Big 12 football roundup
The Red River Rivalry has long been played in the Cotton Bowl as one of the main attractions to the Texas State Fair.
The venerable stadium is split 50-50 with fans, but this year Texas faithful were reluctant to take up their half of the occupancy.
Until kickoff. Despite carrying just one win into the game as part of the Longhorns' worst start since 1959, the matchup stirred their best effort under second-year coach Charlie Strong. Texas was dominant on each side of the line and upset No. 10 Oklahoma, 24-17.
"Seeing everything in the media about coach, everybody attacking him, picking on him and stuff, a bunch of guys were like, this isn't fair," said offensive guard Sedrick Flowers. "We're not playing hard and it's affecting him and his status."
Intriguing that the response took until Game 6 for the Longhorns to bow up. Yet they did in the biggest rivalry on their schedule, improving to 2-4 overall while escaping the Big 12 cellar at 1-2.
"I think they said they didn't want to see me get fired so they were going to step up and play for me," Strong said.
He let out a laugh to go with that statement, though it included some degree of truth.
The Longhorns' dreadful start, which included a 50-7 defeat on Oct. 3 at TCU, led to reports of sour relationships between young and old players. In addition, the athletic director who hired Strong, Steve Patterson, was fired after the season started. Even with the win over Oklahoma, Strong stands 8-11 since leaving Louisville to take over as the Texas coach.
Something about meeting the Sooners in Dallas, however, seems to revive hope. Texas improved to 6-2 since 1989 in games in which it was unranked and Oklahoma was ranked.
Will the outcome, which Texas won with 313 yards rushing from its offense and six sacks from its defense, be a turning point?
That becomes the next question for Strong, but at least the future brightened to some extent.
BAYLOR (5-0, 2-0)
Game: Baylor 66, Kansas 7. Most starters played only in the first half for the No. 3 Bears as they surged to a 52-7 halftime lead. QB Seth Russell completed 18-of-27 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns, connecting with WR Corey Coleman for two scores. Coleman had seven catches for 108 yards. RB Shock Linwood added 135 yards on 13 carries, with one touchdown. The only first-half possession in which Baylor did not score came when they took over the ball with 45 seconds left.
Takeaway: Baylor was so dominant from the outset that several of the Bears' regulars sat out the second half without wearing pads. That's the kind of onslaught Baylor is capable of delivering, especially when matched against a Big 12 rival that lacks talent and is playing for a new coach.
"They told us, 'You're not going to play much. You need to get your balls early and then you'll be out of there,'" Coleman said of the advisory provided by the Baylor coaching staff.
A chance to potentially roll for 100 points never looked to be a consideration. Not with the starters resting in the second half and Baylor content to run the ball after backup QB Jarrett Stidham came in and went 9-for-10. He completed his first seven passes, two for touchdowns and threw for 117 yards. The ball was distributed to 11 different Baylor receivers.
"We've got one of the freshest football teams in America, which is a benefit for our program," Baylor coach Art Briles said of all the substitutions. "They're going to like playing games with fresh legs here in the future."
Although the 644-yard offensive performance was the lowest output of the season for the Bears, they still amassed 34 first downs. RBs Johnny Jefferson and Terence Williams added 80 and 66 yards rushing, respectively, combining for 25 carries in backup roles.
Oddly, the setting could have been where Russell landed in college. He initially committed to Kansas, when Beaty was involved in the recruiting process as an assistant for former coach Turner Gill. When Charlie Weis took over the Jayhawks, he dropped Russell as a recruit.
"You look around and wonder what it would be like to play here," Russell admitted. "It crossed my mind just very quickly, then I got my mind back in the game."
Next: vs. West Virginia, Oct. 17.
IOWA STATE (2-3, 1-1)
Game: Texas Tech 66, Iowa State 31. RB Mike Warren broke an Iowa State season rushing record for freshmen with 245 yards on 23 carries, but the Cyclones defense allowed 776 yards, including 515 passing. A 68-drive led to a touchdown early in the second quarter drew Iowa State within 17-14, but Texas Tech was never deterred, gaining 8.9 yards per snap. QB Sam Richardson completed just 10-of-21 passes for 139 yards, with three interceptions, after winning his first Big 12 game in 14 starts a week earlier.
