Top 10 single-game performances from Big 12 players in 2016
The Big 12 was full of top-notch games this year, from Oklahoma and Texas Tech’s offense explosion, to Kansas beating Texas for their first Big 12 win in years. We know which teams played well each week, but what about individual performances? Below is a list of the top 10 individual performances by Big 12 players this season:
1. RB Joe Mixon (Oklahoma) vs. Texas Tech, 99.9 grade
Arguably one of the best individual efforts of the year, Mixon had the biggest game in what was a phenomenal offensive shootout against Texas Tech in Week 8. He carried the football 29 times and gained a ridiculous 244 yards, with 103 coming after contact. He scored two touchdowns and forced eight missed tackles. He was even more incredible in the passing game, catching all four targets he saw for 114 yards and three touchdowns. He forced two additional missed tackles on those catches and gained 98 yards after the catch. Mixon had a fantastic season, but his performance in this game was easily his best of the year.
2. QB Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) vs. Texas Tech, 95.2 grade
Mayfield joins his teammate on this list for his incredible performance in the exact same game. Texas Tech is known for its defense (in a bad way), so it’s no surprise that Mayfield picked them apart, but it was so well done that it had to be included. On aimed passes Mayfield was 27-of-34 for 545 yards and seven touchdowns, with one incompletion being a drop. He was incredible on deep throws, hitting 6-of-7 throws beyond 20 yards downfield for 238 yards and four touchdowns. When Texas Tech sat back and didn’t blitz, Mayfield posted a perfect QB rating of 158.3. When they did blitz, his rating dropped all the way down to 148.3. This was truly a game for the ages with these players’ offensive performances.
3. RB Justin Crawford (West Virginia) vs. Oklahoma, 90.9 grade
In what was an extremely important game for West Virginia, things seemed to go wrong immediately. Starting RB Kennedy McKoy was injured on the first play, and the Mountaineers had only Crawford to rely on at running back. He responded in a huge way. Despite getting just 24 carries, Crawford gained an insane 330 yards rushing. That’s nearly 14 yards per carry. Of those yards, 204 of them came after first contact and he forced 11 missed tackles. Six of his carries went for more than 15 yards, three of them going for more than 40 yards. The Mountaineers didn’t win the game, but the play of Crawford was special to watch.
4. RB Shock Linwood (Baylor) vs. Iowa State, 91.6 grade
Back when Baylor was still unbeaten and highly ranked, they found themselves in a struggle against Iowa State. So they turned to their all-time rushing yards record-holder in Linwood to not only get them back into the game, but to win it. Linwood responded big time, carrying the ball 25 times and gaining 237 yards. More impressively, he gained 145 yards after first contact (5.8 YAC/carry) and forced a ridiculous 10 missed tackles. He picked up first down after first down and was the biggest reason that Baylor was able to rush for 470 yards and pick up the big come-from-behind victory.
5. QB Mason Rudolph (Oklahoma State) vs. West Virginia, 84.9 grade
This wasn’t Rudolph’s highest-graded game, or even his second-highest. But it makes it this high on the list because of the opponent. West Virginia was unbeaten going into this game and had gotten that record by shutting down opponents’ passing attacks. All Rudolph did was go 26-for-32 on aimed passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns in leading his team to a 37-20 victory. He didn’t make a single dangerous pass all game. In fact, of those 32 aimed throws he was only downgraded on a single one, missing in front of his receiver. He picked apart the Mountaineers when they blitzed him, completing 12-of-17 passes for 130 yards and all three touchdowns.
6. WR Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma) vs. Texas, 91.1 grade
Westbrook had many incredible games that could’ve made this list, but his performance against Texas stands out the most. He was targeted 10 times in the game and caught all 10 for 232 yards and three touchdowns. Five of the passes were beyond 10 yards downfield, and three of those were 20-plus yards downfield. He attacked them deep and beat them seemingly every time. He was dangerous once he had the ball in his hands too, gaining 115 yards after the catch and forcing three missed tackles. The touchdown below was probably the highlight of his game, but he had many other plays that a case could easily be made for.
7. QB Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) vs. Kansas State, 84.6 grade
This is another game that, while not being the player’s highest-graded game of the year, was easily his most impressive. With Texas Tech’s offensive line being less-than-ideal, going up against Kansas State’s very strong front-seven was a daunting task for Mahomes. Without any semblance of a run game, the game fell on the shoulders of Mahomes. He ended up completing 45-of-57 aimed passes (with two drops) for 504 yards and two touchdowns vs. one interception. He added three rushing touchdowns as well. Most impressive was his strong play under pressure. Despite being hurried or hit on 43 percent of his dropbacks, Mahomes managed to completed 14-of-24 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Red Raiders didn’t win, but Mahomes put the team on his back and carried them to 38 points almost single-handedly.
8. LB Jordan Evans (Oklahoma) vs. Baylor, 91.0 grade
Evans finished the season on an incredible three-game run in which he was the highest-graded LB in that span. It started against Baylor, where Evans almost single-handedly shut down their offense. Despite rushing the passer just six times, Evans was able to record two sacks and a hit on the quarterback. He also batted a pass down. But his pass rushing wasn’t the best part of his game in this one. He finished with a near-perfect coverage grade of 97.4. He broke up a pass and had two huge interceptions — one on his own goal line when Baylor had a chance to cut the Sooners lead to 14-7, and another that he returned to the 1-yard line and essentially clinched the game for the Sooners.
9. ED Jordan Willis (Kansas State) vs. Texas, 92.4 grade
Texas had the best offensive line in the Big 12 this year, so the fact that Willis was able to have such a huge game against them was phenomenal. He had two sacks and six quarterback hurries when rushing the passer, as well as two other passes in which he beat his man. He also added a batted pass. He added three run stops and several other disruptive plays that led to his 93.1 run-defense grade. Willis had a phenomenal season all around, but this game was definitely his most impressive.
10. RB Kyle Hicks (TCU) vs. Baylor, 95.3 grade
In Week 10, TCU was taking on a Baylor team that had just narrowly lost their first game of the season and were looking to bounce back. TCU was having none of it, and thanks largely to the play of Hicks, crushed Baylor. Hicks carried the ball 26 times, and gained 192 yards, including 79 after contact. He broke six tackles as well. But most impressively, he scored five touchdowns. Hicks was finding every hole in the defense, and even when Baylor defenders did get near him they usually weren’t able to tackle him immediately. TCU had a mostly disappointing season, but this game for Hicks was definitely the highlight.