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stormstopper

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About stormstopper

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  1. stormstopper

    [2022] Around the FCS: Week 15 Recap

    Counterpoint: Montana could be the ultimate Cinderella.
  2. stormstopper

    [2022] Big XII Network Week 15 in Review: Decisive

    If we had a Big XII Perseverance Award, Minnow would win it hands-down. What a career he's had.
  3. Thursday Night Kansas State (2-9) at Kansas (5-6) (-7) Sixty-nine players from the state of Kansas will dress for the game on Thursday night. They've grown up watching Kansas versus Kansas State. Often, they've been recruited by both Kansas and Kansas State. And now, those sixty-nine players will suit up with a chance to make an impact on what could be the biggest matchup between the two in six years. The last time the Wildcats beat the Jayhawks was in 2016, when David Doherty and company held Eric Jennings and friends to 14 points to earn their 6th win of the season and Kansas State's only bowl appearance ever. Kansas now finds itself in the same position as the 2016 Kansas State squad: if they beat their in-state foes, they will go bowling. If they lose, they will go home. This game is up in the air--specifically, it's going to ride on the performances of two of the most pass-dependent offenses in the Big XII. Jaiden Givens ranks 9th in the Big XII in rushing yards (586) and 9th among starting Big XII runningbacks in yards per carry (4.0)--and the tailback trailing him in both categories is Kansas's Andrew Black (436 yards, 3.4 yards per carry). Both offenses need to throw to be successful, which is why they're 1st and 3rd in pass attempts in the Big XII. Julius Minnow's coming off of 260 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception against Iowa State; he's now up to 2,460 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions for the season. He relies most heavily on freshman speedster Jermaine Jordan (784 yards, 5 TD) and redzone threat Jhonny Palacios (712 yards, 8 TD), both of whom are better wide receivers than the Jayhawks have. They likely won't try to test the Kansas safeties, but no Kansas cornerback has made a consistent impact and it's not hard to see the Wildcats trying to eat through the middle levels of the defense. Kansas will counter by trying to get pressure into the backfield early, which is something they've been inconsistent about this year. They'll also counter by trying to throw all over the Kansas State defense themselves. Christian Graham leads the Big XII with 3,113 passing yards and 27 touchdowns to 8 interceptions this season, and he's relied heavily on Jaime Bautista. The tight end has racked up 1,108 receiving yards (which puts him in range of the single-season record for a tight end) and 10 touchdowns. The wild cards are Sebastian Christy (611 yards, 8 TD) and Sebastian Thorpe (618 yards, 5 TD). They've combined for 13 drops, and when they fail to produce then the offense becomes more predictable. But when one or the other plays well, the offense starts to open up--and that's been the case for several weeks in a row now. The Wildcats have a stronger secondary than usual, led by Sammy Schuler and his 3 interceptions. But their biggest weapon is Brendan Scherer, who was recruited heavily by both Kansas schools--and has proven exactly why with a phenomenal season. Scherer has 57 tackles this season, 9 for a loss; he's going to be flying all over the place to try to prevent any play from turning explosive. That means the Jayhawk offensive line will have to know where he is at all times, Graham will have to know where he is at all times, and if they can't keep him out of the play then this could get interesting in a hurry. But at the end of the day, Christian Graham has been on a half-season hot streak: in his last six games, he's thrown for 1,985 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. Kansas State will come prepared, but I think Graham will do enough to pull Kansas through for the win. Kansas 28, Kansas State 20
  4. Just like that, almost everything's now been decided in the nation's most exciting conference. Texas will go bowling, West Virginia will go bowling, Baylor will not. Oklahoma will go to the Big XII Championship Game, Oklahoma State will not. TCU's march to the playoff will continue for another week, Iowa State's run over Kansas State will continue for another year, and next week's matchups will run almost purely on unadulterated spite. But that's a next week thing. For now, let's talk about the games. Friday Night Iowa State 28, Kansas State 24 Double Trouble: It's taken most of their battery's first two seasons together, but Iowa State has found an offensive balance that works for them. Vaughn Sheppard completed 14-of-20 passes for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing a three-game stretch where he completed 64.6% of his passes for 178.7 yards per game with 5 touchdowns to no interceptions. That's come without losing production from Kofi McCullough, who finished the day with 127 yards and 2 touchdowns on his 25 carries to complete his own hot closing stretch. He finished the season with 7 straight games over 100 yards, and he matched Sheppard with 5 touchdowns in his