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Big 12 Week Six is in the Books

October 7, 2012

Well, that was a lot of fun. No boring games, and everything pretty much lived up to what most of us expected. Let’s get right into it:

West Virginia 48 – Texas 45

I think that the Mountaineers showed us all something. And maybe we even learned a little about Baylor (If the Longhorns can lose by 3 in front of 102,000 home fans, then Baylor losing by 7 in front of 61,000 hostile fans is pretty good).

I, for one, went into the game a Geno Smith fan and came out of it being of a fan of not only him, but also his receivers. If you’re going to complete that many passes then someone has to catch them, and, like Kendall Wright, Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese did for RG3 last year, Smith’s receivers make him look really good. The thing that really made Geno impressive yesterday was that the Longhorns were able to put a really good pass rush on him and he held tough. Sure, he lost two fumbles, but he was really under duress all game. The left guard really seemed to be having some trouble up front, but more often than not Geno was able to step to one side or step up and make a play. Good for him (and his Heisman hopes). Here is a link to Smith’s numbers through five games against what RG3 was able to do last year through his first five games (courtesy ESPN’s Stats & Information). Smith’s numbers are actually more impressive.

Chasing the Heisman Through 5 Games

’11 RG3 ’12 G. Smith
Team W-L 4-1 5-0
Comp pct 80.3 81.4
Pass YPG 304.0 399.2
TD-Int 19-1 24-0
Total yards 1,800 2,062

 

Regarding Texas and their defense, we need to see everyone’s body of work before we can bury them as a bust. They held Geno to under 300 yards of passing and WVU’s offense to 460 yards (although WVU often had a short field thanks to poor kick coverage by Texas). That’s pretty good. The real surprise in the Mountaineer game plan was that Texas dared them to run and WVU obliged, with their tailback, Andrew Buie, running 31 times for 207 yards.

While it might be too early to bury the Texas defense, I do think it’s safe to say that David Ash and the offense have come a long way, and, with a bunch of sophomores, have set themselves up for a pretty good run in the Big 12 for 2013 and 2014. I just don’t think they are quite ready this year. If they can beat OU this week in Dallas and Baylor the next week, then they will have the potential to enter the K-State game at the end of the year with only one conference loss. But that’s a BIG IF and I don’t think they can do it.

Oklahoma 41 – Texas Tech 20

I knew that OU was going to win this one early on when I saw how much emotion they had. In the first quarter I saw the defense really pumped up when they stopped the Red Raiders on third down, but the one noticed, in particular, was when the OU punter pinned Tech on the 3-yard line and he was jumping up and down and fist-pumping. I thought, Wow, if your punter is that jacked for this game then the rest of the team must be too. And they were. They had two weeks to stew on their loss to K-State and came out cleaner. On offense, they only had one turnover, and, on defense, they held a Tech offense that was putting up a lot of yards to only 360.

A lot of people are wanting to jump off of the Tech defense’s bandwagon, but they held a focused Sooner offense to 380 yards. That’s pretty good. OU had to punt four times and settle for field goals after drives of 32 and 25 yards. That’s not terrible, and it’s obvious that they are obviously better than last year.

Iowa State 37 – TCU 23

TCU has some problems. I thought they fought hard, but couldn’t overcome missing players. The weird thing is that their defense continues to give up big plays like they did against Baylor last year. The Cyclones had two touchdowns in the first quarter. One was a 51-yard pass and the other was a 74-yard pass.

TCU’s other problem is something that has been following them this year–turnovers. They gave Iowa State the ball five times yesterday. You can’t overcome that, even at home, when you only create one turnover from the other team.

This will show you how turnovers make a difference. TCU obviously dominated every other statistical category:

First downs–ISU 15; TCU 24
Total plays–ISU 58; TCU 87
Total yards–ISU 350; TCU 455
Penalties–ISU 10/98/TCU 12/128 (what’s with TCU and all of the penalties?)
Turnovers–ISU 1; TCU 5

And there’s your ball game. I’ll be interested to see what happens with Pachal this week as TCU gets ready to play Baylor in Waco for the second year in a row. Patterson is reportedly meeting with the TCU chancelor to discuss Pachal and what to do to help him. I hope that goes well for his sake.

