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Everything posted by stormstopper

  1. Out of what's about to be 11 meetings with the Vikings, this will be the sixth to happen on Thursday Night Football (all in the last eight matchups). The Bears have won 5 straight in the series after the Vikings took 4 of the first 5. We are 4-1 against Minny on Thursday nights. All of Minnesota's wins in the series have come by multiple possessions but the Bears are 4-0 in one-possession games against the Vikings. As much as our defense is outperforming our offense, we won't win it with defense alone (as our first five games have demonstrated). We got a spark of life from the offense against New Orleans, but we have to build on that. Even without Merrill, Minnesota has some dudes at LB plus Smallwood. I've been exceptionally pleased with how our defensive front has played, but theirs is gonna bring it. Hopefully we'll keep the pressure high on D, The Unbreachable Hull or Alyn "Nevermore" Namath makes some plays on the ball, and things start to click for the three-headed backfield monster. In Ditka we trust.
  2. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - Saturday Afternoon

    This is more of what Texas has wanted to see on offense. Still kind of falling back into the zone where neither Tackett nor Wells is particularly explosive, but more often than not both are at least going to be good.
  3. At some point in time--nobody quite knows how or when--the Big XII became a running league. Most teams in the nation's most exciting conference have an elite, bell-cow tailback. Some of them also have elite quarterbacks, too, but 60% of the league has a player averaging at least 100 rushing yards a game and the league as a whole is averaging 118.9 yards per game on the ground. When a player as talented as Kofi McCullough is fifth in the conference in rushing yards, you're a running league. And in this week's edition of the Big XII slate, we see McCullough v. Maryland dueling Simeon Wells, Martin Gifford (306 yards, 5 TD) against Jaiden Givens (on a career-best stretch), and Amral Brown (431 yards, 6 TD) taking on an underrated Chris Fraser and a well-feared Hawaii offense. Without further ado, let's talk about the games. Saturday Afternoon Iowa State (1-2) at #23 Texas (3-0) (-11.5)* One day, Texas is going to play their second non-conference game of the year. This is not that day. The Longhorns look to hold onto their undefeated record at home against a capable but so far inconsistent Iowa State. The first item of note is that Kyler Tackett is slated to start once again over Lucas Beckwith after going 18-for-23 for 250 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception to push past West Virginia back in week 3. That's just 58 yards short of Beckwith's two-game total, and the TD/INT ratio is certainly improved over Beckwith's 1 score to 3 picks. Just as Texas hopes its quarterback situation improved with that move, Iowa State knows its quarterback situation is better than last year: Vaughn Sheppard has already matched his 4 touchdown passes that he threw as a freshman, and his passer rating of 128.8 is the highest by a Cyclone quarterback since Clifford Wilcox in 2019. What's been surprising is Sheppard's usage compared to runningback Kofi McCullough this year. Last year, Sheppard accounted for 38.5% of Iowa State's snaps used, 41.3% of the team's yards, and 21.1% of its touchdowns. This year, he's accounting for 57.6% of the snaps, 63.1% of the yards, and 57.1% of the touchdowns. When Sheppard plays well, that adds an extra dimension and forces defenses to consider how they're going to account for the pass. But when he doesn't, that takes away carries from McCullough while also introducing downside because Sheppard's thrown a pick in every game this season so far. That will be something to continue to watch going forward. Texas hasn't allowed more than 73 rushing yards in a game yet, but they have also held every quarterback they've faced below 60% through the air. You'd expect Texas's defense to stay on its game here. The offense is the question mark: they have yet to score more than 23 points in regulation this season. They've had two good games on the ground, and neither coincided with their one good game through the air. (That's also meant that their bad games through the air haven't coincided with their bad game on the ground). Simeon Wells is coming off of 97 yards on 23 carries and has actually missed out on paydirt in two of three games. But Iowa State's defense is coming off of its worst performance since 2020, and their interior run defense doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. I think this is a good chance for Wells to get used to taking handoffs from Tackett again, maybe see Tackett at least pretend to be a running threat, and use that to open up the pass. Iowa State keeps it close but Texas takes control by the end. #23 Texas 24, Iowa State 17 Saturday Evening #3 TCU (2-1) at Kansas State (2-1) (+23.5)* Primetime in Purple is next on the Big XII slate, as TCU seeks its fourth win in Manhattan and sixth win over Kansas State in as many tries. The epic near-miss of 2018 is no longer fresh in either team's mind, even if Kansas State did lead at the half in last year's matchup. TCU's talent advantage has been too much every time, no matter how punchy Kansas State's been. But the Wildcats still have the potential for punchiness, they're playing at home, and what do they have to lose at this point? I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that the most intriguing one-on-one matchup this game is going to be between Jermaine Jordan and Patrick Ross. Jordan is Kansas State's redshirt freshman slot receiver who happens to be third in the Big XII in receiving yards with 310 (he was second entering the week). Ross is TCU's true freshman nickel corner, who recorded his first career interception against Eric McLean in week 2. TCU's pass defense is stellar, but if that connection works out then that's a foothold Kansas State's offense can use. It's certainly a better bet than a pretty good receiver like Jhonny Palacios going up against an elite corner like Roman Blackmon. Kansas State will also need Jaiden Givens (280 yards and 2 TD on 58 carries) to find room against an implacable TCU defensive front, which would feel like a less daunting task if his only career 100-yard game came against someone other than Liberty. At the very least Givens has hit 5.0 yards per carry twice in three games this season, right? I haven't even mentioned Julius Minnow yet. He's coming off of a career game against Liberty, but it's easy to expect him to look more like his much less exciting first two games of the season when all his weapons are overmatched. So this is an uphill task for Kansas State's offense. And their defense can't be enjoying the film review from TCU's rout of Iowa State: the Horned Frogs showed they could make an impact through the air (300 yards, 3 TD) and on the ground (167 yards, 3 more TD). If there's one area where TCU's offense has cause for concern, it's their offensive line against a Kansas State defensive front that has Jonah Caruso and Brendan Scherer. The Wildcats' edge rush isn't much to write home about; they're very much an interior pressure defense. They also tend to cover well, with 5 interceptions total and at least one pick in each game. But Finn Nielsen, Griffin McHanna, F.T. Grady, and tight end Miguel Aguilera are more numerous and more talented than Kansas State is prepared to cover, and TCU's probably going to try and probe Kansas State's run defense to see if Martin Gifford can repeat the performance he had against Iowa State. TCU still has several high-quality offensive linemen, and they're not going to get pushed around by just Caruso and Scherer. TCU matches up well just about everywhere, and I expect them to roll on through here. #3 TCU 38, Kansas State 20 Saturday Night #12 Oklahoma State (2-1) at #16 Hawaii (3-0) (+7) Coming off of a game where Oklahoma State gave up 275 rushing yards, 4 rushing touchdowns, and 38 points on the road in their first loss of the season, there's no better antidote to the run defense blues than an offense that...averages 191.0 rushing yards, 2.3 rushing touchdowns, and 39.3 points per game on the road. We'll talk about J.T. Youngblood in a moment, but the degree to which runningback Chris Fraser opens up the Rainbow Warrior offense is astounding. He collected 1,071 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in the regular season last year, which sure isn't bad but sure isn't eye-popping. This year, Fraser has already accounted for 428 yards and 5 scores on the ground. Youngblood's added 145 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. And because you have to account for both of them and help out in the box, that leaves opposing defenses exposed to perimeter burners Lahahana Mulinu'u and Micah Kaufman. Mulinu'u already has 285 yards and 2 touchdown catches while Kaufman's added 202 yards and another 2 scores. And in large part because of all the talent Hawaii has at the non-quarterback skill positions, Youngblood's been able to shine his brightest. 55-of-78 (70.5%) for 833 yards, 7 touchdowns, and 1 interception in 3 games? How many teams wouldn't be thrilled to have that? Those are all reasons Hawaii's offense is 9th in the country in scoring, 8th when adjusting for opponents. And Oklahoma State has to stop them, which is a task that is going to depend even more on the defensive line than usual. Hawaii's main offensive weakness is their offensive line, so having Amir Pryor and Kahoni Vaaelua tie up blockers and expose the Hawaii backfield to pursuit would go a long way. I worry about Oklahoma State's safeties given the sheer speed of the Hawaii offense; the big play was a problem against Texas Tech and could be a problem here. I want to add an optimistic note, but there's not really a matchup on that side of the ball I like for the Cowboys. But I also don't think Hawaii's defense should be eager to take on Amral Brown, let alone the rest of the Oklahoma State offense. Hawaii's defensive front is Ian Bentley and not much else--though Bentley has already scored 2 defensive touchdowns this year, so havoc has a way of finding him. Their secondary is legit, with Oregon native Brian Bonds leading the way from the cornerback spot. Their safeties are a work in progress but still better than most everybody in the front seven. Expect Oklahoma State to throw a decent amount because passing is winning in modern college football, but it's going to be more important to establish the run and make Hawaii prove that they can stop it. The Big XII is apparently a running league now. As much as I believe in Oklahoma State, I just have a bad feeling about this one. The Cowboys put up 31 on Texas Tech but couldn't slow down the Red Raider offense. Texas Tech may have had the transcendent talent, but this Hawaii offense is multidimensional and J.T. Youngblood's about as good as they get at quarterback. The defense is opportunistic and has the kind of secondary that can give Ian Baldwin fits. I think Hawaii pulls the upset. #16 Hawaii 34, #12 Oklahoma State 30 Byes: #4 Oklahoma (3-0), West Virginia (1-2), Baylor (1-2), #20 Texas Tech (3-0)
  4. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - TNF

