THE BIG 12 REPORT

Texas is back in the college football spotlight and has created a three-team race for the Big 12 title

Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns are on a roll. Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The college football landscape was shaken this past weekend when Texas took down Big 12 goliath OU. The No. 7 Sooners strolled into the Cotton Bowl with high expectations going against the No. 18 ranked Longhorns but found themselves upset by 3 points when the clock hit zero. While many people believed that Texas would be no match for Oklahoma’s electric offense, UT came through on both sides of the football and proved to the nation that this year’s team is the real deal. The Longhorns hit the game-winning field goal with less than 10 seconds on the clock to defeat the Sooners 48-45 and take home bragging rights until these teams face off again next year.

While West Virginia still sits atop the Big 12, this victory makes Texas a very real competitor for the Big 12 championship title. After this gut-wrenching loss, Oklahoma will go into their bye week with a chance to regroup, but a few other Big 12 favorites will be back in action.

Must watch games week 7:

Texas Tech vs. TCU

This is a matchup fans have had their eye on for a few weeks now. The Red Raiders and the Horned Frogs will both come into this matchup with a full week of rest and preparation. Both teams come into this game with 3-2 records but very different stories behind them. Texas Tech started the season off slow with many question marks surrounding their team but have found some momentum and hope behind young quarterback Alan Bowman. While TCU on the other hand, started the season hot and look to be a real competitor before losing two straight games to Top 25 opponents and are now looking for a fresh start midway through their season. This game will hold significant value for both programs and could very well determine the direction of the rest of their season.

Baylor vs. (9) Texas

While Baylor is looking significantly better than years past and now sits with an impressive 4-2 record, they will be going up against arguably one of the hottest teams in the nation. Texas has burst onto the scene in 2018 with three consecutive victories of Top 25 ranked opponents. With their most defining win over Oklahoma this past weekend, the Longhorns have jumped nine spots in the national rankings from No. 18 to No. 9. UT is looking like an unstoppable machine midway through the season and has been consistently performing at a high level on both sides of the football. While nothing is ever for certain in college football, the Bears will have to hope for a lot of things to go their way this Saturday if they are to have any chance of taking down the red-hot Longhorns.

(6) West Virginia vs. Iowa State

The Mountaineers are the only undefeated team remaining in the Big 12 and will be extremely difficult to beat with quarterback Will Grier throwing the ball the way he has been this season. Grier has nearly 2,000 yards through the air, with 21 touchdowns and a 71% completion percentage. With that said, we have learned through the last couple years that Iowa State is a team that plays up to its competition and is always capable of completing a big time upset. While things have not gone the Cyclones way so far this season, they lost by just 3 points to a very talented TCU team two weekends ago, and just recently defeated a tough Oklahoma State team 48-42. There is no doubt in my mind that Iowa State will show up on Saturday with every intention of altering the college football landscape in a big way.

Players to watch week 7:

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger:

It would be nearly impossible not to list Longhorn quarterback Sam Ehlinger as a must watch player this coming weekend, after his historic performance in the Red River Showdown. Ehlinger scored five total touchdowns vs. the Sooners, with over 300 yards passing and 72 yards rushing. As the Longhorns continue to build confidence on the offensive side of the ball the sky's the limit for UT’s young quarterback, and he will look to keep the ball rolling against Baylor this Saturday.

Baylor WR’s Jalen Hurd & Denzel Mims:

If Baylor hopes to have any chance of challenging the Longhorns this coming Saturday, they will need big performances out of their two star receivers. Hurd and Mims have truly separated themselves this season as the explosive playmakers for the Bears offense and will look to give the UT secondary trouble. In their last two games, Hurd and Mims have combined for 443 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns off 39 receptions. Needless to say, these dangerous athletes will get plenty of opportunities to impact the game and will demand serious attention from the Longhorn defense.

