There was plenty to like for Longhorn fans in Thursday night's 41-16 victory over Texas Tech.
Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron each topped 100 yards on the ground. Case McCoy played mistake free. And of course, there was the Texas defense that may have turned in their best effort of the season.
Say what you will of Tech's recent struggles, but they still possess and offense that hasn't struggled to put points on the scoreboard. They scored 30 on Oklahoma, 32 against Oklahoma State, and 34 against Baylor yet didn't even come close to sniffing that range on Thursday night. In fact, Texas was the first team all season to hold them under 20 points.
Sacking Tech's quarterbacks nine teams probably had something to do with that. "I didn't know it was nine," defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "I was trying to figure that out. That's amazing. I don't know that I have been around that. I've coached a while. I don't know that I've ever been around a nine sack game."
Texas stood up defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat most of the night in the middle of the line and created plenty of confusion in the process. Jeffcoat finished the night with three sacks himself. "It kind of threw us off there at the beginning the first couple of drives," Texas Tech offensive lineman Jared Kaster said. "After coming to the sidelines we have to come out with a game plan and figure out what we are going to do, but yeah I think they came out and confused us."
The Longhorn defense has been a work in progress since Robinson took over following the shellacking against BYU, but if Thursday night was the end result, it wasn't hard to see the night and day difference between then and now.
Of course, UT's defense will be put to the ultimate test in the season finale against Baylor a week from Saturday. One thing Baylor can do that Tech cannot is run the football which likely means that won't be able to pin their ears back in the pass rush like they did against Tech, but that's a story for next week.
For now, it was a step back in the right direction following the disappointment that came against Oklahoma State. If they can find a way to knock off the Bears while getting some help from their friends in Norman, Texas will find themselves as Big 12 champs once again. Imagine that.
Baylor came in averaging 62 poinits per game. They scored 17.
Baylor came in averaging some 740 yards of offense. The Bears finished with 453.
Baylor was averaging over 300 yards rushing. They ended Saturday night with 94 yards on the ground.
Picking out the highlights in Oklahoma State's victory couldn't have been easy because there were many. It's a good thing we don't have too because the Cowboys staff took care of that for us.
Enjoy. It was a memorable night, if you're a Cowboy, that is.
Oklahoma State's victory over Baylor certainly changed the bowl outlook for team's in the Big 12 since the first edition of the Big 12's bowl projections two weeks ago.
What didn't change, however, is the fact the Big 12 champion is still far from unknown and any talk about who's going where largely depends on who receives the conference's automatic bid.
But here's what we do know:
It's highly unlikely a team from the Big 12 will be playing for the national title. The possibility remains Oklahoma State could find their way in, but the list of things that have to go down in order for that to happen are far too long to list.
It also remains a possibility the Big 12 could receive two bids to BCS games. The scenario most feasible for this to happen is for both Oklahoma State and Baylor to win out. The Cowboys would receive the league's automatic bid while Baylor would finish with an 11-1 record leaving them in great shape to receive an at large bid.
With that said, onto the predictions...
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
Let's go out on a limb and assume the Cowboys take care of OU in Stillwater and capture the Fiesta Bowl bid with an 8-1 conference record (and head-to-head tiebreaker over Baylor).
As for their opponent? The pesky Huskies may once again find their way into the BCS if the capture the MAC championship and remain undefeated. They are sitting #14 in the latest BCS polls and need to move up two more spots to assure their position. The Fiesta Bowl has the last choice this season of the large teams meaning they may not have a choice but to take NIU.
Discover Orange Bowl
Baylor vs. Clemson
Here's where it gets interesting. Assuming Alabama and Florida State remain #1 and #2, the Sugar and Orange Bowls will be looking for replacements for their conference champions. It seems likely Clemson would be that replacement with the Orange getting another selection for it's at-large choice. If the Sugar passes on Baylor, it's hard to envision the Orange doing the same if the Bears finish 11-1.
(Wouldn't it be ironic that by missing out on the Big 12's automatic bid, Baylor actually ends up with a better bowl matchup than Oklahoma State? Is that how this is supposed to work?)
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Texas vs. Auburn
If the Big 12 indeed gets two BCS selections, everybody else in the conference moves up a spot in the pecking order. At this point, Texas seems like the selection here since we're assuming Oklahoma will lose to Oklahoma State in the season finale.
