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September 17, 2013

Recon Report: New QBs step up

After an open date last weekend, the 2-0 Bears are up to No. 20 in the AP Poll and No. 19 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. The Baylor offense leads the nation in total offense at 736.5 yards per game, but will face a stiffer test in (2-1) Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. Last year the Warhawks nearly upset Baylor, racking up 560 yards on the BU defense before falling 47-42. Phil Bennett's defense has looked improved over the first two games of the 2013 season -- albeit against Wofford and Buffalo -- and will try to stifle a Warhawk offense that was shutout in Week 1 at Oklahoma, but has since hung 48 on Grambling State and 21 at Wake Forest in a pair of victories. Despite the five-point game a year ago, Las Vegas says the Bears are four touchdown favorites in the 2013 rematch. It's a 3 p.m. kickoff this Saturday in Waco.
While the early-season schedule has been "on again, off again" -- with a game followed by a bye, then another game, followed by another bye -- the Cyclones team has been mostly "off" to start the 2013 campaign. After losing to Northern Iowa in its opener, ISU fell at home to another in-state rival on Saturday. The Iowa Hawkeyes dropped the 'Clones to 0-2 with a 27-21 triumph. The Hawkeyes dominated Iowa State on the ground, outrushing the Cyclones 218-59. Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson still looked hampered by an ankle injury suffered in the opener as he threw for 260 yards with three scores and two interceptions. One positive was Richardson's emerging chemistry with Quenton Bundrage, who hauled in seven receptions for 146 yards and three touchdowns. On defense, David Irving got his second career start at defensive tackle and responded with five tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. ISU is off again this weekend before traveling to face Tulsa for the third time in 16 games. The two teams spilt a pair of meetings a year ago, including Tulsa's 31-17 win over ISU in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
The Rice Owls beat Kansas for the second year in a row, topping the Jayhawks 23-14 in Houston on Saturday night. Kansas led 14-13 entering the fourth quarter but was outscored 10-zip in the final frame. BYU-transfer Jake Heaps was 13-of-28 for 157 yards, a touchdown and two picks in his second game as the Jayhawk signal caller. Heaps' final line was again plagued by drops, four of them versus the Owls after five in Week 1. KU managed just 11 first downs and 270 yards of offense. One brightspot was running back Tony Pierson, who caught four passes for 95 yards and a score. The 1-1 Jayhawks return home to host Louisiana Tech this Saturday.
K-State finished its non-conference slate at 2-1 thanks to Saturday's 37-7 win over UMass. The Wildcats actually trailed 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, but threw the hammer down in the second frame. KSU posted 233 yards and three scores in the second quarter en route to the blowout win. Both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams were used at quarterback and both were very productive on the ground. Waters rushed for 74 yards, while Sams gained 77 on the ground, including a touchdown. Waters' passing line was 5-of-10 for 115 yards, two touchdowns and another pick, his fifth in three games. John Hubert was also a great threat on the ground for the Cats, racking up 118 yards on 18 carries and tacking on 50 receiving yards and a score as well. KSU travels to Austin on Saturday to face Texas. The Wildcats lead the all-time series 8-5 and have won the last five meetings. Texas holds a narrow 4-3 edge in Austin.
Blake Bell's debut as a starting quarterback could not have gone much better in Oklahoma's 51-20 pasting of Tulsa. Bell set a new Sooner record for the most passing yards by an OU quarterback in his first career start, as Bell posted a very Baker Mayfield-like 413 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target seemed to be Sterling Shepard who hauled in eight passes for 123 yards and two scores. Jazz Reynolds added four receptions for 109 yards and a touchdown. Running back Damien Williams did not play because of a violation of team rules and, in his absence, Roy Finch led the way with 68 yards on eight carries. Freshman Keith Ford also looked good at running back, with 46 yards on seven carries and a late touchdown. Yesterday, Bob Stoops told the media that Ford might be OU's most physical rusher since Adrian Peterson. All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin also missed the game after being kicked in the jaw a week earlier against West Virginia. Colvin sustained a broken tooth and possible concussion but after his one game absence he was back at practice yesterday for the Sooners. Safety Gabe Lynn did not practice Monday after being kicked in the second quarter of the Tulsa game and missing the rest of the contest.
