Even with Oklahoma and Texas Tech both losing this past weekend, there's not much movement in this week's power poll, althought Oklahoma State is making up ground in a hurry after dropping two early season games. They'll have a chance to prove exactly how good they are this week when they take on the Big 12's best who is coming off a second straight dominating performance.
Here's a look at how the rankings shake out heading into the final month of the season this will see Kansas State continue it's bid to get into the BCS title game, while Oklahoma State and Oklahoma cling onto Big 12 title hopes. Everyone else will be simply jockeying for bowl position with TCU and Iowa State searching for the all important sixth win somewhere in November.
1. (-) Kansas State (8-0): Another contender up, another contender down. The Wildcats continued their impressive run through the Big 12 with a 31 point victory over Texas Tech. The talk of playing in the BCS national championship will only continue to increase over the final month so long as the Wildcats continue their winning way. They'll have another tough challenge on their hands this week. Up next: Oklahoma State.
2. (-) Oklahoma (5-2): The Sooners chance of playing for the national title are likely over following their loss to Notre Dame. Even so, their hopes for a possible Big 12 title are still alive and well. Now if somebody could just beat Kansas State. The Sooners need to win out to keep their chances alive and will have do it three times on the road starting this weekend. Up next: @ Iowa State.
3A. (-) Texas Tech (6-2): Things got off to a great start against Kansas State but then the second half happened and the Red Raiders couldn't keep up. All is not lost for Texas Tech, however. They have four winnable games ahead which would leave them with a 10 win regular season if they win them all. Not bad for a team that was predicted to finish ninth in the conference. Up next: Texas.
3B. (↑1) Oklahoma State (5-2): Nobody has been talking much about the Cowboys who have quietly won three in a row while being forced to juggle freshman quarterbacks because of injury. Beating TCU was nice, but Oklahoma State has a chance to make a gigantic statement this weekend in Manhattan.
Last year the Cowboys had their national title hopes dashed in Ames. Can they play the role of spoiler this year? If so, their reward could be a second straight Big 12 title. Remember, the Pokes have just one conference loss although the upcoming schedule is brutal. Up next: @ Kansas State.
5. (-) Texas (6-2): Well, that was a little to close for comfort. The Longhorns escaped Lawrence by the skin of their teeth scoring the winning touchdown with just 12 seconds remaining. And you think the howls coming from Austin were loud following their loss to OU, I can't imagine what it would have been like had they lost to Kansas. Case McCoy directed the winning touchdown drive although Mack Brown said on Monday David Ash is still his guy.
The Longhorns now head to Lubbock for a game that will have a big say in the Big 12's bowl pecking order. Up next: @ Texas Tech.
6. (-) West Virginia (5-2): West Virginia watched all the action from the sidelines this weekend. Did they find any answers to what was ailing their team following back-to-back blowout losses during the bye week? We'll find out on Saturday when they take on TCU who has had a few issues of their own over the past several weeks. Up next: TCU.
7. (↑1) Iowa State (5-3): Steele Jantz is back! Paul Rhoads gave Jantz another chance and he didn't disappoint throwing for 381 yards and five touchdowns. It was a huge win for the Cyclones and moves them within one game of bowl eligibility. Rhoads' squad won't have much time to savor the win, however, with Oklahoma and Texas coming up the next two weeks. Up next: Oklahoma.
8. (↓1) TCU (5-3): The Horned Frogs lost for the second straight week falling to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Things looked to be heading in the right direction after one quarter with TCU holding 14-3 lead but unfortunately, there were still three more quarters to play and TCU wouldn't score a point the rest of the way.
TCU is sitting on five wins with a month left but with games against West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma, the Horned Frogs will need to pull an upset somewhere along the way if they want to go bowling for the holidays. Up next: @ West Virginia.
9. (-) Baylor (3-4): The good news on Saturday for Baylor, they held their first Big 12 opponent under 40 points this season. The bad news, their offense only scored 21 points and turned the ball over four times. Baylor's chance of playing in the postseason look less and less each week. The Bears will try to end a four game losing streak this weekend against a Kansas team that for the first time in three seasons isn't a pushover. Up next: Kansas.
10. (-) Kansas (1-7): Oh, so close. The Jayhawks hung right with Texas all afternoon but came up one play short. Hey, it might be just baby steps, but KU has made a bunch of them this year even if it doesn't show in their record. Is their first Big 12 win under Charlie Weis on the horizon? Up next: at Baylor.
"This kid can do no wrong."
That's what Fox play-by-play man Gus Johnson had to say following Collin Klein's 22 yard run in the third quarter of Kansas State's 55-24 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday.
He may have been referring to Klein specifically, but the exact same thing can be said for the entire Kansas State team who dispensed of yet another top 25 team hoping to get themselves in the mix for a possible Big 12 title.
This time around Texas Tech was the victim and the Red Raiders suffered the same fate as Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas, and West Virginia before them.
Take a look at Saturday's box score and you might have guessed it was a rather close game. The total yardage was nearly even (442 for Texas Tech, 426 for Kansas State) as was time of possession. “We didn’t get adjusted as quickly as you’d like but that’s an awfully good offensive football team" Bill Snyder said. "Then we did get a feel for what was going on. They moved the ball but you didn’t see a lot of points going in the end zone.”
