Sunday, November 4, 2012
What we learned in the Big 12/SEC: Week 10
By David Ubben
Here's what I learned after a feisty week of football across the Big 12.
It'll probably take a miracle (or lingering issues from Collin Klein's head) for anybody but K-State to win the Big 12. The Big 12 standings look mighty boring these days. Kansas State is undefeated and Oklahoma has just one loss, but K-State already beat OU on its home field to earn the tiebreaker. K-State can clinch the Big 12 next week with a win at TCU and an Oklahoma loss to Baylor, but the only way K-State loses two of three down the stretch is if Klein's injury is more serious than it seemed on Saturday night. Most players and team officials seemed optimistic that Klein would return next week, but also prepared to play in his absence. I'd be surprised if he sat out. I was unimpressed with Daniel Sams' throwing ability, and Klein's return is imperative if K-State's run is going to continue through the rest of the season.
Collin Klein -- barring a lingering injury -- and Kansas State appear to have the Big 12 locked up.
TCU refuses to give up. These Frogs were on the ropes twice on Saturday. Once, they trailed by seven with less than two minutes to go and failed to score in the first overtime. Freshman QB Trevone Boykin found Josh Boyce for a 94-yard touchdown to force overtime, and the Frogs blocked a game-winning field goal to stay alive. This is the same team that, two weeks ago, rallied from 10 down in the final minutes to force OT with Texas Tech. These Frogs are beat up and seem to be in sticky situations every week. Still, they've soldiered on. It paid off Saturday, and TCU is going bowling.
Baylor can play a clean game. Turnovers have absolutely ruined this season for Baylor to this point. The Bears had lost 12 turnovers in the previous three games entering Saturday, and Kansas is a decent team when it comes to thievery. BU managed to get through Saturday's homecoming win over KU without a turnover, and the result was about what you'd expect: a 41-14 romp with a big second half. Baylor's defense pitched a shutout and the offense hung 21 on the board in the half, but none of that is likely possible without the lack of turnovers.
West Virginia's defense still has a long way to go. Defensive coordinator Joe DeForest made the strategic move up to the more serene coaches' booth to call the plays, and the Mountaineers looked much better on Saturday. WVU gave up just 405 yards to a decent TCU offense, its second-lowest total in Big 12 play. However, there's no excuse for the play that changed the game. The Mountaineers inexplicably lost Josh Boyce with TCU buried deep in its own territory, and the game-tying score was all too easy on the broken play. You can play well for 58 minutes, but one badly timed bust can sure make it easy to forget that progress. WVU proved that Saturday.
Texas Tech is coming back to Earth after an upset ... again. Texas Tech's season took a dramatic turn and the Red Raiders earned a huge chunk of respect when they beat WVU by 35 in Lubbock three weeks ago. Since then, though, Tech needed late heroics in overtime to escape TCU with a win and got soundly beaten by K-State and Texas in consecutive weeks. The Red Raiders are bowl eligible, but have looked pretty unimpressive lately. They'll be happy to know Kansas -- the owner of an 18-game losing streak in Big 12 play -- is coming to town next week. Still, any hope of a Big 12 title is officially out the window.
College football may see a Texas-Texas A&M matchup in the Cotton Bowl. A whole lot of dominoes still have to fall, but Texas' win over Texas Tech gave the Longhorns perhaps the inside track at earning a Cotton Bowl bid. Oklahoma looks likely to reach the BCS if it wins out, and Oklahoma State's schedule is about to get brutal. That may leave the Longhorns there, and Texas A&M looks as if it may represent the SEC West in the bowl after Alabama and LSU snag BCS bids. If Oklahoma or Texas suffer a bad loss or A&M upsets Alabama, it might be off, but if not, we could be due for an epic Lone Star Showdown redux at Jerry World. So, about those eternal bragging rights for the Horns after last year's game-winning field goal at Kyle Field ...
Johnny Manziel poses a real threat to Alabama. With the way Zach Mettenberger threw the ball around Saturday, the coming weekend's Alabama-Texas A&M game just got a lot more interesting. Mettenberger registered a career-high 298 passing yards and a touchdown. Manziel has walked all over defenses this fall and he should be able to make some plays through the air on Alabama's secondary. He should be able to run around a little bit as well. Manziel struggled against Florida and LSU, but ran through Mississippi State over the weekend. He's growing each week and the Aggies offense is getting better and better. There are some holes in Alabama's defense that weren't there last season and Manziel has the ability to exploit them. Alabama should adjust through the week, but keeping up with Manziel will be a tall task for the Tide. -- Edward Aschoff