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    Everything posted by stormstopper

    1. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #17 - SNF

      Mild thumb fracture (QB): one week questionable, then fully healthy. Raiders have a bye for wild card weekend.
    2. #5 TCU vs. #6 Oklahoma State After being turned back at the finish line over and over again, years of heartbreak are about to come to an end. After being turned back at the finish line over and over again, the misery's going to last a little bit longer. No matter what, the Big XII will have a new champion for the second consecutive year after West Virginia broke the seal. Almost certainly, the winner will be going to the playoffs for the first time ever; nearly as likely is the possibility that the loser will miss the cut. These two teams played to a draw for 45 minutes in Stillwater before Oklahoma State was able to pull away in the 4th quarter and edge out a 20-16 win, and you'd better believe that both teams are preparing for just as close of a fight as last time. There's going to be no margin for error on Saturday. Welcome to championship football. Let's rewind real quick. These two teams met in week 12 for a game that was defined by its defense. Considering that both of these teams rank in the national top 5 in scoring defense, this should come as no surprise. Oklahoma State had a pretty solid offensive day: Ian Baldwin threw for 250 yards and completed 19-of-25 passes and Barack Holmes tore up the turf twenty-two times to the tune of 124 yards and a touchdown. But Baldwin also threw a pick to Roman Blackmon, the offense converted just 3-of-10 third downs, and they conceded potential points and field position by attempting a 55-yard field goal that proved beyond Ralph Hinson's range. TCU required them to gain 374 yards for 20 measly points. The Cowboys still pulled it off, though, because their defense was one of the few that's slowed down a surging TCU offense. The Horned Frogs averaged 38.0 points per game in their final six non-Cowboy games. They've averaged 78.2 rushing yards per game from Shamar Burroughs against those six opponents, nearly double the 39.2 yards he averaged over his first five games. Felix Luck threw for 17 touchdowns without an interception in those six games, up from 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in his first five. But Oklahoma State got to Luck early and often: Big XII Defensive Player of the Year Sebastian Byrd and partner-in-crime Khalil Goodson each picked him off, the secondary held him to 22-of-37 passing, and 67 yards from Burroughs wasn't nearly enough to offset that. With three dropped passes, two long missed field goals, and 75 penalty yards, TCU couldn't get itself out from behind the 8-ball. If you're Oklahoma State, you look at that summary and remember that you have a few structural advantages in your favor. First is that Barack Holmes has to be taken into consideration in a way that Shamar Burroughs doesn't. Holmes averages more than 100 rushing yards per game. He's not just a means to keep defenses honest to open things up for Ian Baldwin; he's a real threat in and of himself. He's running behind a strong offensive line anchored by all-Big XII right guard Edward Meyer, a run-blocking ox who can bulldoze you a four-lane highway with a median. Second is that Ian Baldwin's the more efficient quarterback of the two, completing 66.5% of his passes for a Big XII-leading 27 touchdown passes (to 8 interceptions) and throwing for 3,099 yards to earn all-conference honors. And it would be irresponsible not to mention that any of Xavier Gant, Jay Dunn, Jeremy Bridges, or Christopher Vinson is capable of going nuts on any given day. If you're TCU, very little of that matters. The Horned Frogs have one of the hardest-hitting defenses in the country, forcing 8 fumbles and recovering 6 (and leading the Big XII in both categories). They hold their foes under 4.5 yards per carry, they've given up 9 touchdown passes all year (against 10 interceptions) on 57.0% passing, and quite literally ever starter on the defensive side of the ball has the potential to play on Sundays one day. It is rare that a player will have a good day against them. Six of their opponents failed to reach 150 yards passing against them. Nine completed less than 60% of their passes against them. Rahim Murrell was the only player to throw two touchdown passes against them, and they still took an interception from him as a tax. But Oklahoma State's been able to win when their offense gets shaky. Ian Baldwin's thrown 9 touchdowns to 6 interceptions in his last six games, completing less than 55% of his passes in half of them. It hardly mattered; Oklahoma State was 5-1 in that stretch. He put up a 102.7 passer rating against Oklahoma; Oklahoma State still won. That's why Oklahoma State's defense playing at the level it's been playing at matters so much, though--they won the 5 games where they held their opponent under 20 points, and they lost to Kansas when they couldn't. It's no secret that TCU will lean on Felix Luck once again. What's kind of flown under the radar is that their offense has floated toward balance lately and been better for it. Luck's midseason breakout looked at first to be a product of having the opportunity to nuke opponents who couldn't fight back. That may still prove to be the case, but he turned on the jets against both Texas and Baylor, both of whom have a lot of talent on their defenses. Those were his best and third-best performances by passer rating of the season, at 177.7 and 150.9 respectively. Why's that been possible? Part of it's that he's settled into the role some. Part of it's that Griffin McHanna returned from injury. And part of it's that Shamar Burroughs is finally involved in the offense again after a topsy-turvy career. Burroughs's 94 yards during week 16's game against Baylor was tied for his second-highest total of the season--topped only by his 108 the week before against Texas. At 17 and 22 carries, those were also his heaviest workloads of the year. In other words, TCU's offense has become more like Oklahoma State's: pass-centric with all kinds of disparate receiving threats running amok downfield, backed up by a sneaky-good running game that'll trip you up if you're not careful, and certainly given confidence by a defense that will cover for any of the offense's shortcomings. For the Cowboys, this represents the end of a ride of a season that's endured two coaching changes, two head-scratching setbacks, and the unwavering belief that this team was capable of breaking the spell that had afflicted the program. With their Bedlam win last week, they earned a spot in the Big XII Championship Game for the first time ever. It's a team of destiny, and they want to seize the day and go toe-to-toe with the other 7 best teams in the country. For the Horned Frogs, this is the chance to seize the crown they've come up just short of wearing year after year. It's their third Big XII Championship Game appearance in three years after an upset loss to Kansas and a blowout loss to West Virginia. This is no team of destiny; it's the beginning of a dynasty if you ask a TCU fan. This is the last stepping stone on the journey from doormat to winner to contender to powerhouse. The first game was close, and there's no reason to expect anything different from the second. But even though Oklahoma State took the first matchup, I'm expecting TCU to come away with this one. The Horned Frogs are playing their best football at the right time. They left no doubt in rivalry week. Their offense has been consistent for weeks on end, and their defense is every bit as good as Oklahoma State's. Both teams have been playing high-level football, but TCU's found their highest gear and I don't think they're going to downshift. Regardless, the finish line is in sight in the conference race. Someone will run through the ribbon, and someone will be left in the dust. And then, the real work will begin. #5 TCU 16, #6 Oklahoma State 14
    3. stormstopper

