A full week of conference games means a well-stocked best and worst of the Big 12 this week. Let’s get to it.
Best offensive performance: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU. Boykin is benefitting greatly from a new wide-open offense and an additional season of experience. He’s the Big 12’s most improved player on its most improved team and thrust TCU into the Big 12 title conversation with 318 yards and two touchdowns on 20-of-38 passing. He also had just one interception and ran for a team-high 77 yards in the Frogs’ 37-33 win over Oklahoma.
Best team performance: TCU. The Frogs hopped all the way to No. 9 and No. 12 in the polls after barely making ballots a week ago. TCU got its biggest win as a Big 12 member and is one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the Big 12. That number will trim to one after the Frogs’ trip to No. 3 Baylor next week. The Bears are 5-0. Saturday, TCU’s defense held Oklahoma’s offense scoreless in the fourth quarter, despite the Sooners getting six possessions, two of which began in TCU territory.
Worst team performance: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders went to Manhattan and hardly put up a fight. Tech has been one of the most consistent teams in the history of the Big 12, but looks headed for its second season in four years without a trip to the postseason. Tech had four turnovers and gave up 535 yards of offense to the Wildcats in a 45-13 loss.
Best play: Paul Dawson, LB, TCU. Early in the fourth quarter, Dawson faked a blitz before stopping on a dime and dropping back into coverage. Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight didn’t see him and Dawson snagged a bullet from Knight and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown to put the Frogs up 37-31. I was there, and I promise you, the press box shook when this play happened.
Best quote: Gary Patterson, on Dawson’s big play: "He threw it right to him. Good thing it wasn’t a snake."
Best gesture: Kansas. The Jayhawks wore a black "AM" decal on the back of their helmets to honor one-time commit Andre Maloney, who died suddenly last October. Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of his death.
Worst play: Iowa State special teams. The Cyclones turned deflection of responsibility into an art form late in the first half. Oklahoma State pooch kicked it 50 yards downfield, but every Iowa State player on the field assumed somebody else would field it. Oklahoma State’s Elliot Jeffcoat recovered the fumble to set up a touchdown (Or was it? More on that later.) just before halftime that gave the Cowboys a 13-6 lead.
Most questionable use of instant replay: Big 12 officials at Iowa State/Oklahoma State. Desmond Roland’s touchdown just before the half was ruled short of the goal line initially, but officials somehow discovered indisputable evidence to overturn it and rule the play a touchdown. Considering Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard very loudly disputed the call after the game, it’s safe to say there’s no way that play should have been overturned. If it was a touchdown on the field, it should have stayed that way. If it was short, it should have stayed. Replays didn’t tell you much of anything.
Best catch: E.J. Bibbs, TE, Iowa State. I don’t know how you catch a bullet into tight coverage with one hand, but Bibbs could probably tell you. I’m sure you’d be able to do it right away.
Second-best catch: Curry Sexton, WR, Kansas State. Speaking of one-handed catches, Sexton was just showing off with this one late in the Wildcats’ blowout win over Texas Tech. "Don’t they have a…what is it? The Top 10 plays of the day, is that what it is?" coach Bill Snyder said after the game. "That’d better make it."
Best tomfoolery: TCU. Texas Tech ran a similar play last season, but camouflaging a player in the end zone? Running back B.J. Catalon laid down in the purple paint and Oklahoma looked like it didn’t see him. Cam Echols-Luper whipped a pass across the field that would have pleased former Tennessee Titan Frank Wychek. The play didn’t work perfectly, but Catalon nearly made it to midfield.
Worst rant: Jamie Pollard, AD, Iowa State. I wrote about this late Saturday night, but Pollard distracted from some legitimate points (chiefly, there should be more accountability from officials) by alluding to a possible conspiracy against Iowa State and also complaining that "it wasn’t fair." I get that Iowa State fans are angry, but this is an issue of incompetence, not evidence of anything sinister.
Best in-house DJ: TCU. With 22 seconds left in the first half, TCU cranked Katy Perry’s "Firework" during a replay review. It may have seemed harmless, but considering Perry asked OU quarterback Trevor Knight (who isn’t single, by the way) to call her on ESPN’s College Gameday that morning, it was a pretty cheeky nod to a chuckle-worthy incident. She even made a sign!