Big 12 Road Trip: Baylor Goes Away and Kansas Loses its Footing

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

For a week that only featured six Big 12 teams in action, there was a whole lot of action on Saturday.  Most notably, Oklahoma State dominated Baylor from start to finish.  Oklahoma went into Manhattan as the underdog and left with a comfortable victory.  Kansas apparently forgot to pack the right shoes and took a big step backwards after the victory over West Virginia.  As I was thinking about all that happened in those three games, it made me think about a post from Ken Pomeroy about the "head to head fallacy".  In case you don't want to read that post, it basically lays out the numbers showing the folly of using one game samples to determine how teams compare to each other.  We all know this but it's so easy to instinctively point to a result and call it proof.

When the new rankings came out today, Baylor dropped behind Oklahoma State in both the USA Today Coaches Poll and the AP poll.  That's how rankings work, lose and you drop.  If a comparable team is the one that beat you, they go ahead of you in line.  The system is pretty simple and it  works until you realize that single games aren't that great at telling you which team is superior overall.  There is no question the Cowboys were much better than the Bears on Saturday but if that game had been in Waco, how would the result have changed?  If KU plays Iowa State in bowl-like weather, is the outcome different?  We don't know but I think it is important to think about, especially as college football is about to enter the four team playoff era.

Oklahoma State 49 Baylor 17

The score is surprising even if a lot of people had picked Oklahoma State to win.  Oklahoma State got physical with Baylor's receivers and caused problems for the passing game all night.  The Cowboys were also able to shut down Baylor on the ground, impressive performance.  However, Baylor also shot themselves in the foot plenty as well.  With the score tied at 0-0, Shock Linwood fumbles at the 1 yard line.  On the next possession, the Cowboys go 99 yards and score the first touchdown of the game.  From that point on, Baylor looked lost until early in the 4th.  A bad snap led to the Cowboys recovering the fumble and scoring, putting the Bears away for good.  Can one play change that much of a game?  Especially a play that early in the game?  I say yes but a lot of people believe plays at the end are more important than plays early in the game, I think this supports my side of that issue a little.  Anyway, lets move on and see how the guys at Cowboys Ride for Free are feeling about it:

The offense did their part, running effectively. If you take out Chelf's sacks and the kneel downs, the Cowboys ran 35 times for 180 yards, a little over 5 ypc.

Chelf's legs were not a factor, but his arm was, well, shall we say Weeden-esque? Choo Choo torched the Baylor secondary, completing his first 12 attempts for 238 yds. His 12th was an absolute "seed" to Charlie Moore for a TD, who is having an incredible 2nd half of the season. Chelf ended up 19-25 for 370 and 3 TD's (14.8 ypa and 19.5 ypc), resulting in his highest completion % of the last two seasons. Including the trick plays, the Cowboys were 21-27 for 440 yards (16.3 ypa and 21 ypc).

And how are they feeling about the rest of the season?

A victory in Bedlam in two weeks could result in a top 5 BCS ranking.

The team that lost to the team that got thrashed by Kansas is that close to what would be college football PLAYOFF CONTENTION if this was next season.

THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MINUTE.

Is Gundy the man or what???

I mentioned in the game thread that Baylor fans seemed to getting a little ahead of themselves this season, lets see how they're handling it today.  From Our Daily Bears:

I don't have much to say about this game.  Everything I thought was true from the numbers and charts wasn't.  Oklahoma State out-coached and outplayed the Bears across the field, on both sides of the ball.  After turning it over early at the goal line, the offense never got on track as we expected going in, and the defense couldn't stop Oklahoma State's passing attack.  We turned the ball over three times, twice inside the five.  For OSU, Clint Chelf was simply transcendent, ripping us over and over again for big plays down the field.  When the game was still in doubt in the third quarter, the Cowboys scored 21 points in a row to put it out of reach.  Any characterization of this game as something other than a dominating effort by the Cowboys is just plain wrong.  They were the better team.

Guess you can't say much else after a game like that one.

Oklahoma 41 Kansas State 31

Kansas State's defense struggled a little against TCU the week prior and those struggles continued against the Sooners on Saturday.  Watching this game, the athletic differences between OU and K-State showed big time to me.  The Sooners had a gear that only Tyler Lockett seemed to have on the Wildcats side.  Jake Waters threw some nice balls but the offense as a whole struggled because they could not establish a run game at all, finishing with 24 yards in the game.

The guys at Crimson and Cream Machine were pleased with Trevor Knight's performance:

Freshman quarterback Trevor Knight didn't have to be Landry Jones for the Sooners to score a big road win, he just needed to be...Trevor Knight. He needed to be able to make plays with his legs and be accurate enough with his arm to keep the defense off balance. That's exactly what Knight did on Saturday as he played his best game in an Oklahoma uniform.

And Knight was just enough of threat to keep K-State honest, which led to 300 yards on the ground for OU.

The success of Knight kept Kansas State from focusing their defense solely against the rush. They had to respect the Sooner receivers ability to make plays and keep up with the quarterback's ability to tuck and run. The greatest beneficiary to this was running back Brennan Clay who set career marks in number of carries and in yards. Going for 200 yards on 31 carries, Clay made a case for the Big Twelve's Offensive Player of the Week by averaging 6.5 yards per carry and crossing the goal line twice.

How about the other side, how are they taking the loss after being the favorite?  Jon Morse at Bring on the Cats:

The Sooners, whose run defense had been suspect (while the secondary was supposed to be a strong point), held K-State to 24 yards on the ground, including sacks. Here's how bad it was; Tramaine Thompson shared the team's rushing lead on the day, at 17 yards, with John Hubert.

The other issue: K-State's defense couldn't stop the run, at all. The Sooners piled up 295 yards, with Brennan Clay running for exactly 200 while Trevor Knight added 82. Knight was also effective throwing, hitting 14 of 20 attempts for 171 yards.

and more bad:

There was other disaster. Mark Krause's horrible punt which was fielded by Jalen Saunders at the K-State 25 -- yes, you read that right -- and nearly run back for a score. Two Waters picks which were... kinda ugly. Bad luck, in the form of two Sooner passes which could have been picked off but weren't and two Sooner fumbles which were recovered by Oklahoma. And then that fourth-down play which on replay showed Trevor Knight probably stepped out before the marker, but he was given a first-down anyway.

Always a conspiracy.  Speaking of the refs screwing a team, lets move on to Iowa State.  Unfortunately the refs never even got a chance to screw Cyclone this week.

Iowa State 34 Kansas 0

The marquee matchup in college football this week is in the books and the dream nightmare scenario of an defeated Big 12 season is over for the Cyclones. Everyone's favorite cure to their football woes came to town in the form of the Kansas Jayhawks as Iowa State dominated just about every facet of the game in a 34-0 rout, rolling up over 500 yards on a bitterly cold night in Jack Trice Stadium. Grant Rohach looked very good against the Jayhawks, throwing for 300 yards on 15 of 20 passing and 2 touchdowns on an icy field.

Not one mention of the refs in the comments.  I'd bet money that's the first time all year.  Stupid shoes.

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