Jump to content
    Chatbox -
    Rome (35204) . Darman (32132) . Soluna (26820) . stormstopper (20143) . npklemm (18953) .

    You don't have permission to chat.
      Load More


    Conference Commissioner
    • Content count

    • Joined

    • Last visited

    • Days Won


    Everything posted by stormstopper

    1. [2021] Injured Reserve

      Bears place WR Brandon Snead 6-1 205 6 Oregon [Target] 86 on Injured Reserve, designated to return. He suffered a severe MCL bruise in week 7 and is out for 8 weeks. Bears also place SS Jeremiah Joseph 5-11 204 1 New Mexico [Zone Coverage] 79 on Injured Reserve. He suffered a severe hamstring rupture in week 7 and is out for the season.
    2. Saturday Afternoon Duke (3-1) at Iowa State (1-4) It's now or never for the young Cyclones. As Iowa State steps out of conference to face a sharp Duke offense and a decimated Duke defense, the opportunity is knocking and they need to open the door if they want to avoid a second straight 12-game season. The Blue Devils will be short strike safety Jordan Reeves, who is done for the season after a week 2 ACL tear. Since Reeves spent most of his time in the box as a hybrid linebacker, that means that Duke will have true freshman Jermaine Dockery and converted will Nate Murrell handling outside linebacker duties; sophomore Willy Reilly is the mike. The defense has seen the fewest rush attempts in the ACC despite their secondary being by far the stronger and healthier portion of the defense. Iowa State's going to put a premium on running the ball, with Kofi McCullough averaging 128.4 yards on 23.6 attempts per game. If the offensive line can gain traction against a Duke defensive front that has racked up 10 sacks in 4 games, look for McCullough to shine. Otherwise, we're looking at the possibility of Vaughn Sheppard throwing the ball: with a 52.75% completion percentage and 2 touchdowns to 5 interceptions, that hasn't tended to work out well for the Cyclones. If step 1 is getting McCullough some room to run, step 2 will be slowing down the scorching Duke offense that averages 31.75 points per game. Duke has the best offensive line in the ACC, and they've used it to protect the highest-rated passer in the ACC (and sidekick Christian Collins). Bryce Thompson's mobility within the pocket and outside the pocket has been a huge boon to the offense, and he hasn't been one to sacrifice mobility for accuracy. He's completed 71.2% of his passes, averages more than 300 yards per game, and he's thrown 8 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. Sean Spaczek, Amari Nicholson, and Dean Stinson make for a diverse receiver trio that ought to give Iowa State's secondary a stiff test. But as usual, I think the key is going to be on the line. If Jalen Pittman, Kai Voss, and Mekhi Tolbert can get into the Duke backfield and get Thompson on the run, then the secondary has the opportunity to make plays. If the strong Duke line holds up, Thompson will have all day and he'll carve up the Iowa State defense. I don't think either extreme is likely, but I think the Duke end of the scale is closer to where this game will end up. Duke 31, Iowa State 17 Saturday Evening #20 Texas (3-1) at Baylor (3-1)* Texas and Baylor are both ready to get back into the action after a bye week. Both are looking to build on their week 5 win, and for both teams that win represented a bounceback from a devastating week 4 blowout loss. Which version of each of these teams is going to show up on Saturday? First of all, it won't be the fully healthy version of either team. Baylor will be missing the services of tackle Joshua Hyde, who is going to miss the remainder of the season due to an Achilles tear. Texas is without defensive tackle Zion Gaines, who will be out for a couple of months with a rotator cuff injury. Texas has their next man up ready: Jamal Robinson will be the mauler in the middle for the Longhorns to reprise the starting role he had last year. Baylor's in more of a predicament, as true freshman Brendan Kiser will move into the starting right tackle role for the Bears--where he'll line up directly across from emerging star Tristan Priest. The junior college transfer from Phoenix has already racked up 4 sacks in 4 games, and that's not what you want an inexperienced backfield to have to deal with when it's been knocked off its feet. Caleb Olmsted completed 75.5% of his passes for 5 touchdowns and no interceptions in his first two games; in his last two, he's at 54.8% for 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Miles Street rushed for 111 and 109 yards in his first two games; he's gone for 70 and 39 in his last two. They're freshmen; hiccups happen. But when they happen for both freshmen at the same time, Baylor stalls. Texas has more backfield experience, and in general that's translated to more stability. Simeon Wells has had 148 yards or more in three games out of four, and Kyler Tackett's completed 74.2% of his passes with 7 touchdowns to 1 interception through the air. The Horns rely specifically on their backfield to make these plays, just as Baylor does. That's why each defense's ability to get into the backfield will be crucial, and Texas has been a lot better at doing so this season. Priest alone has as many sacks as the rest of Baylor's defenders who've made a statsheet, combined. I think it'll end up being a low-scoring game in Texas's favor. #20 Texas 20, Baylor 13 Oklahoma (3-1) at #2 TCU (5-0)* Closing out the festivities is a game that shouldn't escape anyone's radar. TCU is as battle-tested a team as they come, having fended off challenge after strong challenge--and yet, they get no respite when an underrated Oklahoma comes to town. These two teams are tactically different but stylistically similar: they both love to beat you up and wear you down until you have nothing left in the tank. Points come at a premium, and the price for every yard is paid in sweat and blood. Oklahoma games feature an average of 40.25 points per game by both teams combined, which is in the lowest 15 in the country. TCU fans will say "So what?" Games involving the Frogs feature an absurd 33.2 points per game by both teams combined, the 4th-lowest mark in the nation. Part of it is because both defenses are just plain nasty. They're lined with absurd amounts of talent on all levels. Oklahoma is getting huge contributions from freshmen David Kaiser (4.5 sacks) and Max Abel (3.0), and junior Jeremy Green is everywhere with a team-high 17 tackles. They don't force a lot of turnovers, but they make you punt a lot (a 35.2% opponents' third down conversion rate) and they will make you wait a long time to get the ball back. Somehow, TCU's even nastier on that side of the ball. Five different players have a sack, four different players have an interception, four different players have double-digit tackles, and Adriel Sierra's forced 2 fumbles. Opponents convert just 22.7% of their third downs against TCU, which is on pace to break 2019 Oklahoma's conference record of 24.9%. But the biggest obstacle to points in this game specifically? Both defenses know exactly what's coming. TCU knows that Oklahoma's going to run the ball: Maurice White and Eric Pope have combine for 152.0 yards on 29.75 carries per game on the ground (or 5.1 yards per carry), and Pope averages just 130.5 yards per game through the air. They've rushed for 7 scores and thrown for 2. Look for TCU to stack the box, though they'll need to do so more effectively than they did against Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Oklahoma knows that TCU is going to air it out. Shamar Burroughs averages just 39.2 yards per game on 9.6 carries, and the Frogs have essentially given up on running the ball as a viable gameplan. In contrast, Felix Luck leads the Big XII with 210 pass attempts (42.0 per game), though it hasn't come with any kind of efficiency. He completes 57.6% of his passes and has thrown 7 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. The crazy thing is that it's worked so far. TCU's defense is so smothering that they need him to just manage the game and avoid any major mistakes. Oklahoma's intercepted just two passes all year and is generally content to let opponents manage the game--if they do that, TCU will win easily. I think this has the potential to be a great defensive battle, and an Oklahoma win on the road would not be all that big of an upset. But TCU's won this type of game all season, and I'd want odds to bet on that changing. #2 TCU 9, Oklahoma 6 Byes: Kansas State (2-3), West Virginia (1-4), #23 Oklahoma State (4-1)
    3. [2021] Week #7 - Saturday Morning

