Sunday, October 21, 2012
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 8
By David Ubben
Here's what I learned after five Big 12 games in Week 8:
K-State is the unquestioned leader for the Big 12 title. Any questions? Kansas State has three road victories against Top 25 teams this year and walked into Oklahoma and West Virginia and handed both Big 12 contenders humbling losses. Coach Bill Snyder has this team playing up to its potential, doing the same things it did last year ... just better.
Baylor has work to do to get into the postseason. The Bears are stuck in a three-game losing streak and are slumming at the bottom of the Big 12 standings at 0-3, just ahead of Kansas at 0-4. Baylor is a pretty good team, but the Big 12 is deep, and somebody has to get swallowed up. Baylor has four ranked teams left on its schedule and stands at just three wins overall. With Iowa State, Kansas and Oklahoma State left, the opportunities will be there for the Bears, but only KU looks like a gimme, and the Jayhawks nearly beat Baylor last year, even with RG3.
TCU is playing gutsy, gutsy football. The Horned Frogs have lost more players than anybody in the Big 12, but they keep chugging along and nearly grabbed a huge win against Texas Tech. Trailing by double digits with three minutes to play, Trevone Boykin hit LaDarius Brown for a 60-yard score to get the Frogs back in it. TCU played without Brandon Carter for much of the game, and its best offensive lineman, Blaize Foltz, was missing, too. Preseason All-Big 12 DE Stansly Maponga was out, and the team's top two backs after spring football, Ed Wesley (left team) and Waymon James (knee), are gone this season. Boykin is playing only because of the Casey Pachall mess earlier this fall, but TCU keeps hanging on. Saturday would have been one of the most emotional wins in a long time for the Frogs, but this team is still good and will be scary in 2013.
J.W. Walsh and Oklahoma State could still defend the Big 12 title, but a murderers' row awaits.
Texas Tech is a force to be reckoned with. The Red Raiders have one bad loss to a very good team in Oklahoma and eked out a triple-overtime, comeback win on the road against a good TCU team. How good are the Red Raiders? Well, they're one of just three teams (K-State, Oklahoma State) to control their fate in the Big 12 title race, so we'll find out exactly how good next week when they travel to Manhattan, Kan. The Red Raiders look legit, but in case you weren't watching on Saturday night, so did K-State, and significantly more so.
There is still hope for Oklahoma State. Beating Iowa State by three touchdowns isn't easy, even if the Cyclones' offense is struggling. Oklahoma State did it, and did it with its backup quarterback, J.W. Walsh. I generally think the quarterback "controversy" is a joke. This offense is built to run with Wes Lunt commanding things, and it will be his when he comes back, but when will that be? Oklahoma State is crazy if it hasn't had a frank conversation about a medical redshirt at this point. The Cowboys have just one Big 12 loss but a whole lot to prove with five more ranked teams on the schedule in the next five weeks. OSU still hasn't really beaten anybody, but it'll have plenty of chances.
West Virginia has hit rock bottom ... I think.Geno Smith said it after the game, and he's right: This is a terrible, terrible time for a bye week. The Mountaineers have two weeks to do some soul searching before hosting a young but improving TCU team. Those offensive issues last week against Texas Tech may have been a sign of things to come, and TCU knows a thing or two about playing some defense. Coach Gary Patterson learned a lot from these past two games, I'm sure. We know the WVU defense can't stop anybody, but will the offense regain its form? We won't know for another couple of weeks.