Texas football coach Mack Brown used an interesting form of motivation before the Longhorns won a wild game in overtime at West Virginia over the weekend.
Instead of focusing on the game at hand, he told his players to look ahead one week and think about Oklahoma State coming to Austin.
The Cowboys have won five straight and are in the mix for a Big 12 championship. Wouldn’t it be neat, Brown asked his team, if the Longhorns went into that matchup with the same kind of momentum?
We will soon find out. Texas has won six straight and is one of two teams with a perfect conference record. Important games remain for both, but the winner of Saturday’s anticipated showdown will become the league’s No. 1 contender behind Baylor.
If you saw that coming two months ago, take a bow.
Back then, Texas stumbled badly twice in nonconference games. And Oklahoma State unexpectedly stubbed its toe against West Virginia.
Today, the Longhorns are winning more close games than anyone. Their only convincing victory in their current streak came against Oklahoma. Backup quarterback Case McCoy led them to another narrow victory over West Virginia by throwing for three touchdowns, including the game-winner in overtime.
Now, the Cowboys are rolling behind Clint Chelf. The former backup quarterback threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas.
Both teams are ranked. They are ready to meet in the Big 12’s game of the week.
Mueller stays hot
Ryan Mueller is once again the Big 12 defensive player of the week.
The Kansas State junior defensive end, from Leawood, won the honor for the second consecutive week on Monday.
The back-to-back honors are hardly a surprise. Mueller came up with three sacks and a forced fumble against Texas Tech.
It was the latest strong game for Mueller in a breakout season. He came to K-State as an unknown walk-on, but now leads the nation in sacks with 10 1/2. He is also one of the main reasons why the Wildcats are playing at a high level on defense.
“Obviously, (we have made) a lot of improvement,” Mueller said Saturday. “We are winning. Everyone is patting us on the back. Things are going good now. We just have to keep climbing and get better.”
On Monday, K-State coach Bill Snyder was asked what brought Mueller to Manhattan as a walk-on.
“His nature,” Snyder said. “He just wanted to compete at the best level he possibly could.”
He has. Mueller has 45 tackles and 15 tackles for loss. On top of leading the nation in sacks, Mueller ranks second in tackles for loss and 14th in forced fumbles with three.
On the same night Baylor validated its success by thumping Oklahoma on national TV, it received some unsettling news.
Tevin Reese, the Bears’ top receiver, injured his wrist and will not be able to play again in the regular season. He may be able to return for a bowl game, but that is not certain.
Maybe his absence won’t impact Baylor that much. Antwan Goodley will attract so much attention that Levi Norwood and Clay Fuller can find space and make catches. But Reese had 824 yards and eight touchdowns before his injury. Opposing defenses will try to take advantage.
Staying or going
Following Texas Tech’s loss to K-State on Saturday, Red Raiders tight end Jace Amaro said he wasn’t sure if he has played his final game at Jones AT&T Stadium. He said he loved Lubbock and might be ready to turn pro as arguably the top pro-style tight end in the nation.
But he had a different to the same question on Monday. He said he has mind up his mind about turning pro, but refused to reveal his decision.
Ryan Mueller: The former K-State walk-on was named Big 12 defensive player of the week after making three sacks against Texas Tech. Sound familiar?
John Hubert: The senior K-State running back is peaking at the right time.
Brye Petty: Baylor quarterback is a legitimate Heisman contender.
Case McCoy: All he does is win close games.
Texas Tech quarterbacks: They could do no wrong early. Now they can hardly complete passes.
Blake Bell: Bob Stoops says he will remain Oklahoma’s starting quarterback, but he played poorly enough to be benched against Baylor.
Grant Rohach: Iowa State’s new quarterback is no better than its old quarterback.
Mike Stoops: Oklahoma’s defense has struggled in big games under its second-year coordinator.
Ranking this week’s games
Don’t miss it: Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Arlington, Texas), Oklahoma State at Texas.
Worth watching: TCU at K-State.
Find something else to do: Iowa State at Oklahoma, West Virginia at Kansas.
Big 12 power rankings
1. Baylor (8-0, 5-0): The Bears are so good they made the Sooners look bad.
2. Texas (7-2, 6-0): Longhorns are riding strangest six-game winning streak in league history.
3. Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1): Scored enough points to beat Kansas on opening kickoff.
4. Oklahoma (7-2, 4-2): Rotating quarterbacks is a sign Bob Stoops is trying to get too cute.
5. Kansas State (5-4, 3-3): Few teams are playing better than the Wildcats right now.
6. Texas Tech (7-3, 4-3): Red Raiders might start 7-0 and finish 0-5.
7. West Virginia (4-6, 2-5): Beat Iowa State and Kansas and the Mountaineers are bowl eligible.
8. TCU (4-6, 2-5): It’s a long shot, but the Horned Frogs are still in the running for a bowl game.
9. Iowa State (1-8, 0-6): Kansas at Iowa State will be the pillow fight of the season.
9. Kansas (2-7, 0-6): Jayhawks need a win quick to avoid making history in a bad way.