Kansas State 56 – Kansas 16

After K-State fell behind 14-7 they proceeded to outscore the Jayhawks 49-2. They only took a 21-14 lead into halftime, and I felt a little vindicated with my comment last week that the Wildcats seem to play down to their competition. There’s not much to say about this game except that Kansas seems to be as bad as Baylor’s worst teams of 10 years ago. They are just outmanned at every level.

Kansas State, on the other hand, still struggles to get the respect it deserves. I read something this morning saying that West Virginia has established itself as the team to beat in the Big 12. Why, because they beat Baylor at home and a still-struggling Texas team on the road? The Wildcats have a dominating win over Miami at home (okay, Miami’s down, but still) and Oklahoma on the road. The good news is that we only have to wait two weeks for them to answer the question of who is better because on October 20 the Wildcats travel to Morgantown to see if they can grind, and grind, and grind out a win against the Mountaineers. I honestly can’t tell you who I’ll be rooting for, but I know I’ll be watching.

Week 6 Preview: West Virginia at Texas

October 5, 2012

I’m still getting used to Fox televising national primetime games. I haven’t studied the new TV deals, but I assume this is part of the new package the Big 12 signed with Fox and ESPN. Regardless, this game deserves to be on national television because it should be a good match-up. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed. With Texas being down the last couple of years I have had people periodically offer me their season tickets for a game or two. I haven’t been able to find anyone willing to offer me a ticket for this one. I don’t blame them.

Texas Longhorns

Is Texas back? That is the question that Longhorn fans (and everyone else around the Big 12) are asking themselves and everyone else. The answer is that no one knows yet, but Saturday night in Austin might provide us with at least a partial one. Texas is in the middle of a tough stretch in their schedule when they were at Oklahoma State,  and now have West Virginia at home, OU in Dallas, and then Baylor at home. If they get through that stretch undefeated then people will say they are back. If they emerge from that stretch 2-2, then they might not be quite ready for prime time just yet.

The biggest surprise on the 40 acres is the offense and David Ash. The fans left the 2011 season wondering what on earth they were going to do for a quarterback. McCoy and Ash both seemed inadequate to run a Big 12 offense. I don’t know how McCoy is doing, but it’s obvious that Ash is doing better this year than last. Through four games this year he has thrown for just over 1,000 yards, completed 78% of his passes, and thrown for 10 touchdowns against just one interception. Not many people saw that coming. Co-offensive coordinator, Brian Harsin, says that he can see Ash’s maturation in both his decisions and his ability. So it looks like Texas might have a quarterback.

If things are looking great for Brian Harsin (I know Major Applewhite is the co-offensive coordinator, but why don’t I ever hear anything from him), then things have gotten a little rough for Manny Diaz and the defense. Through four games, Texas is ranked 43rd in pass defense and 86th (even lower than Baylor) in rush defense. I have no idea what the answer is, but we’ll find out how much game Texas has on the defensive side of the ball Saturday night because Geno Smith and the Mountaineers will expose whatever weakness is there.

West Virginia Mountaineers

I said it after the Baylor game, and I’ll say it again. I like West Virginia and I am rooting for Geno Smith to win the Heisman, but a team that gives up 63 points and over 700 yards at home for their first conference game does NOT deserve to stay in the top 10, much less move up a spot in both polls. I can’t imagine being a voter, looking at that result and voting them higher that I did the week before. I would have probably jumped a couple of teams over them. Baylor is good on offense, but you can’t let a quarterback not named RG3 throw for almost 600 yards and consider yourself a top-10 team.

According to the Mountaineer players, it looks like the problem is the secondary, but they need to shore up the defensive line play as much as anything. As a fan who never played beyond grade school, that is probably the weakest part of my interpreting what is happening during the game. I almost never sit and just watch how the offensive and defensive lines are handling each other, but line play on both sides of the ball is crucial.

