Week 3 is in the books, and it was a mixed bag for the Big 12. Oklahoma State proved they could dominate a Power 5 school as easily as they did non-Power 5 opponents, but Vanderbilt exposed Kansas State as a much weaker offensive force than they appeared hitherto. Texas played valiantly on the road, but ultimately fell in double overtime to USC. I’m not sure what the net result for the conference is here; it wasn’t as bad as Week 1, but I still feel like it was not a great showing overall.
Oklahoma 56, Tulane 14
After a big win in Week 2 against Ohio State, an AAC opponent like Tulane could have proved to be the perfect trap game if the Sooners came in unfocused and overconfident. In the early going, you could have been forgiven for thinking that was a possibility. Tulane took a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, and retook the lead at 14-7 after Oklahoma responded with a touchdown of their own. The second quarter started with a 14-14 tie, but after Sooners cornerback Parnell Motley picked off Green Wave quarterback Johnathan Brantley and ran the interception back 77 yards for a touchdown, the game was all Oklahoma. Baker Mayfield put up great numbers again, going 17-of-27 for 331 yards and four touchdowns.
Oklahoma State 59, Pitt 21
I have made a point thus far this season in holding back from believing OSU is really a Top 10 team, because I saw their rating as a combination of preseason hype and big wins against weak opponents. OSU absolutely demolished Pitt in an offensive showcase for quarterback Mason Rudolph, who went 23-of-32 for 497 yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. Four different OSU receivers ended up with over 100 yards on the day, showing that Rudolph is willing to spread the ball around. It’s worth pointing out too, that OSU scored 49 points in the first half, suggesting that this game could have been worse if they hadn’t taken their foot off the gas.
TCU 56, Southern Methodist University (SMU) 36
After an impressive win over Arkansas in Week 2 and an upcoming visit to OSU in Week 4, this matchup looked like a possible trap game for the Horned Frogs. Despite the 20-point margin of victory, this was a close game for three quarters. TCU only led by six at halftime thanks to a Kenny Hill 38-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Reagor on the final play of the half; the Horned Frogs only led 35-29 entering the fourth quarter. Kenny Hill was excellent, going 24-of-30 for 365 yards and four touchdowns, but the Horned Frogs hurt themselves by giving away three fumbles. As noted, TCU visits OSU next week (Sept. 23) in the game that will tell us a lot about who belongs at the top of the conference with Oklahoma.
Vanderbilt 14, Kansas State 7
Ah. This was the biggest blow to the Big 12 this week. As I mentioned before, with both OSU and KSU I have been questioning whether each offense was really that strong, or if it was just a product of playing lower-tier opponents. While OSU demonstrated this week that they could run the score up on a Power 5 school just as easily as they could against a Sun Belt team, Kansas State showed that their high-powered offense had been purely a result of the circumstances. Quarterback Jesse Ertz was atrocious throwing, going 10-of-28 for 76 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. On the other hand, he was the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 126 yards and the team’s only touchdown. Vanderbilt is an SEC team, so it hardly seems fair to lump KSU in with Baylor and Kansas at the bottom of the conference after this loss, but it does seem fair to say that KSU is not as strong as everyone believed. They dropped out of the most recent AP Top 25 and will need a few significant wins to climb back in. Unless, of course, Vanderbilt is secretly the best team in the country. I guess we’ll find that out Sept. 23 when Alabama pays them a visit.
USC (Southern California) 27, Texas 24 (2OT)
Well Texas, you were so close to being “back.” A win over USC would have rocketed the Longhorns back into the top 25, with the added side effect of making the Big 12 look very good in comparison to the PAC 12. Instead, Texas came up short in the second overtime. This tight contest could have been the result of Texas getting psyched up for a big game, the fact that the Longhorns are better than they looked against Maryland, or that USC is overrated. My guess is that it is a combination of all three. While ultimately it seems like the Longhorns have worked some things out defensively (remember, they gave up 51 points against Maryland in Week 1), only so much can be gained from moral victories, and Texas is now sitting at 1-2 heading into Big 12 play.
West Virginia 59, Delaware State 16
Despite the lopsided score, WVU looked unfocused in the early going in this one. Will Grier threw a pick, lost a fumble, and bobbled some snaps. Gary Jennings also fumbled after a catch and the previously red hot David Sills dropped a pass in the endzone. Additionally, the Mountaineer defense gave up big plays again, including an 81-yard touchdown pass and a 47-yard run. However, the Mountaineers still had no trouble dispatching this inferior opponent. Justin Crawford had another great game, picking up 102 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Despite his mistakes, Grier threw for three touchdowns and 300+ yards again, and sat for much of the second half.
Iowa State 41, Akron 14
The Cyclones took care of business here, so it doesn’t look like the disappointing loss to Iowa in Week 2 took everything out of them. Granted, Akron is a MAC team, but Iowa State can’t always be relied on to destroy lower tier FBS schools, so this was good to see. Particularly as Kansas and Baylor continue to drag down the bottom of the conference. Quarterback Jacob Park was solid, going 24-of-33 for 317 yards and two touchdowns without throwing an interception. The Cyclones have Week 4 off, then face Texas on Sept. 28. Texas may not be a powerhouse thus far this year, but a win over the Longhorns would cause people to take notice of the Cyclones.
Texas Tech 52, Arizona State 45
1,109 yards of total offense and 97 combined points? Yep, this Big 12-PAC 12 shootout featured both. The Red Raiders did most of their work in the air, as Nic Shimonek did his best Patrick Mahomes impression to go 37-of-50 for 543 yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions. While it’s hard to criticize this offensive production, it doesn’t say much about the Red Raider defense that, after leading 42-24 with 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter, the offense needed to score in the last two minutes to prevent overtime.
Ohio 42, Kansas 30
42 was the Jayhawks’ unlucky number this week. Not only did Kansas allow a MAC team to score 42 points on their defense, but this loss extended their road losing streak to 42 games. Running back Khalil Herbert was a bright spot for the Jayhawks, picking 137 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries. Kansas opens Big 12 play Sept. 23 at home against WVU.
Duke 34, Baylor 20
Baylor lost again, and I’m not going to waste your time or mine talking about it. The game was only as close as it was because Zach Smith threw two 70+ yard touchdowns to Chris Platt in the third quarter. The Bears’ running game was anemic, as the team had only 57 total rushing yards. The way things look heading into Big 12 play, Baylor will be lucky to win a single game this season.
My Big 12 Rankings after Week 3:
1. Oklahoma (3-0) – Rolled on after big win last week.
2. OSU (3-0) – Destroyed Pitt this week. Rudolph looks unstoppable.
3. TCU (3-0) – If they think they are better than OSU, they can prove it.
4. TT (2-0) – Picked up a Power 5 win, and haven’t lost. Offense looks good, defense doesn’t.
5. WVU (2-1) – Rolled another cupcake despite sloppy mistakes. Need to beat a real opponent.
6. KSU (2-1) – Looked pretty sorry against Vandy. Maybe Vandy is good?
7. ISU (2-1) – Nice bounce back from Iowa loss, still need a big win.
8. Texas (1-2) – Heartbreaker against USC. Looked better, but still starting 1-2.
9. Kansas (1-2) – Lost to another MAC team this week. Not impressive.
10. Baylor (0-3) – Will Baylor win a single game this year?
That’s it for Week 3 of Big 12 Hindsight. OSU was definitely the standout performance this week. I’m excited for conference play next week; time for the games that really matter! Until next time, let’s go Mountaineers!