Pat Kinnison

Big 12 Gets Some Clarity On OSU's Bye Week

Oklahoma State enjoys the weekend off while the Big 12 picture becomes a little clearer

While Oklahoma State players were hunting, relaxing, and even watching some football on Saturday the Big 12 gained some clarity. Some of that clarifying will make for a brighter picture for the Cowboys and some will darken the prospects for what everybody is hoping will be a Big 12 Conference championship campaign at the end of November. 

While the Cowboys sat out Saturday, the game I was most anxious to see was West Virginia at Baylor because since the Big 12 Media Days in Dallas in late July my mind had been changed about who I favored in the Big 12. At that point it had been TCU but the words and body language of Dallas convinced me that Baylor quarterback Seth Russell was for real and that Baylor had more overall than TCU and also had the proper attitude and mean streak to go with it. 

I also felt going into yesterday that while West Virginia might be fragile from suffering two losses in a row at Oklahoma, and in overtime last week hosting Oklahoma State, that the Mountaineers were still physically a very talented football team. A team with a good defense, good and productive run game, and a passing game that while dependent on a hot/cold quarterback in Skyler Howard, was rapidly developing some receiving playmakers. 

All of that was true. I still think West Virginia is a good football team and, unfortunately, Baylor gradually dismantled them in a convincing fashion. Baylor scored 60-plus points for the fifth time in six games this season and they went over the 600 yard mark offensively for the sixth time in a row.

Baylor, Seth Russell, running back Shock Linwood, and the talented receiver corps featuring Corey Coleman, who now has more touchdown receptions this season than anyone in any season in Baylor history, is a juggernaut. Frankly, I'm not sure anyone can beat them because I don't think anyone can stop the Bears offense enough to outscore them.

As for the other aspect of the Big 12 and this season that I felt I learned on Saturday is that outside of Baylor the rest of the league is very competitive. I'm not sure you need to fear Kansas but you had better prepare and get ready. Armed with freshman quarterback Ryan Willis, who can play, and a defense that is improving some, at least in keeping opponents out of the end zone, the Jayhawks are choosing to improve rather than roll over and play dead. Texas Tech won a 30-20 game that featured lots of yards but not as many points. 

TCU continues to struggle on the road. Early in games against inferior opponents, and like Kansas, Iowa State is choosing to bow up and battle rather than be counted as Big 12 road kill for upper echelon teams in the league. Playing at Iowa State will not be a walk in the park or a seemingly week off. Playing TCU at home will be a bonus if you can jump out quick and survive the (Trevone) Boykin blows that will come the rest of the game. 

Finally, Kansas State may have been discouraged in their early losses and Oklahoma got mad and fought rather than let the loss to Texas beat them twice. The Sooners had a long, long, long flight delay waiting for a charter flight on Friday and channeled it into the proper emotion for a chip on the shoulder and a 55-0 shutout impressive win at Kansas State.

In the end, my opinion on Saturday is that everyone of Oklahoma State's remaining games on the season became more difficult, except for maybe the Halloween trip to Lubbock and Texas Tech, and one game for the Cowboys and the entire Big 12 looks almost impossible to win, home or away, and that is the game with the Baylor Bears.

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