As for the SEC side of the equation, it's anybody's guess right now with big games this weekend happening between Auburn-Alabama, South Carolina - Clemson, and Texas A&M - Mizzou.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Arizona State
It now appears the Sooners may be heading to San Antonio to take on the Pac-12 #2 team. If Arizona State losses to Stanford to in the Pac-12 title game, the Sun Devils would likely be the choice although Oregon also an appealing option here, as well.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Kansas State vs. Iowa
Tempe would be a great landing spot for the Wildcats and their traveling party after a 2-4 start to the season.
As for the B1G side of the equation, Iowa could be the selection where they also played in the 2010 and 2011. If Nebraska isn't selected for the Outback Bowl, the Huskers could theoretically fall here also setting up a great matchup of former Big 12 mates.
National University Holiday Bowl
Texas Tech vs. Oregon
If all of the above holds true, the Red Raiders would be the last bowl eligible team from the Big 12 and probably wouldn't mind a trip to San Diego.
Could the face the Ducks? It's entirely possible especially if the Alamo Bowl selects Arizona State. If not, the Sun Devils could fall here, also.
Texas Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl
With the Big 12 possibly getting two BCS bowl teams combined with only have six bowl eligible teams, the Texas and Pinstripe Bowls will have to look to the pool of six win teams still looking for a home to fill in for the two spots the Big 12 would be unable to fill this season.
Home for the holidays
TCU, West Virginia, Kansas, Iowa State
Okay, playing a bit of catch up here from the weekend as a bout of sickness ransacked the household over the last several days but we're finally back at it.
As for the power poll, not a lot of movement this week except for the top spots following Oklahoma State's impressive victory on Saturday night. If you saw that coming in the fashion that it went down, than I'd like the next set of lottery numbers, if you don't mind.
With the season down to two weeks, here's how this week's poll shakes out.
1. (↑1) Oklahoma State (10-1): The only thing surprising about the Cowboys victory over Baylor was the ease at which it happened. The Pokes have been playing their best football over the second half of the season and they proved on Saturday night they're one of the top teams in the country even if they aren't likely to get the chance to prove it in the national title game. Up next: bye.
2. (↓1) Baylor (9-1): The season that had gone almost perfectly came crashing back to earth Saturday night in Stillwater. Look at it this way Baylor fans, your team is 9-1 and still has a chance to win the Big 12 and head to a BCS bowl. There is no shame in that, at all. Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth will tell us a lot about this team. Can they pick themselves up off the mat? Up next: @ TCU.
3. (-) Texas (7-3): The Cowboys victory over Baylor was good news for Texas as it opened the door just a bit wider for a possible Big 12 title. All will be for not, however, if Texas doesn't take care of business themselves. Up next: Texas Tech (Thursday night).
4. (-) Oklahoma (9-2): Going to Manhattan and coming home with a victory is no easy task and the Sooners did just that, again. Oklahoma now has an extra week to prepare for Bedlam and a victory there would put a solid finish on another 10 win season and could even create a three or four way tie atop the Big 12 standings. Up next: bye.
5. (-) Kansas State (6-5): The Wildcats put up a fight against the Sooners, but it's tough to win any game when your defense allows 300 yards rushing. K-State still has a chance - and a good one at that - for seven wins. Considering KSU started the season 2-4, it's been a solid second half of the season any way you cut it. Up next: @ Kansas.
6. (-) Texas Tech (7-4): The Red Raiders enter Thursday night's game against Texas with a 7-4 record. Not bad, but considering Tech was 7-0 just over a month ago, you know they'd love to put an end to the losing streak and what better team to end it against than Texas. Up next: @ Texas (Thursday night).
7. (-) West Virginia (4-7): It's been a disappointing season for the Mountaineers but you want to know how it gets even more disappointing? Lose to a 2-9 Iowa State team at home to finish the season. And here's the thing, you can count on the Cyclones showing up and leaving everything on the field because that's what Paul Rhoads' coached teams do. Will the Eer's do the same? Up next: Iowa State.
8. (-) TCU (4-7): The Horned Frogs saw what Oklahoma State did to Baylor, now can they duplicate it? Probably not by themselves, but who knows what Baylor's psyche will be following Saturday's loss. If TCU can shut down the Baylor ground game the way the Pokes did, they could have a chance. Up next: Baylor.
9. (↑1) Iowa State (2-9): Grant Rohach had the game of the season throwing for 300 yards in some brutal conditions leading the Cyclones to their first Big 12 victory of the season. If he can do it again, you have to think they would have a better than average chance of making it two in a row. Up next: @ West Virginia.
10. (↓1) Kansas (3-8): Let's just say the Jayhawks trip to Ames probably wasn't the most enjoyable they've ever taken. The conditions were cold and miserable, they gave up 500 yards, lost by 34, and got shutout. Whatever happens against Kansas State, it can't be much worse than what KU just endured. Up next: Kansas State.