Take a closer look at the box score, however, and you'll see one big reason why they weren't finding the end zone and why the Wildcats walked away with a 31 point win, their fifth win by 30 or more points this season. Texas Tech turnovers; three. Kansas State turnovers; zero. So what else is new?
Kansas State increased their lead in turnover margin to +15 on the season picking up two Texas Tech fumbles, both which set up K-State inside the 20 yard line resulting in 10 points. The Wildcats then returned Seth Doege's lone interception of the day for six points and a commanding 48-17 lead. And that, folks, is your ball game.
As for Klein, the guy really could do no wrong as Johnson alluded to during the broadcast. He rushed for 83 yards on just 12 carries and scored two touchdowns. Through the air, he added another 233 yards on 19 of 26 passing plus two scores.
You would have to think that one of these days, people will stop the saying the guy can't throw the ball because every single week, that's exactly what he does. He leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency ahead of every other top flight quarterback in the league who apparently looks better doing it than does Klein. He's completing 70.9% of his passes on the year with 12 touchdowns and against just two interceptions.
As a team, Kansas State is yet another step closer to running the table in what is without a doubt one of the toughest leagues in the country.
Without getting ahead of ourselves, there are still big tests ahead against Oklahoma State and Texas, and TCU and Baylor aren't exactly pushovers.
With Notre Dame's big win over Oklahoma and Oregon's continued strong play, there has been and will be plenty of talk what will happen should all three teams finished undefeated to go along with Alabama, whose destruction of the SEC continued this week by knocking off undefeated Mississippi State, 38-7.
Before anybody gets too worked up, let's let this season play out. More times than not, these things have a way of working themselves out. Will all four teams finish unbeaten? Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.
All Kansas State needs to worry about is beating Oklahoma State Saturday in Manhattan and let everyone else worry about what will happen when the postseason rolls around.
As it stands today, Kansas State's resume is as impressive as anyone's in the country, but that is today and today doesn't mean a hill of beans when it comes to the BCS. The same thing can be said for the next four weeks. All that matters is where every stands come the morning of December 2nd.
Right now, Kansas State has as good a chance as any to run the table. But that's all it is, a chance, which is what you've have when you're sitting with eight wins and zero losses heading into November.
I will agree with another thing Johnson mentioned on the broadcase, however. "All things considered, I'd buy a ticket to watch these guys play Alabama." Yeah, me too, and so would a lot of other people that have watched Kansas State play this year. Will it happen? Your guess is as good as mine but beat Oklahoma State this coming weekend, and they're one step closer to making it happen.
#17 Texas Tech (6-1) @ #4 Kansas State (7-0)
The Lowdown: Coming into the season, the media covering the Big 12 tabbed Kansas State for a sixth place finish in the league and had Texas Tech all the way down at number nine out of 10 teams in the preseason poll.
So here we are heading into the last weekend in October and that poll couldn't have been farther from reality. Kansas State is riding high at 7-0 with road wins at Oklahoma and West Virginia in their back pocket prompting discussions of the Wildcats playing for the national title. Texas Tech, meanwhile, has found a defense and is right behind them at 6-1.
A win by the Red Raiders would create a tie with KSU for first place in the Big 12 with Oklahoma just a game back in the win column. A win by Kansas State would put them one game closer to an outright Big 12 title heading into the final month of the season.
So what gives when the two meet in Manhattan on Saturday afternoon?
These type of things are nearly impossible to predict, but if there was ever a game were the factors lined up for a possible letdown game for the favorite, this one might be it for Kansas State.
The Wildcats are returning home after back-to-back road trips to Iowa State and West Virginia. There was plenty of build up to the game in Morgantown, the Wildcats cruised, got back late Saturday night/Sunday morning and now have to turn right around and do it again against one of the best teams in the Big 12 through the season's first half.
Of course, this is Kansas State and Bill Snyder, who usually scoff at such scenarios. But human nature is human nature and 18-22 years old can be prone to falling victim to the hills and valleys a season presents. What type of energy K-State comes out with early in Saturday's game is something to keep an eye on. Texas Tech is not a team the Wildcats want to fall behind to early.
The Red Raiders have put together back-to-back impressive wins following their only loss of the season to Oklahoma. Tech was the first team to expose the Mountaineers the week before Kansas State had their way with them. They followed that up with triple-overtime road win over TCU last Saturday.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege was at his best in those two wins. Against West Virginia and TCU, Doege was a combined 62 of 84 passing (73.8%) for 13 touchdowns against only one interception. It's hard to put up numbers much more impressive than that.
Keeping Doege under wraps won't be an easy chore for Kansas State's defense, but the Wildcats have had good success in slowing down two of the Big 12's best quarterbacks.
Kansas State was able to eliminate the big plays from Landry Jones in their game with Oklahoma and then held Geno Smith to just 143 yards passing while forcing into his first two interceptions of the season.
Doege and Tech's offense will be present an equally tough challenge, but the Wildcats should come in with the confidence knowing they've been there, done that, against some of the Big 12's best already.
Texas Tech, Keys to the Game:
1. Avoid turnovers: In Tech's lone loss this season, Doege tossed three interceptions leading Tech to a -2 ratio in turnover margin. The next two weeks, the Red Raiders turned the ball over just two times and won both games. It's not quite that simple, but when Tech takes care of the ball, they aren't any easy offense to keep out of the end zone.
