West Virginia celebrates victory during the first half/ second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
BIG 12 Today

Big 12 notes: West Virginia wins with defense, parity is paramount

AP Photo/Raymond Thompson

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen got a laugh on Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference when asked if he was trying to bring defense to the Big 12.

“Yeah, I am,” he said. “You’ve gotta play some defense to win games in this conference.”

In last week’s full slate of Big 12 games, four winning teams averaged 48 points. The Mountaineers edged Kansas State in what is typically a Big 12 first-quarter score – 17-16. West Virginia came into the game averaging 33 points in its three non-conference victories but was able to beat the Wildcats for the first time after four consecutive losses.

“Kansas State had a lot to do with us only scoring 17, they’re as good as advertised defensively,” Holgorsen said of the Wildcats, who are ranked fourth nationally in total defense. “There were only 11 possessions in the game and usually there are 18, 19 possessions. We’ll have to score more, though, we’ll need to score more than 17.”

West Virginia has won its last two games by a total of four points, and Holgorsen pointed out that in the victories over BYU and K-State the Mountaineers lost every major statistical category. The team is off Saturday before resuming the schedule with a trip to Texas Tech. Holgorsen’s message was to not get fat and happy.

“I’m proud of the guys to win two weeks in a row, for figuring out how to win,” said Holgorsen, whose team rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit. “They know how to play together and they fight their tail off. At some point we’ve got to continue to improve in those statistical categories.”

West Virginia broke into the Associated Press rankings this week at No. 22. The Mountaineers and Baylor are the Big 12’s only undefeated teams. It figures to be a wild and wide-open two months in the Big 12.

Just don’t expect to see any more 17-16 outcomes.

Two losses not too many?

In the five years of round-robin play in the 10-team conference, the first-place teams (there have been two ties) have all finished with one loss. No team has won all nine games. After a disappointing non-conference slate, it’s obvious that there is no great team in 2016, just a lot of good ones.

“There’s a chance because of who everybody has to go to, the winner of this league could have two losses,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said Monday. “To me, there’s a lot of parity in it. I think it’s going to make for a very interesting and exciting next seven or eight weeks in this season because of everything that goes down and where everybody has to go.”

TCU, Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State each have one Big 12 loss, but Baylor has road games at Texas, Oklahoma and West Virginia. The Mountaineers have games at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Texas. Kansas State plays at Oklahoma, Baylor at TCU. Oklahoma plays Texas in Dallas Saturday and also plays at West Virginia.

“I’ve said all along that we’ve got strength top to bottom,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “This year it’s tough to figure out where the top of the league is. It’s the same old thing we talk about that anybody can beat anybody.”

Celebration, intoxication, incarceration

troydavisFormer Iowa State running back Troy Davis was honored at halftime of Saturday’s 45-42 crotch-kick loss to Baylor. Davis, the only player in FBS history with consecutive 2,000-yard seasons (in 1995 and 1996) will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in December. That upcoming honor led to the school honoring him at halftime.

Early Sunday morning in Ames, Davis was arrested and charged with public intoxication, leading to the accompanying sad-as-heck mug shot. He was released Sunday afternoon after posting bond.

“I don’t have no regrets at all,” Davis said. “Who’s not going to drink and not going to celebrate an accomplishment that too many athletes do not get? Why can’t I have fun with the induction into the hall of fame that I got?”

“I don’t feel like I should have went to jail because every fan was in there, enjoying my presence. You can ask any fan that was around or saw me there – nothing that I did wrong.”

Injury updates

  • The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal cited two sources saying that junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes has an AC joint sprain in the shoulder of his throwing arm. How long the recovery takes depends on how he responds to treatment and when the soreness dissipates. Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose team plays at Kansas State Saturday, said on Monday’s Big 12 coaches’ teleconference, ““We’re just going with day-to-day regarding Patrick.”
  • Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield suffered an ankle/foot injury late in the first half against TCU but played the entire second half. Sooners coach Bob Stoops said that Mayfield has a walking boot on his right foot and would not practice Monday. Other than being sore, Stoops said that Mayfield will be ready for Saturday’s game against Texas.
  • Oklahoma sophomore linebacker Tay Evans’ career is over because of head injuries. Stoops made the announcement Monday and that the decision was made by the team doctors and Evans’ family. Evans hasn’t played since being injured late in the second quarter of the Ohio State game.
01 OCT 2016: Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Charles Walker (97) knocks down a pass from TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill (7) during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Oklahoma Sooners at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire)

01 OCT 2016: Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Charles Walker (97) knocks down a pass from TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Kenny Hill (7) during the game between the TCU Horned Frogs and the Oklahoma Sooners at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, TX. (Photo by Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire)

Numbers game

  • Oklahoma had never started 2-2 under Bob Stoops before this season, but it still hasn’t lost back-to-back regular-season games under Stoops since 1999, his first season. That year the Sooners dropped consecutive games to Notre Dame and Texas.
  • Oklahoma got its first interception of the season in the first quarter against TCU, but the Sooners dropped from 109th to 114th in FBS in turnover margin thanks to losing two fumbles.
  • Kansas State is the Big 12’s top defensive team, ranking fourth nationally in total defense. Unfortunately, the Wildcats are the conference’s worst offensive team, ranking No. 109 in FBS in total offense.
  • Baylor outscored Iowa State 17-0 in the fourth quarter to overcome a 42-28 deficit. The Bears have outscored opponents 45-0 in the fourth quarter in five games.
  • Oklahoma State scored the most points it has ever posted against Texas in Saturday’s 49-31 victory.

And then he said …

Former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer has experienced over two decades of the rivalry game with Texas at the Cotton Bowl. His advice to the Sooners to avoid any land mines left by the Longhorns’ mascot:

“Don’t get starry-eyed and run down the ramp and step in some damn cow (stuff). I had coaches do that, too. It didn’t happen to me. I was smarter than they are. I’ve been down the ramp too many times. I had a scouting report on Bevo and where he went in and what side he went down.”

Big 12 notes: West Virginia wins with defense, parity is paramount
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