Well, another week of college football is in the books, and I have to say the Big 12 came out of this weekend looking better than it did going in. That’s not to say there weren’t blown opportunities (cough, Iowa State) and teams that continued to disappoint (Baylor). But a few key wins and consistency at the top of the conference ultimately result in the league looking like it has a great shot at getting into the College Football Playoff. I will also go ahead and make a note before I get into the games, since it could be confusing this week, that as someone who focuses on the Big 12, I use OSU to mean Oklahoma State. So when I am talking about Ohio State, I will say Ohio State.
Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 16
That respect that the Big 12 got back this week? Most of it came in this game. Although the game was tied at halftime, Oklahoma looked like the stronger team throughout. Their superiority became apparent largely on the back of quarterback Baker Mayfield’s incredible second half; he went 27-of-35 passing for 386 yards on the evening, but was 16-of-17 for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the second half. Though I think Ohio State was overrated coming into this contest, this win will firmly establish Oklahoma as an early favorite to make the College Football Playoff and Baker Mayfield as a top contender for the Heisman Trophy. Additionally, now that they’ve made it through this game, the Sooners look to have smooth sailing until they visit Kansas State on Oct. 21.
Oklahoma State 44, South Alabama 7
Mason Rudolph looked sharp again this week, going 25-of-38 passing for 335 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception, but did anyone expect anything else against South Alabama. So far this season OSU has demonstrated that they can destroy vastly inferior teams, but little else. Fortunately they at least face a Power 5 opponent next week in Pitt, but their first true challenge should be TCU on Sept. 23.
TCU 28, Arkansas 7
Unlike much of the conference, TCU played a Power 5 opponent this week, and they won convincingly. And it wasn’t just a team from any Power 5 conference, it was an SEC team. Of course, many will say, “Yeah, but it was Arkansas,” as if they somehow don’t count as an SEC team. To which I say, sorry, you can’t have it both ways; you can either talk about how great SEC football is or you can say “yeah, but it was Arkansas,” but not both.
Anyway, TCU’s defense was strong, holding quarterback Austin Allen to nine completions on 23 attempts and one touchdown. Moreover, the Horned Frogs gave up only 267 yards of total offense. TCU’s passing offense wasn’t exactly stellar, as Kenny Hill went 21-of-31 for 166 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. However, the running game was solid, with sophomore Darius Anderson running for 106 yards on 15 carries and scoring one touchdown. TCU deservedly jumped to No. 20 in the AP poll after this win; assuming both teams don’t slip up in the interim, look for the Horned Frogs’ aforementioned visit to OSU on Sept. 23 to be one of the first decisive Big 12 match-ups of the year.
Kansas State 55, Charlotte 7
Much like OSU, Kansas State has done an excellent job of showing they can run all over inferior opponents. And run they did this week; the Wildcats racked up 304 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns. Sophomore Alex Barnes led the ground-based attack with 99 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown. KSU has Vanderbilt next week, so we’ll see if they do as well against a lower-tier Power 5 school.
West Virginia 56, East Carolina 20
Those who thought WVU might look a little sluggish in the early part of this game (read:me) were very mistaken. WVU scored a touchdown on each of its three opening drives to take a 21-3 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was even more lopsided, with WVU putting up 28 points and shutting out ECU. Quarterback Will Grier was brilliant again, going 19-of-25 for 352 yards, five touchdowns, and no interceptions. Running the ball, Justin Crawford had another solid outing, gaining 118 yards on 15 carries and reaching the end zone twice. Senior safety Kyzir White stood out on the defensive side of the ball with two interceptions. WVU was not a well-oiled machine in all respects though; the defense still gave up big pass plays, and kicker Mike Molina missed both of his two field goal attempts. The Mountaineers have now demonstrated they can play a good opponent close and dominate a weak one; what they need to prove now is that they can actually win a big game. They’ll get that opportunity when they visit TCU on Oct. 7.
Texas 56, San Jose State 0
Wow, I guess the Longhorns had some frustration to take out after the disappointing loss to Maryland last week. Much like Kansas State, Texas opted to decimate their victim on the ground, resulting in 406 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns. Junior Chris Warren III had a particularly good game, accumulating 166 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Texas has now shown they can crush a much weaker opponent. If they want to show that they are “back,” as everyone was so eager to pronounce them in the preseason, they have an opportunity to do so when they visit AP No. 4 USC (Southern California) next week.
Iowa 44, Iowa State 41 (OT)
This one was a soul-crusher as a proponent of the Big 12, so I can’t imagine what it was like for Cyclones fans. After trailing 21-10 halfway through the third quarter, Iowa State scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 31-21 lead with just under 12 minutes remaining in the game. After allowing Iowa to tie the game at 31, the Cyclones took a one-touchdown lead again on the back of a 74-yard pass. However, missed tackles allowed Iowa to score on a 46-yard pass of their own to send the game to overtime. Unfortunately, the Cyclones had to settle for a field goal on their overtime possession, so the Hawkeyes were able to win the game on a Nathan Stanley touchdown pass. Wide receiver Hakeem Butler was a bright spot for the Cyclones in the disappointing loss, catching five passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns, including the 74-yard touchdown. Hopefully this performance is indicative of a stronger Iowa State squad than the Big 12 is used to seeing. But only time will tell if this is true or just a big performance for an in-state rivalry.
Central Michigan 45, Kansas 27
It looks like Kansas may be back to their normal ways. To be fair, Central Michigan is not terrible, but they are a MAC team, so it’s not a good look for any Big 12 team to lose to them (even if it comes on a highly suspect call, like OSU’s loss to them in 2016 did). It didn’t require any shenanigans from the officiating crew to beat Kansas though; Michigan transfer quarterback Shane Morris shredded the Jayhawks’ defense for 467 yards and five touchdowns in the air. Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender certainly didn’t help his team’s cause with his two interceptions.
UT San Antonio 17, Baylor 10
Baylor continued their sad descent into the cellar of the Big 12 (and FBS football as a whole) this week with their loss to C-USA opponent UT San Antonio. Baylor needed a rebound after a loss to FCS opponent Liberty last week, and they did not get it. Baylor managed just 274 yards of total offense. If Baylor doesn’t get a win next week at Duke, things look very bleak for the Bears as their conference schedule opens with Oklahoma, Kansas State, OSU, and WVU. Orange may be the new black, but it looks like Baylor is the new Kansas.
My Big 12 Rankings after Week 2:
- Oklahoma (2-0) – Easy pick. AP No. 2 and a win over the previous No. 2.
- TCU (2-0) – They don’t look as talented as OSU, but they’ve beaten an SEC opponent.
- OSU (2-0) – Crushed two weak opponents, looked great doing it.
- KSU (2-0) – Good at scoring 55 on inferior teams. How good are they against real opponents?
- TT (1-0) – Probably weaker than the next two teams, but haven’t lost.
- WVU (1-1) – Lost to a good Virginia Tech team, crushed awful ECU. Great QB in Grier.
- ISU (1-1) – Not terribly strong in Week 1 win, lost heart breaker in Week 2.
- Texas (1-1) – Bounced back from a disappointment against Maryland. USC next week.
- Kansas (1-1) – Lost to a MAC team this week. Not impressive.
- Baylor (0-2) – Bad news Bears
This was definitely a better week for the conference as a whole, as the big wins came at the top (Oklahoma, TCU) and the bad losses came at the bottom (Kansas, Baylor). Iowa State losing in overtime feels like the disappointment of the week; it certainly would have been good for the conference to get a win over the Big Ten. Until next time, let’s go Mountaineers!