Big 12 thoughts: Week 13
Here's a couple takeaways from a surprising, record-breaking Saturday in the Big 12.
Saturday was amazing from Samaje Perine, but what comes next could be even better. There's not much I love more in sports than watching history. Oklahoma's running back treated us an outstanding Saturday afternoon, breaking Melvin Gordon's week-old FBS rushing record that broke LaDainian Tomlinson's 15-year-old record. He averaged 12.6 yards on his 34 carries for five touchdowns and 427 yards, more ground than any player has ever covered in a college football game.
The main difference: Gordon is a draft-bound junior who carried the ball 206 times a year ago. Tomlinson was a junior who split time in his first two seasons. Perine had never played college football this season and already has three 200-yard games, including his last two outings. OU's offensive line can maul teams and did that against KU, but the first tackler almost never brings Perine down and that will pay off if OU's offensive lines aren't as dominant in future seasons. Perine is a special talent and fun to watch. The only bad thing about the way he bounces off tacklers is it makes people underrate his speed.
Perine showed his maturity after his first 200-yard game against WVU (buying the big guys pizza always goes over well) and did it again on Saturday. He can't stop thanking his offensive line and they can't stop talking about how impressive Perine is as a teammate.
"He's as selfless a person as we've ever had in our program," offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. "He's as mature a player that we've had in our program."
Again, we're talking about a true freshman. I assure you coaches don't talk about teenagers like this very often.
His future is bright and when I thought about the 427 rushing yards he wrote in the record books on Saturday, that's what I was left with. OU knows what he's capable of doing now and I doubt you'll see many five-carry days from him like he had against Baylor a few weeks ago. Perine punishes defenses and never goes down easy. He'll have Heisman buzz entering next season, but you better believe he'll spend the better part of the next three (or more likely, two) seasons making defenses around college football fear him.
Oklahoma State has hope in a season that often felt hopeless. Mason Rudolph, look at what you've done! Expectations were low for Rudolph's first career action, but he cleared even the most ambitious hopes among the OSU faithful. His numbers weren't outstanding, but he was poised, made more big plays than mistakes and showcased the arm strength we've heard so much about. OSU's offense looked as good as it has in months. Maybe some of that is Baylor having no sense of Rudolph's tendencies and very little scouting on the South Carolina native, but there's no denying that OSU has real hope for the position in years to come. Rudolph was only 12/24 for 277 yards, two scores and two interceptions, but some of the throws he made down the seam to David Glidden and his 68-yard score to James Washington will offer OSU fans the excitement and optimism they haven't had all season.
Bedlam next week got a whole lot more interesting, too.
Kansas State is no dead man walking. No Big 12 storyline has been more overlooked in recent weeks than K-State's league title hopes. If the Wildcats beat Kansas and Baylor, they'll share the Big 12 title with TCU. The Frogs' 21-point beatdown in Fort Worth earlier this month made it easy to dismiss K-State, but the Wildcats will be a tough out in the season finale at Baylor. Last year, K-State gave Baylor fits on both sides of the ball and rallied from a 21-10 deficit to take a 25-21 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Daniel Sams, whose legs terrorized Baylor's deefense last year, is gone now, but K-State has a much better run-pass balance to keep Baylor's defense on its toes and the Wildcats managed to throw for 400 yards against West Virginia. The blowout in Fort Worth wasn't K-State's finest moment, but the Wildcats proved on Thursday night they're still a quality team and that win kept its Big 12 title hopes alive. Baylor may win the title and the nod from the Big 12 as its AQ champion, but K-State's not going to make it easy.
Another long offseason may lie ahead in Morgantown. Before this month began, West Virginia was 6-2 and riding a four-game winning streak, highlighted by an upset of No. 4 Baylor. WVU has lost its last three games since, including a pair of close losses to TCU and Kansas State. General consensus before the season was Dana Holgorsen needed 7-8 wins to keep his job, but the hot start and return to offensive juggernaut status may help his case. Still, WVU is now at 6-5 with a trip to Ames ahead that's not a gimme win.
Pay attention to DeAndre Washington. If you didn't know about him already, you need to educate yourself. It's been a tough season in Lubbock, but the offensive line has played well and Washington has emerged as a standout. He trails only Samaje Perine in the Big 12 rushing race and became the first Tech running back since Ricky Williams in 1998 to top 1,000 yards. That's an unreal string, but he's got great balance, he's shifty and can run around or through tacklers. It's been a long time since Texas Tech had a running back of his caliber. The 5-8, 201-pound junior from Missouri City, Texas set a new career high with 186 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also added 51 receiving yards and a score. I called Washington the Big 12's most underrated player in my picks for this week, but hopefully his performance on Saturday will get more folks to sit up and see the bright spot in a dark year on the plains.
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