I'm not really sure why, but half the Big 12 had off-weeks this weekend. A little early for that, but hey ... since when does the Big 12 act according to expectations?
Iowa State (Proj. Scoring Margin: -20.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: 0 in regulation, +3 in overtime | Diff: +20.8)
Among major conference teams, only Washington State and Oregon overachieved their projections more than the salty Cyclones, who make a habit out of taking out an established program once a year. Good news for the rest of the Big 12: they played their Upset card early this year! Honestly, this game made no sense on paper. Iowa State lost three fumbles worth 16.4 EqPts, committed 11 penalties and missed two field goals ... and they beat a solid Iowa team, 44-41, in overtime anyway. After a dreadful debut versus Northern Iowa, quarterback Steele Jantz stepped up his game against the Hawkeyes, averaging a solid 7.3 yards per pass attempt (with four touchdowns) and, despite averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, picking up five huge third-down conversions with his legs. Explosiveness has long been an issue with the Iowa State passing game, so passes of 40 (to Darius Reynolds) and 57 (to Aaron Horne) were both welcome and a bit surprising.
Kansas (Proj. Scoring Margin: -14.0 | Actual Scoring Margin: +3 | Diff: +17.8)
I'm sure this is just the Missouri fan coming out in me, but despite the fact that Kansas actually won (they beat Northern Illinois, 45-42, in the final seconds), I very much enjoyed last night's regional Fox broadcast. Listening to Steve Physioc and Yogi Roth breathlessly and openly rooting for Kansas in their final drive, as if the Jayhawks were driving to upset Oklahoma or something, was a fun experience. (At one point, Physioc started a sentence with "You do have to give NIU credit for one thing, though," as if it were a reach to find something complimentary to say about the team that was actually winning at the time.) To be sure, however, the Jayhawks were the underdog (at home, against a MAC team), and this was a game they probably (okay, definitely) would have lost last year. That spells clearly-definable progress. The defense is still dreadful, or at least not up to the task of facing a good offense -- NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish completed 27 of 33 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 89 yards and three more scores. Four different NIU receivers had a reception of at least 20 yards, and the Huskies scored touchdowns on six of nine drives, but with one single turnover on downs, they basically had their serve broken and lost because of it. The four-headed Kansas running back of James Sims, Darrian Miller, Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon combined to rush for 241 yards over 47 carries (5.1 per carry), and Kansas was basically able to play keep-away, outgaining NIU by 72 yards (534 to 462) despite a decent per-play disadvantage (7.5 to 5.9).
Oklahoma State (Proj. Scoring Margin: +11.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: +23 | Diff: +11.2)
I was extremely wary of this projection, simply because of the fact that Arizona receiver Juron Criner wasn't playing after getting his appendix removed last week. Sure enough, OSU looked good on both sides of the ball in their 37-14 win. They were incredibly efficient on offense; Brandon Weeden's 7.3 yards per pass attempt was solid but unspectacular, but in completing 79% of his 53 passes, he consistently moved the chains. Justin Blackmon (12 catches for 128 yards in 14 targets) was strong, but the player of the game had to be running back Joseph Randle, who rushed for 121 yards (8.1 per carry) and two touchdowns and caught nine passes for 99 yards. With 104 combined passes, there were solo tackles galore in this one -- Arizona had only five assisted tackles all game, while OSU had only eight.
Just About Right
Missouri (Proj. Scoring Margin: -0.8 | Actual Scoring Margin: 0 in Regulation, -7 in overtime | Diff: +0.8)
There was a lot of good and a lot of bad for Mizzou Friday night in the desert. Bad: already ridiculously banged up, they got even thinner when running back De'Vion Moore went down -- they began fall practices with a four-headed running back, but now they're down to just Henry Josey. Good: Josey gained 145 yards in just 11 touches. Bad: the Tigers and last year's sixth-ranked pass defense (according to Def. S&P+) couldn't get close to either ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler (10.6 yards per pass attempt) or receiver Aaron Pflugrad (eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns in eight targets). Good: Mizzou actually outgained ASU, 501-492 (I was surprised to see that, actually), and quarterback James Franklin (319 passing yards, 84 rushing yards) came into his own, as did young receiver Marcus Lucas (four catches for 87 yards in four targets, plus a pair of pass interference penalties drawn). Bad: the Tigers got sucked into ASU's all-penalties-all-the-time game, committing 11 penalties for 114 yards (ASU had 12 for 110). Good: Mizzou overcame a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit and gave themselves a chance to win the game with a long field goal. Bad: all but automatic kicker Grant Ressel missed said field goal, and they lost in overtime.
Texas (Proj. Scoring Margin: +2.4 | Actual Scoring Margin: +1 | Diff: -1.4)
Getting vertigo watching McCoy-to-Shipley.
Texas' Offense, First Half: 27 plays, 73 yards (2.7 per play), three points
Texas' Offense, Second Half: 37 plays, 201 yards (5.4), 14 points
Poor Garrett Gilbert. I've never heard anybody say something negative about him personally, but he just isn't the five-star quarterback he was billed to be, and he might never see the field again for the Longhorns. He was pulled after completing two of eight passes for eight yards and two interceptions, and young backups Case McCoy (7-for-8, 57 yards) and David Ash (2-for-3, 35 yards, and 36 rushing yards) moved the ball a lot better. Not great, but a lot better. For the game, Texas iffy offense (289 yards, 4.6 per play) did enough to win thanks to a stiff defense (BYU had 235 yards, 3.9 per play, and just 2.0 per play over their last eight drives). Youngsters littered the box score for the 'Horns, between the freshman Ash, the sophomore McCoy, freshman receiver Jaxon Shipley (three catches for 39 yards in five targets), freshman corner Quandre Diggs (an interception and a PBU), sophomore defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey (two tackles, both for loss), and others. Texas is still going to be a bit shaky this year, but ... in two years? Yikes.
(And seriously, McCoy and Shipley need to both grow mustaches -- if they can -- and dye their hair or something. They look so disturbingly much like their older brothers that it is disorienting.)