      [2021] Conference Championship Games - Day #2

      Congratulations Darman!
    4. It's official: Oklahoma State and TCU will rematch in the Big XII Championship Game. The winner will probably be a playoff team, and the loser is likely headed to the Sugar Bowl unless they get seriously lucky. While Oklahoma State needed everything their defense had to stave off Oklahoma's upset bid, TCU cruised past Baylor in a game that couldn't have knocked TCU out of the title game anyway. Elsewhere in the Big XII, Kansas took care of Kansas State for the fifth straight time and Mohamed Mustafa carried West Virginia to a Senior Night win over Tulane. So without further ado, let's talk about the games. Friday Night West Virginia 27, Tulane 23 Out With a Bang: Mohamed Mustafa's never been the biggest name on the team. He's shared a backfield with Mohammed Foster, shared an offense with J.C. Weldon, shared a team with Hudson Adam and Aaron Pagan. But on his Senior Night, he was the shining star. He tore apart the Tulane defense, collecting a career-high 165 yards on 25 carries, scoring two touchdowns, and keeping the chains moving all night long on Friday. And as he scored his last, crucial touchdown in the fourth quarter, the chants of "Mo! Mo! Mo!" rang out for him and him alone. Turn Back the Tide: This game looked to be firmly in West Virginia's hands heading into the fourth quarter. They'd held Tulane out of the endzone, they led 20-9, and the Tulane offense had been operating in fits and starts at best. But the Green Wave had one last bit of life in them as they rolled toward high tide, and it was all West Virginia could do to hold on. They came up with a few key plays when they needed to. After Tulane got the ball back down 20-16, an Aaron Pagan sack snuffed out the drive. West Virginia didn't waste their possession, scoring on Mustafa's second touchdown run with less than two minutes to play. Tulane would cut it to a one-score game with mere seconds remaining on the clock, but the hands team took care of business recovering the kick to seal the win. Next up: West Virginia's season comes to an end at 2-10 (0-9), a far cry from the heights they reached last year. But with Martin Lake headlining a highly touted recruiting class, West Virginia's likely to see some significant improvement next year. Saturday Afternoon #21 Kansas 27, Kansas State 10 Blue and Red State: For the fifth straight year, Kansas took home the Governor's Cup--and after a narrow home win last year, the Jayhawks seized control down the stretch to win in blowout fashion in Manhattan. Christian Graham displayed his usual level of efficiency, completing 19 of his 27 passes for 221 yard and a pair of scores. They got a touchdown from senior Rod Fulton on the ground, an interception from senior Bradley Spurlock on defense, and a punt return touchdown from young Andre Black on special teams. No one particular area really stood out, but that's also the point for Kansas, who closes the regular season on a 7-game winning streak. He Was the Greatest*: Rahim Murrell's college career came to an end that befitted him: with a touchdown and an interception. He finishes his Kansas State career as the school leader in both categories with 41 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. He will also finish as the career leader in passing yards (4957), completions (435), attempts (733), and touchdown percentage (5.6%). He fell short of a bowl game in both seasons as a starter, though, and he'll graduate with an 8-16 record even if few of those losses can truly be attributed to him. He'll go down in the record books for this, though: in all 24 games he played, he threw a touchdown pass. The full list of Big XII players who have done so in every game of a career lasting 24+ games? It goes Norris Brooksheer, Rahim Murrell, end list. Next up: Kansas State joins West Virginia and Iowa State at home for the winter after a 3-9 (1-8) season. They lost eight of their last nine after a 2-1 start. Kansas will end up 9-3 (7-2), their third nine-win season in the past four years. They fell short of the Big XII Championship Game with Oklahoma State's win over Oklahoma, but their conference record puts them in line for a high-tier bowl game. Saturday Evening #5 TCU 41, Baylor 17 Unforgiven: TCU certainly hasn't forgotten what happened two years ago, in TCU's only down year since 2016. Since Baylor's 59-21 win, TCU's roared back in the series with consecutive obliterations. They sent Baylor home for the offseason with a 34-8 win last year, and they followed it up with this 24-point blowout that was just as close as the scoreline indicated. TCU led 21-0 at the half. Baylor didn't find the endzone until the fourth quarter; even in that frame, TCU still outscored them. The three biggest blowouts in the rivalry have all come in the last three years, as TCU improves to 7-1 all-time against Baylor. Light Up the Night: After averaging 19.2 points per game over their first five games, TCU's offense has been on fire since then. Their 41 points against Baylor brought them up to 34.9 points per game over their final seven, including five efforts of 35 points or more. Felix Luck has found his footing, Shamar Burroughs has become an effective option on the ground, and that makes TCU dangerous. Luck finished 26 of 41 for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns, and his 150.9 passer rating was his third-best of the season and of his young career. He's thrown 18 touchdowns to 2 interceptions over the