There was a time not so long ago we lauded the Big 12 for their quarterback arsenal. The 2013 season is certainly painting a different picture early on. Thursday night’s Big 12 contest between Texas Tech and TCU was more of a defensive exhibition but did provide some late offensive highlights as Texas Tech moved to 3-0 with a 20-10 victory over the visiting Horned Frogs.
While we generally tune in to see what Texas Tech will do on offense, Thursday night was all about the defense. TCU picked off three passes from Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield and managed to get just three points out of it. Mayfield later had to leave the game in the fourth quarter with an injury. Davis Webb came in to continue leading the offense and he soon had an impact when a tipped pass was hauled in by Deandre Washington, who then dashed down the left sideline for a 46-yard touchdown, or so it seemed. Washington dropped the football just before crossing the goal line and an official review marked the football at the 16-yard line thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Texas Tech tacked on to the play. A holding penalty would later push Texas Tech back to the 21-yard line but Webb completed a pass to Bradley Marquez for a touchdown and late 17-10 lead.
On this night, that was enough to hold on for the win, but TCU may have some griping to do with the officials late in the game. A TCU punt saw a kick-catch interference called against the Horned Frogs that looked to be non-existent on a video replay. On the ensuing Texas Tech possession a late fumble recovery by TCU was not awarded even after an official video review despite Texas Tech already having run a play. Texas Tech kept the football and added a field goal to build a ten-point lead.
Penalties were everywhere in this game as well. The two teams combined for 23 penalties which accounted for 205 yards. It was a long night for all.
TCU will return home next weekend to play SMU. The Mustangs are struggling at the start of the year, entering the weekend with a 1-1 record boosted by a 31-30 victory over Montana State. TCU’s defense will continue to be the strength of the Horned Frogs this season, as expected. Nothing from Thursday night’s game suggested otherwise, but without Casey Pachall at quarterback it is clear the Horned Frogs are struggling on offense. That is an area that could take time before TCU can be a regular threat in the Big 12. But Gary Patterson is a good coach. Give him time and he’ll get something going.
Texas Tech will stay home for another in-state showdown next week. The Red Raiders will host Texas State, playing their second season at the FBS level. Texas State is off to a 2-0 start with wins over Southern Mississippi and Prairie View A&M and they will be coming off a bye week before making the trip to Lubbock. This should be a game that sees Mayfield calm down a bit and play closer to what we saw in the first couple of games.
No. 12 Clemson (4-0, 1-0 ACC) seemed to have No. 6 Notre Dame under firm control as the rain came down Saturday night. A sure win, with Clemson leading the visiting Irish 21-3 in the fourth quarter, nearly washed away, but the Irish rally fell two points shy. Clemson stuffed a two-point conversion attempt by Notre Dame with seven seconds to play to preserve a 24-22 victory in the rain.
Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson struggled to get a grip on the football and completed just 11 of his 22 pass attempts for 97 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His counterpart, freshman DeShone Kizer, had a much better day through the wet air after a sluggish start. Kizer ended the game with 321 passing yards and two touchdowns in leading the Irish rally from 21-3. Watson did add 93 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to remind those watching just how effective he can be as a dual-threat.
Clemson’s offense got stuck in the mud after going up 21-3 in the third quarter, but the defense managed to hold on for the win. It was not easy, but forcing four turnovers helped. None may have been more critical than a forced fumble by Jayron Kearse on Notre Dame’s Chris Brown as the receiver was moving inside the five-yard line on a drive that looked to be reaching the end zone for Notre Dame. B.J. Goodson came away from the pile with his hands on the football, but Clemson’s offense would go three-and-out to give the Irish one last chance in great field position. It nearly paid off.
There were two decisions by Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly worth second-guessing that may have cost Notre Dame a win, or at least a chance to do something in overtime. Both occurred in the fourth quarter and involved two-point conversion attempts.
Notre Dame had a chance to make it a seven-point game early in the fourth quarter. After C.J. Prosise managed to stay in the field of play down the right sideline for a 56-yard touchdown pass, Kelly opted to go for two points instead of kicking the extra point. Had Notre Dame kicked the extra point, the Irish would have been down 11 points. Instead, after a failed conversion attempt, the Irish were down 12 points. As it turned out, had Notre Dame kicked the extra point, that would have put Notre Dame just one point away from tying Clemson in the final 10 seconds.
Speaking of that last Irish touchdown, Notre Dame obviously needed to go for the two-point conversion to force a tie game. The call was to run the football, and the ball was kept in the hands of Kizer. Kizer did end the game as Notre Dame’s leading rusher, but he had little room and no ability to make any push as the line collapsed on him. Prosise carrying the football may have been too obvious to fool Clemson’s defense must have been the logic in that situation. But this situation never had to happen in the first place.
Prior to the start of the 2015 season, most prognosticators had the SEC West coming down to either Alabama or Auburn. Five weeks into the season, neither of those teams sit at the top of the divisional heap.
With Kyle Allen triggering the offense and John Chavis orchestrating a virtuoso defensive performance, No. 14 Texas A&M had little trouble dispatching No. 21 Mississippi State in a 30-17 win that, for whatever reason, seemed much easier than the score makes it look. The 5-0 Aggies carried a 24-10 lead into halftime, and the 3-2 Bulldogs could only get as close as 10 points, 27-17, early in the fourth quarter on a Dak Prescott touchdown run.
As was the case in the first half, the true sophomore Allen was a big reason for the Aggies success.
Allen accounted for a career-high 385 yards of total offense, 322 passing and 63 rushing. The passing yardage is second only to the 358 he put up in last Saturday’s win over Arkansas, while the rushing yards are the most of his young career.
Tra Carson added 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to supplement the passing game.
The Bulldogs were able to move the ball in the second half — 233 yards in the last two quarters, compared to 173 in the first two — but could never mount much of a scoring threat outside of Prescott’s run that capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive. Prescott finished with more than 300 yards of offense, 210 passing and 96 rushing.
With the win. A&M moves to 2-0 in SEC play. LSU, also at 2-0, is the only other undefeated team in league play in the West. After a bye weekend, A&M will have its hands full the next two games as it hosts Alabama and travel to Oxford to face Ole Miss.