For Dana Holgorsen’s offense, this will be an important game because they will likely have to outscore the Horns to win this one (you know what I mean). The 100,000+ at DKR Memorial Stadium will be loud (well, loud for them) and it might catch his kids off guard at first (of course, Holgorsen is used to it from his OK-State days).

So what will ultimately happen? We’ll see, but the winner will probably finish in the top 3 i the conference and the loser won’t.

Week 6 Preview: Oklahoma at Texas Tech

October 5, 2012

First, let me take a moment to add to my comments from last night regarding the TCU/Iowa State game. Given the new developments regarding TCU’s starting quarterback Casey Pachal, and the likelihood that a redshirt freshman will be starting in his place, unless it is only a one-quarter suspension, I think the Horned Frogs are in some trouble. This has been a really rough year for them and it has nothing to do with the fact that they are in the Big 12 now. The problem is that their Big 12 schedule will be much less forgiving than their previous conferences would have been.

Now, on to one of the more interesting matchups of the weekend. Texas Tech is hosting OU. Last year, Tech opened the season with four wins, including a conference win at Kansas. Then they lost to the Aggies and Wildcats, no shame there, but their trip to Norman on October 22 got everyone’s attention. They upset OU 41-38, and left the game thinking they might just be ready to turn the corner. Alas, they were not, and proceeded to lose their next five games and missed a bowl game for the first time in I don’t remember how long.

OU, at the time was ranked number 1 in the country at 5-0. Tech must have exposed some weaknesses because they went on to lose two more games to Baylor (for the first time in school history) and Oklahoma State, finishing the regular season 9-3 and dropping as low as number 19 by the end of the regular season. But the struggles all started October 22 against the Red Raiders. You just know that the Sooners spent their bye week this year thinking about that and getting ready for a showdown in Lubbock.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Raiders have been one of the Big 12′s surprise teams this year. Not because they are 4-0 at this point. I think most people expected that. The surprise is that they lead the nation in total defense at 169 yards per game (over 20 yards per game better than the #2 defense, Alabama). Sure, some were skeptical given their non-conference schedule, but then they went to Ames and held the Cyclones to less than 190 yards offense, 13 points (two touchdowns, but one was an 87-yard pick-6 by the Cyclone defense), and got 4 turnovers. That’s pretty good.

Then there is the offense. The Cyclones have a pretty good defense, but the Red Raiders put up 395 yards, 24 points, and are ranked 8th in the nation in yards per game at 547. That’s good enough to win some games too. Tuberville, in his third year, seems to be getting some traction with his recruits and coaching.

Oklahoma Sooners

Something seems amiss in Soonernation. Where’s the dominance? Is it Landry Jones not being as top-notch as we all thought? Is their talent not as great? Is the coaching staff getting a little stale after 13 years? They have three games so far this year (two open dates before the end of September is a little odd), and their only dominant performance was over Florida A&M (69-13). Their opener against the UTEP Miners was a disappointing 24-7 win, but even that score is misleading because they only led 10-7 going into the 4th quarter.

Looking at the stats from the UTEP game, it is hard to figure out why they didn’t do better. 7 penalties–that’s not terrible for a first game. Zero turnovers–that’s great. Over 200 yards rushing and over 200 yards passing. They completed 58% of the passes which isn’t great, but I’ve seen worse. Maybe it was just a lack of intensity. Maybe the Miners are better than we think (hold on, I just checked and they are 1-4 this year–never mind).

What about the loss at home against K-State? 4 penalties to K-State’s 3. That’s pretty good. 298 yards passing to K-State’s 149. That’s good. Ah, but there are two stats that jump out a little. Rushing was only 88 to 213 and turnovers were 3 to 0–that last one is the big one because one of Jones’ fumbles was returned by K-State for a touchdown. Were the Wildcats more physical than the Sooners?

Saturday is going to be a great match-up. The Sooners have the edge because of the bye week and the revenge factor. They are probably better on paper too. The trick is, it’s just hard to tell how much progress Tuberville has made with his team. Have they turned the corner?

