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Everything posted by stormstopper

  1. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - MNF

    It will surely not come as a surprise that this game was an act of scorigami.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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)
  5. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - Saturday Afternoon

  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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)
  10. With two weeks remaining, the bowl picture is getting clearer and clearer. Of 130 FBS teams, 66 have secured bowl-eligibility. Another 40 have hit seven losses and will miss a bowl game unless there are fewer teams than spots available. That leaves 24 teams in limbo, with a chance to go bowling with one or two wins and a chance to get knocked out with one or two losses. Using an estimated win probability guide based on the point spread system, we rank each team in limbo on their likelihood to make a bowl. 1. Northern Illinois (5-5) Remaining opponents: Ohio (50%), Ball State (89.1%) 94.6% bowl probability Current streak of 3 missed bowl games 2. Rutgers (5-6) Remaining opponents: Maryland (81.6%) 81.6% bowl probability Current streak of 2 missed bowl games 3. Missouri (5-6) Remaining opponents: Arkansas (75.1%) 75.1% bowl probability Current streak of 6 made bowl games 4. Buffalo (5-5) Remaining opponents: Bowling Green (61.9%), Ohio (29.7%) 73.2% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 5. UCF (5-5) Remaining opponents: East Carolina (48.8%), USF (42.6%) 70.6% bowl probability Current streak of 6 made bowl games Plays fellow limbo team USF week 16 6. Arizona (5-5) Remaining opponents: Stanford (27%), Arizona State (53.4%) 66% bowl probability Current streak of 8 made bowl games (has never missed a bowl game) Plays fellow limbo team Arizona State week 16 7. Minnesota (5-5) Remaining opponents: Nebraska (19.4%), Wisconsin (57.4%) 65.7% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 8. Kansas (5-6) Remaining opponents: Kansas State (65.1%) 65.1% bowl probability Current streak of 5 made bowl games 9. Texas (5-5) Remaining opponents: Baylor (60.6%), Texas A&M (6.3%) 63.1% bowl probability Current streak of 9 made bowl games (has never missed a bowl game) Plays fellow limbo team Baylor week 15 10. USF (5-6) Remaining opponents: UCF (57.4%) 57.4% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game Plays fellow limbo team UCF week 16 11. Louisiana-Lafayette (5-6) Remaining opponents: Louisiana-Monroe (50%) 50% bowl probability Made bowl game in only season last year 12. Cincinnati (5-5) Remaining opponents: Memphis (24.9%), Temple (22.6%) 41.9% bowl probability Current streak of 5 missed bowl games 13. Baylor (5-6) Remaining opponents: Texas (39.4%) 39.4% bowl probability Current streak of 1 made bowl game Plays fellow limbo team Texas week 15 14. Northwestern (5-6) Remaining opponents: Illinois (27%) 27% bowl probability Current streak of 1 made bowl game 15. Arizona State (4-6) Remaining opponents: California (52.5%), Arizona (46.6%) 24.5% bowl probability Current streak of 5 made bowl games Plays fellow limbo teams California (week 15) and Arizona (week 16) 16. West Virginia (5-6) Remaining opponents: Oklahoma State (20.7%) 20.7% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 17. Colorado State (4-6) Remaining opponents: New Mexico (54.3%), Air Force (34.9%) 19% bowl probability Current streak of 1 made bowl game 18. Syracuse (4-6) Remaining opponents: Pittsburgh (24.9%), Boston College (61.9%) 15.4% bowl probability Current streak of 2 missed bowl games 19. Fresno State (5-6) Remaining opponents: Hawaii (8.6%) 8.6% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 20. Texas State (4-6) Remaining opponents: Arkansas State (10.9%), Georgia State (66.4%) 7.2% bowl probability Made bowl game in only season last year 21. California (4-6) Remaining opponents: Arizona State (47.5%), Stanford (1.6%) 0.8% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game Plays fellow limbo team Arizona State week 15 22. Ole Miss (5-6) Remaining opponents: Mississippi State (0.1%) 0.1% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 23. North Texas (4-6) Remaining opponents: Rice (0.1%), Louisiana Tech (75.1%) <0.1% bowl probability Current streak of 1 missed bowl game 24. Georgia Tech (4-6) Remaining opponents: Clemson (0.1%), Georgia (17%) <0.1% bowl probability Current streak of 1 made bowl game
  11. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #15 - TNF