aforementioned 7-game stretch. However, both of those picks came against Oklahoma State, and that's about to become quite relevant once again. If Luck, along with Finn Nielsen, Griffin McHanna, Justice Paige, and Miguel Aguilera can get over that hump, the TCU offense should become a force to be reckoned with. Red Herring: But that's not to get ahead of the TCU defense, which basically erased everything Baylor had on Saturday. They held Caleb Olmsted to just 115 yards on 12-24 passing, and they gave up just 30 yards on 14 carries to Miles Street. Chance Herring stood out in particular: he had 6 tackles, including a tackle for loss. He also managed to hatchet the ball loose from Street and fall on it for an early turnover that helped set up TCU's first-half run. Aidan Morrell tried to replicate it with a strip-sack of Olmsted, but a Baylor player fell on top of it to retain possession. TCU could've had a pedestrian offensive day and still cruised on the strength of their defense. Next up: Both Baylor and TCU will be in the postseason. Baylor finishes 7-5 (4-5) after a topsy-turvy season, but that does put the Bears back in a bowl game after missing out last year. TCU will appear in their second straight conference championship game, their third in four years. With a win, they will likely be a playoff team; with a loss, they can do no worse than the Sugar Bowl if they don't sneak into the playoffs anyway. #7 Oklahoma State 17, Oklahoma 13 Muddy Water: We warned you that both of these defenses had the potential to dig in and make this game a war of attrition. And certainly, neither defense disappointed. Neither team cracked 200 passing yards or 90 rushing yards. Both defenses forced a pair of turnovers. Jamal Causey came out of nowhere to do a bit of everything: 3 tackles, one for a rushing loss, and a blindside sack that jarred the ball loose from Ian Baldwin for a Causey recovery and a turnover. Baldwin also threw an interception to Theo Ricci, but Eric Pope (INT to Sebastian Byrd) and Maurice White (lost fumble) kept the turnover battle even. This was yet another defensive-oriented installment in a series known for its defense; it's the fourth time in nine matchups that both teams have combined for 30 points or fewer. Decisive Third: After a 7-7 first half, Oklahoma State came out firing in what would prove to be the decisive third quarter. After Ralph Hinson knocked home a 34-yard field goal to give the Cowboys a 10-7 lead, Sebastian Byrd's interception of Eric Pope would set up a touchdown pass from Ian Baldwin to Xavier Gant to run the lead up to 10 points. That's all the breathing room they would need. Oklahoma could not find the endzone in the final three quarters of the ball game, and a missed 46-yarder from Louis Dwyer meant they had to go for the endzone rather than settle for a field goal late in the fourth. The Wait Is Over: Oklahoma State's second win over Oklahoma in three years (and its second win over Oklahoma ever) will go down as one of the biggest wins in Cowboy history, as it clinched their first-ever bid to the Big XII Championship Game. Bedlam has been their stumbling block before, most notably the excruciating 24-23 loss back in 2016 that opened the door for Texas to win the conference. After so many close-but-no-cigar moments, this particular wait is over. Next up: But now, the biggest task is ahead of Oklahoma State. They can win their first-ever conference title. They can earn their first-ever playoff bid--and from there, who knows? But first, the 10-2 (8-1) Cowboys have to win their rematch against a surging TCU. Oklahoma, at 7-5 (5-4) will also go to a bowl game. Being unable to deny their rival the ultimate prize at the door will sting, but the Sooners will have a chance to paper over those wounds if they can snag another bowl win. Byes: Iowa State (3-9), Texas (6-6), Texas Tech (7-5)
    5. stormstopper

      [2021] Conference Championship Games - Day #1

      Riley West going toe-to-toe with Eric McLean is always a sight to see. Huge performances from both of them. DeSean Madison was stellar as usual, and poor Evan Grant caught the Snitch while the defense just couldn't hold back America's favorite fightin' Frenchmen.
    6. CHICAGO - The Chicago Bears are proud to announce randye4 as the organization's new head scout. With a potentially tumultuous and potentially rewarding offseason on the horizon after the team was eliminated from playoff contention, we are excited to have him on board--his accomplishments speak for themselves, from two collegiate national championships to multiple successful franchise turnarounds at the NFL level. Randye, Darman, and I will all be available for questions.
    7. Even the logos are bigger in Texas AUSTIN - The University of Texas is proud to announce constapatedape as its next head football coach. Coach Ape brings a wealth of championship experience to a championship program, having in fact coached Notre Dame to a playoff win over Texas en route to the 2016 national championship in addition to his 2019 Pac-12 championship at Washington State. "We're all excited for this new era of Texas football," said Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte. "This is a program that should be contending year-in and year-out, and Coach Ape's experience building and maintaining title-level programs will be invaluable." Texas finished the 2021 regular season with a 6-6 record, its third straight six-loss season. They are bowl-eligible and expected to make a bowl game.
    8. stormstopper

