Well, well, well. The Big 12. Though it had a host of contenders for a national title, and still does, it is clear that other than the AAC, no league in the nation is quite as top heavy. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas know what they have on their rosters, but outside that your guess is as good as mine. Baylor and Tech each had impressive wins but TCU seemed to struggle and we haven’t even gotten to Iowa State and Kansas State’s losses to FCS teams. Thanks to those two embarrassing games, West Virginia rises in the rankings with an ugly-as-sin win against William & Mary. Kansas also rises since they were idle. It was that kind of weekend for the Big 12.
Hopefully this isn’t your first time checking out our stock report, but if it is, the above chart illustrates the power rankings of the league. The buying/holding/selling stock in a team is relative to preseason expectations, making a better bowl, or surprising the league and competing for a division title. Just because I’m buying a lot of stock in a team doesn’t mean I think they are better than the first place team. Now that we are all in sync, let’s get after it!
Oklahoma – The Sooners obliterated a pretty decent Sun Belt squad in Louisiana-Monroe last week. The one question swirling around Norman was quarterback play. Unfortunately for all that OU did well in that win, finding a good passing game was not one. Trevor Knight and Blake Bell combined to complete just 14 of 33 passing attempts for a mere 124 yards. Knight played the majority of the game and did throw for three scores (against one interception) but still, 11-for-28 with 86 yards is not going to cut it against better opponents. The good news is ULM is tougher than any Big 12 defense they’ll face. I kid, I kid! Week one grade: B-
Oklahoma State – For pass-happy coach Mike Gundy, I can only imagine how steamed he must been watching the Cowboys’ lackluster offensive game against Mississippi State. The good news is the OSU defense was very sound, holding a Bulldogs team that boasts a veteran quarterback and running back to just three points. MSU finished 2-for-16 converting third downs, 333 yards, 3.0 rushing average and forced two takeaways. OSU’s defenses have been decent in the past, especially with ball-hawking, but if they can keep this level of play up, oh boy. Gundy is too good an offensive coach for this to become the norm. I expect big days ahead as they don’t face too much talent until the TCU game on October 19. Week one grade: B
Texas – The start was painfully slow but the end result was pretty good as they ran it up against overmatched New Mexico State in the second half. If we didn’t know this already, the game reinforced the idea that as quarterback David Ash goes, the Longhorns will go. I’m really excited about how this team looks at BYU, a place that is never easy to win at. Week one grade: B+
Texas Tech – SMU was my Ichabod Crane sleeper in the AAC and I really thought that June Jones could outwit Kliff Kingsbury in his debut. Since that’s the case, of course I’m going to slurp up the Red Raiders’ big win win like a 7-11 Slurpy. That being said, rushing for just 1.8 per attempt won’t cut it going forward, even in the most insane passing offenses. I’m also pretty sure eight penalties for 80 yards isn’t a recipe for success but let’s not dwell on the negatives. Baker Mayfield was amazing in his debut (as a walk-on true freshman, no less). Regardless of where Tech ends up in the final standings they will get there being an entertaining team to follow. Week one grade: A-
Baylor – When you win 69-3 it isn’t even worth the time (and space) to recap the absurd stats. Here’s the bottom line: they crushed FCS-level Wofford. Let’s give this team some time against some better opponents. We knew they had promise as a sleeper a month ago but we also knew they had one of the softest schedules in the league. Let’s give it a few games before we pull a Dennis Green and crown ‘em. Week one grade: A
TCU – Obviously they had a very hard test facing LSU in a neutral stadium, but the Horned Frogs simply failed to rise to the task. I’m not going to get into all the offensive issues since those are very obvious and LSU has an impressive track record on that side of the ball in the Les Miles era. That leaves this question, what the heck happened to that D? I know LSU has some impressive talent but to give up 450 yards and a 68-percent success rate on third down to a Zach Mettenberger-led team? This from a Gary Patterson-coached team … now that was the stunning thing from the big tilt in Dallas. Week one grade: D+
Iowa State – When you drop your easiest non-conference game to open the year, you’ve got issues. ISU has one of the steepest climbs to get to another bowl thanks to a very difficult schedule. Sam Richardson had a very nice start to the year but the ground game didn’t provide any balance needing a whopping 44 carries to get to just 168 yards. The defense was shredded against a very good UNI offense. Here’s the problem, as good as the Panthers are, they are still an FCS team. How is ISU expected to stop Big 12 caliber offenses? UNI is good, they aren’t Okie State good. Week one grade: F
Kansas – Idle
Kansas State – North Dakota State is the two-time defending champ of FCS and KSU had quite a bit of roster turnover so the loss could have been forgivable – but not in the way it played out. NDSU shut them out over the final 20 minutes of the game and scored 17 unanswered points to win the game. KSU’s margin of error in this season is not wide enough to allow collapses like this. If they have a lead they need to find ways to hold onto it. I still think KSU can make a bowl game but this definitely took a lot of shine out of the Wildcats. Week one grade: F
West Virginia – A few more plays by William & Mary and the league would have had three schools lose to their FCS brethren. I never thought the Mountaineers had an power conference-level defense. After seeing William & Mary put up points as well as pass on them this feeling is confirmed. I didn’t think WVU would make a bowl and that lackluster game is almost enough for me to write them off. Here’s what I love about college football though: a couple of solid weeks and we will all be praising West Virginia for exceeding expectations. Week one grade: C-
Buy These Kids Dinner (if the NCAA allowed it):
Baker Mayfield (QB, Texas Tech) – 43/60, 413 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT and a rushing score. Walk-on true freshman. Boom.
Shamiel Gary (S, Oklahoma State), Caleb Lavey(LB) and Shaun Lewis (LB) – The Cowboys teammates were a three-man demolition team against Mississippi State. First,Mr. Gary: 10 total tackles all of them solo. Mr. Lavey recorded five solo (11 total), two TFL and half a sack. Finally, my personal favorite. Lewis had seven solo tackles (seven total), three TFL (what?!?) and a sack. What is insane is the other members of the Pokes’ D could have also staked claims to this award but those three were something fierce out there for the ‘Boys.
Jed Barnett (P, Oklahoma) – A punter? For a team that won 34-0. He better have put up some insane numbers – don’t worry, he did. Seven punts, 305 yards, 43.6 avg, 0 TB, four inside the 20 and a long of 54.
Dunce of the Week:
It generally helps when your defense manages to get itself off the field. Kansas State did the opposite. The game-determining drive by the SDSU Bison was your general, run-of-the-mill 18-play variety. You know that type. Just one of those shrug-your-shoulders, 80-yard marches. The insanely cliché drive that chews up eight minutes and thirty seconds of game time to put a pin in the hopes of victory for a team that played in a BCS bowl just last year. At some point KSU should have just done the old Madden tactic and given up the score. Two minutes is more important at that point, right?