stormstopper

[2020] Big XII Network Week 6 in Review: Austin Massacre

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Another week is in the books in the nation's most exciting conference, and what a dramatic turn of events we had. The main event was a phenomenal shootout between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, in which the Cowboys came away with their undefeated record intact. The highly anticipated duel between TCU and Kansas turned into a defensive slugfest. Baylor-Iowa State turned into a Marcus Swartz fireworks display. But it was West Virginia who rode in to steal the show, setting everyone abuzz with a massive win over Texas in the Longhorns' own house. It's the kind of win that redefines expectations for the whole conference, especially if West Virginia can back it up next time out. But we'll save next time for next time. For now, here are the players who made this week what it was:

     

    Offensive Player of the Week: Mohammed Foster, WVU, 24 of 33 for 329 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 7 carries for 67 yards, 1 TD

     

    Defensive Player of the Week: Caleb Whitmore, KAN, 1 INT, 5 Tackles

     

    Special Teams Player of the Week: Andrew Trimble, TCU, 44.1-yard punting average

     

    And now, let's talk about the games.

     

    Thursday Night

     

    :baylor: Baylor 42, :isu: Iowa State 20

     

    :baylor: Why Baylor won: Any explanation has to start with Marcus Swartz. The senior had another brilliant game, throwing for 301 yards and three scores on 20-29 passing while also adding 81 yards and a score on the ground. All that yardage takes him over 10,000 combined passing and rushing yards for his career, along with 80 total touchdowns--both rank 3rd in Big XII history. He found tight end Hastin Rider over and over again, and the junior responded by amassing triple career highs: 9 receptions, 145 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Baylor struck early and often, rolling out to a 35-10 halftime lead and coasting from there. The defense played its part as well, sacking August Blank 3 times and picking him off twice.

     

    :isu: Why Iowa State lost: For the second straight game, Iowa State struggled on both sides of the ball. August Blank completed just 13 of 26 passes, balancing his one touchdown against two interceptions and throwing for just 141 yards. Josiah Edmonds had a better second effort (including a touchdown), though they really need to get more than 81 yards out of him on 20 carries. The offensive line couldn't keep Baylor at bay, putting even more pressure on a struggling backfield. The offense showed more life this week than it did last week--enough, in fact, to give the Cyclones a real chance--but the defense couldn't touch Marcus Swartz. For the second straight week, they had no answer for the opposing tight end despite David Tolliver keeping the opposing lead receiver in check. It got late early for Iowa State on Thursday, and it's getting late early for them this season.

     

    The bottom line: Baylor gets a much-needed win that gets them back on track for a bowl game at minimum. Their offense continues to light the world on fire, pushing the Bears back over 40 points per game. But what's more important for Baylor is that the defense looked like a whole different unit, punishing Iowa State on all fronts and ensuring that this game just would not be competitive. They'll hope that they can keep this effort up next week when they host Texas Tech. For Iowa State, the loss drops them to 1-4 with more questions than answers. The offense pretty much has to be taken as it is at this point, but the defensive issues that have cropped up at the start of conference play make things that much harder. And things don't get easier when they have to go to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State's high-scoring offense.

     

    Saturday Afternoon

     

    :wvu: West Virginia 48, #21 :texas: Texas 17

     

    :wvu: Why West Virginia won: Um. Wow. We have a new most impressive performance by a Big XII team this season. West Virginia was merciless in every facet of the game, and it all started with Mohammed Foster. The junior accounted for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns on his own, treating the Texas defense like practice dummies, distributing the ball throughout the receiving corps, and keeping away from pressure. His offensive supporting cast was excellent--J.C. Weldon, Elias Langston, and Stephen Hager each caught touchdown passes and Mohamed Mustafa scored twice on the ground--but the defense went above and beyond. It held Texas under 100 yards rushing, kept Kyler Tackett in check, picked up a sack and an interception, and never gave the Longhorns a chance to answer the West Virginia scoring onslaught until it was too late.

     

    :texas: Why Texas lost: Kyler Tackett, Nehemiah Staples, and Zahir Rouse were the only ones who really came to play. Tackett kept the offense alive with a pair of touchdowns (against one pick) on 65.5% passing, but none of his receivers really had a breakout game. Simeon Wells had a dud of a game, earning just 80 yards on 20 carries. Tackett's not at the point yet where he can win a game with his arm all by himself; the Longhorns need to be able to establish the run. On defense, the Longhorns couldn't overpower West Virginia at the line, and that opened up the Mountaineer offense to take advantage downfield. They were all over Mohamed Mustafa, but West Virginia used so much zone-read and play-action that they had Texas tilting at windmills more often than not. In short: Texas didn't stop Mohammed Foster, and very few teams can keep up with him otherwise.

     

    The bottom line: West Virginia put the biggest hurting on Texas that the Longhorns have ever seen--the 31-point margin of defeat is a Texas record, as are the 48 points surrendered. It was nothing less than a statement win for West Virginia, who showed flashes of improvement over the course of a difficult non-conference slate. If they're putting it all together in conference play like this, then they're going to be dangerous the rest of the way. For Texas, it's a very unwelcome start to Big XII play--especially after the progress they'd made in their 3-0 start. It's not often that a single game can drastically change expectations, but this is certainly one that makes you see both teams in a different light.