    *flags for unsportsmanlike conduct*
  5. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - TNF

    Christian Graham is now T-10th on the Big XII career passing touchdowns list with 57 (tied with Big Game Bobby Price). His completion percentage would be in the 66% range instead of the 63% range if it weren't for the 27 drops we've had recorded in the past three seasons (almost all of which were in 2021 and 2022).
  6. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - Thursday 8 PM

    And they probably don't have any idea what he wants given their lack of re-signing attempts, so a transition/franchise tag seems almost inevitable.
  7. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - TNF

    I count five such occasions in the Big XII using those specific parameters since OL ratings began being reported in 2016. 2016 week 1 Northwestern (6.6) over Kansas State (8.1), 24-14 2016 week 1 Arizona (7.0) over Oklahoma State (8.3), 21-6 2019 week 4 Oklahoma (6.5) over Iowa (8.3), 20-10 2021 week 2 Texas (5.4) over Houston (6.9), 41-31 2021 week 15 Oklahoma (5.6) over Texas Tech (6.9), 27-16 I find that in conference games only, the Big XII team with the higher OL rating by any margin is 196-39 (.834)...which is obviously full of confounding variables such as the fact that a team with a better OL is also likely to have recruited well at other positions too, but still.
  8. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - TNF

    Definitely got away with one there. Goodness gracious, we have issues, but a win is a win and it counts toward the 6 we need for a bowl game.
  9. Thursday Night North Texas (0-3) at Kansas (0-3) (-20.5) Kansas kicks off the week in the nation's most exciting conference with a chance to become the last Big XII team to get off the schneid against equally winless North Texas. A week after an offensive breakout and a defensive breakdown in a 52-28 loss to Oklahoma, the Jayhawks need this to be a "get-right" game against an overmatched opponent. To do so, they need their defensive line to be at its best. That wasn't at all the case when Maurice White and Eric Pope were busy running for 228 yards and 3 touchdowns. North Texas doesn't have a Maurice White, but Ali Hoffman is no kind of scrub. He's coming off of a 109-yard game against UTEP on 23 carries. Quarterback Elias Noble has struggled (44-80 for 494 yards, 3 TD, 6 INT), but North Texas's wide receivers are deeper than Kansas's defensive backs, so putting Noble under pressure and forcing him into mistakes will be important. On offense, Kansas hopes to play a much cleaner game than they've played so far this season. Christian Graham's thrown 5 interceptions in 3 games this year. He threw two picks against Oklahoma, albeit with 4 touchdown passes to offset them. He's almost certainly watched tape of Eugene Salas's 460-yard, 4-touchdown annihilation of the Mean Green defense back in week 1, but the Jayhawk receiver corps certainly doesn't have anyone as impressive as Roscoe Bishop (who had 17 catches for 259 yards and 3 touchdowns). Instead, tight end Jaime Bautista has had the lion's share of Graham's targets and is coming off of 9 catches for 135 yards and 2 scores in the Oklahoma game. The player to look out for on North Texas's defense is sophomore edge-rushing linebacker Joseph Nugent, who had 4 tackles and 1.5 sacks against Coastal Carolina but has been quiet otherwise. Kansas's offensive line is still a work in progress, so keeping Nugent out of the backfield will be a challenge. If they're up to that challenge, though, that keeps Graham's pocket clean and gives him time to deliver on-time and on-target. If they're up to that challenge, maybe that pops open enough running lanes for Andre Black to avoid a 4th consecutive near-zero impact game. Black is averaging 2.2 yards per carry and 20 yards per game so far, which is a threshold so low that some Kansas fans might even be nostalgic for the days of Paul Gibbs. Basically any impact from someone not named Graham or Bautista would be a welcome sight for the Jayhawks. I expect Kansas to be in the win column when the evening is done, but how they play will matter almost as much as the result itself. Kansas 33, North Texas 10
  10. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - Thursday 4 PM

    There's the Adrian Robinson that Dallas has been looking for. Well, other than another lost fumble. But progress!
  11. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #5 - Thursday 1 PM

