Football

Don’t Stop Believin’: Week 5 in the Big 12

My Week 4 Game of the Week was Texas Tech at Oklahoma State and as a 100% biased Red Raider fan it delivered in a big way. The Red Raiders totally dominated the Cowboys at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater 41-17. Oklahoma State didn’t score another point after 10:40 in the second quarter, in fact, they only crossed the 50-yard line once after that point, making it into the red zone where they had a pass swatted down by Riko Jeffers from the 19 and ended up missing a field goal attempt. The Cowboys only possessed the ball for 6:12 in the second half, which means Tech had the ball longer in the second half than OSU had it the entire game. There’s a lot to unpack in this game, which I covered extensively in the Week 4 Awards: Back it Up post and I’ll mention a few more things below. I’m certainly excited about this game, but I will admit the surprise game of the week from an excitement standpoint was Army @ OU, which OU squeaked out a win 28-21 in overtime.

Week 5 Game of the Week:

#12 West Virginia @ #25 Texas Tech

The Mountaineers are coming to the Jones! This is the first Top 25 matchup in Lubbock since 2013 and it is a TRAVESTY that it is happening at 11:00 a.m. I certainly hope my fellow Red Raiders come out in force to support our boys, they’ve earned it and this will be a tough test and a rowdy morning crowd will do nothing but help. It’s expected to be an offensive shootout with the #8 ranked offense meeting Texas Tech’s #1 offensive attack led by record-setting freshman quarterback Alan Bowman. It should prove to be a fantastic game and is the only Top 25 matchup of the weekend across the conference. In my opinion, this is very much a Mike Leach style air raid vs. the updated version crafted by Kliff Kingsbury and Kevin Johns. Whatever the outcome, it should prove to be an exciting one.

KEITH’S PICK RECORD

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Baylor

Iowa State

N/A

Kansas

@BU

Kansas State

@WVU

Oklahoma

@ISU

Oklahoma State

TCU

@UT

Texas

Texas Tech

@OSU

West Virginia

N/A

Totals

7-2

9-1

4-4

5-1

Season Total: 25-8

Baylor @ #6 Oklahoma

                             

Last Week: Baylor (3-1,1-0) defeated the dumpster fire surging Kansas Jayhawks 26-7 at home in Waco. Matt Rhule, who apparently has tired of watching the world burn, only played Jalan McClendon for two passes at the end of the game. Charlie Brewer went 19/27 for 221 yards and 3 touchdowns. The bears did not have a 100-yard rusher on the day or a rushing touchdown. Brewer was their biggest weapon out of the backfield rushing 12 times for 57 yards. JaMycal Hasty had 5 carries for 60 yards. The ineptitude of Kansas Baylor defense held three Jayhawk quarterbacks to a combined 16/27 for 149 yards and 1 touchdown. Pooka Williams carried the rock 49 times for 89 yards but couldn’t punch one into the end zone. The Kansas defense recorded 3 sacks, 7 tackles for loss and 3 quarterback hurries. The Baylor defense, not to be out-pillowfought, recorded 4 sacks and 9 tackles for loss.
Oklahoma (4-0,1-0) found themselves in a slugfest with a scrappy Army team but ultimately came out on top 28-21 in overtime. The box score for this game tells a story of opposites. Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins, Jr. was 3/8 for 40 yards and 2 interceptions while Kyler Murray was 11/15 for 165 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. There were only two OU rushers on the day, Trey Sermon gained 119 yards on 18 carries and Murray chipped in 71 yards on 7 carries and 1 touchdown. Army, on the other hand, had 9 rushers combining for 339 yards on 78 carries and 3 touchdowns, with a long of 23 yards. Oklahoma took the lead with a 10-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb in OT and Parnell Motley intercepted an Army fourth-down pass to seal it. Army had the ball for 44:41 and ran 87 plays to Oklahoma’s 40. It was the third-fewest offensive plays for Oklahoma in school history and the fewest since running 38 against Colorado in 1960.
Date & Time: Saturday, September 29, 2:30 p.m.
Location: The Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK
Television: ABC
Line: Oklahoma -24 
All-Time Record: Baylor 3-0-24 OU
Overview & Breakdown:

