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Big 12 Roundup: Of bad calls and blowouts

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A late look at Week 3 around the Big 12

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Oh, Big 12. When you’re not messing up your own expansion plans, penalizing university marching bands, or setting new lows in officiating, you can be moderately exciting. There have been weeks when you have left the college football world in awe, with your scoring explosions, your unexpected comebacks on the road, and your last-minute heroics. There have been weeks when you have been, without question, the strongest conference in the land.

This was not one of those weeks.

Let’s review.

Baylor

Baylor may be the only Big 12 team still technically in contention for the college football playoffs this season, but nobody seems especially impressed with the Bears right now. The 38-10 win over Rice was predictable and workmanlike, but not without its hiccups. Baylor was slow out of the gate and at point in the second quarter, the Bears were even down 3-0!

The football never threatened to excite, but the halftime show provided plenty of fireworks. First, there was the Rice Marching Owl Band, which has a reputation for making fun of its opponents and didn’t back down from mocking Baylor over the school’s recent sexual assault scandal (Sarah Bronson, Texas Observer).

Here, see for yourself:

Depending on your perspective, this was either an excellent attempt at trolling Baylor, or “disgusting” and “classless.” Many agreed that the show was edgy and funny, but also in poor taste. Rice ultimately issued a statement to the effect of “sorry, but not really” for the incident.

Art Briles was in the audience for the first half, because he loves Baylor Nation and wanted to support his players and former assistants (Sam Khan, Jr., ESPN). He was well-received by the Bears fans who recognized him, and allegedly, he received a standing ovation too.

Oh, and if all that wasn’t enough, Shawn Oakman, currently under indictment for sexual assault, was in the Baylor locker room talking to former teammates. When questioned, Jim Grobe claimed not to know who Oakman was, and the school later reiterated that the former player has been banned.

SMH, Baylor, SMDH.

Iowa State/TCU

The Cyclones didn’t lose to a non-conference opponent this weekend, but that’s only because Iowa State played a Big 12 opponent instead, and promptly lost to TCU 41-20 in a game that was actually more competitive than the scoreline would suggest.

Indeed, Iowa State actually improved in the running game, rushing for 138 yards, after averaging just over 80 yards in the previous two games. The problem was the passing game, which was...well, let’s just use this quote from our friends in the comments section at WRNL:

Iowa State is off to an 0-3 start and it doesn’t get easier from here.

What about TCU? You don’t learn much from a blowout win over an overmatched conference opponent. But that doesn’t keep TCU fans from using words like “impressive” to describe the defense and singing the praises of Kenny Hill.

This is all a bit premature, but a 2-1 start and top position in the conference standings is probably worth bragging about. A little.

Kansas

Normally, this would just be a paragraph of LOL emojis, but we really need to talk about Kansas football. Our cousins down river experienced a 41-7 blowout loss to Memphis. But that score doesn’t really tell the full story.

Buried in that nightmare of a scoreline is a defense that played pretty well, and might have made more of an impact if the offense wasn’t so intent on giving the game away. After holding Memphis to just 13 points in the first quarter, Kansas actually scored to narrow the lead to 13-7.

What happened after that? Kansas football happened. Four turnovers in the first half, and another one in the final stanza of the game pretty much sealed the Jayhawks fate, and prompted this reaction from head coach David Beaty:

Kansas does catch a break of sorts this weekend. It is theoretically impossible to lose to BYE.

Oklahoma

If you’re not feeling at least a hint of that emotion with the shady, fruity German name on watching Oklahoma lose in spectacular fashion to Ohio State, you’re probably dead inside. Or a Michigan Man.

The 45-24 scoreline (which includes an OU touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown at all) isn’t an accurate reflection of the speed of Ohio State’s athletic receivers (what is Noah Brown I don’t even) or the Buckeyes’ total domination at the line of scrimmage.

Instead, it was emblematic of the Sooners’ defensive woes. Looking variously confused and overmatched, Oklahoma allowed Ohio State almost 300 rushing yards on the day, to go with JT Barrett’s 152 yards through the air.