      Chicago Tribune

      OUT, DAMNED SPOT Bears eliminated for fifth straight season after lifeless loss to Seattle Norris Brooksheer looks on as Seahawks run out the clock in a surprisingly dominant 30-16 win. He and the Bears remain "far apart" on contract talks, per his agent.
    9. stormstopper

      Chicago Tribune

      LOCK AND KEY Keyshawn Thompson returns, Lions thump Bears The wraith of the Mitten State continued his dominance over Norris Brooksheer and the Bears, recording a pick and 3 tackles in the Lions' 31-20 win
    10. stormstopper

      2010s All-Decade CFBHC Team Nominations

      I nominate: RB James Otero (2014): All-American, Doak Walker Award winner, Big XII Player of the Year, Big XII champion.
    11. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #16 - Saturday Afternoon

      I will unironically miss Rahim Murrell, and I'm not saying that in an "oh, he gave us two wins" kind of way. Dude was the biggest story to come out of Kansas State in a while, he was unpredictable, often average but occasionally great, and overall he's rewritten the K-State record books. An absolute legend to cover, and I fear we aren't going to find another personality to replace him. We're gonna end up falling just a hair short of a third Big XII Championship Game after all, but this season went a lot better than I expected given the glaring issues we had at OL, WR, and LB plus the injuries we had early in the year. But these guys stuck together, gutted out a ton of hard-fought wins, and somehow we turned into a 9-win team. Hopefully we can get our seniors one last bowl win so they can be the first Jayhawks since 2014 to hit double-digit wins.
    12. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #16 - Saturday Evening

      Congratulations to Oklahoma State on their second-ever Bedlam win and their first-ever appearance in the Big XII Championship Game! Seems very likely that the winner will make the playoff, and the loser at least has a shot--and if not, the Sugar Bowl will await.
    13. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #16 - Saturday Evening

