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Keeping up with the Conference: Win-and-We’re-In Edition

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Conference eyes shift towards a pivotal game in Morgantown while other teams in the Big 12 play to keep their bowl hopes alive this weekend.

USA Today

Just one week remains in the 2018 College Football season, and somehow, after the roller-coaster year the Texas Longhorns have had, they find themselves with a simple plan for this week’s game at Kansas. Secure a victory over the Jayhawks and you secure an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game.

Of course, plans are easier written out than executed. Despite what head coach Tom Herman says, just two years ago, Texas needed a victory in Kansas to clinch a bowl berth and potentially save Charlie Strong’s job as coach of the Longhorns.

We all know how that story went.

Though the pain and low-hanging jokes of that weekend are still very fresh in the college football world (there’s particularly low-hanging trees in places that ironically haven’t fared much better and would rather stay at home then play a “rival” on Thanksgiving). Beating Kansas in Lawrence and restoring order to the college football societal hierarchy and clinching a Big 12 Championship game berth and potential New Year’s Six bowl game could amazingly be the game that cements the “Texas is back” narrative.

Either way, Texas vs Kansas isn’t the only big game Longhorns should focus on this weekend. West Virginia hosts Oklahoma, where the loser would presumably be eliminated from conference championship game contention with the winner packing their bags for Jerry World next weekend.

It remains to be seen how Texas will end its season. It can go as high as a top 8 finish in the rankings, with a Big 12 and Sugar Bowl championships under their belts.

But even if that isn’t where the Longhorns end up, there’s been an undeniably significant amount of progress from the team this year. This has easily been the most successful and enjoyable season probably since the 2013 Case McCoy season. In short, add the 2018 Longhorns to your list of things to be thankful for this year.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how each team did last weekend. For a special Thanksgiving weekend edition of KUWTC, I’ve also added the Thanksgiving food that each Big 12 team represents. Feel free to disagree, as long as it doesn’t involve arguing pumpkin pie being the greatest holiday desert of all time.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 12)

  1. (6) Oklahoma (7-1) (10-1)
  2. (13) West Virginia (6-2) (8-2)
  3. (14) Texas (6-2) (8-3)
  4. (25) Iowa State (5-3) (6-4)
  5. TCU (3-5) (5-6)
  6. Baylor (3-5) (5-6)
  7. Kansas State (3-5) (5-6)
  8. Texas Tech (3-5) (5-6)
  9. Oklahoma State (3-5) (6-5)
  10. Kansas (1-7) (3-8)
A surprising week from the conference shakes up the Week 12 trend line

BIG 12 BREAKDOWN

(6) Oklahoma

Week 12: W vs Kansas, 55-40

Highlight: There wasn’t one singular moment that can accurately describe how OU steamrolled Kansas on the offensive side of the ball. Instead, this offensive highlight clip shows all of QB Kyler Murray’s five touchdowns on the day.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The offense is never, and will never, be an issue for the Sooners, as they carry the conference’s premier offensive attack into their showdown in Morgantown Friday night. The problem is their defense, as OU is allowing 38 points per conference game in a conference with Kansas State and TCU.

Thanksgiving Food: Green Bean Casserole really good at first and looks very fancy, but it’s never enough to fulfill you on it’s own. You get pulled in by the brown sugar or even smoked bacon, but at the end of the day you know it takes more than just a few good things to make a great meal.

(13) West Virginia

Week 12: L at Oklahoma State, 41-45

Highlight: WVU losing at OSU was in no way the offense’s fault, as the Mountaineers put up 41 points and 553 total yards of offense on the Cowboys. QB Will Grier had a good day, throwing for 364 yards and two touchdowns, including this pretty dime for a score to favorite target David Sills.

Trending: DOWN. The Mountaineers inevitably lost this game because of their worst defensive performance of the season. With 5:00 to go in the game, WVU led 41-31, but gave up two unanswered touchdowns to have their College Football Playoff hopes dashed. The good news for WVU is that they had a loss to burn without ruining their Big 12 championship aspirations — the winner of the OU and WVU game this Saturday is guaranteed a spot in the Big 12 championship game.