last three games. Cy-onara: When Sheppard is accurate and McCullough is efficient, Iowa State's offense becomes dangerous--and they've proven that down the stretch. They finished the season by scoring 82 points in their final three games (including a minimum of 24 in all three), which is the most they've scored in a three-game stretch within a season since the closing stretch of the 2019 season. With 9 returning starters on offense and 8 returning starters on defense (counting Demetrius "Two-Way" Clay in both categories), Iowa State has to feel encouraged by how they finished the season. They improve to 6-3 all-time against Kansas State and have now won 5 of the last 6 meetings. For The Record: Kansas State couldn't make enough stops to win this game, but Julius Minnow didn't let his team go down without a fight. He attempted 42 passes, the most by any Kansas State quarterback since Harvey Fagan on six occasions in 2014; Minnow completed 24 of them for 260 yards, 3 touchdowns, and a late interception to linebacker Ian Johnson that stalled the possibility of a comeback. Jermaine Jordan (who else?) was his primary target, amassing 102 yards and a touchdown on 9 catches. Jordan is now up to 784 receiving yards, which is the second-most in a single season in Wildcat history after Eugene Glover's 1,010 in 2014; it's the most by any Kansas State freshman, the third-most among any freshman in the Big XII this season, and the 9th-most among any freshman in the Big XII's history. But the bigger record set was by Minnow. The redshirt senior has now thrown for 5,140 yards in his career, passing Rahim Murrell to become Kansas State's all-time leading passer and becoming the first Wildcat to hit the 5,000-yard mark. Next Up: Iowa State's season is over; they finish 2-10 with a 1-8 record in conference play. Kansas State falls to 2-9 and will go to Lawrence to try to end the season on a high note. Saturday Afternoon Texas 20, Baylor 13 Boom or Bust, Mostly Boom: Baylor was able to get into Texas's backfield a lot. Charles Brock had 3 tackles for loss out of four tackles total, Frederick Graff added another TFL, Thomas Morton Peanut-punched the ball out of Simeon Wells's grasp, and pressure forced Kyler Tackett to make an early throw into traffic that Vincent Perkins intercepted. Texas's offense found itself getting put behind the sticks more often than they wanted--but every time, they were able to erase their peril and turn a long-yardage situation into an explosive gain. Simeon Wells finished with 150 yards (including 35 yards on a 3rd-and-long draw play) and a touchdown on 24 carries, and Kyler Tackett completed 19-of-25 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown to make up for his interception. Even Shaun Lyles managed to spring loose a couple of times for downfield plays, picking up 90 yards and a score on 6 catches. Occasionally explosive offense won the day. Bears Down: For Baylor, even an occasional burst would have been an improvement. Curtis Sheppard played well, catching 5 passes for 82 yards. The rest of his teammates? Not so much. Caleb Olmsted followed up a great game with a poor one, finishing 15-of-28 for 150 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Miles Street concluded a pedestrian season with a pedestrian performance, totaling 90 yards on 20 carries. Lamont Wilder concluded a perplexing senior season with 5 catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. After recording 1,082 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman, Wilder's production has decreased every season, culminating with just 530 yards and 7 touchdowns on 39 catches as a senior. Highly touted linebacker Garrett Powers did not appear on a statsheet all season. Baylor got a lot out of surprise contributors like Sheppard and Brock, but it wasn't enough to get to a bowl. They Call Him DB: In contrast, Devon Braxton hadn't had the most remarkable career for the Longhorns heading into his senior campaign. He had 3 interceptions as a freshman, 2 as a sophomore, and just 1 as a junior before Damani Jeffries entered the NFL Draft early. This year, though, Devon "DB" Braxton has broken out. He became the fourth Texas player to record 7 or more interceptions in a season, joining Ivory Hull, Jon Thomas, and Troy Marshall. That's some great company to be in. And it's not just a matter of luck; he's also batted down 7 passes, so he's getting to ball after ball and making play after play. He's made the most out of his senior year, and thanks to him Texas's bowl streak will reach its 10th year. Next Up: Baylor's season ends at 5-7 (4-5), falling just shy of a bowl bid after starting 2-5. Texas improves to 6-5 (5-4) and will travel to College Station where they will be heavy underdogs to Texas A&M. West Virginia 27, #13 Oklahoma State 16 Lake Sure Drives: Martin Lake picked the absolute best time to play his best game of the second half of the season. He completed 23-of-38 passes for 264 yards and 2 touchdowns, rushed for a third score, and across the board found a way to put the team on his back. It was his highest completion percentage (60.5%) since week 10 against Baylor, as well as his highest yardage total (264) and passer rating (136.3) since week 7 against Kansas State. No small part of that was Corey Easley also having his best game in