The Pregame Huddle: Week 10

West Virginia Mountaineers wide receiver Kevin White (11) dodges a tackle by Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Kevin Peterson (1).

Alonzo Adams/Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first half of the season, West Virginia receiver Kevin White had been the Big 12’s most unstoppable talent. 

Then Oklahoma State stopped him, and his streak of seven consecutive 100-yard receiving games, which broke Stedman Bailey’s record.

If TCU is going to continue its run to the Big 12 title, it better slow down White, too. This week, coach Mike Gundy and cornerback Kevin Peterson offered some insight into how Oklahoma State did it. 

White caught a 19-yard touchdown on WVU’s first drive, but over the Mountaineers’ next 69 plays from scrimmage, he caught just two passes for 29 yards. That first score only happened because White, who usually lines up on the left side, lined up on the right side and burned true freshman Ramon Richards for the 19-yard score. 

Peterson asked all week for the challenge of covering White, but defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer helped him out with bracket coverage on many snaps. 

The Cowboys employed a Cover 4 scheme to limit White’s big-play ability, too. 

"He’s probably better on person than you see on film," Peterson told Fox Sports Southwest this week. "We wanted some safety help." 

Without safeties to help in run support, West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood ran for 132 yards on just 23 carries and Dreamius Smith averaged 14.4 yards on his five carries, highlighted by a 40-yard touchdown run. 

"You can single him up and go man and hope he doesn’t make plays or you can help some," Gundy said. "Because of the youth we have in our secondary right now, we chose to help some and it hurt us in run support." 

TCU has the defense capable of getting away with it. Cornerbacks Ranthony Texada and Kevin White (yes, he’ll be covering Kevin White) are more balanced than Oklahoma State’s combo. Even if TCU elects to play more man on White, defensive tackles Davion Pierson and Chucky Hunter are 610 pounds of upperclassmen beef and experienced enough to plug up holes to make WVU more one-dimensional. 

TCU matches up well with West Virginia in that sense and if it limits the big plays, it’ll be one step closer to calling itself a playoff team. 

MISGUIDED PLAYOFF RANKINGS OFF TO STRONG START 

I tuned into the very first reveal of the College Football Playoff’s top 25 on Tuesday night, and I was pleasantly surprised that ESPN avoided 25 minutes of footsie before getting down to the business of naming the game’s top four teams. 

Putting out an entire top 25 list? CFP director Bill Hancock and committee chair Jeff Long answering questions from media and doing a live television interview every week? It’s definitely a little overkill and I doubt the drama of the initial rankings sustains until the final Top 25 and Football Four is released on Sun. Dec. 7 at 11:45 a.m. 

In the BCS era, we had at least 24 hours of coaches going on TV making the case for their teams. Excluding coaches whose teams don’t play on the final weekend, we won’t see that anymore, but credit the committee for not waiting until Tuesday to release those rankings. The nonstop politicking and arguing through Sunday and Monday would be untenable. 

I was a little surprised to see TCU at No. 7, three spots above its place in the two irrelevant polls from the media and coaches. I’ll get more into the Frogs later, but it seemed appropriate to drop a mini-Mailbag covering the two biggest questions I was asked over and over again on Twitter following the top 25 announcement. 

1. How is TCU ahead of Baylor? 

I’ll let Long and Hancock handle this one. In short: Quality wins. 

TCU has wins over Minnesota, Oklahoma State and obviously, Oklahoma. Minnesota and Oklahoma State aren’t in the top 25, but for now, they do have five wins and two losses. That’s a quality win and TCU blew out both teams in convincing fashion.

"It goes back to who the teams have played at this point," Long told reporters. "Baylor has not had a strong schedule outside of a win over TCU." 

Outside of TCU, Baylor hasn’t played a single team with a winning record. The head-to-head matters, but it doesn’t eliminate all the other factors. TCU has played a much better schedule and deserved to be six spots higher than Baylor.

