stormstopper

Conference Commissioner
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About stormstopper

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  • Birthday 06/05/1993

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  1. Wow. I think we've set a new record for how unexpected, how confusing, and how just plain bizarre a week in the nation's most exciting conference can be. Whether it's Kansas winning a shootout despite 3 interceptions because they scored 16 defensive points, whether it's Oklahoma coming back from the dead to stun their archenemy, whether it's Kansas State snapping the second-longest conference drought in college football to knock out a previously resurgent Baylor, or whether it's West Virginia throwing knockout punch after knockout punch without their most impactful player having a good game, this week was nothing if not madness. At the midpoint of the season, we really only know two things: 1) West Virginia is really, really good, and 2) the rest of the conference is a wonderful mess. Since players of the week are now presented in a separate post, let's talk about the games. Saturday Afternoon Kansas State 20, Baylor 17 Kansas State takeaways: The streak is dead! Thanks to an intense defensive effort and a fourth-quarter go-ahead field goal from Frank Carney, Kansas State has snapped an 18-game conference losing streak dating back to 2017. They got this done by restricting Marcus Swartz to one of the worst games of his career, holding him to 17-32 passing, keeping him under 200 total yards, and intercepting him twice. They didn't exactly get anything more out of their own Rahim Murrell, but Elijah Humphrey picked up the slack with 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground. They matched the Bears score-for-score in the first half, maintaining a 7-7 tie after the first quarter and a 17-17 deadlock at the half. That's when the defense turned things up a notch, nipping a developing shootout in the bud and recording a second-half shutout for the first time since their win over Syracuse in 2016. When Carney's field goal went through those goalposts, it was almost a guarantee that those goalposts were going to come down--this is a big, big win for Kansas State. Baylor takeaways: And it's a bad, bad loss for the Baylor Bears, who looked as if they finally had a handle on things after a rocky start to the season. Just as their defense has improved to the point of becoming intimidating, the offense has hit a rut. Why? At the very least, the fact that Sean Bell's no longer a part of it has played an impact. Nasir Burden has massive shoes to fill, and Baylor's not expecting him to fill them all the way. Instead, they rely more on Marcus Swartz, and after a strong start to the season he's come down to earth. Maybe part of it's been opponent--he's historically been pretty bad against Kansas State (he has a 111.0 passer rating in three games against them)--but it's also his second straight game with a sub-60% completion rate. If Swartz can't turn things around, Baylor's offense is in trouble. Deep trouble. The bottom line: This is Kansas State's biggest win since the end of the 2016 regular season when they earned bowl-eligibility, but the work isn't nearly done yet. The Wildcats now have a conference win, and it wasn't even the one that was supposed to be the easiest one to get. That one comes next, as a matter of fact, as they take on Iowa State. If they can get that win, they'll be sitting pretty at 5-2 and need just one more conference win to earn their second-ever bowl bid. I think there's a better than 50-50 chance of that happening, but again--there's still work to do. For Baylor, it's a loss that makes things that much more confusing for the team as a whole. It emphasizes the need for additional playmakers to step up on offense, particularly if that playmaker can be named Nasir Burden. What will be lost in the fray is the defense playing a whale of a ballgame, but they need both sides of the ball to be fully operational if they want to chase the conference title--or make a bowl game at all. Oklahoma 31, Texas 23 Oklahoma takeaways: The long dawn to this season was almost worth it, if only for this moment. Oklahoma once again owns the upper hand in the Red River Shootout, breaking their 0-5 start in style by running the dang ball right down Texas's throat and denying the Longhorns the right to do the same. Simeon Wells may have won Big XII Offensive Freshman of the Year last season, but White's had by far the better sophomore season--and this head-to-head matchup is just further evidence of that. The Oklahoma defense held Wells to just 70 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries; White more than doubled that with 148 yards and 2 scores on 28 carries. Combine that with Eric Pope continuing to contribute with two total touchdowns and 182 total yards, and Oklahoma's offense got whatever it wanted. The more important long-term story is their defense taking a stand and bullying Texas on all fronts. They held Texas to 279 total yards, got an interception from true freshman linebacker Jude Currie, and their 2 sacks exceeded the season-to-date total entering the game. The new defensive scheme paid dividends, and Oklahoma's looking entirely rejuvenated heading into the second half. Texas takeaways: Is it too early to start looking for the panic button for a team that's still sitting at 4-2 and will still likely make a bowl game? Maybe. But since conference play began, Texas has been missing something. They're giving up 40 points a game over their last three, and Oklahoma's 31 is the lowest total in that stretch. Oklahoma scheme change or no, they're the only team not to hit 33 points against the Sooners this season so far. Simeon Wells disappeared in this one, and Kyler Tackett had the worst game of his young career a the