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Kellis Robinett’s Big 12 Report

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, at 2:26 p.m.

He has won his first seven games as a head coach, and his team is ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2008.

Throw in everything he accomplished as a college quarterback in his career with the Red Raiders and Kliff Kingsbury seems on pace to one day get his own statue in Lubbock, Texas.

Since he came to Lubbock last offseason, everything has gone right for Texas Tech. Wins have piled up, recruiting has improved and fan support has swelled.

Few saw this coming, but Kingsbury thought it was possible when he took the job.

“I always think we are going to win every game, so I guess I did,” Kingsbury said. “We had some seniors coming back to this team with something to prove. I felt good about their attitude and what we could accomplish.”

He will become even more optimistic if No. 10 Texas Tech can win its next game -- Saturday at No. 17 Oklahoma.

The Red Raiders haven’t exactly been tested yet. Outsiders look at their schedule and see a lack of quality opponents. Their best victory came at home against TCU, which was ranked heading into the game, but the Horned Frogs have a losing record. It’s fair to wonder how Texas Tech will perform against sturdier competition.

We will get an answer on Saturday when it travels to Norman for its first true no-holds-barred test.

“Going on the road against that caliber of opponent is going to be a huge challenge for our guys,” Kingsbury said.

But he isn’t worried about how they will handle the environment. Texas Tech was picked to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 standings in the conference’s preseason poll. Now it is in contention for a conference championship, and the Red Raiders thrive when they feel disrespected.

They also thrive regardless of injuries. Texas Tech was forced to start a walk-on freshman, Baker Mayfield, at quarterback at the beginning of the season. Now that he isn’t healthy enough to play, Davis Webb has taken over for him without missing a beat. During a come-from-behind victory over West Virginia on Saturday, Webb threw for 462 yards and two touchdowns.

“The biggest deal is knowing that we can overcome some adversity and know that we haven’t played our best football yet,” Kingsbury said. “We won a couple games without our best effort. Our kids feel confident because of that.”

Robinson rules

Don’t feel bad if you chuckled when Texas coach Mack Brown brought Greg Robinson out of semi-retirement and named him the Longhorns’ defensive coordinator last month.

You weren’t alone.

Robinson had great success early in his career as a NFL coordinator, but experienced several high-profile flops with Syracuse and Michigan in recent years. It didn’t look like he could help Texas get back on track in the middle of the season.

Turns out, Brown knew what he was doing. After surrendering 40 points and 550 rushing yards against BYU, the Longhorns have allowed less than 29 points and 180 rushing yards per game. In Big 12 play, Texas is allowing less than 24 points and 149 rushing yards. That mixture, and Robinson’s fiery sideline demeanor, have helped the Longhorns turn their season around.

“He and the defensive staff have done an amazing job over a five-week period of stepping up and playing better defense,” Brown said.

A weekend off

On Monday, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he wasn’t sure how his team will respond to its bye week. But he does know this: His players will be rested.

Snyder gave the Wildcats a light schedule last week, and gave them the entire weekend off.

“How do they respond? That is probably the most important thing. Up to this point in time I think they have responded reasonably well,” Snyder said. “They got some rest.

Who’s hot

Antwan Goodley: The Baylor wide receiver went for 182 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa State.

Texas Tech quarterbacks: Everyone the Red Raiders put back there excels. It was Davis Webb against West Virginia.

Josh Stewart: Oklahoma State’s top wide receiver had 141 receiving yards and a touchdown on a punt return against TCU.

James Sims: He gave Kansas a chance against Oklahoma by rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

Who’s not

Charlie Weis: Yanked the redshirt off Montell Cozart and didn’t let him attempt a pass.

Blake Bell: Oklahoma’s offense has regressed since the Notre Dame game.

Trevone Boykin: TCU quarterback keeps throwing costly interceptions.

Paul Rhoads: Few coaches are respected more in the Big 12, but Iowa State is a mess right now.

Ranking this week’s games

Don’t miss it: Texas Tech at Oklahoma

Worth Watching: Texas at TCU

Just the highlights: Oklahoma State at Iowa State, West Virginia at Kansas State

Find something else to do: Baylor at Kansas

Big 12 power rankings

1. Baylor (6-0, 3-0): The Bears can play defense, too.

2. Texas Tech (7-0, 4-0): Kliff Kingsbury has the Red Raiders rolling, but a true test awaits at Oklahoma.

3. Texas (4-2, 3-0): Longhorns hope to avenge Thanksgiving Day loss to TCU.

4. Oklahoma (6-1, 3-1): A win is a win. But the Sooners looked less than stellar against Kansas.

5. Oklahoma State (5-1, 2-1): Cowboys have quietly rebounded from their lone loss.

6. TCU (3-4, 1-3): Frogs never had to face this kind of schedule in the Mountain West.

7. West Virginia (3-4, 1-3): At least the Mountaineers have settled on a quarterback.

8. Kansas State (2-4, 0-3): Bill Snyder gave his team the weekend off. Will that help on Saturday?

9. Iowa State (1-5, 0-3): Paul Rhoads headed to his worst season in Ames.

10. Kansas (2-4, 0-3): If only football games ended after one quarter.

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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