 

Week 6: Iowa State at TCU

October 4, 2012

Let’s start this segment by giving TCU some props for going out and scheduling Ohio State out of conference in 2018 and 2019, bringing OSU to Ft. Worth in 2018. In a time when most BCS conference schools go out of their way to schedule soft non-conference opponents, TCU is reflecting the boldness of its coach. Way to go.

I just checked out Baylor’s non-conference schedule for the next several years, and the only BCS-conference opponents in the foreseeable future are Duke (not exactly an ACC power) and SMU (will be in Big East–if it’s still a BCS conference). I guess it’s at least nice to know that Baylor doesn’t feel the need to pursue big non-conference paydays like we did in the past.

Now, let’s talk about the Iowa State/TCU game this weekend.

TCU Horned Frogs

Gary Patterson took what Dennis Franchione started at TCU and built something special, including a Rose Bowl champion two years ago (if you don’t think that is a big deal in Ft. Worth, they still have links to their special Rose Bowl pages on the Ft. Worth Star Telegram’s website). How has he done it? Defense, defense, and defense. I just found this article I read back in October 2009 in Sports Illustrated about how Patterson focuses on putting all of his best talent on defense, even if they played offense in high school. It will give you a feel for his priorities.

The weird thing about TCU’s first year in the Big 12 is that his team somehow seems to be losing that other thing that Patterson brings to the table: discipline. Turnovers and penalties have really hurt them, and turned what should have been comfortable wins into uncomfortably close final scores.

Quarterback Pachal is having a solid year (65% completions with 10 TD’s and 1 Int), but the offense, overall, is sputtering. Not because of yardage, but because of turnovers. 21 against Kansas, 27 against Virginia, and 24 against SMU is below expectations. How will they respond to a solid Big 12 defense (sorry, Kansas, but you’re not quite there yet)? We’ll find out against the Cyclones, who are not top-of-the-conference on defense, but they are in the top 3.

So this is where it becomes obvious that TCU hangs their hat on defense. In their four games they have allowed 0, 6, 7, and 16 points respectively. That’s pretty good. They are ranked 7th in the nation with 255 yards per game. So Iowa State gets the #1 ranked defense in Texas Tech last weekend at home, and now they get the #7 defense on the road. Good luck with that.

One last thing about TCU. They seem to be having some injury problems along with having lost some players to rules violations. With their first year in the Big 12, this is pretty bad timing to be hit by depth problems.

Iowa State Cyclones

Every year, Iowa State seems to be that team that is just good enough to be dangerous (see Oklahoma State last year). Consistently bowl-worthy, but not threatening for a Big 12 title. They are 3-1 this season, with three mediocre wins (yes, they beat Iowa, but only 9-6, and Iowa has proven to be pretty bad since then), and a loss last weekend to Texas Tech.

Quarterback Steele Jantz entered last week’s game with shaken confidence, and he probably didn’t leave with it restored. He went 10 for 20 for 73 yards, and had 1 TD against 3 Int’s. Now, Tech has the #1-ranked defense in the nation statistically, but still. That’s a tough game at home. The Cyclones only scored one offensive touchdown.

The other touchdown came from the defense, which is pretty good. They are ranked 18th nationally (who said no one in the Big 12 can play defense? 3 teams are ranked in the top 20), and held Tech (the nation’s #8 offense at 547 per game) to 395 yards and 24 points. So they’ll probably be able to handle the Horned Frogs offense.

In the end, I think TCU’s Big 12 home opener will be too much for Iowa State to overcome. Their best hope is that TCU continues committing penalties and turning the ball over. Without that, it might be a long day for the Cyclones.

Big 12 Week 6: Kansas at Kansas State

October 3, 2012

Somehow, the phrase “Sunflower Showdown” just doesn’t have the right ring to it. That, apparently, is what they call the Kansas/Kansas State rivalry (they started calling the football game the Governor’s Cup in 1969). Kansas is 61-23-5 against K-State without Bill Snyder coaching the Wildcats, but is only 4-16 against Snyder-coached teams. Even Kansas’ most successful coach in recent memory, Mark Mangino, only went 1-4 against Snyder (and 3-0 against Snyder’s 3-year replacement Ron Prince). The odds makers say that Snyder will collect his 17th win against the Jayhawks on Saturday. The betting line opened at over 20 points.