Baylor gave us absolutely no indication in this game as to who they are or what they’re capable of. That’s not totally Baylor’s fault, when you beat Kansas no one learns much about you. In my opinion, Baylor is still a pretty poor team. I know their record looks good right now, but we’re talking about wins over Abilene Christian, UTSA, Kansas and a loss to a depleted Duke team. The real key is that Baylor had more speed across the board than Kansas. Kudos to Matt Rhule for taking a step forward this season, but they’re subsisting on speed, athleticism, and inferior opponents at this point. Things are about to get much tougher.
Biggest Question: Is the head coach done tinkering? Matt Rhule has played two quarterbacks all season, wanting to go with the hot hand. Charlie Brewer made that choice easy in this game by moving the ball effectively and keeping plays alive on the run when needed. Brewer playing on the run will be necessary for the Bears to stay competitive but I’m sure he’d love the chance to get into a rhythm and own his position on this team.
Oklahoma found themselves in a dogfight with the Army Black Knights. I want to give kudos to the Sooner faithful in attendance for giving these guys a standing ovation after the game, I join them in applauding this team. I don’t think we give enough credence to how unique it is to play football at a service academy. These kids are cadets just like everyone else, and they have exactly the same responsibilities as others in their class PLUS they play football and everything that goes along with it.  I highly recommend watching A Game of Honor sometime, it’s a great look at both Army and Navy and what these guys go through to play. I think a major takeaway from this game is that Oklahoma isn’t perfect. Their defense has some struggles and even in 2018, a really well-executed triple option is extremely hard to defend. The Sooners found a way to win and sophomore linebacker Kenneth Murray recorded an NCAA record 28 tackles (6 solo) joined by Curtis Bolton with 23 (8 solo).
Biggest Question: How will the Sooners bounce back from a close one? I appreciate the respect Oklahoma is giving Army. And I LOVE that Army coach Jeff Monken said if the Black Knights had scored their overtime touchdown that they’d have gone for the two-point conversion and the win. The Sooners are hosting the Bears in Norman, so their week of preparation will determine what kind of mental toughness and attitude this team has.
My Pick: I’ve got the Sooners big in this one. I don’t think Baylor has any chance of containing Murray or keeping up with the OU offense. I expect the Sooners to make a statement that the Army game was a fluke, not a new normal.

Iowa State @ TCU

                             