      Between Solomon, DeSean, and DeSean this has been a great weekend for elite runningbacks.
    4. [2021] Week #7 - FNF

      All three Texas Tech players I've been hyping up had a good game against me. At least they're making my analysis look good. GG @acewulf
    5. Friday Night Texas Tech (3-2) at Kansas (2-2)* The Solomon McLaughlin show rolls into Lawrence on Friday night as Texas Tech makes the trip up to take on Kansas. The 5-foot-10, 235-pound bulldozer from the DFW area has blazed his way to 800 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns in just 5 games--a pace of more than 2,000 yards over the course of 13 games. He will be especially hungry against a Jayhawk team that hasn't been a force against the run of any kind: they have a defensive line that can make headway into most backfields they'll see, but outside of Raul Alarcon the linebacker corps isn't pretty. The key matchup, then, will be left end Jamari Callahan against right tackle Nico Dotson, who is a converted guard. Callahan is one of three Big XII players with 4.0 or more sacks and 3.0 or more tackles for loss on run plays this season (and we'll hear about another soon). If he can get to McLaughlin in the backfield and force Texas Tech into second- and third-and-long situations, they can keep Texas Tech's score down and earn some opportunities for themselves. On the other hand, they'll have to face the same kind of pressure in their own backfield. Offensive line has not been a Jayhawk strength since they graduated four starters from that unit this past offseason, and they have to go up against Curtis Jones and company. Jones is tied for the Big XII lead with 4.5 sacks so far this season, and he's added 3 more tackles for loss against the run. He'll be lined up on top of left tackle Benjamin Waterman. Kansas will likely look to get to the air if they can, as starting runningback Rod Fulton is going to miss this game with a calf injury. Alexander Durant will start in his place, the first career start for the redshirt senior from the same high school as James Otero. If Kansas can keep Jones, Roberto Benavides, Kahau Tupa'i, and the 3-4 edge rushing duo of Thomas Aveau and Ralph McAdams out of the backfield, look for rising star sophomore Christian Graham to stick with a very short list of targets. Chris Burgos is back and posted a solid game against TCU, but the focus will likely be tight ends Jaime Bautista and Samuel Hardy. That's dangerous against a strong Texas Tech secondary, but the underrated threat is the coverage of will linebacker Austin Callahan. The redshirt freshman's tied for the Big XII lead with 3 interceptions already--and again, he's a linebacker. Expect pressure to find Graham, expect him to look for those tight end safety valves, and expect Callahan to make that difficult. Combine that with the threat of McLaughlin, and this looks like a very good matchup for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech 24, Kansas 16
    6. Who said the Big XII can't play defense? With eight Big XII teams in action this week (all against each other), six held their opponent to 17 points or fewer. Five held them to 13 or fewer, and both Texas Tech and Oklahoma held their foes out of the endzone entirely. This was a week where soft noses got squashed, fireworks stayed unlit, and punting was winning--but as any good football fan knows, strong defense is befitting of the nation's most exciting conference. So let's talk about the games. Friday Night Texas Tech 21, Iowa State 3 McLaughlin Wins McRB Duel: 192-92 was the final score of the running prop bet of which tailback would have the biggest day. Solomon McLaughlin was running free all day, taking 28 carries for his 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. The highlight of the day was the backbreaking 60-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He showed off his power as he broke a tackle behind the line of scrimmage, then showed off his breakaway speed as the Cyclone defense overpursued and left a hole for him to run through. That brings him up to 800 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season--and we're only 5 games in. Goodness Gracious, Great Chunks of Yardage: And McLaughlin wasn't the only one to make big plays on the day. Chase Shapiro had a 43-yard completion to Martin Bowser to set up McLaughlin's first score in the third quarter, and Shapiro closed the scorebooks with a 36- yard touchdown run late in the fourth. McLaughlin and Shapiro combined for 249 rushing yards on 35 carries, an average of more than 7.1 yards per rush. To be fair to the Cyclones, they didn't lack explosive plays entirely--Kofi McCullough did have a 28-yard rush off tackle that set up a field goal--but they were few and far between. Pass? I'll Pass: Neither of these teams was particularly interested in throwing the ball, and the result was one of the lightest passing days in conference history. Chase Shapiro and Vaughn Sheppard combined for just 162 passing yards (a mark that Ian Baldwin beat by more than 100 yards by himself this week), the third-fewest in a Big XII in-conference game since the nation's most exciting conference formed in 2013. Both also completed fewer than half their passes, but Shapiro's pass attempts did less damage. Shapiro finished 5-11 for 77 yards; Sheppard had 85 yards, but did so on 9-20 passing with a pair of costly interceptions. Third Down Woes: When it came to third-and-long, passes fell incomplete. When it came to third-and-short, defensive lines made plays. Whatever the cause, the two teams combined to go 5-27 on third down attempts. Outside of the ballcarriers, the players getting the most action very well may have been the punters. Dyer Out For Season: Backup runningback and return man Hayden Dyer went down while attempting to sidestep a tackle on a punt return in the fourth quarter. He was assisted off the field and did not return to the game. His MRI on Saturday confirmed a torn ACL, a tough blow for the promising sophomore. Fullback Walter Hatfield is expected to take on the backup runningback duties, though a new return man is yet to be announced. Next up: Texas Tech takes the Solomon Show to Lawrence next, where they'll face off against Kansas. Iowa State, meanwhile, will get a visit from Bryce Thompson and the Duke Blue Devils. Perhaps the brothers in blue will be reviewing this game tape together. Saturday Morning Oklahoma 13, West Virginia 6 Early Mo-Mentum: Only one touchdown was scored in the entire game, and it was a true highlight. Maurice White took a pitch to the weak side, got a block from the pulling right guard, and burst to the house for a 35-yard touchdown run. With the extra point from Louis Dwyer, Oklahoma would wind up not needing any more points for the rest of the day. To be on the safe side, though, they got them thanks to a pair of Dwyer field goals in the second quarter. Red Zone, Red Light: Neither defense gave an inch of ground when it counted the most. West Virginia never saw the red zone in the first place, kicking their two field goals from distances of 42 and 49 yards. Oklahoma made it twice, but the West Virginia defense kept finding a way to stack them up and hold them just shy of the endzone. Oklahoma made it down to the Mountaineer five-yard line and was forced to kick a field goal. On the next possession, they got down to the two-yard line and opted to kick again. West Virginia's offense wasn't able to capitalize on the opportunities its defense gave them, but they sure gave them some opportunities. Rushing Disparities: Maurice White picked up 35 yards on his touchdown carry alone. Eric Pope, Oklahoma's #2 ballcarrier, added 27 