The separation between the teams at the top and the bottom of the Big 12 football race became even wider over the weekend, as unbeaten Baylor rolled, Texas Tech and Oklahoma escaped defeat on the road, and Oklahoma State held off defense-stingy but offensively challenged TCU.
Texas and Kansas State, the former with a 3-0 conference mark and the Wildcats at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in league play, sat on the sidelines and watched the Week 8 action in college football.
Baylor made it the the 70-point level for the fourth time this season in running its season record to a perfect 6-0, the Bears best start season 1980. And their 10-game winning streak is the longest by a Baylor team since 1936-37. This team is on fire, scoring 69 or more points in five of its six games this season and running up insane offensive yardage. Next week the Bears go up against hapless Kansas, which hasn’t won a conference game in 24 straight outings.
The Bears have had an outstanding offensive game for the past four years, but this year Art Briles’ team is also playing tough defense, ranked second in the conference to Oklahoma in total defense. “I think we have had confidence in those guys all along,” Briles said about his team’s improved defensive effort this season. “You get eight starters back from a team that held the Pac-12 South Division champs (UCLA) to 19 points in their own backyard (the 2012 Holiday Bowl) is pretty impressive.”
Baylor’s overpowering performance this season finally has caught the serious attention of the pollsters. The Bears moved from 12th in both the USA Today and AP polls all the way to No. 5 in the USA Today poll after Saturday’s hurricane-like hammering of Iowa State. Baylor is currently at No. 6 in the AP media poll. That is the highest national ranking for a Baylor football team since reaching the No. 3 spot in the AP poll in 1953.
Texas Tech, one of the two unbeaten Big 12 teams on the season, tinkered on the brink of defeat through much of the second half at West Virginia on Saturday. The Mountaineers mounted a 27-16 lead at one point in the third quarter. The Red Raiders scored 21 unanswered points, however behind a 36-of-50, 462-yard passing performance by freshman quarterback Davis Webb to extend their conference-best 7-0 overall rec0rd (4-0 in the Big 12) and set up a huge game at Oklahoma next weekend.
The Sooners (6-1, 3-1) encountered a fired-up Kansas team on Saturday. Coming off a 36-20 defeat by Texas in the annual Red River Rivalry game the week before, Oklahoma found itself on the wrong side of a 13-0 score in the opening quarter on Saturday, as the Jayhawks out-muscled the OU defensive front in the early going, producing triple-digit rushing numbers. The Sooners, behind junior quarterback Blake Bell, a Kansas native, finally got their offense going midway through the second quarter.
OU blocked a Kansas punt deep in Jayhawk territory in the second quarter that resulted in a safety, cutting the Kansas lead to 13-6. Then on the ensuing possession following a Jayhawk free kick, the Sooners ran a double reverse, with wide-receiver Lacolton Bester throwing a 49-yard pass to open receiver Sterling Shepard for a touchdown and a 15-13 lead that OU never relinquished. It was far from a pretty game for either side, with two missed extra points, a blocked punt by each team and a combined 115 yards in penalties.
Despite commiting four turnovers, three of them pass interceptions, Oklahoma State (5-1. 3-1) managed to hold off TCU and posted a 24-10 win. This completed a miserable two-game performance in the state of Oklahoma this season for TCU, especially in the opening half. Against Oklahoma earlier and OSU on Saturday, TCU was shut out in the opening half, producing a measley 78 combined yards of total offense and just three first downs.
After his team’s third conference loss, Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson said: “As an offense, we have to start finding a rhythm and moving the ball like we do in the second half.” Patterson had been 35-1 at TCU when his teams forced at least three turnovers, like they did on Saturday. The problem was, the Horned Frogs committed four turnovers of their own against Oklahoma State
Here are eight more things we learned from the Big 12 action in Week 8
- Baylor had 714 yards of total offense against Iowa State on Saturday, just one yard below the Bears’ season average. The Bears have gone over the 700-yard mark in total offense in four of their seven games this season, including a season-high 864 yards of offense against West Virginia.
- Running back James Sims of Kansas ran the ball 11 times for 85 yards in the first quarter against Oklahoma. The Jayhawks rushed for only 100 yards total on 27 carries the rest of the game.
- The Oklahoma defense allowed Kansas only 16 yards passing on Saturday. That was the fewest passing yards given up by OU since yielding 13 total yards through the air to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl in 2003. Sooner head coach Bob Stoops is now three wins shy of becoming the winningest coach in Oklahoma football history.
- Kansas has lost 24 consecutive Big 12 games, but the Jayhawks have not allowed an opponent to score on its opening drive this season.
- Tight end Jace Amaro of Texas Tech is 6-5, 260 pounds and nearly impossible to bring down in the open field. West Virginia found that out first hand on Saturday as the big Red Raider tight end hauled in nine receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
- Josh Stewart of Oklahoma State returned a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against TCU over the weekend. That was the longest punt retiurn in Oklahoma State history, beating the previous mark, set both in 1946 and again in 1956.
- Iowa State’s 64-point loss to Baylor was the Cyclones’ largest margin of defeat in program history, and the third time this season Baylor had beaten its opponent by more than 60 points.
- Five of Baylor’s nine touchdown drives against Iowa State took less than a minute. For the season, 21 of the Bears’ 49 touchdown drives have been under a minute.