Kansas State Wildcats

The problem with the betting line is that Kansas State has had a tendency to play down to its competition. While they revved themselves up for Miami (52-13 in Manhattan) and OU (24-19 in Norman), the were less than impressive against Missouri State University (51-9 in Manhattan) and the University of North Texas (35-21 in Manhattan). How can I say that about the MSU game? The score going into the fourth quarter was only KSU 16 and MSU 9. The game against UNT was only 21-13 going into the 4th. The Wildcats were definitely not dialed in against these opponents. Perhaps they were looking past each one to Miami and OU, respectively, and maybe they’ll be focused because of the rivalry.  After all, this game has traditionally meant more to K-State than to KU (KU cared more about their games against Missouri than K-State),

Kansas Jayhawks

But herein lies the problem with the Jayhawks–the 4th quarter. Maybe the Baylor game did a number on their psyche last year when the Bears made up a 21-point 4th-quarter deficit and won in overtime, but the Jayhawks haven’t finished a game strong in a long time. In fact, when they lost to Norther Illinois a couple of weeks ago, the NIU coach said after the game that his team was more physical than the Jayhawks coming down the stretch. That is pretty damning when you are talking about a Big 12 team playing a team from the Mid-America Conference.

I don’t know how to break down the x’s and o’s, except to state the obvious: Kansas State is really good, and Kansas seems really bad. They are both coming off of a bye week, and K-State is at home. I try not to make specific predictions because they are worth what you’re paying for them–nothing. But I think the interesting thing to watch in this game is how dialed in the Wildcats are. If they show up in the first quarter then it could be a long day for the Jayhawks. But IF Weiss instilled some toughness in his team over the last two weeks, and IF the Jayhawks can get the game into the 4th quarter, then it will be a quarter worth watching.

Big 12 Week 5 is in the Books

September 30, 2012

West Virginia 70 – Baylor 63

This must be how Washington fans felt after the Alamo Bowl last year. I can’t believe Baylor scored 63 and lost. I can’t believe WVU scored 70 and they needed all of them. I can’t believe there were 133 points without needing overtime to get there.

I’m going to describe Baylor and West Virginia by modifying a Dennis Green quote: They are who we thought they were–only moreso. Oh, and I said before the game that the team whose defense dropped the most in the total defense rankings would lose. Well, the Mountaineers dropped from 74 to 106. That’s bigger than Baylors drop from 113 to 120, but when you consider that Baylor is now DEAD LAST in that category at 570 yards per game, there’s no way to measure how much the Bears could have dropped if there had been further to drop.

Baylor:

We knew Baylor would be more offense than defense this year. We had just hoped that the defense had made more strides. We expected the offense to take at least half a step back from last year, but still be really good. Last year’s defense was decimated by injuries in the secondary early in the season, but that was going to be a little better this year with those players returning plus the addition of a couple more. Of course, the offense lost RG3, Kendall Wright and Terrance Gannaway, but we thought Nick Florence, Terrance Williams, and Jarred Salubi could still move the ball and put up some points.

Well, the defense got hit by some injuries yesterday and ran into a buzz saw, but what really impressed me was how the offense hung in there and continued to make plays until the end. I was texting a friend during the game that I thought it was over when the Bears fell behind by 21 in the third quarter. I figured they just couldn’t quite keep pace with Geno and the Mountaineers. But Art Briles’ teams don’t quit. That’s what impresses me the most. They just don’t quit–especially considering they were on the road in front of an intense crowd–and Florence and the Green & Gold Machine have got some game.