The Wildcats lead the Big 12 in turnover margin at +12 which is one big reason why they've yet to lose. They've gained 16 turnovers (2nd in the Big 12) and have turned it over just four times in seven games (best in the Big 12).
2. Defend the pass. Everyone knows what Kansas State can do running the ball. There are no secrets there. All things considered, West Virginia did a decent job of slowing down the Wildcat running game holding them to 146 yards in the game, but yet still lost by 41. Why? Because Collin Klein was 19 of 21 passing.
Kansas State isn't likely to break a ton of big runs, instead they typically just grind it out. But what can break a team's back is when they hit on long pass plays. If Tech can avoid giving up big plays in the passing game, their chances of pulling the upset go way up.
3. Get the running game going. Texas Tech hasn't had to rely on the running game as much the past two weeks due to their success throwing the ball. That will need to change on Saturday if for no other reason than to keep the KSU pass rush at bay. They averaged only 2.6 yards per carry (27 carries, 71 yards) last week against TCU. Here's guessing if they have a similar stat line against Kansas State, they won't be so fortunate in picking up another victory
Kansas State, Keys to the Game:
1. Get pressure on Seth Doege. The Wildcats are second in the Big 12 with 18 sacks this season and Tech will need to do whatever it has to do to keep Meshak Williams and Adam Davis out of their backfield. The duo of defensive ends have combined for 10 sacks on the season and you can bet they'll have their sights set on getting Doege out of his comfort zone.
2. The return game. Tyler Lockett blew up last week with 194 yards receiving and two touchdowns, but let's not forget he happens to be one of the most exciting return men in college football. Lockett is averaging 30.9 yards per kickoff return good for sixth best in the country. If Lockett can answer any Texas Tech score with a big return, momentum swings right back to KSU, not to mention giving Klein a company a short field to work with.
There's plenty of impulses this week to pick a Texas Tech upset. The Wildcats have to have an off week sometime, especially after coming off the big win and long trip to Morgantown, right? Maybe, but even so, they'll find a way to win this game. Call it luck if that's how you see it, but...
Kansas State is to experienced, to disciplined, and simply too good to let this one slip through their hands. The fact Kansas State is 17-3 over the past two seasons isn't an accident. There are very few weaknesses with the team
Kansas State's balance on offense will be the difference. Stop the run and they'll throw over the top. Defend the pass, and they'll gash you time and again on the ground.
Texas Tech will hang right with Kansas State the whole way, but the Red Raiders are still a year away from winning this type of game. Seth Doege will have another solid day throwing to a host of receivers, but Tech's defense won't be able to come up with enough stops when it matters most. The Wildcats march to the Big 12 title continues.
Kansas State 34 Texas Tech 24
Do you have any superstitions you have to do on game day, that is if you want your team win on Saturday? Apparently, college football fans do not, surprisingly.
In the latest Discover Fan Loyalty Poll, an overwhelming 86% responded "no" when asked if they have any superstitions or rituals they follow before or when they are watching their team play. Just 12% of the responses came back with a "yes" vote, while 2% were unsure whether they do or not (or were possibly confused by the question).
The poll question is answered by 800 college football fans on a weekly basis, meaning only 96 have any kind of lucky rabbit's foot tucked away somewhere, a t-shirt from 1992 they have to wear, or a favorite chair they have to watch the game from, always.
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a little shocked by the results. We all know coaches and players are superstitious by nature but apparently that doesn't funnel down to their fan bases, or at least it's not something they are willing to admit.
However, of the 12% that responded with a yes vote, 58% did say they have shared that ritual with someone else while 37% said they keep it to themselves, which may be a superstition in and of itself.
While the fans who answered the poll may not be superstitious, they definitely have their pulse on who are the best football teams in the country.
In the weekly fan poll of the country's top teams, there continues to be plenty of love for the SEC with Alabama and Florida holding the top two spots.
Here's the complete rundown of who the fans voted for as the best of the best.
Notre Dame is standing strong at number four and will either make a big jump next week, or fall completely out of the poll depending on the outcome of their upcoming game with Oklahoma.
Oregon has lost a little bit of love over the last couple weeks. Two weeks ago, the Ducks were receiving 17% of the fans' vote. That fell to 9% last week and then 7% in the latest poll.
The top five in the fan poll corresponds closely with the results in the latest Associated Press and USA Today coaches' poll. The top five teams are the same with the fan poll flip-flopping Florida and Oregon, as well as Kansas State and Notre Dame.
Turfburner.com is excited to be an official correspondent for the Discover Fan Loyalty Poll throughout the rest of the season.
Discover is the official sponsor of the 2013 BCS National Championship game as well the 2013 Orange Bowl. You can keep up with the latest happenings at Discover by following them on Facebook as well as Twitter.
The 15-week Discover Fan Loyalty Poll is conducted by Rasmussen Reports, a nationally recognized leader in polling, who gathers sentiment by phone from 800 college football fans who follow games at least once per week on television, radio, in person or online.
Discover launched the Fan Loyalty Poll to give die-hard fans a platform to showcase their dedication and love for their favorite college football team leading up to the 2013 Discover BCS National Championship Game and 2013 Discover Orange Bowl. Each week the poll will offer new questions about what college football fans are thinking this season
This week's college football schedule is lite on the front end, loaded in the middle, and plenty good at the end.
