Big 12 Report Week 5: It's TX-OU Week

Several teams had their first conference game, and thus the Big 12 schedule is now fully underway.  There does not seem to be a pushover team in the conference save one (sorry Kansas), so this year should be very interesting going forward.  The Big 12 currently features six ranked teams, although Baylor (#25) and Texas A&M (#24) are barely hanging on.  I am excited for conference play this season, and this week has rivalry games between Texas-OU and A&M-Tech.  Speaking of the Aggies, they had another second half adventure last Saturday against Arkansas, and it is prudent to start with them.

#24 Texas A&M

LAST WEEK:  Sherman didn't abandon the run game this time and the Aggies piled up an incredible 381 yards rushing on 7.1 yards per carry... and they blew another three score lead.  It takes some special mishaps to lose when rushing like that, such as a porous pass defense that left the middle of the field wide open (Jarius Wright is grateful) and bad coaching decisions.  The Aggie defense was abysmal for the second straight week, and once again they looked exhausted by the last quarter.  Sherman didn't help by punting the ball back twice to the Razorbacks on fourth and short around midfield.  His explanation for that after the game was astonishing:

"If I felt like our defense was playing a little bit better, I probably would have gone for it. I felt like I just couldn't give them a shortened field," Sherman said. "If we were had been playing better defense--if this had been last year -- probably would have."

Huh?  Because your defense is getting thrashed, you kicked the ball back to a hot offense to net a paltry amount of yards in field position?  Yeah, that makes sense.  Naturally, the Piggies marched down the field in no time and scored touchdowns on both occasions.  Not a bright moment for Sherman.

THIS WEEK:  The Aggies travel to Lubbock and face another dangerous passing attack.  Lubbock is typically a tough place to play, although Texas A&M whipped Tech there the last time.  If any team has truly been A&M's rival in the Big 12, it's Tech, and they would love nothing more than to sink the Aggies even further.  The Aggies should not have a problem running the ball, but then again, they didn't have that problem against Arkansas either and still lost. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  While close losses to ranked teams are normally forgivable, the way the Ags have blown the last two contests makes it safe to say that they do not belong in college football's elite this season.  That's a huge disappointment to Aggie fans who believed that this was their year to shine.  However, while A&M has some serious issues, namely an apparent lack of depth on defense, they still have a conference title to play for.  Of course, continued defensive performances like we're seeing will not allow them to finish their season without another loss. - TheElusiveShadow

#25 Baylor

LAST WEEK:  If I hadn't seen it with my very own eyes, I would not have believed it.  I have studied the box score, and it is amazing that Baylor lost to the Kansas State Wildcats, 36-35.  The Bears Heisman hopeful RGIII put up video game numbers and actually managed to maintain his video game stat line of 15 TD's to 15 incompletions through the 3rd quarter, but his untimely, and first of the season, interception late in the fourth gave the Wildcats the field position needed to kick the game winning field goal.  In looking at the box score, KSU won time of possession and was 9-19 on 3rd down conversions.  Keeping the high-powered Baylor passing game off the field is a critical factor in beating them, and the Bears had better get it figured out on defense if they expect to be a competitive factor in the Big 12 championship race.

THIS WEEK:  #17 (AP) Baylor dropped in the polls and moves back home to take on Iowa State in a potential trap game for the Bears.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  With their first conference game in the books, it will be interesting to see if Coach Briles can keep his team focused and put the loss to the Wildcats in the rearview mirror.  ESPN's David Ubben agrees and quotes Briles, "Anytime you play in the Big 12, anytime you step on the field, you know it's going to be a tough, tough football game.  We have to load up and get ready just like everybody else in the league."  I just don't see a Big 12 champion running the table this season as there is too much parity. If Baylor rebounds, it can spell trouble for their remaining conference foes. - TXStampede

Iowa State

LAST WEEK:  A very generous Cyclone team gifted the Longhorns in successive first quarter possessions with a 3-and-out, a fumble, a fumble, and an interception.  Then again in the second quarter on successive possessions a missed field goal, a 4-and-out, a 4-and-out, and a 4-and-out.  That equaled a 34-0 Texas lead with the third quarter chock full of drive stumbling penalties.  Once it started going downhill, it went hard.  Paul Rhoads was dumbfounded with all the bonehead penalties, too.  Steele Jantz actually played his guts out and so did both sides of the ISU lines.  This was a game where talent did not necessarily come out on top but the talent did know how to take advantage of the mistakes.

