That was one of the more amazing weekends of college football I can remember. So much stuff going on, it’s hard to know where to start, so let’s just start at the beginning:
- Tuesday: Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch broke the Division I-A quarterback rushing record with 321 yards and the Huskies finished the season undefeated and are ranked No.14 heading into the MAC Championship against Bowling Green Friday night. NIU is a BCS contender, but they need Fresno State to lose.
- Wednesday: Totally beat Alabama, 49-41, in triple overtime on PS3 with my son. Auburn moved onto play Missouri in the virtual SEC Title.
- Thursday: The Egg Bowl, made famous by this fight was back on Thanksgiving Night. I watched the entire thing after the Texas game. On the way to double OT, Bo Wallace forgot the football and lost the game, making Cow Bells bowl eligible.
- Friday: turns out NIU didn’t have to worry about Fresno State after they lost the highest scoring game since Baylor/WVA last year. Also, Arkansas remembered at the last minute they stink whilst playing LSU. And there was the Civil War to finish off the night in exciting fashion.
- Saturday: Big Red was blown out by Iowa and Greg Davis and Bo Pelini torched his career. That still of him before the video starts says it all and sums up my feelings of him. Also, Gary Patterson does not like Art Briles or Baylor. Or Ahmad Dixon. At all.
- Even More Saturday: A pretty fantastic fight in the Ohio State/Michigan game led to three suspensions and a near pre-game fight in Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate set the tone for two underdogs to nearly pull off upsets; but Michigan missed a 2-point conversion at the end of regulation and Georgia Tech lost in overtime. This run, the final touchdown by Henry Josey, sent the biggest Mizzou fan I know into the yard chanting “M! I! Z!” to no one in particular for a solid a hour.
- The Return: If this was a movie, I’d walk out because it would be so ridiculous. But it wasn’t a movie. OH, MY GOD! AUBURN WINS!
What did I miss? Oregon uniforms, Florida being terrible, Arizona State rolling without their best running back. Did I forget anything? Let me know.
Much at stake this week in the Big 12. In fact, everything is at stake this week in the Big 12. But before we get there, let’s talk about the centerpiece of the weekend games for the Horns, Texas vs. Texas Tech.
TEXAS 41 TEXAS TECH 16
A BIG THANK YOU TO JIM WHITTON. Jim hooked me up with some extra tickets for my family coming in for Thanksgiving and everyone had a blast. Thank you, Mr. Whitton. You certainly didn’t need to do that and my family and I much appreciate it!
I think that game went just about exactly like I said it would: Texas Tech special teams hijinx, Joe Bergeron, Texas’ offensive line, Texas’ defensive line, except I thought the Red Raiders would score a bit more. Not something I’m sad to be wrong about, though.
This is the Tech team I thought we’d see at the beginning of the year. Texas came out and played big boy football and Tech did not. They tried to act like they could, running their mouths and getting personal foul penalties, but they didn’t have an answer for what Texas did and the scary thing about that is it was the fifth week in row that it happened. Maybe things change next year in Tortilla Flats, or maybe they don’t. You are what your record says you are, and Tech is 60 minutes away from being a game over .500. Let’s get on with it. Here’s what I saw on Thanksgiving Night:
Quarterbacks: It wasn’t his best game in the world, but it was far from his worst. In his final appearance in a Longhorn uniform, Case McCoy had six carries for 18 yards and a touchdown and went 10-19 for 139 yards and two scores and, honestly, if Texas wanted to throw it deep it would have been four or more scores and close to 300 yards. He missed on a few passes, but he was Case McCoy and he’s comfortable being who he is.
I didn’t think the coaches did him right at the end of the game. He’s a senior that’s played a lot of football, some very good and some very bad, but he’s left it out there every time. He should have been taken off the field alone, as senior starting quarterbacks are, and given his round of applause from the fans. But that’s me. Who is that No.18, kid? He looks big. He’s probably going to play quarterback next year, you guys. That’s my guess.
Running Backs: Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown did exactly what I expected and predicted as they rushed for a combined 230 yards with 128 from Mal and 102 and a score from Joe B. It started slow, but as they warmed up they punished the Tech defense, averaging 4.7 (Brown) and 6.0 (Bergeron) yards per carry. I think Bergeron still bounces too much and better defenses shut that down, but it worked and worked well against Texas Tech. These two were expected to carry the load and they did just that. Well done, fellas. How in the world did Brown not get his leg exploded on the play where the Tech defensive back was seriously injured? I couldn’t believe he got up from that. Godspeed to that kid.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends: Mike Davis is going to miss playing Texas Tech. On the night he finished with four catches and 112 yards with two touchdowns and I think it could have been double against this tiny corners if Texas wanted it to be.
