Big 12 Report

West Virginia strikes a big blow in Austin but the Big 12 excitement is far from over

Tom Herman and the Longhorns had a rough finish to Saturday's game. Tim Warner/Getty Images

Week 10 in the Big 12 held two of the most exciting matchups of the entire 2018 season. The potential Big 12 championship preview matchup between Texas and West Virginia went down to the wire as the Mountaineers scored on a two-point conversion to secure the win with just 16 seconds left. This game was littered with highlight plays and surprisingly became a scoring shootout as both quarterbacks threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns.

College football and Big 12 fans alike would be lucky to see these two teams face off again during championship week. But the excitement did not end there. The Sooners escaped Lubbock with a 51-46 win. Texas Tech came just one score away from completing the upset even after starting quarterback Alan Bowman was forced out of the game at halftime with an injury. Up to that point Bowman had thrown for an efficient 227 yards and two touchdowns, leading many to believe that the Red Raiders would have been able to complete the upset if it wasn’t for his unpredicted departure. What this means heading into Week 11 is that both Oklahoma and West Virginia remain just one loss teams and are set to face off in the Big 12 championship game.

Must watch games week 11:

(15) Texas vs. Texas Tech

Despite both teams currently suffering through two consecutive losses, the Longhorns vs. the Red Raiders will without a doubt be one of the most exciting games in college football this coming weekend. This game will carry a lot of significance for each of these programs not only because of their long history of epic battles but also because each of them are in dire need of returning to their winning ways. Texas came just one point away from bouncing back from their upset loss to Oklahoma State in Week 9 but were not able to hold off one of the nation’s top quarterbacks, West Virginia’s Will Grier. The Longhorns will not get much of a break in week 11 as they are tasked with the challenge of containing one of the most exciting freshman this season, Tech quarterback Alan Bowman. Neither team should need much help finding motivation to leave it all on the field in week 11, so fans should be in for a good show.

Oklahoma State vs. (6) Oklahoma

A Week 11 showdown in Oklahoma should also make your list of must watch games this Saturday. The in-state rivalry between the Sooners and the Cowboys should not disappoint as both teams have shown the potential to light up the scoreboard week in and week all season. At this point in the season Oklahoma will be fighting for their playoff lives as they sit just two spots outside the Final Four. OU has not lost a game since losing in the Red River Showdown but suffered a good scare in week 10 when Texas Tech came within just five points of handing the Sooners their second loss. The fact that Oklahoma does not seem to have completely overcome all of their flaws on the defensive side makes this matchup extremely interesting. Though the Cowboys were defeated by Baylor 35-31 last weekend, they proved themselves to be an extremely dangerous team when they took down the Longhorns in week 9. OU knows they cannot take this game lightly.

Baylor vs. (23) Iowa State

The final matchup to keep a close eye on in week 11 will be the 5-4 Baylor Bears vs. the 5-3 Iowa State Cyclones. Both teams notched big wins in their last matchups and will be heading into week 11 with plenty of momentum. The Bears took on a hot Oklahoma State team who was coming off their biggest win of the season and were able to overcome them 35-31. Iowa State easily handled Kansas 27-3 thanks to a big performance by freshman quarterback Brock Purdy and his 6’6 target Hakeem Butler. Purdy threw for almost 300 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Butler was on the receiving end of one touchdown pass and 164 yards. Look for this game to be become a stat sheet stuffing shoot out.

Players to watch week 11

Texas RB Trey Watson: While you are watching the biggest game of the week, I would recommend paying attention to Texas running back Tre Watson. Watson is coming off his best performance of the season in the Longhorns loss to West Virginia when he accumulated 80 yards rushing, 35 yards receiving and two touchdowns. If Watson's recent performance is not reason enough to keep him on the radar, the Texas Tech defense gave up 206 yards rushing and three touchdowns to Oklahoma running back Trey Sermon in their loss last Saturday. Look for Texas to try to take advantage of this weakness and keep the Red Raider defense guessing all game.

Iowa State RB David Montgomery: Another highly talented player and arguable one of the most underrated running backs in college football to watch in week 11 is the Cyclones David Montgomery. Montgomery has been a key piece to the Iowa State offense and is one of the most difficult backs to bring down in the nation. While his numbers may not always jump off the stat sheet, he must be respected by opposing defenses each week. Montgomery will get his shot at a Baylor defense that was gashed by Oklahoma State running back Justice Hill in week 10, who averaged 6.6 yards per-carry on his way to 119 yards rushing and 1 touchdowns. Iowa State would be smart to establish the running game early, letting Montgomery find his rhythm and taking pressure off Freshman quarterback Brock Purdy.

Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace: The final player on Week 11’s watch list is Oklahoma State wide receiver Tylan Wallace. Although he is only a Freshman, Wallace is fourth in the nation in receiving yards this season and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Wallace has racked up six games with 100 or more yards receiving, on his way to his season total of 1,052 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Cowboy’s will need their electric playmaker to be at the top of his game in week 11 when they face off against the No. 6 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Good news for Wallace is the fact that the Sooner defense gave up 199 yards receiving to Texas Tech star Antoine Wesley who is just two spots ahead of Wallace at No. 2 in the nation for receiving yards.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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