#18 Oklahoma (8-2) @ Kansas State (6-4)
If you go back in time to mid October, Kansas State's season looked much different that it does today. The Wildcats were coming off three straight Big 12 losses and coupled with the season opening defeat to North Dakota State, K-State was just 2-4 on the season with their lone wins coming against UL-Lafayette and UMass.
Following the funk to start the season, Bill Snyder's squad has reeled off four straight wins and are now thinking about moving up the Big 12's bowl pecking order.
What changed over the last month? One, the schedule took a turn for the better after opening up with Texas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor, all of whom are still fighting for the Big 12 title. And two, the Wildcats simply got better every time out.
Kansas State continues to effectively play both Daniel Sams and Jake Waters at quarterback. Sams is still the runner (109 rushing yards last week and just five pass attempts) and Waters continues to be used primarily as a passer, although he's shown he can run it, as well. Say what you want about two quarterback systems, but it's working for K-State.
The Sooners will enter Saturday's game with Trevor Knight likely to once again take over the starting quarterback role with Blake Bell expected to miss the game due a concussion suffered last week against Iowa State.
After night relieved Bell, the freshman rushed for 123 yards helping lead OU to an unanswered 45 points, 38 of which came after halftime when the game was tied at 10.
Oklahoma will also be without running back, Damien Williams, and wide receiver, Lacoltan Bester, who have reportedly been suspended for Saturday's game. Williams led the Sooners with 128 yards on the ground against ISU while Bester led the receiving corps with four catches for 75 yards.
Keys to the game:
1. The read option. Daniel Sams is going to run it for Kansas State. With Trevor Knight now the likely starter - or Kendal Thompson if not - at quarterback for the Sooners, OU figures to be running their fair share of it, as well. Whichever defense does the best job keeping the opposing quarterback from consistently picking up big chunks of yards will probably be celebrating come 3:00 on Saturday.
2. Can Oklahoma throw it? You can bet the Sooners will be focused on running the ball at Kansas State, but the more effective Knight is in the passing game, the more damage OU can do running the ball. Knight struggled in the passing game in his first two starts of the season, a fact that won't be lost on KSU's defensive staff. Kansas State safety Ty Zimmerman will likely miss the game on Saturday which is a big blow for KSU, but can Knight take advantage?
3. Special teams. Kansas State has two of the best punt/kick returners in the country in Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson who consistently cause opposing special teams coaches to suffer from sleep deprivation. For the Sooners, Jalen Saunders returned an Iowa State punt 90 yards for a score last week. In a game that figures to be tight throughout, the return game will play a key factor in deciding Saturday's outcome.
The Baylor - Oklahoma State game is getting all the hype in the Big 12 this week and understandably so, but this matchup between the Sooners and Wildcats should be plenty entertaining.
Oklahoma is still holding onto the slimmest of hopes they can work themselves into a tie for the Big 12 title and the only way that happens is if they can knock off Kansas State. The Wildcats aren't playing for anything other than their bowl position, but that's no different than the past four weeks and they still managed to rip off four straight wins.
The Sooners will be missing some key cogs on offense which won't make inserting Knight back into the starting quarterback position any easier. Kansas State is playing their best football of the season and it'll continue on Saturday.
The Wildcats are playing at home and peaking at the right time. The same can't be said of Oklahoma. The Sooners won't go quietly, but in the end, K-State picks up win number seven. Kansas State 30 Oklahoma 27.
Thanksgiving and football go together like potatoes and gravy. Can you really have one without the other? Not in my house at least.
Football has almost become a rite of passage for most football fans around the country. Whether you eat, watch football, then eat some more or simply watch football all day and then dive into the delicacies at the end of the day, football has become entrenched in one of our biggest and best national holidays. And the beauty of it is you can do it all while enjoying families and friends. What else brings people together like food and football?
But let's assume for a second you had a choice. Would you bypass the day at home if you had a chance at free tickets to watch your favorite college football team - from 50 yard line seats no less - but in order to do so, you would miss the Thanksgiving day feast?
Thinking, thinking, thinking, YES, of course you would!
Well, at least 42% of you would. That is how fans responded in this week's Discover Fan Loyalty Poll when asked if they'd give up the Thanksgiving dinner in favor of free 50 yard line seats. The other 55% of those polled responded with a thanks, but no thanks.
