What will the Big 12 do this week for an encore?
Just when you thought October couldn’t get any more unusual for the league that toyed with the idea of expansion for three months, only to shut the door without so much as discussing the candidates at its meeting of presidents and chancellors, Oklahoma and Texas Tech got together Saturday night and raised the bar on the level of bizarre.
The Sooners and Red Raiders combined for an FBS-record 1,708 yards. Only in your mind are they still playing. The game is over; OU won 66-59.
Up next, the Big 12’s two unbeatens -- now among nine teams nationally without a loss -- leave the confines of home for perhaps their biggest tests to date.
Here are the top storylines from a full week of action for Week 9:
Holgorsen’s return: West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen coached for Mike Gundy at Oklahoma State for just one season, but it was a memorable one. The Cowboys won a school-record 11 games in 2010 with Holgorsen as their offensive coordinator, finishing at No. 13 nationally after an Alamo Bowl win over Arizona. Holgorsen and Gundy have met four times since, with the Cowboys winning in 2012 and 2015 and the Mountaineers in the two years in between. No. 10 WVU, after a 34-10 dismantling of TCU on Saturday, visits Stillwater on Saturday with momentum aplenty. West Virginia ranks second in the league in scoring defense and third in yardage allowed after passing with ease tests that appeared difficult in the past two weeks against the Horned Frogs and Texas Tech. Oklahoma State, scoring 41.1 points per game, appears to present a formidable challenge for Holgorsen and defensive coordinator Tony Gibson.
A test for Baylor: The Bears remain ahead of West Virginia in the Associated Press poll at No. 8, though the Mountaineers jumped Baylor in the ESPN power rankings this week. Why? Because WVU has played a much more difficult schedule. Baylor gets a shot to bolster its resume on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC) with a trip to Texas, where the Bears have won in two of their past three trips. Texas is winless on the road but unbeaten in three games at home, so this ought to serve as an important measuring stick for Jim Grobe’s 6-0 team. Baylor brings the top rushing offense and passing defense to Austin. Texas, too, has run the ball well, ranking second to Baylor in the Big 12 with a 222.1-yard average behind http://www.espn.com/college-football/player/_/id/3125116/donta-foreman. But the Longhorns are notably mediocre at nearly everything else. To get back to .500, they’ll need to take advantage of opportunities, which did not happen Saturday in a 24-21 loss at Kansas State.
Texas turmoil: Who wants to go to a bowl game this year? For Texas Tech, at 3-4, and 4-3 TCU, the struggle for postseason eligibility is real. You could argue that the losing team Saturday in Fort Worth (3:30 p.m., ESPN2) faces an uphill climb to six wins, especially if it’s the Red Raiders. This season to date rates as a disappointment for both programs. TCU was picked second in the Big 12, a finish that appears out of reach less than halfway through the league season. And Tech has fallen apart defensively, which was always the concern. At least there’s Patrick Mahomes II, who accumulated 819 yards against Oklahoma on 100 total-offense attempts in Week 8. Nearly as ridiculous, Tech and TCU combined for 105 points in a TCU win last season in Lubbock. And two years against the Red Raiders, TCU scored 82 points. Watch for fireworks.