Takeaway: Iowa State installed a new 3-4 defensive scheme earlier this year and this was the first real test of how it could combat pass-happy Big 12 attacks.
The system still needs some work as Texas Tech busted six touchdowns with gains of 33 or more yards behind QB Patrick Mahomes, who passed for 428 yards and five touchdowns while going 33-of-46.
"We just know we've got to play better," S Kamari Cotton-Moya told the Ames Tribune. "We didn't play good enough at all and we didn't play how we needed to play. It showed."
It did, though an underlying factor may not only be the schematic changeover defensively that coordinator Wally Burnham implemented, but also the level of talent Iowa State possesses.
Even with a freshman upstart such as Warren, who padded his season rushing total to 574 yards, the Cyclones were deficient in too many other areas.
Iowa State actually played well on defense in nonconference play, then drew a rival picked for the Big 12 cellar, Kansas, in its conference opener.
Texas Tech, which entered the game ranked third nationally with a 50-point average, engaged its offense with richer fuel. The Red Raiders even converted a third-and-30 call.
"They just played faster than us," LB Jordan Harris said. "We didn't come out fast enough. We just couldn't seem to stop them. We could have played way better."
If that's the case, Iowa State has several additional chances. Things are not going to slow down in the Big 12.
Next: vs. TCU, Oct. 17.
KANSAS (0-5, 0-2)
Game: Baylor 66, Kansas 7. The Jayhawks answered with a touchdown on their first possession to forge a tie, but then were held scoreless by the No. 3 Bears the rest of the way. Freshman QB Ryan Willis drew his first start and capped the TD drive with a 36-yard pass to WR Steven Sims. Willis finished with 158 yards passing, going 20-of-36 with one interception. The Jayhawks marched 74 yards for the touchdown but finished with just 227 total yards.
Takeaway: The play could not be described as a backbreaker. Any hope for Kansas had already been doused. Still, an 18-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter by Baylor's LaQuan McGowan was proof the Bears could do anything against the Jayhawks' defense. The catch was the first of the season for the 6-foot-7, 410-pound -- yes, 410 pounds -- senior.
"I've never seen anything like that. That was a great call and a great play," said S Fish Smithson. "Coming into this game, we knew he was going to try to do something like that on the defensive side of the ball. We just didn't do our job on that one play to stop it."
It was not just that one play that haunted the Jayhawks. Baylor's first-teamers played only in the first half, yet generated 425 yards while building a 52-7 margin. QB Seth Russell, who initially committed to Kansas before a coaching change forced him to look elsewhere, passed for 246 yards and three touchdowns before the break.
"That hurts. Even if you give up 50 in a game, that hurts," said Smithson, who was in on nine tackles. "But you see 50 at halftime, you definitely have got to come in there and calm guys down and also pick guys up."
One of the bright spots was the play of Willis, though the Baylor defense did limit the Jayhawks considerably after their early touchdown drive. First-year coach David Beaty started the true freshman after injuries to juniors Montell Cozart and Deondre Ford. Remember that the quarterback who earned the starting job last spring, Michael Cummings, is also out after suffering a season-ending knee injury in the spring game.
Essentially, that makes Willis, the top-rated recruit in Beaty's first class, a fourth-string replacement.
"I loved his approach. I loved the way he attacked each series," Beaty said. "He was never discouraged at all. The guy was excited about going out there and playing."
Next: vs. Texas Tech, Oct. 17.
KANSAS STATE (3-2, 0-2)
Game: TCU 52, Kansas State 45. Over a 49-game stretch, Kansas State won every game it led at halftime. That ended with an Oct. 3 loss at Oklahoma State, then upon returning home, the Wildcats blew an 18-point halftime against No. 2 TCU. After forging a tie with 1:47 left on a 37-yard field goal by Jack Cantele, the Wildcats allowed a decisive touchdown two plays later when TCU's Trevone Boykin hit Josh Doctson in stride for a 55-yard strike. QB Joe Hubener led Kansas State with 157 yards passing and 111 rushing, accounting for 59 of the Wildcats' 81 plays.