yards on 8 carries. In comparison, West Virginia's Mohamed Mustafa and Bobby Davies combined to rush for 25 yards on 17 carries for the whole game. That's the difference. West Virginia can't really afford to have the run game at half efficiency, let alone at null efficiency. That made Bobby Davies the focus of the offense, and the results were not pretty: Davies finished 14 of 29 for 137 yards and an interception. The team was constantly facing long passing-down situations, finishing 4 of 17 on third down (but got 1 of 2 back on fourth). The scoreboard tells you all you need to know. He Went to Jerraud: Walk-on nickel cornerback Jerraud Rawls collected his second career interception in as many seasons. Last year's interception was the first Oklahoma pick of the season; this year's was the second after Elijah Williams's week 0 interception. Next Up: Oklahoma is in for what should be another rock fight as they face the iron curtain known to the world as the TCU defense. West Virginia has a bye week before what's become a must-win game against Kansas. Saturday Afternoon Oklahoma State 31, Kansas State 17 A Balanced Attack: Oklahoma State's ability to move the ball on the ground or through the air has been the most important development of their season in year 1 after Chester Brenner, and their balance was once again on display in Manhattan. Ian Baldwin made up for a sub-60 completion percentage (19 of 32) by hitting Jay Dunn and Samuel Barfield for some deep strikes; he ended up with 266 yards and a touchdown to each of them. Combine that with 117 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries for Barack Holmes--none of which are atypical numbers for the first-time starter this season--and it's no surprise that this offense is really, really hard to stop. Rack Up The Sacks: And while Kansas State wasn't able to stop the Cowboys, they had a plan to slow them down. They were in Ian Baldwin's face all day, sacking him three times and pressuring him into bad throws and throwaways with surprising regularity. This is a defense that prides itself on its ability to use the edge to its advantage, and that's where they got it done. Matthew Mayfield had a solo sack and a combined sack with Shawn Reyes. Javier Tovar had a sack of his own from the other side. Getting to Holmes in the backfield was trickier and ultimately unsuccessful, but the pass rush kept them in the game into the fourth quarter. Peeling Away Late: For context for that last bit, Kansas State was held only to field goals for the first 45 minutes of the game. Oklahoma State's offense was warm instead of hot in that time (this is where that 19-of-32 figure proved important), and the Cowboys' lead entering the final frame was 17-9, a one-score affair. The Cowboys thought they had it in the bag on Baldwin's second touchdown pass of the game, only for Rahim Murrell to answer with a touchdown pass to Damani Askew (a note on him below). The two-point conversion cut the lead to 7, but that's as close as it would get. Holmes's 30-yard touchdown run put an end to the fun for good. Demoni Askew: Kansas State tight end Damani Askew led the Wildcats' receivers with 6 receptions for 66 yards. No further comment. Adrian Connor Out: After sliding awkwardly trying to make a tackle, Adrian Connor had to be assisted off the field. The diagnosis is a groin tear that will keep him unable to practice during the bye week and unable to play against USC. He will be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks' time. Look for redshirt freshman Amari Bradford to take his snaps. Next up: Perhaps that was a bit of a spoiler, but Oklahoma State is off next week before their final non-conference game of the season against ailing USC. Kansas State will also enjoy a bye before a crucial three-game road trip to Waco, Lubbock, and Norman. Saturday Evening #3 TCU 13, Kansas 10 Bend But Don't Break...And Also Don't Really Bend: TCU's defense flexed its muscles yet again, holding its third opponent in five games to 10 points or fewer. They held Christian Graham to a career-low 120 yards through the air, which is tied for the fifth-fewest single-game yardage total by a Kansas starting quarterback. Sure, he completed 15 of 22 passes (68.2%); they just didn't go anywhere because there was always a TCU defender there to make the tackle. Graham was the first Big XII quarterback to complete at least 2/3 of his passes while averaging 8 yards or fewer per completion since Ralph McCrary in 2014; that was the mark of TCU's defensive dominance. They held the Jayhawks to just 63 yards on the ground between Rod Fulton and Alexander Durant. More than half of those came on two carries; outside of that, nothing got by the Frogs. Luck Be A Lady Tonight: Felix Luck did enough to get the job done once again. He finished with 209 yards through the air on 22-39 (56.4%) passing, but despite taking 3 sacks and facing pressure from a strong Kansas defensive line he kept his wits about him. He didn't turn it over, he only even threw it into traffic a couple of times, and he hit Finn Nielsen on a tough touchdown pass in the third quarter to give TCU a 10-3 lead. Luck doesn't have to be perfect in order to bring home a win; he just has to be good enough to allow his defense to keep control of the game. That's exactly what he did on Saturday. William Finn and the Will To Win: Where would the Horned Frogs be without their special teams? Kicker William Finn did it again, nailing a 44-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter and adding a 49-yarder in the fourth as the backbreaker. His kicks have been worth more than the margin of victory in every game but one this season (and that includes the Tennessee game where he was TCU's only scorer). This is the second straight game in which he's scored more than half the team's points. He's been automatic from short range and trustworthy from 40 to 49. And when so many games rely on the defense doing enough to make up for the offense, Finn's able to put just enough gas in the tank to Will his team over the Finn-ish line. Third Down Shutdown: The ability to extend or shut down drives on third down exerts a huge influence on the outcome of a game, and both defenses were at their best in those crucial situations. Kansas held TCU to 3-of-14 on third down, which is tied for the fifth-best effort by a Kansas defense since that stat's been tracked--and they lost. Why? Because TCU was even better at third down defense, holding Kansas to 2-of-15 on third downs. That 13.33% conversion rate is the best single-game effort by a TCU defense and the worst by a Kansas offense since that stat has been tracked. Like I said, nothing got by the Frogs. Fulton Joins Long List of Jayhawk Injuries: The good news is that Chris Burgos was able to return, and Armani Bello has been upgraded to questionable for next week's game. The bad news is that Rod Fulton will be the fourth Kansas offensive starter to miss time, as he had to leave after 8 carries with what appeared to be a leg injury. After an MRI confirmed that it was a calf tear, Kansas ruled him out for the next three to five games. Alexander Durant, who starred at the same high school as Kansas Hall of Famer James Otero, will start in the interim. No team in the country has seen as many players lose as much time to injury as the Jayhawks have so far. Up Next: TCU will look to continue their winning ways against Maurice White and the visiting Oklahoma Sooners, while Kansas will welcome Solomon McLaughlin and Texas Tech up to Lawrence. Both teams' defensive backs breathe a sigh of relief. Byes: Baylor (3-1), #23 Texas (3-1)
    7. Trade Discussion: Who Won? Panthers or Texans