2. If both teams win out, would TCU still be ahead of Baylor?

Kansas State is excluded from this argument, because their strength of schedule the rest of the way is far superior to any team left. The Wildcats are No. 9 right now and still have road dates at No. 7 TCU, No. 13 Baylor and No. 20 Werst Virginia remaining. If K-State wins out, they’ll be the undisputed conference champion and easily leapfrog both TCU and Baylor. 

Back to the question at hand. To put it simply … it’s going to be really close. Expect it to come down to the final weekend. TCU has games against top 20 teams in the next two weeks and coasts into November with games against KU, Texas and Iowa State. That might work against the Frogs, in theory, but as pressure builds, it might work for them. 

Baylor only has two games against top 20 teams left, too. It does have the advantage of closing with Kansas State, which would be a huge win. If Baylor wins that game in convincing fashion, I’m betting they leapfrog TCU. If not, I’d expect TCU to hang onto a spot ahead of the Bears. 

TECH HANDLING ’82’ WELL

When you give up 82 points, there’s not much left to say. Only one Power 5 team (Indiana gave up 83 points to Wisconsin in 2010) has given up more in football’s modern era. 

It didn’t ruin that team. The Hoosiers lost to Penn State by 17 on a neutral field a week later before beating Purdue in overtime on the road to win their only Big Ten game of the year. 

After hearing Kliff Kingsbury’s response, I suspect "82" won’t have a major impact on Texas Tech’s future, either. 

"It’s as damaging as you allow it to be. I think the best thing for us is just to move forward," he said. "That’s what we’ve done. We’ve moved on to Texas." 

For the umpteenth time this year, Kingsbury said his team was "embarrassed," but this was far more embarrassing than narrow wins over Central Arkansas and UTEP or getting run over by Arkansas’ running game. 

"I would hope they would be when you get beat like that," he said. 

We’ll see if Tech does indeed bounce back, but it helps to play an offense that ranks 109th nationally in yards per play (4.98) and comes to Lubbock fresh off a 23-0 shutout loss to Kansas State. 

Kingsbury’s saying all the right things, but the fourth-quarter effort was the most "embarrassing" thing for the Red Raiders on Saturday. Did it return in practice this week? 

Saturday’s game against Texas holds the real answer and might hold plenty more about what the rest of Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech holds. 

MONDAY NIGHT BIG 12 VARIETY HOUR

The quarterbacks weren’t the only familiar faces taking center stage on Monday Night Football this week. You couldn’t turn around without hitting somebody from the Big 12. Ex-Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III was sidelined, but Texas Ex Colt McCoy got the win for the Redskins, besting former OSU star Brandon Weeden, who spelled Tony Romo when he went down with a back injury. Who knocked Romo out of the game? Former Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson, of course, who led the Redskins with 10 tackles. 

Bedlam stars Joseph Randle and DeMarco Murray combined for 164 yards while Nebraska star Roy Helu Jr. had 29 yards on five carries for the Redskins. Former Oklahoma punter Tress Way pinned the Cowboys inside their 20 before the final drive and averaged 46.2 yards on his five punts, pinning Dallas inside the 20 on three occasions. 

Former OSU kicker Dan Bailey made his only field goal attempt and former Texas star Henry Melton had two sacks and three tackles for loss for the Cowboys. 

Former Nebraska receiver Niles Paul caught three passes for 29 yards and ex-Baylor star Terrance Williams had six catches for 69 yards. Some guy named Dez Bryant had three grabs for 30 yards and an otherworldly effort to score a touchdown and even former Oklahoma tight end James Hanna caught a pass for seven yards. 

My head was spinning. Did I forget anyone? 

FUN WITH NUMBERS

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

How does Kansas State keep its penalty yardage so low? 

"Well, if they get penalized, we shoot ’em," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said.

POWER RANKINGS

For all the haranguing surrounding the committee’s top 10, here’s how I’d vote: