Big 12 superlatives: Week 5
Let’s hand out a few awards for this weekend’s performances across the Big 12.
Best offensive performance: Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma. Bell's stats weren't eye-popping. He managed 232 passing yards with a pair of touchdowns and 59 rushing yards, but Oklahoma earned the best win of any Big 12 team this season because of his steady play. He completed 73 percent of his passes against a very good Notre Dame defense in the 35-21 win, and managed an offense that didn't turn the ball over. Bell has the Sooners believing big things are possible in 2013.
Best defensive performance: Sam Carter, S, TCU. Carter picked off two passes and returned one 66 yards for a touchdown. He also had 1.5 tackles for loss, a sack and forced a fumble in TCU's 48-17 win over SMU. Not bad for a day's work. He had five total tackles and was named the Walter Camp Award's national player of the week for his efforts.
Second-best defensive performance: Marcus Mallet, LB, TCU. With as much time as he spent in SMU's backfield, it's a wonder Mustangs QB Garrett Gilbert didn't mistake him for a running back. All 10 of Mallet's tackles were solo, but he finished with an outlandish four tackles for loss. He had a sack and forced a fumble from Gilbert. Those four tackles for loss were the fifth-most for any TCU player under Gary Patterson since 2000.
Third-best defensive performance: Frank Shannon, LB, Oklahoma. These guys all deserved recognition. There was talk that Shannon might not even play on Saturday, but the Dallas native suited up with a cast on his right arm and earned his first career interception in the first quarter of the Sooners' win. He finished with a team-high eight tackles and half a tackle for loss. Gutsy stuff from the rising star on the Sooners' defense.
Best team performance: Oklahoma. No contest here. The Sooners might have put together the most complete performance in all three phases from any team in the Big 12 all season. The Sooners were efficient in the passing game, powerful in the running game, won the battle on the line of scrimmage and held Tommy Rees to just 9-of-24 passing. Winning the turnover battle 3-0 helped, too. What more could you ask for from a squad looking the part of new Big 12 favorite.
Worst team performance: Oklahoma State. Lay this loss at the feet of an offense that couldn't run the ball and playcalling that was far too conservative. J.W. Walsh isn't Joe Montana, but he can throw the ball downfield and wasn't allowed that opportunity and OSU strayed too far from a reliable read-option game with Walsh, who threw a pick six early. The defense looked leaky in the passing game and the special teams' unit had two shanked punts and missed a field goal we'll get to in a second.
Worst play: Ben Grogan, K, Oklahoma State. Look, I know the angles on short field goals aren't friendly, but if you have a 23-yard field goal to tie a conference game on the road, there's no excuse for doinking it off the upright. Quite simply: That kick has to be made. OSU's entire kicking game was untested before this week, and what a disastrous day it became. Kip Smith also had punts of 16 and 13 yards. Where art thou, Quinn Sharp?
Best play: Ishmael Banks, CB, West Virginia. Snatching a nice interception while defending a different receiver underneath the route was a nice start, but Banks weaved his way through Oklahoma State's offense, read his blocks and dove into the end zone for an impressive 58-yard touchdown return to tie the game. West Virginia wouldn't trail again.
Second-best play: Sterling Shepard, WR, Oklahoma. All he wants to do is zoom a zoom zoom. The Sooners receiver is better known for his quickness in the open field, but he showed off some great speed with a 54-yard catch and run to give Oklahoma some late breathing room in its 35-21 win over Notre Dame. He even caught the two-point conversion on the next play.
Craziest play: LaDarius Brown, WR, TCU. We saw Iowa State and Baylor both manage to return onside kicks for touchdowns against Texas Tech in recent years, and Brown did it against SMU to snuff out a comeback attempt late. He caught the onside kick in stride and walked through the Mustangs' hands team for a 45-yard touchdown return.
Best quote: Gary Patterson, on Brown's onside kick return. "I might have gotten to the 20, and then probably pulled a hamstring."
Best fashion statement: I'm afraid after the loss that we'll never see them again, but Oklahoma State's new white helmets with a stripe up the middle and Phantom Pistol Pete sneering on both sides was a fantastic look.
Worst fashion statement: West Virginia's all-yellows. The helmets, pants and jerseys look OK on their own, but let's keep the banana look in the closet for now. I kept waiting for Curious George to emerge from the West Virginia huddle.