Saturday sort of vindicated my continuing to write these every week. Even though one solid performance doesn't mean much in terms of the long-term outlook for the team, it at least serves as a reminder that this team is capable of competing in the Big 12, even when it looks like a certain blowout. The other results from the Big 12 last weekend also serve as a reminder that there is a lot of inconsistency within the Big 12, and the line between the "top tier" teams and the "middle of the pack" has been blurred, if not erased altogether, and no game should be looked at as a sure thing for either side. With that in mind, let's look at the three teams remaining on the Key Opponent list.
Baylor (3-2) - November 3
Last Week: Baylor turned in one of the week's WTF performances in getting demolished at home by a hamstrung TCU team, 49-21.
Notes: This is why defense is important. Eventually, all offenses have an off week (right, West Virginia?) and if you allow everyone to score on you, you're in trouble. Despite the fact that TCU was starting redshirt freshman Travone Boykin at quarterback and had been counted out by virtually everyone at this point, they managed to hang 500+ yards and 49 points on the Bears, who coughed it up an alarming six times in the loss. TCU didn't turn it over at all, and walked away with the easy win. Another interesting note is the time of possession battle in this game. TCU won it 42 minutes to 18. I know Baylor likes to play fast, but it's hard to win when you're touching the ball for less than 20 minutes.
What I'm Watching: It's nice to see a team in the conference with a defense worse than ours. The S&P+ has Baylor's D ranked 107th to our 43rd. If Cummings continues to take snaps and can provide a spark for this offense in the coming weeks, we have the potential to be competitive with this team.
This Week: Two reeling teams face off as Baylor travels to Austin, to play a team that may debut on the key opponent list next week if they can't pull off a victory.
Texas Tech (5-1) - November 10
Last Week: Tech shocked the country by dismantling a Top 5 West Virginia team, 49-14.
Notes: The West Virginia story is similar to the one I outlined for Baylor above. If you're all offense, you're going to stumble at this point. Because of Texas Tech's unique (I guess) ability to play on both sides of the ball, they may actually be one of the three best teams in the conference. The Red Raiders hung 676 yards on the helpless Mountaineers, and held WV to their lowest total of the year, all without even forcing a turnover (in fact, Tech even gave up 2).
What I'm Watching: Even though I've been singing Tech's praises since early this year, I've also been waiting for their numbers to come back down to earth. Halfway through the season, even though they've played Oklahoma and West Virginia, that isn't happening. I don't know how you can go having the 109th best defense in the country last year to what they're doing now, but so far it doesn't look like a quirk. As of now they boast the nation's #7 defense and #9 offense (according to S&P+). I'm going to keep them on the list because hey, I need someone on here, but really they're looking pretty scary at the moment.
This Week: No rest for the weary in the Big 12 schedule, as Texas Tech heads to TCU to take on a ranked, 5-1 Horned Frog team that no one's really sure about yet.
Iowa State (4-2) - November 17
Last Week: The Cyclones put forth a solid effort against an undefeated Kansas State team, but ultimately couldn't pull off the upset.
Notes: If there's any one thing holding back the Cyclones from being closer to the top of the conference, it's probably their quarterback situation. After Steele Jantz proved to be a turnover machine, the Cyclones made the switch to Jared Barnett two weeks ago, and the initial result was a nice win over TCU. This week, however, things took a different turn, as Barnett completed just 44% of his passes and averaged only 4.6 yards per attempt.