same time. Texas won't win very many games like that, no matter who the opponent is. The consequence: the loss pushes them down to 1-2 in conference play, which means that their game next week in Stillwater will be closer to a bid to stay afloat in the conference title race rather than a bid to establish supremacy. The bottom line: This game is probably going to be the turning point for one of these two teams. Maybe both. We won't know for sure until the season ends. For the Sooners, it means an unlikely but perhaps plausible path back to bowl eligibility? They have to go 5-1 down the home stretch. Baylor looks more winnable after the Kansas State loss; they get TCU at home; they've never lost to Kansas State; they get Kansas at home; they're straight-up better than Iowa State; and they get Oklahoma State at home. They have little to no margin for error, but they're not hanging on cliff's edge like they would've been if they'd gone into an 0-6 hole. For Texas, the bottom line is clear: get the house in order, or it's going to be a letdown of a season. With four road games on the back half of the schedule, a bowl appearance just slipped from "virtually guaranteed" to merely "very likely"--we'll keep an eye on that. Kansas 47, #21 Oklahoma State 41 Kansas takeaways: This is probably the single strangest win in the history of Jayhawk football. Despite Christian Graham completing just half his passes, throwing three interceptions to one touchdown, and posting the 9th-worst single-game passer rating in program history, the Jayhawks managed to drop 47 points on a ranked team and win the game. How? By going back to the old Jayhawk formula of running the dang ball--along with an unusually opportunistic defensive effort. Rod Fulton was unstoppable, earning a career-high 160 yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground on just 22 carries, breaking off big run after big run and keeping the KU offense from sputtering out. Malcolm Davis's 80 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches kept the passing game from being a total wash. Joel Hawley kicked a field goal. The offense scored 31 points of its own. The defense scored the rest. It didn't exactly have a good game, giving up 299 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air, but it made its few good plays count. Jamari Callahan and Albert Duke led a ferocious effort on the defensive line, recording two sacks apiece--the team as a whole got to Chester Brenner 5 times. One of Callahan's sacks was in the endzone for a safety. When they weren't collecting sacks, they were pressuring Brenner into risky throws. Twice, that paid off: Bradley Spurlock nabbed his second pick-six of the season and Richard Clemons scored his own touchdown off his first career interception. It was far from perfect, it was far from conventional, it's going to require a lot of extra time in the film room for Christian Graham, but Kansas got its first win over a ranked team this season. Oklahoma State takeaways: Oklahoma State is going to ride or die with Chester Brenner and the trio of wide receivers that have torched opponent after opponent. What's become clear over the past few weeks, though, is that Brenner's interception issues are sticking with him. He's thrown 2 interceptions in each of his last four games, and the same style that's responsible for the nation's #4 scoring offense has come with some costs. Most of the time, it's worth the trade-off (again: nation's #4 scoring offense). The Cowboys are putting the ball in the hands of their playmakers, and that's always the move. It's just that they have to either work with Brenner on his recognition and cure his interception bug, or they have to prepare for a lot of short fields on defense. The Cowboys did a great job against the pass, stifling Christian Graham and harassing him into 3 picks and 50% passing. They struggled against the run, but that's usually a good trade-off against Kansas--just not today. Special teams were also an area of concern: Ralph Hinson hit 2 of his 3 field goal attempts only to shank the easy 24-yarder, and Matthew Gamez was unable to do much about his team's field position while Aden Evans pinned the Cowboy offense deep over and over again. The bottom line: As if the rest of the afternoon slate didn't shake up the Big XII picture enough, now the conference's only ranked team goes down. The result muddies the race for the second spot in the Big XII title game (West Virginia now owns the pole position) and denies Oklahoma State from being a full-on co-favorite. In fact, it creates a four-way logjam for second place at 2-1, along with three teams that are 4-2 (1-2) who are right in the thick of this race. Kansas is right in the thick of that race as well, but perhaps more important for the Jayhawks is that it brings them back to 3-3. They still need to find three wins in the back half of their schedule to earn a postseason bid--but another round of 3-3 play is certainly easier than a 4-2 finish. It's also a shot in the arm for the Kansas offense--if they can run the ball nearly as well as this, it'll take the pressure off of Christian Graham and open up the rest of the offense as well. Saturday Evening West Virginia 35, TCU 14 West Virginia takeaways: Mohammed Foster had a rare off day. The Mountaineers didn't get as much as they usually do on the ground. Their rocket-powered freight train of an offense looked like an entirely mortal unit. And they won this game against one of the Big XII's better teams by 21 points--and it didn't even feel that close. They held Sam Milner to 150 yards and 2 picks on 50% passing, allowed Shamar Burroughs 84 yards on 21 carries, and never once let TCU in this ballgame. Even though Foster was just 19-36 through the air, he still threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another. How do you stop that? J.C. Weldon (6 for 89, 1 TD) and Elias Langston (5 for 81, 1 TD) both came through. Mohamed Mustafa added 91 yards and a score on the ground. It definitely helped, though, that the defense was so thorough in stymying TCU that West Virginia was always starting in reasonable field position. They got seven free point from the defense on Mahamadou Moore's pick-six, got another short field on Lamont Carson's fourth pick of the season, and wrangled a whole lot of punts out of TCU as the Frogs finished 5-16 on third down. In short: it was another dominant victory for the Mountaineers, and it's looking less and less like anybody's going to stop them anytime soon. TCU takeaways: The defense did about as much as you could ask them to, other than keep West Virginia out of the endzone. That's not meant to be backhanded--the offense just put them in a tough position. Sam Milner had a career-low 83.08 passer rating, the third-lowest by any quarterback in the Big XII this season. TCU can survive that if they can get something going on the ground, but Shamar Burroughs finished the game with just 84 yards on 21 carries--4 yards per carry isn't enough. To his credit, Milner added another quarter-century on the ground; it just wasn't nearly enough. TCU couldn't find the scoreboard at all in the first half, and by the time the offense got back on track it was far too late. That's not something they can afford to have turn into a recurring issue, but that's two games in a row of being held to 16 points or fewer. Too early to call it a trend, but long enough to keep an eye out. The bottom line: As of now, West Virginia is the undisputed favorite to win the Big XII Conference. They're playing head and shoulders above everybody they've faced in conference play, and they've won four straight games by an average of 23.5 points per game. They also finally got a win over their home fans; their last three straight were all on the road. They're the last undefeated team in conference play at 3-0, and they've been the only team to avoid any sort of upset losses. Doubt them at your own peril. For TCU, this is a bit of a setback but not a huge one. They were hoping for this game to be the team's coming-out party, but that didn't happen. Instead, they'll get a bye before hitting Iowa State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech back-to-back-to-back to try and reclaim any lost ground. There's still some growing pains from having such a young offense, but a budding defense means TCU should remain in conference contention. Byes: Iowa State (1-5), Texas Tech (4-2)
  2. It's not a coincidence that the best teams have good or great kickers. 2015 Oklahoma had Alejandro Aguirre, 2017 Texas had Gino Chiaverini. They both made clutch field goals, and they both benefited from their opponents missing clutch field goals. My kicker history: 2014: Christopher Massey, a 3.0/3.0 punter who had to pull double-duty because my only rostered kicker was a 1.0/1.0. Did a solid job, hitting 9/12 field goals and all his extra points, but one of his misses came in regulation against Baylor. We could have avoided overtime; instead, we lost in 3OT in the game of the year, and that loss cost me a playoff spot. 2015-2018: Joshua Stewart, who was a 3.0/3.0 as a true freshman--and the immediacy of my need for a kicker is why I recruited him. I think I unintentionally misled Dean to win his services over Ohio State. His freshman year started rocky: he missed two go-ahead fourth-quarter field goals against Washington, and we lost 19-17. His punishment was that he had to literally kick himself for a week. It straightened him out, and he became clutch. He hit the game-winner to beat undefeated #1 Oklahoma (who would not lose another game that year) and the game-winner in the Alamo Bowl. I think he also had go-ahead and eventual game-winning field goals against West Virginia, BYU, and Missouri. The kick against Missouri was legendary. 2019-present: Joel "The Tariff" Hawley, who was a 2.0/4.0 out of Texas, and I think he was a round 2 recruit. Redshirted him in 2018, and he went +1.5. Didn't miss a field goal as a freshman and set all kinds of KU kicking records in the process. He was 4-4 on FGs and 4-4 on XPs in his very first game, and later in the year he'd be the first Big XII kicker to have a 5-5 FG/5-5 XP game. He's a huge part of why we had such a high-scoring offense last year--we could take three points on a whole lot of drives. This year...not as good. But there's time to iron that out. Over time I've invested in better kickers, and I'm getting better results because of that. While I don't intend to recruit a kicker this year, it's not a position I can afford to neglect. I can't detail my punter history as well--all I know is that Aden Evans is the first truly good punter I've had and he's made a world of difference. Against Oklahoma State, he outpunted their guy by 47.2-36.5 yards per punt. We had a safety and two pick-sixes. That could be related. He's a 5.0-potential punter and a sophomore, and I'm super glad I got him for as cheap as I did. Punters are worth the investment.
  3. Spin it like a helicopter!
  4. North Carolinaaaa, come on and raise up
  5. Be careful looking too closely into that. The slush fund benefits all members equally except for Kansas State.
  6. I've looked into these allegations and the third independent counsel I hired (I fired the first two) found no evidence of impropriety or collusion.
  7. Christian Graham is the first Big XII quarterback to throw 3 interceptions and complete 50% of his passes or less in a victory. Big XII quarterbacks are now 1-19 when they do that. (He gets very little credit for that, of course.)
  8. I don't even know which Big XII game made the least sense.
  9. Akron has set a new school record for wins in a season and has become bowl eligible for the first time. Great work @darkage!