Thanksgiving Food: Mashed Potatoes filling and satisfying, and usually pretty consistent, but occasionally you get the mashed potatoes with skins or chunks that disappoint you and leave you wishing for something more.

(25) Iowa State

Week 12: L at Texas, 10-24

Highlight: After weeks of great play in the midst of amassing a five game winning streak, Iowa State fell flat in Texas and couldn’t get anything going on offense against the Longhorns. WR Hakeem Butler was the lone bright spot for the Cyclones, as he continued his excellent season with six receptions for 99 yards.

Trending: DOWN. With this loss, the Cyclones were eliminated from Big 12 Championship contention. Iowa State can still finish as high as third, and may even wind up going to the Alamo Bowl — a tremendous achievement given their lackluster 1-3 start to the year. They’ll face Kansas State at home this Saturday night.

Thanksgiving Food: Stuffing/Dressing stuffing or dressing can be the greatest part of a Thanksgiving dinner. It can blow away your expectations and can even dominate some of the other Thanksgiving staples, like mashed potatoes, for example. But sometimes, you get stuffing or dressing that is what it is — ground up bits of bread and vegetables. Sometimes it’s just not enough.

TCU

Week 12: W at Baylor, 16-9

Highlight: In a closely-contested, low-scoring game, TCU managed to snare victory away from the Bears. TCU’s defense helped propel the Frogs to a win, but it was WR Jalen Reagor who really delivered the win. Reagor put up only four catches for 86 yards, but had two TD’s that were the difference in the game. His first was a 65 yard screen, the second the game winning play, as Reagor took a 37 yard reverse to the house to put TCU up for good.

Trending: UP. The Frogs keep climbing back towards a .500 season, and now sit at 5-6 after last weekend’s win. Their defense continues to always keep them in games, and they’ll need another good defensive showing as the red-hot Oklahoma State offense comes to Fort Worth.

Thanksgiving Food: Dinner Rolls so plain, yet occasionally these can be so good. You know exactly what to expect, but no one praises the guy who brings rolls to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Baylor

Week 12: L vs TCU, 9-16

Highlight: The Bears were stifled on offense, as they lost the turnover battle 0-3 and were only able to put up only nine points in the losing effort against the Frogs. WR Jalen Hurd had a decent game with four receptions for 68 yards, but no one really had an overly impressive stat line on an overly unimpressive day from the Bears.

Trending: DOWN. Like TCU, this was a pivotal game for the Bears, as a win would have clinched them a bowl berth. However, this loss knocks Baylor down to 5-6 on the season, and creates an even more pivotal match-up against fellow 5-6 team Texas Tech this weekend. Baylor will need to be more consistent on offense if they want to take advantage of good defensive performances like this one.

Thanksgiving Food: anything corn related sometimes you can spruce corn up a little bit to make it look exciting, but at the end of the day, corn is a pretty mediocre dish.

Kansas State

Week 12: W vs Texas Tech, 21-6

Highlight: A field goal slug-fest against high-flying Texas Tech gave K-State the advantage it needed in a 21-6 win. One of the few “defensive” schools in the Big 12 had a stellar day on the defensive front, limiting Tech to just 181 yards, 11 first downs, and no touchdowns. The lone touchdown of the day came from QB Skylar Thompson late in the first half, with an eight-yard pass to WR Malik Knowles.

Trending: UP. The Wildcats seemed dead in the water just two weeks ago with a 3-5 record. After two straight victories, a win in Ames would clinch bowl eligibility for K-State. They’ll be able to slow down ISU at least a little bit, but the question for K-State this year has never been about defense. Will the Wildcats be able to score enough to win the game?

Thanksgiving Food: plain turkeyit’s what your grandfather ate at his Thanksgiving, and it hasn’t changed since before you were born. It’s incredibly ok. It’s boring. It’s just turkey.

BONUS: Though it didn’t count, it’s never a bad idea to celebrate a big-man touchdown.