     

    :tcu: TCU 16, :kansas: Kansas 10

     

    :tcu: Why TCU won: Defense! (*clap, clap*) Defense! Points were at a premium in this one, and TCU's defense seized control of this one early on. The Horned Frogs took the lead in the first quarter with a pair of field goals, and the defense never let Kansas tie it up or take the lead outright. In fact, they were even able to keep the Jayhawks out of the endzone entirely until the fourth quarter. They held Christian Graham to 140 yards passing--the fewest Kansas has accumulated in a game since Eric Jennings was a sophomore--and intercepted him. But they also locked down Rod Fulton on the ground, holding him to 4 yards per carry and out of the endzone. They got Kansas off the field on 3rd down, they kept them out of field goal range, and they were able to score from the red zone themselves--even if they had to kick three field goals from inside the 10.

     

    :kansas: Why Kansas lost: Kansas played its second good defensive game in a row, but the offense just wasn't there to join it. They accumulated just 228 yards and scored just 10 points. Joel Hawley missed yet another field goal, finishing 1/2 on the day. Christian Graham completed just 13 of his 25 passes, averaged 5.6 yards per attempt, and threw for one touchdown to one interception--and Rod Fulton wasn't much help on the ground. Just as last week against Iowa State was Kansas's offense's best-case scenario on, this was their worst-case scenario: a new backfield that didn't quite click with the rest of the team, putting them behind the 8-ball in a winnable game. This one's gonna sting.

     

    The bottom line: In the first of many duels between freshman quarterbacks Sam Milner and Christian Graham, Milner got on the board first. It's the first win for TCU in six tries against Kansas, and it's a win that TCU fans have held up as a bellwether for their hopes in conference play. The Horned Frogs have now won three straight and open conference play 2-0. With two byes coming up in their next three weeks, they'll have a singleminded focus on what's suddenly become a much more important task: taking on West Virginia in Morgantown week 8. For Kansas, it's another disappointing loss that puts them in a 2-3 hole. It's a loss to a team that looked like a peer, and it's never good to come up on the short end of the measuring stick in that kind of game. They, too, will have a bye next week before taking on still-undefeated Oklahoma State.

     

    Saturday Evening

     

    :okst: Oklahoma State 41, :ttu: Texas Tech 38

     

    :okst: Why Oklahoma State won: Offense! (*clap, clap*) Offense! There wasn't a whole lot of defense in this one, and that's where Oklahoma State's been comfortable this season. Chester Brenner stayed dangerous, throwing for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns (his 11th straight multi-touchdown game) on accurate 29-41 passing (70.7%) to pace the Cowboy offense. With all of his top three receivers--Jeremy Bridges, Xavier Gant, and Jay Dunn--hauling in a touchdown catch and Khalil Bell scoring twice on the ground, Oklahoma State didn't lack for contributors on the offensive end. They didn't really stop Texas Tech, but that's okay because Texas Tech couldn't stop them either. They led after every quarter, and established just enough of a cushion to hold of Tech's last-ditch rally and stay undefeated.

     

    :ttu: Why Texas Tech lost: Despite their point total, Texas Tech didn't do as much on the offensive end as they needed to. Solomon McLaughlin gained 108 yards on 28 carries--less than 3.9 yards per carry--but did make up for it with 3 touchdown runs. Chase Shapiro accounted for 100 yards passing, 31 yards rushing, and 2 scores. In all, that's 5 touchdowns on just 239 yards between them. There's credit to be given there, of course: Texas Tech had a lot of short fields because the defense was aggressive, setting up the Red Raider offense in stellar field position twice via interception and using Oklahoma State's offense against them. The Red Raiders won the big-play battle, but Oklahoma State dominated on a per-down basis. Win the big plays and even the score a little bit on per-downs, and this is a Texas Tech win.

     

    The bottom line: In the first highly anticipated Big XII battle, Oklahoma State came away with a big road win that leaves them as the Big XII's only remaining undefeated team. The Cowboy offense is showing no signs of slowing, cruising past the 40-point mark for the third time in four games. Sure, the defense is letting up a lot more points than they'd like, but this game is the first piece of evidence that it might not matter as long as 1) their offense stays hot, and 2) opposing Big XII offenses won't be able to take advantage. It's not likely that their game against Iowa State next week will do much to change those assumptions. For Texas Tech, it's not a bad loss. Their 4-1 start means they're still almost certainly bowl-bound, and they're still right in the thick of the conference race. They still have a rushing attack that's going to give a lot of the conference some problems, and they'll look to rebound next week in Waco.

     

    Byes: :kstate: Kansas State (3-1), :ou: Oklahoma (0-4)

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    As an aside, a few notes on the strange leaguewide passing trends this season to date with 46 combined games in the books:

    • The Big XII is on pace for the highest leaguewide completion percentage in its history at 63.92%. But it's also averaging 12.03 yards per completion, which would be the lowest mark since 2014.
    • Big XII quarterbacks are averaging 1.72 touchdowns per game and throwing touchdowns on 6.39% of their passes
      • The current records are 1.57 TD/game (set in 2018) and a TD% of 5.34% (from 2017). The current pace would break the former record and shatter the latter
    • At the same time, Big XII quarterbacks are averaging 1.05 interceptions per game and throwing picks on 3.87% of their passes.
      • Both of these would shatter the existing records of 0.78 picks per game (2019) and a 2.70% INT% (set in 2015).
      • The post-2013 record low for INT% is 2.03%. The current record high is 2.70%. The 2020 pace of 3.87% is not in the same ballpark.
    • The conference-wide passer rating of 141.84 is on pace for the second-best in our conference's history, while the TD/INT ratio of 1.65 is on pace for the second-worst.

    It's too early to draw any firm conclusions, and sample size may consign these trends to oblivion. But with six weeks in the books and nearly 40% of the regular season done, it's worth noting and keeping an eye on. 

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    3 hours ago, AzulCaballero said:

    Please no.

     

    Somebody has to be the first person to lose to me in a conference game. Look at it as an honor! Lol

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