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

    [2022] BOFA Presents: The Bowl Limbo Report

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

    [2022] Week #14 - MNF

    Philly being able to keep the ball moving on the ground probably helped them sand away the clock with that lead. 29 carries for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns for the rushing committee. Their magic number to clinch the NFC East is now down to 1. Jacksonville's game at Indianapolis could very well have the playoffs riding on it.
  14. stormstopper

    [2022] Injured Reserve

    Chicago Bears activate OG Jamie Shank 6-6 287 6 UCLA [Run Blocking] [0] 82 from injured reserve
  15. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - 4 PM

    A missed extra point...
  16. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - Saturday Evening

    Stop me if you've heard this one before: Rice has won the C-USA West. It is their fifth C-USA Championship Game appearance in five years of the conference's existence; they have won their first four trips and will be significant or heavy favorites in trip number five.
  17. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - Saturday Night

    With UCLA's loss to Stanford, USC has won the Pac-12 South. It will be their fifth Pac-12 Championship Game appearance.
  18. Saturday Afternoon #19 Texas Tech (8-2) at Baylor (4-6) (+9.5) Baylor's backs are officially up against the wall, and there's a freight train headed right for where they're standing. Despite a 2-5 start, the Bears still have a shot to go bowling if they win their next two games; doing so, however, would require slowing down or stopping the incredibly productive Solomon McLaughlin. On paper, this is a great matchup for Baylor. There's so much talent in the front seven, particularly in the interior of the defense. Ezekiel Sewell doesn't put up a lot of stats but is capable of eating up multiple gaps. Thomas Morton and Garrett Powers are two of the most talented inside linebackers in the country. But that talent hasn't translated to statistical performance from the unit. Baylor's opponents average 11.6 yards per game more against the Bears than they do against the rest of their schedule. Morton has a solid 29 tackles, but his only explosive plays (defined as a recorded stat other than a tackle) have been one tackle for loss and one forced fumble. That's a better profile than Powers, though, who has still not yet made a statsheet after a promising freshman campaign. Baylor's performed better around the edges: Charles Brock has 7.5 sacks and 9 tackles for loss, and Zachary McHale's done a bit of everything with 30 tackles, 3 TFL, 2.0 sacks, an interception, a pass breakup, and a fumble forced and recovered. McLaughlin might be tempted to stay to the inside as much as possible unless his offensive line can trap Brock and McHale to the inside and allow him to bounce into space. And if he gets into space, he's gone: he's had at least a 25-yard carry seven times this season, he's had a 30-yard run in four consecutive games, and last week's win over Texas was marked by a dramatic 61-yard touchdown run. Explosive carries are how you get to a 6.1-yard average on an extreme workload. Baylor's safeties are the most vulnerable part of their defense, so if McLaughlin gets into the secondary then that's where "Baylor is a good matchup" breaks down entirely. What could keep Baylor in it is their offense against Texas Tech's defense, which is a sentence I didn't think I'd say even a few weeks ago--but quarterbacks like Christian Graham and Kyler Tackett showed that the defense can be beaten through the air. In order to do so, though, the quarterback has to stay upright. That's hard to do against Samir Sample (7.0 sacks, 13 TFL) and Curtis Jones (9.0 sacks, 4 TFL). Adding to the challenge is that Caleb Olmsted is not playing like Graham or Tackett; he's playing like a 58% passer with 13 touchdowns to 11 interceptions who has not been able to find Lamont Wilder outside of the red zone (31 receptions for 451 yards, 6 TD, 2 drops). Texas Tech isn't usually a defense that will punish you for poorly thrown passes, though: they have 5 interceptions this season, with linebacker Josh Poe Jr. leading the way with 3. They're much better at just putting an offense off schedule and forcing a punt. Given the inconsistencies of runningback Miles Street, it's not going to be as hard as it should be to put Baylor off schedule, which will play right into Texas Tech's hands. If Curtis Sheppard (or the mythical Lamont Wilder) has a big game, there's enough big-play potential to make things interesting--but I don't expect anything other than a Texas Tech win. #19 Texas Tech 31, Baylor 26 Kansas State (2-7) at #13 Oklahoma State (7-2) (-26) After a week 13 bye, both Oklahoma State and Kansas State will look to hit the ground running on the final three-week stretch of the regular season. For Kansas State, pride and future development are at stake with a bowl game out of reach. There are a lot of freshmen and sophomores on this team (Jermaine Jordan, Brendan Scherer, etc.) who have made their presence known this season, and the chance to unlock what they're capable of would pay dividends down the road. Oklahoma State, though, is sitting on a three-game winning streak and would have a chance to earn a rematch with TCU in the Big XII Championship Game if they win out down the stretch (and if Texas Tech loses a game). The Cowboys have won six straight matchups against the Wildcats, and there's no real reason to think that's going to change this time around. Not that they can take it for granted, of course, but if Oklahoma State wins then it'll be important to note how they win. The way Ian Baldwin plays in this one will matter, because he hasn't quite looked himself since the TCU game. Before that, he was completing 76.0% of his passes, averaging 304.0 yards per game, and cruising with 15 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Those