It’s official; half of the Big 12 no longer has any shot at competing for this year’s conference title. But with four weeks left, there are still five teams vying for those two coveted spots in Arlington, Texas. It is also a result that still won’t be decided until the last week of the season. These contenders all still have at least two games remaining against teams currently in the top half of the standings. All the results of the games have the same underlying theme in the Big 12 week nine takeaways. The contenders and pretenders have officially been separated.
Big 12 Week Nine Takeaways
TCU Remains Undefeated
Outside of maybe Tennessee, there is not a more entertaining undefeated team in college football this year than the TCU Horned Frogs. Head coach Sonny Dykes had established an explosive offensive attack at SMU. Expectations were to see Dykes’ offensive prowess elevate a talented TCU squad. Dykes has exceeded all early expectations. Quarterback Max Duggan, who has to now garner serious Heisman discussion, took advantage of a leaky West Virginia defense. All of TCU’s touchdowns in Saturday’s 41-31 victory over West Virginia were from 29 yards out or longer. Duggan now has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 22-2. It was an impressive showing given the circumstances coming into the game. The Horned Frogs had spent the last two weeks having to scratch and claw for come-from-behind victories.
Over the past three games, TCU has allowed just one second-half touchdown. A letdown to a team with a fairly potent offense in their own right would have been just another example of the college football under lords taking over. But as much attention that the offense rightfully gets, it is the defense that has found ways to bow up in the second half of games. In the last three games, TCU has allowed only one second-half touchdown. The Horned Frogs now do not have a currently ranked team remaining on their schedule. A win next week against Texas Tech all but locks up a spot for TCU to play for the Big 12 conference title.
Blowouts In Manhattan And Lubbock
And now, we transition to the portion of the Big 12 week nine takeaways where two teams were served up some heaping helpings of humble pie. There was no result more surprising than what occurred between Kansas State and Oklahoma State. A 48-0 good old fashion butt whooping by the Wildcats was a result literally no one saw coming. To make matters stranger, Chris Klieman’s squad did this with the backup quarterback. Wildcat quarterback Will Howard, who started for injured quarterback Adrian Martinez, finished the game 21-for-37 passing for 296 and four touchdowns. Sometimes an unstoppable object meets the most moveable force on any given Saturday.
Kansas State was 48 points better than Oklahoma State on that day. But, the reality is, most days these teams are fairly evenly matched. It was such a rare result, both schools set new records both for the best and worse for the winning and losing schools respectively. Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and his team now face a substantial challenge to get back to Arlington for the Big 12 title game. The Cowboys have now lost to the two teams in front of them in the standings.
Meanwhile, as the thumping at Kansas State was winding down, Texas Tech was bracing for a big night in Lubbock. Quarterback royalty was back in the building as Patrick Mahomes had his jersey retired into the Ring of Honor. Dawning tremendous throwback all-black uniforms, the Red Raiders ran out onto the field in front of a sold-out crowd. The hyped-up Texas Tech fans expected the team to keep the good times rolling after thumping West Virginia the week before. But instead, the Baylor Bears played the role of a wet, heavy blanket and sucked all the buzz out of Jones At&t stadium. The Bears absolutely dominated the Red Raiders, and with Kansas State and TCU still on schedule, Baylor still is in a great spot to defend this conference title.
Iowa State Is Nation’s Best 3-5 Team
The Cyclones are the 2022 version of the 2021 Nebraska team. Matt Campbell’s team has one of the best defenses in the entire country. And yet, the offense has severely limited this team’s ability to compete in football games. Even with their 27-13 loss to Oklahoma, dropping the Cyclones to 0-5 in Big 12 play, Iowa State’s average margin of defeat is still only 5.8 points. One would imagine the law of averages would suggest that one of these games would go the Cyclone’s way. But Nebraska lost eight straight one-score games to end the 2021 season. With the latest victory, it pushes the all-time record of Oklahoma against Iowa State to 79-7, including 25-2 since 1991.
For the Sooners, it was a nice bounce-back game. It is a Big 12 week nine takeaway that flew under the radar with some of the more eye-popping results of the day. The defense was not torched all over the field as they had been over the last month of play. Iowa State’s offense isn’t exactly something that has scared any defenses. But if Brent Venables’ Sooner team couldn’t have a good showing against the lowly Cyclones, it was going to be a long end of the season. It will be interesting to see how well the Sooners play with Baylor coming to town this week.