Big 12 thoughts: Week 10
A few takeaways from the Big 12 this week:
Baylor's schedule is backloaded with opportunities for wins over Oklahoma and Kansas State, but it won't be easy to leapfrog TCU. That said, Baylor obviously beat TCU earlier this season. (Even if it needed a 24-point rally in the last 11:38 to do so.)
If both teams win out, they'd have identical 11-1 records with 8-1 marks in conference and Baylor would be the Big 12's representative to the committee as its league champion.
Thus, the committee would have an interesting question to answer: Do you value nonconference scheduling more than head-to-head results and conference champion status? Both teams played SMU but TCU played Samford and Minnesota, who is 6-2. Baylor played Buffalo and Northwestern State. Neither Bears opponent is above .500 and neither has a win over a Power 5 opponent.
My guess is TCU would get the nod from the committee, but this is the first year we've ever seen it. Baylor would be just as deserving, if not more so. The truth is it's entirely unpredictable with 12 people in a room doing something no one has ever done before, but it may tell us a lot about the future of college football.
West Virginia would like a do-over in the fourth quarter. The Mountaineers fell victim to TCU's fate against Baylor. It failed to execute and got a little too conservative when it needed to move the chains and seal a win. West Virginia threw just one pass in the entire quarter (it was incomplete), and ran the ball on 3rd-and-9 on their final drive. In a near-identical scenario during the previous possession, quarterback Clint Trickett fumbled after being sacked, but to borrow a phrase, you've got to play to win the game. Clint Trickett's been as good as any quarterback in the league this year. TCU had shut down Kevin White (3 rec., 28 yards), but one completion lowered TCU's odds of completing the comeback to almost nil. You've got to give Trickett a chance to win it. Instead, West Virginia handed over possession. The Mountaineers survived five turnovers. They didn't survive getting outgained 164 to -2 in the fourth quarter, converting zero first downs to TCU's seven.
Oklahoma is at its best when Trevor Knight is a true dual-threat. Keith Ford traveled to Ames but didn't play ... and Oklahoma didn't even need him. The Sooners had three 100-yard rushers led by Knight. Yes, that Knight. He went untouched for a 31-yard touchdown on a broken play in the first quarter, but that was only the beginning.
He finished with 146 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first FBS quarterback this season to run for three scores and throw for three scores in a single game. Alex Ross looked as good as he has all season with 144 yards on 13 carries and Samaje Perine added 110 and a score on 17 carries. I still believe Ford's explosive speed combined with his power makes him Oklahoma's best overall back, but everything just works better when Knight is a real running threat and Oklahoma sets him up to be one. There is more room for the backs to operate, which means defenses have to stack the box and it clears up room for Knight to throw. He completed 22-of-35 passes for 230 yards, three scores and two picks.
Clint Bowen isn't done shaking up Kansas. It was odd timing but fascinating news: Just before kickoff on Saturday, Kansas announced that it had made a change at offensive coordinator. Eric Kiesau, hired to coach wide receivers this offseason after two seasons as Washington's offensive coordinator, had been promoted to co-offensive coordinator and would call the plays. KU termed it a promotion, but it's also a demotion for John Reagan, who Charlie Weis hired from Rice this offseason to run KU's offense this offseason.
For those keeping score: Bowen has made a QB change, moved the team's best offensive weapon from receiver to running back and now chosen a new playcaller.
The first two seemed like obvious signs he disagreed with Charlie Weis' approach, but his latest move feels more like desperation. It's not even the craziest switch in the past year, though. TCU switched offensive coordinators at halftime of a game last year.
Either way, it didn't work very well. Kansas managed just two touchdowns and 304 yards of offense in its 60-14 loss to Baylor. Quarterback Michael Cummings did rack up 288 passing yards with two scores and no picks on 21-of-30 passing.
Just when you think Texas Tech's can't get hit by any more bad breaks, it gets another. Tech had a decent chance to beat Texas on Saturday, but only if Davis Webb played. He didn't and watched Saturday's game with crutches nearby. With Patrick Mahomes suiting up, Tech had less of a chance, but when he went out with what looked like a head injury, the game ended right there.
As such, we saw what is essentially Tech's doomsday scenario. DeAndre Washington and the Tech running game have been better than anyone could have expected, but the season was in trouble if anything happened to Davis Webb, who has had a rough year with 13 picks this season, the most in the Big 12.
Lightning struck in Lubbock last year when it had success with walk-on true freshman Baker Mayfield. You can't depend on it twice. Tech's problems run deeper than the QB spot, but like we've seen from Texas the last few years, you don't have much hope of improvement if you fix them when you don't have great quarterback play.
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