weeks: his 5 catches went for 99 yards (most since week 7), and the touchdown pass he caught in the first quarter was his first since week 11. When Easley found paydirt, West Virginia took the lead and didn't relinquish it the rest of the way in Stillwater. Sack Attack: Particularly impressive in Lake's performance was his ability to deliver in the face of pressure. Oklahoma State kept finding ways into the West Virginia backfield, on one occasion resulting in a Bryce Madison fumble caused by Daniel Brunson (recovered by the offense). Lake himself found himself sacked three times and hurried or hit several other times. But perhaps it helped knowing that his defense was delivering the same sort of licks to Oklahoma State's offense. Aaron Pagan and Elvis Cornejo each had a sack of Ian Baldwin, Harry Conner batted down a pass and stripped Samuel Barfield (a fumble also recovered by the offense). The pressure even led to an interception when Baldwin had to change his arm angle on a throw and airmailed it to Preston Evans. When the B's Stop Buzzing: The strength of Oklahoma State's offense is that it has multiple different guys who can contribute in huge ways, just about all of whose last names happen to start with B. West Virginia figured out how to shut down all of them at once. Amral Brown had just 82 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries; prior to this game, he'd never rushed for fewer than 105 yards in a game or less than an even 5.0 yards per carry. Ian Baldwin completed 66.7% of his passes, but his 166 yards were his lowest single-game total ever and he matched his only touchdown of the game with an interception. Samuel Barfield had his worst game since last year's Sugar Bowl with just 32 yards, and Jeremy Bridges finished with an okay-but-not-great 63 yards and a touchdown on 5 catches. It takes a lot to slow down Oklahoma State's offense across the board, but it's exactly what West Virginia needed to do to earn a bowl bid. Next Up: West Virginia improves to 6-6 (4-5) and earns their third bowl bid in four years at the eleventh hour. Oklahoma State falls to 8-3 (5-3) and is eliminated from Big XII title game contention; Oklahoma is now assured of playing TCU for the conference title regardless of next week's results. Oklahoma State will instead try to play spoiler for their rival. Saturday Evening #4 TCU 31, Army 13 March Fourth: This game was surprisingly close for 45 minutes--and then suddenly it wasn't. After a touchdown on Army's opening drive, the Black Knights struggled to find further openings against a tough TCU defense--but they also weren't wont to give any ground on the other side of the ball. TCU had to work for every yard they gained. Martin Gifford needed 24 carries to get to 100 yards. Felix Luck needed 27 pass attempts to get to 206 himself. But they wouldn't be denied forever, and eventually the dam burst in the fourth quarter. TCU outscored Army 14-0 in the final frame, and they've now outscored opponents 93-48 in the fourth quarter this season. That +45 margin would be TCU's best fourth-quarter mark since 2018 if they can make it hold up. Hard Knocks: Much like the old days, Army brought its fight to the trenches for this one. That's a fight TCU was happy to oblige, because they're as good as anyone at the line of scrimmage. Nathaniel Woodson was as good as expected against TCU right tackle Hayden Breaux, finishing with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss against the run, and a sack. Cooper Siegel and Hunter Hinton also found their way into the TCU backfield, and both managed to knock the ball free from Martin Gifford. (This game could have turned out very differently if TCU had not recovered both fumbles.) TCU gave just as good as they got: Aidan McAlister had 1.5 sacks and a tackle for loss, and Richard Farrell had another 1.5 sacks. TCU held Army to 53 yards on the ground on 18 carries, and they allowed Vince Larue to throw for just 160 yards on 15-of-30 passing. Even though the offense didn't fully wake up until the fourth quarter, the defense gave no indication that it was going to let Army entertain the idea of a lead. Hello Matteo: The closing act of week 15 of the Big XII season was a surprise to everyone involved. With Gifford fumbling twice, it makes sense that TCU would try a change of pace at runningback for a spell--and that came in the form of Matteo Cates, a redshirt freshman. Cates toted the rock three times. Two of them didn't go very far. But the third one showed why he's considered the best tailback prospect the Horned Frogs have ever had: he took a handoff, displayed patience until just the slightest hole opened up, then he accelerated seemingly instantly to hit the hole and race to the endzone for a 17-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 31-13 for the Frogs. Cates adds a bit of lightning to Gifford's thunder, and he could come for the redshirt junior's job as soon as next year. Next Up: TCU wins their 10th straight game, extending the Horned Frogs' longest winning streak since taking 15 straight in 2017-18. But that streak was halted by Texas Tech in their season finale, and the Red Raiders are who loom ahead on Senior Night. Byes: Kansas (5-6), #5 Oklahoma (10-1), #25 Texas Tech (8-3)
  5. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - MNF

