There were a lot of duds in the Big 12 this weekend, but there some well-fought games as well. Let’s dive right in.
Kansas State 13 @ #8 Stanford 26
K-State never got blown out by Stanford, and for the most part did well against Christian McCaffrey, but in watching the game I never got the sense that KSU ever really threatened to come out of Palo Alto with a win even after the Wildcats dominated the third quarter.
Of course, K-State was slighted by everyone after the game if you believe BOTC:
Predictably, the ESPN recap suggests this was a relatively easy outing for Stanford, highlighting Christian McCaffrey’s two touchdowns while largely ignoring how well-contained he was for much of the night. Rule of Tree also focused primarily on Stanford’s inability to execute and not really on how Kansas State’s defense might have contributed to that.
But they’re mostly concerned with the quarterback play:
I don’t know whether it’s a coaching issue, or a talent issue. Jesse Ertz was not sparkling, and when he got cramps we were suddenly subjected to a revolving door with Ertz and Joe Hubener shuttling in and out.
This isn’t going to work.
I’m honestly surprised there wasn’t more complaining about the officiating. (In fairness, I also thought the refs missed several DPI calls on Stanford.) But come on, you can’t delete plays from a football game:
Bottom line, even with the offense’s horrific performance, the defense really only got beaten on three plays. Those three plays netted Stanford 116 yards and 21 points; erase them and Stanford is held to 156 yards of offense and K-State wins 13-5.
Northwestern State 7 @ #23 Baylor 55
This game was never close. From Our Daily Bears:
After leading 48-0 at the end of the first half, the Bears basically coasted for the next thirty minutes of game time to end a season-opening win over the Northwestern State Demons. Keeping players healthy ended up being the primary goal of the night, with Seth Russell exiting with 2 minutes to go in the second quarter and true freshman Zach Smith following halfway through the third. Shock Linwood and Terence Williams also left at halftime after putting up a combined 170 yards already.
The fans had fun, the team had fun, and we finally got to enjoy being Baylor Football fans again after one of the worst summers any program has ever experienced.
#3 Oklahoma 23 vs #15 Houston 33 (Reliant Stadium)
I’m interested to see Crimson and Cream Machine’s reaction to this one. I have no sympathy for OU fans when the Sooners lose a game. Let’s see how they handled it.
They say you have to be either lucky or good, and the Sooners were neither on Saturday.
In my opinion, there were five moments in particular that swung the game towards the Cougars. If only one or two of these 50/50 plays went Oklahoma’s way, the outcome probably wouldn’t have changed. Three or four of them, however, and we could be talking about escaping Houston with a narrow win rather than an embarrassing loss.
Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
Is life made up? What if we really are in the Matrix? Is every big OU football game just a pre-programmed simulation developed by our robot masters? Did I imagine this entire afternoon, and is my life nothing but an elaborate illusion?
Hats off to Greg Ward, Jr. That kid can really play some football. And Tom Herman can really coach up a contender.
The coaching staff did OU few favors during this game. Though Lincoln Riley came out with a well-choreographed series for the game's first touchdown, he eventually abandoned the running attack and led the Sooners down the same hole that got them beat in Dallas and Florida last year. They rushed for a net 70 yards on the day, compared to 67 against Texas and Clemson last season.
Ah, some analysis!
You know how students at other schools say, “Win or lose, we still party”? For OU students and fans, its “Win, and we have fun like we normally would on a Saturday night. Lose, and we’ll be in our room until Monday”.
Ok, I’m done. Next!
South Dakota State 41 @ #13 TCU 59
This was actually a close game going into the fourth quarter. SDSU had early leads of 17-7 and 24-21 but couldn’t keep up with Kenny Trill and the Frogs’ offense. TCU pulled away late, but the Jackrabbits - the 14th-ranked team in FCS - gave the Frogs a game.
Frogs O’ War really likes their new quarterback:
Hill looks incredibly comfortable with the Frogs' offense. He can scramble, he's got a cannon for an arm -- he certainly shows flashes of Trevone Boykin-esque skills. The two interceptions in the first half were a killer, but Hill made up for it finishing with 439 passing yards and 45 rushing yards, plus three touchdowns scored with his own legs.
But FOW was less than impressed with the defense, which is where they expected the Frogs to be the strongest:
Most people weren't expecting SDSU to score more than a touchdown, and even fewer people expected the Jackrabbits to take the lead over the Frogs.
It's scary, really. As much as TCU has good stuff going for the most part, a tough game against an FCS school isn't going to sit well with the playoff committee.
Southeastern Louisiana 7 @ #21 Oklahoma State 61
Another laugher. From Cowboys Ride For Free:
On a day where the starters played for about a whole quarter and a half, there's not a lot that can be drawn from today. Mason Rudolph looked good, Barry J. Sanders showed off in his Oklahoma State debut, and the defense as a whole looked better than I expected.
I guess I wonder what they really expected against an overmatched FCS team?
Mason Rudolph looked like a more well-rounded quarterback than he has previously in his career. There was a noticeable zip on the ball, and he made a couple of Tony Romo-esque moves in the pocket. He was putting on his best Baker Mayfield impression, except this one was better and resulted in a win.
OSU only rushed for 139 yards on 38 carries. That's a 3.7 YPC average, and that will have to get better as the season goes on because obviously.
I think today, more than anything, was a game to break the rust off, and we shouldn't over-analyze here. Can't be upset about a 61-7 win.
Missouruh 11 @ West Virginia 26
LoL. Good work, WVU. Smoking Musket agrees:
It was great to see the offensive line live up to its billing. They pushed around a tremendously talented Mizzou front, opened up running lanes for the backs and gave Howard time to operate. With those guys paving the way and Rushel Shell and Crawford carrying the ball, WVU will have a very stable base on which to build their season.