Last Week: Iowa State (1-2,0-1) defeated the Akron Zips 26-13 in Ames on Saturday. Backup Zeb Noland continues to fill in for injured quarterback Kyle Kempt, he went 26/34 for 233 yards and 1 touchdown. David Montgomery led the receiving corps by far with 23 carries for 107 yards and 1 touchdown. The Cyclones had 9 rushers combine for 233 yards on 26 carries and 1 touchdown as well. It was a different story for the Zips. They combined for 244 yards of total offense and the Cyclones recorded 4 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 7 passes defended, and 3 quarterback hurries. Iowa State went 4/4 for 12 points in field goals. The Zips also forced an interception and recovered two Cyclone fumbles.
TCU (2-2, 0-1) dropped one to the 100%, all the way, fully burnt orange Texas Longhorns 31-16 in Austin. TCU led Texas 13-10 at halftime but lost the third quarter 14-3 and went scoreless in the fourth to give up the victory. Shawn Robinson and Michael Collins went an abysmal 20/40 for 231 yards 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. Robinson was also the Horned Frogs’ leading rusher with 57 yards on 9 carries. TCU outgained the Longhorns 372 yards of total offense to 367. TCU got after Sam Ehlinger, who didn’t throw an interception, with 3 sacks, 8 tackles for loss, 1 pass defended, and 6 quarterback hurries. Ultimately spotting the Longhorns points via turnovers killed the Horned Frogs, much like their loss to Ohio State two weeks ago.
Date & Time: Saturday, September 29 @ 6:00 p.m.
Location: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Ft. Worth, TX
Television: ESPNU
Line: TCU -10.5
All-Time Record: ISU 2-0-7 TCU
Overview & Breakdown: Iowa State is struggling to finish drives and turn them into touchdowns. The Akron Zips forced four field goals, and while ISU kicker Connor Assalley was perfect, you have to wonder if not having a designated offensive coordinator is hurting this Cyclone team’s ability to score. Expectations were high coming into this season as many looked for Iowa State to take another step forward offensively and maintain the defensive turnaround they enjoyed in 2017. Unfortunately for them, this has not materialized. The defense hasn’t been bad (#44 nationally), holding Iowa and Akron both to 13 points and keeping the Cyclones competitive against a far superior Oklahoma team. But the offense can’t seem to get anything consistent going. Losing sixth-year senior Kyle Kempt to a supposedly non-serious MCL injury hasn’t helped at all.
Biggest Question: Can Iowa State score consistently and limit turnovers? This game is very winnable for the Cyclones but turnovers are also plaguing the Horned Frogs so this could be a very sloppy football game if both defenses get rolling. The Cyclones simply have to be able to score touchdowns when they get into the red zone, field goals are not going to push them from a middling Big 12 team to a conference title contender.
TCU appears to be reeling. The Horned Frogs gained some national respect in their loss at AT&T Stadium to Ohio State in prime time. Aside from a stretch in the third quarter they played the Buckeyes hard and proved they could hang with elite teams if they limited mistakes – then they went to Austin and looked like clowns. Shawn Robinson is a talent, but he simply cannot keep turning the ball over, he is almost single-handedly spotting opposing teams 21 points a game over the last two weeks.
My Pick: I like TCU to bounce back in this one with something to prove after two losses in a row. I think their offense will be too much for the Cyclones, Jalen Reagor should be able to make some big catches and if he’s shut down, KeVontae Turpin will be there to pick up the slack.

Oklahoma State @ Kansas

                              

