Baylor's Bryce Petty has been the best quarterback in the Big 12 this season, if for no other reason than he's started every game. But Petty's stats were exceptional, too. With nearly 3,000 yards passing and 34 total touchdowns to just one interception, Petty was beginning to get some Heisman consideration as well.
With Johnny Manziel having an average day in a loss to LSU, and with the uncertainty surrounding the Jameis Winston story, there was an opportunity for Petty to make a push against Oklahoma State. But with Baylor losing 49-17 to Cowboys, the Heisman button needs to be reset.
Petty is still in the race, but for one night, he was upstaged by his counterpart on the other side of the ball, Clint Chelf. The senior went 19-of-25 for 370 yards and three scores. He also added another 48 yards "receiving" on a double pass from wide receiver Josh Stewart.
On a night when temperatures in Stillwater dipped below freezing, Chelf was on fire, completing his first 12 passes. Chelf was completing deep throws all night to his receivers, who helped by making some spectacular catches in one-on-one coverage as well.
Normally, the deep ball is an area where Petty excels, but the combination of Oklahoma State's speedy secondary and the absence of wide receiver Tevin Reese hurt Petty's ability to go vertical. And, really, Petty has struggled more recently connecting with his receivers down the field.
That hasn't been an issue for Chelf. In fact, Chelf has had one heck of a November. In the past four games, including Saturday's win, he's thrown for 1,043 yards and 10 touchdowns with another three scores on the ground. That's not too far behind Petty, who now has 1,328 yards and 16 total touchdowns during that same span.
With one game left against Oklahoma, Chelf has the chance to be the best player in the Big 12 during the second half of the season.
Of course, Chelf was the starter at the beginning of the year against Mississippi State, but was quickly replaced by J.W. Walsh. But when Walsh had his own struggles, Chelf again took the starting job and helped settle the offense. Along with running back Desmond Roland, Chelf has been an important part of the running game as well.
As Jake Trotter of ESPN notes, the Cowboys have looked like a different team lately, due in large part to Chelf:
To everyone who keeps asking how West Virginia beat Oklahoma St., the answer is simple. Clint Chelf was on the sidelines.— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 24, 2013
Now, the Cowboys have a chance to return to the BCS for the second time in three years with a win in two weeks over the Sooners.
It's hard to give Chelf the game MVP award in the victory over the Bears—that belongs to the Pokes' defense—but he certainly gets top honors for offensive performance. And, by comparison, he was better than the Heisman candidate Petty.
There have been some interesting discussions this year about who is the Big 12's second-best quarterback after Petty, since that position has been a revolving door in the conference. Looking over the past month, it's nearly impossible not to say it's Chelf.
After Saturday, Chelf showed he can challenge Petty for that top spot too.