Dallas Colleges: What we learned 101412

What we learned in the Big 12: Week 7

October, 14, 2012
Here's what I learned after a wild Week 7 across the Big 12:

The Big 12 is more unpredictable than ever. What a crazy week. West Virginia provided the most eye-opening result, laying an egg on offense and getting dominated by Texas Tech in all three phases. TCU was left for dead by most (including yours truly) after last week's Iowa State loss but walked into Waco and rolled over a good Baylor team with a strong fourth quarter. Oklahoma looked like the national title team (and then some) many expected it to be before the season. Texas looked like a disappointment. Oklahoma State's 22-game streak of scoring at least 30 points ended ... against Kansas?! By far the craziest week in this league in a long time.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma defense
Tim Heitman/US PRESSWIREOklahoma's defense overwhelmed Texas on Saturday, and have the Sooners looking like the Big 12's top team.
West Virginia's offensive consistency? Still waiting. We know WVU can do special things, but can it do them every week? The answer was a resounding no in Big East play last year, and Saturday, Texas Tech's defense made WVU look very, very bad. We knew the Mountaineers' defense was going to give up numbers, but when the offense doesn't play well, the Big 12 has offenses to make WVU pay. On Saturday, the Eers paid a very, very steep price.

Oklahoma has the Big 12's best defense. The Sooners left Texas bruised and battered, but they've got a fantastic defensive résumé so far this season. They shut out UTEP's offense and gave up one long touchdown to Florida A&M. K-State's offense scored just 17 points, and Texas Tech managed just 13 before a garbage-time touchdown. Until less than five minutes were left on Saturday and OU led 56-9, Texas had two first downs and hadn't scored on offense. Mike Stoops' arrival is already paying off.

Kansas State in the clutch is terrifying. K-State needed points and needed them badly. It got three, and it took eight minutes off the clock to do it. Quarterback Collin Klein converted three third downs (two passing, one rushing) to keep the drive alive, and the Wildcats took more than half of the fourth quarter to shorten their 27-21 win versus Iowa State. This team simply knows how to win tight games, and the defense didn't let Jared Barnett and the Cyclones even threaten to score on a possible game-winning drive. Pressure doesn't seem to ever affect the Cats.

It's time to stop holding out on Texas' defense. The Longhorns faced some great offenses to start the Big 12 season, and some (myself included) were willing to give a talented group the benefit of the doubt to fix the tackling issues that showed up in wins over Wyoming, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. Not anymore. They might turn it around later this season, but this Texas defense has proved disappointing, and though the offense has been better than most figured, the defense is simply overrated.

What we learned in the SEC: Week 7

October, 14, 2012
Now that Week 7 is over with, it's time to take a look at what we learned in the SEC:

1. LSU isn't going away: The Tigers limped into Saturday's showdown with South Carolina after being pushed around by Florida. By all accounts, the sky was falling in Baton Rouge and the Tigers had to face the music that they were playing for second place in the SEC West. But things feel much different on the bayou after an impressive win over the Gamecocks. The Tigers did all the pushing Saturday, outgaining South Carolina 406-211 and denying Marcus Lattimore to even touch the ball in the fourth quarter. Zach Mettenberger's performance wasn't pretty, but he didn't need to be with that running game churning out 258 rushing yards against one of the country's best defensive lines, and that kind of play can win in this league. LSU isn't out of the SEC or national race and the Alabama game just got a little more exciting.

[+] EnlargeTyler Wilson
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireTyler Wilson threw five touchdown passes in Saturday's win.
2. Hot seats are only getting hotter: Things just aren't working at Auburn, Kentucky and Tennessee. And that means that their respective coaches are really starting to feel the heat. Heading into the weekend, Kentucky's Joker Phillips was probably in the most hot water, and it's boiling after a 49-7 loss to Arkansas. Derek Dooley entered the season on the hottest seat and his Vols are now 0-3 in SEC play and eight wins is looking tougher and tougher by the day. And Gene Chizik has a bad offense and defense at Auburn. The Tigers gave Ole Miss its first SEC win since 2010 in a blowout in Oxford. The problem is that things just aren't getting better at any of these three schools and fans are beyond antsy and upset. None of the three schools have a conference win this season and have a combined record of 5-14.

3. Arkansas isn't done just yet: Just when we thought the Razorbacks were dead in the water, they are slowly getting back into the bowl race. After a dismal September, the Hogs have shown tremendous pride the past two weeks with wins over Auburn and Kentucky. Granted, they are beating cellar dwellers, but there was a time when not many people thought the Hogs would win both of those. Arkansas' offense looks like we expected it to and could be a threat to its November competition. Arkansas is now three wins away from being bowl eligible. With home games against Ole Miss and Tulsa coming up, the Razorbacks might need just one win in the tough month of November to make it to the postseason.

4. Johnny Manziel might be the SEC's best: Forget Johnny Football being the league's best freshman, he might be the SEC's best overall player. Through six games, the youngster has passed for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns and is completing 67 percent of his passes. He's also thrown only three interceptions. But where he's even more dangerous is in the ground game. Manziel leads the SEC with 676 rushing yards and has 10 touchdowns. He's lightning-quick and can outrun just about anyone out there. You take Manziel off of this team and the Aggies aren't close to being as good as they've been. He can change a game in a second with his feet, but also has the ability to make some quality throws. It's like he doesn't have an off button.

5. The East race will be even more interesting: With South Carolina's loss to LSU, the East race is going to be even more fun to watch from here on out. The Gamecocks now share a loss with Georgia, while Florida sits atop the division. But the Gators host South Carolina next weekend before playing Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla. South Carolina certainly didn't want to lose, but with a win over Florida, the Gamecocks would own the tiebreaker over the Gators and Dawgs. So this loss won't sting as much. We could be headed to a similar situation as we saw last year in the West with Alabama, Arkansas and LSU. If these teams come out of this round-robin-style play with just one loss each, we'll officially be on "Tiebreaker Watch."