Last Week:  Oklahoma State (3-1,0-1) got flat out dominated by the Texas Tech Red Raiders 41-17 in Stillwater. Taylor Cornelius went 18/38 for 258 yards, 1 touchdown, and 1 interception. Justice Hill carried 12 times for 111 yards and 1 touchdown and Cornelius was held to 0 yards rushing on the day. Leading receiver Tylan Wallace gained 123 yards on 7 receptions but also muffed a punt coughing up the Cowboys’ only fumble of the day. Safety Jarrick Bernard led the team with 14 tackles, signifying how often the Texas Tech offense was breaking into the secondary on the ground or in the air. Head coach Mike Gundy opened his post-game press conference saying, “We got outcoached, outplayed, and they were a lot tougher than us. I mean I don’t really know any other way to put it. They had really good plans, much better than ours. They executed their plans, our guys didn’t play very well we made a lot of mistakes.”
Kansas (2-2,0-1) dropped their Big 12 opener on the road in Waco to the Baylor Bears 26-7. Kansas has lost 43 Big 12 road games in a row since beating Iowa State on October 4, 2008, so it’s not like this was unexpected. The Jayhawks’ offense was mostly ineffective on the day with 16/27 for 149 yards passing and 1 touchdown, and 28 rushes for 122 yards rushing. Pooka Williams, Jr. was held under 100 yards after becoming the first freshman in Kansas history to start his career with consecutive 100-yard rushing games. Williams gained 89 yards on 14 carries, which is remarkable considering he had a long of 72 yards. That’s 17 yards on 13 carries for the non-mathmagicians out there. The Bears forced Kansas to punt 7 times and Kyle Thompson netted 333 yards with a long of 65 yards. That is impressive.
Date & Time: Saturday, September 29, 11:00 a.m.
Location: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS
Television: Fox Sports Midwest
Line: Oklahoma State -18
All-Time Record: OSU 37-2-29 KU
Overview & Breakdown: Oklahoma State is a weird situation. They took a drubbing at home at the hands of the Red Raiders, and now they face their first road game (yes, they opened the season with four home games in a row). But it’s against Kansas. The Cowboys have a lot of questions to answers after their 41-17 loss to Texas Tech. They were held scoreless after 10:40 left in the 2nd and they didn’t complete a pass in the fourth quarter. I’m all about attributing that to some good old-fashioned shutdown defense and ball control offense by the Red Raiders, but some of that was a total inability by Oklahoma State to move the football. They really seem to lack the mental toughness necessary to flush the bad plays and move on.
Biggest Question: Can Taylor Cornelious deliver a ball in some other way besides passing? They’re definitely going to need to find a way for Corndog to stop throwing the ball and start hand-delivering it to his receivers. Like Smalls running it in from center field in The Sandlot. Seriously though, he can’t throw the ball effectively downfield and Justice Hill can’t be the only one making plays. Mike Gundy is a good coach but I’m sure he’s very frustrated with this team.
Kansas is still a terrible football team, although I will admit two wins this early is a remarkable turnaround, they may even win three or four before it’s all said and done. Kansas’s defense wasn’t terrible against Baylor. Senior linebacker Joe Dineen, Jr. logged 13 tackles (11 solo), 2 tackles for loss, and 2 quarterback hurries. The team chipped in 3 sacks, another 5 tackles for loss, and 1 more quarterback hurry. So Kansas can get some penetration and get after the quarterback, which is obviously possible and certainly a key to victory against the Cowboys.
Biggest Question: Can Kansas move the football without relying on a ton of turnovers? The Jayhawks snagged 4 interceptions and recovered 2 fumbles against Central Michigan and three of each against Rutgers (the worst P5 team according to Bill Connelly). They move the ball reasonably well when they get a ton of turnovers, maybe more from pure numbers of chances than actual ability.
My Pick: I think the Cowboys are going to bounce back against the Jayhawks with a win here. I can’t imagine with a solid and longstanding coaching staff that they won’t find some answers for what happened in this game. There is now some negative tape on OSU but the Jayhawks aren’t going to have the personnel to pull off any of the things that Texas Tech did.

#18 Texas @ Kansas State

                              

