Here’s what I took away from today’s three games across the Big 12.
Trevone Boykin deserves Heisman buzz. I’ve written about Boykin’s rise and TCU’s offensive revolution extensively this season, but I’ve only alluded to possible Heisman buzz from the Frogs’ quarterback. At this point, it must be acknowledged: Boykin deserves to be on the first page of any list of Heisman contenders. After Saturday’s seven-touchdown outburst against an outmanned Texas Tech defense, Boykin has 21 touchdowns to just three interceptions and 2,306 passing yards. He’s calmed down his happy feet in the pocket and been more judicious about when to run and when to stay in the pocket. He’s got 374 rushing yards and three scores this year to go with his improvement as a passer. He’s been one of the best stories in college football and he’s got the Frogs inside the top 10 and sitting pretty as the favorite to win the Big 12 with a shot at cracking the four-team playoff field.
Andy Dalton’s school record of 27 touchdowns in a season is toast, barring injury. TCU’s 82-27 win over Texas Tech already broke the record for points in a Big 12 game (the previous mark was 77 by Oklahoma) and the school records for yardage and points in a game. The Frogs had only 71 points in their first five Big 12 games a year ago, and this same Texas Tech defense held them to just 10.
Boykin is more accurate this season, making outstanding decisions and looks in total command of Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie’s spread attack. The only question mark for him this year has been completion percentage, which is a touch below 60 percent, but much of that is him trying to stretch the field. One of his best receivers, Josh Doctson left the game early on crutches, but the entire offense’s stock has risen and Deante Gray and Kolby Listenbee have emerged as legitimate receivers after a nightmare season for the position a year ago in Fort Worth.
Kansas State is a team without a weakness. Defending the run is the only thing Bill Snyder’s team does at an elite level, but they’re proving yet again that mistake-free football and putting together a team that’s solid across the board will take you pretty far. In the Wildcats’ case, it has taken them to the top of the Big 12 standings and a likely spot in the top 10 this week.
K-State’s defense is sound and Texas doesn’t have the offensive line or skill position talent to simply outplay the Wildcats. That’s how shutouts happen, and it was Texas’ first time hanging a zero on the scoreboard since Red River in 2004. It was Charlie Strong’s first time being shut out in 61 games as a head coach. K-State played 60 minutes without a turnover and was flagged just three times for 25 yards.
The Wildcats can excel in the intermediate pass game with Curry Sexton and Tyler Lockett, a pair of great route runners who always fight for the ball. Lockett is one of the league’s best deep threats, too. K-State can run the ball with quarterback Jake Waters or running backs Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson. The Auburn and Oklahoma games showed how well K-State can slow the run, and K-State had given up just 19 plays longer than 20 yards this season coming into today’s game. That’s the fewest in the Big 12 and just over three per game. K-State’s schedule — which still features road games at TCU, West Virginia and Baylor — means it’s hard to see the Wildcats as the Big 12 favorite compared to TCU’s schedule the rest of the way, but the Wildcats will be a tough out for anybody left on their slate.
Oklahoma State’s offensive ineptitude is astounding. When you see how a coordinator change brought TCU from one of the league’s worst offenses a year ago to one of its best, you have to be tempted, don’t you? Oklahoma State has dealt with injuries on an already inexperienced offensive line and lost a senior starting quarterback for what’s probably the entire season, but this is hard to watch.
OSU has been one of the Big 12’s best offenses — especially running the ball — since hiring Dana Holgorsen prior to the 2010 season. In its last 10 quarters, it has scored 26 total points. OSU averaged a Big 12-high 45.7 just two years ago. It doesn’t have first-round talents in Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden anymore, but there’s no reason for an offense with talents like Tyreek Hill, Marcell Ateman and Jhajuan Seales (who, to be fair, was suspended this week) to score 10 and 9 points in consecutive weeks against defenses that have routinely given up more this season. Daxx Garman has struggled, but you can chalk some of that up to his offensive line, which hasn’t been able to establish a running game. That allows defenses to drop back into coverage, which makes stringing together completions extremely difficult. It’s probably time for Gundy to take a closer look at second-year OC Mike Yurcich. First-year OL coach Bob Connelly hasn’t been impressive either, but he’s working with three linemen who are playing for the first time this season.
Texas Tech is to blame for TCU "running up the score." I’ll make this brief, because you can bet with 82 points on the board, it’ll come up this week. TCU was still throwing the ball down the field with Trevone Boykin in the game and 61 points on the board, but that was also in the third quarter. It was mildly rude, but TCU threw just six passes in the fourth quarter. All were short throws and somebody named Bram Kohlhausen threw one of them. Matt Joeckel got hurt on a running play and Patterson has a right to get Zach Allen a couple drop backs in game action. Most of TCU’s damage in the final quarter came with fourth-string running back Trevorris Johnson running free against a tired defense. He finished with 105 yards and two scores on just 10 carries. Texas Tech wasn’t interested in tackling or fighting to win the line of scrimmage in the final quarter. The effort for the Red Raiders was abysmal. That’s how you give up 82 points, not by TCU trying to put a big number on the board.