Big 12 notebook: Time for the midseason honors, awards
No other conference in the nation has witnessed the level of revolt seen in the Big 12 over the last three seasons. The establishment is overthrown and at the mercy of longtime peasants.
It’s as if Vanderbilt and Kentucky had somehow wrested control of the SEC from Alabama and LSU. And if we’ve learned anything at the midpoint of the season it is that the gap between new royalty — Baylor and TCU — and the crumbling elite — Texas and Oklahoma — might actually be growing wider. As most predicted, the No. 2 Bears and No. 3 Horned Frogs are on a collision course for a Nov. 27 de facto championship game in Fort Worth, where the conference title is likely to be won, and this time a College Football Playoff berth absolutely secured.
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
The senior has lived up to the Heisman hype and more. Without his brilliant overall play, and ability to do the unthinkable when his team needed him most, the injury depleted Horned Frogs would be out of the national conversation, quite possibly even out of the top 25. No QB in the nation is performing at a higher level, and the stats bear it out: 166-for-250 (66.4 percent), 2,539 yards (No. 4 in the nation), 25 TDs (No. 2) and 5 INTs. He’s No. 3 in passing efficiency. Plus, Boykin has rushed for 440 rushing yards and five more TDs.
Freshman of the (half) year:
Kavontae Turpin, WR, special teams, TCU
The lightly recruited and undersized receiver has played huge for the Frogs, who lost WR Ty Slanina for the season, and have been without Emanuel Porter and Kolby Listenbee for stretches. Turpin has taken six of his 18 catches to the house and is averaging 17.4 yards per catch. Some of his finest work is on special teams. He ranks second in the Big 12 in kickoff return yards (407) and third in yards per kickoff return (29.1).
Biggest surprise (team):
No. 14 Oklahoma State (6-0, 3-0)
The Cowboys are already one win away from tying last season’s totals in both overall wins and conference wins. We knew QB Mason Rudolph had Oklahoma State excited, but it’s the defense that has been the big surprise, ranking No. 2 in the Big 12 in pass defense and overall defense. Still, OSU has squeaked out two wins against Texas and Kansas State and has the gauntlet of Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma ahead. The Cowboys are the lowest ranked undefeated team from a Power 5 conference with still plenty to prove.
Biggest surprise (player):
Jerrod Heard, QB, Texas
The redshirt freshman quarterback either wasn’t deemed good enough to beat out Tyrone Swoopes as the starter for the opener at Notre Dame or Charlie Strong didn’t want to put him in that situation. Whatever it was, Heard has breathed life into a listless program since his insertion in Week 2 with his spectacular ability to run and a strong arm that needs to become more accurate and could also use the help of a playmaker or two. In six games, he’s rushed for 433 yards and leads Big 12 QB in rushing at 72.2 yards a game, good for sixth among all Big 12 rushers.
Biggest disappointment (team):
West Virginia (3-3, 0-3)
We keep waiting for Dana Holgorsen’s team to break out and it’s not happening with three consecutive losses to start the Big 12 schedule. The caveat here is that Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor were the three opponents. Still, the Mountaineers lost to OU and Baylor by a combined 44 points and it’s difficult to see a better outcome had those games been scheduled in November instead of October. West Virginia ranks in the middle of the pack of the Big 12 on offense and defense and that’s just not going to cut it.
Biggest disappointment (player):
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
All the talk during an offseason of change at Oklahoma was how new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley would easily incorporate the Sooners’ powerful back and NCAA single-game rushing record-holder into the Air Raid offense. Well, as the passing attack has taken over, the punishing Perine has taken a back seat. Perine is averaging 70.0 yards a game and 4.5 yards a carry. At 420 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 2015, he’s nowhere on pace to match last season’s 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns of last season.
Oklahoma vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 10
A quick 4-0 start to the season had Sooners fans forgetting the slide of 2014 as they focused on the struggling Longhorns who figured to present little more resistance than a veggie burger. Instead, the Sooners got stomped on, outmuscled and outplayed for a 24-17 loss that will likely force it to beat TCU and Baylor to have a shot at the Big 12 title it hasn’t won since sharing it in 2012. OU rebounded last week with a 55-0 trouncing of Kansas State, but its lightweight performance against Texas will haunt it.