    8. [2021] Week 6 Headlines

      HULL WINS BRIAN PICCOLO AWARD Bears cornerback honored during bye week for his work with Donna Hull Foundation Ivory Hull has made sure that his mother's legacy would live on after she passed away from breast cancer last summer. Surrounded by members of the coaching staff and the family of Brian Piccolo, Hull was honored for his work fighting breast cancer disparities in the Chicagoland area.
    9. WINNING IN THE MOMENT An unexpectedly bright present casts a growing shadow over the Chicago Bears' future Norris Brooksheer takes snaps with the first team in practice. Has he secured the starting job going forward, or is he still looking over his shoulder for rookie Mohammed Foster? CHICAGO - It was only a few short months ago that the Bears drafted Mohammed Foster with the #5 pick in the draft, signaling a drastic shift in the direction of a franchise still in search of its first playoff bid. Heading into the bye week in year 1 of the grand experiment, the Bears have already matched last season's win total, sit in 2nd place in the NFC North, and appear to have their best shot at the postseason since they fell one game short three years ago. The most surprising bit is that those two events are mostly unconnected. Norris Brooksheer retained the starting job coming out of training camp, and he's responded to the quarterback competition with his best season as a pro. Through 5 games, he has completed 64.1% of his passes for 1252 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. That's good for a passer rating of 99.88, the highest of the fifth-year starter's career, which is a 15-point improvement over last season--and still only good for 17th in the league among players who have started the majority of their team's games. "Norris is our starter, and we're more than happy with what he's given us this year so far," said Bears offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. "He takes a lot of hits, but he gets back up and isn't afraid to make the next throw under pressure." Brooksheer is playing for more than just this season: he's playing for a new contract. Having arrived in the option year of his rookie deal, he's seen his salary escalate from $8 million to $14.5 million. In this landscape, that contract is a bargain, as he is the lowest-paid quarterback in the NFC North. Rob LeCount is making $16 million a year, Jason Johnson earns $17 million a year, and Brian Vardell--whom Brooksheer has beaten five times in a row--makes $24 million annually. Sources within Brooksheer's camp have previously indicated that he wants to be paid like a top-tier quarterback. Sources close to the Bears front office have told the Tribune that they want him to play like a top-tier quarterback first. Both sides agree that there has been almost zero movement toward a long-term deal. In the meantime, tensions between the two sides that began after the 2019 season and came close to the boiling point after the Foster pick seem to have cooled somewhat. If not, Brooksheer has done a masterful job of saying the right things anyway. "It's been incredible working with Mo," Brooksheer said after a Tuesday practice session. "He's got such a great passion for the game. And his style's so different from mine that I can't help but learn new things around him." Foster, for his part, has not betrayed any impatience waiting for his turn--perhaps a lesson learned from the inconsistencies of starting as early as his true freshman year at West Virginia. "My job is to be ready to go the moment they call my name," the rookie said. "Norris has been a great mentor to me and a great friend, and I think we've both been able to push each other to greater heights on the field." Quarterback isn't the only place where the rookie class has seen virtually no time on the field. Marcus Waterman's moved into the starting right tackle spot, but kicker Will Ladd was the only other rookie to see significant snaps--and he has since been demoted to the practice squad after starting 2-of-5. The offense as a whole has averaged 21.4 points per game, the #21 mark leaguewide. But armed with the 6th-ranked scoring defense at 19.6 points per game, the Bears believe that this time is for real. "This is a five-star defense by necessity," said defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin. "Everybody here knows we're paying for a five-star defense either in picks or cash or both. Anyone who doesn't wanna practice like they're the best of the league, anybody who doesn't wanna play like they're the best in the league, they know exactly where the door is." Still, most of the season remains. The Bears' four wins have come over the 1-3 49ers, the 1-4 Vikings (twice), and the 2-2 Rams. They were shellacked by the only team with a winning record they've played so far, and they still have yet to play the injury-plagued but still talented Lions or the reigning NFC North champion Packers. As they learned the hard way in 2018 after going from 10-3 to 10-6 to miss the playoffs, a good start is no guarantee of a playoff finish. But it's still a good start.
    10. Saturday Morning Oklahoma (2-1) at West Virginia (1-3)* Starting off the Saturday slate is the first matchup between Oklahoma and West Virginia since the Mountaineers came into Norman and laid down a 52-21 beatdown--a fate that quite a few Big XII teams experienced last season. But neither of these teams is the same as it was this time last year. West Virginia obviously no longer has program-changers Mohammed Foster, J.C. Weldon, or Hudson Adam. And Oklahoma, on their way to an 0-5 start at the time, has won 9 of its last 11 games thanks to a run-focused offense and a revived defense. Maurice White is almost flying under the radar thanks to the play of Solomon McLaughlin and others, but he's averaging 132.3 yards per game, he's scored 5 touchdowns in 3 games, and he's earning more than 5.2 yards per carry. Eric Pope will keep the ball sometimes, but he's thrown for two scores and rushed for one this season; White is the clear focus. That means it's up to a stronger-than-expected West Virginia front seven to keep the Sooners off the board. Oklahoma will probably key in on defensive end Aaron Pagan, who's recorded 4 sacks and 2 additional tackles for loss. The Mountaineer linebackers have been tackling machines: Luke Lacey and Nathan Wilks have recorded 24 combined tackles, 2 for loss this season. West Virginia's fortunate that its thin secondary likely won't be tested by a deep Oklahoma receiving corps due to the team's run-heavy identity. And while that's the case, developing that identity was crucial to Oklahoma's turnaround last year--and West Virginia would sure love to find one for itself. They're not a passing team; if your leading passer's thrown 2 touchdowns to 5 picks, that's not possible. They've also struggled to run the ball efficiently, with Mohamed Mustafa averaging just 4.4 yards per carry. At this point, West Virginia's capable of winning games if their defense holds up. That's a real possibility against Oklahoma, just not a probability. The Sooners are deeper and more talented on both sides of the ball, and they ought to find a way in Morgantown. Oklahoma 21, West Virginia 14 Saturday Afternoon Oklahoma State (3-1) at Kansas State (2-2)* Okay, we've spent enough time on the ground. It's time to take it to the air, my friends. Rahim Murrell is tied for 2nd in the Big XII with 8 passing touchdowns this season, which is a far cry from Ian Baldwin's conference-leading 14. There's a bit of a contrast in how they've gotten there. Baldwin's been nearly flawless, completing 69.9% of his passes, averaging a conference-best 297 yards per game, and throwing just 2 interceptions on the way. Murrell has been...Murrell-ish. He's up to a 66.4% completion rate, which is a huge improvement for him. He's also counterbalanced his 8 touchdowns with 5 interceptions, a mark exceeded only by Felix Luck. There's also a contrast in why each team relies on their passing game so much. Oklahoma State's receivers are deep and varied, even with Xavier Gant remaining out this week due to ongoing concussion symptoms. They have burgeoning stud Barack Holmes at tailback, and he's been a great complement. And with Baldwin slinging it as well as he has been, why go away from the pass? For Kansas State, it's less of a luxury and more of a necessity. Jaiden Givens has rushed for under 3.2 yards per carry and fewer than 55 yards per game. The Wildcats do have Ricky Seau, Jhonny Palacios, and Damani Askew to throw to, so it's not like they lack for targets; they're just not a team that can stretch a defense vertically and the run game provides them with absolutely no relief. That's going to allow Oklahoma State to focus on blitzing and coverage more than run stopping, and that's where the Cowboy defense is at its most dangerous. Redshirt sophomore corner Sebastian Byrd's already picked off 3 passes, with nickelback Eric McNeal snagging 2 for himself. Kahoni Vaaelua and Amir Pryor (3.5 and 2.5 sacks, respectively) are getting pressure and forcing these mistakes. That formula is what Kansas State tries to replicate, though Matthew Mayfield is the only Wildcat with more than one sack and the team's interception count for the season is 3. Oklahoma State sees this as an "anything you can do, I can do better" situation, and I'm inclined to agree with them. I think the Cowboys will stay hot for another week. Oklahoma State 34, Kansas State 20 Saturday Evening #3 TCU (4-0) at Kansas (2-1)* TCU finally broke through against Kansas last season, taking their first win in six matchups by a 16-10 margin in Fort Worth. As they make their second-ever trip to Lawrence, they'll need a similar defensive effort to secure their second win over Kansas in a row. Defense has been a point of pride and a source of strength for the Horned Frogs, who have allowed just 15.0 points per game over their first four. Only Oklahoma State's allowed fewer, and...well, TCU's schedule has been much, much harder. They've held three opponents to 19 points or fewer and two SEC opponents to 10 or fewer. The offense is still only managing 20.75 points per game, but that's been enough. They rely heavily on Felix Luck, the redshirt sophomore out of north Texas: his 99 completions and 171 attempts lead the Big XII, and his 1028 passing yards rank 2nd. But he's been inconsistent, firing off 6 touchdown passes but also firing away a conference-high 6 interceptions. Their opponents know that their preference is to pass (and Shamar Burroughs's sub-4.0 yards per carry average doesn't do much to dissuade them from focusing on the pass). For Kansas, that'll mean it's imperative for Jamari Callahan, Albert Duke, and the defensive line as a whole to get pressure on Luck so that the secondary led by Bradley Spurlock, Richard Clemons, and Noel Barfield have something to work with. But Kansas's defense has had a soft underbelly this season, giving up 32.3 points per game--including 49 to Tucker Dowden and rival Missouri. Their linebackers aren't much to write home about, so look for Luck to throw a lot of slants and look for tight ends and runningbacks to make plays in the receiving game. On the other hand, though, Kansas's offense is averaging 35 points a game on the strength of Christian Graham and Rod Fulton. The Jayhawks are thin at wide receiver, with Chris Burgos questionable and Bronson Graves out for the season. Graham has completed 19 passes to wide receivers compared to 29 to tight ends and runningbacks. They're depleted at offensive line, short starting right tackle Armani Bello. So far, they've managed to keep the ball moving downfield and keep the scoreboard lighting up. Fulton's 4.88 yards per carry and 109.0 yards per game help; Christian Graham, however, is the driving force. He's completing 73.5% of his passes for 278.3 yards per game with 8 touchdowns to 2 interceptions. It's hard to ask more from him given how little he has to work with. But that's come against defenses that were, frankly, not TCU's defense. It's come against defensive lines that aren't stacked with quick, massive guys like Aidans Morrell and McAlister, Adriel Sierra, or Kwon Shaw. It's come against secondaries that aren't as stifling as Roman Blackmon, William Cooper, Matthew "The Vacuum" Dyson, and Anthony Easter. It's come against linebackers who aren't as tenacious as Elliott McElmore or Chance Herring. Kansas is going to struggle on offense on Saturday, and anything less than a perfect effort on defense will spell doom for the Jayhawks. I'll take the Frogs on the road. #3 TCU 20, Kansas 7 Byes: Baylor (3-1), #23 Texas (3-1)
    11. [2021] Week #6 - FNF

