I hear it all the time, “Who has the best conference in college football?” SEC? Big 10? ACC? What about the Pac-12? Very rarely are you going to hear the words “Big 12” coming out of someone’s mouth in that conversation. Whether you do it or not, there are plenty of folks out there who love to bash the Big 12 conference (cough, Paul Finebaum, cough). Week 5 only had a total of three Big 12 games and one of them was a Thursday night matchup. Even though the slate of games weren’t the greatest, as always there was some good, some bad and just the downright ugly.
Defense? Big 12? Yes (By Big 12 standards of course)
Texas Defense (Beat Iowa State 17-7)
Before their Thursday night matchup, Iowa State was averaging over 40 points a game and were really starting to find their running game. This was of course until they met the Todd Orlando coached defense that kept USC in check two weeks prior. It was tough sledding for ISU RB David Montgomery and the rest of the offense in general. The Cyclones were only able to muster 10, I repeat, 10 rushing yards in this contest. Don’t forget the fact that Texas picked off Jacob Park three times (2 were by Texas Safety DeShon Elliott) and the Cyclone offensive line struggled against a very athletic Texas front. This Longhorn defense is legit folks.
Oklahoma State Defense (Beat Texas Tech 41-34)
I know what you are thinking, “Derek, they gave up 34 points, how is that good?” Well, 7 of those points came off a 95-yard pick six by DeMarcus Fields early in the first quarter. So really, this defense only gave up 28 points to Texas Tech on the road in Lubbock at night. Through the first three quarters, OSU only allowed one offensive touchdown to the Tech offense. That’s pretty-damn impressive in my book, when you can do that with a guy like Kliff Kingsbury calling plays on the other sideline. This defense did break down a bit early in the fourth quarter (Gave up 2 TDs in five minutes) but overall, they were much improved. I give a lot of credit to the Cowboy defensive front. They were-able to get a lot of pressure on Texas Tech QB Nic Shimonek with their front 3 or 4 guys all game long.
Texas Tech Run Game
To give you an idea of how bad the running game was for Tech on Saturday, OSU QB Mason Rudolph (A pocket passer) had 50 rushing yards in this game. The Texas Tech offense had a total of 54 yards rushing. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty. After back to back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Deandre Washington (2014-2015), the Red Raiders have had no answer for as far as a replacement goes. Between Justin Stockton, Desmond Nisby and Tre King, nobody has really been able to take the job by the reins to be “the guy”. While the RB position is one of the weak spots, it certainly doesn’t help that their offensive line is sub-par. The line consists of LT Travis Bruffy, LG Jacob Hines, C Paul Stawarz, RG Jack Anderson and RT Terrence Steele. This unit was unable to get any kind of push in the run game and even struggled protecting QB Nic Shimonek when OSU was only rushing 3. Twice Texas Tech used a heavy set look on the goal line and still was unable to get any sort of push. It’s hard to point fingers at the running backs when this offense line struggles like this.
Baylor Rush Defense (Lost to Kansas State 33-20)
Baylor once again gave up over 200 yards rushing defensively. This time the Kansas State Wildcats were able to rush for 225 yards on the ground. KSU QB Jesse Ertz rushed for 95 yards and Baylor much like all season long, had no answer whatsoever to stop the run. This defense is giving up an average of over 230 yards rushing per contest and unless they figure out an answer, they will continue to search for their first win of the season.
No matter if it is Shane Buechele or Sam Ehlinger, this offense has struggled mightily in their last two games. Texas has only been able to score 2 offensive touchdowns in their last 8 quarters of play. Last Thursday, they were only able to score one, ONE offensive touchdown all game long against Iowa State. The offensive line is missing some guys up front (All-American LT Connor Williams) but when you’re the Texas Longhorns nobody cares because you have some of the best talent in the country full of 4 or 5-star guys. This offense is stuck in a rut and has been very vanilla at times with their game plan. They struggle to throw the football, run the football and offensive coordinator Tim Beck isn’t the most popular man in Austin right now.
Oklahoma State Special Teams
If you are a Cowboys fan, Saturday night this unit drove you insane and probably at some point made you want to pull your hair out. Kicker Matt Ammendola missed a 22-yard field goal that bounced off the right upright in the first quarter. Unfortunately, that wasn’t his last kick that bounced off the upright that night. The game was tied 34 all with less than five minutes left and then, DOINK! He hit the upright again, this time attempting a 19-yard field goal to try to take a three-point lead. I don’t think I have ever seen a game where two kicks hit the upright. After the game Mike Gundy said that he will still use Matt to kick because he is the best kicker they have right now. Also, in the fourth quarter Texas Tech recovered an onside kick but luckily for the Cowboys no points came out of it.