Takeaway: There is no question Kansas State coach Bill Snyder still rates among the best at scouting opponents and scheming game plans to even matchups for unsung athletes on his squad.
Yet questionable play-calling at both Oklahoma State and against TCU led to offensive backfires that eventually cost Kansas State in both defeats.
The decision to have Cantele kick the field goal was the most curious against TCU, a loss that found Hubener attempting 33 passes (he completed 13) when the run game the quarterback triggered with great deception was working well.
Kansas State called a time out to mull over its options while facing a fourth-and-1 call from the TCU 20-yard line. Cantele, a backup who moved into the kicking role earlier this season following an injury to Matthew McCrane, nailed the 37-yarder.
Still, 1:47 remained, an eternity in the Big 12. Particularly for Boykin, a Heisman Trophy candidate who just burned the Wildcats with a 69-yard touchdown keeper with 6:07 left to give TCU its first lead of the second half. Sure enough, Boykin struck again with his pass to Doctson, the Big 12's leading receiver, in single coverage.
"The options were run the ball or throw it, and we kicked the field goal," Snyder said of the decision to go for it on fourth down and preserve a chance for a game-winning touchdown if the Wildcats converted. "Obviously, the field goal was the wrong thing to do. But that was one of those choices. It is a hard choice, that's all I can tell you."
The explosiveness that exists in the Big 12 was not lost on the Kansas State coach.
"I do not think there is a number that you can define that says with 30 minutes to go that you clearly have a victory here. I do not think that number exists," Snyder said.
Next: vs. Oklahoma, Oct. 17.
OKLAHOMA (4-1, 1-1)
Game: Texas 24, Oklahoma 17. QB Baker Mayfield completed 20-of-28 passes for 211 yards and one touchdown, but was sacked six times, including a third-down loss with 3:33 remaining that would turn out to be the final snap for the No. 10 Sooners. The loss was the sixth in eight matchups since 1989 in which Oklahoma was ranked and Texas was unranked. The loss was the first for the Sooners with Mayfield, a Texas Tech transfer, as their quarterback, and it greatly reduced any hopes for Oklahoma reaching the College Football Playoff.
Takeaway: It could be that Bob Stoops was the only person in the Cotton Bowl who did not notice that the Sooners were manhandled up front after allowing Texas to rush for 313 yards while also allowing six sacks offensively.
"I wouldn't say we lost the line of scrimmage," said the defiant Oklahoma coach. "I would say we lost leverage on a couple of the early touchdowns, and then the missed tackles."
Sure, those whiffs were part of a sloppy defensive effort. Still, the Texas offensive front exerted its authority to spring holes for two 100-yard rushers, Jerrod Heard and D'Onta Foreman. The Longhorns even rushed seven straight times to close out their second touchdown drive and were content to let the 244-pound Heard batter Oklahoma defenders.
Offensively, the Sooners have had problems getting their run game untracked all season and the loss to Texas was no different. Oklahoma netted 67 yards on the ground. RB Samaje Perine, who set an FBS rushing record with a 427-yard performance last season, led the Sooners with 36 yards.
"We came in with the mentality that we needed to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage. Obviously, we didn't do that," C Ty Darlington told the Tulsa World. "They physically beat us in the run. Our problems came from not being able to control the line of scrimmage and getting into second- and third-and-long, and allowing their pass rushers to tee off on us."
Suddenly, Oklahoma must address glaring issues stemming from a loss to a sub-.500 team after previously looking like a potential contender for the Big 12 crown and a CFP berth.
The process begins up front.
"It's Oklahoma. We pride ourselves on being great and winning games like this," said OT Josiah St. John. "We dropped the ball today, me as a Sooner and as an O-line. We can't let that happen again."
Next: at Kansas State, Oct. 17.
