Finally a weekend full of conference matchups for the members of the Big 12. We were treated with multiple games and performances that were entertaining and competitive, so much better than the previous weeks on the whole. Of the five games this week, three were decided by 4 points or less and provided all kinds of interest to viewers. Should have expected it following the craziness on Thursday night between Iowa State and Texas, nothing from Saturday topped that one but three of the four remaining games gave it a good shot.
Through the first six weeks, I see the conference breaking down into three or four groups. Baylor and Oklahoma are the cream of the crop, BCS bowl caliber teams. Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are next in line, I think they're a decent sized step below the top level. Here's where I can't decide if we have another group of teams or if they're close enough to be lumped in with the Cowboys and Red Raiders. Hell, I'm not even sure if Oklahoma State has shown enough to be lumped in with Tech. TCU, Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia, and Iowa State have done enough or shown enough to be able to beat most teams in the conference on any day. West Virginia has done it twice now, playing OU tough and beating Oklahoma State. Iowa State could have easily gotten the win over Texas. Texas trounced K-State. K-State could have walked out of Stillwater with a win. Try to make a case for any team in this group and a strong case could be made to refute it.
Unfortunately, the last group is a lonely group. We might get a conference win but we won't come close to being favored the rest of the year.
OU 20 TCU 17
The Sooners continue to win and make plays when they need it. Their defense was outstanding yesterday in the first half, not allowing TCU to gain a first down until their 2nd drive of the 3rd quarter. The offense wasn't great and that's partly attributed to the TCU defense but it's becoming pretty clear that neither unit for the Sooners are elite, just good on both sides and sometimes that's enough.
The bottom line is that Oklahoma has shown that they can win games two different ways. If you sell out to stop the run then they have the receivers who can hurt you in man coverage. If you play to stop the pass then they can physically wear a defense down by pounding away at them on the ground.
And the view from the other side at Frogs O' War:
A game that in many ways was indistinguishable from the previous TCU losses. Let's run through the check list and see how many boxes we tick, shall we? Less than 20 carries for the running backs? Check. Miserable first half?Check. Multiple false start and delay of game penalties? Check. Bonehead play by Brandon Carter? Check. Solid defensive performance apart from a couple of plays with broken tackles that cost the Frogs dearly? Check. Backbreaking turnovers? No? HOORAY, PROGRESS!
I see somebody else decided to go through a checklist in their post yesterday, too.
Oklahoma State 33 Kansas State 29
This game was extremely entertaining for me yesterday. Back and forth all game long, neither team had a lead of more than seven points. Statistically, the teams were basically even in first downs, third down conversions, and yards gained. The differences came down to penalties and turnovers, K-State had 12 penalties and five turnovers. The wizardry wasn't working yesterday. However, that does say a little something about the former conference favorite. All those mistakes by the Wildcats and only winning by 4 doesn't give the appearance of a conference power.
Starting with the winners, here is what they had to say at Cowboys Ride for Free:
There are no stats here, just wins. I'll throw up all over the stats in the morning.
Right now I'm headed out to drink myself into forgetting how bad OSU's offense looked, and how many blown coverages our secondary handed out.
A win is a win.
And the other side from Bring on the Cats where they're still trying to figure out which guy is the better quarterback.
If there's a problem with the offense, it's that it was all Sams today. He directly accounted for 299 of K-State's 336 yards of offense; that's all but SEVEN yards after taking into account John Hubert's 30 rushing yards. That's a problem, even though Sams carried the team to 144 rushing yards.
They did feel better about the defense today:
The defense also stood pretty firm for a change -- until Oklahoma State's penultimate possession, when the maligned unit reverted to form, unable to stop anything at all. With the exception of one incompletion on first-and-goal, every play the Cowboys ran on the drive resulted in a first down; OSU went 75 yards on six plays in only 1:56 to retake the lead. Other than that, the defense did a pretty good job of forcing Oklahoma State to settle for field goals, including on OSU's final drive to hold the Cowboys to a field goal which gave the Cats a chance to win.
Texas 31 Iowa State 30
The end of the game took all of the attention but it was a damn good game well before the fumble. Iowa State took the lead halfway through 3rd quarter and held it until there were only 51 seconds left in the game. Iowa State outgained the Longhorns by 100 yards total and 80 on the ground, further showing the Longhorn's weakness at stopping the run.
A great recap at Burnt Orange Nation included this, I might bookmark just to have it handy in about 12 months.
It doesn't matter, because it doesn't change the fundamental calculus of what needs to happen, the fundamental calculus that is now clear to almost everyone. The outcome of this game doesn't matter. It doesn't matter because this team still doesn't get it defensively and injuries and Applewhite's play calling are hurting the offense massively.