The Big 12 has two huge games of importance. Texas Tech heads north to take on Kansas State in a game that is for first place in the conference. Oklahoma finishes the day when Notre Dame comes to Norman Saturday night which is a must win for both teams as they jockey for position in the BCS standings.
If that isn't enough, Florida takes on Georgia, Ohio State head to State College to take on Penn State, Michigan and Nebraska meet in Lincoln, and undefeated Mississippi State tries to dethrone Alabama.
I'd say that's not a bad day.
Here's a look at who, when, and where the rest of the games will be happening on Saturday along with who is calling the action (H/T to awfulannouncing.com on the announcing teams).
|Big 12 Games|
|#24 Texas @ Kansas||#17 Texas Tech @ #4 Kansas State|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: FSN||TV: FOX|
|Sirius Channel: 117 (TX) 137 (KU)||Sirius Channel: 85|
|Announcers: Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham||Announcers: Gus Johnson, Charles Davis|
|TCU @ Oklahoma State||Baylor @ Iowa State|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 6:00|
|TV: FSN||TV: FSN|
|Sirius Channel: 117||Sirius Channel: 117|
|Announcers: Joel Meyers, Brian Baldinger||Announcers: Mike Morgan, J.C. Pearson|
|#5 Notre Dame @ #7 Oklahoma|
|Game Time: 7:00|
|Sirius Channel: 129 (ND) 91 (OU)|
|Announcers: Brent Musburger, Kirk Herbstreit|
|National Games of Interest|
|Tennessee @ #16 South Carolina||Iowa @ Northwestern|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: ESPN||TV: ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 85||Sirius Channel: 91|
|Announcers: Dave Pasch, Brian Griese||Announcers: Beth Mowins, Joey Galloway|
|Kentucky @ Missouri||Indiana @ Illinois|
|Game Time: 11:00||Game Time: 11:00|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: BTN|
|Sirius Channel: 113||Sirius Channel: 135|
|Announcers: Tom Hart, Jon Congemi||Announcers: Kevin Kugler, Chris Martin|
|UCLA @ Arizona State||Colorado @ #2 Oregon|
|Game Time: 2:00||Game Time: 2:00|
|TV: FX||TV: Pac-12 Network|
|Sirius Channel: 139||Sirius Channel: 93|
|Announcers: Craig Bolerjack, Joel Klatt||Announcers: Kevin Calabro, Adam Archuleta|
|#3 Florida @ #11 Georgia||#18 Boise State @ Wyoming|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: CBS||TV: CBS College Sports|
|Sirius Channel: 91||Sirius Channel: Not listed|
|Announcers: Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson||Announcers: James Bates, Aaron Taylor|
|Purdue @ Minnesota||Duke @ #10 Florida State|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: BTN||TV: ESPNU|
|Sirius Channel: 135||Sirius Channel: 132|
|Announcers: Eric Collins, Derek Rackley||Announcers: Anish Shroff, Dan Hawkins|
|Michigan State @ Wisconsin||#8 USC @ Arizona|
|Game Time: 2:30||Game Time: 2:30|
|TV: ABC/ESPN2||TV: ABC/ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 125||Sirius Channel: 94 (USC) 113 (AZ)|
|Announcers: Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham||Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen|
|Ohio State @ Penn State||Washington State @ #19 Stanford|
|Game Time: 4:30||Game Time: 4:30|
|TV: ESPN||TV: Pac-12 Network|
|Sirius Channel: 92 (OSU) 136 (PSU)||Sirius Channel: 138|
|Announcers: Sean McDonough, Chris Spielman||Announcers: Rich Cellini, Coy Wire|
|#21 Texas A&M @ Auburn||#20 Michigan @ Nebraska|
|Game Time: 6:00||Game Time: 7:00|
|TV: ESPNU||TV: ESPN2|
|Sirius Channel: 94||Sirius Channel: 113|
|Announcers: Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb||Announcers: Mark Jones, Brock Huard|
|#12 Mississippi State @ #1 Alabama||#9 Oregon State @ Washington|
|Game Time: 7:30||Game Time: 9:15|
|TV: ESPN||TV: Pac-12 Network|
|Sirius Channel: 85||Sirius Channel: 128|
|Announcers: Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge||Announcers: Ted Robinson, Glenn Parker|
#24 Texas (5-2) @ Kansas (1-6)
The Lowdown: Texas got back in the win column last week by beating Baylor, 56-50, after suffering through back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Texas defense struggled, yet again, but it didn't matter thanks to the Longhorns newfound penchant for scoring points of their own.
Saturday's game at Kansas figured to be the one conference game on the schedule that was a slam dunk coming into the season. But given Texas' inconsistent play and lack of any defense, this is far from a sure thing even if the Longhorns are 21 point road favorites.
That's in large part because of Kansas' improved play in 2012 even if they don't have the wins to show for it. Sure, they got blown out by Kansas State but that was a seven point game at halftime. There has been only game this season where Kansas was truly overmatched and that was last week in Norman where Oklahoma rolled to 52-7 win in a game that was over by the middle of the second quarter. Those are the same Sooners that lead Texas 36-2 at halftime so Texas knows how that goes all too well.
The Jayhawks come in allowing 31.4 points per game on defense which is actually almost four points better than Texas at 35 points per game.