  10. Exactly why body of work matters so much more than head-to-head.
  11. Saturday is loaded with a quadruple set of Big XII games, and once again the nation's most exciting conference should see a lot of intrigue this week. Baylor's high-risk, high-reward defense takes on Kansas State's high-risk, high-reward offense. Oklahoma tries to get off the schneid in the latest installment of the Red River Shootout (which is the only proper name for the game). Receivers run wild in the third game of the afternoon triple feature as Oklahoma State pays a visit to Kansas. And closing out the slate in the evening is a showdown between a hot TCU and a hotter West Virginia. Midpoint Week is going to tell us a whole lot more and answer a whole lot of questions. Or maybe it'll just confuse us even more. Who knows? Let's talk about the games! Saturday Afternoon Baylor (3-2) at Kansas State (3-2)* Kansas State and Baylor have had more than their fair share of barn-burners this season. The Bears opened the year with a 54-51 overtime shootout win over UCLA, and followed it up with a 48-44 double-overtime shootout loss to Arkansas. Kansas State opened up with a 44-41 win over Florida Atlantic and is most recently coming off of a 48-41 loss to Texas. The average combined over/under of a K-State game is 65.8 points per game, which is tied for the 3rd-highest in the country. One of the two teams that ranks above them? Baylor, at 68.6 points per game. In other words, prepare for points. Baylor has a pretty simple formula for putting up a ton of points in short order: make sure the ball is in the hands of Marcus Swartz, Lamont Wilder, Hastin Rider, and occasionally Nasir Burden, and let them work. Swartz has been a one-man wrecking ball, wracking up 1319 yards and 11 touchdowns through the air (on __% passing!) along with 286 yards and 6 scores on the ground. He's gone to his top two targets almost exclusively, preferring to take off and run rather than go deep in his progressions and take a coverage sack. The tight end Rider leads the team with 36 receptions, 478 yards, and 5 touchdowns; Wilder's second across the board with 32 receptions, 456 yards, and 4 touchdowns; the entire rest of the team combines for 32 receptions, 385 yards, and 2 touchdowns. That's good news and bad news for the Kansas State secondary: it simplifies the list of tasks to be accomplished, but it doesn't really detract from the difficulty. Wilder and Rider are by far the best receivers this K-State secondary has seen so far this year. On the other hand, quarterbacks like Rahim Murrell have given Baylor trouble. It's not the efficient, low-volume passers who have done damage to the Bear defense. It's guys like Steven Gore, who threw 60 times for 408 yards and 5 touchdowns. It's guys like Connor Dawson, who threw it 47 times for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Greatest has been up-and-down this season, recording a double-double (11 TD, 10 INT) in just five games--but he's not afraid to let it fly, and that kind of wild card should make Baylor uncomfortable. Ricky Seau had his best game of the season last week against Texas, and it's that flanker spot that's given Baylor the most trouble. Kansas State's going to have to get after it through the air, though, because Baylor really isn't interested in letting their foes establish the run. They held Texas Tech to 13 points by keeping the Red raiders to 125 yards on 32 carries, and their 3.87 yards allowed per carry is second in the Big XII. This is the type of game where Kansas State can win if everything goes right, but the smarter bet is on Baylor. Marcus Swartz and company are too consistent to bet against in this one. Baylor 41, Kansas State 27 Oklahoma (0-5) vs. Texas (4-1) (AT&T Stadium, Arlington, TX)* The Red River Shootout is back for another round. This has been the most important series in the Big XII since the conference's inception--more often than not, the winner of the midseason matchup has gone on to take the Big XII crown. Oklahoma's three-game winning streak over Texas from 2014-2016 was a harbinger of the program's golden age, which brought it a national championship and a Heisman trophy; Texas's win over Oklahoma in the 2016 Big XII Championship Game is arguably the second-most important game in the program's history as it flipped the balance of power in the Big XII to springboard the Longhorns into back-to-back conference championships and playoff appearances culminating in a national championship--and their own three-game winning streak against the Sooners. In the ninth edition of this game, bragging rights are on the line a little more than usual since we're all tied up at 4-4. But it retains its special importance because it's a two-way must-win game. For Oklahoma, the stakes are obvious: the specter of a second bowlless season in three years is advancing upon them, and they can feel the wall approaching their backs. The worst start in school history needs to end, now. For Texas, a win is expected and anything else would mean it's panic button time. The Longhorns have had a strange start to conference play, suffering the worst defeat in school history at the hands of West Virginia before surviving a 48-41 shootout with Kansas State. That's not the résumé of a team that wins the Big XII, but there is plenty of time to build that kind of a résumé. The most important player in this ballgame is going to be Kyler Tackett. The Texas signal-caller has had a solid but imperfect start to conference play, completing 38 of his 58 attempts for 484 yards and 5 touchdowns, but tossing back 3 picks as well. But his importance is less because of his own play and more because of Oklahoma's. The Sooners have struggled to the point of historic futility against dual-threat quarterbacks, ranking dead last in the Big XII in yards allowed per attempt (8.9), completion percentage allowed (68.5%), passer rating allowed (171.97), touchdowns allowed (13), takeaways by interception (1), sacks (1), passing yards allowed per game (254.8), passing touchdowns allowed per game (2.6), rushing yards allowed per game (138.0), rushing touchdowns allowed