    It will surely not come as a surprise that this game was an act of scorigami.
  6. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - SNF

    The Falcons move into the #6 spot in the NFC with two weeks left to play, owning the tiebreaker against the Panthers. They also control their destiny in the NFC South race; their matchup against the Saints could be a winner-take-all if the chips fall the right way.
  7. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - Saturday Night

    Arizona State's win and Arizona's loss means that they're both 5-6, so the battle for the Territorial Cup next week will be a winner-take-all matchup for a bowl berth. Arizona State has made their last 5 consecutive bowl games, and Arizona has made all 8 they've been around for.
  8. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - Saturday Afternoon

    COUNTRY ROADS
  9. All the ducks are on the pond, and all the cards are on the table. Most of the nation's most exciting conference still has goals to shoot for; by the end of this week, several will be out of time to make it happen. Baylor gets a bowl if they win this week, and they go home if they don't. West Virginia gets a bowl if they win this week, and they go home if they don't. Texas gets a bowl if they win this week, and they'll have to win in the lion's den of College Station next week if they don't. And Oklahoma State and TCU both entertain playoff hopes that likely can't survive a loss this week--so it's a winner-take-most for them as well. The stakes continue to rise as we reach the thrilling conclusion of the 2022 season. Let's talk about the games. Saturday Afternoon Baylor (5-6) at Texas (5-5) (-3.5) This isn't quite a winner-take-all game. But with this being Baylor's final opportunity to get win #6 as well as Texas's best opportunity given that the other one is a road game at #10 Texas A&M, we might as well treat it like one. These two teams have taken very different routes to get to this point. Baylor came out of the gate hobbling with losses to Army and South Carolina, then fell as far as 2-5 after a blowout loss to TCU. But they've played their best football of the year in three of the last four games, upsetting West Virginia and Texas Tech, handling Iowa State, and...well, getting blown out by Oklahoma. They were dead in the water six weeks ago, but they've played their way into a palpable chance at a bowl. Texas was almost the total inverse. They started 4-0 with wins over Kansas, UTSA, Iowa State, and West Virginia, and then things slowly started to backslide. A close loss to TCU was better than expected, a close loss to Florida made sense--and then Texas failed to score touchdowns in their next two games, blowout losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. They snapped their losing streak by staving off Kansas State, only to fall in overtime to Texas Tech to fall to 5-5. If Baylor wins, they earn a second straight bowl bid and their fourth in five years. If Texas wins, they extend their streak of bowl bids to 10 years running. Of course, that also means one of those streaks will die. If the visiting Bears are to complete the comeback, securing four bowls in five years with four wins in five games, they'll hope to continue the momentum built up from last week's surprise domination of Texas Tech in Lubbock. They slowed down one of the better offenses in college football, keeping Solomon McLaughlin relatively contained and forcing Texas Tech to chip away rather than break away; on the other end, Texas Tech couldn't impose that same demand on Caleb Olmsted, who threw for a career-high 293 yards and 3 touchdowns on 18-of-27 through the air. Look for slot receiver Curtis Sheppard to be the key factor on offense--not just because he's been Baylor's best receiver by a long shot, but also because he's far less likely to see Devon Braxton (6 INT, 6 PD, 2 TFL, 23 tackles) on the other side of the line. Lamont Wilder might see that assignment more often, and given his lack of production this season it's probably to Baylor's advantage to use Wilder to keep Braxton occupied. It's not like the rest of Texas's secondary has made much impact. Their front seven has, though, and that'll complicate Baylor's efforts to move things on the ground. The Longhorns have seven different players with tackles for loss, totaling 20 between them. Street might be able to shorten distance-to-go, but Olmsted and Sheppard have the big-play potential. Is the same true for Kyler Tackett and Simeon Wells? Tackett's been an enigma, averaging just 206.8 yards per game and pretty much disappearing during the Longhorns' four-game skid. But his last two games have been among his best, including a career-high 320 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21-of-26 passing against Texas Tech in the overtime loss. Simeon Wells has been just as hard to unlock: his 192-yard, three-touchdown effort to graze past Kansas State is the only time he's cracked 110 yards in a game since Tackett became the starting quarterback in week 3. Wells is almost never going to put up a total dud. But he'll be running into a defense that at least kept Solomon McLaughlin contained. Power runs for Wells lead him right into the belly of the beast with seniors Ezekiel Sewell and Thomas Morton plugging up the middle and sophomores Alexander Talbert and Zachary McHale looking to crash inside. But it's also really difficult to predict which Baylor defense is going to show up. They gave up 49 to Oklahoma in the midst of holding West Virginia, Iowa State, and Texas Tech to 47 combined. A really good offense can tear them asunder, but a decent one can be stonewalled. And for the most part, Texas's offense has not been good. I don't think Baylor's win over Texas Tech was a coincidence; I think they're raising their level of play at the right time. And I think they've raised it enough to get this win on the road. Baylor 27, Texas 24 West Virginia (5-6) at #13 Oklahoma State (8-2) (-10.5) As big of a game as Baylor-Texas is, even more is riding on the simultaneous West Virginia-Oklahoma State matchup. The 5-6 Mountaineers are in the same position as Baylor: win and they make a bowl, lose and they'll finish under .500. But while the Cowboys have secured a bowl bid, they have the opportunity to make one last, late push for an ever-elusive Big XII title and a playoff berth. It's simple: all they have to do is win out. A loss to West Virginia would ensure that Oklahoma faces TCU in the championship game, whereas a win would mean that the second spot comes down to Bedlam next week. The Mountaineers have made it here with tough defense, having held their first eight opponents to 16.1 points per game. But that average has taken a hit in their last three games: TCU scored 45, and Iowa State and Oklahoma scored 24 each. That said, the Oklahoma game saw their defense acquit itself well: they made Eric Pope look pedestrian, and they had the Sooners on the ropes before a fourth-quarter escape act. They've dealt with offensive inconsistency, however, and their fortunes mostly depend on whether Martin