Big 12 wrap-up: Oklahoma State showing cracks against better competition

A few weeks ago, Oklahoma State looked like perhaps the best offense in football. The Cowboys picked up the win against Texas Tech on Saturday, but that record-breaking offense suddenly isn’t quite as potent.

Granted, the No. 15 Cowboys still racked up 597 yards of offense and 41 points on the road against a Big 12 opponent. Yes, quarterback Mason Rudolph accumulated 426 total yards and accounted for 5 touchdowns by himself. But still, something just feels … off.

Even though the offense is being productive, the Cowboys aren’t getting into the end zone with as much regularity as they did in nonconference play. Take a look at this chart of touchdown efficiency when the first team offense is on the field:

Possessions Scores Touchdowns TD percentage
vs. Tulsa 9 7 5 55.6%
at South Alabama 9 6 4 44.4%
at Pitt 8 7 7 87.5%
vs. TCU 12 5 4 33.3%
at Texas Tech 12 7 5 41.7%
Nonconference total 26 20 16 61.5%
Big 12 total 24 12 9 37.5%

After breaking into the end zone more than 60 percent of the time in nonconference play, the Cowboys are scoring touchdowns on fewer than 40 percent of possessions in Big 12 play. Granted, some level of recessions was expected, but this rate is troubling.

Against Texas Tech — and its historically abysmal defense — the Cowboys didn’t score their second touchdown until nearly six minutes into the second quarter. For most teams, that’s not a big deal. With Oklahoma State’s video game offense, it’s concerning.

Oklahoma State’s entire system is built around scoring points. The defense is a delivery system to get the ball back to the Cowboys’ high-powered offense. If the offense can’t get into the end zone with regularity, performances like the last two happen.

The issues at offensive line have played a significant role. Oklahoma State lost starting right guard Larry Williams for the season to a leg injury before the TCU game. Against the Horned Frogs, highly touted right tackle Zachary Crabtree also went out. He was back against Texas Tech, but center Brad Lundblade dropped against the Red Raiders.

Even though the last two opponents officially combined for just 4 sacks, both teams did a better job of getting to the quarterback and forcing issues. Rudolph — who came into the season with the nation’s longest streak without an interception — turned the ball over four times between the two games.

Oklahoma State mercifully has a bye this week, so there’s time for players to get healthy. However, the Cowboys offense needs to get rolling against if Oklahoma State has championship aspirations.

oklahoma-baylor-football-buy-sell-tickets
Matt Rhule and his Baylor football team have been within a score in each fourth quarter this season — and is 0-5. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Baylor can’t get out of its own way

With Florida State finally picking up a win on Saturday, Baylor is — officially — the best winless team in the country. Hopefully.

The Bears moved to 0-5 after narrowly losing Kansas State 33-20 in Manhattan, Kan. Once again, Baylor was down one scored in the fourth quarter. Once again, the Bears failed to capitalize on the momentum.

Baylor football moved to 0-5 on the year. For the fifth time, Baylor was within one touchdown in the fourth quarter. For the fifth time, the Bears failed to capitalize. The Bears aren’t that far away from being undefeated, but dumb mistakes have been killer down the stretch in several games. That continued on Saturday against the SnyderCats.

Early in the second quarter and down 10-3, Baylor forced a fumble on a punt. That gave Baylor the ball at the 14-yard line with a chance to tie the game. However, quarterback Zach Smith threw a pass that went for minus-6 yards. Two players later, he was sacked for a loss of seven. That pushed it from a 31-yard field goal attempt to a 44-yard field goal attempt — which was fittingly blocked.

With less than a minute left in the third quarter and the Bears down just 20-13 at their own 43-yard line, a snap flew over quarterback Zach Smith’s head. He failed to fall down on it, and the Wildcats recovered the ball. All the way back at Baylor’s 14-yard line. Two plays later, the Wildcats got into the end zone to make it a two-touchdown game.

The mistakes wasted great performances from across the roster. Smith threw for 291 yards against a stingy defense. Linebacker Eric Ogor provided pressure and led the team with 7 tackles. Ultimately, it was a series of wasted efforts.

Baylor isn’t that far away from being 5-0. Three of five losses were by one possession. But until the Bears can stop making dumb mistakes, they’ll continue to struggle.

texas longhorns-big 12 football-san jose state spartans-defense
The Texas Longhorns defense has been rolling since losing to Maryland in the season opener. (Tim Warner/Getty Images)

If nothing else, Texas has a defense

Tom Herman’s Texas squad has plenty of issues. However, for the first time in several years, the Longhorns have a phase of the game that they can truly write home about.

Texas’ defense is legitimately awesome. With the offense struggling against Iowa State, the defense put on one of the best performances we’ve seen from them in a long time.

The Longhorns held Iowa State to just 256 total yards on Friday, including an astonishing 10 —  ten — on the ground. Texas contained star running backs David Montgomery and Mike Warren to a combined 35 yards. Overall, Iowa State mustered just 4.0 yards per play.

Safety Deshon Elliott continues to be one of the best safeties in the nation, and the defensive line remains stout. Texas can’t compete for Big 12 championships until the offense gets back on track, but defensive coordinator Todd Orlando has the defense rolling. That’s going to cover up many ills against inferior opponents.

The post Big 12 wrap-up: Oklahoma State showing cracks against better competition appeared first on Diehards.

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