Marcus Johnson is so close to being the guy on this team, but he has to hold on to the ball. The two fumbles weren’t critical in this game, but that’s the anomaly. You CANNOT fumble, Marcus Johnson. I want you to be terrific and to be terrific you must hang on to the ball.
Everyone blocked really well in the running game, especially tight ends Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels, as the focus was on the ground game. It wasn’t a highlight-reel game for most of the unit, but they did their jobs.
I am really going to miss Mike Davis next year.
Offensive Line: Not an A+, but not a C+, either. A solid B+, which if you were my parents you would think I cheated to get. I didn’t cheat. I promise. I don’t care what that teacher said, she can’t prove any… Sorry, I have been sidetracked. Texas’ ol handled their business Thursday night. Well done.
Defensive Line: Five sacks, six hurries and 17 tackles from Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed. They were dominant. Malcom Brown had six tackles inside and he completely shut down the inside running game. Actually, all the dl had a good game. They defended the edge and never let Tech get anything going with the quarterback or the quick screen game. More of that this week, please.
Linebackers: All had a solid game, led by Dalton Santos’ eight tackles. Steve Edmond was knocked out of the game and the rest of the season with a lacerated liver. A lacerated liver? How do you even know that? Has anyone other than Beavis ever said “Ow! My liver!” I can’t imagine how that feels. Get better, my man.
Defensive Backs: Duke Thomas had a nice game, notching a wicked sack and an interception as well as seven tackles. For some reason Texas Tech didn’t try and throw the ball to their All-American, NFL-bound tight end, but that’s not my problem. Texas’ secondary played well and yards aside held the Tech offense in check. Excellent job.
Special Teams: Everyone on the special teams unit, including the guys coaching the units, needs to apologize to Anthony Fera. If he doesn’t win the Lou Groza Award, given to the best kicker in the nation, it will be because the rest of the special teams were so horrifical that he got ignored.
Well done, fellas, you found new and interesting ways to be embarrassed on Thanksgiving Night. That’s it, I guess, because I don’t know what else I can possibly say.
No.25 TEXAS (8-3/7-1) @ No.9 Baylor (10-1/7-1)
Fox Sports 1
A piece of the Big 12 Title is on the line, at the very least. If the stupid sooners could beat Oklahoma State, which is entirely possible, then the Texas/Baylor game will be for the Big 12 Title. It’s the last game at the terrible Floyd Casey Stadium and Baylor has added an extra 1,200 temporary seats. There will be a lot of Texas fans there and Baylor fans will be crazy. It’s going to be cold and possibly wet and both teams can see the finish line, especially if it means a Fiesta Bowl berth with an Oklahoma State loss. Let’s see what the Fighting Briles bring to the table.
They lead the nation in everything. EVERYTHING. Points per game, yards per game, touchdowns, receptions…. It’s comical. It’s video game stats is what it is. They average 55 points per game this season. AVERAGE. THIS SEASON. 55 POINTS.
The triggerman is quarterback Bryce Petty. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound junior is very athletic despite the appearance of being a pocket passer. On the season he has 3,557 yards passing with 28 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He’s completing 62.4% of his passes and has also rushed for 168 yards and 11 touchdowns. Yes, 11 touchdowns. He’s not a Tyrelle Pryor guy that will run for 200 yards on you, but he’ll run for seven and a touchdown, running over anyone in his way. He’s big, strong and accurate and he’s given plenty of time to make plays. He’s fairly overlooked as far as national awards go because of the system he plays in, but he’s get big-time skills. He’s not going to take over games with is feet, but he can devastate a defense focused on the rest of the Baylor weapons.
And weapons they do have. They lost Tevin Reese for the year, but Levi Norwood and Antwan Goodley have stepped in. Goodley, the 5-foot-10, 225-pound junior, leads the team with 59 catches and 1,205 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s built like a running back and uses his open field skills to make plays and will flat burn a defense deep with 4.4 speed. Inside at slot is Norwood, the 6-foot-1, 195-pound junior. He’s a terrific punt returner and uses the same skills with the ball in his hands on bubble screens and over the middle. Clay Fuller, Corey Coleman and Jay Lee are also used quite a bit, but Goodley and Norwood lead the aerial assault and the better the ground game is, the better they are.