numbers were likely unsustainable, but his last four have swung past where regression to the mean would take them: 59.0% through the air, an average of 223.3 yards per game, and 4 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. He hit at least 240 yards in each of the first five games; he has not exceeded 240 in his last four. But Kansas State has struggled against the pass in conference play. Big XII quarterbacks are completing over 70% of their passes against the Wildcats, averaging 229.5 yards per game with 12 touchdowns and zero interceptions. But even if Baldwin doesn't return to the numbers we were accustomed to seeing him put up in the first half of the season, Amral Brown exists. Seeing him go head-to-head with linebacker Brendan Scherer should be fascinating; Scherer has racked up 47 tackles, 8 for a loss--he's quickly become one of the best individual run defenders in the Big XII. Jonah Caruso also adds strength up the middle, and Shawn Reyes is an edge playmaker. But not only is Brown playing at such a high level with 138.9 yards per game and 18 touchdowns on 6.5 yards per carry, but his offensive line has been good at walling off the opponent's best defenders and leaving gaping holes for Brown to run through. And even if both Baldwin and Brown slow down, Oklahoma State's defense is allowing 14.0 points per game during their current winning streak. They have 3 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles (only 1 recovered by the defense), 2 interceptions, and a pass breakup in that time. This one will be about whether or not they can keep Julius Minnow contained, since Kansas State hasn't been very successful on the ground. Minnow's swan song has borne mixed results: 57.9% passing for 220.0 yards per game, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. If Jermaine Jordan and Jhonny Palacios can test the Oklahoma State safeties, maybe they have a chance. But that also requires one or both to be able to work against Sebastian Byrd. Oklahoma State's just more talented across the board, and they'll keep rolling with a fourth straight win. #13 Oklahoma State 41, Kansas State 13 West Virginia (5-5) at #6 Oklahoma (9-1) (-18) The first time these two teams met in Norman, Gary Baldacci's Mountaineers stunned the Sooners to effectively eliminate them in the 2014 Big XII North race. The last time these two teams met in Norman, Mohammed Foster's Mountaineers routed the Sooners 52-21, the second-largest defeat in Oklahoma's history and the most points they've ever given up. They've now split their 4 meetings in Norman, and the stakes on their rubber match are high, high, high before both teams play Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. Oklahoma's Big XII title hopes don't depend on this game (they can still clinch the second spot in the title game if they win Bedlam), but it would be tough for their playoff hopes to survive a loss. West Virginia's bowl hopes don't rest solely on this game, but a loss would mean next week's a win-or-go-home fight next week in Stillwater. Both of these teams are marked by outstanding play on defense. Three Big XII teams rank in the nation's top 25 in points allowed per game; these are two of them. That said, West Virginia's coming off of its two highest point totals allowed of the season: 45 against TCU, then 24 against Iowa State. Oklahoma also gave up 24 to Iowa State, but since then they've held their last four opponents to 3, 20, 3, and 20 points. (Does that mean West Virginia's due to only score 3?) You can't talk about Oklahoma defense without talking about Elijah Williams. The junior has intercepted a team-high 4 passes, broken up a Big XII-high 7 passes, and returned 3 of his picks for touchdowns. Every pass Martin Lake throws to Williams's side of the field is going to be dangerous, and Lake isn't the most cautious quarterback out there. He's completing 59.4% of his passes with 17 touchdowns to 8 interceptions and 223.9 passing yards per game. He's thrown a touchdown in every game this season, but he's thrown a pick against every opponent except for Marshall, Kansas State, and Iowa State. Between Bryce Madison and Joshua Burroughs, the West Virginia run game is too inconsistent to bail him out if he gets into a funk; instead, wide receiver Corey Easley has to be that outlet. Easley bounced back from a 27-yard performance against TCU to put up 85 yards on Iowa State--but Elijah Williams is the closest thing he's going to face to another Roman Blackmon, so another 27-yard day isn't out of the question. It's going to be tough for the Mountaineers to throw on the Sooners, but West Virginia is a tough run defense as well. They have 20 rushing tackles for loss split among four players--defensive tackle Riley Reardon leads the way with 7, but fellow defensive linemen Elvis Cornejo and Aaron Pagan join linebacker Nathan Wilks in making plays behind the line of scrimmage. Of course, they have to do that so that opponents don't have the luxury of taking home-run shots against their safeties on 2nd and short. They also have to keep up pressure on the quarterback so that they don't have time to take those deep shots. And they're going up against Eric Pope, who leads the Big XII in yards per completion at 13.3--the highest mark since Mohammed Foster in 2020. They have to contend with Lucas Dykes (16.0 yards per catch) and Rangi Salanoa (18.1 yards per catch), who have combined for 90 receptions for 1522 yards and 13 touchdowns. If Maurice White doesn't find room to run against this defense, Pope can still find his guys downfield and keep making plays happen like he has all season. Oklahoma can reliably stretch the field on offense; West Virginia can only sometimes do so. That's a difference-maker, and that's why I'm picking Oklahoma to take game 5 in Norman. #6 Oklahoma 28, West Virginia 17 Byes: #3 TCU (9-1), Texas (5-5)
  19. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - Saturday Afternoon