Last Week:  Texas (3-1,1-0) is so totally 100% – located in Austin, TX. The Longhorns took down the #17 TCU Horned Frogs 31-16 in Austin breaking a four-game losing skid. Sam Ehlinger didn’t throw an interception! He went 22/32 for 255 yards and 2 touchdowns, he also rushed 11 times for 11 yards and a touchdown as well. Collin Johnson was the leading receiver hauling in 7 catches for 124 yards and a touchdown, Lil’Jordan Humphrey followed with 4 catches for 77 yards and a touchdown as well. The rushing game wasn’t strong only combing for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns on 45 carries. The offense didn’t need to be prolific however, TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson coughed up a fumble recovered by Brandon Jones. He also completed two passes to the wrong team, that’s right 2 interceptions with a third chipped in by KeVontae Turpin on his only pass.
Kansas State (2-2,0-1) dropped their Big 12 opener to the West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown 35-6. The Wildcat offense struggled all day with quarterbacks Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton combining 18/29 for 227 yards and no touchdowns. Isaiah Zuber was a bright spot with 10 receptions for 133 yards. The backfield was ineffective gaining 91 yards on 36 carries, a 2.5-yard average. The Wildcats had an opportunity to gain some momentum down only 7-0 they had a fourth-and-inches at their own 43-yard line. They pitched the ball to Alex Barnes on an option and Barnes lost four yards on the play. Snyder said, “I went in the locker room and I accepted the responsibility of being behind in the ball game at halftime with our players because there were two touchdowns following that,” Snyder said. “But I can’t coach a team that can’t get six inches on a play.”
Date & Time: Saturday, September 29 @ 2:30 p.m.
Location:  Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
Television: FS1
Line: Texas -8.5
All-Time Record: Texas 8-0-10 KState
Overview & Breakdown: Texas is most definitely – ranked #18 in the AP Poll. I’m not going to say it. #DealWithIt The Longhorns looked pretty good against a TCU team that looked really bad. The Horned Frogs simply dropped a deuce on Saturday. I contend if TCU hadn’t turned it over four times Texas would have been stomped and frozen out of this game. I could say “I don’t want to take anything away from the Longhorns” here, BUT I DO WANT TO! TCU lost this game and credit to Texas for capitalizing but I’m certainly not sold yet. I will give the Longhorns credit, their defense is highly ranked in some categories, but they’re going to have to prove they can stop Big 12 offenses that aren’t stopping themselves before they’re truly back.
Biggest Question: Can Texas run the football? The Longhorns are #83 in the country in rushing offense. They only averaged 3.3 yards per carry against USC and an anemic 2.5 against TCU. The Longhorns will need to find a way to balance their offense against stiffer competition. Not only are there prolific Big 12 offenses to try to counteract, but there are higher-quality defenses as well and Sam Ehlinger is in no position to try to carry this Texas team anywhere.
Kansas State is in really rough shape. Bill Snyder seems just short of disgusted with them and they can’t find any answers on offense. It is clear now why their crowd turned on them in the season opener, they are abysmal at moving the football down the field. They are ranked below #100 nationally in completion percentage, fumbles lost, sacks allowed, scoring offense, tackles for loss allowed, time of possession, and total offense. To add insult to injury they’re almost last in third down conversion defense and red zone defense. The Wildcats’ S&P+ ranking is #89, immediately above them are the Kansas Jayhawks. Ouch.
Biggest Question: Will KState score an offensive touchdown? This could be one of those games that becomes a litmus test for how good a team is based on how badly they beat a bad team. Kansas State has been so bad at moving the football it’s more of a loss for the Longhorns if they allow an offensive touchdown and really calls their defense into question.
My Pick: I think this one could be more interesting than many think. Texas can’t run the ball at all and the Wildcats are #13 in the nation in rushing defense, so Sam Ehlinger will be forced to carry the offense. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, I think that will be enough because they’re just simply not able to score. I like Texas to take the win in Manhattan.

#12 West Virginia @ #25 Texas Tech

                             

