What we learned from Week 8 in the Big 12

Here are some observations from the Big 12 action on Saturday:

1. Josh Stewart brings the beauty in an ugly game

With eight turnovers and utterly incompetent quarterback play from both teams, the TCU-Oklahoma State was basically unwatchable, unless you're a fan of train wrecks. Fortunately, Cowboys wide receiver Josh Stewart was there to inject a bit of energy into the game.

Stewart caught 10 passes for 141 yards and scored on a 95-yard punt return to keep OSU in the thick of the Big 12 title race with the 24-10 win. A non-factor on offense for much of the season because of inconsistent quarterback play, Stewart (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) showed great hands, leaping ability and concentration to snag the ball and good movement in the open field after establishing possession.

Of course, the contrarian would point out TCU's refusal to have All-America cornerback Jason Verrett shadow Stewart all over the field also played a role in his big day. Instead, OSU did a great job of moving Stewart all over the formation to deny Verrett the chance to lock him down.

With signal-callers J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf regressing from last season, Stewart will have to be special for OSU to stay in the mix for its second conference championship in three seasons.

2. TCU's defense keeps putting in work

Speaking of special, the Horned Frogs have been just that, on one side of the ball anyway.

Oklahoma State was in the red zone seven times and came away with only 17 points.

Verrett has been as good as advertised, and while the team's other star, defensive end Devonte Fields is out for the season, there are a whole host of other contributors stepping up. Safety Elisha Olabode had seven tackles, an interception and forced a fumble against the Cowboys, while defensive end James McFarland had two sacks.

Unfortunately, the TCU offense and special teams remain so horrid that a bowl game now seems out of the realm of possibility.

3. Jace Amaro is right there with the nation's best tight ends

Don't tell Air Raid innovator Mike Leach, but a tight end leads Texas Tech in receptions and receiving yards. Jace Amaro came up huge again in a comeback win at West Virginia, as the Red Raiders remain undefeated.

Amaro is anything but a prototypical inline player, but still has to be regarded alongside Eric Ebron of North Carolina and Austin Seferian-Jenkins of Washington as the best tight end in college football this season because of his unreal production (56 receptions for 742 yards and three touchdowns in five-and-a-half games).

4. James Sims throws another scare into a Big 12 power

A favorite Internet meme a couple years back was 'Nick Foles in a losing effort,' when the then-Arizona quarterback would put up ridiculous statistics in defeat. It might not be as noteworthy, but Kansas running back James Sims continues to make Big 12 opponents work for their wins.

Sims rushed for a game-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, helping spot the Jayhawks a 13-0 lead over Oklahoma before reality set in and the Sooners pulled away for a 34-19 victory.

Sims (6-0, 200) isn't a flashy runner, but always plays hard, gets what he can against seven- and eight-man boxes and can move the pile. If he ends up in the right situation, Sims is more than capable of carving out a fine professional career.

5. Charles Tapper steps up for Oklahoma

After getting pushed around by Texas last week, the Sooners defense settled in to life without outside linebacker Corey Nelson and defensive lineman Jordan Phillips. And while Sims showed some of those vulnerabilities are not yet resolved, defensive end Charles Tapper did his part.

Tapper had six tackles with three tackles for loss (two sacks), overwhelming the KU offensive line. Tapper will need to keep delivering that level of dominance to handle the likes of Texas Tech and Baylor.

6. Baylor cruises again

They did it again. Baylor put up 37 points in the first half against Iowa State, continuing to live up to the billing as America's top offense.

The usual cast of characters -- quarterback Bryce Petty, running back Lache Seastrunk and wide receivers Antwan Goodley and Tevin Reese -- put up their usual outrageous statistics before taking a seat in the third quarter.

With the rise of package plays and spread-offense concepts in the NFL, don't be surprised if coaches flock to Waco, Texas this offseason to consult with head coach Art Briles and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, who should receive plenty of consideration for head coaching jobs.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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