Lake is in sync with receivers Corey Easley and Christian Nash. Oklahoma State's been a force on both sides of the ball. Their scoring average against is almost identical to West Virginia's, but they're top-10 in the country in scoring offense entering Saturday. They've scored 31 points in all but three games this season, and two of the three exceptions were still wins. When great offense meets great defense, something's gotta give. There's a better case than usual that Oklahoma State's offense is what will give. The Cowboys averaged 35.3 points per game their first seven games of the season, but two of their three less-than-awesome offensive performances have come in their last three games. They scored 27 against a good Texas defense, but their 24 points against Kansas State are a red flag. Even worse: they had just 10 points entering the fourth quarter. Ian Baldwin has been off his game, plain and simple. Over his last five games, he's completing 59.5% of his passes and averaging just 219.8 yards per game. He's thrown 5 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, and his passer rating in that span is hanging at 126.7--way below his season average of 157.7. He has Samuel Barfield and Jeremy Bridges as weapons, but they've averaged just 64.1 yards per player per game in their last five. The Cowboys have turned instead to Amral Brown, and he has delivered. In every single game this season, the breakout junior has had at least 105 yards, at least 1 touchdown, and at least 5.0 yards per carry. He's consistent, he's explosive, and it has to be a priority to contain him given that Maurice White showed that a ground-pounding attack can be enough to beat this defense. West Virginia's front seven is good, and 8 tackles for loss apiece by Aaron Pagan and Riley Reardon didn't happen by accident. But if they can't slow down Brown, that gives Baldwin lower-risk opportunities to get going, and picking a fight with those receivers seems like a losing issue. West Virginia's offense can't force Oklahoma State's defense into the same choice; the Cowboys know they need to stop Martin Lake. They have three different defensive linemen who can exert pressure, and a whole array of players who can break up or intercept passes. The key player has been Prince Pruitt, who has intercepted 5 passes from the free safety position and batted down 3 more. He's the second Big XII free safety with 5 interceptions in a season, joining Texas's Jon Thomas in 2017. That's a problem for a turnover-prone Martin Lake, whose 9 interceptions are the third-highest total in the conference. I think both of these defenses are going to pose matchup problems for the opposing offense. (I won't say that'll result in a low-scoring game, because that's the surest way to ensure a shootout.) But ultimately? Oklahoma State has Amral Brown, West Virginia doesn't, and Brown has been one of the biggest game-changers in the conference. I'll take Oklahoma State to win this one. #13 Oklahoma State 24, West Virginia 17 Saturday Evening Army (6-4) at #4 TCU (9-1) (-20) Closing out the week, TCU makes their third and final regular-season trip out of conference with a visit from an Army team that comes in having won five of their last six. The Black Knights are bowl-eligible, they have a Big XII win already this season dating back to week 2 against Baylor, and the talent they have on the defensive side of the ball in particular is capable of posing a real threat if TCU isn't careful. You can't talk about the Army defense without talking about senior defensive end Nathaniel Woodson. He had 2 tackles for loss and a sack in the opener against Baylor, and he's built on that over the course of the year. He's up to 6.0 sacks and 9 tackles for loss this season, and most of his plays are coming in the backfield. The challenge for TCU is that he lines up at left end, meaning it's true freshman Hayden Breaux matched up against him rather than veteran left tackle Tyson Chadwick. This is a case where you probably want Miguel Aguilera chipping Woodson or bringing over right guard Josh Carlisle to assist Breaux. But in case you're worried that Chadwick won't be tested, fear not: redshirt freshman Louis Quintero has a team-high 7.0 sacks for Army himself. You should still expect TCU to try to get Martin Gifford going early. You worry about Woodson, but ultimately you trust in the offensive line and don't let the defense dictate your game. Establishing balance just makes it that much easier to throw, and Felix Luck should be eager to throw against a young set of Army cornerbacks. Micah Bowers has 5 interceptions this season, but will he be able to stay on Finn Nielsen? Da'Quan Waller looks like a stud in the making and had a pick-six against UMass, but can he handle Griffin McHanna? What about F.T. Grady? What about Miguel Aguilera? The safeties are something to worry about, but there are two of them and four TCU principal pass-catchers. If Army is to make this a game, though, the defensive front and safeties are the ones who will make it happen. Because they don't have the firepower on offense to go one-on-one with TCU's defense. Vince LaRue has done a good job taking care of the ball with just 5 interceptions, but he's also not particularly accurate and not particularly explosive. He's completed 60% of his passes in just three games, averages 234.5 yards per game through the air--though both of those numbers would be boosted if his receivers didn't have 10 drops. The one receiver to watch out for is flanker Xavier Bruno, who leads the team with 749 yards and 5 touchdowns largely due to his 16.3 yards per catch. The one area where TCU should be worried is their ability to defend the deep ball if an opposing quarterback has enough time to get set, wait for an opening, and make the throw. All that said, Army probably won't have enough time to do that. Their offensive line is not going to hold up against the TCU front. That might not result in a lot of sacks because LaRue is quick enough on his feet to get out of the pocket, but it probably will lead to more throwaways and more throws into traffic for Roman Blackmon and Patrick Ross to feast on. Army doesn't run the ball particularly well, with Nigel Royal netting just 78.9 yards per game on 4.4 yards per carry and LaRue adding 17.9 a game on 4.1 a carry. They can punch it in on the ground when they get into the red zone, but TCU isn't likely to let them see a lot of red zone opportunities. Most of Army's competition has been well below its weight class; their only win against a bowl-eligible opponent was over Air Force, and they've lost to bowl-ineligible Syracuse and Houston. TCU's the best team they'll have played all year. This won't be close. #4 TCU 44, Army 10 Byes: Kansas (5-6), #5 Oklahoma (10-1), #25 Texas Tech (8-3)
  10. For realism purposes, the Bears will solely be scouting kickers with the most crossbar and upright hits. In all seriousness, this should be good for scouting and it'll be really good for media and for analyzing where and when a game turns. I'm looking forward to this.
  11. stormstopper