Last Week:  West Virginia (3-0,1-0) took down the Kansas State Wildcats 35-6 in spite of a lost fumble and two interceptions. Senior quarterback Will Grier went 25/35 for 356 yards and 5 touchdowns. His favorite target on the day was Marcus Simms hitting him 5 times for 136 yards and 1 touchdown. The majority of Simms’s yardage came on an 82-yard bomb for their first touchdown of the day. David Sills chipped in 10 receptions for 73 yards and 3 touchdowns as well. West Virginia again struggled to move the ball on the ground combining for 108 yards on 28 carries against Kansas State’s top 15 rush defense. The Mountaineer defense recorded 4 sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the day, adding two passes defended and 1 quarterback hurry against a severely struggling Kansas State offense.
Texas Tech (3-1, 1-0) picked up arguably the biggest win of the Kliff Kingsbury era in a resounding 41-17 thumping of the Oklahoma State Cowboys on their home turf in Stillwater. The Red Raiders hadn’t won in Stillwater since Kingsbury’s time at quarterback in 2001 and hadn’t beaten the Cowboys at all since 2008. Freshman Alan Bowman went 35/46 for 397 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. He spread the ball out well with Seth Collins, T.J. Vasher, Zach Austin, Ja’Deion High, and Antoine Wesley all catching over 50 yards, Wesley led the way with 98 yards. Demarcus Felton stepped up in the backfield with 130 yards on 14 carries and 2 touchdowns. He was joined by Ta’Zhawn Henry and SaRodorick Thompson who both rushed for over 50 yards and Thompson scored a touchdown as well. The Red Raider defense notched 2 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, 6 passes defended, and 5 quarterback hurries against a high-powered Oklahoma State offense, effectively shutting down quarterback Taylor Cornelious. OSU did not complete a pass in the fourth quarter.
Date & Time: Saturday, September 29 @ 11:00 a.m.
Location: Jones AT&T Stadium, Lubbock, TX
Television: ESPN 2
Line: West Virginia -3.5
All-Time Record: WVU 5-0-2 TTU
Overview & Breakdown: West Virginia is bringing a highly touted senior quarterback and respected passing attack to Lubbock. The Mountaineers are #10 in the S&P+ rankings, however, their biggest test of the season, a neutral site game against NC State was canceled due to Hurricane Florence. The Mountaineers haven’t faced a strong defensive front seven all season, nor has their defense contended with a proven offensive line or potent offensive attack. With that in mind, they have produced. The Mountaineers are #2 nationally in third-down conversion percentage, #5 in completion percentage, and #1 in red zone offense. Grier can also test a secondary throwing a serious deep ball and connecting. Their rushing offense though is #74, limiting their ability to keep the defense honest. West Virginia’s defense is in the 40s-50s in rankings, however, I question if they have been tested between Tennessee, Youngstown State, and Kansas State. An illustration of this to me is to answer the question: Why didn’t they beat Kansas State by more? The Wildcats could basically do nothing and you beat them by 29? Part of that is giving up three turnovers, but I’m shocked not to see over 50 on the scoreboard for such a prolific attack. They went scoreless in the fourth.
Biggest Question: Can West Virginia hold on to the ball? I mean this in three ways. The Mountaineers are #40 in fumbles lost and #83 in interceptions thrown. David Gibbs and his guys must be salivating over this team’s propensity for giving the ball away. But even more so, can West Virginia still play their game and eat any clock? If they score in a minute, Tech is going to grind out a 5+ minute drive. Not only will the Red Raiders mathematically come out on top IF they didn’t get a single stop just by scoring last, but the West Virginia defense is going to wear out quick, fast, and in a hurry. If that happens, the only person they have to blame is their own head coach.
Texas Tech is no longer the Texas Tech of Mike Leach, it is becoming something entirely different. Kliff and company are giving equal focus to the defense and still producing prolific offensive numbers. They are controlling the ball and choking out fast-scoring offenses with fairly long and methodical scoring drives, driven by a strong running game that mixes in the speed of receivers in reverses and sweeps. Their offensive line is having their way with defenses and making all of this possible. Dana Holgorsen is still playing football the Mike Leach way, throwing it everywhere, not worrying about running, and playing a middling and directionless defense. West Virginia is #100 in the nation in time of possession, holding the ball 27:49 a game. They’re so intent on going a mile a minute they’re running 75-yard drives in under a minute and sending their defense back out to the wolves. Do you see where I’m going here?
Biggest Question: Can Texas Tech play their game? The Red Raiders need to come out bull-headed and determined to play their brand of football. It would be easy for Kliff to get drawn into keeping up with former roommate Dana in a high flying shootout, but I don’t think Kevin Johns (or Kliff) will let that happen. They’re smart, they’ve found a rhythm, and they’re playing up to their potential. Do you think I’m overstating the time of possession thing? Well, Texas Tech is #5 in the nation in that category holding the ball 36:00 a game.
My Pick: I’ve sat here writing this post and thinking about what kind of pick I’m going to make. As I’ve dug into these two teams it dawned on me, Tech is going to win this game. They have all of the pieces in place, and once again, they’re facing a hyped team that hasn’t had a test yet. I think Texas Tech is going to execute on offense, get defensive stops and big plays (including turnovers), and West Virginia isn’t going to be able to handle it.

 

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