I left the game with a couple of questions about the Bears. 1. Would they have won this game in Waco? 2. How would defensive coordinator Phil Bennett describe what went wrong? Scheme? Talent? Blown assignments? Injuries? Some combination of all four? (I don’t think I’ve ever heard Briles that upset in a post-game interview) 3. Is the offense that amazing, or was WVU that bad on defense? I was really surprised that they played that poorly at home. Could BU’s offense be that good?

 West Virginia:

I said going into the game that I am rooting for Geno Smith to win the Heisman, but I just didn’t want him to do it against the Bears. Well, if you can wrap up a Heisman in September, he did it against the Bears. But again, they are who we thought they were–only moreso. The offense was great. Smith only had six incompletions to 8 touchdown passes. He has zero interceptions for the entire year. That completely blows away Griffin’s 2011 numbers through four games. We knew West Virginia was prolific on offense, and the only team to ever score more in a regulation bowl game than Baylor (both last year), but 70 points and over 800 yards of offense in a game that did not include any “garbage time” is impressive.

But is their defense good enough to compete for a conference championship? We’ll get that question at least partially answered in Austin next weekend. Personally, I would love to go to that game. I have a feeling that the answer is that it’s not good enough. They will win a lot of games in the conference, but without a defense that can slow down Baylor in a big game at home to less than 500 yards I don’t think they will lose less than 2 games. You can’t win this conference if you lose more than one.

Final thought on this game. Can a team give up over 800 yards of offense and remain in the top 25? Can a team give up over 700 yards of offense and remain in the top 10? We’ll find out when the new polls come out.

Texas 41 – Oklahoma State 36

If Baylor and West Virginia are who we thought they were–only moreso–then Texas is NOT who we thought they were. When did Texas’ offense start carrying their defense? That’s exactly what happened in Stillwater last night. After last night’s game, Texas has the 23rd-ranked offense and the 63rd-ranked defense. That’s not supposed to be the case. The big change seems to be David Ash–and, frankly, as a Baylor fan, I hate to seem him developing into a good quarterback. I was hoping that he would keep being mediocre and throwing regular interceptions. Apparently, that isn’t going to be the case. Too bad.

From the Cowboys’ perspective, that last missed goal line fumble was unfortunate, but I had a feeling they would play the Longhorns a lot closer than others did. Their other loss this season to Arizona was turnover-fueled. They actually have the #1 offense in the country right now with 659 yards PER GAME (Baylor is #2 with 601 and WVU is #3 with 599). Oklahoma State isn’t going to defend their 2011 conference championship this year, but they are still a team that will do a lot of damage and have a hand in deciding who does win it. Can’t wait to see their November 10 game against the Mountaineers in Stillwater.

Texas Tech 24 – Iowa State 13

Tech is NOT who we thought they were, volume 2. We thought that Tech would be their typical style of all offense with a nod at defense. Well, Tuberville is getting some traction on bringing his defensive expertise to Lubbock. Can you believe that the Red Raiders went into their game in Ames leading the nation in total defense? Can you further believe that they left Ames with that lead in tact? They only gave up 189 yards to the Cyclones. They are allowing less than 170 yards per game, which is over 20 yards per game better than Alabama (the Crimson Tide defense is ranked 2nd).

The interesting thing is that their offense only put up 395 yards, but that is about 100 yards better than Iowa State is averaging per game (the Cyclone’s have the 18th-ranked defense). So maybe the Red Raider offense still has some potency. Unfortunately for Iowa State, it looks like they are still good enough to surprise some people, but not quite ready for prime time.

TCU 24 – SMU 16

There was a lot of rain for this game, but still. What’s up with the Frogs? Their stats for the game:

First Downs: 12
Total Yards: 156
Penalties 13

They took the ball away from SMU 6 times and still only beat them by 8 points. The thing that concerns me about TCU is their lack of discipline. Patterson is a great coach who gets the absolute most out of his athletes, but that usually comes from great discipline. 156 yards of offense and 13 penalties against SMU are not signs of great discipline.

The Horned Frogs have won 12 in a row, and they’ll have a good shot at beating Iowa State next week in Fort Worth, but their trip to Waco in two weeks (with Baylor coming off a bye) will be more problematic for them than some might have thought a few weeks ago. It’ll be interesting to see if they clean some of this up against the Cyclones next week.