per game (2.4), and yards allowed per carry (5.27). That's eleven categories. Kyler Tackett is the least mobile quarterback they've faced so far--he does have a rushing touchdown and is capable of mobility, but it's just not his preference to get out and run it. He's an accurate, moderately explosive passer who really likes to hit tight end Steven Maloney (27 for 342 yards, 3 TD) and also gets wideouts Abdoul Causey and Rory Stevens involved. Oklahoma will need to find literally any way they can to either get pressure in the backfield or cover them downfield--and that's before we even get into the presence of Simeon Wells, who's averaging a bit more than 100 yards a game with 5 touchdowns on the ground for the season. There's no reason to think Texas can't score. Can they stop Oklahoma? That'll come down to Maurice White, whose 121.8 yards per game ranks second in the Big XII (and whose 4.87 yards per carry leads the conference outright). Texas's defensive front is stronger on paper than their secondary, but that hasn't translated inot an elite run defense. Their 4.4 yards allowed per carry is middling, they've given up 109 rushing yards or more 3 times (including 142 to West Virginia), and they don't stop the run a the goal line with 2 rushing touchdowns allowed per game. Look for Oklahoma to get Rory Early and Rory McKay pushing up front to bring a solid interior line to bear against three freshman interior defenders. I think it'll be enough to pose a spirited challenge, and Oklahoma has a credible shot at their first victory. But the defense...I don't think I can pick Oklahoma to win a game until the defense takes a step forward. Longhorns it is. Texas 34, Oklahoma 24 #21 Oklahoma State (5-0) at Kansas (2-3)* The Big XII's last undefeated team standing and only ranked team has a chance to secure bowl eligibility and strengthen their case for a bid in their first conference championship game. Staring them down from across the Oklahoma-Kansas border is a team that's still trying to find its identity--and they don't really have that much time left now that they're in the thick of conference play. When a team that's looking to get its swagger back is going up against a team that has every reason to swagger in, the results aren't usually pretty. So with that in mind, let's break it down. The story of this game is the pass-catchers out there. As of now, there are 12 players in the Big XII who have accumulated 300 or more receiving yards this season. We'll see 5 of them in action on Saturday: Jay Dunn (33 for 454 yards, 6 TD), Xavier Gant (28 for 402, 6 TD), and slot man Jeremy Bridges (22 for 313, 3 TD) for Oklahoma State, along with Malcolm Davis (25 for 341, 5 TD) and tight end Noah Hills (18 for 323, 3 TD) for Kansas. There are playmakers on playmakers in those units, but Oklahoma State's done a much better job of getting the ball into the hands of those playmakers. He's thrown for 1503 yards (2nd in the Big XII) and 17 touchdowns (1st by a lot), and he's done it on 67.7% passing. He opened the season with back-to-back 5-touchdown games, and he's only barely slowed down since then. His only downside is that he's had 3 straight games with 2 interceptions apiece--not that it's stopped the Cowboys from putting down a plethora of points. Kansas's pass defense has been...surprisingly solid? They're actually second in the Big XII in passer rating allowed at 121.24, they allow just 183.4 yards per game through the air, and they've intercepted 7 passes against 6 touchdowns allowed. They couldn't slow down Owen Sorenson at all (215.8 passer rating allowed), but they didn't allow a passing touchdown against Iowa State (50.7 passer rating allowed) and TCU (108.1 passer rating allowed). They're something of a don't-bend-do-break defense, though: opponents only complete 58% of their passes against them (best in conference), but they average nearly 12.1 yards per completion (third-worst). Oklahoma State's fine with that, since their modus operandi is to bend and subsequently break any pass defense they face. The Cowboys also boast similar--and often better--numbers against the pass than Kansas does. They top the league in passer rating allowed (120.9) and pass yards allowed per game (177.6) despite a secondary without a big-name player. Unlike Kansas, they eat up the run, force you into 3rd-and-long, and make you pay there. Kansas needs something out of rookie Christian Graham, who's been a roller coaster all season. His career-best 217.2 rating against Iowa State was sandwiched by a 100.4 with three interceptions against Notre Dame and a 104.2 with 1 touchdown and 1 pick against TCU. He's thrown 9 touchdowns and 7 interceptions this year, and that's not going to cut it. They need more out of him, more out of Rod Fulton (held under 90 yards 3 times so far this year), and certainly more out of their offensive line. Oklahoma State's capable of making the big play on both sides of the ball, and Kansas really hasn't demonstrated the ability to counter that. Oklahoma State should be able to handle this one. #21 Oklahoma State 40, Kansas 27 Saturday Evening TCU (3-2) at West Virginia (3-2)* TCU and West Virginia's three previous matchups have had three things in common: they've all been competitive, they've all been ridiculously fun shootouts, and they've all been TCU wins. The Horned Frogs rallied from a 24-7 deficit to beat the Mountaineers in 2016, ended the Mountaineers' perfect 9-0 start in overtime the following year in Morgantown, and outlasted them last year to imperil West Virginia's season at 2-5. (They won their next four anyway and won their bowl game.) This time, the game matters more. Both teams are at a crossroads, sitting at 2-0 in conference play and feeling pretty darn confident about their conference title chances despite identical 3-2 records. They each lost back-to-back games to start the season, but their last three games have filled them with confidence for different reasons. For West Virginia, it's simple: they've gone nuclear in the last couple weeks, beating down Texas and Oklahoma by 31 apiece on the road. Mohammed Foster