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Keeping Up with the Conference: Week 4

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With one week of conference play behind us, where does the rest of the Big 12 stand?

Jerome Miron - US PRESSWIRE

At around 6:50 p.m. Central on Saturday, Texas wrapped up a dominant second half against TCU and put the exclamation point on its best two-week stretch in God knows how long. (Answer: too long) So it’s understandable if you didn’t catch much football before or after the Longhorns game. Perhaps you spent your time pre-game wondering why Kirk Herbstreit hates Texas so much. Or maybe you spent your post-game activities celebrating a win over our former purple overlords. Totally understandable.

However, with this past Saturday the first of many Big 12 Saturdays, plenty happened in the conference that’s worth discussing. Texas (Tech) is back, folks! Kansas is beatable? And what on earth almost happened in Norman this past weekend? I still really don’t know, but one thing is certain — Texas is (tied for) first in the Big 12 and I’m all about it. All we have to do to stay in first is do something we haven’t done since 2002 — beat Kansas State in Manhattan?

Bring it on.

But... what else happened in the Big 12 this past week?

BIG 12 STANDINGS (as of Week 4)

  1. Oklahoma (1-0) (4-0)
  2. West Virginia (1-0) (3-0)
  3. Baylor (1-0) (3-1)
  4. Texas (1-0) (3-1)
  5. Texas Tech (1-0) (3-1)
  6. Oklahoma State (0-1) (3-1)
  7. Kansas (0-1) (2-2)
  8. Kansas State (0-1) (2-2)
  9. TCU (0-1) (2-2)
  10. Iowa State (0-1) (1-2)

Oklahoma

Week 4: W vs Army, 28-21

Highlight: It may have gone to Overtime to decide a winner, but the game didn’t stay in OT for too long. It took just two plays for Oklahoma to find the end zone, as CeeDee Lamb hauled in a 10-yard pass for his second touchdown of the day, and what would be the game winning score.

Trending: DOWN. This was definitely not how many expected this game to go down. OU opened as 29-point home favorites, but instead found themselves in an absolute dog fight with Army. The blueprint for how to beat the Sooners has been unveiled these past two weeks — keep Kyler Murray and the offense off the field, and sustain long drives against them. OU’s defense isn’t that great (shocker), and couldn’t keep Army off the field — 44:41 possession time — or from moving the chains with 26 first downs allowed.

West Virginia

Week 4: W vs Kansas State, 35-6

Highlight: You know you have it good when it’s hard to pick out a single moment as the team’s weekly highlight. Will “Mountain Jesus” Grier threw for five touchdowns, and David Sills V hauled in three of them. It was Sills’ second of the three catches though that was probably the most impressive.

Trending: UP. Now that’s what a rout should look like. I’m not sure how good this K-State team is this year, as they’ve been trending down in both editions of Keeping Up with the Conference. However, the Mountaineers are absolutely rolling on offense and having a surprising number of playmakers on defense has allowed WVU to throttle everyone they’ve faced so far this year. The Big 12 might be theirs for the taking this year.

Baylor

Week 4: W vs Kansas, 26-7

Highlight: The giant slayers in Waco opened up Big 12 play by defeating the previously “two-game win streaking” Kansas Jayhawks. This was a score that many expected, as the Bears jumped out to a 23-0 lead at the half and coasted to a victory. Quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for three touchdowns in the contest.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Nothing much to see here. Baylor is off to a good start record-wise, with their only loss coming at the hands of the ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Bears travel to Norman to face off against the Sooners — a win there would definitely move the needle in this column.

Texas Tech

Week 4: W at Oklahoma State, 41-17

Highlight: Early in the second quarter, OSU running back Justice Hill scored from 13 yards out to give the Cowboys a 17-14 lead. Those would be Okie State’s final points of the game, as Tech would score 27 unanswered points to shock the Cowboys in Stillwater. Alan Bowman continues to surprise, with 397 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Trending: UP. Well that was unexpected. Oklahoma State had vaulted up the rankings the last two weeks following big wins and a convincing win over also previously ranked Boise State. Texas Tech dominated the Cowboys in almost every way in this game, as the Red Raiders ended a nine-game losing streak to OSU.

BONUS: Not sure if this causes the trend to go up or down, but I’m sure the fans will treat these towels with respect and not sling them on the field first chance they get.

Oklahoma State

Week 4: L vs Texas Tech, 17-41

Highlight: Well, it started out well. Justice Hill had a monstrously efficient game, and continues to look like one of the best skill position players in the Big 12. Sophomore wide receiver Tylan Wallace had a good game as well, as he added seven receptions for 123 yards.

Trending: DOWN. New year, new offense for OSU. Gone are Mason Rudolph and James Washington, as Oklahoma State found little success trying to air it out deep with Taylor Cornelius. Justice Hill ran for 111 yards and a score, but inexplicably only carried the ball 12 times. The play calling needs to be better if OSU wants to survive games that turn into shootouts. Oh, and their best wideout is transferring immediately.