The difference between these two teams have come on offense. Texas scores points. Kansas does not.
The Jayhawks have scored a league worst 17.3 points per game and have switched quarterbacks as a result. Dayne Crist was officially benched this week and redshirt Michael Cummings will be making his second straight start. As Charlie Weis said this week, if the status quo isn't working, you have to find some way to make improvements.
Early in the season, KU's defense played relatively well and survived by creating turnovers. In the first four games, KU was +6 in turnover margin and was competitive to the end in each of those games.
Over the past three weeks, however, the Jayhawks have only two turnovers to their credit and are -6 in that category. The lack of turnovers combined with the increased competition is one reason KU has been outscored 128-37 over that span.
For Texas, the offense has been humming right along behind quarterback David Ash and an improved running game. Besides the 21 points UT scored against OU, Texas has scored more than 30 points in every game this season and eclipsed the 40 point mark four different times.
That the good news. The bad news is that the Longhorn defense has had no luck stopping anyone and no, shutting out New Mexico doesn't count (although New Mexico is sitting at 4-4). Poor tackling, missed assignments, you name it and it's probably been an issue this season for Texas.
You can point to the good offenses they've had to play thus far, but that hasn't been much of a problem for Oklahoma, Kansas State, or Texas Tech. The Longhorns schedule isn't any different than anyone's else in the league so if Mack Brown wants to complain about facing Heisman caliber quarterbacks every week, go right ahead, I guess.
Kansas, Keys to the Game:
1. Find yards in the passing game. If the Jayhawks have any chance of pulling the upset, it's going to be because of their running game. That being said, the only way KU can run the ball is if they have some kind of threat throwing the ball. The Longhorns' defense has been brutal stopping the run, but stopping the run becomes much easier when there is no threat to worry about through the air. Cummings doesn't have to play out of his mind for KU to win, but when Weis' asks him to throw, he needs to be target.
2. Defense, defense, defense. The Jayhawks defense hasn't been great this year, but they've have shown improvement at times. They had success slowing down Oklahoma State holding Joseph Randle to 80 yards on 29 carries and allowed the Cowboys just 116 yards rushing on the day. If they can get a similar effort from their front seven on Saturday, there's no reason Kansas can't hang with the Longhorns for four quarters.
3. Michael Cummings. For the second straight week, Cumming gets the start although this week, there's been much less talk of using a two quarterback system as they did last week with Dayne Crist. Cumming gives Kansas more of a running threat from the QB position which should be a good thing given UT's struggles stopping the run. If Cummings can pick up a few yards of his own on the ground and avoid any costly turnovers, it will be a successful day for the redshirt freshman.
Texas, Keys to the Game:
1. Get out to a lead early. Texas needs to end any thoughts of Kansas upset right out of the gate. It's an early start and temps figure to be hovering at a balmy 40 degrees at kickoff and UT can ill afford to sleepwalk through the first half as they did against Oklahoma. Plus, the longer the Jayhawks hang around, the tougher it gets for Texas. Not to mention, if the Longhorns get up early, Kansas is going to have to throw the ball more than they'd like to which plays away from their strengths. Advantage, Longhorns.
2. Stop the run. C'mon, Texas. This is getting just silly given the talent that is on the field. In four Big 12 games, the Longhorns have held one opponent under 200 yards rushing just once and that was West Virginia who still picked up 192 yards on the ground. Oklahoma State ran for 275, Oklahoma 343, and Baylor 255. The strength of this Kansas team is their running attack, but this is the first time Texas has played a team without much of a passing game to worry about. If they load the box and still can't stop the run, well, then this defense is officially broken.
I'm still holding out belief that Kansas is going to win a Big 12 conference game yet this season. If it does happen, it figures to be in Lawrence and KU only has two more home games. This week versus Texas and November 17th against Iowa State.
Is this the week the Jayhawks pull the upset? No, but they are going to put a scare into the Longhorns.
Texas is going to score some points, but this might actually be favorable matchup for the Kansas defense. Not from a personnel standpoint, necessarily, but I expect Dave Campo to have a solid plan in place to slow down the Texas ground game. That might actually be one advantage of having a coordinator with so much NFL experience.
Might Kansas get burned by Ash in the process ? Quite possibly, but if you're going to pick your poison, make Ash be the one to beat you, not the Texas running backs. We saw glimpses of that type of game plan against Oklahoma State and it worked for most part. Granted, it was raining for most of that game which played a part, but it was effective nonetheless.
Taking all that into consideration, Kansas simply doesn't have the offensive firepower to completely exploit the Texas defense the way other teams have. James Sims and Tony Pierson will get their yards, but the Longhorns defense will get enough stops in the red zone when they need it.
David Ash will hit a couple long touchdowns and Mike Davis will have his second straight big game with Texas pulling out a win that will be much closer than most expect. Texas 34 Kansas 24.
Over the past season-and-a-half, Baylor has won 13 football games with 10 of those wins coming in 2011 alone. Think about that for a minute.
In the first 15 seasons of the Big 12's existence, Baylor won more than five games in a season twice ('05, '10). They won three games or less eight different times over that same span.
As far as Big 12 conference games goes, they won six Big 12 games in 2011. That's the same amount of Big 12 games Baylor won in the first NINE years in the Big 12 going back to 1996. In all 15 years the Big 12 had been a conference, they had won 18 Big 12 games in total prior to 2011.