Texas Tech

Week 12: L at Kansas State, 6-21

Highlight: The Red Raiders couldn’t get anything going in this game. After nearly pulling off upsets over both OU and Texas, Tech could only manage 181 yards of offense and six points against K-State. It was Jett Duffey’s worst game of the year, as he only threw for 150 yards and a pick.

Trending: DOWN. In a game they needed to win, Tech now sits at 5-6 with their backs up against the wall in search of a .500 season. There’s been improvement over last year and bad luck with injuries, but none of that explains why Tech struggled so much against Kansas State. A match-up with 5-6 Baylor will determine who will lock up a bowl berth this Saturday.

Thanksgiving Food: Gravy adds flavor and intrigue, and can definitely add some kind of flavorful excitement to a dish. But you’d be crazy to eat this on its own, and if it goes cold? Well then everything about it is ruined.

Oklahoma State

Week 12: W vs (9) West Virginia, 45-41

Highlight: It was another upset in Stillwater, as OSU took down WVU in the final seconds. QB Taylor Cornelius threw for five touchdowns, but none were bigger than this one to WR Tylan Wallace for an 11-yard score with 42 seconds in the game.

Trending: UP. In their three games against the top three teams in the conference (OU, WVU, and Texas) Oklahoma State is 2-1, with the one loss coming by a single point. You could argue that home field helped out OSU in these games, but this has been a strange and inconsistent season for them to say the least. Despite that record against the best teams in conference, OSU is just 1-4 against the remaining Big 12.

Thanksgiving Food: Sweet Potato Casserole very flashy and does well in small portions, but over the course of the whole dinner you realize need more than just sweet, sugary mush.

Kansas

Week 12: L at Oklahoma, 40-55

Highlight: The Jayhawks weren’t able to keep up with the Sooners, but they still put up plenty of points in their loss. RB Pooka Williams Jr. had a career game, rushing 15 times for 252 yards and for 2 touchdowns.

Trending: UP. Kansas hasn’t had many wins this year, albeit being many more than last year. However, the Jayhawks have been a feisty team capable of playing their opponents close this season, and shouldn’t be taken too lightly this weekend as they face Texas. That being said, ESPN’s FPI is giving Kansas just a 15.8% chance at a win.

Thanksgiving Food: Cranberry Sauce at the end of the day, everyone knows this is the worst food on the table.

Out-of-conference observations

Maryland (5-6)

Week 12: L vs Ohio State, 51-52

Trending: UP

Tulsa (2-9)

Week 12: L at Navy, 29-37

Trending: NEUTRAL

USC (5-6)

Week 12: L at UCLA, 27-34

Trending: DOWN

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Texas strength of schedule — 65-65 (.500)

Strength of opponents played 62-57 (.521)

Strength of remaining opponents — 3-8 (.273)

WHO TO WATCH

Here’s the short list of games this week that Texas fans should tune into: (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(9) UCF [84.5%] at South Florida — (3:15 PM CT, ESPN)*

(16) Washington at (8) Washington State [54.5%] — (7:30 PM CT, FOX)*

(4) Michigan [54.3%] at (10) Ohio State — (11:00 AM CT, FOX)

Georgia Tech at (5) Georgia [90.7%] — (11:00 AM CT, SEC Network)

(11) Florida [76.5%] at Florida State — (11:00 AM CT, ABC)

(15) Kentucky [89.0%] at Florida State — (6:00 PM CT, ESPN2)

(7) LSU at Texas A&M [59.9%] — (6:30 PM CT, SEC Network)

BYU at (17) Utah [89.0%] — (9:00 PM CT, FS1)

*Game is played on Friday, November 23

LOOK AHEAD

Week 13 Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(14) Texas [84.2%] at Kansas*

(6) Oklahoma [51.2%] at (13) West Virginia*

Baylor at Texas Tech [76.1%]

Kansas State at (25) Iowa State [79.5%]

Oklahoma State [55.8%] at TCU

Maryland at (12) Penn State [85.9%]

SMU [50.7%] at Tulsa

(3) Notre Dame [76.1%] at USC

*Game is played on Friday, November 23

PARTING SHOT