Big 12 must bounce back from shaky play
Last week was a doozy for Big 12 fans, as several games revealed pretenders and teams that can somewhat be considered as contenders. Big 12 went 4-3 last week in non conference games. That is obviously terrible, especially when you consider that the non-conferences opponents now have a cumulative record of 8-12. And in the nationally televised game, a top 25 ranked TCU fell prey to in-state rival Texas Tech. What has the Big 12 come to? While many fans were expecting the Big 12 have a strong sense of parity in conference play, a majority of fans were hoping that this wouldn’t be a rebuilding year for a several teams. Unfortunately, rebuilding is a key theme for several teams, with some having better luck than others.
Texas Tech upset a struggling TCU on a Thursday to barely bump themselves into the Top 25 rankings. The predicted possible winner of the Big 12, TCU, has now established that they are not as good as we thought they were. With every positive reaction comes a negative reaction. While a perceived power goes down temporarily, the Big 12 conference can look forward to a rebuilding that could start 7-0 this year. In this situation, the positive outweighs the negative, by far.
Other positives seemed to have been overlooked though. Oklahoma routed in-state opponent Tulsa with a dominant performance and Kansas State blew right past UMass with no challenge, at all. West Virginia and OSU did exactly what Big 12 fans were expecting them to do, as they both slaughtered their opponents with a 90 point difference, combined. When on the winning side, Big 12 looked dominated as many expected them to be.
Losing side, not so much. KU struggled and lost to C-USA opponent, Rice, on the road. They have yet to win a road game since 2009 (ouch). Texas was creamed on the ground (surprise!) and lost to top 25 team Ole Miss, missing out on an opportunity to replenish their reputation. Iowa State lost to rival Iowa in disappointing fashion, proving that the only factor they have on offense is quarterback Sam Richardson.
With only five games this week, four of them being non-conference opponents, the Big 12 has a chance to bounce back with a 4-1 record. Which of those are more important for the win? Well, let us take a look:
5. Louisiana Tech (1-2, C-USA) at Kansas (1-1)
Time: 11:00 am (CST), Fox Sports 1
Kansas: What a disappoint for KU fans. With much optimism and awareness of a challenging opponent, KU failed to step on the level needed. Many blame it on the play selection by Charlie Weis. A focus on the pass proved to be a failure, with Jake Heaps receiving no helps from the receiving corps. Mechanically, Heaps played well. The problem wasn’t him, as his receivers failed to show up and perform. They struggled to separate themselves from defenders, and to catch passes. It was so bad that Weis had made changes in the depth chart, significantly to the receiving line ups. Look for the Jayhawks to stick with the running game this time, and for Sims to have another game with over 100 rushing yards.
Louisiana Tech: Skip Holtz, the new head coach of LT, has himself cut out for some serious work. They need quarterback Scotty Young to played better or he will lose his starting job. Last week, against Tulane, he completed 9 of 28 passes for 108 yards. Unfortunately, they find themselves facing a pretty good KU defense. Freshman quarterback Tevin Martin has shown flashes of playmaking brilliance. If he can run for over 100 yards and force KU to focus on the ground game, that might give Scotty Young some wiggle room to make some plays.
4. Texas State (2-0, Sun Belt) vs #25 Texas Tech (3-0)
Time: 6:00 pm (CST)
Texas Tech: Texas Tech has brought themselves from mid-conference player to possible Big 12 champion contender. This is mainly because of Kliff Kingsbury Air-It-Out syle of play, giving starting quarterback Baker Mayfield almost 1000 passing yards already. Even back up quarterback David Webb has put up some good numbers. They are 5th in the nation for passing yards game, with 400. The only reason they would lose this game is if all their quarterbacks snap their legs in the first quarter.
Texas State: Texas State has actually been great at stopping the run. Unfortunately, Texas Tech doesn’t run the ball. So seeing how the Bobcats defense plays against such a strong offensive opponent will be interesting. Texas State is ranked 110th in passing yards and 77th for rushing yards. This could be because they have played a game or two less than other opponents but they seemed to struggle offensively in those games against opponents with no real defensive presence.
3. UL-Monroe (2-1, Sun Belt) at #20 Baylor (2-0)
Time: 3:00 pm (CST), Fox Sports 1
Baylor: The Bears could easily have the best offense in the nation. They are third in the nation for passing yards, ranked eighth rushing yards, and first in the nation in point scored, with almost 70 points a game. Wow. Luckily for Baylor, they are playing the most challenging opponent so far in their schedule and a win could add some more believers to Baylor’s title chase. Quarterback Bryce Petty looks like a strong contender for All-Big 12 honors is destined to have a big game against the same team that allowed 34 points against Oklahoma.
UL-Monroe: After losing to Oklahoma, the Warhawks have established themselves as a favorite in the Sun Belt. They upset Wake Forest last week and have some serious motivation heading into this game. Many are telling the Bears to look out, especially after the Warhawks’ upset over Arkansas last year. Many are overlooking the difference in offensive production between Wake Forest and Baylor though. A loss against Baylor is imminent.
2. West Virginia (2-1) at Maryland (3-0, ACC)
Time: 2:30 pm (CST), ESPNU
West Virginia: They have finally found their starting quarterback. After an offseason race between three candidates and 3 games, freshman Ford Childress has risen. He exploded last week in production, throwing for 359 yards and three touchdowns. He did throw one interception but with the numbers like he had, coach Dana Holgorsen can deal with a freshman mistake. What matters was the opponent, as they played Georgia State, a team in the FBS for their first year. This game is the test to see if Ford Childress is the real deal, or if Holgerson needs to move on to senior Clint Trickett. If Childress puts up numbers like last week, they will not only beat Maryland but they will have confidence for Big 12 season play.
Maryland: Maryland is 3-0 but take that with a grain of salt. That includes a team making an FBS transition (Old Dominion) and awful FIU team and UConn, who just can’t seem to get their act together. Still, Maryland has an explosive offense that will face its first test against a much improved West Virginia defense. And this is also a team that can also score the ball, as Maryland has only allowed 13.7 points a game so far this year. If senior quarterback C.J Brown can continue can continue throwing over 200 yards while also rushing for another 100, Maryland will run away with another win.
1. Conference Game: Kansas State (2-1) at Texas (1-2)
Time: 7:00 pm (CST), ABC
Kansas State: Finally, starting running back performed to his full potential. He ran for 118 yards in only 18 carries, rushing a 6.6 yard average per carry. If he does this against legitimate opponents, then I would reconsider him for All-Big 12 honors. What makes this great KSU is the rushing game. Quarterback Jake Waters isn’t turning heads with his play. But the Wildcats ran for 329 yards last week. You know who has been struggling with the rushing game? That is right, the Texas Longhorns. If John Hubert has a huge game, KSU runs away with the win.
Texas: Ole Miss ran for almost 300 yards against Texas last week. Now that is an improvement compared to the Longhorns allowing 500 yards to BYU. Still, Texas is going to have to stack the box against KSU to win this game. Jake Waters has done little to prove he can lead with his arm alone. If Texas can hold off KSU’s ground game, expect this game to be close. After the defense does its job, can Texas depend on it starting quarterback? If David Ash can’t play then the Longhorns will have to depend on Case McCoy. While he wasn’t awful last week, he certainly wasn’t great, throwing 200 yards and a touchdown. Texas will be expecting him to throw big numbers to beat Kansas State. Mack Brown is counting on it, as many now know that he is currently in the hot seat and facing an angry fan base.
Written by Mason Kilpatrick