      Will you make that a tradition for all... ... ... ...(I think we all know what's about to happen here)... ... ... ...subsequent...wins?
    12. [2021] Week #6 - FNF

      Wells has 40, and yes he's one year up on McLaughlin. Maurice White is in Wells's year as well, and he's at 36.
    13. [2021] Week #6 - FNF

      Solomon McLaughlin is averaging 160 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns per game with nearly half the year in the books. He's on pace for 1,920 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. He's tied Dave Pagac's school record with 37 career rushing touchdowns--and Pagac did it in 38 games to McLaughlin's 18 games. He's also just five touchdowns off of Mohamed Mustafa's lead among active Big XII players (42), and everybody ahead of him has had a carry in at least 30 games. One might be tempted to conclude that McLaughlin's good at this sport. And this is more of a fun fact--I posted this in the shoutbox, but Vaughn Sheppard and Chase Shapiro's 162 combined passing yards are the third-fewest in a conference game in Big XII history, and the fewest since TCU's Johnny Green and TTU's Ralph McCrary combined for 114 in week 13 of the 2014 season.
    14. Friday Night Iowa State (1-3) at Texas Tech (2-2)* If you like to see two teams run the dang ball all night long, we've got a show for you. This ain't your granddaddy's three yards and a cloud of dust, either. This is a matchup between two of the most electrifying, explosive, and dynamic young tailbacks in the country: Solomon McLaughlin of Texas Tech and Kofi McCullough of Iowa State. Both are just as capable of breaking away from the whole defense to cruise into the endzone as they are plowing pads-first into the line to get their yards the hard way. Their work shows up on the statsheet, of course: the McRBs rank 1st and 2nd in the Big XII in rushing touchdowns, 1st and 2nd in carries, and 1st and 3rd in rushing yards. McLaughlin is the league leader in all three categories, and he's doing it on more than 5.7 yards per carry. McCullough ain't so bad himself, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. So what's going to differentiate the two teams? Let's start with the impact of the offensive line. McCullough so far has thrived when his line is at its best--the existence of that correlation isn't surprising, but the degree of strength it holds is eye-opening. When the line graded at 7.3 against Wisconsin and 6.8 against Baylor, McCullough stole the show. When it earned sub-6.0 grades against Iowa and Oklahoma State, he looked pedestrian. Texas Tech has always made defensive line play a point of pride ever since Jeremy Miller became a destroyer of worlds, and the play of Curtis Jones has been nothing short of Milleresque. He leads the Big XII with 4.5 sacks, and his 3 non-sack tackles for loss also tie for the league's top spot. Whether or not the Cyclones can keep him out of the backfield is the central question to their ability to score. McLaughlin hasn't generally needed great line play, but he's sure made use of it when he's had it. That'll be necessary against an Iowa State front seven that struggled against Jamal Trufant but ate Miles Street alive. Mekhi Tolbert is tied with Jones with 3 non-sack TFL, so the ability to keep the edge from being overwhelmed will be crucial. I favor Texas Tech in this one: they've had the more consistent line, the more consistent defense, and the more proven runningback. But I also expect McCullough to hold his own. Texas Tech 23, Iowa State 16
    15. [2021] Week #6 - TNF

      For posterity, Louisiana-Monroe's return man is: WR Jeffrey Perez 6-1 185 Jr Eufaula (Eufaula, AL) 1.0 of 1.5 [Speed] Shades of Mark Baker (let's see how many people know who that is)
    16. [2021] Week #6 - TNF

