Who won Week 13 in the Big 12?

Ian Boyd

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The Big 12 now has their title game matchup set. We’ll be getting a rematch of what was arguably the best game of the season. In round one Iowa State took down the Sooners 37-30 in Ames. Round two will be in Jerry World with Iowa State playing for what would be their first ever championship. It’s a truly amazing story and there’s no better team to be standing in the way than the five-time consecutive Big 12 champions.

Oklahoma’s win over Baylor to secure their place was a little lackluster, Dave Aranda’s defense gave them fits, as detailed masterfully here by @travisroeder:


Meanwhile Iowa State completely dominated West Virginia 42-6, their second blowout win in two games sandwiching a 23-20 triumph in Austin over the Longhorns. Obviously Oklahoma is likely to be favored in this game, but it’s certainly a compelling and interesting matchup. The Sooners can point to a dozen areas where they’ve improved since then but it’s not like the Cyclones are weaker either.

Elsewhere around the league a few other interesting developments occurred.

ContrarIan says the glass is half full

My recent argument regarding TCU offense was well illustrated by their game against Oklahoma State this weekend.

When this team is running zone-option with Carter Ware blocking, quarterback trap for Max Duggan, and then taking shots with Quentin Johnston….they are potent on offense. The health and play of left tackle T.J. Storment has really solidified their offense and allowed them to protect Duggan more consistently, allowing the Iowan sophomore to reveal his impressive durability with 12.4 carries per game and nine rushing touchdowns this year.

He thoroughly outplayed Spencer Sanders in this game. If TCU doesn’t fumble the ball four times, this is a blowout Frog win.

A couple of illustrative highlights:



The latter is the quarterback trap play TCU and K-State have both been murderous with this season. If you’re not familiar with the traditional power-read play, the offense runs power with the pulling guard but instead of using a fullback or tight end to kick out the defensive end, they leave him unblocked.

The quarterback reads the unblocked defensive end and if he crashes inside to stop the power scheme, he hands off to a running back or wide receiver running a sweep to the edge. If the defensive end plays wide to contain the sweep, the quarterback pulls the ball and runs inside of the end behind the pulling guard’s lead block.

What defenses will do in response is have the defensive end bite down to stop power but send the linebacker wide to stuff the sweep runner. This response is called a scrape exchange as the end will stay inside and the linebacker will scrape over the top. The quarterback’s key tells him to hand off but the defense is selling out to stop him. You can see that dynamic at play for the OSU Cowboy defense in the Duggan clip above, but…it’s a trap.

The guard doesn’t lead but instead trap blocks the defensive end and kicks him out. The middle linebacker would be unblocked but he’s bailing to stop the sweep, so the quarterback can run downhill and there’s no one home. Duggan excels in this scheme, he has the acceleration between the tackles of a legit running back (4.5 speed) and knows how to read the remaining linebacker and pick his way through the angles between the tackles. I’ve noticed he can also take care of himself if someone shows up in the hole unexpectedly.

TCU has started to work out some of their identity points. The zone/power-option run game is clicking and they’ll have some special athletes back to execute it in 2021, comparable to Sanders/Hubbard. They’ll also have clarity on how to support it, by taking vertical shots to Quentin Johnston, and will surely give his deployment some needed attention in the offseason.

It’s now easy to see Gary Patterson talking himself into one more season with the 2020 season serving as a sort of offseason (or wasted year, if you want the glass half empty perspective) in order to get to know Duggan and the rest of the players on offense virtually all return in 2021.

Aranda beats Riley

Not on the scoreboard, mind you, but Dave Aranda certainly got the better of Lincoln Riley when his defense faced the Sooner offense. Twice in a row now. The Sooners didn’t look particularly well prepared for this game, but they took the field with most of their starters on offense and still took a real thrashing at times.

Oklahoma had 28 first down plays and seven of them were negative (lost yardage) while another eight yielded 0-2 yards. In other words, over half of Oklahoma first down plays put them behind the chains, and then what? Aranda was able to dial up some simulated pressures Oklahoma didn’t look super well prepared to block.

Overall it really looked like Baylor had done their homework on Oklahoma and were ready for this game:


You think maybe Jalen Pitre had seen Oklahoma’s drag screen/quarterback draw RPO on film and against the scout team a time or two?

The Bears have a number of players on defense returning next season. Dillon Doyle did exactly what you want from him in this game, taking on pulling Sooner linemen and setting the point of attack against the power game while Matt Jones flashed as a jack linebacker on the edge. Whether or not Jalen Pitre, who tortured Oklahoma in this game, returns for another year will be fascinating to observe.

For the Sooners there’s a positive and downside to this game. On the positive side, they won, they played good defense, and they will probably be better prepared for the remaining games. Especially the one that determines the championship. On the downside, Baylor really worked over their offense and revealed their weak spot and concerns in a potential postseason game.