You’d think looking at Baylor’s offense it’s like Tech and all-pass-all-the-time, but it’s not at all. Much like Oregon, everything they do starts with running game. Led by the self-proclaimed 2013 Heisman winner Lache Seastrunk, Baylor leads the league with 269 yards rushing per game and has a league-high 42 touchdowns rushing. Seastrunk is dinged up but still has 982 yards rushing and 11 scores in nine games played. In his place has stepped Shock Linwood, a 5-foot-8, 200-pound redshirt freshman from Linden. On the season he has 848 yards rushing and eight touchdowns. The last of the running back trio is Glasco Martin, the 6-foot, 230-pound sledgehammer that has 390 yards and five touchdowns on the season. These are NFL backs, folks, and their work is the reason Bryce Petty finds his wideouts all alone at times downfield. They are as dangerous and talented as anyone Texas will play. Martin and Seastrunk have been hurt, but you can bet they’ll be out there this weekend. Seastrunk is a gamebreaker with better skills than the other two, so Texas needs to be aware of him at all times
This is a terrific offensive line, injuries aside. They spread everyone out and run in the middle and if the defense collapses, they run outside. If they defense stacks the box, they throw. If they load up in coverage and use spies on the back, they run the quarterback. And we haven’t even mentioned the tight end, who could come into play this week. The point of telling you all that is their ol takes advantage of the uncertainty on defense and gets the cutoff block, the blitz pickup or the reach to give their backs the space to make a play or the qb time to throw. That’s something an average oline can do, but these guys are better than that. Well, unless they play a really, really good defensive line.
Baylor is going to do nothing different than they normally do. This team is confident. Cocky? Arrogant? Yes and yes. They are going to make Texas tackle in space and cover wide outs downfield. They know the Texas pass rush is excellent, but they plan on quick throws and tempo to counter them.
The difference between the Alamo and Holiday Bowl teams of the last two years for Baylor is the defense. Led by the most grumpy and profanity-laced grandpa in the world, the Bears have turned it around .Phil Bennett is adorable, isn’t he? It’s nice when cusses out his players on TV, isn’t it? Whatever he’s doing, it’s working. The Bears are third in the league in points allowed at 22.2 and fourth in rush defense, allowing 133 ypg. Still, I see 19 touchdown passes allowed, but I also see 15 interceptions. They can be burned, but they also will make a play.
The defensive line is solid, led by senior end Chris McCallister. The 6-foot-3,255-pound McCallister leads the team in sacks with six. I see a smallish line that depends on quickness to make plays. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. I’ve seen them dominate at times, but I’ve seen them get pushed around a bit by bigger ols as well. It seems their primary job is protecting the lb’s from the offensive line and this they do very well.
The linebackers are the heart and soul of this team and are led by a Texas legend’s son. Bryce Hager, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior son of former Texas mlb Britt. Funny on the Baylor athletic site they leave off he played for the Longhorns. Anyway, he’s second on the team in tackles with 71 and has a team-high nine qb pressures. He’s big, strong and quick and you can bet he’s ready for Texas… If he’s healthy. He’s got a hamstring injury, so likely he’s not 100%. He’s joined by Eddie Lackey, the team’s leading tackler with 84 and 4.5 sacks, which is second on the team. The 6-foot, 220-pound junior plays like a safety at the line of scrimmage and will blitz, drop into coverage and cover the entire field. Baylor typically runs a 4-2-5 defense, so Lackey and Hager are the only two lb’s on the field and they are very, very good.
In the secondary they are led by Ahmad Dixon, the 6-foot, 200-pound senior safety. He’s suspended for the first half after a targeting call against TCU and he’s as physical as any safety Texas will play. He’s out for for the first half, so expect him to come and set a tone in the second half by trying to lay someone out. It’s what he does, so expect it. The secondary is solid if not spectacular and they will make plays, but they benefit greatly from the pressure the front six apply. In fact, they will also apply pressure as Bennett will blitz them from all over the field. This is a physical, chatty unit that wants to be the sooner db’s of the early 2000’s. So gar they are pretty close in many, many ways.
They are going to stack the line of scrimmage and make Texas throw to win and drop their athletic lb’s into the middle of the field to watch the quarterback’s eyes. Texas will have to play them out of that approach. Can they?
The are terrible on field goals, going 11-17 on the year. Punter Spencer Roth is averaging 46.5 yards per punt, but has allowed one block on the season. Kick returner Corey Coleman has a 30.5 ypr average with a touchdown and punt returner Levi Norwood has two touchdowns as well. They allow a whopping 15.9 yards per return on punts and a better 20.2 on kick returns.
Norwood is dangerous. He broke open a close Tech game with a big return. It isn’t something they’ve had to depend on this year, so what happens if they need a big field goal to win?
So this is an excellent football team and it’s the sort of team when it’s time to play them you sort of go “Oy.” This offense is going to pressure Texas a variety of ways and the defense is fast, small and aggressive.. But we’ve seen the last few weeks that they are not an unstoppable force that no one can compete with. They have some holes. The question will be does Texas have the ability to exploit those holes. What needs to happen?