      Monte Jackson? More like Monte's back, son.
    17. Offense and defense get all the love, and offense gets most of it. But there are three phases of the game, and special teams seemed to have an outsized impact on the nation's most exciting conference this week. Kickers were particularly high-profile this week--some in good ways, some in bad--and we saw punting make an impact too. (Sorry returners, you'll have your day sometime.) In this edition, we'll definitely talk about how each team fared on offense and defense, but the impact of special teams will get its own section. So with that in mind, let's talk about the games. Thursday Night Texas Tech 16, Marshall 13 Close call: Marshall's defense knocked back Texas Tech a bit, and the Red Raider offense struggled to get going for most of the game. A Cayden Gipson touchdown put Marshall ahead early, though Texas Tech would lead 9-7 at the half on the strength of three field goals. Texas Tech would not score a touchdown until Solomon McLaughlin (who else?) found the endzone in the fourth quarter to cap off a 25-carry, 115-yard day and put his team in the lead for good. Shutdown D: While the offense struggled to get out of bed in the morning, the defense had already eaten its Wheaties, laced up its cleats, and brought the wood to the Thundering Herd. They let up a touchdown in the first quarter, but Marshall struggled to move the ball for most of the game. Brandon Adler completed just 13 of 26 passes for 127 yards; he and Gipson combined for just 55 rushing yards on 21 carries. Those are defensive numbers that you'll take any day. You'll also take 3 tackles for loss, courtesy of Curtis Jones, Austin Callahan, and Hunter Cross. The Third Phase: Special teams matter, y'all, and that's going to be a theme down the line this weekend. Texas Tech couldn't affect the field positioning battle, as true freshman punter Richard Brock averaged just 33.2 yards per punt--that's the sixth-lowest single-game mark since that stat was tracked. This is the second straight season that punting has been a problem for the Red Raiders, and until it improves their defense is going to be playing on short fields any time the offense struggles. On the other hand, special teams worked in Tech's favor as well. Jayden McPherson hit from 28 and 35, but his 46-yard miss wound up being equal to the margin of victory--meanwhile, redshirt sophomore kicker Jeffrey Gauthier was a perfect 3-3 including a 40-yarder and a 45-yarder. Kohler injury: A run-heavy offense like Texas Tech gives its fullbacks a lot of work, and they'll be hoping that Isaac Kohler's hamstring injury isn't too serious. He's expected to play but be limited for the next month or two; look for classmate Walter Hatfield to pick up the slack. Next up: Texas Tech will look to win its third straight as they host Iowa State. First team to throw the ball loses. Saturday Afternoon Baylor 26, West Virginia 23 Gone Wilder: Lamont Wilder was the straw that stirred the drink on Saturday, hauling in 8 catches for 103 yards and a pair of touchdowns--one right before halftime, and one to tie the game at 23 in the fourth quarter. With the run game nonfunctional (18 carries for 44 yards) and quarterback Caleb Olmsted struggling to find anyone else (he finished 21-36 for 241 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT), Wilder was the difference-maker in this game. Big Play Defense: While Wilder and Mohamed Mustafa (24 carries for 108 yards, 1 TD) were the only players to have a truly good day on offense, much of the credit has to go to both defenses for making big plays in big moments. Alex Whitney and Ezekiel Sewell combined for 3 tackles for loss, and linebacker Thomas Morton led the team with 6 tackles, an interception, and a pass breakup. And that's not to undersell how tough West Virginia made Baylor's offense's life: Aaron Pagan and Elvis Cornejo had a sack apiece, and a suddenly freshmanlike Caleb Olmsted threw picks to both Marquise Rollins and Lamont Carson. Both defenses also held strong in the red zone, allowing 2 touchdowns apiece while forcing 4 field goal attempts each. Which brings us to... The Third Phase: I'm not trying to call out Felipe Munoz. He's been a fantastic kicker throughout his career, and his 328 points are more than any Big XII kicker not named Chiaverini or Aguirre. While he's 1-4 from beyond 40 yards this season that could still be an aberration considering he was 27-32 his first three years. His missed 42-yard attempt on Saturday is not the only reason that West Virginia lost. But the fact that Baylor's Jesse Cantrell hit from 48 and 43 (and 30 and 27) is a significant reason that Baylor won this game. West Virginia's offense has enough constraints that it can't afford a kicking crisis on top of that; meanwhile, as Baylor's offense cools down they have to be happy that Cantrell has already exceeded last season's field goal total despite fewer attempts. Country Music Awards: The standing bet between coaches TuscanSota and smckenz3 is that the loser of the Country Roads Clash has to sing the greatest song of all time, and I'm sure you can guess which one I'm talking about. For reference, here is the Baylor head man himself singing it last year; we look forward now to hearing smackems's best singing voice. Hyde Out for Season: Baylor Offensive tackle Joshua Hyde appeared to slip while retreating to pass block and stayed down. He was unable to support his weight and had to be helped off the field. MRI confirmed Baylor's fears: Hyde had torn his Achilles and is out for the remainder of the season. Next up: Baylor gets a bye before their lengthy homestand continues with back-to-back games against Texas and Kansas State. West Virginia takes on Oklahoma on Saturday morning, for their part (ask Robert Price and Gary Baldacci about this game on that time slot sometime). Oklahoma State 35, Iowa State 10 Fast Start, Fast Finish: Oklahoma State's first-ever trip to Ames was a fairly routine one. The Cowboys took control of this game early, rolling up a 14-0 lead after the first quarter and a 21-7 lead at the half. While their defense never let Iowa State have any room to breathe or any room to get back in it, they didn't truly pull away until a 14-0 fourth quarter brought us to our final margin. Perhaps they were disheartened by losing their shutout bid against the Cyclones in the fourth quarter of last year's 30-7 win in Stillwater. Dunn Dunn Dunn: Jay Dunn could very easily have won OPOTW this week after hauling in 7 catches for 105 yards and a pair of scores for Oklahoma State to pace the team. It's kind of weird to say he was the MVP of the Cowboy offense when his quarterback threw for 4 scores, but the rest of Ian Baldwin's day (58.8% passing, 7.1 YPA) showed that his receivers' playmaking was what carried the offense. Even with Xavier Gant out, Dunn and Jeremy Bridges (3 catches for 79 yards, 1 TD) stepped up and more than made up for his absence. And, of course, don't forget about Barack Holmes's 102 yards and a score on 20 carries flat. Too Early To Call: Oklahoma State has been taking names on both ends of the field this season, ranking 6th in scoring (40.75 PPG) and 7th in scoring defense (12.25 PPGA). Their +28.5 margin per game is more than 20 points better than the next-highest team in the Big XII. Pessimists will say that's come against Virginia Tech (a loss), Florida International (Florida International), West Virginia (having a down year), and Iowa State (inconsistent so far). Optimists will tell you that they're outperforming that schedule by a lot. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle, but my gut leans toward the optimists. Freshmen Will Be Freshmen: Iowa State's up-and-down offensive start continued as the freshman backfield fell back into struggle mode. Kofi McCullough did all right, ripping off a 37-yard touchdown run but not much else; he'd finish with 92 yards and the one score on 22 carries for the day. They'll usually need more than that to win because of the amount that they rely on McCullough for the offense, but he's pretty far down the list of culprits for the Cyclones. Quarterback Vaughn Sheppard, on the other hand, looked like a true freshman in his fourth career game out there--mainly because he is. He finished 11-25 for 105 yards and 2 picks, and his 63.28 passer rating is the second-worst passer rating by a Big XII quarterback this season. It's also the worst by an ISU quarterback since August Blank put up the literal exact same statline against Texas Tech late last year. The Third Phase: Special teams wasn't anywhere near decisive in this one. Oklahoma State's Ralph Hinson missed his only attempt (from 46), and Evan Shipley hit from 40 but missed from 44. Squall Line: Iowa State's offensive line rating by game: 7.3, 5.3, 6.8, 5.7. Iowa State's point total by game: 24, 13, 38, 10. You can do the math. Next up: Oklahoma State's road tour continues as the Cowboys ride up to Manhattan to take on Kansas State (more on them next). Iowa State, meanwhile, heads down to Lubbock for a matchup between the Fightin' McCulloughs and the Fightin' McLaughlins. May the better McRunningback win. #22 Texas 21, Kansas State 10 Run the Dang Ball...Effectively: Neither team was shy about putting the ball in their respective runningbacks' hands, with Simeon Wells taking 23 carries and Jaiden Givens taking 20. But the effectiveness, not the volume, of the run game was the difference here. Kansas State was consistently unable to make any headway against a Texas defensive front that looked like a completely different unit, as Givens earned just 40 yards on 20 carries. For comparison, Simeon Wells's touchdown run alone went for 67 yards--and if you take that out, Wells still had more than twice as many yards on the day as Givens. As a whole, Texas outgained Kansas State 169-40 in the run game. Pinpoint Accuracy: Both opposing passers had no trouble slicing and dicing the opposing secondary, each hitting a variety of receivers and each missing very few of his throws. Kyler Tackett completed 21 of his 29 passes, the third time in four games that he's been over 72% in a game this season. And those weren't just baby checkdowns, either; he threw for 260 yards and a pair of scores in the first quarter that gave Texas the lead for good. Murrell's accuracy was even better, which is more impressive considering the length of throw he was forced into on third downs due to the aforementioned run game struggles. He completed 22 of 27 passes, an 81.5% completion percentage--that's a career high by more than ten percentage points, and the highest completion percentage by a Kansas State quarterback since Marshall Newman's 16-19 effort against Iowa State in 2016 during the bowl run. That said, one of Murrell's five incompletions was indeed an interception. A Touchdown Every Time Out: Murrell and Tackett are both rewriting the trivia books (and maybe soon the record books), as they each continued their streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to start their careers. Rahim Murrell has now thrown a touchdown pass in all 16 games he's started, which is the fifth-longest such streak in Big XII history; Kyler Tackett has done so in all 17 he's started, which ranks 4th. Ahead of them are Brad Davis (18), Chester Brenner (19), and Norris Brooksheer (33 for 33). The Third Phase: Special teams didn't really have that much of an impact on this one, but until Simeon Wells's backbreaking run in the fourth quarter it very well could have. This was a 14-10 game headed into the 4th quarter, but the two kickers combined to go 1-4 on field goal attempts. Texas's Giovanni Esposito missed opportunities to put the screws on, which you can hardly blame him for because his attempts were from 48 and 56 yards out. Wildcat counterpart Martin Kay made his 28-yard chippie, but if he'd connected from 45 then Kansas State would have been within one possession even after the fourth-quarter touchdown. Next up: Texas's long road trip takes a break next week as they go on bye, but they follow it up with a 100-mile drive to Waco to take on Baylor. Kansas State, meanwhile, gets to stay home to take on red-hot Oklahoma State. Saturday Evening #3 TCU 13, #5 LSU 10 Felix Felicis: It wasn't the prettiest game for Felix Luck. 23-for-40 with 221 yards and a pair of interceptions is a tough statline to overcome in a win. But despite the adversity, despite trailing into the fourth quarter, despite a tough LSU defense, Felix Luck made the throws he needed to make when it came down to it--particularly on 2nd and 10 from the LSU 28 with the clock getting noticeably shorter with every passing drive. The call was play-action to Shamar Burroughs, and Luck sold the handoff well enough that the senior tailback was walloped at the line of scrimmage. But it also drew in the defense and got McHanna in one-on-one coverage. Luck said after the game that he was eyeing Finn Nielsen's side of the field to keep the safety from cheating over, and he delivered a perfect lob to the back shoulder to where only McHanna could catch it for to go-ahead touchdown. Throws like that are why Luck has earned the starting job, and he only needs to make one or two such throws per game the way the defense is playing. Lights Out: Speaking of which, TCU's defense is (to borrow a term from hockey) standing on its head. LSU had entered this game averaging more than 27 points a game and scoring at least 26 all three times out. TCU held them to ten. They made normally reliable Elias Allen-Hollis a nonfactor, holding him to 13-26 passing for 140 yards and 2 interceptions and sacking him twice. Kenyon Randall did break off a 40-yard touchdown run, but his other 21 carries went for a total of 45 yards. They held the Tigers to 3-14 on third down and, again, held them to 10 points total. This is the second opponent TCU's held to 10 or fewer this season and the third that couldn't reach 20 against the Horned Frogs. Their 15.0 points allowed per game is a top-15 rank in the country, but that's against a schedule that's included USC, Tennessee, Texas Tech, and LSU--absolutely no gimmes on that list. Rock Fights: Along with the 9-7 win over Tennessee, TCU has now won two games this season in which they scored 13 points or fewer. That ties a Big XII record with three other teams: 2014 Oklahoma State, 2015 Texas Tech, and 2018 Iowa State. The 2014 Pokes had a laundry list of future NFL players on that defense--Anthony Ortiz, Dewey Tomlinson, and Louis Peterson being among them. The 2015 Red Raiders went 12-0, did not allow a touchdown in conference play, and made the playoffs. The 2018 Cyclones made the playoffs over both participants in that year's conference championship game. That's good company for a defense to be in, and the ability to win consistently with defense can make up for offensive struggles. The Third Phase: Special. Teams. Matter. Both teams missed a field goal in this game, and the final margin ended up being exactly three points. That's not necessarily anything that William Finn should be concerned about; he hit his attempts from 42 and 26 and his only miss was an end-of-half desperation try from 55 yards. No shame in that. But Wyatt Abel's got to be kicking himself after banging a makeable 43-yarder off the upright in the third quarter. Those single kicks are never the only reason that a team loses a close game because there are so many plays on which a game can turn--but you sure would like to have them back when they don't go your way. Best Résumé in the Country: TCU didn't move up in the polls even with a win over a top-5 team, but they've done as much as you could reasonably ask for in non-conference play to boost their playoff résumé. USC was top-10 at gametime, and TCU played them with a healthy Marc Lockwood. Tennessee...well, they have talent and good coaching even though the season's looking like a bust. And LSU was a playoff team last year that remains a bona fide contender this year--and the pollsters didn't punish them for the loss, dropping them three spots and leaving the Tigers as the highest-ranked one-loss team in the poll. TCU will obviously have to take care of business in the conference season, but they will not lack for quality wins when decision time comes. Next up: TCU got their first-ever win against Kansas in a defensive struggle last year, and they'll look to go back-to-back with a trip up to Lawrence next Saturday. Byes: Kansas (2-1), Oklahoma (2-1)
    18. 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. [2021] Week #5 - SNF