      The Big Ten is hereby licensed to use "nation's most exciting conference" exactly once in reference to The Game this year. What a classic. Gut-punch of an ending for Ohio State.
    14. Three sets of rivals take the field on Saturday. In all three cases, the series has become pretty lopsided. In all three cases, the favorite has a dream to keep alive in this week and beyond: a playoff bid in TCU's case, a shot at a conference title game in Kansas's case, and both in Oklahoma State's case. In all three cases, the underdog would love nothing more than to play spoiler. A win for Kansas State or Baylor would be once-in-a-lifetime against an opponent they just can't seem to get a leg up on; a win for Oklahoma State would be once-in-a-lifetime since it would put them in their first-ever Big XII Championship Game. So without further ado, let's talk about the games. Saturday Afternoon #21 Kansas (8-3) at Kansas State (3-8)* The last time Kansas State beat Kansas was 2016, a win that gave Kansas State the all-time lead in the series and sent the Wildcats to their first and (so far) only bowl appearance in program history while pushing Kansas to a 2-10 finish for the season. Since then, Kansas has seized control of the series--only for the cracks in the armor to show up once again recently. The Wildcats have begun winning recruiting battles against the Jayhawks, notably including starting K-State linebacker Brendan Scherer. They held the Jayhawks out of the endzone in last year's matchup, only for Kansas's defense and kicking to deliver an ugly 15-10 win that denied Kansas State a bowl bid at the finish line. While the Wildcats cannot make a bowl game this year, they want that win over Kansas and they're not a particularly big underdog if they want to get it. Step one in their plan: Rahim Murrell must outduel Christian Graham. The two have been foils for each other over the course of their two years as starters in the Sunflower State. Last year, they each set a Big XII record with 16 interceptions thrown (and in fairness, both had more touchdown passes than picks); this year, both have shown marked improvement. Murrell's completed 62.1% of his passes, averaging 7.2 yards per attempt with 20 touchdowns to 9 interceptions and a 137.0 passer rating; Graham's at 69.7% passing, 8.6 yards per attempt, 21 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, and a 158.8 rating. Both have also been asked to shoulder a huge portion of the offense. Murrell's had Ricky Seau (726 yards, 10 TD), Jhonny Palacios (534 yards, 5 TD), and Damani Askew (473 yards, 4 TD) to throw to, but Jaiden Given's 3.4 yards per carry aren't much to back him up. Graham's had to rely heavily on tight end Jaime Bautista (771 yards, 9 TD), though both Chris Burgos and Sebastian Christy have crossed the 500-yard mark--in Burgos's case, that was in spite of missing time with an injury. The run game's been solid if unspectacular; Rod Fulton and Alexander Durant have combined for a little over 4.5 yards per carry and 10 touchdowns this season. All that's to say that both offenses really rely on their quarterbacks, and that's where this game is likely to be decided. Kansas has usually had more success against opposing passers, allowing a 60.0% completion percentage with 7.1 yards per attempt, intercepting 10 passes against 16 touchdowns, and holding opponents to a 129.8 passer rating. Kansas State, for their part, allows their opponents to complete 65.8% of their passes, gives up 8.1 yards per attempt, has intercepted 8 passes against 22 touchdowns, and allows a 151.7 passer rating. Matthew Mayfield and Javier Tovar should be able to pressure Graham; Noah Urlacher, Jamari Callahan, and Albert Duke ought to be able to pressure Murrell. Kansas is stronger in the secondary by a long shot, but Brendan Scherer is an X-factor that Kansas has to be aware of at all times. Ultimately, I think Kansas's defense matches up better and that should carry the Jayhawks to a win--but truly nothing would surprise me in this game. #21 Kansas 24, Kansas State 17 Saturday Evening Baylor (7-4) at #5 TCU (10-1)* For years, TCU found every which way to get one up on Baylor: they've beaten Baylor when they were good and when they were bad, by close margins and in blowouts, by hook or by crook. Two years ago, Baylor had enough of that: with TCU in a down year and Baylor on its way to the playoffs, the Bears obliterated the Frogs 59-21. That looked like a turning point in the rivalry until TCU bounced back with its own dominant win, 34-8 to keep Baylor out of a bowl game last year in Marcus Swartz's final game. Baylor's been the mystery meat of the Big XII this year, pulling off some unexpected wins and unexpected losses and ending up about where they probably should have been all along. They're a very young team and therefore a very inconsistent team, but they're also a very talented team and therefore a very dangerous team. On any given day, Caleb Olmsted can complete nearly 80% of his passes for 250 yards against a stellar defense like Arizona's; on another, he could be held to 140 yards with 2 picks on 50% passing by Iowa State. Miles Street is capable of bursting for 122 yards one week and managing just 24 the next. And linebackers Zachary McHale and Garrett Powers are both capable of getting a sack and a pick in the same game, or doing nothing at all. TCU's been very, very good at making sure that opponents don't get into their upper range of outcomes. They control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, for one thing. They have five different players with at least 3.0 sacks or at least 3 tackles for loss. If you can stave off that initial wave (something Baylor's okay but not great at), they cover as well as anyone. Olmsted's going to be looking for Lamont Wilder quite a lot, but Roman Blackmon's likely to be right there on his hip all day. Is that a throw you want to make? TCU makes you go down the list of options before you finally find the one you can exploit; Baylor doesn't usually have a ton of options, and they can't guarantee in advance what will work. Their best hope is for their defense to hold down the fort and catch Felix Luck on a bad day. (Given that Shamar Burroughs is apparently good now and the Horned Frogs' offense is balanced, this isn't as foolproof of a plan as it used to be.) Baylor's pass defense doesn't usually shut opponents down, but it usually does put a limit in place. Until Ian Baldwin did it, nobody had thrown 2 touchdowns without an interception on Baylor's defense this year. They've allowed opponents to complete 62.3% of their passes for 15 touchdowns to 7 picks--numbers that could be improved, especially compared to TCU's 57.7%, 8 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. On rivalry week, give me the more consistent team. The moment you bleed in the water is the moment that your rival will pounce, nine times out of ten--and just because we remember the one time that a team put it all together to pull the upset doesn't mean it's going to happen again. #5 TCU 34, Baylor 24 Oklahoma (7-4) at #7 Oklahoma State (9-2)* The last couple of years of Bedlam haven't made a whole lot of sense. Two years ago, Oklahoma found itself unable to stop Chester Brenner as Oklahoma State ended the Sooners' undefeated start to the season--and ended Oklahoma State's own streak of futility against Oklahoma. Last year, Oklahoma got revenge against the favored Cowboys to complete a rally from 0-5 to 6-6 and snag a bowl bid at the last second. No Bedlam game has been as intense as the 2016 edition, though, when Alejandro Aguirre's field goal as time expired knocked Oklahoma State out of the Big XII Championship Game in a 24-23 decision. Oklahoma State still hasn't been able to reach the promised land, and the only thing standing in their way at this point is their biggest rival. Oklahoma State can't take this one lightly: the Sooners are one of the few teams that can truly match up against the Cowboys. They hold opponents to 57.5% passing, the lowest mark in the Big XII. They've only recorded 7 interceptions, but nothing's going to get by them. They also do so without getting gashed by the run in turn, holding foes to 3.9 yards per carry. A lot of credit has to go to David Kaiser, who's recorded 9.0 sacks and 9 more tackles for loss during an incredible season. A lot of credit has to go to multitool linebacker Jeremy Green, who has 3.0 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, a forced fumble, 2 interceptions, and 3 more passes defended. And Elijah Williams's high-level play at cornerback can't be forgotten, nor can Julian Foster's ability to contest anything from the safety spot be ignored. Ian Baldwin's looked anywhere from elite of the elite to average of the average depending on what defense he's faced, and he's looked better when Barack Holmes can get going on the ground--Oklahoma has the tools to muddy the waters for both. The big question, then, is whether Oklahoma's offense can make hay while the sun shines. The Sooners are starting to get efforts in the low 200-yard range from Eric Pope, and that means Oklahoma State can't just get away with sitting on the run like many of Oklahoma's previous opponents. Of course, splitting focus risks giving up what Texas Tech did last week (209 through the air, 140 on the ground)--and that's the point. Oklahoma State's defense has truly been elite this year, though. They've given up just 9 passing touchdowns and 5 rushing touchdowns while picking of 15 passes and taking away 2 fumbles. They give up a 112.9 passer rating and 4.1 yards per carry. If Oklahoma can muddy the waters, Oklahoma State can put up a whole dam. Of course, saying that just means we could just as easily be in a shootout--but in any case, I'm going to take Oklahoma State to keep up their high level of play on both sides of the ball and earn their first title game bid. #7 Oklahoma State 20, Oklahoma 16 Byes: Iowa State (3-9), Texas (6-6), Texas Tech (7-5)
    15. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #16 - FNF