Namely, the Sooners really depend on the run game this season and Spencer Rattler and the passing game can’t be trusted yet to make the right plays in winning time. The Bears ganged up on the Sooners in the box in this game, taking a different approach from Iowa State’s base strategy from earlier this year, and showing them a lot of bear front.

I don’t know if the Cyclones can execute that strategy with their cornerbacks, but it worked out pretty well in this game. Spencer Rattler under pressure trying to get through progressions isn’t nearly as worrisome as Rattler with time or space to move in looking for his guy down the field. If the Bears can work out their offense for next season this should be an interesting matchup in years to come. Honestly, Baylor and Oklahoma have been the league’s two strongest powers this decade.

Who won Week 13 in the Big 12?

Certainly not the 2020 Red Raiders, who barely defeated Kansas, and certainly not head coach Matt Wells who had to sit at home in quarantine while reading shocking rumors about his job status. Definitely not Oklahoma State either, who blew the game against TCU despite forcing five turnovers (mostly fumbles).

Spencer Sanders has been a big loser of 2020. He struggled to grow from the 2019 season, was pulled from the biggest game of the season for a freshman, and has thrown just seven touchdowns to six interceptions while rushing for two more. Chuba Hubbard was another big loser of the year. The NFL will likely look at this season and question whether he ran the tread off his tires in 2019.

Texas and Tom Herman were no big winners, either of them. While the Longhorns blew out Kansas State 69-31 and Bijan Robinson had nine carries for 175 yards and three touchdowns running outside zone behind a suddenly ultra competent offensive line with two freshmen, it was too little too late for the season and for Tom Herman. Meanwhile the plot to oust Herman in order to hire Urban Meyer was rebuffed, leaving the Longhorns scrambling to work out their strategy for the 2021 season.

One thing at least is clear, running zone-option and play-action to feature and complement Bijan Robinson is definitely a good idea for the 2021 campaign and whoever heads it up.

Let’s give our weekly award to pump fake Purdy, who’s skill weapons in the passing game have been coming along more every week and who’s been protected from being overexposed in the run game by Breece Hall and in the passing game by left tackle Sean Foster.

Check out PFPurdy’s game log for the season:

PFP game log.jpg

In the last three games coming off the bye week he’s completed 61-79 passes for 795 yards at 10.1 ypa with seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. It’s been night and day in comparison to the rest of the season, the old pump fake Purdy is back. Now he’ll get another bye week to work with young 6-6 Sean Shaw and the improving Xavier Hutchinson on man-beating concepts in the passing game.

This is all just in time also, teams have been slowing Hall down recently and the Cyclones really need PFPurdy to put them over the top and win a league title. The Sooners will gear up to stop Hall and PFPurdy needs to be ready to beat them in the seams with Kolar and outside throwing to Shaw and Hutchinson.
 
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mattwson

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This may come as a surprise to some but Baylor, with a whopping 2 wins, suffered their worst loss of the season in Norman: 13 points. That's crazy. I think it also goes to show how deep the Big 12 is this year. Ian, is it wrong to say that the Big 12 is the best league this year? I mean a team quarterbacked by Kellen Mond is the second best team in the SEC.
 
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Ian Boyd

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This may come as a surprise to some but Baylor, with a whopping 2 wins, suffered their worst loss of the season in Norman: 13 points. That's crazy. I think it also goes to show how deep the Big 12 is this year. Ian, is it wrong to say that the Big 12 is the best league this year? I mean a team quarterbacked by Kellen Mond is the second best team in the SEC.
Uh, I'd go the other way. No one is good, anywhere.
 

bHero

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Ah, gotcha. Where do you think Bama would rank compared to previous years?
Sarks got their offense aiming for a new high. They must have really liked/feared LSU’s attack, because they aren’t nearly as RPO dependent as last year. Lot more downfield concepts. Probably a constraint of the QB last year as well, but it’s been impressive in my viewing that they can mix this stuff in so quickly.
 
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bHero

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Ian, what about Texas’ run game? Setting aside the opponents defense, does it look like the concepts are new, meshing better, or just RBs hitting their stride? It was nice that we didn’t have to run Sam 10+ for once.
 

melodicmarc

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I think OU's biggest struggle on offense this year has been their inability to stretch the field. When LR could not put vertical stresses on Baylor, it made it easy for Baylor to be super aggressive at the LOS. Rambo and Mims have decent speed, but Rambo just ain't it this year and Mims is a freshman. OU has to find some gamebreaking speed to open things up.
 

