Big 12 proves its still a powerhouse
Notebook: Austin puts up big numbers; Bears go bowling
As conference realignment again shifts the college football landscape, Big 12 coaches have publicly voiced their desire to stay at 10 teams, enabling the round-robin scheduling where everybody plays each other and the conference winner is decided by head-to-head play and not a championship game.
The Big 12, they believe, is stronger than ever and it's hard to disagree. With Baylor and West Virginia each notching their sixth win last week, the Big 12 has nine bowl-eligible teams, which at 90 percent is better than any other conference in the country.
"The strength of schedule in the league ... No other league is in that group," texas head coach Mack Brown said. "So it's really amazing."
The lone team home for the holidays will be Kansas, which has a 1-10 record with one game to go at West Virginia. If the Jayhawks lose that game, they'll go winless in Big 12 play for the third time in 10 years.
With the exception of the Jayhawks, everybody else has been competitive. Consider the following: West Virginia beat Texas but lost to Texas Tech. Texas Tech lost to Texas but beat TCU. TCU beat Texas but lost to Kansas State. Kansas State lost to Baylor but beat Oklahoma. Baylor lost to Iowa State.
Using some unconventional logic, one could at least argue that Iowa State, by virtue of its win against the Bears, are better than the Wildcats, who were shocked in Waco two weeks ago. We know that's not true, however, as Kansas State beat Iowa State 27-21. However, the point remains the same, that just about every game is competitive in the Big 12, which, as the numbers say, is the deepest conference in the land.
Baylor (6-5, 3-5)
• For the third season in a row, the Bears are going bowling, after their 52-45 win against Texas Tech in overtime. Baylor has been playing football since 1899 — never before has it reached a bowl game three consecutive years.
• A quick glance at the box score is enough to know the Bears got shredded by the Red Raiders — 567 yards, 45 points — but when it really, truly mattered, the defense made a play, as cornerback Joe Williams blanketed TTU wideout Eric Ward on fourth-and-five in overtime to force an incompletion and win the game.
• Quarterback Nick Florence played well, with 396 yards and three touchdowns. Wideout Terrance Williams was on the receiving end of one of them, the eighth game this season he's caught a touchdown.
• Three weeks ago it was unlikely the Bears, sitting at four wins, could get to six. But they've beat Kansas State and Texas Tech and could catch Oklahoma State at the perfect time this Saturday, with the Cowboys coming off a heartbreaking Bedlam loss. It'll be a matchup of two of the top three offenses in the nation.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma State Dec. 1
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6)
• Were it not for a Jeff Woody fumble near the goal line, Iowa State would have had a chance in overtime to top West Virginia. Instead, the 31-24 loss makes it impossible for the Cyclones to win eight games for the first time since 2000. They'll settle for a shot at No. 7, which was done last in 2009.
• Redshirt freshman Sam Richardson has 412 yards passing and seven touchdowns in two games since relieving Steele Jantz.
Next Game: Regular season over, bowl game to come.
Kansas (1-10, 0-8)
• As mentioned before, this Saturday is Kansas' last chance to avoid conference infamy. The Jayhawks were close to beating Texas and Texas Tech, needing a fourth-down stop to win each game. Obviously, they weren't successful on that end.
Next Game: at West Virginia Dec. 1
No. 7 Kansas State (10-1, 7-1)
• A win against Texas this Saturday and the Wildcats claim the Big 12 championship, their second. They're still salting from the upset in Waco two weeks ago, effectively costing them a shot in the BCS Championship game. Head coach Bill Snyder is optimistic that pain can turn into fury.
"[My mood] has turned into anger, and I would hope our players and coaches follow suit," Snyder said.
• The Wildcats have won four consecutive against the Longhorns. The last time the two met in Manhattan, Kan., a young, unpolished quarterback named Collin Klein got his first career start. Eighty total touchdowns later ...
Next Game: vs. Texas Dec. 1
No. 12 Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1)
• Landry Jones in 2011 Bedlam: two interceptions, completion percentage of 54. Jones in 2012's Bedlam contest: three touchdowns and 500 yards on 46-for-71 passing, a percentage of 65. It may have been Blake Bell who scored the game-winning run in overtime, putting Oklahoma State away 51-48, but the Sooners hadn't a prayer without Jones. On Senior Night, no less.