has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country, throwing for a conference-best 1585 yards on 10.4 yards per attempt, a 183.8 passer rating, and 11 touchdowns to 1 interception. These are Heisman-year Brooksheer passing efficiency numbers with the added bonus of 309 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. He's a host unto himself, and he forces opponents to get creative in countering his true dual-threat skillset. Oh, and they have to worry about J.C. Weldon and Elias Langston downfield, Jason Dupree running wild in the seam, and Mohamed Mustafa up the middle. If there's any defense in the conference that can handle that, it's TCU's though. The Frogs have put up strong numbers against the pass despite facing guys like Jamel Armstrong, Andre Webb, Eric McLean, and (to a lesser degree) the two Kansas schools' quarterbacks. They've allowed a 59.9% completion percentage and a 127.6 passer rating, allowing 9 touchdowns against 6 interceptions. They're getting pressure, hanging right around the Big XII average with 8 sacks. They're not conceding much of anything on the ground, holding opponents to 3.7 yards per carry and 62.2 rushing yards per game. Their secondary is no economy unit: Roman Blackmon was the top junior college prospect in the country two years ago, freshman William Cooper is a stud at the other corner spot, and safeties Matthew Dyson and Christopher Malone are a "road closed" sign on anything downfield. You have to do everything well to disrupt the West Virginia offense, and TCU's capable of doing it--on a good day. The other side of the ball poses an interesting matchup as well: TCU's offense is extremely young and has a lot to prove. Sam Milner's had good days and bad days as freshmen tend to do, and that's rounded out to 60.8% passing, 875 yards on 130 attempts, 7 touchdowns, 5 picks, and a 127.4 passer rating--in other words, thoroughly mixed results. His last game was his lowest-rated game at 108.1; the one before was his highest-rated at 183.0. West Virginia's defense hasn't been up-and-down, but it looked different in its first two games (36 PA/G) than it has in its last three (exactly half of that). Lamont Carson and Mahamadou Moore are snagging picks; Hudson Adam and Messiah Bernard are racking up sacks; Nathan Wilks and Julian Nolan are cleaning up plays and chasing down ballcarriers. It's been working even better than it's needed to, given the sheer firepower of the offense. And until further notice, it's just plain bad policy to pick against the country roads. West Virginia 35, TCU 31 Byes: Iowa State (1-5), Texas Tech (4-2)
  12. Georgia State scored 72 points in 2014. 41 teams have finished a season with 11.5 points per game or fewer, so that's about a bottom-6 scoring average normally.
  13. Rice's 18-game conference winning streak was the second longest in CFBHC history. Just overtook Houston's 17-spot last week. Fell 11 games short of Florida State's site record.
  14. Welcome to the return of Five By Five, the Chicago Tribune's most popular feature where we spotlight five programs from around the country. Every week, up to five randomly selected coaches will have the opportunity to answer five questions about their team and their players. This week, our panel consists of K3ndr!ck_L@mar from Wake Forest, believer from Boise State, Rome from Cincinnati, Jamzz from Eastern Michigan, and lucas95 from Minnesota. Each coach will begin by answering the same four questions along with a fifth question unique to their program. Q1: How satisfied are you with the progress your team's made so far in the first half of the season? K3ndr!ck_L@mar, Wake Forest: Well obviously we want to win more than a singular game through the first half of the season, but i think we've showed fairly well against our quality opponents. I think there are two more games that we should have won (ECU and Georgia Tech) but we lost it down the stretch. I think we really need to work on putting up points, as that has certainly been a shortcoming as of late. believer, Boise State: I'm very satisfied and proud I am of the progress my team's made so far in the first half of the season. Sure we are 3-3, but we still have a shot at stealing the Mountain Division title, just need a lot of help. I love this team this year than last year's. I feel we work together more as a team than we did last year. We have a great sense of leadership, and a culture of family and tough love. This team is always hungry for more. Rome, Cincinnati: Not very. There was some fumbling early on with the Wildcat II, but that produced our only win so far this season. There was real hope we could beat another team or two at this point in the year, but we've failed to do anything. Our transfer WR isn't doing much, Schaeffer is just as bad as he was last year, and our rushing attack really isn't that good either. It's been a frustrating year. Jamzz, Eastern Michigan: Our start to the season was very disappointing but we seem to have turned a corner in our last game against NIU and the team looks a lot better than it did in at the start of the season. Our tough schedule at the beginning of the season may have something to do with that, but overall I'm pleased with the improvements we've made. lucas95, Minnesota: I am very happy with the progress this team has made this year. I know that the first year of a new coaching regime may bring some chemistry issues due to the change, but the guys have adjusted perfectly and the team has come together because they can believe that they can be a part of something great. Q2: What are your expectations for the team the rest of the way? K3ndr!ck_L@mar, Wake Forest: It will be tough, but I believe we still have a shot at a bowl game. We're gonna have to win five of our next seven against what is in all honesty a stacked ACC conference slate, so will take a lot of grit and lot of moxy- but don't rule these guys out just yet. At the very least we want to win two or three of our second half games. Our team has an opportunity to show out against some quality opponents throughout the coming weeks, and our staff members- as well a me personally- are looking forward