We are heading down the home stretch of the 2020 Big 12 football season. But every week we get a chance to learn something new about a team. In this article, we’ll take a look at one thing I learned from each Big 12 team that played this past weekend.
Bijan Robinson… where have you been?
True freshman RB Bijan Robinson has steadily gotten more work in the Texas backfield in recent weeks, but he exploded on Saturday against Kansas State with over 170 rushing yards and three scores, good for over 19 yards per carry. This is the workhorse back Tom Herman has been missing during his time in Austin, and he finally appears to have him in 2021 and beyond. The question is, will Tom Herman be around to see it through?
Kansas State Wildcats
When the going gets tough… the tough don’t get going.
This was the most disappointing performance of Chris Klieman’s K-State tenure. Yes, worse than the season-opening loss to Arkansas State. Texas could have piled up over 80 points if it wanted to. There were issues on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats, but the most glaring one was that it was Texas who was supposed to be the team that had quit on the season, but in this game, it’s Kansas State that looked like it had written off the 2020 season. That’s a bad look to end the season that wraps up with five-straight losses.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The rebuild has a ways to go
I suppose this isn’t necessarily a new revelation, but it sure is a confirmation after Tech barely squeaked out a win over the Kansas Jayhawks, who hadn’t covered a spread all season long and was routinely losing Big 12 games by 40-50 points. Tech outgained Kansas by 200 yards, but won the game by three. That’s because of penalties (7) and turnovers (4). It’s one thing to need to build back the talent, but to be having your team play so sloppy towards the end of Year 2 of your tenure reflects poorly on Matt Wells and the staff.
There’s still fight
We’ve all goofed on Kansas football, arguably worse this year than in year’s past. But you have to give it to this young group of guys, which is playing more freshmen than basically anyone in the country: they keep playing hard. That’s a credit to Les Miles and his staff. I can’t imagine how difficult it is to lost by 25-50 points each week and keep coming back for more. But these guys are doing it and they deserve credit for how they’re handling it.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Spencer Sanders confidence meter is dwindling
16/34 for 270 yards, one touchdown and one interception, plus 11 carries for 30 yards. We are basically two full seasons into Sanders at QB, and at what point does the potential turn into legitimate results? I just don’t know if he’s the best fit for Mike Gundy’s offense. And I become less sure of that with each passing week. It’s a shame to think what could have been for this OSU team, considering how well the defense played for the bulk of the season.
TCU Horned Frogs
Gary finds a way
5-4 is 5-4. But despite this being a third-straight season of mediocrity by TCU standards, there were injuries and uncertainties surrounding this team in 2020, and the fact that they got to the 5-4 mark becomes more impressive the more I dig into the season. Max Duggan made strides this season that should lead to even better things in 2021. The defense will always be there, it’s the offensive consistency that has been missing, and with Duggan, plus five-star RB Zach Evans to build around, there’s hopefully something there for the Horend Frogs.
Iowa State Cyclones
No let down
Something about this Iowa State season feels special. Cyclones fans have been feeling this way for weeks. But I expected at least a semblance of a slow start on Saturday after the emotion surrounding last week’s game against Texas. But it never happened and it never came close in a 42-6 shellacking against West Virginia. In two weeks the Big 12 title game isn’t just a match up of the two hottest teams in the Big 12, it’s two of the hottest teams in the country.
West Virginia Mountaineers
No QB pressure spells trouble
I suppose you could say this for most teams, but considering how potent the WVU pass rush and front seven has been, ending up with no sacks and only two QB hurries is a recipe for disaster. They just aren’t good enough on offense to carry a bad defensive performance. And that was clear on Saturday.
The defense showed speed
Especially in the first half, but frankly for most of this game, the Baylor defense was getting to the ball and getting there quickly. It was really impressive to watch this performance put on by Dave Aranda’s guys. In a different year against a different OU team, Baylor could’ve pulled off the upset, but this year the OU defense is really strong. Even in the loss, that Baylor D has a lot to be proud of in how it performed.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good
I don’t mean that about OU. I think they would’ve won the game regardless. But you’ve got to hand it to Spencer Rattler, who got lucky on a couple of his passes that could have resulted in interceptions. Every QB has those games, and Rattler should not apologize for his. But he’s still got a lot of room to grow as a QB. This should be scary for the rest of the Big 12 Conference.
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