    Oklahoma had one against Missouri last week.
  12. Big performances by premier players led the way across the nation's most exciting conference this week, but the show-stopping, attention-grabbing, head-turning feat of the week was Texas Tech's 38-31 upset of then-#5 Oklahoma State in Lubbock, led by 170 rushing yards from Solomon McLaughlin and another 105 from Hayden Dyer. This win is a huge jolt to a program that has not been to a Big XII Championship Game since 2015, as well as a margin-cutting blow to an Oklahoma State team now on thin ice. Elsewhere, Baylor pulled away late to earn its first win of the year over Western Kentucky, West Virginia took out its frustrations on Marshall in a shutout win, TCU put a hurting on Iowa State, and Oklahoma put a hurting on Kansas. So without further ado, let's talk about the games. Thursday Night Baylor 30, Western Kentucky 14 Streets Ahead: The last several months have been a struggle for Miles Street, and consequently a struggle for the Baylor offense. The sophomore was averaging 37.8 rushing yards per game over his last five, without a single carry of 10 yards or longer in that span or a single game with more than 60 yards on the ground. He burst through all of those marks with room to spare against the Hilltoppers, finishing with 117 yards and a 19-yard touchdown run on 24 carries. The yardage is the third-highest total of his career (and just 5 yards short of the career-high he set against Arizona immediately before his slump), and his 4.88 yards per carry are the 4th-most he's put up in a single game. Slow and 'Steddy: As a result, Baylor's offense as a whole opened up, and the beneficiaries were largely Caleb Olmsted and Lamont Wilder. Olmsted completed 19 of his 24 passes, which matches his best career completion percentage--that was set during the aforementioned Arizona game last year. He threw for 252 yards, 95 of which went to the senior Wilder. It's Wilder's fifth straight game (and sixth out of seven) with a touchdown catch, but the yardage output is his highest since...any guesses? Yes, the Arizona game last year. Wilder was the primary target for Olmsted, but freshmen Maleek Abioye-Afua also caught 6 passes for 54 yards and a touchdown. Olmsted's only real blemish was a third-quarter interception that set up a touchdown for Western Kentucky. Sent Back East: Although Baylor ultimately more than doubled their foes, this game was close entering the fourth quarter. That's when Baylor's defense took over, and defense led to offense. Riley West was under siege all day. Charles Brock had 2.5 of Baylor's 4 team sacks, and West just couldn't find an open receiver (outside of Parker Tripp, sometimes) if he were given a map with an X on it. He completed just 23 of 49 passes for 221 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 back-breaking fourth-quarter interceptions--one to William Travis and one to Vincent Perkins. That allowed the Bears to turn a 16-14 lead into a 30-14 rout and Baylor's first win of the season. Next Up: Baylor becomes the first Big XII team to complete its non-conference schedule with the win. Now, they get a bye before a pair of road games against Kansas State and Oklahoma State to open conference play. Friday Night West Virginia 41, Marshall 0 Fast Start: After 13 losses in 15 games, a team can respond to a winnable game in one of two ways. Some teams get the jitters, overthink it, and keep an inferior team in the game far longer than they should. West Virginia was on the other end of the scale entirely. Their eyes lit up like embers of burning coal, and they went fast and furious on Marshall. The Mountaineers led 17-0 after the first quarter, and doubled the lead to 34-0 by halftime. That 34-point halftime lead is the largest in West Virginia history, and only the fact that they took their foot off the gas to run the clock stopped this from being a far worse blowout than it could have been. West Virginia could have named its score, and the 41 points they reached was their highest total since the 2020 Big XII Championship Game against TCU. Jawbreakers: Marshall apparently seems insistent on running a smashmouth offense. Against West Virginia's front seven, that proved to be a grievous error. The Thundering Herd ran the ball 33 times, netting a mere 128 yards and losing a pair of fumbles. The Mountaineers recorded at least 8 rushing tackles for loss (and Aaron Pagan managed a sack on one of Marc Sargent's few dropbacks). The defense held Marshall to just 1-of-9 on third down, and the closest the Herd would get to scoring was a missed 52-yard field goal attempt by Albert McGinnis. The shutout win was West Virginia's third shutout win and their first since 2015, and they recorded their largest-ever margin of victory in a shutout to boot. The Four Newcomers: The two most important playmakers for the West Virginia offense so far are Martin Lake and Corey Easley. Lake has been reliable so far, throwing for 2 touchdown passes in every game, but he had by far the best game of his young Mountaineer career to date: 367 yards on 25-30 passing, 2 touchdowns, and the fifth-highest single-game passer rating by a West Virginia quarterback ever. Corey Easley's continued to be sensational, and his 180-yard game ensured that he would be well ahead of the pack on the Big XII receiving yardage leaderboard with 381 through 3 games. On top of that, though, two freshmen who didn't make much of an impact in games 1 and 2 had their breakouts on Friday night. Bryce Madison had a career-high 116 rushing yards and a touchdown, and Christian Nash had 6 receptions for 97 yards (both marks are also career-highs) and a touchdown. Madison and Nash's respective yardages were each more than they'd collected their first two games combined. And once the pair can find its consistency, this offense gets even more dangerous. Next Up: West Virginia is on bye for week 5, after which they'll take on Kansas in Lawrence for their first conference game of the season. Saturday Afternoon #4 TCU 45, Iowa State 16 Perfectly Balanced, As All Things Should Be: Ever since Bradley Cooley graduated from TCU, finding an identity as a balanced offense has been one of the main obstacles along the Horned Frogs' rise to the ranks of the elite. If this game is any indication, that balance has been achieved. Felix Luck threw for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns on a ruthlessly efficient 23-of-29 through the air. But the breakout effort came from runningback Martin Gifford, who tore up the turf to the tune of 167 yards and 3 scores on 25 carries. The last time a TCU tailback ran for that many yards in a game? The Pinstripe Bowl all the way back in 2017, when Bradley Cooley put up 180. And the last time a TCU player ran for 3 scores in a game? Cooley again, in week 5 of the same season. Gifford is the first TCU player ever to do both in the same game, and if he stays this much of a threat on the ground then TCU truly has everything in their arsenal. Growing Apart: TCU has never lost to Iowa State and it was a longshot that this would become the first exception. However, the margin of victory was the largest in the series's history, topping the record set last season. That's a stark change from six straight meetings that were all decided in TCU's favor by 7 points or fewer, and it reflects the wildly different directions the two programs have taken since TCU's first Big XII Championship Game appearance the year that Iowa State made their run to the playoffs. While Iowa State has young talent that can help them catch up, they looked fully overmatched this time around. I Shall Want: One week after his breakout performance against Iowa, Vaughn Sheppard came back down to earth. He attempted a career-high 32 passes (partially because Iowa State fell behind early and needed to throw to even have a prayer of catching up), but only completed 16 for 156 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. With Kofi McCullough getting the ball just 12 times (for 55 yards), Iowa State's offense found itself needing much more than Sheppard was able to give. He finished the day with a passer rating of 95.01, snapping a streak of 5 straight games at 115.5 or better. Clay Watch: Periodically, we're going to check in on Iowa State freshman Demetrius Clay, who is starting for the Cyclones at both tight end and defensive end. His first game saw him record a receiving touchdown on offense and a sack on defense. He hasn't been a big part of the downfield game since then, failing to make a receiving statsheet in the past two games. However, he did make an impact on defense as the team's second-leading tackler with 5 tackles for the day (Amadou Weston led with 6, one of which was for loss). Next Up: Iowa State stays in conference for their next game, as they head down to Austin to try to slow down the once-again-Kyler-Tackett-led Texas Longhorns. TCU also stays in conference and stays on the road for a purple-versus-purple fight with Kansas State. #6 Oklahoma 52, Kansas 28 Score and Remove All Doubt: The Kansas-Oklahoma series has often been characterized by an underdog Kansas finding a way to sneak one past a favored Oklahoma. The Sooners did not leave that door open in any way, shape, or form, taking a 21-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and never letting Kansas get any closer than two scores the entire rest of the way. They ran the ball effectively, with Maurice White and Eric Pope combining for 228 yards and 3 scores rushing. They threw it effectively, with Eric Pope connecting on seemingly everything he put in the air to the tune of 15-for-20 for 310 yards and 3 more touchdowns. And while the defense let up more in the second half, those points didn't start coming until long after this game was noncompetitive. The New All-Time Leading Rusher: One of Sterling Brown's many records has fallen. Brown's Big XII record of 5,239 career rushing yards is now the second-highest total in conference history as Maurice White finished the day with 5,325 career yards on the ground. White's 54 touchdowns rank 4th in league history after Brown, Arturo Pacheco, and Solomon McLaughlin. He also became the first-ever Big XII player to hit 1000 career carries; he now sits at 1,015. Home on the Rangi: 5-foot-9 speed demon Rangi Salanoa set a career high two weeks ago when he accounted for 73 receiving yards against Boise State. He blew that mark out of the water pretty quickly against Kansas and set a Big XII record in the process. He only caught 5 passes on the day, and those happened to go for a full 185 yards and 2 long touchdowns. His yardage per catch has never been matched in a single game by another member of the nation's most exciting conference given a minimum of 3 catches (let alone 5). Kansas's defense had no answer for him. Finding Offense, Losing Defense: Nor did Kansas's defense have much answer for anything Oklahoma did, which spoiled their best offensive day of the season (by far). They yielded 52 points to the Sooners, which is a school record. They lost by 24, the largest margin in either direction in the history of the series. But despite the shellacking, at the very least the Jayhawks showed signs of life offensively despite some major schematic changes. Christian Graham threw for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns (but 2 more interceptions, bringing his total to 5 this year). Incidentally, this is his second career 4-touchdown game; the other was also against Oklahoma in Norman two years ago. However, Graham to Jaime Bautista (9 for 135 yards, 2 TD) was essentially all the offense Kansas could find, and finding a way to diversify will be important if they want to sustain any kind of offensive momentum. Next Up: Kansas will try to snap their longest season-opening losing streak since 2016 with a home game against North Texas (and if they can't win that, it's time to panic). Oklahoma gets some rest before heading down to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech, who we'll talk more about momentarily. Saturday Evening Texas Tech 38, #5 Oklahoma State 31 Flying Colors: The first major upset win of the Big XII season belongs to the Red Raiders. Tested with a defense that smothered the run (and the pass) last year, a defense that knew exactly what Texas Tech was going to bring to the table, they still passed the test with flying colors--and by that, I mean their red and black were flying right past the Cowboy defense. Solomon McLaughlin was held to his lowest rushing yardage of the season--by which I mean he picked up 170 yards instead of 179 or last week's 307. He also scored 3 rushing touchdowns, meaning he's already at 656 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground just 3 games into the season. As if that weren't enough, Hayden Dyer turned the rushing effort into a one-two punch. Last season ended prematurely with a torn ACL, but Dyer showed that he's still got plenty of athleticism remaining with 105 yards and a 56-yard rushing touchdown on just 7 carries for the day to complement McLaughlin. Add in that Donald Garrett threw for a touchdown without a turnover, and that's a full day for Texas Tech's offense. Pincers: But the Red Raider defense also should get its due for coming through when it had to. Mind you, it didn't come through every time it could have (especially not in the fourth quarter), but pincer-like edge rushers Samir Sample and Curtis Jones combining for 3 sacks was huge. Junior nickel cornerback Chad Solomon coming up with his first interception since 2020 against Iowa State was huge. Holding Oklahoma State scoreless in the third quarter to allow the offense to build up the lead was huge. They'll still have plenty of film showing what they need to work on, but they managed one of the finest offenses in the country. Furious Finish: And even after Texas Tech built that third-quarter lead, Oklahoma State refused to go quietly. They scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and a lot of that was Ian Baldwin. The junior threw for 308 yards and 3 scores (with one pick) on 25-of-34 through the air, and that effort combined with the 105 yards (and a score) on 21 carries from Amral Brown ordinarily would have been enough to come out with the win. But Oklahoma State just couldn't get enough stops, and Texas Tech answered every Oklahoma State score with a corresponding touchdown to keep them at arm's length until the clock could hit all zeroes and the fans could rush the field. Implications: Texas Tech will likely take a leap into the polls, and Oklahoma State will take a hit. [Editor's note: Oklahoma State fell 7 spots to #12, and Texas Tech entered at #20.] More broadly, though, Oklahoma State has now become the second Big XII team to lose its margin for error in the playoff hunt. Unlike TCU, though, Oklahoma State's loss came in conference play--TCU could get in with two losses if they win the Big XII, but Oklahoma State would struggle to meet those conditions given that a second loss could jeopardize their ability to make the conference title game. Meanwhile, Texas Tech now has to be on the list of teams capable of winning the conference--and by extension, they're now on the periphery of the playoff radar. Lastly, a massive performance in a high-profile upset win will do wonders for Solomon McLaughlin's Heisman candidacy. Next Up: Oklahoma State immediately faces a trap game with a Saturday night road trip to take on Hawaii. They'll be favored, but there are no guarantees on the islands. Texas Tech, meanwhile, gets a bye before they square off with Maurice White in what ought to be the greatest runningback duel of the season (if not in the history of the conference). Byes: Kansas State (2-1), #24 Texas (3-0)
  13. Back when I was with the Browns, Cincinnati was always the opponent I most wanted to beat. All-time, the Bengals and Browns are 8-8 against each other, but that evenness of matchup is really more just mutual streakiness. Cincinnati won the first, then Cleveland won three straight. Cincinnati won 7 of 8 from 2016 to 2019, but the Browns have bounced back strong and are on an active 4-game winning streak in the series. Four games into the season, both defenses are in the top 10 in adjusted points allowed: the Bengals are holding opponents 6.66 points below their scoring averages, and the Browns are holding theirs 3.8 below. Cleveland's offense is scoring 2.67 more points per game than their opponents are allowing, and Cincinnati's only at 1.09 in that metric--both of those are in the middle tier of the league but still above the median. If you remove Cincinnati's Tommy Jones-led game against Kansas City, though, they improve to nearly +4.0 on offense and a league-best -9.5 on defense. Joel King's been on fire while Ryan Clark's struggled (not sure that the fans are calling for Jordan North yet buuuut); Ron Thomas has been doing well on about 12-13 carries per game while Sean Bell is second to only Kenyon Randall in rushing yardage this season. As others have said, this would be a great opportunity to gain a foothold in the wild card race. Right now, the Browns are projected at 10.2 wins (which would be good for the first wild card) and the Bengals at 9.45 wins (which is 0.24 wins off of the second wild card), and given that we're only four weeks in that's extremely volatile. In a vacuum, a Bengals win would put them into the top wild card spot by projection, whereas a Browns win would push their projection into the 10.8+ win range. GO BROWNS!
  14. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - MNF