OKLAHOMA STATE (6-0, 3-0)
Game: Oklahoma State 33, West Virginia 26 (OT). In the overtime, backup QB J.W. Walsh scored on a 2-yard rush on fourth down and then the No. 21 Cowboys held the Mountaineers scoreless. The Cowboys won their third straight close game to begin Big 12 play. Starting QB Mason Rudolph completed 20-of-40 passes for 218 yards and three interceptions. Oklahoma State forced four turnovers, including three off fumble recoveries. One, by DE Emmanuel Ogbah, produced the game's first touchdown. West Virginia sent the game into overtime despite trailing by 15 at halftime.
Takeaway: Finding a way to win seems to be Oklahoma State's greatest strength. After shredding Kansas State for a career-best 437 yards passing the week before, Rudolph was shaky against a West Virginia secondary playing without Karl Joseph, an All-Big 12 safety.
To account for Rudolph's inconsistency, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy inserted Walsh into situations once the Cowboys got into scoring territory.
That was true in the overtime too, though another correction was implemented. Gundy changed the blocking scheme after Oklahoma State struggled on the ground throughout regulation. Five straight rushes put the Cowboys on the West Virginia 2-yard line. Walsh, who entered on the fourth play, crashed in on a fourth-down call.
"It was exactly how we drew it up," Walsh, a fifth-year senior who was once the OSU starting QB, told the Tulsa World. "We've practiced that play and repped it all week. It just worked. We're struggling all game, and then in overtime we run the ball. It really does speak for the maturity of our football team."
The Cowboys yielded 443 yards while gaining just 362, but scored 17 points off the four turnovers they forced.
Walsh gave Oklahoma State a 23-9 advantage early in the fourth quarter. He subbed in following a 40-yard keeper by Rudolph and spotted TE Blake Jarwin for a 4-yard touchdown.
"We were tired on defense,'' Gundy said. ''(WVU) controlled the tempo on offense, but our guys were able to rally at the end, make a play and found a way to win."
So far, that's been the case in each Big 12 game after Oklahoma State nipped Texas by three points on a field goal as time expired and got another late field goal to edge Kansas State by two points.
Next: vs. Kansas, Oct. 24.
TCU (6-0, 3-0)
Game: TCU 52, Kansas State 45. QB Trevone Boykin shook off some shaky early moments by scoring on a 69-yard rush with 6:07 remaining and then throwing a 55-yard game-winning pass to Josh Doctson with 1:10 left as No. 2 TCU overcame an 18-point halftime deficit. Boykin completed 20-of-30 passes for 301 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He added 124 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries. RB Aaron Green sprinted 84 yards for a touchdown on the game's first snap and finished with 121 yards on 11 carries.
Takeaway: Throughout the week of preparation for the trip to Kansas State, Gary Patterson voiced concerns over the Horned Frogs' attitude.
"In this situation we were fortunate," said the TCU coach. "I told them at halftime that I see them laughing in the training room, laughing at practice, and doing all of this. Well, you are not listening to me. You do not understand how K-State plays at home. You do not know what you are getting into."
By halftime that message was much clearer. The Wildcats used 28 second-quarter points to gain a 35-17 lead. With a sellout crowd cheering every move, an upset seemed likely.
TCU, however, has been on upset alert virtually all season. Injuries that riddled the defense early in the year, and continue to leave the Frogs short-handed on that side of the ball, influenced some other outcomes that were closer than expected.
Yet Boykin responded late and again propped himself up in the Heisman Trophy discussion with his heroics. The pass he threw to Doctson was perfect, and was the last of eight receptions for 155 yards and two scores by the Big 12's leading receiver.
"They love the pressure. They do great things," Patterson said of his pass-catch duo.
Boykin acknowledged the frustration that existed standing on the sideline as Kansas State engaged in a ball-control clock that enabled the Wildcats to mount almost 40 minutes of possession time.
"It was very frustrating, but we talked about it at halftime," said Boykin, who did not attempt a rush in the first half and generated 272 of his 425 total yards after the break. "We came back after halftime, we really did some soul searching, tried to find ourselves and just play football."
Next: at Iowa State, Oct. 17.