      What a high note for Mohamed Mustafa to go out on. Truly put the team on his back, and I'm glad WVU was able to hang on at the end. Nebraska started 3-0. They lost six straight. They won their final three to snag a bowl bid. Heading into week 15, there were four games that could affect the C-USA East race. Of the 16 scenarios that created, only 1 would result in Western Kentucky winning the division. This is the one--congratulations Hilltoppers! RIP Ape, but congratulations Neo!
    16. Friday Night Tulane (1-10) at West Virginia (1-10) It's been a long, rough season for West Virginia. A year after storming through the Big XII and making the College Football Playoff, the laundry list of graduations and early declarations turned their most successful team into their least successful in the blink of an eye. They've already set the school record for most losses in a season, and they've already finished winless in conference play for the first time. They're in danger of scoring the fewest points and allowing the most points in a single season in school history. But they have one last chance to close the season on a high note, and that's because they're playing a Tulane team that's also really bad. The Green Wave match West Virginia's 1-10 record; their sole win was against FCS Eastern Washington. They played in a reasonably challenging AAC West, but they lost to 3-9 Tulsa, 5-7 Houston, and 4-7 Cincinnati. This is not a good team, but they've put up a fight in their last two games against fellow bad teams. They couldn't beat them, though, because they have several problems: they can only kinda throw, they can't run, they can't catch, and they can't really defend. Sam Sloan is the best part of this offense, maintaining a completion percentage of 57.5% with 168.8 yards per game, 11 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions on the season. He's not helped by his receivers dropping 15 passes. He's not helped by runningback Evan Hooks averaging under 3.3 yards per carry with 5 fumbles (4 lost) and 4 touchdowns. Sloan's stats are still better than those of West Virginia quarterback Darren Lemons, though: he's at 48.7% with 1 touchdown and 9 interceptions, and I don't really need to say much more than that. The Green Wave defense has some actual talent on it. Linebacker Omar Salas has 2.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss, cornerback Rey Solis has picked off 4 passes, and NFL teams are going to be taking a look at linebacker Noel Melvin and safety Andre Buckner. The whole unit gives up 30.2 points per game, but West Virginia's offense barely averages half that at 16.2. I think the difference is going to be West Virginia's defense, whose playmakers (namely Aaron Pagan, Mario Small, and Lamont Carson) are more consistent and more used to a high level of competition. I think the main risk is the possibility of Lemons throwing them out of the game, but the Mountaineer defense can hopefully induce the same out of Sloan. I don't think this is going to be a particularly beautiful game, but West Virginia can win it ugly. West Virginia 13, Tulane 9
    17. Friday Night Iowa State 20, Kansas State 16 Footprints in the Snow: The skies opened up on a wintry day in Ames, but there were no obstacles on the ground in front of Kofi McCullough on his way to the second-highest single-game rushing total of his young career. A huge portion of that came on just one run, but that run was a backbreaker: a 70-yard go-ahead scamper in the fourth quarter that proved decisive in a tight ballgame. He probably owed the team a run like that due to his lost fumble in the first half, but his line for the night (27 carries for 170 yards, 1 TD) was nothing short of spectacular. That one run was more than Kansas State had on the ground all night. The Greatest: Erratic has been the name of the game throughout Rahim Murrell's career, even if he's stabilized somewhat in his senior year. Friday, though, he just couldn't put it together. Completing just 55.6% of his passes, Murrell was able to manage just 160 yards with a touchdown and an interception. True freshman counterpart Vaughn Sheppard inarguably had a better day, completing 10-15 for 120 yards and a touchdown without a turnover--the perfect complement to McCullough. Murrell's legacy at Kansas State will be a complicated one: he will leave as the school's leader in career passing yards and touchdowns, he has a chance to set the school career passer rating record, he's also the school's career leader in interceptions, and he will exit without having played in a bowl game. Tip a Cap to Tolliver: David Tolliver's senior season concludes on a high note, including a crucial interception against Rahim Murrell as Iowa State held Kansas State to 16 points on Tolliver's Senior Night. He will finish tied with Ivory Hull for second on the Big XII's career interceptions list with 20, including four this season. He also returned 5 of his picks for touchdowns, tied with Troy Marshall for third behind Lee Davis and Bradley Spurlock. He's proven to be a gem of a player, and if he gets a chance at the next level don't be surprised if he makes some franchise very happy. Next up: Iowa State closes their season with a 3-9 (3-6) record, going 2-2 in their final four games (with their last two losses coming by a combined 5 points) to avoid back-to-back 1-win seasons. It's not the forward leap they were looking for, but they've got a stud in Kofi McCullough--now they'll just have to survive the loss of so many senior starters. Kansas State drops to 3-8 (1-7), and they'll have one last chance to close the season on a high note at home against Kansas. Saturday Afternoon Oklahoma 27, Texas Tech 16 White and Early: This game came close to getting out of hand early, as the Sooners had no trouble whatsoever establishing the run. Maurice White scored twice in the first quarter en route to a 23-carry, 149-yard effort highlighted by a powerful 40-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the ballgame. Add in Eric Pope's touchdown pass to Ty Royal on a rollout, and Oklahoma had themselves a 21-0 lead before Texas Tech had their pads on. That's the lead the Sooners would take into halftime, though they were unable to extend it. Instead, they spent the whole second half keeping the Red Raiders at arm's length. Texas Tech would outscore them 16-6, enough to make Oklahoma a bit nervous but not enough to make it a ballgame. Kaiser Soze: For the second straight week and the third time in his career, Solomon McLaughlin was held under 110 yards in a game. Finishing with "only" 109 yards on 26 carries (a little under 4.2 per), Texas Tech couldn't get the explosiveness or efficiency they needed for a successful performance on offense--therefore, they were shut out in