    Baylor isn't here to mess around. Olmsted and Sheppard were lethal. Sets up a winner-take-bowl matchup with Texas next week (though Texas can make a bowl with a win over either Baylor or Texas A&M). Spirited performances by Kansas State and West Virginia. Maurice White and Amral Brown just were too much to handle. West Virginia at Oklahoma State is now a must-win for both teams: a West Virginia win means a bowl bid, and an Oklahoma State win means that Bedlam will decide who plays TCU in the CCG.
  20. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - Saturday Morning

    Western Michigan has won the MAC West and will have a shot to win their third consecutive MAC championship.
  21. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - FNF

    Marshall's win means that for the first time in CFBHC history, we will not have a winless team in FBS football. Montana is the only remaining team at any level without a win.
  22. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - FNF

    Congratulations on Marshalling in a new era!
  23. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - TNF

    Last (probably last anyway) thing: this is my 69th win at Kansas.
  24. Scoreboard operators across the nation's most exciting conference were busy as bees in one of the highest-scoring weekends in Big XII history. Big XII teams averaged 35 points a game during week 13, which our Department of Obscure Statistics notes is the third-highest total in conference history (and the second-highest this season after week 4). Six of eight teams scored at least 31, four scored at least 35, two scored at least 49, and none scored fewer than 20. Some of the games were blowouts, some were shootouts, and some were in-between, but all kept their fans on the edge of their seats--so let's talk about the games. Thursday Night West Virginia 35, Iowa State 24 Ground for Ground: A week after handing the ball to Kofi McCullough 33 times, Iowa State went back to a more balanced (and in this case more effective) offense. Kofi McCullough picked up 109 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries, and Vaughn Sheppard had a positive effort with 160 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-19 passing. But despite one of Iowa State's best offensive efforts of the season against a very good West Virginia defense, the Mountaineers found that they were able to mirror Iowa State's greatest strength on the other side of the ball with the play of Bryce Madison and Joshua Burroughs. The duo combined for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns on 24 carries to snap a four-game streak of being held under 100 rushing yards and combining to outrush the run-heavy Cyclones. Lake of Fire: While the run game separated this offensive effort from the past several from the Mountaineers, West Virginia continued to get the base of its offense from the arm of Martin Lake. The first-year starter threw for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns and no interceptions on 20-of-35 passing, snapping a four-game streak in which he matched every passing touchdown with a pick and attaining his third-highest passing yardage total of the season (trailing his efforts against Marshall and Kansas State). Corey Easley looking more like his early-year self helped: the freshman's 85 yards exceeded his prior two games combined and was his most since week 7. But the standout receiver on the day was surprisingly Etena Catingub, whose 5 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown paved the way for West Virginia to keep the ball moving down the field and into the endzone. High-Pressure System: Iowa State's defense couldn't keep West Virginia contained, but at least this time it's hard to point to a lack of production on the defensive front as the cause. Taua Aloese recorded a tackle for loss and a sack (his first of the year), and Demetrius "Two-Way" Clay added his 7th rushing tackle for loss of the year to tie him for fourth among Big XII players. While Iowa State would love to see him show up in the receiving column, the fact that he's making an impact somewhere is encouraging to see. Next Up: Iowa State drops its eighth consecutive game to fall to 1-9 (0-7) on the season. They close this season out with Senior Night against Kansas on Thursday followed by a trip to Kansas State the following week. West Virginia snaps a three-game skid to improve to 5-5. Like the Cyclones, they'll also be taking on an entire state to close things out: they're at Oklahoma week 14 and at Oklahoma State week 15, needing one win to secure a bowl bid. Saturday Afternoon #6 Oklahoma 49, Baylor 20 Who Needs Offense: Just because Oklahoma doesn't have the ball at the start of the play doesn't mean they're not about to score. This is a team that's very capable of sensing an opening and striking decisively before the opponent understands that they're even in danger. Elijah Williams was Exhibit A, batting down one pass and intercepting another--and taking that one to the house for his third pick-six of the season. Ladarius McKinnon was another example, taking Baylor's first punt of the second half all the way back to the endzone to break the game wide-open for his second punt return touchdown of the season. The Sooners have scored eight non-offensive touchdowns this season--and counting. But We Have It Anyway: They also scored five offensive touchdowns, mainly because they're a talented and well-oiled machine that has too many redundant gears to meaningfully slow down without a top-tier defense to do so. Maurice White rushed for 122 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries, but that paled in comparison to the performance put on by quarterback Eric Pope. The junior threw for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns on 17-of-23 passing (plus 39 rushing yards on 6 carries), recording his third passer rating of 200 or better this season. He's thrown 6 touchdowns without a pick in the last two games. And when he gets into a rhythm, there's no stopping him: in every game where he's reached 200 yards through the air, he has not thrown a single interception. His season's been nothing short of spectacular. Bear Market: Baylor couldn't figure out a way to slow down the Sooner offense, nor could they find enough on their own end to match the mounting point total Oklahoma was putting up. Caleb Olmsted's characteristic inconsistency was on display, completing just 14-of-27 passes for 206 yards and matching his two