    Two fumbles lost, three drops, four sacks allowed, and Tampa was still in this game until the fourth quarter. DeNorris Jackson still hasn't found the endzone yet This is their third straight game giving up 27+ though, and their only opponent they held below that mark was Denver (who they only held 3 points below their scoring average anyway). Panthers finally get a convincing win; I believe they were 1-2 and not 2-1 entering this game right? Lost to Las Vegas and Detroit? They've gotta love seeing a lotta yards from Latta, because he's who really opens up the offense for Skaggs and co. The NFC is wide open, so an early stomp like this is a good sign for them going forward.
  15. stormstopper

    [2022] Injured Reserve

    The Chicago Bears place: OLB Trevor Reed 5-11 223 5 Alabama [Coverage] [0] 85 on injured reserve. He suffered a severe ACL rupture in week 4 and is out for the season.
  16. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - 4 PM

    Orly? Yarly!
  17. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - Saturday Afternoon

    On the bright side, positive results on offense on a scheme change. Still a lot of kinks to work out, but night and day from where we were games 1 and 2. On the other hand, the defense got wallopped...
  18. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - Saturday Morning

    *Googles how to talk to my kids about an undefeated NC State*
  19. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - FNF

    This is West Virginia's largest-ever shutout win and their first shutout win since 2015. Previously, they beat Iowa State 21-0 and Texas Tech 14-0. It's their third-largest win of any kind; the only larger ones were 55-11 over Iowa State and 49-3 over TCU, both in the lategoing of the 2020 season. Martin Lake's 367 yards passing are the most by a West Virginia quarterback since Mohammed Foster's 484 against Baylor, also in the 2020 season. His passer rating of 208.1 was the fifth-highest in school history (Richmond King holds the school record), and it was the highest since Foster's 218.8 against Baylor, also in the 2020 season. Corey Easley's 180 yards receiving are the most by a West Virginia player since J.C. Weldon's 247, also against (you guessed it) Baylor in the 2020 season. Easley's 381 receiving yards are *already* 3rd by any West Virginia freshman. Todd Sykes (832) and Elias Langston (856) are the only ones ahead of him; on this pace, he would pass them both in 7 games. (For the uninitiated, Weldon's freshman year was spent at Marshall. His 4 receiving touchdowns are tied with Langston for second-most by a West Virginia freshman; the school record is 6 by Sykes. Easley's average of 127 receiving yards per game would be a Big XII freshman record if it holds up. First place belongs to Tai Miller, who averaged 119.9 receiving yards per game before he was brutally murdered by Ray Lee Coia injured on a freak play against TCU. The Big XII record for total receiving yards by a freshman belongs to Lamont Wilder at 1082; Easley's pace is for 1524.
  20. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #4 - FNF

