Big 12 Football: What We Learned in Week 6October 6, 2013
The first full weekend of Big 12 conference play is over and we saw a wide range of results.
Three of this week's five games in the Big 12 were decided by an average of about 3 points. However, the Big 12's best team, Baylor, won by 31, and the Big 12's worst team, Kansas, lost by 42.
So, while the top and the bottom of the league appear to be well-established, the rest is a big ball of tangled yarn. And it will probably stay that way for the rest of the season.
What did we learn in the Big 12 this weekend? Let's find out.
Everyone else in the Big 12 is looking up to Baylor.
What Baylor did to West Virginia Saturday night was mind-boggling. The Mountaineers' defense, much-improved from a year ago, has already held Oklahoma and Oklahoma State well below their season averages for points scored.
Yet, against the Bears, the 'Eers had absolutely no answer for what was happening to them, which I'm pretty sure was illegal in about 34 states.
There are still plenty of developing opinions about Big 12 teams this year, but this much is clear: the Big 12 title is Baylor's to lose. If there's a team out there that can slow or somehow stop this offense, it deserves a Nobel Prize or something.
Penalties and turnovers aside, Kansas State began showing flashes of its former self.
K-State played the worst game it had all year against Oklahoma State Saturday and still only lost by four points. While that throws up red flags about the Cowboys, there were also times in the fourth quarter, albeit brief, where the Wildcats looked like the team we'd come to know over the past few years.
The 12 penalties and five turnovers notwithstanding, of course. Those have to be cleaned up. But quarterback Daniel Sams did lead an 11-play, 57-yard drive that ended in a touchdown to give K-State a 29-23 lead. It was on that drive that Sams shouldered the bulk of the responsibility by picking up yards with his legs and his arm.
You could have sworn it was Collin Klein out there for a moment.
Sams ultimately turned the ball over way too many times, and he'll have to improve on that. But he emerged as a leader for this team and sparked some signs of life on offense. It's certainly something to build upon for an offense that has struggled to find its identity this year.
Kansas is going to be in an even worse spot if Tony Pierson is out for a while.
The Jayhawks got knocked down a peg or 20 on Saturday in a 54-16 loss to Texas Tech. Kansas came into the game off a close win over Louisiana Tech and immediately jumped out to a 10-0 lead.
Then, Charlie Weis and his team got a cruel dose of reality and the Red Raiders racked up 54-straight unanswered points.
But the worst part of the loss was when running back/wide receiver Tony Pierson left the game with an apparent head injury. Weis said afterward that he expects Pierson to miss "some substantial time" this season.
Pierson is hands-down the Jayhawks' best playmaker, and the offense struggles to move the ball and score as it is. Now, Kansas has to proceed without him. The next four games for this team? Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State.
Big 12 officials didn't have a great weekend, but the review process can't be blamed.
Officiating was once again a topic of discussion in the Big 12 this weekend, and if it's a topic of discussion, it's almost always a bad thing.
On Thursday, Big 12 officials ruled that Texas running back Johnathan Gray was down on a short-yardage run near the goal line against Iowa State, even though the Cyclones emerged from the pile with the football. However, video review was unable to conclude a ruling one way or the other and the call on the field was upheld. Two plays later, Texas would score the game-tying touchdown and go on to win by one point.
On Saturday, Big 12 officials ruled K-State quarterback Daniel Sams fumbled the ball in the third quarter against Oklahoma State. Further video review showed that perhaps Sams was down, but there wasn't enough video evidence to overturn the call and so it, too, was upheld.
In those situations, the ruling on the field has to stand. The Big 12 front office confirmed as much on Friday after reviewing the Texas play even further. Were the calls on the field correct? Maybe not, but it deserves to be pointed out that neither fumble/non-fumble was conclusive. That's the human factor in sports for you.
Other Happenings from around the Big 12 in Week 6
Best offensive performance: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk. The junior ran 15 times for 172 yards and two scores against West Virginia. For those keeping track at home, that keeps him on par with his 11 yards per carry average for the year.
Best defensive performance: We have our first-ever tie in this category, and it's bound to cause some, ahem, "bedlam." Oklahoma State forced five turnovers in its 33-29 win over Kansas State, but Oklahoma kept TCU's offense from getting a first down until about one-third of the way through the third quarter. Both are worthy of recognition here.
Best downhill running: Iowa State running back Aaron Wimberly. No explanation needed. Roll the GIFs!
Best Snyderball moment: Kansas State, blocking an Oklahoma State field goal and returning it for a touchdown. Snyderball is as much of a national treasure as the Cotton Bowl jacket Bill Snyder wears during every game.
Worst special teams moment: Kansas punter Trevor Pardula. Tied at 10 in the second quarter, the junior pulled in the punt and took off and rushed for no gain. At the Kansas 16-yard line.
Charlie Weis implied after the game that Pardula was reading the coverage to decide whether to kick or run. Why Pardula was reading the coverage to decide whether to kick or run near the goal line to begin with is another question.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.