Cool. What else?
26 points, however, wins very few Big 12 conference games. Settling for three points from inside the five yard line is not good; doing it twice is ugly. Carelessly turning the ball over usually results in some points for the other team, and Big 12 offenses that aren’t Kansas or Iowa State score more than 11 points.
On a beautiful Morgantown Saturday, the West Virginia Mountaineers never really felt threatened by the Missouri Tigers. Despite horrendous turnovers, a rib injury to starting QB Skyler Howard, and settling for field goals of 19 and 21 yards; Missouri was unable to find the end zone until less than 2 minutes remained and the game was out of reach.
Rhode Island 6 @ Kansas 55
Another game that was never in doubt. Kansas took a 27-6 lead into halftime, and held the Rams to 219 offensive yards to KU’s 570. Of course, Rock Chalk Talk was thrilled with the win. Well, kinda:
Look, it was great to finally get that first win for David Beaty. He’s a nice guy who has brought some enthusiasm to the program again. But a win against an overmatched FCS team doesn’t really tell us anything.
If they can do the same thing against Ohio next week, I’ll be pretty excited. Until then, let’s just enjoy this one.
True, but come on you guys.
The Kansas Jayhawks are undefeated. Let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Northern Iowa 25 @ Iowa State 20
The Panthers are ranked #5 in FCS, and much like Kansas fell to SDSU last year, Iowa State fell to a top-5 FCS program this year. Poor WRNL:
Well, we’ve all been on this ride before. This is the third time in the last four years that Iowa State has opened the season with a loss to an FCS opponent (!!).
They were not thrilled with the offensive line play:
Iowa State had a mere 27 yards on the ground in the first half and Mike Warren -- who was named first team All-Big 12 in the preseason -- finished the game with 12 carries for 30 yards. There were simply no holes created by the offensive line, and whenever Warren did break a long run, it was called back for holding.
Oh but it gets worse.
It’s one thing to lose a game you shouldn’t. It’s another to play like a bunch of 10-year-olds who strapped on helmets and shoulder pads for the first time. Penalties... Poor reads... Turnovers... Just about everything we wanted to see disappear from the Rhoads era very clearly DIDN’T go away during tonight’s game.
At least there’s one rational writer over there:
We knew that depth would be an issue and it showed a lot at times on Saturday. We also knew that Iowa State would have to play a perfect game each and every week to come out on top. They failed to do that, but that is how young teams learn.
Stephen F Austin 17 @ Texas Tech 69
Another laugher, and Viva The Matadors knew it:
I’m aware that pounding SFA isn’t anything to brag about, but hear me out.
We were getting a lot of pressure from the outside of our offensive line throughout the game. Which forced Mahomes to take off scrambling almost as soon as he caught the snap on numerous occasions, which scares me a little bit. However, he did a good job showing his ability to step up into the pocket and deliver a strike.
Again, I understand that we were playing SFA, but for anyone who knows how bad our defense was, one thing is very clear. Our run defense has improved dramatically. SFA had -5 yards of rushing at halftime. We were wrapping up well, delivering some big hits, and just simply playing good fundamental defense. For the most part, that carried over to our secondary, which was my biggest question mark coming into this season. To some extent, that question hasn’t really been answered, because again, it was just SFA.
The concern about the defense was evident:
I’m not here to tell you that the Texas Tech defense will be able to hold every team to under 20 points. I’m not here to tell you that they’ll hold every team to under 35 points. I’m here to tell you that this Texas Tech defense will be functional in 2016. As long as the defense remains functional, Texas Tech will have a chance to win every single game that they’re in.
#10 Notre Dame 47 @ Texas 50
Is Texas “back?” Did they ever go anywhere? Yeah the results on the field haven’t been there, but UT is still the big dog in the Big 12. It’s not like they don’t have loads of five-star talent on the roster.
Sure it was a big win for Texas, knocking off a top-10 team after consecutive losing seasons. And it was one of the more entertaining games over the weekend from a neutral standpoint.
But let’s not pretend like the Longhorns are some kind of upstart, never-had-success-before type of program. I mean, it’s been three whole years since Texas went to a bowl game. I wonder what that feels like.
From Barking Carnival:
I'm proud of this team. I'm proud of our coaches. I'm proud of our fans.
Ok I guess. It’s mostly a lot of rah-rah stuff, but I did manage to find some analysis:
Despite a tough statline, there were plenty of encouraging moments for the defense when you factor in the caliber of the competition. It was unnerving to see how little pressure Texas managed without some form of blitz and disguise, but considering the substantial youth up front we could certainly see one or two guys emerge as plus one-on-one pass rushers before the weather gets too cold. If that comes to pass and the beefy young DT class starts chipping in on A-gap runs then this defense could look pretty salty down the stretch.
One glaring omission from both Barking Carnival and Burnt Orange Nation? BC didn’t even mention what I thought was a clear targeting penalty that injured Notre Dame WR Torii Hunter Jr, while BON glossed over it very quickly:
On 3rd and 12, Kizer targeted Hunter, Jr. in the end zone, but a big hit from sophomore safety DeShon Elliott knocked the football loose and left Hunter, Jr. down for several minutes.
The officials never reviewed the play and junior defensive end Naashon Hughes deflected the field goal attempt, which went wide right to help the Longhorns maintain the lead.
Is the tide turning for Charlie Strong’s fan support?
Charlie Strong earned a signature win and a significant tailwind in his efforts to take Texas where he promised that we'd go. Even if the momentum from this win doesn't turn into an ahead-of-schedule Big XII title this season, sustaining a good percentage of it should tee Texas up for Errrbody 2.0 come February 2017.