Week 5: Baylor at West Virginia

September 28, 2012

Welcome to the Big 12, Mountaineers. I have to be honest. I don’t understand why this is such a good fit, but I’m going to assume that the leadership at WVU and the Big 12 know a lot more than I do. I just can’t imagine that the closest Big 12 school to you is Iowa State at around 850 miles. That’s a lot of travel for all of your programs. I mean, I understand jumping off of the Big East boat, but your seem like a better SEC East fit than Missouri.

Be that as it may, tomorrow’s the big day. I imagine your crowd is going to be excited. I understand that you have had a bit of a rowdy reputation over the last few years. In fact, here’s a pretty good youtube video (credit to David Ubben of ESPN for this link) discouraging fans from burning couches. But your AD is asking you to start fresh with your new conference, so I assume my Bears will feel welcomed into your lair. Here’s one article about it from the Charleston Daily Mail. And here’s an excerpt from Hoppy Kercheval’s commentary on West Virginia Metro news:

West Virginia University is looking for a fresh start, a redo of the University’s battered image as that of a cauldron of drunken and debauched rabble-rousers.

In an open letter before the season, WVU Athletic Director Oliver Luck asked Mountaineer fans to welcome visitors from the Big 12.  “Let’s make sure we extend a friendly hand at tailgates, invite visiting fans over for something to eat and thank them for coming to visit our beautiful state,” Luck said.

Regarding the game itself, I’m not going to lie. This one’s going to be tough. I love my Bears and I know they can do it, but I think it’s going to take the perfect game.

Baylor Bears

The reason people like Nick Florence play quarterback instead of people like me is because of a little thing called competitive spirit. I can’t imagine following in RG3′s footsteps, but Nick is doing it admirably. He’s had some early growing pains this season, but remember that Nick started just a little over half a season while RG3 started for over two full seasons before last year’s Heisman Trophy year. So is he past the growing pains, and can he now play a turnover-free game while passing for four touchdowns and rushing for 70 or 80 yards?

Then there are the running backs. Frankly, I have always liked these guys. I was surprised that Salubi didn’t beat out Ganaway last season. He’s been kind of my sentimental favorite since he is from Waco. I think it’s just time for everything to gel. It’s like everyone is right on the edge of having a truly impressive offensive performance. Martin and Seastrunk as well. Tomorrow better be the day if they are going to win. For an overall look at what makes Baylor’s version of the Spread Offense different from most other versions, here’s a good article from the Charleston Daily Mail (credit to David Ubben of ESPN for this link too).

West Virginia Mountaineers

Rather than talk about Baylor’s defense, I’m going to talk about WVU’s offense. I had heard of Geno Smith before this year, but every time someone talks about him, even when they don’t compare him with RG3, I find myself being reminded of RG3. I found this nice article about his faith and relationship with one of his receivers, Stedman Bailey (credit to David Ubben of ESPN for this link too–okay, so I read Ubben’s stuff a lot). Smith threw for over 300 yards and no interceptions last week (still none for the year, and more TD passes than incompletions–sound like anyone we know?), but people were apparently complaining that he had a bad game. Needless to say, expectations are high, but he seems to be living up to them. Anyway, everything I learn about Smith makes me like him and pull for him to win the Heisman (just not against Baylor tomorrow).

I think it will be possible for the Bears to move the ball on WVU. The question is, will they be able to be patient enough and not feel like they have to score on every possession. I remember last year’s game at OK State. The Bears could have played with them a little longer, but the Cowboys were able to turn us back on two goal line stands, and that killed our ability to match their scores.

Both quarterbacks and ranked 1 and 2 in total offense in the nation. The last over/under I saw for this game is 79. I’ll say that if it is under 79 then Baylor wins. If it’s over 79 then WVU will win. The defenses are ranked 113 (Baylor) and 74 (WVU) in total defense. I think the team that has a higher ranking after the games on Saturday will find that they won the game.

 

 

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