touchdown passes with two interceptions. With just 88 yards on the ground, that wasn't going to be enough. Curtis Sheppard did what he could to stretch the field with 86 yards and a touchdown on 4 catches, but Lamont Wilder was held to 3 receptions and 45 yards or fewer for the fifth game in a row. Next Up: Baylor drops to 4-6 (3-4) after showing some life their previous two games. They will host Texas Tech for Senior Night needing a win to stay alive in the bowl hunt; they finish on the road at Texas the following week. Oklahoma improves to 9-1 (6-1) with their second straight 49-point effort. They're home for their final two games, with West Virginia on the docket first--but regardless of that result, they would clinch a Big XII Championship Game appearance if they beat Oklahoma State in week 16. #3 TCU 52, Kansas 35 Duel While the Sun is in the Sky: On a nice day in Fort Worth, with the temperature sitting at 69 degrees and the sun in full shine, spectators were treated to one of the great quarterback duels in the history of the nation's most exciting conference. Felix Luck was white-hot early, pacing TCU to a 24-7 halftime lead with a pair of first-half touchdown passes. But Christian Graham came out of the break with a rocket on his right shoulder, matching TCU score-for-score the rest of the way but ultimately unable to close the gap. Both quarterbacks found success going to their tight ends: Miguel Aguilera accounted for 127 yards and 2 touchdowns on 9 catches to edge out Jaime Bautista's 126 yards and 1 touchdown on 10 snags. Graham may have caught the Snitch (30-of-47 for 360 yards, 4 TD to Luck's 22-of-28 for 291 yards and 4 TD) but Luck came away with the win. It's the first time that two Big XII quarterbacks have thrown for 4 touchdown passes against each other in a conference game. Win One With the Gifford: The difference in this game, though, came on the ground. Kansas's run game has been lackluster all season, and Andre Black accounted for just 27 yards and a first-half touchdown on 9 carries. In comparison, Martin Gifford saw a lot of usage and made the most of it. On his 27 carries, he racked up 138 yards and 3 touchdowns including a lightning-quick 41-yard dash in the fourth quarter to stretch TCU's lead back to 17 points at 52-35. That touchdown not only sealed the game, but it was a record-setter for TCU as they broke the school single-game points record. Safety First: TCU has usually been able to dictate their games up front with a dominant front seven and an opportunistic secondary. This time around, though, it was their safeties who were all over the field to put out fires and force Kansas to at least have to keep working their way down the field. Strong safety Anthony Easter became the second Big XII player in the last three seasons to record at least 10 tackles in a game and also broke up a deep pass that was a sure touchdown otherwise. Free safety Ian Worley added another seven tackles to his tab. TCU still gave up its highest point total of the year--but without them, TCU's record-setting offensive day could have been for naught. Next Up: Kansas falls to 4-6 (2-5) and will have a losing record in conference play for the second time ever and the first time since 2016. They hit the road to face Iowa State and come home to play Kansas State next; they must win both to be bowl-eligible. TCU improves to 9-1 (8-0) and has wrapped up a bid in their fourth Big XII Championship Game in the last five years. They have a bye before hosting Army followed by Texas Tech to finish the year. Saturday Evening #18 Texas Tech 34, Texas 31 (OT) Tack Attack: Texas's last five games before this one had included two close losses, two blowout losses, and a too-close-for-comfort win over Kansas State. A win here would have been massive and would have secured bowl-eligibility, and Kyler Tackett was determined to make it happen. The consistently better-than-average (but rarely eye-popping) senior had one of his best games ever, completing 21-of-26 passes for a career-high 320 yards and 2 touchdowns while rushing for a third score. His passer rating of 209.5 is the second-highest of his career. That performance pushed Texas out to a 21-14 halftime lead in Lubbock, and a rushing score by Simeon Wells and a field goal by Devin Bollinger put them up 31-21 early in the fourth. But that's where the stone of Sisyphus went as high as it could go. Solomon Does It Again: There will come a day when the play of Solomon McLaughlin won't be awe-inspiring. Today was not that day. In a game where the Red Raiders needed everything they could possibly get out of their superstar, he provided it and then some. He carried the ball 28 times, racking up 192 yards and 3 touchdowns in the process. It's the sixth time he has gone for at least 192 yards in a single game, and the rest of the Big XII combined has done so twice since his freshman year. The biggest carry of them all came in the fourth quarter down 31-24 with less than 5 minutes to play. On 2nd-and-3 from his own 39, he took a handoff on a toss sweep, got the edge, slipped past a tackler on the sideline, then turned on the jets to take it to the house to tie it up and complete a rally from 10 down in the fourth quarter. The Little Things That Matter: In a lot of ways, this one came down to who executed better. Devon Braxton's interception of Donald Garrett was the only turnover of the day, but Texas went three-and-out as a result. Texas Tech was flagged for just 5 penalties worth 37 yards; Texas was charged with 10 penalties that cost them 88 yards. But nothing was more costly than Bollinger's field goal attempt in overtime. At that point, Texas Tech had scored 13 straight to take a 34-31 lead, and a field goal would extend the game. The Longhorns lined up for a 35-yarder, but a delay of game backed them up five yards to make it 40. Bollinger's kick might have been good from 35--but instead, it hit off the upright, then off the crossbar, and fell back onto the field no good. Ballgame, Texas Tech. Next Up: The Longhorns drop to 5-5 (4-4) and will get a bye before coming home to play Baylor followed by a road game at Texas A&M. They must win one to go bowling. Texas Tech improves to 8-2 (5-2) on Senior Night, matching last year's win total. They also have Baylor next (in Waco next week) before a bye that precedes a road trip to Fort Worth to close the season. Byes: Kansas State (2-7), #14 Oklahoma State (7-2)
  25. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #14 - TNF

