.
"Most of the touchdowns were in the red zone, so those were pretty much gimmies," Bergeron said.
• The Longhorns can achieve bowl eligibility with a win at Kansas on Saturday.
Next Game: at Kansas Oct. 27
No. 15 Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 Big 12)
• Quarterback Seth Doege continues to top himself, throwing for a career-high seven touchdowns in a 56-50, triple-OT win, at TCU one week after throwing six touchdowns in a win against WVU. Doege hit Alex Torres in the back of the end zone for the game-winner.
"I thought Torres was covered and I didn't think he was going to throw it," coach Tommy Tuberville said. "But he let it go and put it in a perfect spot."
• The Red Raiders are becoming a trendy national favorite, just three weekends removed from a home shellacking at the hands of Oklahoma. They're playing mistake-free football — no turnovers — with a defense equipped to handle Big 12 offenses. Saturday's game against the Wildcats, who beat Tech by seven a season ago, will be a doozy.
Next Game: at Kansas State Oct. 27
TCU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
• It might take some time to get over the 56-53 loss in triple overtime to Texas Tech, but TCU and its fans should take solace in the tremendous play of quarterback Trevone Boykin, who threw for four touchdowns. Yes, he also had two costly interceptions, but that can happen when a quarterback has to throw 44 times.
"Are we unhappy we lost? Yes, but it was a heck of a game," coach Gary Patterson said.
• The 109 combined points are the second-highest in a single game TCU has been a part of.
"Welcome to the Big 12," Patterson said.
• TCU's No. 17 defense will be tested against Oklahoma State on Saturday, the third consecutive spread opponent the Horned Frogs will have faced.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State Oct. 27
No. 25 West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
• The Mountaineers have fallen far in the span of two weeks. Crushing losses at the hands of Texas Tech and Kansas State, by a combined score of 28-104, have sent WVU from No. 5 to nearly out of the polls.
• Same can be said for quarterback Geno Smith, who is still among the best passers in the nation but will have an ugly smear on his Heisman resume come December after an inability to spark his team when it's down. Smith threw his first two interceptions of the season Saturday against Kansas State, to just one touchdown, only the fourth time in his career he's thrown more picks than scores in a single game.
"We talked about it all week: don't get impatient, don't get impatient," head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "You have the ball a couple of times and you look up there and you're down 17 points and you start pressing. It's inevitable."
• The Mountaineers get a bye week to regroup before facing a schedule consisting of one (currently) ranked team.
Next Game: TCU Nov. 3