TEXAS (2-4, 1-2)
Game: Texas 24, Oklahoma 17. The Longhorns were dominant up front on both sides of the football, rushing for 313 yards while recording six sacks to hand the No. 10 Sooners their first defeat. QB Jarrod Heard gained 115 yards on 21 carries and attempted only 12 passes. RB D'Onta Foreman broke an 81-yard touchdown run among his nine carries for 117 yards. Backup QB Tyrone Swoopes executed the package designed for him, completing a fourth quarter TD pass along with a 3-yard TD run.
Takeaway: For Texas to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball took a spirited effort over four quarters. No one knew the Longhorns had it in them, even Charlie Strong.
The Texas coach was up in the middle night and decided to hit the workout center of the hotel in which the team was staying. It was a way for Strong to free his mind of problems that escalated into a Twitter confrontation among some players earlier in the week.
When that was playing out, Strong reacted differently than most, sensing some passion in his players that had been lacking during their 1-4 start. Still, he was never sure if all the emotional expressions could rally the Longhorns.
"It's just hard to sleep right now because you know what you have, but it's not coming together," Strong said. "But you can't quit. I told them, 'You have to have the courage to override negative forces ... and also the courage to override your own inner doubts. You can't ever let that creep in your head when people say you can't do something."
So, the Longhorns went out and recorded six sacks after coming into the game with just seven on the season. The biggest of those hits came after Oklahoma had crawled within 24-17 and got the ball back in the fourth quarter.
DE Naashon Hughes and DT Poona Ford combined to track down Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield for a 17-yard loss on a third-and-14 call from the Sooners 34-yard line. That forced a punt and the Longhorns proceeded to keep the football for the final 3:33 while generating three first downs. The biggest was when Heard converted a third-and-10 with a 14-yard keeper.
That gain enabled Texas to exceed the 300-yard mark in rushing, while passing for just 55 yards. Odd numbers by Big 12 standards, but the combination worked, especially since Oklahoma was limited to 278 total yards.
The worst part of the pick-me-up for Texas could be the off week that follows. Rather than seize momentum from the upset win, the Longhorns must wait until Oct. 24 to play again, at home against Kansas State.
Next: vs. Kansas State, Oct. 24.
TEXAS TECH (4-2, 1-2)
Game: Texas Tech 66, Iowa State 31. QB Patrick Mahomes completed 33-of-46 passes for 428 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions as the Red Raiders bounced back from back-to-back defeats to two top-5 teams, TCU and Baylor. WR Jakeem Grant led 11 Raiders who caught passes with nine receptions for 166 yards and two TDs. Sophomore RB Justin Stockton came off the bench and averaged 14.4 yards rushing, gaining 101 yards on seven attempts, including a 54-yard touchdown.
Takeaway: After a rather simplistic 7-yard run by RB DeAndre Washington gave Texas Tech its first touchdown, the Red Raiders struck for five straight TD plays of 30-plus yards.
Credit receivers such as Grant, and running backs such as Stockton, for the breakaway capabilities.
But Mahomes also was instrumental because of his uncanny ability to dodge rushers and keep plays alive with his feet while also continuing to scour the field for open targets.
The big gains for scores provided the confidence the Red Raiders needed to convert practically anything, including one third-and-30 call. After obtaining that first down, Washington scored on the next play by busting a screen pass into a 49-yard gain.
"It's huge, just because the momentum it gives the whole team," Washington said of the explosive plays Tech turned into touchdowns. "I think it definitely trickles down, especially with the defense when we go out there and get those big plays, and it's definitely a momentum killer for the opposing team. It's been huge for us all year, and we're just looking forward to keeping it going."
Big gains were contained for the most part by TCU and Baylor, which prevented upset bids by the Red Raiders, though a tipped pass accounted for the three-point victory margin the Horned Frogs attained inside the final minute.
"I thought we played better, obviously," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said of his offense, which recorded 776 yards, a Tech record in the modern era. "The biggest deal to me was the turnovers. ... If we protect the ball, we'll be in every game. That's what we did and we gave ourselves a chance."