    How do you feel about extreme schemes?

    I think there are three different types of teams that run extreme schemes: Teams that are designed to run and take advantage of an extreme scheme. This is an extremely small group to the point where I think their experience is hard to generalize. The Raiders have an argument to fall in this category. Texas Tech has an argument, though they could also fit in bucket #2. This is the highest-ceiling category: in all cases every defense is going to know what they're up against, and the only way to counter is just to be better at executing than they are at stopping you. The team running the extreme scheme is dictating the game. They're forcing the opposing defense to adjust to it rather than stay in its base. They get 12 to 16 tries to perfect themselves; each defense only gets one try to perfect how they'll defend it. If the offense is only dictating the game by pass/run count, that advantage is easily overwhelmed. But using Texas Tech as an example: how much does it matter if my front seven knows that the run is coming if he always has a wall in front of him so you can't actually get to him until he has enough space to give you that work? Using the Raiders as an example, so what if I know Nick Hall's going to throw the ball? He could be throwing it to Mike Triplett, Lamont Crawford, Malcolm Davis, or Brian Gary--is my secondary deep enough to stop all of that at once? But again, this is a small group. Most teams don't recruit or build to an extreme scheme because it's harder to snap all the parts into the right places and because it leaves less room for error in case someone gets hurt or someone doesn't pan out as expected. But given just how many teams favor balance, a well-designed unbalanced team could be a pretty big market distortion. Teams that use an extreme scheme to hide an extreme weakness. Things are so bad in Facet A that other teams are just sitting on Facet B anyway, and Facet A is still producing absolutely nothing. You could fit Texas Tech in this bucket because part of their run-heavy scheme was due to Chase Shapiro's lack of production and a lack of WRs. You can definitely put Iowa State here, because any time they've gone run-heavy has been because Vaughn Sheppard's just not consistently there yet. You can put the Panthers team that lost to RJ Stanford in this category because they lost Mike Latta and couldn't figure out what to do otherwise. This usually doesn't work very well, because there was no plan to get here and because Facet A has to be so bad that you're willing to try anything--but what separates this from category three is that the alternative genuinely might not be better. Would Iowa State last year have done better than 3-9 if Sheppard were throwing the ball more? Probably not. Would Texas Tech be doing better if Shapiro were throwing more? Probably not. Would the Panthers have done better if they ran the ball even without Latta? Maybe, but they still made the playoffs. For this to work at all, though, the side that's being emphasized has to be really good in the first place. Run a 4.5-YPC RB into the line 30 times and you're going to average 10 points a game if you're lucky. There's always going to be an efficiency loss, and you have to be able to survive off of that. Teams that use an extreme scheme and aren't really good enough at it to take advantage anyway. This is most teams in the country. Balance is important for so many different reasons: it gives defenses more to chew on, it allows you to pick at a defense's weaknesses instead of having that decided for you before the game. Eventually, the teams you play annually or twice annually are going to adapt to it. I've put myself in this bucket before. In 2018 I decided I wasn't getting enough on the ground and decided to switch to Verticals (which isn't the most extreme but it was definitely more passing than I should have had Eric Jennings doing). We still won the Big XII, but a huge part of that was the fact that TCU was also in an ill-fitting extreme-ish scheme that I could just sit on, and we ended up with a Big XII title game that ended 17-13. TCU being able to go balanced is a big reason why they're hard to stop this year. Most teams aren't so much better in one aspect of the offense than the other that it makes sense to drop the benefits of that balance. An extreme scheme won't solve your problems unless you're seeing truly horrific numbers in one facet of your offense and very good numbers in the other. Most teams aren't built that way and will fail if you try to force that square peg into a round hole. The difference between each group is that #1 is creating a strength (and it doesn't rule out having balance as a fallback option), #2 is using a strength to cover an existing weakness but creating a different and hopefully lesser weakness, and #3 just creates extra weaknesses.
  12. Iowa State (1-10) at Kansas State (2-8) (-4.5) It's been a rough ride in Ames and Manhattan. Kansas State and Iowa State enter this clash with three wins between them, none of which came against a conference foe. They have had more than their share of close calls even as recently as last week--only for a late surge to bring with it the agony of defeat. This game has been a stepping stone during these programs' most successful seasons: Kansas State crushed Iowa State in their only bowl season in 2016, then Iowa State returned the favor threefold from 2017-2019. Lately, though, the series has been an opportunity to grab some last-minute momentum heading into the offseason, and that's the state of play today. This is the last home game for Kansas State's seniors, including the once-promising and since-baffling redshirt senior quarterback Julius Minnow. After being benched for Aiden Higgins and Rahim Murrell at different points in his career, Minnow has started the whole season. He's completed 57.5% of his passes, averages a healthy 220.0 yards per game, and has thrown 16 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He's been asked to bear most of the offensive load, with a run game that averages less than 55 yards per game. But he's been boosted by the stellar play of freshman receiver Jermaine Jordan, who adds a vertical threat that's resulted in a team-high 682 yards. Jhonny Palacios has been the drive-finisher, though, nearly matching Jordan in yardage but leading the team with 7 touchdown catches. Look for both to make an impact against an Iowa State defense that doesn't make a lot of plays in downfield coverage. They have good linebackers: Paul Bryant had an interception last week, and Ian Johnson has been pretty much everywhere against the pass and the run. But can they get pressure against the pass? They have 7 sacks all season. Demetrius Clay has shown that he can set the edge and make tackles against the run (7 TFL), but slowing down the pass has been a struggle for the Cyclones. Ordinarily, this would lead into a discussion