"No matter way," Jones said. "God blessed me so much to be able to go out like this."
• With his consecutive 500-yard passing day, Jones passed Graham Harrell to become the conference's all-time leader.
• Fresno State transfer Jalen Saunders had an 81-yard punt return for a touchdown, which, after a two-point conversion, tied the game at 38 apiece in the fourth quarter. Add in Penn State transfer Justin Brown, who had a whopping 15 receptions for 146 yards, and it was a good day to be a wideout import.
• Oklahoma wins the conference outright if it beats TCU and Texas tops Kansas State.
Next Game: at TCU Dec. 1
No. 24 Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3)
• The Cowboys jumped out to a quick 17-3 lead but simply couldn't stop Jones. However, they benefited from stellar quarterback play themselves, as Clint Chelf threw for 253 yards with one touchdown and interception and rushed for 63 more.
• A loss to Oklahoma in Bedlam used to be commonplace for Oklahoma State. After Saturday, the Sooners have an 83-17 lead in the series (with seven ties). The fact that the games are closer and more competitive makes it harder to stomach the 51-48 overtime loss.
"The truth is the better your program gets, the more success you have and the more highly regarded you are, the harder it is to lose," head coach Mike Gundy said.
• Thanks to Josh Stewart, the Cowboys have a 1,000-yard receiver in five of the past six seasons.
Next Game: at Baylor Dec.1
No. 23 Texas (8-3, 5-3)
• The Longhorns came out flat against TCU, falling 20-13. Worse yet, another quarterback controversy could come into play. An ineffective David Ash was benched twice — he threw two red zone interceptions — while Case McCoy led one touchdown but threw into what looked like quadruple-coverage on the team's final drive for the game-losing interception.
• Even with a win at Kansas State this week, the Longhorns are out of the running for a conference title or BCS bowl berth. However, there are still ways to end the season on a high note.
"Obviously we can’t go to the BCS route, but we can still go to the Cotton Bowl,” safety Kenny Vaccaro said.
With wins in their next two games, the Longhorns can also achieve 10 wins for the first time since 2009.
Next Game: at Kansas State Dec. 1
Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5)
• Texas Tech is giving thanks that November is finally over. In the past two years, the Red Raiders are 1-6 in the month, the latest loss being overtime 52-45 to Baylor.
"'Frustrating' is an understatement," head coach Tommy Tuberville said.
• At 6'4, Darrin Moore is a complete nightmare for opposing cornerbacks. Moore caught jump ball after jump ball for 13 receptions, 186 yards and two touchdowns.
"All those stats don't mean anything when you lose," Moore said.
Next Game: Regular season is over, bowl game to come.
TCU (7-4, 4-4)
• The Horned Frogs played the part of rude Thanksgiving guests Thursday night at Texas, stomping the Longhorns on Senior Night 20-13 and winning their first game in Austin since 1967.
"To put us on a Thanksgiving game, to be in this place, it's a long way since when I was here when we started 15 years ago," head coach Gary Patterson said. "We're growing as a football team."
• TCU's defense didn't give up a touchdown until just over three minutes remained in the game. It forced four turnovers, including the game-clinching interception off Case McCoy.
• With the game plan calling for a pounding ground attack, the Horned Frogs mauled the Texas front seven for 217 yards and two touchdowns.
Next Game: vs. Oklahoma Dec. 1
West Virginia (6-4, 3-5)
• Here's what happened between West Virginia's latest win — 31-24 at Iowa State on Friday — and the last one before it, Oct. 6 at Texas: our nation elected a president, a storm of epic proportions ransacked the east coast and twinkies may be no more. Besides that, not much.
“I can give you a thousand different excuses of reasons why we wouldn’t be able to play and come out of here with a victory, but the guys were determined to get the win and I’m proud of them," head coach Dana Holgorsen said.
• The early-season Heisman talk for Geno Smith fizzled after each of the five consecutive losses. In that time, wideout/running back Tavon Austin has put up jaw-dropping performances. If West Virginia had a better record, Austin might be headed to New York. He took a flip pass 75 yards for the game-winning score against Iowa State. In Austin's previous four games, he has a combined 361 yards receiving for three touchdowns, 431 yards rushing with two touchdowns and one punt return for a touchdown.
Next Game: vs. Kansas Dec. 1