Football's one-game-a-week pace means there are usually six days between contests. That's why football is a talkin' sport. During a college football season every day that's not a game day offers plentiful opportunity for speculation, opinion and conversation.
As the calendar flipped from September to October, this week's talk centered around the psychology of the "trap" game. (General Akbar of "Star Wars" appreciates the theory.)
Oklahoma, fresh off an impressive victory at Notre Dame, is at home against TCU Saturday. That's the game before the Sooners resume their Red River Rivalry with Texas in Dallas on Oct. 12. Playing the 2-2 Frogs could be considered a "trap" game. Just don't run that theory past OU coach Bob Stoops.
"I always laugh at that, because this happens every year," he said. "We've got to win every game, and TCU is a good football team and we're going to do our business like we always do.
"We didn't set the whole season up and work all year round to beat Notre Dame. It's part of the cycle. We've got another game this week, an important one. They're all Big 12 games coming. No one around here is ever satisfied with beating one team. That's not how it works. Maybe some other places, but not here. We've got to win this week and then the following week and the following week. Next game up."
In hindsight, perhaps Oklahoma State's 30-21 loss at West Virginia last Saturday was a trap game. The Cowboys will be at home against Kansas State Saturday and perhaps the trip to Morgantown plus the Mountaineers' 37-0 loss in their previous game instilled false confidence. Whatever, turnovers and egregious errors in the kicking game helped West Virginia score 27 points.
"And when you do that, it's just really hard to win," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said of his team's mistakes. "You have to be a lot better than the other team in order to win when you play the game that way.
"They've had a lot of success here over the last four or five years. So when they lose, they're disappointed. But you really don't have a choice in college football. You've got to get ready to play the next game."
Texas Tech is 4-0 and there is talk – by members of the media who can read a team's schedule – that the Red Raiders could be 7-0 before playing at Oklahoma on Oct. 26. Texas Tech plays at Kansas Saturday and KU coach Charlie Weis said he would mention the "7-0 talk" to his team.
Only that talk is not coming from the Red Raiders.
"We attack each and every week. We're not good enough to look ahead like that," Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. "I think you saw with Oklahoma State what can happen with this conference each and every week. We're just trying to get better each week."
The bottom line on the "trap" game talk: It's only after the fact, when the outcome is determined, that a game can be identified as a "trap."
Lots Of (Too Much?) Time Off
Baylor has played one game in 27 days. The Bears get back in action Saturday when they open Big 12 play against West Virginia in Waco.
The good news about the time off is that tight end Jordan Najvar (lower back/hip injuries) and running back Glasco Martin (ankle) have had time to heal. Neither played in the last game against Louisiana Monroe on Sept. 21.
The potential bad news is that Baylor's offense, which leads the nation in scoring, might have accumulated some rust.
"We'll have played one game in 27 days, and that's incredible when you think about it," Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty said. "We love playing football and didn't come here for bye weeks. But now we can kind of keep it rolling. This is for real now. This is for the Big 12 championship, so it's an added level of focus and hype. "
The town of West, Texas, is recovering from an April 17 plant explosion in which 15 people died. It's located about 15 miles north of Waco and Baylor has played a major role in helping during and after the tragedy. Approximately 3,500 people from in and around the West community are expected to attend Saturday's game with West Virginia thanks to complimentary tickets from Baylor. "It puts a special meaning on the game," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "That's a good thing for Baylor toward the community of West."
Kansas State topped the Big 12 in turnover margin last season but enters Saturday's game at Oklahoma State last in that category this season. In five of the biggest losses for the Cowboys under coach Mike Gundy, they've been minus-12 in turnovers. Gundy is 40-5 in his career when Oklahoma State wins the turnover battle and 11-23 when they lose it.
During Paul Rhoads four-plus years as Iowa State coach, his kickers have attempted 49 kicks from 40 yards or more including 19 from 50-plus yards. During that time frame, Oklahoma State has the second-most attempts from 50-plus with 11. Iowa State kickers under Rhoads have made 60 percent of their field goals between 40 and 49 yards and seven of their attempts from 50 or longer.
After committing 13 penalties against Texas Tech – TCU's third game in a 13-day span – the Horned Frogs had just five flags in their easy victory over SMU Saturday. "I think having the week off helped us," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "We started slow, but one of the things that helped us was - mentally - I thought we were a lot more aware. A mind that is fresh and thinking quicker is not going to make the same mistakes as one that's tired and reacting. Hopefully that was the reason. Moving forward, we're going to find out."
Kansas State linebacker Charmeachealle Moore on an impassioned speech teammate Ryan Mueller gave to the team after the loss at Texas:
"It was along the lines of, 'We're not losing anymore, get that through your heads.' Nobody likes to lose, everybody was hurt. Everybody was fired up. I was already heated at that point ... that fire we have won't burn out. We'll still have in when we play (Oklahoma State). The adversity is going to make our team a whole lot better."
Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on freshman quarterback Baker Mayfield:
"We're 4 0 with him as a starter, and that's really where we're at. So we'll let him cut it loose and see. I think he's healthy for the first time in about three weeks, completely healthy, and has looked really sharp in practice. We're excited to see him play."
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops on the OU-Texas game starting at 11 a.m. on Oct. 12:
"I would take it every time. I think all coaches do. You get tired of waiting around all day. You never mind it when you know you can wake up and go right at it, then get in the easy chair in the afternoon when there's still light out."
Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez on this year's team:
"We feel like we have something special here. The biggest thing is team chemistry. It just feels different around here."
TCU coach Gary Patterson on two FBS coaches being fired before the end of September:
"It makes me thankful to walk into the office and see a chair there for me. It's disturbing to me to see that happen."