on how Kansas State will have to stop Iowa State on the ground in contrast. But instead, their job seems to be at least a bit more difficult because Vaughn Sheppard has started playing good football. Sheppard threw for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns in the loss to Oklahoma State. That's not what should scare Kansas State, though. What should scare them is the chance that he's found the form that got him a 19-of-25, 267-yard, 2-touchdown performance against Iowa in the Cyclones' only win of the season to date. And yet that still can't be their focus, cause Kofi McCullough is a walking existential threat to Big XII defenses everywhere. He averages 116.4 yards per game on 5.1 yards per carry, but he's capable of blowing up on a defense at any given moment. Kansas State does not have the edge presence to erase him, but if Jonah Caruso can collapse the interior and Brendan Scherer can fly to the ball like he normally does (52 tackles, 9 TFL) then they can at least limit McCullough. This is the first time all season I've felt confident that Iowa State has a workable backup plan if McCullough is just spinning his wheels, though. There are schematic differences in what they're doing now compared to before they ran the ball 33 times against Virginia Tech, and Sheppard's been doing significantly better since then. I think they'll be able to keep the Wildcats off balance and on their heels. As long as they don't just let Julius Minnow have whatever he wants, they ought to be right in this game. And I think at the end of the day, the Cyclones will come home with the win. Iowa State 28, Kansas State 24
  13. Week 14 in the nation's most exciting conference was a week of scrapping and clawing by teams with nothing to lose and teams with everything to gain. All four underdogs covered the spread (for entertainment purposes only, obviously), and the only blowout of the week was by a Baylor team that had and still has its back to the wall for its hopes at a postseason bid at the expense of Texas Tech. Iowa State led at the half against Kansas, only for the Jayhawks to fight back. Kansas State took Oklahoma State to the fourth quarter, only for the Cowboys to pull away. West Virginia led Oklahoma into the fourth quarter, only for the Sooners to take over. It was yet another memorable week in the Large Dozen, so let's talk about the games. Thursday Night Kansas 35, Iowa State 30 Squall Line: After putting forth a spirited offensive effort against a good West Virginia defense last week, Iowa State followed it up with a red-hot first half on both sides of the ball. Kofi McCullough did what Kofi McCullough does, and Kansas gave up the ground that Kansas gives up. McCullough finished with 117 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries for the day. But Vaughn Sheppard's 206 yards and 2 touchdowns on 16-of-26 passing was one of his best career performances--his second 200-yard game (Iowa earlier this year) and his second 2-touchdown game (also Iowa this year). Iowa State took a 17-7 lead into the half, their second-largest halftime lead of the season (they led by 14 in the loss to NC State). Their 30 points was their highest scoring output since a 38-7 win over Baylor early in the 2021 season. Wind Shear: But it wasn't enough, because Kansas's offense came alive in the second half. Part of it was that they held Iowa State to field goals on three separate red zone trips. They got another big performance from Jaime Bautista, who had another 109 yards and a touchdown on 11 catches. They caught McCullough behind the line a couple of times, holding Iowa State to 3-of-13 on third down. They took better care of the ball after a Paul Bryant interception in the first half for the game's only turnover. And they scored 28 points in the second half for their largest halftime comeback since Texas in 2020. CG3 (plus one): And the number one reason for the comeback was--who else--junior quarterback Christian Graham. He completed 27-of-41 passes for 329 yards, 3 touchdowns, and the one pick. He also scored his first career rushing touchdown on a 2-yard quarterback sneak in the third quarter to put the Jayhawks in the lead for the first time all day. It was Graham's fifth consecutive 300-yard game, making him the fourth Big XII quarterback to reach that streak after Mohammed Foster (5), Christian Barkley (6), and Brad Davis (14). In that span he's averaging 339.4 yards per game, completing 67.2% of his passes, maintaining a 159.6 passer rating, and he's throwing 16 touchdowns to 2 interceptions in that span. Next Up: Both of these teams have only Kansas State remaining on the schedules. The Cyclones (1-10) will head to Manhattan to try to end their season on a high note while Kansas is on bye, and the Jayhawks (5-6) host Kansas State week 16 to try to secure their sixth straight bowl appearance. Saturday Afternoon Baylor 31, #19 Texas Tech 10 Above C Level: Behind the C-to-C connection of Caleb Olmsted to Curtis Sheppard, Baylor's offense found it could get just about anything it wanted in Waco. Olmsted threw for a career-high 293 yards and a career-high-tying 3 touchdown passes, completing 18-of-27 passes and maintaining a passer rating of 194.5 with the combination of Sheppard and Maleek Abioye-Afua being the primary beneficiaries. Abioye-Afua had a good day, with 72 yards and a touchdown on 5 receptions. Sheppard, though, had a great day: 5 catches for a career-best 130 yards and 2 touchdowns. It's the sixth-highest single-game yardage total by a Baylor receiver in school history, and the highest single-game yard-per-catch average by any Baylor player with at least 3 catches in a game. The Bears challenged Texas Tech's defense deep, and they were rewarded handsomely. Bottled Up: At the same time as Baylor's offense was figuring out how to blow by the Red Raider defense, the Baylor defense kept Solomon McLaughlin under lock and key...relatively speaking. The star tailback still totaled up 120 yards on 25 carries, but none of his rushes went for more than 12 yards at a time. They couldn't stop him from taking a few yards at a time, but they prevented the big breakaway runs that have so often spelled doom for other opponents. Despite the margin, a few big plays kept this one from being close down the stretch. Texas Tech had 3rd and goal from inside the Baylor 10 when Frederick Graff came up with a tackle for loss to force a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter. The defense held strong again later on a drive into Baylor territory in the third quarter with the score 17-10; Jeffrey Gauthier could not convert the 44-yard field goal, and the Bears capitalized in the fourth. Breaking It Open: This was still a close game heading into the final frame. Baylor turned up the heat, though, and they outscored Texas Tech 14-0 down the stretch. They just couldn't keep the aerial attack locked down, and it's reached the point where a trend can be