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Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 9

October, 28, 2013
10/28/13
11:00
AM ET
Taking stock of Week 9 in the Big 12:

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiBlake Bell answered his critics with a big performance in Saturday's victory over previously unbeaten Texas Tech.
Team of the week: After three scuffling weeks, Oklahoma finally broke out with an inspiring 38-30 win over Texas Tech. Most encouraging, QB Blake Bell had his best game since Notre Dame. On a second-quarter touchdown drive that finally got the Sooners going offensively, Bell completed 3 of 4 passes on third downs for 45 yards. After the lone third-down incompletion, Bell rushed for 10 yards on fourth-and-2 to the Texas Tech 14. Two plays later, he found Jalen Saunders for a touchdown. That kind of drive inspires confidence as the Sooners get ready for Baylor -- both for Bell in himself, and for the Sooners in their quarterback.

Disappointment of the week: West Virginia had begun to show signs of life offensively, scoring 30, 42 and 27 points, respectively, in its previous three games. But the Mountaineers took a major step back at Kansas State on both sides of the ball. After taking a 12-7 lead early in the third quarter, West Virginia was thoroughly outplayed the rest of the way. K-State scored four unanswered touchdowns on the next four drives while the Mountaineers mustered nothing, as the Wildcats coasted to a 35-12 win. West Virginia can still get to a bowl game. But the margin for error is running out.

Big (offensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State running back Desmond Roland, K-State QBs Daniel Sams and Jake Waters and Oklahoma fullback Trey Millard.

Roland proved he’s the Cowboys’ most effective running back, racking up a career-high 219 yards and four touchdowns in his first game as a featured back. His 58-yard rumble in the third quarter essentially put Iowa State away.

Sams and Waters were stellar in K-State’s win over West Virginia. The dual-threat duo combined to complete 18 of 21 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns through the air, and ran for 71 yards.

This will be the last time Millard will be eligible for any game recognition. He tore his ACL in the fourth quarter covering a kick. On the previous drive, he took a pass and hurdled a Tech defender for a 14-yard gain to set up a touchdown from the Tech 3. Millard was also tremendous all game as the lead blocker for Damien Williams, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay. Millard’s great career in Norman comes to a close.

Big (defensive) men on campus: Texas linebacker Steve Edmond, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and K-State safety Ty Zimmerman.

Edmond led a Texas defense that completely shut down TCU in the Longhorns’ 30-7 win. He had an interception, two pass breakups and helped thwart the TCU running attack.

Gilbert had a pick-six early that gave OSU an early 14-0 lead. He added three tackles and a pass breakup.

Zimmerman spearheaded the Wildcats defensively with 12 tackles, two pass breakups and a forced fumble. The forced fumble of West Virginia QB Clint Trickett set up a K-State touchdown that put the Wildcats ahead 28-12 in the fourth quarter, effectively putting the game away.

Special-teams players of the week: Everyone involved with the Texas Tech punt return and kickoff coverage teams. Trey Haverty’s units masterfully executed a pair of maneuvers in the third quarter that almost allowed Tech to knock off the Sooners. Down 21-14, deep man Jordan Davis ran away from the ball to draw the OU punt coverage team toward him. Toward the other side of the field, where the ball actually was, Tanner Jacobson scooped up the ball on the bounce and returned it 17 yards. The play set up a field goal. Immediately after the field goal, Kramer Fyfe's onside kick was recovered by Summitt Hogue. Three plays later, the Red Raiders were in the end zone to take a 24-21 lead.

Play of the week: For the second straight week, Oklahoma wide receiver Lacoltan Bester takes this category. After the Sooners fell behind 24-21, Oklahoma dialed up a double reverse pass for Bester -- the same play that resulted in a touchdown pass last week. But with no one to throw to this time, Bester took off and weaved his way through the Tech defense 35 yards for a touchdown. The Sooners never trailed again.

Stat of the week: By defeating Kansas 59-14, Baylor extended its winning streak to 11 games dating back to last season, the longest winning streak in Baylor history.

Quote of the week: “They’ve all had a goal and a dream to play on Sunday, and now they’ve done it.” -- Longhorns coach Mack Brown, after the weather-delayed Texas-TCU game went past midnight

Big 12 weekend rewind: Week 8

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
11:00
AM ET
Taking stock of Week 8 in the Big 12:

Team of the week: Texas Tech was on the brink of dropping its first game of the season, trailing West Virginia 27-16 in the third quarter. But then tight end Jace Amaro took over, QB Davis Webb made some clutch throws and the Tech defense allowed just one first down over five West Virginia possessions to end the game. Now Tech is ranked in the top 10 of the BCS standings, with a chance to surge even higher this weekend at Oklahoma.

