The offenses poured forth with points aplenty again this past weekend in Big 12 play, which leads one to wonder if any team in this league or another has a defense stout enough to stop or even slow down the prolific points-generating machines that a bound in this conference.
Ironically, Texas Tech came into this past weekend's action sporting the nation's best defense by the numbers, albeit in just four previous games and against mostly cupcake competition. The first thing that stands out about that last statement is that Tech was 114th in the country last season in total defense and dead last among FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) schools in rushing defense.
It took Oklahoma and quarterback Landry Jones only three quarters to expose the Red Raider defense for what it really is, rolling up better than 300 yards of offense, 271 of it through the air, and 41 points in recording the Sooners' first win at Texas Tech since 2003. OU prevailed 41-20, but the Sooners dominance was much more evident than the score or even the overall team stats would indicate..
Kansas State appeared to be on sleep mode in the first 15 minutes of its early morning kickoff against Sunflower State rival Kansas. Or maybe it was just a bit of malaise left over from all the celebrating and time off after the huge K-State huge win at Oklahoma a fortnight ago. Kansas jumped out to an early touchdown lead and was tied at 14 all in the opening minutes of the second quarter before quarterback Collin Klein and the Wildcats got their offense into high gear. The second half was an entirely different story, with Kansas State outscoring the Jayhawks 35-2, with most of the damage created on the ground, in handing Kansas its 14th consecutive defeat in Big 12 play.
The game of the week, without question, was the top-10 matchup that took place in Austin, Texas, between West Virginia, with perhaps the most dangerous offense in all of college football, and host Texas, which is better known for its defensive play but this year appears to be getting a big boost from a solid offense that has come to play this season.
Everyone knew coming into this prime-time contest pitting two unbeaten 4-0 teams game that the game wouldn't be low scoring, but the belief was that if either defense was able to exert its will it would be the Longhorns and not West Virginia, which yielded 63 points to Baylor just a week earlier. Well, guess what, the Texas defense is pretty good, but West Virginia's offense is even better. West Virginia's star senior quarterback Geno Smith, the leading candidate at this point in the season for the 2012 Heisman Trophy, didn't throw eight touchdown passes this week, but he did get four, three of them to his former high school teammate Stedman Bailey.
Smith stepped up when the Mountaineers needed it most, and Anthony Buie rambled for 207 yards on 31 carries to keep the Longhorn defense on its toes, and West Virginia escaped the heart of Texas with a 48-45 victory and a share of first place in the conference with Kansas State. Both teams are 2-0.
In the only other Big 12 game over the weekend, Iowa State won a battle of backup quarterbacks in defeating TCU, knocking the Horned Frogs from the ranks of the unbeaten and, in the process, ending the country's longest active winning streak in major college football at 12 games. The Cyclones made up for last week's home loss to Texas Tech, claiming a 37-23 win in a relatively low scoring affair. TCU starting quarterback Casey Pachall sat out the game with a suspension. Sophomore quarterback Jared Brown got the call for Iowa State over senior Steele Jantz.
West Virginia and Oklahoma switch opponents next Saturday, with the Mountaineers headed to West Texas to take on Texas Tech, and Oklahoma and Texas meeting half way in Dallas for the annual Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl.
If the Mountaineer are able to make it two three straight over Texas teams at Lubbock on Saturday, and assuming that Kansas State survives at Iowa State, which can be a very difficult place to play as it is everywhere on the road in the Big 12, what that does is set up what could be the game of the year in the conference. If things stay as they are and both West Virginia and Kansas State remain undefeated at this time next week, the scene will be set for a possible matchup of two top-five teams in a battle of contrasting styles of play and philosophies as coach Bill Snyder's Wildcats visit West Virginia. The outcome of that game could well decide this year's Big 12 champion.
Having said that, though, it is my belief that there will be no undefeated teams in the conference this year. A one-loss team will win the Big 12, however, and currently five teams other than West Virginia and Kansas State fall into that category. That's seven out of 10 teams.
Get set for a heart-pounding next seven weeks as things really start to get interesting in Big 12 football. And may the best team remain standing when all the smoke and fire clears.
Here are five other fascinating facts we took away from this past weekend in the Big 12:
Five Things We Learned From Week 5
- Oklahoma State (659 yards per game), Baylor (601) and West Virginia (570) are the top three teams in the country in total offense, with Texas Tech coming in at 15th. Oklahoma is the highest rated Big 12 team in total defense at the quarter-pole in the 2012 season. The Sooners is averaging 303 yards of offense per game to its opponents.
- Kansas State's success over the years is largely attributed to the great discipline with which coach Bill Snyder's teams always manage to play. They limit mistakes and they don't beat themselves. That truth is in evidence again this season. The Wildcats own a plus-10 margin in turnovers in their 5-0 start this year, and they are the lowest penalized team in major college football this season (9 penalties for 71 total yards).
- Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones threw two touchdown passes Saturday in the Sooners' win over Texas Tech. That gives him 100 TD passes for his career. He is one of only three Big 12 quarterbacks and one of 23 in NCAA history to reach the century mark in touchdown throws and pass for 13,000 yards in a college career.
- Kansas' opening-drive touchdown against Kansas State was the first time the Jayhawks have scored a TD on their opening possession against a Bill Snyder-coached KSU team since 2004.
- TCU had its 12-game winning streak stopped by Iowa State on Saturday, but the Horned Frogs managed to sustain another NCAA-best streak: TCU has now scored 20 or more points in 31 straight games.
This Weekend's Big 12 Games
Kansas State @ Iowa State
Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas
Oklahoma State @ Kansas
West Virginia @ Texas Tech
TCU @ Baylor
Watch for the Big 12 Game of the Week preview - Texas vs. Oklahoma - this Friday.
Follow Big 12 football all season long, including specific news and commentary on the two Kansas teams, at SB Nation Kansas City.