After a week in which the Oklahoma State program was in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons, the Cowboys earned a little positive pub on Saturday with a 59-3 whipping of Lamar. It was the second time this season that the OSU defense held an opponent to three points and the Cowboys D now ranks No. 18 in the nation in Scoring Defense at 13.7 points per game. They'd be even higher were it not for some garbage points against the backup defenders during a Week 2 route at UTSA. Offensively, JW Walsh didn't need to post huge stats in this one. His modest line of 181 passing yards, a passing touchdown and 45 rushing yards allowed for others to steal the spotlight including running back Jeremy Smith who had three first-half touchdowns and Josh Stewart who returned a punt 67 yards for a score. Regardless of their alleged sins of the past, the present day Cowboys are the Big 12's bell cow at No. 11 in both polls. They have an open date this weekend before reuniting with former offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen in Morgantown for OSU's Big 12 opener on September 28th.
The 1-2 Horned Frogs are looking for answers on offense after being held to 10 points in Lubbock by Matt Wallerstedt's Red Raider defense. It's been a slow start to the season for the TCU offense -- the Frogs rank No. 92 out of 123 FBS teams in yards per game (354) and No. 81 in scoring (25 points per game). They've also been one of the most penalized teams in the nation with 27 penalties for 220 yards. With an open date this weekend, TCU will have some extra practice time to shore up some of it's own issues rather than prepping for an opponent. Some Frogs may use the time to heal up, including sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields who was last seen limping off the field with an apparent foot injury in the fourth quarter of Thursday's loss. Gary Patterson declined comment on the injury yesterday, saying "We have a couple of weeks. We'll see how it all works out." The Frogs are next in action on Sept. 28 at home against SMU.
The proverbial hot seat is scorching for Mack Brown in Austin after Saturday's 44-23 home loss to No. 25 Ole Miss. Texas held a six-point lead at the half before watching the Rebels reel off 27 unanswered points in the second half as Ole Miss coasted to the win. The Texas offense managed just 100 yards in the second half, while the Rebels were running all over UT. Mississippi's Jeff Scott amassed 164 yards and a touchdown on the ground and returned a punt 73 yards for a score. Offensively, Case McCoy -- who filled in for injured starter David Ash at quarterback -- completed 24-of-36 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown. Jonathan Gray carried the ball 19 times for 91 yards and a score. The home loss dropped Texas to just 11-10 at home since 2010 and they've now lost to seven consecutive ranked foes in Austin. As for this week's matchup with Kansas State, Ash is considered questionable. Daje Johnson has already been ruled out for the second straight game with an ankle injury -- and reports indicate he's getting around campus on a scooter. Mike Davis also has an ankle injured (suffered in the Ole Miss game) and is currently in a walking boot and listed as questionable.
Have the Mountaineers finally found their replacement for Geno Smith at quarterback? Dana Holgorsen hopes so. Freshman Ford Childress passed for 359 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a 41-7 blowout of Georgia State. Paul Millard and Florida State-transfer Clint Trickett had both seen time in the first two weeks of the season, but it was all Childress on Saturday. Childress connected on 25-of-41 passes and would have surpassed the 400 yard plateau were it not for several drops by the West Virginia receivers. Childress is the son of Ray Childress -- a five-time Pro Bowl defensive lineman for the Houston Oilers and two-time All-American at Texas A&M. Another Houston talent, Cougar-transfer Charles Sims, continued to make his presence felt in the run game. Sims carried the ball 18 times for 116 yards and a touchdown in the victory. Next up, a date with Maryland at the home of the Baltimore Ravens, this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
NON-CONFERENCE: Texas State: The Bobcats had an open date last weekend after posting a 2-0 start to the year, with wins over Southern Miss (22-15) in Week 1 and a rout of Prairie View A&M (28-3) a week later. The defense held PVAM to just 45 yards rushing one week after allowing just 23 yards to Southern Miss, and consequently is currently the No. 1 ranked rush defense in the country at 34 yards per game, almost ten yards better than USC.

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