[+] EnlargeJace Amaro
AP Photo/Chris JacksonTight end Jace Amaro caught nine passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders' win over West Virginia.
Disappointment of the week: TCU had to win in Stillwater to have any chance of factoring in the Big 12 race. But after another inept performance offensively, the Horned Frogs could be on the brink of missing out on a bowl game instead. Through three quarters, TCU did virtually nothing offensively in a 24-10 loss at Oklahoma State, as Trevone Boykin threw three more interceptions and had the lowest Big 12 Total QBR (5.9) and Adjusted QBR (27.4) of the week. TCU still needs three wins to get bowl-eligible, and as poor as the offense has looked, that might not be so easy.

Big (offensive) man on campus: For the second straight week, Webb broke the Texas Tech freshman single-game passing record with 462 yards through the air. More importantly, he quarterbacked the Red Raiders to their most impressive victory of the season yet, with two huge completions in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. The first converted a third-and-6 on a 27-yard loft to Jordan Davis. The second converted a third-and-goal from the West Virginia 10-yard line into a touchdown, putting the Red Raiders up by two scores to clinch the victory. All told, Webb completed 36 of his 50 passing attempts, and avoided taking a sack or throwing an interception. If he had scored instead of fumbling at West Virginia 1-yard line on a quarterback draw, it would have been a flawless performance.

Big (defensive) man on campus: Linebacker Eddie Lackey spearheaded Baylor’s most impressive defensive performance of the season. Lackey led the Bears with a team-high eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery, as Baylor held Iowa State to just 41 yards rushing. Even though the game got out of hand early, Lackey & Co. nearly pitched a shutout. But the Cyclones finally got on the board with 47 seconds remaining on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Grant Rohach to DeVondrick Nealy. The Baylor offense gets all the headlines. But after eight weeks, the Bears also lead the Big 12 in scoring defense (No. 7 in the country).

Special-teams players of the week: Josh Stewart could not be corralled in Oklahoma State’s win over TCU. Basically a one-man show offensively with 10 catches for 141 yards, Stewart also delivered the highlight of the game, taking a punt return 95 yards for a touchdown that put the Cowboys on the scoreboard in the first quarter. Stewart later somehow hauled in a pass from fellow receiver Charlie Moore over three defenders, which set up the Cowboys’ game-clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. "We doubled him, we played over the top of him,” said TCU coach Gary Patterson, “and he still found ways to get there.”

Play of the week: Late in the second quarter with the Sooners still trailing Kansas, QB Blake Bell handed off to wide receiver Lacoltan Bester on an end around. Instead of continuing to run, Bester pulled up and floated a pass in stride to Sterling Shepard, who coasted into the end zone to give Oklahoma a 15-13 lead. The play energized the Sooners, who never trailed again. Had Bester not converted the trick pass, Oklahoma probably would have been in a fourth-quarter dogfight with the last-place Jayhawks.

Stat of the week: Over four Big 12 games, TCU is averaging 2.5 points per first half. The Horned Frogs have been shut out in first half already three times this season.

Quote of the week: “That’s great. I hope they keep saying it. I saw 'GameDay,' [Kirk] Herbstreit picked against us. That’s good. I hope they keep giving us that locker room material.” -- Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, on those who say the Red Raiders’ 7-0 start is a bit of fool’s gold.

Tech plays to win in huge road victory

October, 19, 2013
10/19/13
7:30
PM ET

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- With a chance to run the clock out and kick a field goal, Kliff Kingsbury went for the kill instead.

And with a freshman quarterback, no less, in his first career road start.

But in the final minute of the fourth quarter, Davis Webb answered his coach’s cool confidence with a cool, confident touchdown pass, clinching Texas Tech’s 37-27 win Saturday at West Virginia.

[+] EnlargeDavis Webb
AP Photo/Chris JacksonFreshman quarterback Davis Webb, making his first road start, was 36-of-50 for 462 yards and two touchdowns in the Red Raiders' win over West Virginia.
“We talk about it all the time, fortune favors the bold,” Kingsbury said. “We’re going to go try win the game.

“We’re not going to leave it on anybody else.”

Kingsbury’s play-to-win attitude has the preseason pick to finish seventh in the league sitting at 7-0. And it has solidified the Red Raiders as legit contenders in a wild, wild Big 12 season heading into next weekend’s showdown at Oklahoma.

“That call showed how much trust Coach has in us,” said tight end Jace Amaro, who hauled in the 10-yard touchdown pass from Webb at the back of the end zone that put the Red Raiders up by two scores with 1:01 to play.

Kingsbury’s call especially showed trust in Webb, who has blossomed since losing the starting job in the preseason to freshman walk-on Baker Mayfield.

