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October 15, 2013

Recon Report: Not good enough

The Baylor Bears improved to 5-0 and climbed to 12th in both polls with a 35-25 win Manhattan on Saturday. Though he lost a fumble, Bryce Petty turned in another impressive line of 332 yards and 3 touchdowns - and did so on just 12 completions (12-21). His top two targets continued to be Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley. Reese hauled in 5 passes for 184 yards and 2 TDs, while Goodley amassed 129 yards on just 4 catches. Though they gave up 199 yards of rushing and 3 TDs to KSU QB Daniel Sams, the defense was put in a rough position by a blocked punt and the Petty fumble and when it mattered most late, Ahmad Dixon stepped up with a 4th quarter interception. It was Baylor's 9th consecutive win dating back to the upset of the Wildcats last season in Waco. More than anything, the Bears took away a passing grade in their first real test of adversity. After 15 straight points by KSU in the 3rd quarter, the Bears found themselves down 25-21 entering the fourth. A 54-yard TD pass from Petty to Reese put the Bears on top for good with 14:33 remaining and they made the necessary plays down the stretch to close with a 10 point victory. Though the 35 points were half of what they'd been averaging, the Bears still lead the nation in scoring offense (63.4), are 4th in rushing offense (302.2 ypg) and 2nd in passing offense (412.2 ypg). Baylor hosts Iowa State this Saturday night at 6.
The opportunistic Cyclones put up a good fight in Lubbock on Saturday, hanging within 7 points of first-place Texas Tech despite being outgained 666 to 311 in yardage. The Cyclones won the turnover battle 3-0, including a fourth quarter interception by linebacker Jeremiah George and a special teams takeaway by Levi Peters on a ball that glanced off a Red Raider. ISU also got a 95 yard kick-return for a touchdown from Jarvis West, who went on to become the league's Special Teams Player of the Week. All of contributions helped mask the fact that ISU had 8 3-and-outs and was forced to punt 11 times by the Texas Tech defense. QB Sam Richardson was 15-38 for 168 yards and a TD. RB Aaron Wimberly - who had posted back-to-back 100-yard games coming in - managed just 3.4 ypc en route to 65 yards and a touchdown. He was one of three ISU backs to score on the day, and the team managed 143 rushing yards. Conversely, the ISU defense allowed the Red Raiders to run for 251 yards, including 80+ from three different running backs. TE EJ Bibbs caught the only Cyclone touchdown pass, while WR Quenton Bundrage was held in check for much of the game by the Tech secondary, posting only five catches for 52 yards. The 1-4 Cyclones next head to Waco on Saturday at 6.
The Jayhawks had almost as many takeaways (5) as they did first downs (7) on Saturday in Fort Worth and though they managed just 198 yards of offense, they played the Horned Frogs close in a 27-17 defeat. The game was tied at the half 10-10 thanks to a JaCorey Shephard pick-6 (one of 2 KU INTs of Trevone Boykin). Shephard would later force a fumble that Victor Simmons recovered. All in all, KU claimed 3 fumbles on the day. QB Jake Heaps was 13-26 for 152 yards, a TD and an INT despite playing without his best offensive weapon, Tony Pierson, who missed the game following the head injury he suffered vs. Texas Tech. RB James Sims led the KU ground attack with 81 yards on 23 carries but was kept out of the endzone. KU's lone offensive touchdown was a 27-yard hook-up between Heaps and TE Jimmay Mundine. The 2-3 Jayhawks host Oklahoma Saturday at 2:30 beginning a stretch of #18 OU, #12 Baylor, at Texas and at Oklahoma State.
Bill Snyder's team had Baylor on the ropes entering the fourth quarter on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan. 15 straight 3rd quarter points fueled by a blocked punt by Weston Hiebert and Bryce Petty fumble stripped by Ryan Mueller had the Cats leading 25-21 entering the fourth. KSU's upset bid was thwarted when the Cats failed to score in the final quarter - Jack Cantele missed a 41 yard FG attempt and Daniel Sams was picked off with 3:48 to go. It was Sams lone turnover on the day after four the previous week in Stillwater. He finished with 199 rushing yards and 3 TDs on 30 carries and completed 4-7 passes for 41 yards. Jake Waters also played and connected on 40% of his 15 passes for 77 yards, while rushing for 43 yards. The Cats were without both of their top receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson due to injury. The KSU defense held Baylor well below it's normal yardage and point output and the Cats, actually, almost outgained BU - failing 446-445 in total offense. Close, obviously, doesn't count in the win column though, a spot KSU has yet to visit in Big 12 play. The Wildcats' 0-3 conference start is their worst since 2004. They'll try to right the ship one week from Saturday at home vs. West Virginia. KSU has an open date this weekend.
The Sooners 3-game winning streak in the Red River Rivalry was snapped on Saturday when Texas rolled to a 36-20 victory. Blake Bell hadn't thrown an interception all season until an early pick-6 by Chris Whaley (one of two Bell INT's on the day) and a year after Bell rushed for 4 touchdowns in an OU rout of Texas, he was sacked four times and held largely ineffective (12-26 for 133, 0 TDs) as the Sooners lost for the first time this season. OU managed just 263 yards of offense and freshman RB Keith Ford was the top rusher at 34 yards. Adding injury to insult, Bob Stoops announced Monday that defensive tackle Jordan Phillips will miss the remainder of season due to a chronic back issue that will require surgery. Phillips had missed the Sooners' last two games after emerging as one of their best defensive players over the first month. RS-FR Jordan Wade and JR Torrea Peterson will have to pick up the slack in Phillips' absence. The Sooners also lost LB Corey Nelson for the season due to an injury suffered the week before versus TCU. The Sooners allowed 255 rushing yards to Texas including two 100-yard rushers. One positive for the defense Saturday was a 54 yard pick-6 by DL Geneo Grissom in the 4th quarter but it was too little, too late for the Crimson and Crème. For those that thought the Sooners were riding too high as 14 point favorites coming in, All Big 12 offensive lineman Gabe Ikard said, "I don't think we were over-confident, I just think we got outplayed." The now 18th ranked and 5-1 Sooners travel to Lawrence to face Kansas on Saturday at 2:30.