    Rumor: the Patriots are already planning on how they can trade down to let the Dolphins draft Corey Easley.
  21. Now we start to get into the thick of things. A pair of intriguing non-conference matchups whet the appetite on Thursday and Friday for fans of the nation's most exciting conference, as Baylor looks for their first win of the year against Western Kentucky and West Virginia does the same against Marshall, both at home. Then on Saturday, conference play finally begins in earnest. TCU looks to continue its dominance over Iowa State, Kansas looks to find some new way to pull one over on Oklahoma, and Texas Tech and Solomon McLaughlin look to prove that they're for real as they host a juggernaut Oklahoma State offense. Every team comes in with something to prove, and every team's going to emerge with a road map through the forest as we close the first quarter of the season. So let's talk about the games. Thursday Night Western Kentucky (0-2) at Baylor (0-2) (-7) Neither Western Kentucky nor Baylor envisioned their season starting this way. When the dust settles on Thursday evening, one side will emerge with its first victory of the season and the other will have its tailspin extended for at least another game. Both teams have had issues crop up that need to be addressed--some expected, some unexpected. For Baylor, the play of sophomore backfield duo Caleb Olmsted and Miles Street hasn't been what they've needed. Olmsted has completed just 55.9% of his passes with 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions, and Street has carried the ball 25 times for 94 yards; in his past five games dating back to last year, Street has rushed for a total of 189 yards and 1 touchdown. (Solomon McLaughlin would call that a pretty good first half.) What's the best way to get traction? Square off against a defense that has had its own issues stopping the run. Western Kentucky gave up 216 yards on the ground to Hawaii in their opener and 130 more to Eastern Michigan week 2. Their defense is pretty strong up the middle, don't get me wrong: defensive tackle Felix Jennings is worthy of the legendary Jennings name, and mike linebacker Miles Freeman immediately draws comparisons to Alexander Hardison. But there are barbershops that set edges better than this defense, which is frankly more of a personnel issue than a coaching issue. The outside linebackers are freshmen and sophomores, and only one defensive end is an upperclassman. You should also look for Baylor to alternate between finding Lamont Wilder on the perimeter of the defense and looking for Wilder and true freshman slot receiver Curtis Sheppard confusing and misdirecting the defense across the middle. On defense, Baylor needs to focus on quarterback Riley West. The gunslinger who hurled 33 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions last year has been asked to shoulder most of the offense (Trevor Workman has rushed for 37 yards on 16 carries, so...) and the Hilltoppers have seen mixed results. He looked good in the first quarter against Eastern Michigan with two touchdown passes--then Western Kentucky failed to score a touchdown in the final 45 minutes as the Eagles turned a 14-7 deficit into a 34-20 win. West has thrown 3 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions, and he's also fumbled the ball once. The Hilltopper offensive line is an interesting matchup for Baylor's front seven because both are significantly stronger in the interior. Still, you'd expect Baylor to make their plays through the A- and B-gaps because Garrett Powers and Thomas Morton are a thing, and Zachary McHale around the edge is a difference-maker no matter what. Baylor's safeties haven't acquitted themselves well yet, but Western Kentucky doesn't have the receivers to challenge them deep. This really should be a Baylor win. If it isn't, then it'll be time to hit the panic button. But I like their chances of holding serve at home. Baylor 30, Western Kentucky 17 Friday Night Marshall (0-2) at West Virginia (0-2) (+1) Way back in 2017, Marshall was three things: a bowl team led by future NFLHC participant Rob Zeko (it's true! He threw three touchdown passes in three whole games!), a member of the American Athletic Conference, and an opponent on West Virginia's schedule. For the first time since West Virginia's 24-14 win five years ago, the Friends of Coal Bowl will be played again. Marshall's strategy has been hard to get a handle on through two games, mostly because their strategy for each game couldn't have been that much more different if they tried. In a week 2 thriller against Buffalo, the Thundering Herd got 212 total yards and 3 total touchdowns on 35 passes and 2 rushes from quarterback Brandon Adler, but a missed field goal by Albert McGinnis and a monster game from Buffalo's Denzel "Mama-who?" Porter fueled the Bulls' fourth-quarter comeback to win 29-28. But in round 2, Marshall turned to senior Marc Sargent at quarterback, only to have him hand the ball off to Cayden Gipson all day. Gipson put up 147 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, to his credit, but Marshall managed just 10 points. If Simeon Wells's performance against the Mountaineers last week is any indication, that might not be the approach to take--but honestly, who knows what they're going to do? Sargent is still this week's starter, so maybe that hints at another Gipson-focused game? West Virginia's defense is plenty talented and shouldn't really be worried about anyone on the Marshall offense but tight end Travis Pressley and center Shawn Cortez...the latter of whom is more talented against the pass rush than at getting downfield to wall off linebackers. But even if Marshall's offense catches West Virginia by surprise, can their defense get stops? So far, the answer's been no. Buffalo and Bowling Green have averaged more than 5.6 yards per carry against the Marshall defense. They've also completed more than 70% of their passes for 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Both of those offenses featured dual-threat quarterbacks, which is music to Martin Lake's ears. There's no one below the safety level who puts fear in your heart on the Marshall defense, though they'd likely upgrade significantly if redshirt freshman Milo Mize were starting. Watching wide receiver Corey Easley work against this secondary should be interesting. One-on-one, you'd take him against Alexander Henley. In traffic with Henley and safety Riley Goldberg converging? Well, you'd better hope Lake's delivery is accurate. Either way, I expect West Virginia to find a way to move the ball. Maybe Bryce Madison finds his footing, maybe Martin Lake tears it up, maybe Corey Easley makes it look easy. The books have West Virginia as a slight underdog, but I would be shocked if they lost this game. West Virginia 28, Marshall 13 Saturday Afternoon #4 TCU (1-1) at Iowa State (1-1) (+18.5)* One day, Lucy may let Charlie Brown kick the football. One day, peace may be achieved throughout humankind. One day, we may find out for sure one way or the other if there is other intelligent life out there in the rest of the universe (or in Chapel Hill). And one day, maybe Iowa State will beat TCU for the first time. There are five matchups in which one Big XII team has a perfect record against another Big XII team. Kansas State is on the wrong end of four of them, but TCU's 7-0 mastery of Iowa State is what's on the line on what should be a warm Saturday afternoon in Ames. These programs are run by two of the longest-tenured coaches in the Big XII and in the country, both of whom have seen their program moribund and both of whom have seen their program to the College Football Playoff. Their expectations for 2022 are far apart. TCU may be sated with another playoff appearance, but they won't be truly happy with much short of a national championship. Iowa State's just looking for a foothold right now, having posted a 5-21 record in their last 26 games. But if there's hope for the Cyclones, it comes in the form of last week's 24-20 win over Iowa--not just because it was their first P5 nonconference win since 2019, but also because the offense looked two-dimensional and the defense looked effective. That's something that needs to continue if they want to have a shot against the heavily favored TCU. If Kofi McCullough tries to run into the teeth of this TCU defense, he's not going to make it past this defensive line (and that's assuming the line doesn't just plug up the gaps and let TCU's elite linebackers flood through to handle him). They still need McCullough to grind out yards, maybe break out an explosive play or two, if only so that the offense has room to breathe. And they definitely need Vaughn Sheppard to make a positive impact as he did against Iowa. The main problem is that doing so would require Iowa State's offensive line to put up any kind of challenge against the TCU front, and Iowa State's offensive line is particularly bad. On the flipside, Iowa State's defense might have an interesting matchup against the TCU line. They're probably not expecting the defensive line to win the battle outright (maybe Savion Pryor lined up against Hayden