Kansas

Week 4: L at Baylor, 7-26

Highlight: As the game in Waco winded down to a close, Brett Favre’s words echoed throughout McLane Stadium. “All good things, must come to an end.” Kansas couldn’t get much going on offense, as they rotated between three QB’s for three changes of pace. Weirdly enough, the defense played well but was susceptible to big plays, as all three of Baylor’s touchdowns came from more than 20 yards out.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Truthfully, the Jayhawks are probably more of a “DOWN” than a “NEUTRAL”, but given that it’s Kansas, their trend doesn’t get much lower. Kansas moves on to hosting Oklahoma State in their Big 12 home opener next week.

Kansas State

Week 4: L at West Virginia, 6-35

Highlight: Like I said for West Virginia, you know you have it good when it’s hard to pick a highlight from a game because there were so many. Except this is the exact opposite of that. There are no fun plays worth speaking of for this Wildcats team, who punted as many times in this game for each point they scored.

Trending: DOWN. Things got so bad for K-State on offense that a quarterback change was made late in this game in a desperate attempt just to get points on the board. As I mentioned above, this team shouldn’t be overlooked, especially at K-State with the Longhorn killing, purple wizard at the helm. But this K-State team is by no means as good as teams from past years.

TCU

Week 4: L at Texas, 16-31

Highlight: Well most of y’all should hopefully know by now how this went. TCU was another victim of the 2018 “Texas is Back” tour, as a strong third quarter from the Horns did in the Frogs. The game was closer than the score indicated, as TCU’s defense really kept them in it in spite of mediocre to poor play from the offense.

Trending: DOWN. A rough last two weeks sees the Frogs slip in the standings to a .500 mark. Just 14 days ago, TCU was looking like a dark-horse CFP contender. Now, that dream is almost certainly dead. The Frogs will have to regroup in order to avoid falling below .500 for the first time since ending the 2016 season at 6-7.

Iowa State

Week 4: W vs Akron, 26-13

Highlight: It was a two-man show for the Cyclones, as an offense fueled by early scores from David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler gave the ISU defense enough of a cushion to hold off Akron at home. This touchdown reception/ cyclone imitation from Butler was especially dizzying.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Cyclones probably should have won by a lot more, but at least they finally notch their first win of the year. Their formula for success on offense is simple — get the ball to Montgomery and Butler and let them make plays.

Out of Conference Opponents:

Maryland (3-1)

Week 4: W vs Minnesota, 42-13

Highlight: Maryland breezed past previously unbeaten Minnesota to notch their third win and open their conference play at a 1-0 record. The Maryland defense forced three turnovers and returned an interception for a touchdown. Meanwhile, the Terrapin offense ran all over the Gophers, as running backs Ty Johnson and Anthony McFarland each ran for over 100 yards.

Trending: UP. Maryland soundly took care of business against a hurt Minnesota squad. The victory over PJ Fleck’s “Row the Boat” squad was so convincing, ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt had took to celebrating on twitter with this delightful picture. The Terps are off this week, but given that this is still the only team to have beaten Texas so far this year, it’s good for us Horns fans to see Maryland decidedly win the games they should win.

Tulsa (1-3)

Week 4: L at Temple, 17-31

Highlight: In the battle for supremacy among two syllable “T” schools, Temple held off Tulsa to hand the Hurricanes their third straight loss. RB Corey Taylor II had 96 yards rushing and two TD’s, but Tulsa turned the ball over five times and allowed the opposing quarterback to rush for 108 yards in the loss.

Trending: DOWN. Prepare to humble yourselves, as Tulsa lost yet another game this season. The 1-3 start means that Tulsa is, as of right now, the worst team on Texas’ schedule record-wise. Expect sobering reminders this season that Texas only beat the Hurricanes by seven as Tulsa looks to trudge through their conference schedule.

USC (2-2)

Week 4: W vs Washington State, 39-36

Highlight: In last week’s thrilling edition of “Pac-12 After Dark”, USC and Washington State played in a nail-biter that saw multiple lead changes and momentum shifts. The game ultimately ended on a blocked WSU field goal that would have tied up the score with just under 2:00 to play.

Trending: NEUTRAL. USC had a big bounceback win after dropping two straight to Stanford and Texas. QB JT Daniels had the best game of his career last week, as his three passing touchdowns set the USC true freshman record in a single game. That doesn’t include a late two-point conversion attempt that was fit into a window the size of a lifesaver.

Texas Strength of Schedule — 29-17

Strength of Opponents Played — 8-8 (0-1)

Strength of Remaining Opponents — 21-9 (4-4)

Week 5 Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD)

(12) West Virginia at (25) Texas Tech

Oklahoma State at Kansas

Baylor at (6) Oklahoma

(18) Texas at Kansas State

Iowa State at TCU

Maryland - BYE

Tulsa - BYE

USC at Arizona

Parting Shot