In addition to committing no turnovers, the Red Raiders had three interceptions defensively.
Next: at Kansas, Oct. 17.
WEST VIRGINIA (3-2, 0-2)
Game: Oklahoma State 33, West Virginia 26 (OT). RB Wendell Smallwood matched his career best with 147 yards rushing, but the Mountaineers could not respond to a touchdown the No. 21 Cowboys produced with a fourth-down rush from the 2-yard line in overtime. QB Skyler Howard rallied West Virginia from a 15-point halftime deficit, but was sporadic, completing 18-of-35 passes for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception. With 443 yards, the Mountaineers had more offensive production but committed four turnovers, including a fumble the Cowboys scooped for the first TD.
Takeaway: The beginning was rough for West Virginia and the overtime ending did not include any touches by Smallwood, who had been bothered by an ankle injury and was replaced by Rushel Shell in the rotation system the Mountaineers employ.
After digging a 17-2 halftime deficit in which the offense was stymied, West Virginia came to life. In overtime, however, the Mountaineers managed to reach the Oklahoma State 4 before stalling. On that third-down call, Shell lost 7 yards. Howard's fourth-down pass sailed high and incomplete along the boundary.
"We knew we were going to run the ball between the tackles (in overtime), and (Shell) is pretty good running the ball between the tackles," West Virginia running backs coach JaJuan Seider told the Charleston Gazette. "(Smallwood) needed a blow. He was coming off a drive and kind of tired and cramping up a bit."
A 29-yard touchdown burst by Smallwood launched West Virginia's second-half comeback. That contributed to a third straight 100-yard game for the junior back, who had just two 100-yard performances prior to this season.
Playing without S Karl Joseph, a senior who had started all 42 games of his career before suffering a season-ending knee injury during a non-contact practice drill on Tuesday, the Mountaineers snagged three interceptions. The offense also perked up in the second half, but still finished 6-of-20 on third down conversions and 1-of-3 on red zone scores. West Virginia also committed 11 penalties.
"We woke up and came out ready to fight (in the second half)," Howard said. "That's probably the biggest thing. We came out ready to fight and had some fire in us. We need to play with the same fire all the time, starting in the first quarter."
Next: at Baylor, Oct. 17.
--Baylor TE LaQuan McGowan is considered something of a freak show as a 6-foot-7, 410-pounder eligible to catch passes. McGowan does not go that far, but instead labeled himself as "abnormal" after evading a Kansas defender with a deft move and scoring on an 18-yard pass in the Bears' 66-7 wipeout.
The reception was the first of the season for the senior, who first showed his receiving skills last year in the Cotton Bowl when he also produced an 18-yard scoring pass against Michigan State.
Kansas S Michael Glatczak was the poor defender in position to tackle McGowan. While McGowan was tripped up by the glancing blow Glatczak delivered trying to go low, the tight end fell forward and then launched into an unintentional summersault after his TD.
"I told myself is he stays up high, I'd run over," McGowan said. "If he went down low, I'd either hurdle him or side-step him. I'm not very good at hurdling, so I thought I'd side-step him."
McGowan clearly enjoys the different, uhh, dimension he brings to his position and even joked during a postgame press conference that he might have to connect two folding chairs that were stationed behind microphones.
"Some of their fans were calling my name wanting to talk to me. It's fun," said McGowan, who wears a size 20 shoe. "People enjoy seeing somebody who's not normal do stuff that normal people do. Nobody's abnormal scoring touchdowns right now, except for me."
--Oklahoma State was not in the most comfortable position to secure an overtime win at West Virginia. At least not defensively.
With their undeniable leader, LB Ryan Simmons, already ruled out with a season-ending knee injury suffered a week earlier, the Cowboys were also playing without their top cover man, CB Kevin Peterson (groin).
Others weren't feeling too well either. LB Chad Whitener was playing with an obvious limp. DE Emmanuel Ogbah, who provided the Cowboys their first score with a fumble recovery in the end zone, was grabbing his right shoulder. CB Ashton Lampkin was so drained that teammates had to carry him off the field after the game.