Breaux, certainly not Demetrius Clay against Tyson Chadwick), but they have playmakers at linebacker and they're not afraid to use them. Paul "Baby Bear" Bryant is the only Big XII player who's already recorded a sack and either a pass breakup or interception this year, so expect the Cyclones to keep using him in both facets. If they can't get a pass rush from the whole of this front seven, though, then TCU's going to feast on the perimeter. Finn Nielsen on the outside, Griffin McHanna on screen passes getting some space, F.T. Grady crossing over the middle of the field, tight end Miguel Aguilera poking holes wherever he can--is this something a thin Iowa State cornerback corps can handle? Strong safety Laurent Daniel can't be everywhere at once, you know. Felix Luck has too many options for Iowa State to handle, and even if TCU's offense slows down the defense won't. Lucy isn't letting Charlie Brown kick it this weekend. #4 TCU 33, Iowa State 10 Kansas (0-2) at #6 Oklahoma (2-0) (-5.5)* There are three programs Oklahoma has a sub-.500 record against with at least two games in the books. They're 0-2 against Auburn, 1-2 against Florida State, and 2-6 against the Kansas Jayhawks that they host on Saturday. Of course, there's very good reason to believe it's Oklahoma's turn to notch a third win in the series. It's not just the fact that Kansas has never won three straight against Oklahoma and is already riding a two-game winning streak. It's more the fact that Oklahoma has looked good in a demolition of Boise State and a three-phase win over Missouri, while Kansas has struggled mightily on offense in an 0-2 start. The Transitive Property of Football would suggest a 19-point win for Oklahoma, but I suppose we should provide actual analysis rather than lean on that. The first and biggest question: what will Kansas do to try and put some points on the board? Christian Graham's been asked to shoulder a lot of the load, and the results haven't been pretty: 50% passing, 3 touchdowns to 3 interceptions, and a passer rating of 97.6. Without a reliable running game (Andre Black has 24 yards on 16 carries) and without reliable receivers beyond tight end Jaime Bautista, Graham's been spinning his wheels. It's rumored that the Jayhawks will be making some significant changes this week, but implementing that is often just as difficult as struggling through an ill-fitting plan in the first place. They have to hope their interior line can hold up against David Kaiser and Jeremiah Melvin, who have combined for 4 sacks and 4 tackles for loss in two games, because those two will swallow up the run game otherwise and you can bet Oklahoma will have someone all over Bautista at all times to close off Graham's only pressure safety valve. Kansas probably isn't winning any one-on-one matchups on the edge and probably isn't going to see much success downfield. So as long as Oklahoma holds serve there, the Sooners just need enough offense to get by. Against Missouri, Maurice White was the source of that offense. He rushed for 164 yards on 25 carries after rushing for 160 on 23 carries in the Boise State game; in each game, he found the endzone twice. To spring him loose, Oklahoma's offensive line will have to hold off Kansas's defensive line led by Jamari Callahan and wall off an improved (but still shaky) linebacker corps. If White maintains that level of production, Oklahoma will win. If not, then they're probably still favored but it would help if Eric Pope looks like Game 1 Eric Pope (where he threw for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns) and not Game 2 Eric Pope (where he completed 10 of 19 passes and got picked off twice). Look for a lot of Lucas Dykes in this one; he's got 3 inches and 62 pounds on Javier Blount, so you'd expect him to win the muscle battle on those one-on-one matchups. Rangi Salanoa remains a deep threat, but Kansas's safeties ought to keep vertical threats more contained. Still, I think Pope will bounce back and be the spark Oklahoma needs, I think White will be productive even if it's not 160-yard productive, and the Oklahoma defense is going to be too much for the Kansas offense. It seems like I always take Oklahoma in this game, but they really ought to win this one going away. #6 Oklahoma 27, Kansas 10 Saturday Evening #5 Oklahoma State (2-0) at Texas Tech (2-0) (+13.5)* The Big XII is blessed with a number of incredible runningbacks, with NFL scouts absolutely salivating over no less than half the starting tailbacks in the conference. Capping off the night, we'll see one of the most hotly anticipated showdowns in the country as the nation's best runningback takes on the most intriguing newcomer at the position in primetime. Solomon McLaughlin has already rushed for 486 yards and 7 touchdowns in just two games this year (both of which lead the Big XII despite Simeon Wells and Jaiden Givens having had an extra game), and he's coming off of a Big XII-record 307 rushing yards against South Alabama. His offensive line is better than ever and tailored to his strengths, and McLaughlin's just been breaking off chunk play after chunk play so far. Oklahoma State's defense has its work cut out for it--and more specifically, Amir Pryor has his work cut out for him. The 6-6, 312-pound defensive tackle hasn't recorded any stats this year so far, but he had 3.5 sacks and 5 rushing tackles for loss last year; they'll need him to get a handle on the Texas Tech interior line to clog up the holes up the middle that McLaughlin loves to exploit. If they can't hold strong at the point of attack, things start to get relatively (but not absolutely) iffy when the linebackers and safeties have to be the ones making the plays. The Cowboys have yet to record a rushing tackle for loss this year, relying more on their secondary against pass-heavy opponents. In the meantime, Texas Tech's defense will be tested against the most well-rounded offense it's faced so far. Amral Brown has been a bowling ball of terror, rushing for 326 yards and 5 touchdowns on 50 carries, which are really good numbers when you're not comparing them to McLaughlin. He's also a power runner, he's shown excellent vision and decisiveness, and he's picked up steady chunks of yardage even if he hasn't taken the top off of a defense. But coming into this season, he was viewed as the complementary threat to Ian Baldwin, who is himself having a whale of a season. Baldwin has completed 46 of 57 passes (80.7%) that he's thrown this season, gaining 536 yards with 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. Samuel Barfield has been his favorite target so far, with 14 catches for 202 yards and 2 scores from the flanker spot. Jeremy Bridges is the main other field-stretching threat, but Albert Wenzel and Misael Farias have each caught a touchdown pass as well. Texas Tech has a secondary that should actually be able to hang with them, but what will make or break their defensive effort is the pass rush. The twin pincers of Samir Sample and Curtis Jones should give any quarterback happy feet. They've already combined for 4 sacks and 6 rushing tackles for loss. Despite that, they still gave up 29 to South Alabama as Rafael Higgins accounted for 4 touchdowns. That's a week after taking care of Temple and shutting down their passing attack. I'm not quite sure I have a good read on this defense yet, but I think Oklahoma State's offense will find some way to get to work on it. And while I expect McLaughlin to get his due, Oklahoma State's capable of containing the damage, maybe forcing a turnover or two, and grinding out a win on the road. #5 Oklahoma State 23, Texas Tech 16 Byes: Kansas State (2-1), #24 Texas (3-0)
  22. Week 3 is in the books, and 60% of non-conference play is in the rear-view mirror. While there are still 12 non-league games remaining, they'll be scattered throughout the remainder of the schedule as the round robin battle royale of the nation's most exciting conference kicks into gear. Now is one last opportunity to take stock of where everybody's at, what everybody's doing well, and what everybody needs to improve on as we transition into the next phase of the season--so let's talk about the games! (Thanks so much to @smckenz3 for holding down the fort!) Friday Night South Carolina 31, Baylor 19 Kenny Kick It (Yes He Can): Explosive plays on the ground were the driving factor in South Carolina's win on Friday night. They were led by Kenny Ames, who put up 185 yards on just 23 carries and found paydirt three times--including a 60-yard rush. Quarterback Aidan Peters added 43 yards on 7 carries for himself, meaning the Gamecocks as a team averaged over 7 yards a pop for the game on the ground. It's not like Baylor was dominated up front, though. They got good penetration and had 4 rushing tackles for loss combined from Charles Brock and Ezekiel Sewell--it's just that when they didn't make the initial stop, they were liable to give up massive gains. Red Zone Danger Zone: And explosive plays were a problem on the other end: namely, Baylor lacked them and found themselves stalled out in the red zone too often. After trailing 21-3 at the half, they kicked field goals from the 3-yard line