Sunday, November 11, 2012
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 11
By David Ubben
Here's what I learned after a big week in Big 12 country as it relates to the BCS race:
Kansas State is right on track to crack the BCS National Championship Game. Down goes Bama! The champ is cut! The champ is cut! Kansas State's players were blocking out the biggest news in the college football world Saturday. Alabama lost right after K-State and TCU kicked off, leaving the Wildcats and Oregon as the two teams most likely to control their fate in the BCS race. Notre Dame is also undefeated, but a handful of close calls might leave the Irish on the outside looking in, despite feasting on not a single cupcake. Either way, Kansas State has rolled its way to 10-0, and now doesn't have to worry about scoreboard-watching, barring something amazing in the polls. Beat Baylor and Texas, and K-State is doing something it has never done before: Playing for a national championship.
Texas Tech is hanging by a thread. The Red Raiders were red-hot and in the title hunt less than a month ago, but lost consecutive games to Texas and Kansas State, and narrowly beat Kansas, the Big 12's worst team, Saturday at home. The sideline incident involving coach Tommy Tuberville and a graduate assistant will only add more noise around the Texas Tech program this week. Texas Tech has seven wins, two more than it did a year ago. It's better and it sent the seniors out the right way, but this season was a play or two away Saturday from feeling a little disastrous.
David Ash threw for 364 yards and two TDs in leading Texas to its fourth consecutive victory.
Kansas is enduring a cruel, cruel season. Good grief, this just will not end for the Jayhawks. The Big 12 losing streak moves to 19 games. The road losing streak advances to 18 games. Kansas has somehow found a way to fall back from a two-win season to 1-9 and legitimately be a better team. Kansas blew a lead to lose on a last-second field goal against Rice. The road streak continued when Northern Illinois erased a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. Texas strung together an improbable game-winning drive with a crazy fourth-down conversion. Saturday, Charlie Weis' squad rallied to tie the score but lost in double overtime on a ... jump pass? Ugh. Kansas is knocking on the door and will get a chance against Iowa State and West Virginia to close the season, but you have to feel some pity for these Jayhawks at this point.
Other than K-State, Texas is the Big 12's hottest team. Don't look now, but the Longhorns are racking up some decent wins. Beating Iowa State by 26 isn't easy, and Texas has already equaled last year's win total. There's not a truly impressive victory in the four-game streak, but simply winning four consecutive games in the Big 12 is a lot harder than it sounds. Texas is sitting pretty at 8-2 and hosts TCU on Thanksgiving. It'll be favored in that game, and if the Horns spring a huge upset against K-State to close the season Dec. 1, they'll be on the way to the BCS.
West Virginia's free fall refuses to end. This really is cringe-worthy. West Virginia's got all the skill-position talent you could want, but has struggled on special teams (excluding the return game) and the defense didn't carry over the growth it showed a week ago against TCU. The Mountaineers raced to 5-0 and a top-five ranking, but have lost four since and still don't look as though they've hit rock bottom yet. Geno Smith is a great personality and a better quarterback, but these losses are taking a toll. He's trying and Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin are doing what they can, too. Still, this uber-talented team just can't do enough to win. It's tough to see. I enjoyed my time around that crew during its early-season run, but it's entirely possible that WVU needs a win over Kansas in the season finale just to reach bowl eligibility.