    Before my hopefully-not-too-obnoxious-but-if-it-is-then-just-deal-with-it-or-scroll-down Christian Graham Is Good update, I want to highlight than Vaughn Sheppard's just had two of his four best games (by passer rating) consecutively. Back-to-back games over 60% with a touchdown and no interception. It's progress for him, and he's still capable of a whole lot more growth as an upperclassman. Could very easily be the next Clifford Wilcox. Christian Graham has now had 5 consecutive games with 300+ yards, 2+ touchdowns, no more than one interception, and 63% passing or better in every single game. In that span, he's thrown for 16 TD and 2 INT and now has rushed for his first touchdown. We averaged 19.67 points per game over our first six and are at 33.2 points per game in the last five. In fact, the points from just his touchdowns plus associated extra points in the last five games (119) exceed the total number of points we scored in the first six (118). Meanwhile, Jaime Bautista has now broken Hastin Rider's Big XII record for most single-season receiving yards by a tight end. He's up to 1108 now, which is the highest by a Kansas player not named Malcolm Davis. He is also the first Big XII tight end to record 10 touchdown catches in consecutive seasons (Steven Maloney did so in nonconsecutive seasons). Now it comes down to one game to determine if we're bowl-eligible. We're gonna get everything we can handle. We just need to keep playing our game (though preferably with better execution and/or gameplanning on defense) and a sixth straight bowl game is within grasp. Rock chalk.