There's no question Baylor is headed in the right direction under Art Briles. The Bears used to be an afterthought in the Big 12. Baylor now matters, once again, which is something that you could rarely say over the past 20 seasons.
With the increased level of success that Baylor has achieved under Briles, also comes increased expectations which is one reason why Briles was asked about the status of defensive coordinator, Phil Bennett, during Monday's press conference. Baylor's defense, you know, hasn't exactly been adept at keeping anyone out of the end zone over the past several seasons.
Briles brought in Bennett prior to the 2010 season to run the Bears defense while assigning then defensive coordinator, Brian Norwood, to associate head coach who is also now in charge of the safeties.
The defense had struggled to an extent over Briles' first three years in Waco and Bennett became available when Dave Wannstedt was let go at Pitt. Bennett had been Pitt's defensive coordinator for three seasons and was named the interim head coach for Pitt's bowl game following Wannstedt's dismissal after the 2010 regular season.
Has he considered replacing Bennett midseason? As you can imagine, Briles wasn't amused with the question on Monday and he answered it with a quick, "not at all. Why? Because he's a good football coach and he's taking care of business on the defensive side of the ball. That's not even thought about at this stage of the game."
"If the car is rolling down the highway, you're not going to jump out while it's moving. I mean, we've got six games left," Briles added.
While it's obvious he's not going to make any changes before the schedule plays out, it's anybody's guess as to what happens following the conclusion of the season.
Statistics don't always tell the whole story, but here's a look at Baylor's defensive statistics under Briles. In his first three seasons, the defense was directed by Norwood, while 2011 and the six games of this season are under Bennett's watch.
Baylor's defense under Art Briles (Brian Norwood DC '08-10, Phil Bennett '11 - current)
|Scoring defense (pts/gm)||29.3||27.2||30.5||37.2||44.0|
|Total defense (yds/gm)||393.2||405.6||435.4||488.5||553.2|
|Rush defense (yds/gm)||137.9||178.8||170.3||197.4||197.2|
|Pass defense (yds/gm)||255.2||226.8||265.1||291.1||356.0|
Notice anything unusual? The number aren't exactly trending in the right direction.
During the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined, Baylor's defense gave up 40 points or more four different times. In 2010, that number jumped to five times which is one of the reasons Briles decided to make the change at coordinator. Baylor's defense was bad, but not that bad, at least when considering the past season-and-a-half.
In 19 games under Bennett, the Bears' defense has given up 40 or more points nine different times. They've also given up more than 50 points five times in those 19 games. That happened just three times under Norwood in 37 games.
Have the offenses gotten even better that last two seasons? Maybe, but Oklahoma, Texas and the Texas Tech's of the world were putting up plenty of points five years ago just like they are now.
If you were able to dive into the details behind the scenes, there are probably a plethora of reasons for the lack of defensive success. From the outside looking in, however, there are only two obvious reasons to look at; poor coaching or lack of talent on that side of the ball (and possibly a combination of both).
Whatever the case, Briles is going to have to make some sort of change come season's end. He's either going to have to reevaluate his recruiting philosophy on defense and go after a different type of player, or change coaches, right?
The only other option is to change the schemes that Bennett is running, but that hardly seems like the problem. Bennett has a wealth of experience coaching defense and if he truly thought his schemes were the problem, they'd likely be changed by now.
Baylor has reached another level of success not only in the Big 12, but nationally, as well. If recruits want to find out what Baylor has to offer, just flip on the TV Sunday afternoon and watch Robert Griffin do his thing.
But if Baylor wants to continue at that same level they experienced last season on a consistent basis, they simply have to get better on defense. The play on that side of the ball is holding their program back and there's really no way to sugarcoat it. The evidence is on the scoreboard every week, even when they win.
They're already at the level on offense, as evidenced by the continued success this season even without RGIII, Kendall Wright and Terrance Ganaway scoring touchdowns. Now if they can just figure out how to get their on defense, they'll be in business. Easier said than done, yes, but necessary nonetheless.
Briles decided following the 2010 season it was the coaching and made a change.
Whether it's coaching, players, or something else this time around is for Briles to figure out, but until he does, scratching and crawling to get to six wins and a bowl game every season is what the future holds in Waco.
It took three overtimes, but nevertheless, Texas Tech pulled off a 56-53 win over TCU setting up a huge matchup this weekend in Manhattan. Hey, a win is a win, but if Texas Tech wants to forge a tie atop the Big 12 standings, they're going to have to play much better against K-State than they did against TCU and Tommy Tuberville knows it, especially on defense.
The Texas Tech defense gave up 516 yards to the Horned Frogs (a number that's slightly inflated because of the 54 yards they gave up in the overtimes).
"We lined up wrong. We played the wrong gaps. We didn't look like we were totally into what we were trying to execute game-plan-wise, and we didn't tackle very well," Tuberville said on Monday.
That, my friends, isn't going to get it done against Kansas State. The Wildcats make a living of exploiting a defenses missed assignments and you can bet if Tuberville is saying the same thing this weekend, the Red Raiders won't be so fortunate as to leave town with a win.
There's no question Texas Tech is light years ahead of where they were a season ago on defense. There's little disputing that and Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has noticed.