to it. believer, Boise State: The goal now is to get to a bowl game. I know it, the team knows it. We have one singular mindset, and it's to run the table and play in a bowl game in the post season. Rome, Cincinnati: I'm really expecting a 3-9 or 2-10 season at this point. We're just so bad. Losing to UCONN and ECU is going to force me to rely on a big upset to beat anyone going down the stretch. Jamzz, Eastern Michigan: We feel that a bowl game is within reach for us. Our schedule softens up a bit down the stretch and I think we can go on a run to end the season and pull out a 6-6 season. lucas95, Minnesota: Simply put, we expect to make a good bowl and to win at least 8 games. This program has a winning tradition and a new coach won't change that. We expect to be competitive against everyone. We also hope that the guys learn from the coaches on how to become better players because we are going to need their skill set this season and in future ones if we want to reach greater success. Q3: For one reason or another, none of you have had a lot of high-scoring shootouts. What's important to keeping the edge when points are at a premium? K3ndr!ck_L@mar, Wake Forest: I think a large portion of it has to do with the mental aspect. Most kids these days want to play fast, score in bunches, and tear up and down the field- which is all well and good i theory, but this isn't high school anymore. The pace of the game begins to get dictated to these inexperienced guys, and in the worst cases they crack under this newfound pressure, and forget the style of play that landed them on the field in the first place. When the player starts to become tentative and un-confident in their own abilities is when they are beaten, not when the other team makes a big play for themselves. To that point, the biggest moments in close, low-scoring games aren't the big plays, but rather the plays following those highlight-reel moments. Whomever keeps their composure and executes at those times will more often than not be the victors. Collectively this season, we haven't been able to maintain that laser-focus throughout entire ball games. There are times when our guys absolutely shine out there, playing confident, downhill football; but then there are the times where we seem to space out or lose it for a quarter or even two. That has been the biggest deciding factor in our games this season. Luckily however, we're only five games into this season, so we still definitely have time to hone in and perfect our focus- we just need to work expediently. believer, Boise State: Defense is very important to keeping the edge when points are at a premium. I'm proud of how solid my defense is and how they've done their jobs. Tempo is important too, because if you control the tempo and flow the game, you get to dictate how you want this game to go, and for us, we want to make sure we don't get into a shootout. Rome, Cincinnati: You need an offense to be high scoring. A great special teams unit is key to close games, however. The young kicker we got in JuCO last year has been keeping us in games. Ironically, however, our one win has been a real outburst we haven't seen since. Jamzz, Eastern Michigan: The obvious answer here is turnovers and penalties. We haven't been great with either this season, specifically with penalties. We seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot which has led to us losing the close games, when 10 yards or one turnover can be the difference between winning and losing the ballgame. lucas95, Minnesota: B1G football can be described in one word, defense. Defense is the key when you play in a conference like this one and it is the most valued aspect of our team. When the defense does its job well there is less pressure on the offense to put big numbers on the board, that's not to say that offense isn't important. We don't want the defense out on the field time and time again so team balance is important. In the end it doesn't matter if we play in shootouts or not, the only thing that matters at the end of the night is that you score more than the other team. Q4: Have you noticed any of your players taking charge of making sure their teammates get practice outside of regular practice? K3ndr!ck_L@mar, Wake Forest: One guy that has really impressed us coaches as a whole is true freshman wideout Jacob Benson. He is the highest rated recruit coming out of high school that Winston Salem has seen in a long time, but he certainly doesn't rest on his laurels. In our personal conversation about expectations at the beginning of the year, we were discussing his high recruiting ranking and how he would be dealing with the hype, and I was taken aback by his flippant attitude toward his rating. He described it as, "completely arbitrary", and told me that, "once we're on that field, we're all 5-Stars." He has really carried that attitude well with him all season, bringing up the guys next to him when they make a mistake, and taking on a leadership role among the players, even though he has only been with the program for a short number of months. You see the thing is, he doesn't force it on anybody. He stays after, he puts in the work, and he gets no more special attention from us coaches than any other players do, but he reaps the benefits on-field. The players see that, so when they're walking by him running routes and doing sprints after practice is over, or on an off day, all he has to ask is 'wanna join?', and they are going to do it- because that level of commitment from one guy can bring up a whole team. believer, Boise State: Yeah, the captains (QB Roman Green, RB Marquise Allen, FS Justin Ivy-Sewell, ILB Phillip Gillis) have made sure the rest of team studies films and knows every single detail of what their job is, who we play, and the game plan. They find the time in between or after classes to have a mini-walk through out around campus. They're leading by example and also pastoring to the younger players. Rome, Cincinnati: Not yet, unfortunately. The players who were recruited before I got here lack any real drive. Our transfer Salanoa does not seem very happy to be