In a way, it's hard to blame them. Eating Thanksgiving dinner surrounded by friends and families while watching the game isn't exactly an easy thing to give up. I mean, we're not talking about an everyday thing here. Thanksgiving rolls around once a year and if you bypass that day, it's another 364 days until it happens again.
But on the other hand, how often to have a chance at free tix on the 50? Maybe never, right? If it's me, I'm off to the stadium like a bolt of lightning, after all, they'll be plenty of leftovers to enjoy for a solid night cap.
Discover also asked college football fans what's their favorite go-to food on the big day and to no one's surprise, turkey ruled the vote. Here's how football fans responded when asked what they'll be loading their plate up with come Thursday.
Each week, Discover also asks fans their top choice for the best team in the country and just like the polls, Alabama continues to lead the way with Florida State checking in a distant second. Here are the fans' top six choices.
The Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted twice a month by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 1500 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online. The Poll leads up to the 2014 Discover Orange Bowl. Discover’s commitment to college football includes relationships with ESPN and Notre Dame Football on NBC.
Disclaimer: I am a paid brand Blogger for Discover Products Inc. My views are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Discover Products Inc. and its affiliates.
We're down to three weeks and the Big 12 rankings finally are starting to show stability. That could all change, however, if the Cowboys find a way to take out Baylor this weekend.
Here's how things looks as we head down the home stretch.
1. (-) Baylor (9-0): Even missing three of their top offensive players wasn't enough to slow Baylor down as they racked up another 63 points in dispensing Texas Tech. The Bears now take the show on the road in what figures to be their toughest game to date. Up next: @ Oklahoma State.
2. (↑1) Oklahoma State (9-1): The Cowboys had relatively little trouble in taking care of Texas on their home field using a 14 point outburst just before half to put the game out of reach. Next? Baylor comes calling. All the talk is about Baylor's offense, but how many can the Pokes put up against the improved Baylor defense? Up next: Baylor.
3. (↓1) Texas (7-3): The Longhorns Big 12 title hopes weren't officially dashed, but they'll need plenty of help to get back on top. Not to mention, Texas looked like anything but Big 12 champions on their home field. The Horns will have a few extra days to get the train back on track before taking on Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night. Up next: bye.
4. (-) Oklahoma (8-2): It looked for a while like Paul Rhoads might be up to his old tricks heading to halftime tied at 10. It wasn't to be as the Sooners came out after half with their foot on the gas and never looked back thanks in part to 400 yards rushing. Things will be much tougher when they head north this week to take on a Kansas State team playing their best football of the season. Up next: @ Kansas State.
5. (-) Kansas State (6-4): The Wildcats are officially going bowling after holding off TCU on Saturday. After three straight losses to begin Big 12 play, K-State has turned it around with four straight victories. The duo of Daniel Sams and Jake Waters continues to work at quarterback. Now the attention turns to beating OU who won by 41 the last time they visited Manhattan. Up next: Oklahoma.
6. (-) Texas Tech (7-4): The Red Raiders were unbelievable during the first quarter against Baylor but unfortunately they still had to play the other three quarters. Even after four straight losses, you still have to feel good about the direction of the program as Kliff Kingsbury's first season comes to a close. Up next: bye.
7.(-) West Virginia (4-7): The Mountaineers had been limping along for most of the season but things officially went from bad to worse in losing to Kansas. The Jayhawks losing streak had to end sometime but here's guessing West Virginia didn't expect it to be against them. With bowl eligibility out of the picture, the Mountaineers can start making plans to spend the holidays at home. Up next: bye.
8. (-) TCU (4-7): What is the saying, close only counts in horseshoes? Too bad for the Horned Frogs because they came oh so close to knocking off Kansas State last weekend. TCU only has one more chance to go out with a win and it would be a big win at that with Baylor being the only team left on the schedule. TCU and Gary Patterson also have an extra week to prepare. Up next: bye.
9. (↑1) Kansas (3-7): Jayhawks win! How about that? It's been a while since anyone has been able to say that after a Big 12 game. Congrats to Kansas for getting the monkey off their back. Now, can they make it two in a row? Up next: @ Iowa State.
10. (↓1) Iowa State (1-9): The Cyclones looked to be in position to pull off the upset heading to halftime against OU unfortunately the second half started poorly and didn't get any better. With Kansas winning last week, it's Iowa State that now has the Big 12's longest losing streak at seven games. Up next: Kansas.
Baylor has passed its two toughest tests of the seasons with flying colors in wins over Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
That's good, but the toughest test of the season awaits on Saturday when they travel to Stillwater to take on ninth ranked Oklahoma State in a game that will decide who's in the driver's seat for the Big 12 title.
