The Big 12 went from three unbeaten teams to two over the weekend, and the odd man out is Oklahoma, which managed to go from a two-touchdown favorite over Texas to a two touchdown victim of a Longhorn stampede on Saturday and the main feature on the third weekend of the Texas State Fair.
Texas came into Saturday’s 108th annual Red River Rivalry game with a 3-2 overall record after two blowout nonconference losses that had college football experts all but writing off Mack Brown’s 16-year coaching tenure in Austin, not to mention the Longhorns’ 2013 season. In case you haven’t noticed, though, Texas is 3-0 in the conference with the big win over Oklahoma under its belt and very much in the hunt for the Big 12 title, which became the Longhorns’ collective focus after the two early season losses.
Brown & Co. may have gained a measure of revenge this past weekend after suffering three losses in a row to its hated rival from north of the Red River, but the Horns still have undefeated Baylor and Texas Tech, as well as preseason favorite Oklahoma State, ahead on the schedule before they can even begin to think about any kind of championship celebration.
Both Tech and Baylor, the surprise team of the college season so far, notched victories on Saturday to up their records to 3-0 and 2-0, respectively, in the conference and remain unbeaten on the season. The Red Raiders had to fight off a pesky Iowa State bunch before walking away a 42-35 winner on Saturday, while Baylor, which sports the country’s most explosive offense through the first half of the season, fell far short of its 70-points-a-game scoring average coming into its game at Kansas State but still managed to upend the upset-minded Wildcats 35-25.
Kansas State, playing without two of its best offensive players in Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, outgained the Bears, the nation’s No. 4 rushing offense (averaging 301 rushing yards a game), by over 200 yards on the ground, piling up 327 yards on the ground, 199 from quarterback Daniel Sams alone. Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk, the leading rusher in the conference and No. 9 in the country, averaging 129 yards per contest, only had 54 yards on Saturday on 12 carries.
So while Baylor appears to be mortal, compared with its performance in its first four games of the season, the Bears definitely are going to be extremely tough to unseat from their current perch at the top of the league. While Baylor is off to a 3-0 conference start, Kansas State, the defending co-champions, is off to one of its worst starts ever under head coach Bill Snyder, the dean of Big 12 coaches, with three consecutive losses, but to very good Texas, Oklahoma State and Baylor teams.
“I thought we played as hard as we have at any time during the course of the season,” Snyder said in his press conference following the game on Saturday. “We played as physical as we have at any point and time during the year. I think at the end of the day it comes down to mistakes.” That is something that past Snyder teams have managed to limit or avoid all together and is one of the hallmarks of the Wildcats’ success in recent years.
In the only other league game on Saturday, TCU outlasted Kansas 27-17, sending the Jayhawks to their 21st consecutive road loss and 23rd consecutive conference loss, dating back three years. The Horned Frogs won their first Big 12 game of the season after two losses despite commiting five turnovers in the game (three lost fumbles and two interceptions). The Jayhawks, normally a fairly decent running team, were held to just 46 net yard in the game by a stout TCU defense.
Oklahoma State and West Virginia drew byes in Week 7.
Seven Things We Learned From Week 7 in Big 12 Football
- It would be a major mistake to write off Texas just because of the horrid way the Longhorns played in their two losses. The Horns looked like the Texas of old against favored Oklahoma on Saturday, shutting down the Sooners on offense and pretty much having their way on the offensive end. OU junior quarterback Blake Bell looked like a deer in headlights through most of the afternoon and was sacked five times by the Texas defense.
- Baylor is not going to score 70 points every time out, especially not against Big 12 competition. But good luck trying to slow down their balanced offense. Art Briles’ Bears have the perfect combination of a solid running game featuring multiple ball carriers and a very good passing offense with speedy receivers who can go the distance in one throw and catch.
- Oklahoma had 59 offensive plays against Texas on Saturday, far below its season average. That number was actually one less that the total number of running plays by the Longhorns, who handed off the ball 60 times out of 82 total plays.
- Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller had the game of his life in the Wildcats’ close tussle with Baylor on Saturday. In addition to seven tackles, Mueller had two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
- TCU’s win over Kansas Saturday was the Horned Frogs first Big 12 home win. The Horned Frogs have won 31 of their last 36 games at Amon G. Carter Stadium, but only one of those has been as a member of the Big 12.
- Don’t for a minute think that Texas Tech’s potent passing game loses anything when backup quarterback Davis Webb plays in place of walk-on freshman starter Baker Mayfield. All Webb did on Saturday at home vs. Iowa State was throw for 415 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the fourth freshman quarterback at Texas Tech to pass for over 400 yards in his first career start.
- Kansas was tied with TCU at 10-all at halftime on Saturday, but was outscored 17-3 after intermission to lose its 23rd consecutive conference game. Prospects for snapping that losing string don’t seem very promising, with home dates with Oklahoma and Baylor and a trip to Texas next up on the schedule.