THIS WEEK:  ISU travels to Waco to take on the one loss Baylor Bears with both teams coming off losses.  I think Rhoads and his staff will find a way to correct the miscues and give Baylor all it can handle, but in the end, RGIII will be too much. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Iowa State looked great between the 20's against Texas but the mistakes are a concern.  The Cyclones will be competitive in conference play and might sneak a couple of wins yet, but I think the top tier teams will prove too much as ISU is just not that deep. - TXStampede

Kansas

LAST WEEK:  The Jayhawks let a great opportunity at home slip away against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, squandering a 20 point lead and losing by a final score of 45-34.  The loss, like so many others, came down to mistakes, and KU's quarterback Jordan Webb threw three interceptions.  The Raiders made KU pay by scoring on each successive possession.  

THIS WEEK:  KU travels to Stillwater and faceoff against the #6 Oklahoma State Cowboys.  The current line has the Cowboys spotting KU 4 touchdowns and a field goal.  Appears this one is over before it starts.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Nothing changed here in the outlook.  My prediction of zero conference wins still looks doable. - TXStampede

#20 Kansas State

LAST WEEK:  Robert Griffin threw for five touchdowns, as stated above, and Kendall Wright had 201 yards receiving and three touchdowns.  That didn't stop K-State from making timely plays and eating up clock against a bad Baylor defense en route to a 36-35 victory.  Their defense got torn up through the air but they made the plays to win, including hitting Griffin on a throw to force his only interception of the season. 

THIS WEEK:  K-State hosts Mizzou in what can be an interesting game.  Missouri can take advantage of some bad Wildcat pass defense, but K-State can run the ball well and they have a knack of making the big plays down the stretch. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  I am not sure what to make of this Kansas State team.  Excluding their 37-0 whipping of Kent State, they've won their other three games by a combined eight points.  I know they're a scrappy team and will play hard and sound, but they look much better than I initially thought.  While their style of play may be rather boring at times, they play within themselves and execute well, often simply waiting for their opponent to do something self-destructive. - TheElusiveShadow

Missouri

LAST WEEK:  Bye.

THIS WEEK:  They travel to Manhattan.  The Tigers can definitely have success on offense, so if they can avoid some of the mistakes Baylor made, they have a good chance of winning.  However, K-State will play competitively and it will be a tough test. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Missouri has some defensive issues to shore up as they continue on their Big 12 schedule.  Otherwise, despite having a pretty good offense, they'll struggle to put up W's in the conference. - TheElusiveShadow

#3 Oklahoma

LAST WEEK:  Yawn.  Beat a power MAC member Ball State by a final classic Stoops, run-up-the-score, light-weight RRS tune-up 62-6 after a very slow start.

THIS WEEK:  #1/#3 OU sucks visits the Cotton Bowl to play football against #10/#11 Texas Longhorns in their annual train wreck.   The game will boil down to OU's up tempo offense.  If they move it against the Horns at will, they win this one going away.  It will be important for Stoops to take advantage of OU's experience in the passing game early as Texas has not faced a quarterback with the skills of Landry.  Nor has Texas faced much adversity playing from behind.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  This is a statement game opportunity for the Sooners who are playing like Rodney Dangerfield this season, as in they're getting no respect.  Get through this game victorious and the next challenge is OSU in Austin. - TXStampede

#6 Oklahoma State

LAST WEEK:  Idle.  

THIS WEEK:  They host the Kansas Jayhawks.  If the Jayhawks lose by less than 25 points, they should be rewarded with a pizza party. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Having a bye week and an easy game right after an emotional win in College Station is fortunate, as they avoid the risk of the proverbial "letdown" game.  No doubt they used that extra time to plan more for more challenging opponents.  They'll travel to Texas and Missouri in consecutive weeks and then will face the Bears and the Wildcats.  - TheElusiveShadow

#11 Texas

LAST WEEK:  Texas took advantage of early Iowa State miscues to bury the Cyclones with a 34-0 halftime lead.  The second half was rather boring for a variety of reasons, some of which are perfectly understandable (like playing backups), but overall the performance was encouraging.  Ash got to throw the ball a bit more and showed a lot of good things, which is important as things move forward.