Most viral moment
Friday Night Lights! We are looking for the very best in Texas! Hook'Em!🐂 pic.twitter.com/pkwZPufL6I
— Jay Norvell (@UT_CoachNorvell) October 17, 2015
We will be on the road this week. Looking for young men with the right stuff.🐂 pic.twitter.com/38rBiYJiWG
— Jay Norvell (@UT_CoachNorvell) October 13, 2015
It will be a long time before Texas fans forget the celebratory scene on the field of the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 10, 2015. The Longhorns pulled off one of the more improbable upsets in the century-old rivalry and second-year coach Strong looked like a man who knew it, crowd-surfing on the hands of his players and donning the golden cowboy hat awarded to the winning team. The image of Strong wearing the hat over a 40-acre-wide smile and pointing to jubilant Texas fans will be a moment revisited on the Internet for years to come. It even made for some classic recruiting material:
Best play of the year:
The term "saved the season" gets thrown around a lot, but in the case of TCU at Texas Tech on Sept. 26, it’s the absolute truth. Trailing 52-48 with 29 seconds left, the No. 3-ranked Horned Frogs faced fourth-and-goal from the Tech 4-yard line. Boykin’s intended pass to Josh Doctson in the middle of the end zone sailed high. Doctson stretched out but could only get his fingertips on it, sending the ball floating, seemingly harmlessly, toward the back of the end zone. Out of nowhere running back Aaron Green snatched it out of the air, got a foot down and tumbled out of the end zone for the touchdown and, yes, a season-saving victory for playoff-hopeful TCU.
Worst play of the year:
Texas’ Heard had completed an amazing comeback with 20 unanswered fourth-quarter points with a performance that broke Vince Young’s record for total yards in a single game. But, the job wasn’t done yet. Cal still led 45-44, with Texas only needing the extra-point, a play so automatic that Strong admitted he didn’t watch. Maybe it was a good thing. An euphoric stadium has never flat-lined so quickly. On the PAT with 71 seconds left in regulation, the snap went back, the snap went down and the kick was … wide right? Nick Rose shanked it and dancing Texas players on the sideline were quickly hit with the ice-cold reality that one of the great comebacks in school history was dead. Fast forward to the 1:17 mark to see Heard’s brilliant touchdown run followed by the botched kick.
Best game left on the calendar:
No. 2 Baylor at No. 3 TCU, Nov. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
— Terry Beaudine (@TerryBeaudine) October 9, 2015
The Big 12 knew how probable it would be for Baylor vs. TCU to be the hallmark game of the season so the league wisely moved the date from early October last season to late November. It will be TCU’s final game of the regular season while Baylor will have one more at home against Texas. In all likelihood, this game will determine the Big 12 champion and this time send the winner to the College Football Playoff. Who can forget last year’s thriller in Waco? Last year’s score, 61-58, has become a part of college football lore — and recent graffiti.
Player to watch out for in the second half
Corey Coleman, Baylor, WR
The numbers the junior putting up in short order are mesmerizing. Already Baylor’s all-time single-season leader for touchdown catches after just six games, Coleman leads the nation with 16 touchdown catches in six games. He’s No. 2 in receiving yards per game (146.2). If the astronomical numbers continue, he’s going to have to be included in the Heisman conversation as an insanely talented player on a team vying for the national championship.
Who makes the CFP Final Four:
2: Ohio State
Team most likely to get passed over for a CFP spot:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the inherent problem with a four-team playoff that selects its contestants from five conferences is there’s one spot too few. Sorry, Utah. The committee won’t exclude Dabo Swinney’s Tigers with wins over Notre Dame and Florida State. Unfortunately for Utah, the Pac-12 power structure has disintegrated, leaving few signature wins to wave in front of a discriminating committee. Seek TCU, Baylor for consoling.