Iowa State QB Brock Purdy:

After a disappointing 1-3 start the Cyclone’s decided to make a change at the quarterback position, which paid off in big fashion with a 48-42 victory over Oklahoma State. Freshman quarter Brock Purdy took full advantage of his first collegiate start with five total touchdowns and over 400 yards of total offence. Purdy threw for four touchdowns on 318 yards passing and ran for another touchdown on his way to 84 yards rushing. Purdy will have another big test vs. No. 6 West Virginia in his second collegiate start but could have a serious impact with his dual threat abilities.





 

Ed Oliver skips bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The regular season is over for Houston football, but a lot has occurred since last week. Let’s take a look at what to expect for UH:

The Armed Forces Bowl

Houston (8-4, 5-3 in AAC) will face Army (9-2) at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 22. The Black Knights are ranked No. 22 in the Top 25 AP Poll, mostly due to their prolific triple option rushing attack which ranks third in the nation. They are on a seven game winning streak since losing to Oklahoma. The Big 12 Conference Champion struggled at home against Army, but would later win in overtime. Army averages 300 yards per game on the ground this year, making them the third team (Navy, Memphis, Army) that Houston will face that is ranked within the top five in rushing. The matchup is not good for a depleted Houston defense. The Black Knights will play Navy this weekend, a conference foe of the Cougars who has had a terrible season. Army vs Navy will be the only college football game this weekend, where you can get a sneak peak of what to expect if you haven’t seen the Black Knights play all season. Plus, the uniforms for this game are always pretty cool.

King vs Milton

Houston comes into this bowl game with their heads hung low after what most consider to be a disappointing season. Injuries, most notably those to D’Eriq King and Ed Oliver, sidetracked the Cougars from heading into the AAC Championship game after Memphis blew them out in Week 13. King and UCF QB McKenzie Milton were both nominated for AAC Offensive Player of the Year, of which Milton took home for a second straight season. Milton humbly gave King an honorable mention by saying, “Shout out to D’Eriq King who is just as, if not, more deserving of this honor. Promise we’ll both be back better than ever!” King played only 11 games, where he reached 50 total touchdowns, 14 of which came from the ground, threw for 2,982 passing yards, and rushed for 674 yards.

Ed Oliver Denies Bowl Game

The All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver decided to sit out his final bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft. He announced his decision via twitter where he thanked the University of Houston, the coaching staff, and his teammates. He finished by saying, “To all the fans, thank you for your relentless support. Forever I will be a Coog!” Oliver’s decision came about a week after he publicly announced that he will be playing in whatever bowl UH was assigned, even after he had to be benched for tweaking his knee in Week 13 vs Memphis. He missed four games this season after suffering from an uncalled chop block against Navy. In his three years in Houston, Oliver accounted for 193 total total tackles, 54 of which were tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 14 passes defended, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick. He was the first underclassmen to win the Outland Trophy in 2017, which is awarded to the best college interior lineman. This season, Oliver won AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Coaching Changes/Extensions

Houston still doesn’t have a defensive coordinator. Mark D’Onofrio was fired after the Memphis game for managing one of the worst defenses in college football, and also one of the worst defenses in the history of the program. The UH defense allowed a total of 412 points, being the fifth most allowed points in a season in school history, while also allowing 5,862 total yards. It seems like Houston is in no rush in finding a replacement.

Kendal Briles accepted a contract extension from UH after interviewing with Texas State for the head coaching job vacancy. He was also widely considered for a SEC offensive coordinator position of which was not disclosed by sources. The new three-year deal is worth $2.1 million, making Briles one of the highest paid assistants in the nation. Offensive line coach Randy Clements also enjoyed a new three-year extension. Consider both a package deal. The Houston offense averaged 46.4 points per game, rushed for 2991 yards, and passed for 3611 yards, making it one of the best offenses in the nation.

AAC Bowl Matchups

Armed Forces Bowl- Houston vs Army

Military Bowl- Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech

Gasparilla Bowl- USF vs Marshall

Birmingham Bowl- Memphis vs Wake Forest

Independence Bowl- Temple vs Duke

Cure Bowl- Tulane vs Louisiana Lafayette

Most Notable AAC Bowl Matchup

Fiesta Bowl- UCF vs LSU

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