The 21st ranked Cowboys were idle last weekend following their 33-29 escape versus K-State on October 5th. Mike Gundy's team ranks 26th nationally in both scoring offense (38 ppg) and scoring defense (20 ppg) but has plenty to sharpen up as it continues a favorable part of it's schedule with TCU at home on Saturday at 11 followed by a road trip to Iowa State. After scoring just 21 points in a loss in Morgantown, the Pokes had to settle for 5 field goal attempts versus KSU, despite gathering 5 takeaways. QB JW Walsh is third in the league in passing yards per game (242) and tenth in rushing yards per game (53) but admittedly could do more. The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in turnover margin (+7) and will have a chance to build on that number on Saturday when a TCU team that just committed 5 turnovers versus Kansas comes to town. Oklahoma State has picked off 9 passes this year and collected 3 fumbles. OSU also leads the Big 12 in fewest sacks allowed, just four all season. Conversely, Iowa State is the worst with 18 sacks allowed.
The Horned Frogs got back in the win column on Saturday despite committing five turnovers against Kansas. TCU topped the Jayhawks 27-17 thanks to a stingy defensive effort that held Kansas to just 7 first down the entire game. All 17 of KU's points were setup by TCU turnovers (including a pick-6 thrown by Trevone Boykin). Boykin finished with 173 passing yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs, and 71 rushings yards with a score as well. BJ Catalon was a bright spot, averaging almost 8 yards a carry enoute to 91 yards and a TD. TCU nearly doubled up the Jayhawks in yardage 380 to 198. The Frogs travel to Stillwater this Saturday at 11 to face Oklahoma State. The 21st ranked Cowboys are coming off a bye (and when they host UT on 10/26, the Longhorns will be coming off a bye as well) - something Coach Gary Patterson isn't thrilled about. Patterson would rather see the league not offer any bye weeks once conference play begins, "Once we get into it we play, we don't have any off weeks and we play every week and it's all even. But they didn't ask me, so here we go." Another thing that's drawn Patterson's ire is his team slow offensive starts. TCU has posted just 10 first half points in Big 12 play.
Mack Brown quieted his critics - at least temporarily - and saw his Longhorns climb into a first-place tie with Texas Tech at 3-0 thanks to Saturday's 36-20 win over Oklahoma in Dallas. Filling in for the injured David Ash (concussion symptoms), Case McCoy "cemented his legacy" according to Brown and is no longer "just Colt McCoy's little brother" after passing for 190 yards and 2 TDs (and one INT) in Texas' first win in the Red River Rivalry series in four years. The running back tandem of Jonathan Gray (123) and Malcom Brown (120) combined for 243 yards and the Longhorns were able to score on both defense and special teams to fuel the winning effort. Chris Whaley's 31-yard INT return for a touchdown with 2:29 to go in the first quarter broke a 3-3 tie (and helped Whaley to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week status) and Texas would open up a 16-point lead half-way through the third quarter on an 85-yard punt return TD by Daje Johnson. A week after Texas-sized scrutiny for his cut-block on Deon Broomfield, WR Mike Davis was held to just one catch, but it was a 38 yard touchdown to cap Texas' scoring with :21 seconds left in the 3rd quarter. As for Mack Brown's thoughts on the UT QB job going forward, "It is Case's team until David returns. Until we're told David is returning to practice, Case is the only one on this team that's taken a span at quarterback. He did an outstanding job Saturday... When David returns, obviously we'll have to look at that but that's not an issue." Texas is off this weekend before traveling to TCU on October 26th at 6:30.
The 3-3 Mountaineers had an open date last weekend as they continued to lick their wouinds from the 73 points and 864 yards Baylor posted against them in Waco. The 73 points allowed were the most any opponent has scored on a Mountaineer team in 109 years of West Virginia football and they came just one week after WVU held #11 Oklahoma State to just 21 points in Morgantown (and scored a defensive touchdown). Prior to that offensive explosion by Baylor, West Virginia was ranked 36th nationally in scoring defense (now 79th) and 37th in total defense (now 93rd). Clearly, it's an improved unit despite the results in Waco, but are they ready for a Red Raider attack that ranks 13th in scoring offense and 6th in total offense? It's an 11 AM kickoff on Saturday morning. The all-time series is tied at a game a piece with Tech winning last year 49-14 in Lubbock, and West Virginia winning the only other meeting - in the 1937 Sun Bowl. The matchup reunites Kliff Kingsbury and Dana Holgorsen, who was on Mike Leach' staff during Kingsbury's playing career at Tech and later helped Kliff get his first coaching job at Houston. As for who will start for the Mountaineers at quarterback this week, that remains up in the air. Paul Millard took the bulk of the reps in practice last week with Clint Trickett and Ford Childress nursing injuries. On Monday, Coach Holgorsen said this about his two QB's on the mend: "Clint took the whole week off; Ford repped more than he did a week ago. They feel better, but feeling better throwing hundreds of balls during practice are two different things." Health and effectiveness in practice this week will determine WVU's starter for Saturday.

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