the first half and didn't score a touchdown until the game was already mostly out of reach. A huge part of that effort was due to defensive tackle David Kaiser, who made 8 tackles and wrapped McLaughlin up behind the line of scrimmage 3 times on the day. He's been this team's anchor all year on the defensive end, and he certainly showed why. Steeplechase: At the beginning of the season, both Chase Shapiro and Eric Pope faced some heavy usage restrictions to give a larger role to the star at the back of the backfield. A crucial difference in this game is that Pope was able to grow out of that role, becoming an efficient passer even if he's still not the focus of the offense. He finished 19 of 26 for 209 yards and a score, added 21 rushing yards, and didn't turn the ball over--that's exactly what Oklahoma needs from him. Shapiro, in his final regular-season game, continued to struggle. He completed just 6 of 14 for 65 yards with an interception. When opponents know there's no consequence for stacking the box then that clogs up the game for McLaughlin, and causes the whole operation to grind to a halt. Next up: Texas Tech's regular season comes to a close at 7-5 (5-4), and while McLaughlin's going to need a bowl game miracle to reach 2,000 yards he's almost certainly going to finish the regular season as the Big XII's rushing leader for the second straight year with 1753 yards. McLaughlin is the first Big XII player to rush for 1700 yards in back-to-back seasons (Sterling Brown did so in non-consecutive years). Oklahoma, meanwhile, improves to 7-4 (5-3) and will attempt to play spoiler for rival Oklahoma State's conference and playoff hopes next week. Saturday Evening #8 Oklahoma State 35, Baylor 20 First Blood: Upset-minded Baylor got off to a hot start against Oklahoma State, largely because quarterback Caleb Olmsted was wheeling and dealing from the get-go. He completed all but one of his first-quarter pass attempts, reeling off touchdown passes to Marquise Rolle and Mahamadou Addison as the Bears took a 14-7 lead after the frame. But early on, the cracks in the armor were already showing. Lamont Wilder was limited by Sebastian Byrd's coverage, and the run game was absolutely nonexistent. And eventually, Olmsted would slow down too. Counterstrike: After showing up 15 game-minutes late, Oklahoma State's defense put the clamps back on the rest of the way. Byrd broke up one pass and intercepted another, the front seven sacked Olmsted three times, and they held Miles Street to an absurd 24 yards on 13 carries. Both of these offenses rely on balanced production; only the Cowboys were able to generate it. Barack Holmes rushed for 118 yards on 21 carries, and Ian Baldwin threw for 251 yards and three scores on efficient 24-of-31 passing. The end result was that Oklahoma State outscored Baylor 28-6 over the final three quarters, putting the game firmly out of reach and moving within one game of their first-ever Big XII Championship Game appearance. Gant Touch This: Xavier Gant was the star receiver for Oklahoma State, reeling in 8 catches for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns. It's his fourth career 100-yard game, and 26 yards off his career-high set two years ago against Kansas State. Gant is also the fourth different Oklahoma State receiver to hit the century mark this season, joining Jeremy Bridges (3), Christopher Vinson (2), and Jay Dunn (1). This demonstrates the difficulty that defenses have slowing down the Cowboy offense: turn off one spigot, and another floodgate opens. Next up: Baylor drops to 7-4 (4-4) and will have one more chance to play spoiler against rival TCU next week in Fort Worth. Oklahoma State improves to 9-2 (7-1) and can clinch a conference championship bid with either a win against Oklahoma or a Kansas State win over Kansas. They most likely control their destiny in the playoff race. #6 TCU 27, Texas 3 Blackout: Texas's offense doesn't ordinarily find itself completely erased from the scoreboard. They managed just a field goal against TCU--the only other time they've been held to 3 points or fewer was 2013 at Florida before the DollaBill era* began. Given Texas's level of play and TCU's level of defensive dominance, there was also no particular reason to expect them to score more than what they did. Simeon Wells rushed for 66 yards on 16 carries, and he was the more effective member of the offensive backfield. Kyler Tackett had the second-lowest passer rating by any Texas quarterback in program history at 75.1 (beating Sam Light's performance in the 2014 Meineke Car Care Bowl and nothing else). That wasn't just a case of him having a bad day; TCU forced the issue. Richard Farrell sacked Tackett once and tackled Wells behind the line twice. Aidan McAlister had another sack. William Cooper recorded an interception. Not to be outdone, Roman Blackmon picked off Kyler Tackett twice--the second time a TCU player has recorded 2 interceptions in the same game. Light It Up: On the other end of the field, TCU had no problem going up and down the field against Texas's defense. Shamar Burroughs, who's apparently good now, rushed for 108 yards and a score on 22 carries. Felix Luck, whose workload has been declining thanks the the aforementioned Burroughs being good now, was actually efficient: 22 of 30 for 294 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Luck set a career-high for completion percentage (73.3%), passer rating (177.7), and yards per attempt (9.8). It's certainly no coincidence that he was able to reach that level of efficiency at a career-low 30 pass attempts. This is a very different offense than even two games ago against Oklahoma State. They Done Lost Their Minds: There wasn't any particular area in which Texas excelled, and they consistently found ways to make things worse for themselves. They converted just 3 of 15 third downs (and failed their only fourth-down attempt). They failed to reach the endzone on their only red zone opportunity. Perhaps most importantly, they couldn't stop getting themselves penalized. Frustrated as the game wore on against an implacable foe, they racked up 10 fouls for 78 yards--which is the equivalent of more than 1/3 of the total yardage they gained on the day. Next up: Texas's season ends unceremoniously at 6-6 (4-5), and Longhorn fans' attention will now turn to the coaching search first and the bowl game next. TCU, meanwhile, improves to 10-1 (7-1), their fourth 10-win season in the past six. They've sealed up a bid to the Big XII title game, their third in the last four years. They, too, control their playoff destiny; a win over Baylor next week and a win over either Oklahoma State or Kansas in the title game will likely put them in. Byes: #22 Kansas (8-3), West Virginia (1-10)
    18. stormstopper

