1. Wow. So that was a crazy weekend. Part of me was glad that the Bears were on their bye week, as it kept them out of the fray of wackiness. The Bears have had enough craziness this year, only amplified by the news that dropped Friday afternoon about Tre'Von Armstead, who was dismissed from the team. It was the generic and overused "Violation of team rules" that did him in. We won't know (if we ever do) exactly what caused Armstead to be kicked off the team, unless a police report or criminal charges surface. It was just another blemish for the Bears, as every week there has been news of suspended players or coaches dominating the Friday headlines.
The Big 12 went 5-2 over the 3rd weekend of the season, but that doesn't even begin to look at what happened. There were two overtime games, and another that would have gone to overtime if the final extra point was converted. There were two big-time scares for Top-20 Big 12 teams at home against AAC teams. There were tons of points for the Big 12 and against them as well.
2. The top game on my list to watch this weekend was the TCU vs. SMU game. With the Bears having already dispatched the Mustangs, 56-21, I wanted to see how Baylor would stack up in comparison to the Frogs. With the game being in Fort Worth, and TCU having some game film on what the Mustangs would look like under Chad Morris, I was hoping for a score close to the Bears. Even with those two big benefits, this was a battle for TCU. So, how did the two games compare:
|Yards Per Play||10.48||10.14|
|Yard Per Play Allowed||4.73||6.42|
|2nd Half Points Allowed||0||20|
|Second Half Yards Allowed||109||
With the score 42-17 with over 9 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, this looked to be a big blowout win for the Horned Frogs, and another dominant performance. However, SMU would score 20 straight points to pull within 5 points of TCU. Two late touchdowns (including one with just 56 seconds left in the game, when TCU easily could have killed the clock without score...style points!) put the game away for TCU and made the score look better than it actually was.
3. TCU's pass defense suffered a massive loss, as star cornerback Ranthony Texada was lost for the year with a knee injury. Texada is the 6th defensive starter the Frogs have loss, including two key defensive linemen and both of their starting linebackers. Starting safety Kenny Iloka (knee), linebacker Sammy Douglas (knee), linebacker Mike Freeze (leave of absence), defensive end James McFarland (toe) and defensive tackle Davion Pierson (head), with only Pierson expcted back this year. Quite simply, this is a shell of the defense that Gary Patterson and the Frogs were expecting to have this year, and it was already being rebuilt at several key positions.
With Texada out of the game, the SMU passing attack came to life. Courtland Sutton caught 4 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown as TCU just could not cover the deep ball. The Frogs though were not the only Big 12 team to struggle defensively.
Texas was ambushed by the California Golden Bears through three quarters. A 45-24 shellacking in Austin had many Longhorns streaming for the exits. It was the same old issues for UT. Almost 7 yards per carry on the ground for Cal, for 280 yards rushing. California was up big, until a furious rally by UT, led by Jerrod Heard got Texas to within a made extra point of overtime with just 71 seconds left in the game. Texas still has major issues defensively, but their offense might have found something that works with Heard under center.
Another interesting game was going on up in Norman, as the Sooners took on Tulsa, and new head coach Phillip Montgomery. As Baylor fans know, Montgomery has been the Bears offensive coordinator under Briles, and brought with him that system to Tulsa. All Tulsa did was score 38 points, gain over 600 yards of offense, and be within 7 points with 4 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter. This game is a great indicator that Oklahoma still has no idea what to do against Briles' spread attack. They allowed big plays in the passing game (touchdowns of 40 and 43 yards), but also couldn't stop the run (176 yards, 4.4 yards per carry). Two Sooner turnovers certainly did help the Hurricane's, but this game has to send a shiver down every Sooner fans back.
4. The best looking team on the weekend for the Big 12 was probably Oklahoma State, who beat UTSA 69-14. The Cowboys had two mediocre performance in wins over Central Michigan and Central Arkansas. Make no mistake, UTSA is not a good team this year, but has proven troublesome for Arizona (lost 42-32) and Kansas State (lost 30-3, but just 7-3 at halftime). The Cowboys dominated from the start, going up 17-0 in the first quarter, and leading 31-7 at halftime. The Pokes forced 7 UTSA turnovers and never let the Roadrunners get going.
Oklahoma also looked impressive, at least on offense. Baker Mayfield is turning into a star, at least early in the year. He is up to 14 total touchdowns on the year, and has been a true difference maker for the QB-starved Sooners. He was nearly perfect against Tulsa, completing 32-38 passes for 487 passing yards and 4 touchdowns. He added another 2 rushing touchdowns and 85 rushing yards on top of that. It was a sensational performance for the walk-on QB.
Texas at least has a glimmer of hope, now that quarterback Jerrod Heard is taking control of the offense. Heard is giving the Longhorns some big plays, and played very well against Cal. He had 364 yards passing, and another 163 on the ground. His three rushing touchdowns brought UT back, and his last minute drive to "tie" the game was highlighted by a beautiful 45 yard scamper on a brilliant QB Draw playcall. Too bad UT missed the extra point and a chance to send this game to overtime.
The best win of the weekend though was from Texas Tech, who went on the road to face off against Arkansas. The Razorbacks were thought of as a sleeper team in the SEC West, and were ranked in the Top-25 before a surprising loss at home to Toledo last week. The Red Raiders came in and stopped the running game of Arkansas (228 yards, and 5.3 yards per carry) much better than they did last year when Arkansas just abused Tech for 438 yards and 7 touchdowns on the ground. Patrick Mahomes continued to play like a blossoming star, completing 26-30 passes, and accounting for 3 total touchdowns.
5. Here is how I would rank the Big 12 right now:
- Baylor - Baylor worked on tightening things up on both sides of the ball. Hopeful to see an improved defense and less turnovers against Rice.
- TCU - A blowout win turned very anxious with SMU scorign 20-straight points. Is that the defense we will see from here on out?
- Oklahoma - Baker Mayfield has made them exciting, however, that OU defense just can't stop the Briles offensive system.
- Oklahoma State - The Cowboys put together a complete game. 7 turnovers, and 60+ points. That was a nice win.
- West Virginia - Is this the best defense in the Big 12? At this point, I think they are.
- Texas Tech - Huge win over Arkansas on the road. Kliff comes out shooting fire against Arky and their head coach, Bret Bielema.
- Texas - Through three quarters, the Longhorns were punked on national TV in their own stadium by Cal. That fourth quarter though gives the Longhorns a lot of hope. Still can't believe they missed the extra point!
- Kansas State - Triple overtime to beat Lousiana Tech at home? This is not the Wizard's finest work so far.
- Iowa State - Another loss, this time to Toledo, 30-23.
- Kansas - A bye week to try and find a semblance of a defense.