Welcome to Big 12 Hindsight, a recap I’ll be doing each week of how the Big 12 teams fared. As an initial note, I should point out that I am approaching this very much as a proponent of the Big 12. While this will seem obvious to some of you, I have been to WVU games at Mountaineer Field when the scores around the Big 12 were announced, and large swaths of the crowd cheered when we found out that one of the top teams in the conference lost. While it can be fun to see a rival lose, I ultimately want all Big 12 teams to win every game against non-conference teams to strengthen the league as a whole. Again, I take that as a given, but some clearly do not feel that way.
So, that being said, I plan to look at these games in terms of how they affect the image of the Big 12 as a whole. My hope was that in the first few weeks, there wouldn’t be much bad news, but I was clearly wrong, because . . .
Maryland 51, Texas 41
. . . Texas missed another opportunity to show that they are “back.” This game definitely hurts the image of the conference. Texas came into a season ranked, with an opportunity to get a win over another major conference team and show everyone that Tom Herman had the program on the right track. Instead the Longhorns let themselves get down early in the game, and while they showed some offensive prowess in the second half, ultimately it was not enough. I at least partially subscribe to the school of thought that the Big 12 will continue to get disrespected when it comes to the overall perception of the conference (which matters come playoff time) until Texas becomes a perennial top 25 team again. I’m not going to write their year off after one game, but this was certainly a step in the wrong direction. And as frustrating of a loss as this was for an advocate of the conference . . .
Liberty 48, Baylor 45
. . . it wasn’t nearly as bad as seeing Baylor, one of the top teams in the country only a few years ago, lose to an FCS school. Baylor’s defense got rocked here, allowing Liberty’s quarterback Stephen Calvert to throw for 447 yards, and giving up 585 yards in total. As if this wasn’t enough bad news for the Bears, starting running back JaMycal Hasty left the game with possible MCL injury, and may miss a few weeks. It’s never good to lose your starting running back in the first game, but it’s especially a problem when he was only your go-to back because your would-be starter Terence Williams has already been sidelined with injury. Not a good start for new Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, and not a good look for the Big 12.
Oklahoma State 59, Tulsa 24
Oklahoma State came out swinging in this one, scoring 21 points in the first quarter, and they never looked back. Not that the result here is surprising in any way; OSU did exactly what they needed to do. Still, it’s always good to see Big 12 teams put underdogs away in the early going, so they don’t start to believe they really can compete. Mason Rudolph had a strong performance here, completing 20 of 24 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns. Wide receiver James Washington was a key part of that performance, catching six passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
Oklahoma 56, UTEP 7
I think this one went pretty much like everyone expected. However, Baker Mayfield’s performance is worth pointing out, as he completed 19 of 20 passes for 329 yards and three touchdowns. Anytime someone throws more touchdowns than incompletions, I will give credit where credit is due. Hopefully he’ll show the same quality play against Ohio State next week. He should certainly have motivation against the Buckeyes after Oklahoma’s disappointing performance in last year’s meeting. And though the game eventually got out of hand, I think Indiana’s performance against Ohio State in the first half of their opener showed that OSU is vulnerable against the pass.
Kansas State 55, Central Arkansas 19
Here’s another one that went according to plan. There’s not a whole lot to say; Kansas State played a vastly inferior opponent and won convincingly. It’s nice when conference teams do that, but it can’t always be relied on. Come on, I can’t be the only one who knows Marshall fans who still talk about their win over KSU as if it happened yesterday (it was in 2003).
Texas Tech 56, Eastern Washington 10
I subscribe to the school of thought that believes Kliff Kingsbury has one of the hottest seats in college football this year. While pummeling Eastern Washington isn’t going to do much to cool it off, it’s nice to see that the loss of quarterback Patrick Mahomes II didn’t send the Red Raiders into an offensive stupor. In fact, Nic Shimonek was very effective at quarterback, completing 26 of 30 passes for 384 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Kansas 38, Southeast Missouri State 16
Let’s be honest, if someone came to you a week ago and told us that a Big 12 team was going to lose to an FCS team this weekend, you would have presumed it was Kansas, not Baylor. It’s good to see that the former did not happen, especially since the latter did. While I don’t think Kansas is really going to build much momentum from this win, it’s nice for the Big 12 that they took care of business.
Iowa State 42, Northern Iowa 24
While I’m sure Iowa State would have preferred not to give up 24 points to their in-state FCS opponent, they still won with a sufficient enough cushion that I’m not raising too much of an eyebrow. I note, though, that Northern Iowa didn’t exactly help themselves out, with quarterback Eli Dunne throwing three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns. The Cyclones won’t be able to rely on Iowa, a team that just shut down much-hyped quarterback Josh Allen and Wyoming, to beat themselves like that next week.
TCU 63, Jackson State 0
Well, this was not very competitive, but I doubt many people expected anything much different. Still, I’ll mention TCU’s defense, which held Jackson State to 65 total yards, thanks in large part to five total sacks. TCU also spread the ball around on offense with 14 different players catching at least one pass. It’s unlikely we’ll see such stifling defense or egalitarian offense from TCU as their schedule gets harder, but I’m sure they had fun while it lasted.
Well, that’s it for this week’s Big 12 Hindsight. Not as strong of a week as I would have hoped, particularly thanks to Baylor’s loss to Liberty. Normally I’ll also address WVU’s game in this piece, but due to the logistics of posting this piece and WVU playing an unusual Sunday night game, I won’t this week. Until next time, let’s go Mountaineers!