In Webb's first start last week, he broke the Texas Tech freshman passing record in a victory over Iowa State.

In Morgantown, Webb broke the record again.

He completed 36 of 50 passes for 462 yards and two touchdowns to also become the first Texas Tech freshman to throw for more than 400 yards in his first two starts.

“Losing the job really kicked him into overtime as far as determination and work ethic,” Kingsbury said of Webb, who, as a freshman, remains off limits to the media. “He has handled himself very well since.”

Webb was far from perfect Saturday. And his fumble at the West Virginia 1-yard line in the second quarter completely reversed momentum of the game. The Red Raiders led 13-3 and were primed to make it 20-3. But off a quarterback draw, Webb tried to embody his coach’s play-to-win attitude and went for the touchdown instead of sliding. At the goal line, three Mountaineers converged on Webb and popped the ball loose and West Virginia recovered. The Mountaineers answered with a 99-yard touchdown drive, and scored on five straight possessions to take a 27-16 lead in the third quarter.

“That one I was mad about, because we talk about sliding all the time; he's not the most nimble to try and do something like that, either,” Kingsbury said. “But he said, ‘I got you, Coach. I’ll make up for it.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”

Webb more than made up for the fumble.

And the Texas Tech defense, which was on its heels for two quarters, finally gave him the opportunity to do it.

After the Mountaineers took the 11-point lead, the Red Raider defense allowed just one first down the rest of the way over West Virginia’s final five possessions.

Losing the job really kicked him into overtime as far as determination and work ethic. He has handled himself very well since.

Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on quarterback Davis Webb.
“West Virginia had a lot of opportunities there (to put the game away),” linebacker Terrance Bullitt said. “But we never panicked. We were like, ‘Let’s go, let’s get this.’ We knew we were going to stop them. We stepped up as a defense, then the offense stepped up and put the game away.”

The drive before Webb’s final touchdown pass, West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett completed all three of his passes. But the Mountaineers still went three-and-out, as Texas Tech’s Bullitt, Derrick Mays and Bruce Jones all made sure tackles to force yet another punt.

“We knew if we got that stop, we were going to win the game,” said Amaro, who had another monster performance with nine catches for 136 yards and two touchdowns to fuel Texas Tech’s comeback.

“We got that stop.”

After that stop, the Red Raiders got the ball back with 4:30 still to play. But instead of just sitting on the ball, Tech gunned for first downs. On 3rd-and-6, Webb lofted a pass 27 yards downfield to Jordan Davis, who came down with the reception in coverage at the West Virginia 5.

Then three plays later on third-and-goal, Kingsbury called another daring pass. And Webb delivered.

“When we’ve had to have big drives, Davis has made them,” said Kingsbury, who was the first to meet Webb at the hashmarks to celebrate the score. “I’m really proud of how he handled himself in the fourth quarter.”

A fourth quarter Texas Tech played to win. And a win that stamped the Red Raiders as Big 12 contenders.

DALLAS -- Baker Mayfield is not a normal freshman.

The Texas Tech walk-on quarterback led the Red Raiders to a 41-23 win over SMU at Ford Stadium on Friday night. Here’s how it happened.

How the game was won: The Red Raiders pulled away in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 consecutive points to put the game away after SMU had cut the margin to 20-16 after three quarters.

Player of the game: Mayfield accounted for five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) in his first collegiate game. The walk-on true freshman settled down more and more as the game went on, finishing 43-of-60 for 413 yards and four touchdowns. He scored on an 11-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run to help secure the win.

Turning point: Mayfield’s 33-yard pass to Jordan Davis with 1:01 left in the first half. The freshman zipped the ball through a tight window to Davis before the safety could arrive, and Davis did the rest. It seemed to give the Red Raiders’ quarterback renewed confidence that he could get it done against SMU.

Unsung hero of the game: SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert has to be disappointed with a loss, but he did as much as he could to prevent the season-opening setback. He accounted for 441 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown run.

Unsung hero of the game, Part II: When he wasn’t holding on running plays, Texas Tech receiver Eric Ward was close to unstoppable. The senior finished with 13 receptions for 150 yards in the win.

What Texas Tech learned: Coach Kliff Kingsbury learned that Mayfield can excel in his offense. Anytime you start a true freshman, particularly at quarterback, you never know how he will respond. Mayfield responded by making big plays without making the big mistake. Kingsbury will be smiling all the way back to Lubbock.

What SMU learned: The Mustangs learned they need to find some playmakers on offense. Dropped passes, limited yards after catch and a general lack of explosiveness was the underlying narrative for June Jones’ squad. Gilbert is going to need some help from his teammates if SMU hopes to have success in 2013.

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