and the 12-yard line in the third quarter and kicked another one from the 19-yard line in the fourth. Turn those red zone field goals into touchdowns, and you're looking at 12 potential extra points in a game that was decided by exactly 12 points. Baylor couldn't muster more than 9 yards on any single run and averaged just 10.9 yards per completion, however, and being unable to take the top off a defense means they can afford to go bend-don't-break as South Carolina did. Sophomore Slump: Two games in, and sophomore backfield duo Caleb Olmsted and Miles Street are both still looking for the flashes of brilliance they displayed at the beginning of last season. Olmsted completed 60.4% of his passes last year with 23 touchdowns and 9 interceptions; this year, he's at 55.9% passing with 3 scores and 3 picks in his first 68 attempts. His 108.2 passer rating on Friday was the third-worst single-game mark of his career and just his second-ever game with more interceptions than touchdowns. His completion percentage of 57.6%, however, is the best it's been in his last five games dating back to last season--but even that's still below his career average. Street, meanwhile, finished with 60 yards on 15 carries--and both of those marks (as well as his 4.0 yards per carry) are his best in his last five games as well, which is itself a problem. He has not had a carry go for 10 yards or more in that span. Getting these two back on track will be paramount if Baylor wants to right the ship. Next Up: Baylor closes its nonconference slate at home against Western Kentucky, who was beaten soundly by Hawaii and Eastern Michigan in their first two games. The Hilltoppers can't be looking forward to facing another green team. Iowa State 24, Iowa 20 I Shall Not Want: Fourteen games into his tenure as the Iowa State starting quarterback, Vaughn Sheppard has arrived. Prior to this game, his career highs were 13 completions, 25 attempts, 146 yards, 1 touchdown, 66.7% passing, 8.0 yards per attempt, and a 155.9 passer rating. He tied his mark for pass attempts and shattered his personal record everywhere else across the board with his 19-of-25, 267-yard, 2-touchdown, 1-interception performance that produced a 184.1 passer rating. It's the highest single-game passer rating by any Iowa State quarterback since Clifford Wilcox in the 2019 Liberty Bowl against Georgia State, and if Sheppard can maintain anything even remotely close then Iowa State's offense has a whole extra dimension to play with. Hands Team: Sheppard's counterpart, Otto Kirkland, didn't have nearly as much fun on Friday. He completed 51.4% of his passes, but he could have been closer to 65.7% if it weren't for the active hands of the Iowa State defense. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Ian Johnson recorded his second career interception, which also happens to be his second in as many games. Redshirt sophomore free safety Antoine Spivey hauled in his first career pick. And even when the Cyclones weren't forcing turnovers, they were batting down passes like one would batten down the hatches--most notably, Paul "Baby Bear' Bryant had 2 passes defended and a sack while strong safety Laurent Daniel added another pass defended with a tackle for loss. Don't Forget Kofi: Star runningback Kofi McCullough was almost--not quite, just almost--an afterthought despite picking up 138 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. But what was noticeable in this game was a level of patience and vision that he didn't show so often his freshman year. Last year, there were moments where he would have gaping maws to run through thanks to the offensive line; this time, he was crunched for time and space and still made big plays happen. Even when he wasn't busting off big runs, he was still getting a few yards at a time and setting up third-and-short situations that Sheppard could convert. Outside of the offensive line play, Iowa State has to be incredibly happy with the offense and incredibly happy with the way they won the Cy-Hawk Trophy. Next Up: Iowa State opens conference play at home against TCU. To call this game a test for the Cyclones would be an understatement. Saturday Morning Kansas State 56, Liberty 9 Julius Caesar: It might be easier to list the career highs reinstated starter Julius Minnow didn't set on Saturday in Lynchburg. Much like Vaughn Sheppard, he didn't just have his best career game--he had his best game by a mile and a half. His career high for completions went from 19 to 27, for yards from 240 to 456, for completion percentage from 70.4% to 87.1%, for passer rating from 167.9 to 253.2. He didn't set the school yardage or touchdowns mark because of Harvey Fagan's legendarily mercurial performance against SMU in 2014, but he did become the first Wildcat to throw for 400 yards or 4 touchdowns in a win. While Liberty is by no means a benchmark for what the rest of Kansas State's schedule will be like, there's nothing like a game of perfect execution to bolster a quarterback's confidence. Murder, She Wrote: And speaking of execution, that's what this was against a program that has yet to win its first game through 14 attempts. This was the largest win in Wildcat history (by a lot) and the 5th-largest beatdown Liberty has suffered so far. They held the Flames to just 122 yards for the game while gaining 573 for themselves. Oswaldo Stevenson took 4 sacks, threw 3 interceptions (to 3 different players), and completed just 7 passes. Kansas State punted just once all game, and it was fair-caught. The Flames scored a couple times in garbage time, but only after the game was long since over. Kansas State basically got to name its score. The Little Things: But part of why this was such a large margin rather than, say, a 20- or 30-point win was because Kansas State did almost all of the little things right. They were strong up front on both sides of the ball. They converted 7 of 8 third downs (87.5%), a conversion percentage that set a new Big XII record and shattered the prior school record of 46.7%. They converted their turnovers into points. When they reached the red zone, they scored touchdowns and not field goals. And even on special teams, Daniel O'Hara took a Liberty punt to the house. Kansas State had more punt return yards (147) than Liberty had offensive yards (122), and that really says everything about this game. Next Up: Kansas State's non-conference ends with a 2-1 start, and they now have a bye before they begin the quest to find four conference wins to make their first bowl game in six years. Their first challenge will be TCU. Saturday Afternoon Texas Tech 52, South Alabama 29 Three Oh Seven: Solomon McLaughlin ran for 307 yards and 5 touchdowns on 30 carries on Saturday. I'm going to repeat that so it has time to sink in: Solomon McLaughlin ran for 307 yards and 5 touchdowns on 30 carries on Saturday. The touchdown count is tied for the second-most in a single game in Big XII history, trailing Trace Buchanan in 2013 but matching Sterling Brown in 2014 and Dylan Stewart in 2017. It's the 12th time a Big XII player has rushed for at least 10.0 yards per carry in a game on a minimum of 10 carries, and the first time since Mohammed Foster in 2018. But the headline stat is the 307 yards, which is a school and conference record with no other qualifiers added. It beat out the 304 yards J.J. Hammond put up way back in 2013. It's a record that will likely stand for quite a while, unless McLaughlin manages to break it again. Feast Or Famine: For as many yards and points as these two teams racked up, they both had a surprising amount of negative plays. South Alabama recorded 7 rushing tackles for loss and a sack--it's just that when they didn't get McLaughlin in the backfield, he was off to the races more often than not. (Even on his 86-yard touchdown carry, he had to slip out of a tackle in the backfield only to find nothing but daylight afterward.) The same was true when Texas Tech was on defense. They recorded 4 rushing tackles for loss, and Curtis Jones accounted for all 3 of the Red Raiders' sacks for the game. While Texas Tech did keep Ray Jay Dougherty contained, they had a lot more trouble with the South Alabama quarterback... Undercard Higgins: Rafael Higgins's day was completely overshadowed by the monster performance Solomon McLaughlin was putting on, but 21-of-27 for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns through the air with 22 yards and a rushing touchdown is a strong effort nonetheless. Higgins kept South Alabama right on pace with Texas Tech through the first quarter, but things got away from the Jaguars in the second. The momentum turned into a cascade when Josh Poe, Jr. stripped Dougherty of the ball and Ralph McAdams ran it back the other way for a touchdown right after the Red Raiders had taken a 21-14 lead. Higgins kept firing in the second half where he accounted for two of his four touchdowns, but it was too little too late. That won't stop Texas Tech's defensive coaches from pulling up the film to point out areas for improvement next week. Next Up: Undefeated Texas Tech opens up its conference schedule with a showdown against Oklahoma State. A win would instantly