"They're a much more physical football team upfront," Snyder said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. "I think they're a faster football team across the board. I think schematically they have made some changes that have been beneficial and fit their personnel. They are a very aggressive football team in all aspects, in terms of coverage, in terms of their run defense, in regards to their pass rush, the whole bit."
But if you want to focus on trends, the Red Raiders are going the wrong way at least as far as total yards allowed are concerned in Big 12 play.
In four Big 12 games, Texas Tech has given up more yards than the previous week versus both the run and the pass.
Texas Tech total defense stats in Big 12 play:
Is that cause for concern? Yes and no. The fact is Texas Tech has played a couple pretty explosive offenses. Any defensive coordinator in the Big 12 would probably be happy holding OU and West Virginia to 380 and 408 yards, respectively (although KSU's defense held them to 386 and 243 but that's a discussion for another post). They also completely dominated Iowa State although TCU did get the best of them for the better part of three quarters this past weekend.
On the other side of coin, it has to be concerning for the Red Raiders that they're heading to Kansas State coming off their worst defensive performance of the season. "We didn't look near as composed as we've looked in the first six games defensively. Looked like we lost our composure, and we madesome plays. But you can't give up that many yards and expect to win as many games as we've got left in the season."
In Big 12 play, Kansas State's offense is running twice as much as they throw (172 rushes, 82 passes) and they're also averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
Texas Tech's run defense is going to have to be as good as it's been all season on Saturday which leads to maybe the most concerning comment from Tech's head man during his Monday press conference.
Which position defensively has to improve to have success against Kansas State?
"Linebackers," Tuberville said. "They've played some good games. Last week they were out of position. For some reason we just did not look confident in stopping the run. People are going to throw the ball and make plays. But you know your linebackers have to play run first. We just looked like we were in a different world Saturday compared to the other games where we've played some good running teams and played pretty well."
Whatever world they were in Saturday, they had better come back to earth because stopping Collin Klein is no easy task. If their linebackers aren't in the right place, the Wildcats will be running up and down the field. And even if they are in the right place, stopping them is no small chore. Kansas State executes (blocks) their run plays as good as any team you'll see and their ball carriers set up those blocks with an uncanny precision.
All that being said, this is a game is Tech is capable of winning if they don't turn the ball over and can force the Wildcats into some third and longs. Not to mention, Kansas State is coming off an emotional win and a long flight back from West Virginia. Bill Snyder preaches consistency at all costs, but if there is ever a weekend to be flat - the opponent notwithstanding - this might be it.
But then again, it all comes down to defense for Texas Tech and putting last week in the rear view mirror. Overall, the results have exceeded expectations through seven games, but they'll need to be better than ever if they want to win game number eight.
Heading into the last weekend in October, the Big 12 race is still wide open although as the week's go by, Kansas State continues to strengthen their grip on the top spot.
If Kansas State knocks off the Red Raiders this weekend, they would seemingly have a clear path to an undefeated a season, but there are simply no gimme games as Oklahoma State found out all too well last season. The league might be as deep from top to bottom as it has ever been
Here's how things look heading into week number eight. The top three remain unchanged while West Virginia dropped another two spots following their second straight loss. West Virginia's fall allowed Oklahoma State to creep into the top four for the first time all season.
What do you say?
1. (-) Kansas State (7-0): If there was still anyone left that didn't think Kansas State was the best team in the Big 12 through the first half of the season, Saturday night's clubbing of West Virginia should have left no doubt. The Wildcats put on a clinic on both sides of the ball scoring 55 points while holding the Mountaineer offense to just 243 yards. Kansas State has plenty of reasons to field good about themselves but they can't afford a letdown this week. Up next: Texas Tech.
2. (-) Oklahoma (5-1): The Sooners had no problem in dispensing of Kansas Saturday night. It's become clear over the past three weeks that OU has put their slow start in the rear view mirror looking like one of the most complete teams in the country in dispensing of Texas Tech, Texas, and KU. They have chance to make another statement under the lights this weekend against an undefeated Fighting Irish squad. Up next: Notre Dame.
3. (-) Texas Tech (6-1): It took three overtimes, but the Red Raiders continued their strong start by surviving in Fort Worth in the best game of the weekend. Texas Tech can create a logjam at the top of the Big 12 standings by winning in Manhattan this week. Do they have what it takes to pull off the upset? Absolutely, but it will take their best effort of the season to get it done. Up next: @ Kansas State.
4. (↑2) Oklahoma State (4-2): The Cowboys had no trouble handling Iowa State although they lost another quarterback in the process. Oklahoma State fans have their fingers crossed that Wes Lunt is healthy enough to play this weekend, but how the rest of the season goes is largely going to be decided by how the defense plays. They've looked good against Kansas and Iowa State, but the real tests are yet to come. Up next: TCU.
5. (-) Texas (5-2): The Longhorns got back in the win column following back-to-back losses. It wasn't a thing of beauty, but a win is a win. The Texas defense continued to struggle but they have the best medicine possible coming up this week; a matchup with Kansas. That being said, the Jayhawks can run the ball which means Texas can't expect to just show up and win on Saturday. The Longhorns have given up a Big 12 worst 266 yards per game on the ground this season (conference games only). Up next: @ Kansas.