mattwson

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I think OU's biggest struggle on offense this year has been their inability to stretch the field. When LR could not put vertical stresses on Baylor, it made it easy for Baylor to be super aggressive at the LOS. Rambo and Mims have decent speed, but Rambo just ain't it this year and Mims is a freshman. OU has to find some gamebreaking speed to open things up.
I think Riley dials up a lot of play action shot plays but it seems like teams can either completely cover up their passing game or they can't. I haven't studied his passing game but I'm starting to wonder if he just doesn't have enough concepts and answers in his passing game. It doesn't seem like the Sooners have many option routes in their scheme.
 

stilesbbq

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The Big Ten is this years best league I think. Ironic because they are the only one not playing any games.
 

kevinbelt

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I love the Big Ten, but I don't know if I can go there, man. There's a good chance the B1GCG is going to be Indiana-Northwestern. Indiana, at least, is pretty good. Northwestern is... not. Pretty much every team in the conference except the bottom-feeders of the East (IU, Maryland, Rutgers) have taken a step backward from last year. (I'm including OSU in that, too; our pass defense is suspect.)
 

system poster

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I think it also goes to show how deep the Big 12 is this year.
I think the Big 12 is more shallow than deep. Every team is a worse version of what is has been in previous years. I saw posted somewhere the average SP+ for the conference this year compared to previous years. 2019 Big 12 was down something like 33% from where it had been in previous years. 2020 was half as good as 2019. It's a terrible year for the conference.
 
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Ian Boyd

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Ian, what about Texas’ run game? Setting aside the opponents defense, does it look like the concepts are new, meshing better, or just RBs hitting their stride? It was nice that we didn’t have to run Sam 10+ for once.
Upgraded by adding Majors at center and faced an overmatched opponent.

Also, they’re a different attack with Bijan over Ingram.
 
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travisroeder

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Appreciate the shoutout, Ian. It really is crazy how well Baylor played on D this game. It was the lowest yards per play that OU has been held to since 2015, which makes it the worst of the Riley era. It's too bad that Baylor's offense remains absolutely terrible. But they have a lot to build on on D, especially if Pitre and Bernard return next year. This offseason will be massive for Aranda, he needs to make some staffing changes on O or deliver some sort of message that they need to change things up. He quite literally said in an interview yesterday that they've struggled on offense because Brewer can't execute the gameplans and they're trying to figure out his skillset (scrambling).
 

bHero

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Appreciate the shoutout, Ian. It really is crazy how well Baylor played on D this game. It was the lowest yards per play that OU has been held to since 2015, which makes it the worst of the Riley era. It's too bad that Baylor's offense remains absolutely terrible. But they have a lot to build on on D, especially if Pitre and Bernard return next year. This offseason will be massive for Aranda, he needs to make some staffing changes on O or deliver some sort of message that they need to change things up. He quite literally said in an interview yesterday that they've struggled on offense because Brewer can't execute the gameplans and they're trying to figure out his skillset (scrambling).
Seems like we're seeing the X's and O's pendulum swing back toward defense. We've had a few years of air-raid and pro-raid offensive dominance, but now defenses are adjusting personnel and learning how to limit them. Not just Baylor, ISU also seems to be onto something. Even programs like Indiana and LA-Layfette are having success.
 

Ian Boyd

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Seems like we're seeing the X's and O's pendulum swing back toward defense. We've had a few years of air-raid and pro-raid offensive dominance, but now defenses are adjusting personnel and learning how to limit them. Not just Baylor, ISU also seems to be onto something. Even programs like Indiana and LA-Layfette are having success.
Let's wait until offenses have an actual offseason to nail down chemistry and timing before we assume too much about the rise of defense.
 
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falconsooner

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First of all huge credit to BU's D and their preparation and execution against OU's O this past Saturday. They played their butts off. OU players were very complimentary of BU's D post game. Having said that...there were some extenuating circumstances. Riley mentioned in the post game the offensive coaching staff (including himself) did not have the players prepared. OU had a rough week of preparation with many coaches and players...including Coach Bedenbaugh (who wasn't present during the game) not available during practice and trying to do things via zoom. They also were very careful with practice because they didn't want anyone to get hurt since they were already just a couple of players away in a couple of position groups of not being able to play.

Additionally, OU was missing Stogner, Henderson, Bridges (really miss him this year...might be our best overall WR) and Haselwood still coming back from ACL injury. Granted this sounds like a bunch of excuses and it is....but BU did not face a LR offense at its typical preparation level. But again...credit to Baylor for being prepared and having a great game plan and effort. I think it will actually benefit OU in the long run. I do look forward to the Riley vs Aranda battle next year.

Ian's previous post about having an offseason is a good one. Rattler still hasn't had a spring practice during his time at OU. I also think the reason Big 12 OL play has been so bad this year is because of that lack of spring practice.
 