The Bears were banged up in the victory over Oklahoma losing wide receiver, Tevin Reese, and their top two running backs, Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. All three missed the game against Texas Tech.
The injury situation didn't get any better on Tuesday with the news that starting left tackle Spencer Drango will be undergoing back surgery today.
Drango's injury is a ruptured disk in his back. As I mentioned earlier, surgery is today.— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) November 19, 2013
While there is no timetable for his return, it's probably safe to assume that having back surgery means that he will miss the rest of the regular season considering Baylor has just three games remaining on the schedule.
Bryce Petty and the rest of Baylor's skill players receive most of the accolades for their incredible offensive production, but Art Briles has said time and again the key to BU's success rests with the guys in the trenches.
There's no way to know what impact Drango's injury will have on the group of front, but it doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize the timing and severity of the injury couldn't be worse. Baylor is about to face a fast and aggressive defense this weekend - on the road nonetheless - and disrupting the continuity the offensive line have developed this season won't make beating the Cowboys any easier.
Baylor showed its depth last week against Texas Tech at the skill positions, and now they'll be forced to do the same thing up on the line
Drango's backup is sophomore Pat Colbert who has seen some action this season largely due to the fact Baylor's second team has received plenty of playing time during their blowout wins. Our Daily Bears also threw out the possibility of moving starting right tackle, Kelvin Palmer, over to the left side and playing Troy Baker at right tackle where he started every game last season.
However they fill Drango's shoes, it's something that bears watching Saturday night, not only in the running game, but how a new left tackle is able to protect Petty's backside.
Briles has said all along his team now has Big 12 depth and we found out last week he wasn't joking. That depth, however, is going to be put to the test yet again in their biggest game of the season.
Baylor blacked out Floyd Casey Stadium for its Thursday night game versus Oklahoma which included all black uniforms - from head to toe - worn by the Bears. It worked out well as they had little trouble in dispatching the Sooners in their 41-12 victory.
So, it worked for Baylor now maybe it will work against them? Hmmm, maybe not.
An apparent attempt to blackout Boone Pickens Stadium for the upcoming Oklahoma State-Baylor game was met with a huge thud on twitter before the momentum even got started.
After talking to the student body some more, the change has been made. We are #AmericasBrightestOrange and we will be wearing Orange on Sat!— OSU Student Section (@OSU_Students) November 18, 2013
I REPEAT: WE ARE NOT WEARING BLACK ON SATURDAY, WE ARE WEARING ORANGE. #AmericasBrightestOrange— OSU Student Section (@OSU_Students) November 18, 2013
Was it Coach Gundy that squashed the blackout? It might have been Coach Gundy.
Can't wait to see the Sea of Orange Sat. Lets turn Boone Pickens Stadium into a madhouse. Come early, Be Loud & Cowboy Up #BeACowboy— Mike Gundy (@CoachGundy) November 18, 2013
Whatever the case, the attempted blackout for Saturday's game is officially dead, if it ever had a life.
Things move fast on twitter. A movement began and was crushed between me checking in. Thank goodness wear orange kids— PokelahomaCRFF (@Pokelahoma) November 18, 2013
It's probably safe to say you can expect to see plenty of orange in Stillwater on Saturday. As for the uniform ensemble the Cowboys will wear, we'll have to wait and see, but I'm guessing they'll be plenty of orange there, as well.
If you're surprised by this, well, then you haven't been paying much attention. Bill Snyder has done this throughout his coaching career albeit it often goes to a player the Cats have just played as was the case earlier this year when he sent a letter to NDSU quarterback, Brock Jensen.
On Saturday, Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro took a big hit against Baylor that left him down on the turf. On Monday, Amaro received the following from Snyder who penned the note to Amaro sending his best wishes.
THE upmost respect to Kansas State and Coach Snyder, great program and an even greater coach. Huge fan. pic.twitter.com/fjeflBLU47— Jace Amaro (@J_ACER22) November 18, 2013
There's really not much to say except that's about as cool as it gets.
During Monday's Big 12 coaches call, Snyder was asked about such letters - not Amaro's specifically - but in a general sense.
"I appreciate opponents that prepare well and play well and show quality principles and values. The letters I've sent to players over the years, and coaches for that matter, just sharing my appreciation for what they do, how they've prepared, how they've played. It's just recognizing them for what they do," Snyder said.
Amaro and Texas Tech had played Kansas State the week prior and obviously he left an impression on Snyder as he does most of the opposing coaches he faces. But for Snyder to take the time to write him a note takes it to an entirely new level.