6. (↓2) West Virginia (5-2): The free-fall from the top picked up some serious steam Saturday night in Morgantown. The Mountaineers were beat every way imaginable for the second straight week. Not only did the defense struggle for the fourth consecutive week, but the offense had their second straight poor showing, as well.
Looking at the bright side, their opponents the past two weeks were a combined 13-1 on the year so it wasn't like there were losing to the sister of the poor, but even so, you would have expected WVU to be much more competitive. They have a week off to try and find some answers. Up next: bye.
7. (↑1) TCU (5-2): The Horned Frogs dropped a heartbreaker to Texas Tech, but there are still plenty of positives to build on. This is a young team that is going to continue to get better each week, although you have to wonder how their depth is going to hold up with a brutal stretch of games yet to come. This week's game with the Cowboys is critical with games with West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma still ahead. Up next: @ Oklahoma State.
8. (↓1) Iowa State (4-3): This year's Cyclone team is the anti-Big 12: strong defense and no offense. Iowa State managed just 10 points against Oklahoma State and as Paul Rhoad's said on this week's teleconference, that's simply not enough in the Big 12. The quarterback competition will be open this week, once again, and whoever earns the start might actually be able to put up some points with the league's worst defense coming to town. Up next: Baylor.
9. (-) Baylor (3-3): It was the same story for the Bears this weekend, plenty of offense and absolutely no defense. Baylor gave up 40 points for the fourth consecutive week. The Bear's offense scored 50 points or more for the second time in Big 12 play but don't yet have a win to show for their efforts. If Baylor hope to qualify for a third straight bowl game, the next two weeks are must wins. Up next: @ Iowa State.10. (-) Kansas (1-6): For really the first time this season, Kansas wasn't competitive from the get-go. The Jayhawks were down to OU 38-0 at the half and then gave up a 99 kickoff return to start the second half and that was that. James Sims did manage to top 100 yards with KU's running game continuing to be the lone bright spot in an otherwise dreadful season. As bad as it's been, I'm still on board with Kansas picking up a Big 12 win somewhere over their final five games. Who will be the victim? Up next: Texas.
Just when Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh was starting to get comfortable as the starting quarterback, his season is over just like that.
A day after throwing for 415 yards and running for another 46 yard and a touchdown, OSU head coach Mike Gundy announced Sunday night Walsh was done for the season to everyone's surprise.
“He just has an injury that I don’t think anybody wants to reveal, but he just has an injury with his knee,” Gundy said. “It is not career-threatening or anything, but he is finished for the season.”
No decision has been made on who will start this weekend against TCU, although Gundy indicated he thought it would likely be freshman Wes Lunt who started the first three games of the season before his own knee injury thrust Walsh into the starting role.
Even before Walsh's injury, it was assumed once Lunt was back to 100%, he would regain the starting spot but given Walsh's strong play against Iowa State, nobody can be sure exactly what the Cowboys' plan was going to be the rest of the way.
Gundy had said that Lunt was available to play the past two weeks if needed, but he's yet to see the field again after being knocked out early in OSU's third game of the season. We'll now get to see exactly how ready he is.
If Lunt is still unable to go, third string quarterback, Clint Chelf would be next in line. He had been Brandon Weeden's backup the past two seasons. He saw the most extension action of his career last season in mop up duty against Kansas completing 14 of 21 passes for 206 yards. He's also seen brief action in two games this season completing four of eight pass attempts.
Chelf lost out on the starting job to Lunt during fall camp and to the surprise of some, fell all the way to third string. The good news is that if he is indeed thrown into the fire this week, he knows the offense, probably even better than the Lunt or Walsh. This is his third season playing in the Holgorsen-now-Monken offense.
Walsh's injury apparently happened early in the game against Iowa State but given his performance, it was evident to anybody watching the game.
“It just happened and he was able to play with the pain. I can only say that it was a pretty amazing performance. I would hate to use that term for a guy or a player on my team that is only a freshman, but for him to finish the game the way he did and run the football and never say a word was really a terrific performance," Gundy said.
That's probably a bit of an understatement. He was on a bad wheel and still led the offense to over 600 yards against a very good Cyclone defense. Impressive to say the least.
It's anybody's guess what this means for Oklahoma State the rest of the way. If Lunt is healthy, it's probably business as usual.
He won the job in fall camp because he was the most talented and best suited to run Monken's offense even if he still doesn't yet have the experience factor on his side. Chelf has a few more years under his belt but obviously lacks some of the physical tools possessed by the two freshmen.
Whoever is under center, the schedule certainly isn't going to make things any easier. The Cowboys next five games are against TCU, Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
The biggest concern for the Pokes is if Lunt truly isn't healthy and ready to go. That would leave OSU dangerously thin at the position. After Lunt' injury earlier in the season, the Cowboys brought back Jase Chilcoat who was a former walk-on and had given up football but was still a student at OSU to be the third string quarterback.
It's obviously too soon to start discussing that scenario, however, since all signs point to Lunt being back in action this week. Not to mention, Walsh's dad said Saturday night that his son's injury could only keep him out a month leaving open the possibility he could be available by season's end.
Whatever the case, it's been a tough go for the Oklahoma State's quarterbacks healthwise through the first season's six games. If Chelf is indeed forced into action this weekend, a word of advice, it might not be a bad idea to throw on a couple knee braces. It might not help, but then again, it couldn't hurt.
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