      Quarterback controversy in Detroit?
    20. [2021] Week #5 - 1 PM

      Surprised not to see on the injury list "Tanner Bowman, QB - Growing Pains" I'm sure he'll bounce back.
    21. Saturday Afternoon West Virginia (1-2) at Baylor (2-1)* Baylor and West Virginia each had an axle break along the country roads last time they were out. They meet up this weekend, and by the time they're done there'll be one team zipping on home and the other one standing on the side of the road with nothing but a song to sing. The Bears had their 2-0 start ended thoroughly on the strength of a bad day from the backfield and a huge day from Iowa State, suffering their worst loss since 2017 at the Cyclones' hands. The Mountaineers did them one better (one worse?), bouncing back from a win over Virginia with a school-worst 52-0 shellacking by Oklahoma State. The good news for both teams is that their opponent can't replicate exactly what caused the damage in the first place. West Virginia will almost certainly try to run it, but Mohamed Mustafa's never had Kofi McCullough's breakaway speed--he's more of a between-the-tackles, get-to-the-chains type of runner. Baylor, meanwhile, can't mimic the sheer depth and variety of downfield playmaking that Oklahoma State's pass offense showed off in spades. That said, though, they don't exactly lack for playmakers. Lamont Wilder, Baylor's all-time leading receiver, is off to a fast start as a junior with 21 receptions for 265 yards and 2 touchdowns. Caleb Olmsted looks for him early and often, and West Virginia's thin secondary will have their hands full with him. But that didn't seem to matter against Iowa State. Wilder put up his stats, but David Tolliver was able to take advantage of several of Olmsted's off-target passes, including one that he ran back for a pick-six. Baylor will need Miles Street to take the heat off of Olmsted. Street did so in the Bears' opener, rushing for two scores and catching two scores. He did so the second time, with another 109 yards rushing and a touchdown. Against Iowa State, he was held to 70 yards on 21 carries. West Virginia knows what it's like to need a runningback to carry that much of the load, as Mohamed Mustafa's suddenly become much more relied upon than ever before. Quarterback play is a serious problem, with Darren Lemons and Bobby Davies combining to complete 52.1% of their passes for 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. (Cut to Big XII career interceptions leader Kyle Cunningham licking his lips.) Mustafa rushed for 41 yards on 14 carries in the shutout loss to Oklahoma State, but if he can probe the same weaknesses that Kofi McCullough found (despite their stylistic differences), West Virginia's offense may be able to keep it in the ballgame. Even so, though, I think Baylor's going to win this game. They have the more reliable backfield, more talented receivers, the better offensive line, and the more deep and talented defense. And, of course, they're primed for revenge after last year's wild 49-42 shootout loss to the Mountaineers. Just don't expect this one to be quite that high-scoring. Baylor 30, West Virginia 14 Oklahoma State (2-1) at Iowa State (1-2)* Inversely, Oklahoma State and Iowa State clash after a pair of massive wins and look to keep the momentum going. The beatdown that Oklahoma State visited upon West Virginia was the largest in the Cowboys' history, and Iowa State hadn't ever previously beaten a Big XII opponent by as much as they walloped Baylor. With almost everybody having either opened conference play or preparing to do so this week or next, now is the time to take that effort and let it snowball into something bigger--just like West Virginia did last year. The Cowboy offense has run wild so far, just as it did with Chester Brenner at the reins. Ian Baldwin's stepped in admirably, and it sure doesn't hurt that he walked into the best situation any quarterback could have asked for with a solid offensive line and a deep set of receivers to throw to. Today, there's a bit of a complication as Xavier Gant is sidelined with a concussion. That still leaves Jeremy Bridges and Jay Dunn working the outside, and promotes redshirt freshman Samuel Barfield to the slot. Iowa State has a solid secondary, just not a deep one. They're strong up front, though, and that will matter because Barack Holmes is carrying more of the load than any Oklahoma State runningback in a few years at 113.3 yards per game and nearly 5.9 yards per carry. The Wisconsin game showed that a team that can successfully run the ball against Iowa State can win; the Iowa and Baylor games showed that Iowa State's still capable of shutting down successful running teams. Meanwhile, the Cyclones themselves have to be a successful running team to have a chance. They've put their offensive chips all on their run game. It's worked because they have an awesome offensive line and a burgeoning stud of a runningback in Kofi McCullough. He's averaging more than 150 yards and an even 2 touchdowns per game, with a 200-yard game and a 166-yard game already under his belt. The Cyclones scored 24 and 38 points, respectively, in those games. Against Iowa, he ran for 92 yards and the Cyclones scored 13--small sample size, but the conclusion is that stopping the run will pay dividends in nullifying the Iowa State offense. Oklahoma State's mostly been able to do that so far, holding West Virginia and Florida International to 92 combined rushing yards after giving up 113 on 26 carries (4.34 YPC) to Virginia Tech. I think that'll carry them to a third straight win this weekend. Oklahoma State 28, Iowa State 21 #22 Texas (2-1) at Kansas State (2-1)* The Texas game has never been kind to Kansas State. The Wildcats have faced this formerly cross-division foe four times and have been outscored by more than 20 points per game. Last year was the first time that Kansas State-Texas was a competitive game, and the Wildcats came awfully close to taking home the win in Austin. Instead, they fell 48-41 in a season that would see them fall one win short of their second-ever bowl game. Now, though, Kansas State gets to welcome Texas right after the Longhorns were humbled in a 30-10 loss to Virginia Tech. Even so, it'll be the toughest game the Wildcats have played this year. Texas is more talented than Akron (and we don't need to rehash that), but sometimes the Longhorns just get in the habit of letting everything go wrong at once. Against Virginia Tech, that took the form of Simeon Wells having the worst game of his career: 76 yards and 2 fumbles lost. It also took the form of Kyler Tackett being okay and not great, and the defense needing a full quarter to wake up (by which point the damage was done). Tackett and Wells aren't known for their volatility, though, so the idea of both of them having back-to-back no-shows would be concerning yet extremely surprising. The defense, though, faces a long-term setback due to the injury of starting defensive tackle Zion Gaines. That could leave the 296-pound Jamal Robinson playing as a 3-4 defensive tackle, or we could see Texas emerge in a 4-3 instead. Kansas State's not really a between-the-tackles team, but the defensive line shakeup might at least mean that Rahim Murrell has more time in the pocket before it collapses. And maybe that means there's more time for the window to open to hit Ricky Seau even with Damani Jeffries all over him. But if Texas decides that they can still rely on linebackers like Jabari Fletcher and Nehemiah Staples to clean up the run game, they'll try and take advantage of Rahim Murrell's high-risk high-reward nature. Murrell threw for 3 scores and 2 picks against Texas last year, he's thrown for 7 touchdowns to 4 interceptions this year, and for his career he's had 27 touchdown passes, 20 passes intercepted, and 3 fumbles lost. Murrell is the type of quarterback who gives you a puncher's chance, and Texas is usually capable of surviving punchers (see: Kansas State last year, Houston this year). I think this is the best shot Kansas State's had to win this game yet. But I'm not sure I trust their ground game, I don't think the defense is going to be able to fully stop Tackett or Wells, and Murrell doesn't usually do well carrying the game alone. I think this will be a close call and a Texas win. #22 Texas 20, Kansas State 16 Saturday Evening #5 LSU (3-0) at #3 TCU (3-0) No one can claim these teams aren't as battle-tested as they come. TCU's already slain a top-10 team on the road, outslugged Tennessee despite an offense that was stuck in park, and burning past rival Texas Tech on the road. LSU, for their part, shut down the UNC offense in their opener before outlasting Mississippi State and Georgia in back-to-back overtime thrillers--but none of those games came on the road. This is one of the biggest--if not the single biggest--non-conference games remaining this season, and I'm sure neither team would mind if it wound up being a playoff preview. And because both teams have not faced a challenge like they're about to see this weekend, this is the best chance we're going to get to learn what they're both capable of. For TCU, so much of this game is going to come down to how Felix Luck handles a traditionally strong LSU pass defense. The Tigers allow opponents to complete 57.3% of their passes for an even 200 yards per game, and they've given up 3 touchdown passes to 4 interceptions. Clay Vereen leads the team with two picks, and trying to avoid him by throwing at Eddie Quarless isn't a winning proposition either. That doesn't even get at the elite safety tandem of Jeremy Whitehead and Timothy St. John, who are each capable of putting a lock on half the field at a time. TCU will be attacking that secondary short Ousmane Seay (out for the season), though the trio of Justice Paige, Elliot Goodrich, and Marc Dobbins should be able to step up as complementary targets after the duo of Finn Nielsen and Griffin McHanna. They don't run the ball a lot, though, so all their chips will be in one Luck-sized basket. Up-and-down is the best way to describe Luck's season, as he's completed just 58.0% of his passes with 5 touchdowns to 4 interceptions. TCU has had the best offensive line in the conference so far this season, so the pressure that Alexander "Reaper" Burton can bring is less of a concern than it would be for most offenses--but if they can't keep Burton (who has 2.5 sacks this season) off the edge, it's going to be trouble. TCU and LSU both consider defense to be a calling card. And while TCU needs their offense to look like it did against Texas Tech if they want to have any chance of winning this, their defense needs to take charge of this game against a capable LSU offense. Elias Allen-Hollis isn't necessarily a star, but he's a capable player and an underrated athlete who has run a steady ship for ages for the Tigers. This season, he's 59-93 (63.4%) for 704 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions; he's also run the ball 14 times for 76 yards. If he has a bad day, you did something really right; if he torches you, you did something really wrong. Like Felix Luck, he's working with a permanently shorthanded receiving corps due to Brandon Lawler's season-ending MCL injury. But unlike Luck, he has a wild card lined up behind him. The book is still being written on bruising tailback Kenyon Randall, but after a low-volume opener he's been a workhorse. For the season, he's rushed 63 times for 305 yards (4.84 YPC) and 5 touchdowns without a fumble. Against an imposing TCU defensive front, that won't be easy to replicate...in theory. In practice, both opponents who've run the ball seriously against TCU had success doing so. USC's Bernard Shook had 112 yards on 21 carries, and Solomon McLaughlin had 129 yards and 2 scores on 27 carries (albeit with a fumble lost). I think the LSU ground game (and consequent run-pass balance) is going to be crucial to this game, and I do think it's going to be enough to carry the visitors to a win in Fort Worth. #5 LSU 13, #3 TCU 10 Byes: Kansas (2-1), Oklahoma (2-1)
    22. [2021] Week #5 - Saturday Morning

      South Carolina had their second-lowest scoring output of the season to date, dropping their PPG all the way down to 53.75
    23. ObliviousLAX

      GTHC, but welcome back!
    24. [2021] Week 5 Headlines

      SKOL SWEEP Bears complete sweep of Vikings with 24-10 win, match last season's win total Norris Brooksheer celebrates a touchdown pass to Donnie Allen during the Bears' 24-10 win over the Vikings. Chicago has now won 5 straight in the series.