On a day in which perhaps the most dramatic finish in the history of the sport took place at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium in eastern Alabama, and when Ohio State, which hasn’t lost a game in xx seasons came within inches of losing to unranked and hated-archrival Michigan, games going on in the Big 12 on Rivalry Saturday patently paled by comparison.
Nevertheless, three games did go on in the Big 12 over the weekend.
With a three-point lead, 11 seconds left on the game clock and a potential touchdown pass on the way that would win the game for TCU, Baylor defensive back Terrell Burt grabbed a tipped pass in the end zone to preserve Baylor’s championship dreams and hand TCU a heart-breaking 41-38 defeat on the penultimate weekend of the Big 12 regular season.
Burt picked off a 23-yard pass to the end zone from TCU quarterback Casey Pachall, ending TCU’s comeback bid for a big upset win over the ninth-ranked Bears. With the win, Baylor upped its season record to 10-1 with another huge game coming up next weekend at home against Texas (8-3, 7-1).
Baylor had a 13-3 lead early in the second quarter before TCU scored 14 unanswered points to take a 17-13 advantage. The Bears erased the Horned Frogs’ brief four-point lead with 14 points of their own in the final six minutes before halftime to take a 27-17 advantage going into the locker room.
Both teams traded a couple of touchdowns each in the third quarter, making it a 10 point difference, 41-31, heading to the final quarter.
The TCU defense played superbly all-game long against the country’s most explosive offense. The Baylor offense produced 370 yards of total offense, far below its 560-yards-per-game average and 40-yards less than TCU’s total offensive output. This was the first time all season the Baylor had been outgained on offense.
Who would have thought that the school with the second-worst offense in the conference would outgain the team with the nation’s best offensive attack?
TCU’s Pachall, playing his final collegiate game, completed 21 of 47 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns in outdueling Bryce Petty, the Baylor quarterback, who threw for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Pachall missed almost all of his junior season after entering a substance abuse program.
“I’m really proud,” TCU head coach Gary Patterson said of his team’s defensive pewrformance against the high-powered Baylor offense. “I think they (Baylor) had two offensive touchdowns outside of the one they started on the one-yard line, so I don’t think we could have done a whole lot better as a defense.”
“It’s possibly the biggest win that we’ve experienced – one of the biggest – since we’ve been at Baylor the last six years,” said coach Art Briles at his postgame press conference. “Tonight, with this atmosphere and with them having two weeks to prepare and us coming off the road again last week…That’s what it kind of came down to in the end.. We felt like TCU played the best they have all year.”
In other games over the weekend, Kansas State had little trouble against Sunflower State rival Kansas, punishing the Jayhawks on the ground for a 31-10 victory and earning its fifth consecutive win in the series. K-State finishes the regular season with a winning season record of 7-5 and 5-4 in the Big 12. Senior running back John Hubert rushed for a career-high 220 yards after gaining just 17 net yards on the ground a week ago in a 41-31 loss to Oklahoma.
“Last week we didn’t rush the ball as well as we should have, so we wanted to come out and prove we’re still a hard-nosed team” Hubert said after the game. “We came and and got the job done.”
Kansas committed six turnovers in the game (four interceptions and two lost fumbles) including turnovers in its first three possessions after halftime. “Turnovers are part of the game,” Kansas head coach Charlie Weis said. “It was just how they all packaged together.”
K-State wasn’t without mistakes of its own, but the errors committed by the Wildcats weren’t nearly as costly. On one series in the third quarter, Kansas State had the ball on the Kansas 28-yard line, but after a series of offensive penalties found itself moved backward 32 yards to its own side of the field at the 40-yard-line with a first down and 42 yards to go.
Iowa State erased a 31-7 deficit early in the second quarter at West Virginia, including 24 fourth-quarter points to send the game to overtime at 38 all. The two teams traded field goals in the first two extra sessions before the quarterback Grant Rohach of the Cycles completed a 25-yard scoring strike in the third overtime to seal the victory.
It was Iowa State’s second straight conference victory after losing its first seven league games. The Cyclones finished the year with a 3-9 overall record. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7) lost six of its final seven games to finish in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Big 12 standings.
Texas ran its conference record to 7-1, the same as Baylor and Oklahoma State, with a 41-16 Thanksgiving night win over Texas Tech. That sets up a huge regular-season finale at Baylor. Meanwhile Oklahoma State will host Oklahoma needing a victory over the Sooners to claim the Cowboys’ second conference title in three easons (they also won the Big 12 crown in 2011).
Five More Things We Learned From Week 14 Big 12 Action
- TCU has struggled with offensive consistency all season, but the Horned Frogs got things humming on all cylinders in their game Saturday with Baylor. The TCU offense, behind senior quarterback Casey Pachall, bettered their season average for total offense, gaining 410 yards against the second-best defensive team in the conference in Baylor. Unfortunately, is wasn’t enough to finish the job against the league co-leaders.
- Credit to coach Paul Rhoades and his Iowa State Cyclones for not giving up when the Cyclones trailed West Virginia 31-7 in a game in which neither team had anything to play for other than proverbial pride. Iowa State’s 24 fourth-quarter points forced the game into overtime, and the Cyclones prevailed in three overtime periods.
- Kansas State won five of its final six regular-season games, losing only to Oklahoma on the way to a 7-5 season record. The Wildcats are only the fourthy team in Big 12 history to start the season with a 2-4 record and end up going to a bowl game. Most likely, K-State will represent the Big 12 in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego.
- Kansas could be looking at a third straight season in 2014 when a transfer player leads the Jayhawks at quarterback if UCLA-transfer T.J. Millweard wins the job next season. Could the third time be charm for the hapless Jayhawks? They didn’t get much from the previous two: former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist in 2012 and BYU-transfer Jake Heaps this season.
- Texas still is in the Big 12 title hunt, although it does not have control of its own destiny. An Oklahoma State loss to Oklahoma next weekend, combined with a Longhorn upset of Baylor would have to happen for the Longhorns to win the league crown outright. If that does not happen, however, this would be the first senior class at Texas since 1989 not to have won a conference championship or a division title.