THIS WEEK:  A young, revitalized Texas squad takes on a seasoned Sooner team with national title aspirations.  A lot of comparisons have been made to the 2008 season, but the glaring problem with that is that we don't have Colt McCoy under center, and while Sam Bradford >>> Landry Jones, OU's quarterback position is far more settled than ours.

Manny Diaz's defensive approach of bringing pressure, taking away the big play, and forcing college teams to march down the field with great execution is sound against most NCAA offenses.  Unfortunately, Ryan Broyles is exactly the kind of player that could destroy that.  OU has other good targets too such as Kenny Stills and TE James Hanna, and Landry Jones is more than competent enough to find them.  Walk-on Dominique Whaley has been a nice surprise for Oklahoma's run game, but their passing game is by far the greater concern.  Something to keep an eye on is the injury to OU's center, Ben Habern, as I am sure Diaz will be testing the abilities of his replacement.

I'm not terrified of the Sooner defense, but they have speed and they play aggressive, as usual.  It's a defense that could be worn down over four quarters by a consistent rushing game, but that would be predicated on how well our defense contains their offense.  Also, OU's typical aggressiveness can be used against them with a hefty dose of misdirection, something Harsin will obviously take advantage of, but your guess is as good as mine about whether or not our young players will execute.  If we get down by a lot early and forced to get one dimensional, it may get ugly in a hurry.

As far as special teams, I am deathly afraid of Ryan Broyles.  Enough said.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  As much as we all want to win this game, it's important to have the big picture in mind.  I'm looking for purpose, confidence, and improvement this week, and if we show that even in a loss, I'll still be optimistic about where this season is going.  Two straight losses is very possible with OU and OSU back to back, but while there will always be UT fans pushing the panic button, that would not necessarily mean that this season isn't progressing the way we want it too. - TheElusiveShadow

Texas Tech

LAST WEEK:  Tech quarterback Seth Doege took advantage of the KU mistakes and continued his impressive season performance, leading the Red Raiders to a come-from-behind 45-34 victory over the Kansas Jayhawks.  Doege was steady in the pocket and made KU pay the price, with all three of his touchdown passes coming after interceptions.  The win pushes the Red Raiders to an unbeaten record at 4-0, the first such record to start the season since 2008. 

THIS WEEK:  Who would have circled this game before the season and said, "Last time A&M will meet the Red Raiders on the football field for a very long time"?  The fans will be in a seething froth to extend their unbeaten streak, while A&M looks to right the ship after two straight losses.  Tech must find a way to stop the Aggie ground attack if they are to be competitive in this matchup of old southwest conference foes. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  The Red Raiders continue to play four quarters of football.  There does not appear to be any give up in this squad which mirrors Tuberville's gritty style of coaching.  But the Raiders need to step up on the defensive side of the ball as that is currently their Achilles heel.  Do this, and Texas Tech just might be the surprise of the season. - TXStampede

Players of the Week (courtesy of big12sports.com)

Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week
Christine Michael, Texas A&M, RB, Jr, Beautmont, Texas
Christine Michael rushed for a career-high 230 yards on 32 carries in Texas A&M's 42-38 loss to Arkansas. He scored three touchdowns on runs of 48, 29 and four yards. Michael also caught two balls for seven yards.

Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week
Arthur Brown, Kansas State, LB, Jr, Wichita, Kan.
With Kansas State behind 35-33, Arthur Brown forced Robert Griffin III into his first interception of the season, which set up the Wildcats' game-winning field goal by Anthony Cantele. Brown, who has averaged over eight tackles a game in 2011, then sacked Griffin on first down and also collected another stop on third down during the Bears' final drive of the game to seal the win. For the game, Brown recorded eight tackles and 1.5 sacks for K-State, which is now 4-0 on the season after the 36-35 victory.

Upcoming Game of the Week:  #3/#1 Oklahoma at #10/#11 Texas in the annual Red River Rivalry (11:00 a.m. ABC)

Big 12 Rankings

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Oklahoma State
  3. Texas
  4. Kansas State
  5. Baylor
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Missouri
  8. Texas Tech
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas
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