Stoops takes physical, psychological beating10/16/2013
The Tuesday Morning Quarterback Midseason Awards are out.
Big 12’s best team: Baylor. Wait. Baylor? Who else? Got a better suggestion? Just when you’re ready to jump on the Oklahoma-is-back bandwagon, the Sooners make their usual early season toe-stub. Texas Tech is a cool, feisty little story, but the Red Raiders don’t play any team that’s expected to bowl until they visit Norman on Oct. 26. Texas is the arguably the hottest team in the league, but does anyone feel totally comfortable with putting all their eggs in defensive coordinator Greg Robinson’s basket? The Bears still don’t play much defense to speak of, but it’s awfully hard not to see them sitting at 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12 heading into a home showdown with Oklahoma on Nov. 7.
Big 12’s best player: Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor. The engine that makes Oregon Lite go, the junior from Temple, Texas, is averaging 10.0 yards per carry — a first down every time he touches the ball — and that’s after recording just 59 yards on 12 attempts at Kansas State last week.
Big 12’s best coach: Art Briles, Baylor. Before Art showed up, Baylor was a glorious mess with glories well behind it, the worst job in the league. Now a stellar system, savvy recruiting, speed and key transfers — such as the aforementioned Seastrunk — have made the Bears must-see television and gotten construction of a new on-campus stadium off the ground. Briles has helped transform Waco from a graveyard to a destination — but will he stick around long enough to enjoy some of the fruits of his labor? Or will one of the game’s blueblood programs snap him up?
Big 12’s best game: Texas 31, Iowa State 30, Oct. 3. I know, I know. Like you needed one more painful reminder.
Big 12’s best narrative: The off-again, on-again, off-again Mack Brown Death Watch. The Longhorns hit rock bottom in a home rout at the hands of Ole Miss on Sept. 14, but have won three in a row since — OK, two, plus a gift, but you get the idea — and somehow control their own postseason fate. With athletic director DeLoss Dodds retiring soon and the buzzards circling, it seemed as if only a Bowl Championship Series berth — which was only coming via an unlikely Big 12 title — was going to be Brown’s hail-Mary path toward retaining his job. Well, whataya know? If tailback Jonathan Gray can hang onto the ball and UT keeps it simple, those prayers might somehow, against all odds, wind up getting answered.
Next week: The Big Ten’s midseason honors.
THE BIG EIGHT
Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight.
TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT
1. Ohio State (6-0) / vs. Iowa
2. Baylor (5-0) / vs. Iowa State
3. Wisconsin (4-2) / at Illinois
4. Texas Tech (6-0) / at West Virginia
5. Oklahoma (5-1) / at Kansas
6. Michigan State (5-1) / vs. Purdue
7. Nebraska (5-1) / Idle, at Minnesota, Oct. 26
8. Michigan (5-1) / vs. Indiana
ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT
1. Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State. The country’s newest freshman sensation actually has better numbers away from Tallahassee (77.8 percent of passes completed, 12.7 yards per attempt, eight passing touchdowns, one interception) than he does at home.
2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: The Huskies have some bite, but Mariota completed 24-of-31 throws for 366 yards and three touchdowns in a 45-24 victory over rival Washington.
3. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson: A dozen touchdowns thrown over the last four weeks. Nice work, if you can get it.
SET YOUR TIVO
The games you won’t want to miss.
1. Florida at Missouri, ESPN GamePlan, 11:20 a.m.: The 6-0 Tigers get the Gators, Gamecocks and Volunteers at Faurot Field, but they’ll have to do so without starting quarterback James Franklin, who’s out through at least December with a separated shoulder. Your serve, Maty Mauck.
2. Auburn at Texas A&M, CBS, 2:30 p.m.: Were the Aggies caught looking ahead, or caught looking vulnerable? Either way, Manziel pulled out the magic again, this time orchestrating a great Oxford escape.
3. Florida State at Clemson, ABC, 7 p.m.: Your classic Heisman Trophy elimination game, served up in prime time. Take the over and buckle up tight.
THE HOT SEAT: BOB STOOPS, OKLAHOMA
Getting stomped by a Texas team you were supposed to take out behind the woodshed — the Sooners went into Dallas as a two-touchdown favorite and came out with a 36-20 defeat — is going to leave a mark in certain Norman circles. The beating was as physical as it was psychological: Texas had two running backs rush for more than 100 yards and the Longhorns racked up five plays of 20 yards or more. “They outplayed us in every facet of the game,” Stoops told reporters after whiffing in the Red River Showdown. The man who built a reputation as “Big Game Bob” has turned into “Cotton Bowl Bob,” and in Texas these days, that’s no longer considered a compliment. CV
Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at www.FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at www.FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.