The Big 12 Strikes Back
Week 1 is now officially over for the Big 12 conference. And the week did nothing but show that the Big 12 has several teams who are in need of rebuilding. Overall, the conference went 6-3 in the opening week but went 2-2 against FCS teams (ouch). And even that statistic barely holds weight as West Virginia trailed almost a whole half against William and Mary. Kansas State is in need to find a consistent running game offensively and how to defend the ground game defensively, as they allowed North Dakota State to run for over 200 yards. Iowa State was well….Iowa State. TCU lost to LSU in valiant fashion, showing short glimpses of gaining possible leads throughout the game, despite quarterback inconsistencies. While these performances can be seen as setbacks, there were plenty of other Big 12 games that showed promise for the conference.
Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma had unsurprisingly solid performances against Division 1 opponents. While Texas and Oklahoma had slow starts, many are assuming that was just an example of teams shaking off some rust from a period of no play. Oklahoma State rose to the occasion to beat Mississippi State in convincing fashion, proving many doubters of their defense wrong. Texas Tech had a walk on freshman play beautifully against in-state opponent SMU, throwing for over 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. With the first week over and plenty of questions still needing an answer, what can we expect to see from the 8 games in Week 2? Well, luckily for you, that is what I am here for. Not only will I rank which Big 12 games are most important but also critical questions and/or events for each one.
8. South Dakota (1-0, FCS) at Kansas (0-0)
Time: 6:00 p.m (CST)
Jayhawks: KU is the only Big 12 team making its debut in the second week. This might be a good thing, as the Jayhawks were able to witness Kansas State’s fall to another FCS team from the Dakota-region. Jake Heaps now takes the helm behind center, looking for his first real playing time since 2011 (at BYU). KU is hoping the large number of JUCO recruitments can turn around the success of Kansas Football. Last year, KU’s main problem was finding leadership and the will maintain leads late in the game. With James Sims returning at running back, Cassius Sendish and Ben Heeney leading the defense, the Jayhawks have the players needed to step up in the fourth quarter.
Coyotes: South Dakota barely won their first game of the season last week, beating UC Davis 10-7. In order to pull off the upset against KU, the Coyotes are going to need more consistent play from their quarterback, Josh Vander Maten. Last week, he made 9 of his 17 passes and only threw for 91 yards. Dave Campo, defensive coordinator of the Jayhawks, will have the defensive hungry for physical play. South Dakota should not be so dependent on the running game, as the odds of running for almost 200 yards again this week is highly unlikely.
7. Stephen F. Austin (0-1, FCS) at Texas Tech (1-0)
Time: 6:00 pm (CST)
Red Raiders: Kliff Kingsbury had one hell of a debut last week, mainly because of walk-on starting quarterback Baker Mayfield. Baker threw for 4 touchdowns while running for the only rushing touchdown Texas Tech had. The Big 12 conference player of the week has an easy test ahead of him with in-state FCS team, Stephen F. Austin. Despite allowing almost 400 yards through the air, Texas Tech’s defense was able to keep SMU’s offense away from the end zone for almost the whole last quarter. Expect this game as a polisher for Mayfield and Kingsbury’s air-it-out offense.
Lumberjacks: Stephen F. Austin had no clue how to stop the run last week, losing to Weber State 50-40. They allowed 315 yards on the ground. Luckily, the Red Raiders are not known for a strong running game and the Lumberjacks will be able to build their defensive game plan towards their much stronger secondary. Still, quarterback Brad Attaway will need to avoid throwing for 3 interceptions again in order to keep this game close.
6. Southeastern Louisiana (1-0, FCS) at #24 TCU (0-1)
Time: 11:00 am (CST)
Horned Frogs: TCU had a rough opening game against LSU last week, losing 37-27. Starter Casey Pachall struggled, and was replaced by the younger Trevone Boykin after Casey threw an interception. Boykin did not play much better as the teams leading quarterback, either. This week will be used to decide who take the reigns as the starting quarterback. Also, look for TCU’s secondary to bounce back this week, after letting LSU gain 300 passing yards. Head coach Gary Patterson will be looking to end TCU’s bad habit last week of getting penalties, getting 9 of them that lead to a 55 yard difference.
Lions: Southeastern Louisiana ran for over 300 yards in their victory against Southeast Missouri State, winning 45 to 7. What is with all of these FCS teams with solid ground production? It is still unknown whether TCU will be starting star defensive end Devonte Fields. If he does not, consider a small possibility that the Lions could compete in this game. Overall, their objective should be losing by at least two possessions.
5. Buffalo (0-1, MAC) at #23 Baylor (1-0)
Time: 2:30 pm (CST)
Bears: Baylor enters the Top 25 polls with their dominating win against Wofford last week, 69 to 3. Running back Lache Seastrunk looks to continue his ‘Heisman Campaign’ this week against Buffalo, after running for 111 yards and two touchdowns last week. Buffalo allowed 150 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Ohio State so Seastrunk could have another big game. Junior quarterback Bryce Petty also had a great first game against Wofford, and is looking to continue that success against his first FBS defense. Baylor defense have the ability to hold Buffalo’s offense to under 250 yards, especially after holding Wofford to 3 points last week.