Still, after the Cowboys scored on a fourth-down gamble to begin the overtime, the defense made the plays necessary to keep West Virginia out of the end zone in a 33-26 road win.
"We put our hearts into it," LB Devante Averette told the Oklahoman.
They did that with a basic defensive plan administered by coordinator Glenn Spencer after the Cowboys surrendered a 15-point halftime lead.
"I said, 'Guys, that's over. We're going back to what we do best. We're going to play our base stuff and stop the run to win the game,"' Spencer recalled.
Eight plays later, Oklahoma State had done just that, blowing up a third down call from the Cowboys 4-yard line by stopping West Virginia's Rushel Shell for a 7-yard loss. Mountaineers QB Skyler Howard overthrew a fourth down pass along the boundary on the game's final play.
"We knew that was going to be an old-fashioned fist fight to come in here at night, there's no way around it," Spencer said. "I kept telling them all week, 'It's going to come down to us on the last drive."'
--Texas Tech adopted a defensive principle against Iowa State that has become a fallback for many Big 12 teams. To be effective defensively, turnovers must be generated. Allowing yardage does not seem to be so big a deal as long as takeaways can influence possessions.
With three interceptions against the Cyclones, including two by S J.J. Gaines, the Red Raiders have 11 takeways in their four victories. In their losses to Big 12 powers TCU and Baylor, the Raiders managed just one takeaway.
"That's usually how it works," Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said. "When they're pretty good (opponents), it's hard to take them away. But that being said, I thought the last couple of weeks we had an opportunity to get a couple and didn't. At least they caught them, so hopefully we can build off that."
Openings still existed in the Red Raiders' scheme. Iowa State freshman RB Mike Warren gouged the Red Raiders for 245 yards. His scampers extended an alarming trend in which the opponent's leading rusher dented Texas Tech for 187 yards on average over the past five games. Warren logged three gains of 45-plus yards.
"I feel like I was all over the place on my calls and getting the defense set up," LB Micah Awe told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "I don't think we were really set up like we were supposed to be. So I'll take the personal blame on that."
Hey, it's an 11-man game, and in the Big 12, the defenders manning the field often seem outnumbered by sophisticated attacks that move at the speed of light. Stops often require turnovers.
"When you play good teams, it's always going to be tough," said CB Tevin Madison, who also had an interception against Iowa State. "When we get turnovers, as you see -- when we get multiple turnovers -- we're undefeated. When we didn't, we lose. Getting turnovers is the big thing."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We found that edge that we needed. We wanted to come out with a victory, so we did everything we could to get it. We all worked together and it turned out great." -- Texas QB Jerrod Heard.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 6 IN THE BIG 12:
1. TCU continues to avoid the upset bug, rallying from an 18-point halftime deficit to win at Kansas State. QB Trevone Boykin did not attempt a first-half rush, yet finished with a game-high 124 yards while adding 301 yards passing. The Heisman Trophy candidate lived up to that billing down the stretch.
2. Baylor took it easy at Kansas, allowing several starters to sit on the sideline without pads on during the second half. QB Seth Russell enjoyed the brief target practice, throwing for three first half TDs, including two to WR Corey Coleman. Russell, also in the Heisman picture, initially committed to Kansas.
3. Oklahoma State remains undefeated and actually leads TCU and Baylor by a half-game in the Big 12 race with a 3-0 conference mark. Each of the league wins for the Cowboys have been tight. They were extended to overtime at West Virginia, but managed a fourth down touchdown in OT and then a stop.
4. Texas has some spirit after all. Facing arch-rival Oklahoma in the annual Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl, the Longhorns relied on a fierce run game and six sacks from their defense to surprise the Sooners. Charlie Strong quieted his critics, for a week anyway, with the Longhorns' first league victory.
5. Texas Tech amassed 776 yards -- a school record for the modern era -- while doing just about anything it wanted against Iowa State. The Red Raiders remain benevolent on defense, but snagged three interceptions as a way to get off the field when Cyclones freshman RB Mike Warren didn't have the ball.