The outcomes of some games coming up, like next week against Oklahoma and Baylor to close the season? Those will probably be ugly enough to move the needle for whatever stragglers there are to the fundamental truth of what needs to happen at Texas, but they don't really matter either because they are but the stragglers, the ones with the dried voices that whisper together as quietly and meaninglessly as wind in dry grass or rats' feet over broken glass in our dry cellar.
And to Wide Right and Natty Lite:
ALMOST. One more first down, one less (mostly deserved) pass interference call, one less Hail Mary completed by Texas, or one less horrible officiating blunder, and the Cyclones are looking at a 2-2 record. As it stands, Iowa State comes away from a nationally televised, shockingly well called game from Courtney Messingham with a ton of sympathizers across America, but yet another mark in the loss column.
One of the best posts I've read this week was this one by cylentbutdeadly at WRNL:
The narrative has already developed and the outcry among Cyclone fans was immediate and boisterous. "We were screwed!" Sure, there's some validity to that, but Iowa State had every opportunity to seize control of this game and didn't. Because of that, Texas found a way to win and the judgement of the officials became a determining factor.
This brings me to the crux of this piece; with a full three months yet to go, it's apparent that 2013 will be remembered as the year of the screwjob as far as Cyclone athletics go, but what about a larger, darker narrative that is developing because of these screwjobs. I'm talking of course about the reaction our fan base has had to these perceived slights and the reputation that we're developing.
To some degree, it has to be ingrained in the ISU fan's DNA to cry foul at the first sign of trouble. We've been on the business end of a good jobbing a few too many times and have seen how the sports world works. But is our anger really just misdirected? Blaming officials is a convenient way to explain a loss, and trust me, our peers are taking notice just how often we go to the "Officials" card. Nobody wants to admit that our coaches or players might not have been up to snuff in a few of these screwjobs.
Great perspective and I hope it gets through. Nothing irritates me more than a whiny fanbase. I've been pretty hard on Cyclone fans for continuing to cling to the "we got screwed" narrative because it only snowballs once it gets started. Sometimes calls go against you. Accept it and put yourself in a position where a bad call can't have that effect. Know why Kansas doesn't have an axe to grind with officials? It's because good and bad calls don't matter often enough for us, this is true in football and basketball. On the court, a bad call means a turnover and more often than not we're ahead by 17 instead of 19. In football, it means we're down by 34 instead of 27. If you're consistently in close games, you're going to find calls that are 50/50 and you're not going to like the outcome of half of them.
Texas Tech 54 Kansas 16
Including this one just so we can see what the guys at Viva the Matadors had to say.
As I am writing this, with about 2 minutes left in the game, Kansas has 266 yards. We'll break this down from 1st quarter and the rest of the way, but, oh my, what a performance.
Should I remind him that Rice held us to fewer yards? Nah, I'll probably let that go.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury says it in his post-game presser when asked about what happens next. He's at a loss for answers and he's not going to speculate, but whatever happens:
"Next man up."
That's all you can do, and whoever will play quarterback will move the ball and score touchdown. Kingsbury doesn't use qualifying words like, "we hope" whoever plays comes in moves the ball and scores touchdowns, but this is what will happen.
I don't know how Tech will be long term or how Kingsbury is going to turn out as a coach but I was impressed yesterday. They farted around in the 1st quarter with us and then decided to take the yards on the ground we were handing them. After that was realized, they did whatever they wanted. Defensively they threw our line around. They jumped screens and short passing routes.
Baylor 73 West Virginia 42
Ignore the final score. This was ROFLCOPTER from the start. Baylor broke the Big 12 record for most yards in a game with 864. Their starters played ONE drive in the second half. Tweets from last night:
Baylor: 369 yards in the first quarter... that's the most by any team in a single quarter over the last 10 seasons.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 6, 2013
Baylor should end the half with 58 points on 56 plays good for 617 total yards.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) October 6, 2013
Wonder how West Virginia fans are taking this one.
Before even attempting to understand a beat-down that will occupy a unique place in Mountaineer lore, it must be first acknowledged that this has a lot more to do with the team across the field than the one we write about on this site. The Baylor Bears are a well-oiled blitzkrieg of murderous efficiency that leaves sorrow, sadness and tired referees in its path. WVU was not the first team to be embarrassed by Baylor and they certainly won't be the last. They are amazing, they are fantastic, and credit must be given.
As I stated last night, I'm feeling good about hopping on the Baylor train after week 1.