vault the Red Raiders into the tier of conference title contenders. Saturday Evening #6 Oklahoma 26, #10 Missouri 21 RTDB: This fight between top-10 teams was won and lost on the ground. With both quarterbacks mired under 54% passing and interceptions outnumbering touchdown passes for each team, finding a way to move the ball the tough way proved paramount. For Missouri, it came in the form of 124 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries from Aaron Johnson, as well as a one-yard touchdown plunge from fullback Richard Michaud. But Oklahoma turned to their familiar font of football, Maurice White. He finished the day with 164 yards on the ground (topping the 160 he had against Boise State last week) including a 50-yard touchdown scamper to put the game away in the fourth quarter. Throw in Eric Pope's production, and the Sooners finished with 192 yards on the ground. Non-Traditional Scoring Methods: Missouri's offense outscored Oklahoma's offense. But football games are won in all three phases, and in this case Oklahoma found their points in all three phases. Obviously they scored 17 points on the offensive end. But after Eric Pope's touchdown pass to Lucas Dykes put the Sooners ahead, the Oklahoma special teams made their impact known. Missouri punter Ilan Rector didn't sense the punt block team coming in, and his delivery was just slow enough to give Aiden Caldwell time to get his hands on the ball and block it. Caldwell scooped it and took it to the house to put the Sooners up 14-0. That lead slipped away in the second quarter as Oklahoma led 17-14 at the half, but the third quarter would see the defense score as well. This time it was defensive tackle David Kaiser ripping his way through the offensive line and sacking Travis Ricketts in the endzone for a safety. While that alone didn't seal the game, the extra two points meant Missouri couldn't go for a game-tying field goal at the end of regulation and instead finished well short of the endzone on their last drive. Keepaway: Meanwhile, Travis Ricketts and Eric Pope's respective attempts to throw the ball ended up being a game of keepaway against the opposing defense--and not one that the quarterbacks won often enough. Ricketts fired a pass right into the arms of Moises Contreras for his only interception of the day, and Pope couldn't stop Erick Babcock from taking advantage of an imperfect throw--twice. The quarterbacks combined for 281 yards passing on the day with 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions, and 24-of-45 passing. The joy of having Maurice White is that Oklahoma is capable of winning games like that. Next Up: Oklahoma begins conference play with a visit from the Kansas Jayhawks, who have won the last two meetings as part of their 6-2 all-time record against the Sooners. Oklahoma will be the favorite in Norman, but in this series you never quite know. #5 Oklahoma State 42, Northwestern 10 Lakefront Chill: Northwestern came into this game red-hot on the offensive end of the field. They opened with 38 points against Central Michigan thanks to 381 yards and 4 touchdowns from E.J. McGuire, then kept things rolling in a 45-31 shootout win over East Carolina due to another 365 yards and 4 scores from McGuire. When the Evanston E...something-or-other (this man really needs a nickname) found Cory Carradine over top of the defense for a touchdown pass to put Northwestern up 7-0, it seemed like another high-scoring affair was in store. Instead, Oklahoma State settled in like gray clouds over the Cook County sky, and they spent the rest of the day erasing the Northwestern offense. They gave up just 3 points the rest of the way while scoring 7 on Prince Pruitt's pick-six. McGuire finished with 205 yards on 19-of-38 passing with the one touchdown and 3 interceptions. He also had five passes batted down and another one dropped, so not all of it was his fault. No receiver other than Carradine crossed the 40-yard mark for the day. Unstoppable: Meanwhile, Oklahoma State's backfield duo of Ian Baldwin and Amral Brown put together another absurdly efficient game. Baldwin finished 20-of-25 for 240 yards and 2 scores, and Brown had a masterpiece effort of 26 carries for 171 yards and 3 touchdowns. The latter would be one of the great rushing performances of the week if Solomon McLaughlin weren't a thing. The team only had 8 third downs (and converted on half of them), didn't give up a sack or a reported tackle for loss, and after a scoreless first quarter proved to be extraordinarily tough to slow down and impossible to stop. Who Wore It Better: The biggest question opposing teams are going to have to answer about this Cowboy team is whether the passing game or the run game is the bigger threat. So far Oklahoma State hasn't really given any indication that either side of the offense is even vulnerable in the first place, but let's assume these players are still human since that's what they are. A defense that goes all-in on stopping Amral Brown will probably get burned over the top by Baldwin and his receivers, a defense that goes all-in on stopping the air attack will get bruised on the ground, and a defense that splits the difference might get split by both. How do you stop that? That's the question Oklahoma State's betting can't be answered. PSA: Because Evanston is not in Chicago, Northwestern's claim to being Chicago's Big Ten team is false. Because there are more Michigan fans and alumni in Chicago than Northwestern fans and alumni, I would even claim it to be false even from a metaphorical perspective. Please do not spread Northwestern's false claim without this context. Next Up: Oklahoma State stays on the road and heads down to Lubbock, where they'll take on the Fightin' Solomons of Texas Tech. Texas 20, West Virginia 17 Tackett Is Backett: After spending the first two games on the bench in favor of Lucas Beckwith, Kyler Tackett has taken back the reins. The result? A third straight Texas win to open the season, and season highs for the team in pretty much every passing category across the board. Tackett completed 18-of-23 passes for 250 yards and a pair of scores (though he did throw a pick to Lamont Carson). It was his highest passer rating against a conference opponent since the 202.4 he recorded against Kansas late in the 2020 season, and the performance more than likely has won him the starting job for the time being. It can't be comfortable knowing that Beckwith is an option if Tackett slips up down the stretch, and whether Tackett uses that discomfort as an excuse or as motivation will say a lot about how this Longhorn season unfolds. The Ground: In a funhouse mirror image of the Oklahoma-Missouri game, this one was characterized by both teams struggling to move the ball on the ground. West Virginia had just 47 rushing yards on 17 carries, none longer than 7 yards. Bryce Madison just wasn't much of a factor. Surprisingly, so was Simeon Wells: after performances of 129 and 167 yards to open the season, Wells was held to just 97 yards on 23 carries and out of the endzone entirely by the Mountaineer defense. Longhorn fans are certainly hopeful that it's just a coincidence that this happened at the same time as their quarterback switch. The Lake: West Virginia may have fallen just short, but it was everything Martin Lake could do just to keep his team in the ballgame. He completed just 17-of-35 passes, but his efforts went for 211 yards and a pair of touchdowns against one interception nonetheless. Once again Corey Easley (6 for 84 yards, 1 TD, 1 drop) was his favorite target; Christian Nash complemented him with 4 catches for 53 yards and a score as well. Lake found himself under siege often, taking three sacks on the day; his ventures out of the pocket netted 0 yards on 2 carries as well. But when he stood and delivered in the pocket, he was effective and came close to leading a huge fourth-quarter comeback for the Mountaineers. Capture The Flag: This was one of the most penalty-heavy games of the year, with Texas being flagged 12 times for 89 yards and West Virginia committing 10 fouls for a Big XII-record 116 penalty yards. It will go down as the 6th time since this stat was tracked that both teams in a game involving a Big XII team would be flagged 10 times or more in a single game. Next Up: West Virginia will continue to seek its first win of the season when they host Marshall in the Friends of Coal Bowl. Texas gets a bye with their second conference win in hand, and they continue to square off with a conference-dominated slate when they host Iowa State on the other side of the bye. Byes: Kansas (0-2), #4 TCU (1-1)
  23. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #3 - 1 PM

    Eric's time to shine! *checks stats* Okay that was just a warmup, it doesn't count.
  24. stormstopper

    [2022] Week #3 - Saturday Afternoon

    Solomon McLaughlin's 307 single-game rushing yards broke the Big XII conference record that dates back to week 3 of the 2013 season (JJ Hammond's 304 vs. UCLA). He also passed Arturo Pacheco for second place on the Big XII career rushing touchdowns list with his 57th. He is 18 away from Sterling Brown's conference record of 75.