Bulls: Buffalo is still trying to find the same amount of success the program achieved when Turner Gill was leading the team. Jeff Quinn, the head coach leading into his 4th year with Buffalo, is looking for immediate success. He has gained one win with each year in the program, so he will be looking for 5 or more wins this year. Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata showed potential against Ohio State last week. He was only sacked once last week and threw for almost 200 yards. Add on two touchdowns, a good offensive line, and a big play wide receiver in Alex Neut, Buffalo could have a chance in keeping up with Baylor.
4. Louisiana-Lafayette (0-1, Sun Belt) at Kansas State (0-1)
Time: 5:30 pm (CST), Fox Sports 1
Wildcats: Yikes, what a disappointing home opener for KSU. This week, the Wildcats have an opportunity to bring the first win of their newly reinvented stadium. KSU is looking to have a running game actually appear. Star running back John Hubert had a disappointing performance last week, only rushing for only 23 yards. This is the prime game to do it though, as ULL allowed almost 300 yards on the ground against Arkansas.
Ragin’ Cajuns: Louisiana-Lafayette has some work to be done. Lucky for them, their competition this week will be significantly less difficult as they go from playing Arkansas to playing Kansas State. KSU might have a confidence issue and the Cajuns could capitalize on this. In order to do so, they have to play defense. KSU’s offense struggled at times last week against an FCS team (a great FCS team) and they will be looking to improve beyond only 24 points a game, and only 300 total yards. The Cajuns were unable to retain Arkansas’s physical play, and only gathering one turnover. Their offense is not flashing but if they can keep KSU offensive gain to a minimum game, we could see a competitive game.
3. #13 Oklahoma State (1-0) at UTSA (1-0, Conference USA)
Time: 11:00 am (CST), Fox Sports 1
Cowboys: In the first half of last week’s contest, OSU offense had a hard time progressing under Clint Chelf. The OSU defense showed up to play and kept Mississippi State to only 3 points. This performance should hush critics of OSU’s ‘Offense only’ image. OSU did not pick up to speed on the offensive side of the ball until J.W. Walsh took the reigns at quarterback. While he only threw for 135 yards, he ran for 125 and a touchdown. Walsh’s dual-style of play differs from OSU’s typical Air-It-Out style. Still, Walsh is just a sophomore and has plenty of time to gain the experience needed to make big plays with his arm. By saying ‘plenty of time,’ I really mean the first few games until October, when OSU’s conference schedule gets gritty.
Roadrunners: The Roadrunners, in their second year of FBS play, won their first game last week against New Mexico. This comes as no surprise as college teams in the state of New Mexico are awful. But UTSA had consistent play from senior quarterback Eric Soza, and his play made the difference between a win or loss. He threw for almost 250 yards and two touchdowns. He also lead the team in rushing yards and carries as well. This week, he will need more help from running backs Kam Jones and David Glasco, as OSU’s defense are vastly superior over New Mexico’s defense.
2. #15 Texas (1-0) at BYU (0-1, Independent)
Time: 6:00 pm (CST), ESPN2
Longhorns: After a slow start last week against New Mexico State, David Ash was on fire. Despite his two interceptions, he threw for 4 touchdowns and 343 yards. This is the kind of play head coach Mack Brown has been expecting from Ash, who played erratically last year and failed to step up to the premier play-maker level fans were expecting to reach. Not this time, as he made big play after big play. Yes, he had two turnover hiccups but David Ash is always going to have that problem. The important factor was finding a way to dwarf those turnovers with points, which he finally did last week. Will he be able to maintain this level of play against a much stronger BYU? Hopefully. The main concern for Texas this week is to see how their defense plays. They were untested last week and a game against BYU should show the defense’s true color.s
Cougars: BYU suffered a heartbreaking loss last week against a team many predicted the Cougars would beat. Sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill needs to step up after a poor performance last week. He completed 32.5% of his 40 passes and threw for one touchdown…in the first quarter. Against Texas, he will need to find big plays at a consistent level to even keep this game close. And Texas’ defense is predicted to be a lot harder than their last opponent, Virginia. A plus for BYU is the fact that they have not lost at home since last October, and that was their only home loss last season. They better hope that luck applies to them today.
1. Conference Game: West Virginia at #16 Oklahoma
Time: 6:00 pm (CST) FOX
Sooners: Coach Bob Stoops picked up on his 150th win last week in a blowout over UL-Monroe 34-0. Trevor Knight had bigger game on the ground than through the air. He ran for over 100 yards but threw for 3 touchdowns. He played well and Oklahoma should be pumped about their new starting quarterbacks but when it comes to conference play, Knight needs to get more than 86 passing yards a game in order to succeed in the Big 12. I doubt that will be the case but this week against West Virginia will be the real showcase. If he can only get 86 passing yards against the WVU defense….you know you are in trouble.
Mountaineers: Speaking of WVU defense….will they even show up this year? Despite West Virginia’s prolific offense last year, their defense proved to be a major Achilles heel. The Houston transfer Charles Sims carried the offensive load for WVU last week, running for over 100 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Paul Millard is going to need to throw for over 300 yards and a few touchdowns a game in order to play with teams in the Big 12. Seeing how he struggled to do so against FCS team William and Mary…Mountaineer fans will be focused on how plays against the impressive OU defense.