While it’s hardly a written rule, the heavier it rains, the harder teams sell their run game over sending balls through the air hoping it lands in someone’s hands. That seems to be the case this week as Hurricane Patricia is ready to turn the Lone Star State into a swimming pool. Get your floaties, Big 12 teams.
With TCU having an off week, there are still two games being hosted in Texas. The Longhorns host Kansas State (maybe the Purple Wizard himself, Bill Snyder can change the weather) and Iowa State heads south to Waco for Baylor’s homecoming.
To put it in perspective of how serious this hurricane over Mexico and Texas is, Baylor has cancelled its homecoming parade for the first time since World War II, according to a Baylor professor.
This is a city more than five hours away from the coast and it’s expected to receive up to four inches of rain today. The effect that it could have on the game in Austin is substantially more.
But enough of the weather forecast. How this torrential rain could actually help these four teams squaring off on the fields soon to be Slip N’ Slides.
Through October games thus far, the top three running teams in the conference are Baylor (318 ypg), Iowa State (252 ypg), and Texas (224 ypg). Aside from Kansas State’s debacle against he Sooners, its most successful games have been dictated by the run game. The Wildcats rank second with nine rushing touchdowns (Baylor leads with 10).
Each of these matchups should be good complements.
In Waco, the top two rushers of the month square off. Shock Linwood from Baylor is the conference’s leader on the season but freshman Mike Warren is becoming quite the phenom in Ames. He leads the conference with 166 yards per game this month and has contributed three of the Cyclones’ eight touchdowns.
Warren should be in store for another day with a lot of carries, as the only time a Baylor opponent had less than 40 carries in the game was against the pass-happy Texas Tech. Expect Baylor to keep up the pace with the passing game even in the inclement weather as it did against Oklahoma State. That means the Bears will keep putting the ball into their opponent’s hands.
But moving down I-35 to Austin, there are two very different types of teams squaring off.
While Baylor has a quarterback that can run with the best of them in Seth Russell who has four rushing scores this month, that’s not its identity. However, the identity of a running quarterback is what is driving the bus for both Texas and Kansas State.
The Longhorns’ D’Onta Freeman has been performing well over the past two games, averaging 115 yards per game. But it’s the duo of Jerrod Heard and Tyrone Swoopes under center that is making the Texas offense formidable. Heard is the starter and has shown the wheels to pick up yards, but it is Swoopes in a Tim Tebow-like role in the red zone that is putting the Longhorns in the end zone.
If Kansas State can stick to what it does best with Joe Hubener at quarterback, the Wildcats will act as a mirror for the Longhorns. During the near-upset against TCU, running with Hubener was the name of the first half. He had over 100 yards in that game and found himself in the end zone on four occasions.
Hubener leads the conference in rushing touchdowns in October.
The past six quarters, the Wildcats have lost their identity as a smashmouth football team that had them on the verge of being ranked team during non-conference play. Conversely, the passing game has struggled. In the past three weeks, Hubener has completed just 35.7 percent of his passes (and Heard is not far off with a 51.6 completion rate).
Playing in this expected rain is not necessarily ideal, but it could be a blessing in disguise (particularly for Kansas State) as it should have an influence on play calls.