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stilesbbq

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First of all huge credit to BU's D and their preparation and execution against OU's O this past Saturday. They played their butts off. OU players were very complimentary of BU's D post game. Having said that...there were some extenuating circumstances. Riley mentioned in the post game the offensive coaching staff (including himself) did not have the players prepared. OU had a rough week of preparation with many coaches and players...including Coach Bedenbaugh (who wasn't present during the game) not available during practice and trying to do things via zoom. They also were very careful with practice because they didn't want anyone to get hurt since they were already just a couple of players away in a couple of position groups of not being able to play.

Additionally, OU was missing Stogner, Henderson, Bridges (really miss him this year...might be our best overall WR) and Haselwood still coming back from ACL injury. Granted this sounds like a bunch of excuses and it is....but BU did not face a LR offense at its typical preparation level. But again...credit to Baylor for being prepared and having a great game plan and effort. I think it will actually benefit OU in the long run. I do look forward to the Riley vs Aranda battle next year.

Ian's previous post about having an offseason is a good one. Rattler still hasn't had a spring practice during his time at OU. I also think the reason Big 12 OL play has been so bad this year is because of that lack of spring practice.
100% agreed on the personnel and gameprep issues. Tbh, I thought more OU staff would miss the game due to COVID from the reports I was hearing.

That being said, what impressed me from Aranda D was that they blew up a lot of Lincoln Riley's bread and butter plays. Seems like Texas still doesnt know how to defend GT counter but the Bears blew up a lot of Riley's GT and shallow cross/mesh plays. Wonder if any future B12 coaches look the game film as a blueprint
 
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falconsooner

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I'm sure they will go to school off what BU did. Riley loves chess matches so will be interesting to see how he adjusts.

The change in CDC Contact Tracing rules from 14 to 7-10 allowed coaches to be at the game. Otherwise we might have seen Stoops on the sideline.
 
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ripharley

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I'm sure they will go to school off what BU did. Riley loves chess matches so will be interesting to see how he adjusts.

The change in CDC Contact Tracing rules from 14 to 7-10 allowed coaches to be at the game. Otherwise we might have seen Stoops on the sideline.
Has Stoops been given a title?

If he’s participating regularly now, (I haven’t been paying attention,) that would be sort of unusual.
 

patentjt

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I know KSU has been decimated with injuries on offense but I thought their defense was solid at least. Why was Texas so dominant in the run game against the Wildcats?
 

Ian Boyd

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I know KSU has been decimated with injuries on offense but I thought their defense was solid at least. Why was Texas so dominant in the run game against the Wildcats?
-K-State seems done
-Bijan Robinson
-Texas played a center for the first time this year that allowed their center to move to Right tackle where he’s best and who could execute the wide zone blocking scheme.
 
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patentjt

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Texas played a center for the first time this year that allowed their center to move to Right tackle where he’s best and who could execute the wide zone blocking scheme.
and why did it take Hand so long to try this before???
 

travisroeder

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100% agreed on the personnel and gameprep issues. Tbh, I thought more OU staff would miss the game due to COVID from the reports I was hearing.

That being said, what impressed me from Aranda D was that they blew up a lot of Lincoln Riley's bread and butter plays. Seems like Texas still doesnt know how to defend GT counter but the Bears blew up a lot of Riley's GT and shallow cross/mesh plays. Wonder if any future B12 coaches look the game film as a blueprint
The weakness of what Baylor did is that they were essentially gambling, basically what Patterson does against every offense. There were plays where Baylor was overloading against a specific play (figuring OU would run the ball or throw) where OU had numbers wherever Baylor wasn't, but Baylor's gambled paid off basically every play all game.

One thing that will for sure happen next year is Riley will go into the game with a lot more standard zone run calls. Baylor wanted to dominate the gap schemes and survive against the zone schemes.
 

sherf1

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The weakness of what Baylor did is that they were essentially gambling, basically what Patterson does against every offense. There were plays where Baylor was overloading against a specific play (figuring OU would run the ball or throw) where OU had numbers wherever Baylor wasn't, but Baylor's gambled paid off basically every play all game.

One thing that will for sure happen next year is Riley will go into the game with a lot more standard zone run calls. Baylor wanted to dominate the gap schemes and survive against the zone schemes.
I do wonder if as defenses become more specialized in their alignment to take things away more teams won't transition to having a few non-base runs (zone if you're normally power, or opposite) and really practice those as well to where you're never aligned out of the run game.
 

Ian Boyd

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The weakness of what Baylor did is that they were essentially gambling, basically what Patterson does against every offense. There were plays where Baylor was overloading against a specific play (figuring OU would run the ball or throw) where OU had numbers wherever Baylor wasn't, but Baylor's gambled paid off basically every play all game.

One thing that will for sure happen next year is Riley will go into the game with a lot more standard zone run calls. Baylor wanted to dominate the gap schemes and survive against the zone schemes.
Weird they didn’t run more zone in this game, but probably they didn’t prepare well.