First of all, Texas needs to stay cool. Stay. Cool. It’s going to be loud and the hometown crowd will be electric. They’ll be screaming, facepainting and dancing not quite right to the music they’ve never heard pumping through the PA. They are going to make some plays and Texas can’t panic when that happens. They can’t scrap what got them this far because it isn’t going exactly right early on. Stay cool, fellas. Weather the emotional storm. The funny thing about emotion is it will completely drain you if you aren’t careful. Texas needs to ride that out.
Don’t panic. Play your game, boys. Here’s a few other things Texas needs to do.
I mean this when I say it: Texas has the personnel to handle this Baylor defense. Texas’ forte is running the ball and when the Horns are on, they are pretty hard to handle. Texas drove it right down Oklahoma State’s throat when they cut the lead to four, but mistakes completely derailed them. If Texas can keep those to a minimum or, better yet, not make them, I think the offensive line has the ability to control the line of scrimmage against this small Baylor defense. The key will be not only the push up front, but Case McCoy being the ou Case McCoy. He’s shown flashes of that guy, but we need THAT SPECIFIC guy. The last time Texas played in Waco, McCoy started and some good moments, but turnovers ultimately doomed them. It will doom them again if he throws lazy and late out routes or over the middle without paying attention. If Texas can get the running game going, it opens up opportunities for Marcus Johnson, Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley downfield. The skill guys will make the plays if the offensive line and Case McCoy do their jobs.
If I’m Texas I stack the line of scrimmage and basically tell Baylor you will not win running the ball. Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas are going to have to make plays in the passing game as they are likely in single coverage most of the night. I don’t think you’ll see too many zone defenses as Baylor squats too many guys and it’s very hard to find them all. No, I expect some single coverage and safeties playing run first to deal with Seastrunk, Lockwood and Martin and quarterback Bryce Petty. The Bears can certainly win throwing the ball, but I think the plan will be to make them one dimensional and turn the two best defensive ends and the Big 12’s leading sack team loose.
I don’t know if that will work, but that’s what I would do.
I have completely lowered my expectations of the special teams. Can the return teams hang on to the ball and the cover teams tackle someone? No more punt blocks. It’s clear at this point with all the penalties that no one is really sure what the end result of the punt block should be.
Assuming the other units don’t embarrass themselves again, I think Anthony Fera’s ability to kick field goals is going to be a major factor Saturday afternoon. That’s a big if, though.
Texas is going to have to play a near-perfect game to win this week. We all know that. But they are certainly capable of doing that. This o-line can control the line of scrimmage against this front six. The backs are the type of grinders that can keep the chains and clock moving and the Baylor offense on the sideline. Case McCoy has shown he can be laser-accurate and take advantage of the attention the running game gets with guys like Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley and Marcus Johnson outside. The defensive line can get to Bryce Petty like no one Baylor has played this year. The question is can the linebackers get these running backs down and can the secondary handle these good receivers in coverage? I can’t wait to find out.
A ring is on the line, fellas, let’s get the best effort this week.
Last Week in the Big 12
No.7 Oklahoma State (10-1/7-1) BYE
No.20 oklahoma (9-2/6-2) BYE
KANSAS STATE 31 KANSAS 10
I was right. K-State rolled and no one cared. 2013 Pile of Crap is officially offer. What will he call them next year?
No.9 BAYLOR 41 TCU 38
I totally called this. I thought this would be close because Baylor was feeling sorry for themselves and if TCU sucked just marginally less, they win. Unfortunately for them, they don’t suck marginally less. The good news is we have Patterson’s WWF press conference and a new hate rivalry between TCU and Baylor.
IOWA STATE 52 WEST VIRGINIA 44
ANOTHER math problem for you: if Iowa State scores 24 fourth quarter points and wins in triple overtime at West Virginia, did anyone see it with Auburn/Alabama going on? The answer is no. No they did not.
This Week in the Big 12
KANSAS STATE (7-5/5-4) BOWL GAME PENDING
TEXAS TECH (7-5/4-5) BOWL GAME PENDING
WEST VIRGINIA (4-8/2-7) SEASON OVER
TCU (4-8/2-7) SEASON OVER
IOWA STATE (3-9/2-7) SEASON OVER
KANSAS (3-9/1-8) SEASON OVER
No.17 oklahoma (9-2/6-2) @ No.6 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-1/7-1) 11am ABC
The Tech band is super annoying. What is that flat, extended long note they played over and over? And over. And over. Stop it.
Let’s get it, Horns. See you next week.
Follow me on Twitter @TreyMcLean or email me- FromTheStands@gmail.com