      [2021] CFBHC Injury Report

      https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/17gxom5ELNCWktU3BnHjT6qklTvmwvUo7kNQiHo4jtwY/edit?usp=sharing Up to date through the end of week 0. Darman and I will be keeping this updated throughout the season.
    19. stormstopper

      [2022] CFBHC Schedule - Game Registration

      Week 2: Kansas at Missouri (already marked) Week 6: NC State at Kansas Week 9: Kansas at Liberty (already marked)
    20. Everything's in here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rk7kfHNP-WUm6I7s1c-9HvTieVzlhCasfYfXazA6mFk/edit#gid=58842606 Only thing I do manually is enter in the single-game stats, then =UNIQUE and =SUMIFS turn everything into season and career stats.
    21. stormstopper

      [2021] Week #16 - TNF

      On their 24th attempt, UMass has their first win in program history. Before winning the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny, they had: * Set the record for longest losing streak to start a program, with 23 * Had the second-longest losing streak in site history, and the longest for a non-P5 team * Been outscored 1056-252 (45.9-11.0 per game) * Never scored more than 31 points in a game before today (or more than 24 before losing to Louisiana-Monroe by a 35-31 score). They scored 34 today. * Never allowed fewer than 27 points in a game. They allowed 14 today. * Last year, UMass set the record for worst scoring margin at -39.25 per game. That will hold, as Liberty was "only" -33.8. But maybe one day it'll be broken.
    22. stormstopper

      [2021] Big XII Week 15 Leaderboard

      Yeah, Weston's been an absolute machine this year.
    23. stormstopper

      Chicago Tribune

      TWO LOCKS, ONE KEY Keyshawn Thompson's two picks puts Bears on the brink of elimination The wraith of the Mitten State breaks up a pass during Chicago's loss to Detroit
    24. stormstopper

      Who's the most important player on your team?

      NFLHC: This year, it's been Donnie Allen. He's been the only offensive threat to play consistently well and stay on the field (Gaines and Snead have been hurt, Paglieli's been doing well but not quite as well as Allen, Baby Q went down, Brooksheer's turning it over, our offensive line is our offensive line). I think Medley's the most important piece on our defense, but without Allen we might very well have the worst offense in the league. CFBHC: Christian Graham, hands-down. (Jaime Bautista is second due to being by far the most important receiving target, and Noah Urlacher's a clear third.) I've basically had to put the offense on his shoulders due to lack of WRs, Rod Fulton's injury, and a mediocre-at-best OL. This is the type of situation you never want to put a young quarterback in, and yet he's delivered. I believe he's maintaining the third-best passer rating by a sophomore in Big XII history (Ian Baldwin this year is second), and he's the first Big XII player to throw for 45 or more touchdowns before the end of his sophomore year. He's also cut his interception count from last year and hasn't really had any baffling games like the weird Oklahoma State game as a freshman. I'm higher on him than I was on Eric Jennings at this point, if that says anything.
    25. stormstopper

      [2021] Week 15 Coaches Poll

      I'm glad I'm #21 and not #20. Bad things happen when I'm #20.