State of the Conference
The Big 12 shook itself into parity over the weekend as the Red River Rivalry lived up to the hype. Texas beat Oklahoma in a wild scoring fest, 48-45. The game was punctuated by UT freshman placekicker Cameron Dicker nailing a field goal with nine seconds remaining, giving every commentator carte blanche to repeat “Dicker the Kicker” as many times as possible. Imagine the headlines if he’s ever thrown in a drunk tank: Dicker the kicker bickers, grows sicker from liquor. Iowa State proved Oklahoma State was simply overrated, and West Virginia stayed perfect by reminding Kansas they’re a basketball school and nothing more. The Longhorns and Mountaineers are undefeated in conference and both ranked in the Top 10 in the AP poll. The Sooners are stewing back in Norman, ranked 11th and praying the burnt orange-Bevos falter somewhere. The Mountaineers, Longhorns, and Sooners are in control of the conference.
Where Does that Leave TCU?
Despite the frustrating performances by Gary Patterson’s Frogs, their resume doesn’t seem so bad. The Buckeyes are currently ranked third, the Longhorns ninth. Unranked TCU was competitive with both teams. The loss to Texas means that TCU waits in a logjam with Baylor, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech, who’ve all suffered early conference losses to one of the three Big 12 leaders. The Men in Purple have a chance to right their conference quest this week when the Red Raiders from Texas Tech trot their sway-backed, glue factory-ready horse onto the turf at Amon G. Carter.
Thursday Night Lights
I hate Thursday games. The only reason schools play them is to garner premier TV viewership on an off night. I get it, but I hate it. The normal rhythm of a football week is interrupted, and it’s always questionable how the teams will show up compared to Saturday. It’s possible that a shakeup to the routine will be good for the Frogs, a team that’s been turning over the ball three times a game.
Tech and TCU are driving parallel roads to this game. Both teams are coming off their bye weeks. They are both 3-2, albeit TCU has the better loss resume. Each team has the possibility of starting different quarterbacks while the starters are working their way back from injury. And, each team needs this win to stay relevant in the conference conversation.
TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson sustained a shoulder injury near the end of the Iowa State win. Patterson has remained tight-lipped over his status, asserting only that the team has the utmost confidence in backup transfer Michael Collins, who competed closely with Robinson for the starting job during camp. It’s obvious that Robinson is a much more dynamic runner. Collins has rushing ability, but his arm strength is what makes him a dangerous player. Expect to see more traditional pass sets and fewer option runs and rollouts with Collins at the helm. Texas Tech is working between their second- and third-string passers. Tech’s first quarterback, McLane Carter, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Raiders’ opening loss to Ole Miss. Since then, freshman Alan Bowman has continued the video game-like numbers familiar to Lubbock passers. Bowman was sandwiched by Mountaineer defenders in Week 5 and hospitalized with a partially collapsed lung, though he was struggling against West Virginia even before he was injured. His backup, Jet Duffey, stepped in and completed more than half of his throws and ran the ball for another 85 yards. Preparing for Duffey is problematic for the Frogs. He is an extremely mobile quarterback and an effective passer but prone to mistakes, as he showed by tossing two interceptions in the loss to West Virginia. Look for TCU to slow down their usually fast-paced offense and control the clock against Tech. It’s not in the Frogs’ best interest to play a high-scoring game against the dynamic Raiders.