tentatively (but not fully) cited. Ian Baldwin threw for 308 yards and 3 touchdowns in the loss to Texas Tech, Christian Graham went for 319 and 4 in a win, Kyler Tackett put up 320 and 2 in a loss, and now Olmsted threw for 299 and 3 in a win. That said, they've shown that they're capable of shutting down the pass sometimes--just ask Martin Lake (130 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) or Vaughn Sheppard (140 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT). If they can find that success again, they'll have a shot in Fort Worth. Next Up: Texas Tech drops to 8-3 (5-3) and is eliminated from a semi-longshot bid for Big XII Championship Game contention. They'll have a bye week before they close the regular season on the road at TCU. Baylor improves to 5-6 (4-4), and they will head to Austin to take on 5-5 Texas in a winner-take-bowl matchup. #13 Oklahoma State 24, Kansas State 13 I Came In Like A Wrecking Ball: How much can be said about what Amral Brown has meant to this team that hasn't been said already? I'm not entirely sure, but we sure haven't run out yet. The 5-6 bruiser powered his way to yet another big game with 21 carries for 139 yards and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in a game where every last bit of what he could muster was needed as it unexpectedly came down to the wire. He leads the conference with more than 6.5 yards per carry, and he became the second member of the Big XII's 20-touchdown club on the ground this season. He also ranks 3rd in the conference in rushing yards despite ranking 6th in carries--but that's what efficiency will do for you, and efficiency is what Brown can do for you. Burnt By Orange: Consecutive road games against burnt orange teams have seen Kansas State take it down to the wire, and consecutive road games against burnt orange teams have seen Kansas State come up empty. After a 38-35 loss to Texas that was tied entering the fourth quarter, Kansas State found themselves down just 10-6 to Oklahoma State heading into the fourth this week. Once again, that's where things fell apart. Amral Brown got loose, Julius Minnow got tight (and threw a crucial second interception of the day), and a garbage-time touchdown pass to Jermaine Jordan wasn't enough to close the gap that had been opened. Minnow finished the day 20-of-37 for 220 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions; Jordan had a big day as a receiver with 6 catches for 96 yards including the sole touchdown reception, but none of his teammates broke the 40-yard mark. Air Repair: The good news for Kansas State is that they were able to do some air traffic control. Ian Baldwin wasn't exactly on a hot streak entering this game, but the Wildcats made a point of prolonging his misery. He completed a pedestrian 16-of-26 passes for 209 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception, and the Cowboys just couldn't get into an offensive rhythm as a result. This was just the second time that Oklahoma State has been held to 24 points or fewer this season (they scored 17 against TCU). But the Cowboys are built in such a way that they can withstand one part of their offense struggling, and they were able to get to ground control long enough to get the win. Next Up: Kansas State drops to 2-8 (0-7) and comes home to Manhattan for Farmageddon on Senior Night against Iowa State. Oklahoma State survives and improves to 8-2 (5-2). They control their own destiny in the Big XII title game race but must beat West Virginia at home and Oklahoma on the road to do so. #6 Oklahoma 24, West Virginia 20 Black Smoke: West Virginia knows what it means to get after it on defense, and they made sure Eric Pope was intimately familiar with the meaning as well. The normally red-hot junior had one of his worst performances of the season, completing 13-of-23 passes for 144 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception while adding 29 rushing yards on 7 carries. It's his second-lowest passing yardage total of the season, bettering only his 138 against Missouri; it's also his third-lowest passer rating of the season (114.8) bettering his marks against Missouri and TCU. West Virginia kept pressure in the backfield: Aaron Pagan had a sack and 2 tackles for loss, Riley Reardon also had a tackle for loss--and that doesn't get at the number of times the Mountaineer defensive line forced Pope to run or forced a pass to come out early. Wait, no, actually it does: Pagan hurried Pope in the second quarter (I'm sure someone could make a pun on that), and a hurried Pope throw was intercepted by Preston Evans to set up a Mountaineer touchdown for a 17-7 halftime lead. Mo Knows: Down 17-7 at the half, Oklahoma needed a spark. Just like their in-state counterparts, that spark came from the ground. (Who cares if that's not how electricity works?) Maurice White had 119 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 carries, his 8th game this season at 5.4 yards or more per carry and his 8th game this season with at least 2 rushing touchdowns (including his third consecutively). It actually says a lot that this was among his least productive games of the season: it speaks highly of the West Virginia defense, and it shows just how good White has been for the Sooners. Gone In Fifteen Minutes: And White provided enough offense to get Oklahoma over the top thanks to a dominant fourth quarter. Entering the frame down 20-14, they cut it to a three-point deficit on Louis Dwyer's 32-yard kick about a minute in. They kept pounding the rock to White, but they also saw their defense take a huge step forward. Martin Lake had already thrown for 2 touchdowns, and Christian Nash was making play after play downfield. They flummoxed Lake in the fourth quarter, sacking him twice in the period and getting a pick on third-and-long from nickel corner Kahawai Kolone. Kolone and safety Andrew Reaves started batting down passes. And when Maurice White crossed the goal line for the second time on second and goal with 7 minutes to play, it felt like a killing blow. That's exactly what it was, as the score of 24-20 held up as the final. Next Up: West Virginia falls to 5-6 (3-5), with now 5 losses coming by a one-possession margin. They will look to turn their luck around in Stillwater week 15 in a win-or-go-home matchup with Oklahoma State. The Sooners improve to 10-1 (7-1) and see their magic number to clinch a rematch with TCU in the Big XII Championship Game drop to 1. They earn the bid if they defeat Oklahoma State at home week 16 or if the Cowboys fall to West Virginia. Byes: #3 TCU (9-1), Texas (5-5)
  14. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - TNF

    No. Regardless of result tomorrow, Temple-Cincinnati next week is winner-take-all.
  15. stormstopper

    [2022] BOFA Presents: The Bowl Limbo Report

    Seems like forever ago, but yeah. And they crushed Western Michigan.
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