here anymore. Mario Ruff provided some leadership last year, but we're really missing that this year. Quarterback Schaeffer should be bringing the leadership to the huddle, but he's really struggling to lead by example, let alone by voice. I only have one recruiting class under my belt and those kids are mostly redshirting, so none of the hungry, young men I recruit are in a position to be leaders. Jamzz, Eastern Michigan: On defense our senior free safety Zachary Dumas has certainly taken over as the leader. He's been starting here for a long time and has been a difference maker on the team since his freshman year. He's certainly a big help since most of our defense is young and still looking for experience. On offense our quarterback Giovanni Shaw is the leader which is always good to see. Good teams always need to have a quarterback as one of their leaders and seeing Gio take over that role as a sophomore will be a big help for the next few years. lucas95, Minnesota: Definitely. Some of the guys on the team have stepped up to the plate and have encouraged some of the other guys to practice and workout while we aren't in practice. Jamir and Robbie have taken over that leadership role and it has really shown in practice. I also see the guys regularly hanging out with each other around the campus which is great because not only does there need to be chemistry on the field, but there needs to be chemistry outside of it too. Q5 to K3ndr!ck_L@mar: You've earned a bit of a journeyman's reputation, having coached at a few different spots across the country over the years. What drew you to Winston Salem, and what's been the best part of coaching down here at Wake? K3ndr!ck_L@mar, Wake Forest: I was really excited when I heard of the Wake Forest job opening up. I had followed them lightly from the beginning of my short-lived retirement, especially when they made a splash on signing day with a 5-Star commitment seemingly out of nowhere. That led me to take a look at their roster, splits, NCAA ranks, etc. and what I found was a very talent-laden crop of young players who just hadn't been given the right opportunity to take center stage as of yet. So, naturally, I took an interest and attended a couple of their games. They lost both games I attended in Winston-Salem, but I could see the fight in the kids- and a surprising amount of passion from the fans. When one generally considers a perennial basement dwelling team, they don't think of the fans as being anything more than the university students and some alumni. Here at Wake, though, it is so much more than that. Win or lose, the whole town has their Deacons' backs, and the amount of hospitality i felt as a stranger on their home turf was eye-opening. Once I was contacted by one of my old assistant coaches about a job opening in the ACC- the nation's premiere conference, my mind immediately went to the Demon Deacons and the passion of their fans, players, and of the city of Winston-Salem, so longing for collegiate football success, yet so far removed from any sort of it. And when I asked him what team it was, he could only get out "Wak-" before I hung up the phone and contacted my agent. "I'm coming out of retirement." I have not been disappointed thus far. The support from the community, as well as growing national support, have made this destination well worth giving up my retirement checks. Q5 to believer: After a bit of a rough start, you've won 3 of your last 4 and your offense has been in full sprint ever since the Rutgers game. What clicked for your team? believer, Boise State: Finally getting into a rhythm and being familiar with the gameplan to the point you know it like the back of your hand can work wonders. We had a lot of change on the offensive side of the ball, so now that everyone is familiar with each other and the expectations and the plays, everything runs smoother. Q5 to Rome: Ever since you took over at Cincinnati, the recruiting's improved--and that includes some big signings in this year's class. Do you have a long-term vision for the program's path back to competitiveness in a tough AAC East? Rome, Cincinnati: The long-term vision I have should becoming more as my recruiting classes build. Last year I landed the 4-star WR Jacquies Whitaker, who fell just short of the state 100-meter dash record his senior year. This year we were very excited to get the signature of 5-star RB Noel Ransom. With those two looking to be school record breaking performers for the team in the future, my vision of a fun-to-watch and hard-to-stop offense should help us compete in a division with the likes of Temple and UCF. On the defensive side, it's all about the hungry fighters. This year I went down south and grabbed some underlooked, but very talented young men from Florida. Both DE Samuel Toney and OLB Raphael Jacobs will provide a serious backside pressure in a few years, while current redshirts DE Leonardo Trujillo and OLB Carlos Singletary will provide a great run stopping force on the strong side. Q5 to Jamzz: You scored your first win as a head coach this past week on the road against Northern Illinois. What was the key to success, and how do you hope to parlay that into more wins down the road? Jamzz, Eastern Michigan: The key to us winning last week was getting our offensive system in place. Our offense has struggled throughout the season and last week we finally got everyone on the same page which lead to a victory. We just have to stick to our gameplan and we should see some more wins. Q5 to lucas95: Your game against Illinois this weekend could be crucial in defending your program's Big Ten West title. Does the way your prepare your staff and your team change at all for these games with more on the line? lucas95, Minnesota: No. We only practice one way here at the U, hard. It doesn't matter who we play, we're going to come out every single week with intensity and grit and we'll try to get the job done. This week's game is important but the guys are up for the challenge.
  15. I'm traveling this weekend, so depending on what kind of time I have I'll update it either after this week or after next week.