Afterwards, Oklahoma was left to ponder what had gone wrong in a game that should have been a tight contest between two elite squads. The answer is easy and deflating: everything. But mostly Mike Stoops. (That sudden burst of joy you’re feeling, K-State fan? It’s that schadenfreude again).

Finally, Oklahoma also gave the rest of college football an object lesson in what not to do before a big game: run smack on your talented, highly-rated opponent. Basic, right?

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys bore the brunt of one of the most egregious bad calls in Big 12 history a week ago. This week, quietly and with little fanfare, the team bounced back with a hard-fought 45-38 win over a game Pitt squad.

Mason Rudolph threw for 540 yards on the day, a new school record. Pretty much the only obstacle Oklahoma State passing game faced was the weather, as the teams had to endure a lengthy lightning delay.

The Oklahoma State running game was nothing to write home about, however. Running back Chris Carson was out with a hand injury, and the Pokes only managed 100 yards on the ground in his absence. The defense allowed Pitt to hold the ball for nearly 38 minutes while racking up over 500 yards of total offense, and it was only an interception on the final drive that saved the win.

Still, this is the best non-conference win the conference has managed in 2016. Kudos, Pokes.

Texas

For the first two weeks of this season, Texas looked like the class of the Big 12. The Longhorns had a statement win over Notre Dame and had beaten the heck out of a hapless UTEP team. But it also felt like Texas was due for disappointment, and it happened against Cal in the most bizarre way.

The game was a back-and-forth affair, but late in the fourth quarter, Texas had kicked a 35-yard field goal to tie at 43-43. Then, all hell broke loose. Davis Webb threw his fourth touchdown of the game to put Cal ahead 50-43, and Texas’ next drive stalled out. But the Longhorns still had a shot when Cal’s Vic Enwere dropped a 55-yard punt return at the 1. Texas recovered but was not given the ball, because there was no “immediate recovery.”

If your reaction to that call was “BZUH?!” you were hardly alone. #Big12Refs, man.

But that call didn’t really cost Texas the game. It was the 507 yards the Longhorns gave up (including almost 400 yards to Webb through the air) that ensured a loss. The defensive line didn’t get much pressure on Webb, and will be thoroughly tested again by Mason Rudolph in the Horns’ next game.

Texas Tech

The name Patrick Mahomes should strike fear into the heart of opposing secondaries. Three weeks into this new season, Mahomes leads the nation in passing yards (1493) and passing yards per game (497.7). He’s also leading the nation in total yards per game (543.7) and is completing 71.2% of his passes. With Mahomes at quarterback, Texas Tech is averaging 61 points per game. The word Heisman is even being tossed around a little bit (Mitch Sherman & Jake Trotter, ESPN).

In short, Mahomes is stupid good and can do stuff like this:

So why are the Red Raiders still unranked? Easy. The defense is just terrible. Maybe that’s too strong a word. Maybe it’s just that defense is woefully inconsistent (Max Olson, ESPN). Either way, defensive coordinator David Gibbs better help improve the unit, or Mahomes’ flashy stats will be wasted on a team struggling to make the postseason.

West Virginia

There’s been plenty of talk about the heat of Dana Holgorsen’s seat, but West Virginia’s early 2-0 start may be just the ice bath Holgorsen needed. In the first game of the season, the ‘Eers beat Missouri 26-11 and at no point in the game was Missouri ever a real threat. A 38-21 win over Youngstown State followed in Week 2, where Skylar Howard threw for five touchdowns, a career best mark.

Hidden in the fireworks is that Youngstown State actually led 14-7 at one point in the first half before the ‘Eers came back to tie the game. Some of this was just good ol’ fashioned coaching by Bo Pelini, but some of it was also letdown for West Virginia after the big win over Missouri, and maybe just a bit of looking ahead to the ‘Eers tilt against BYU.

The 2-0 record notwithstanding, we haven’t really learned much about West Virginia. The game against BYU should be more informative, and if the ‘Eers pull off a win there, they should have the inside edge for the rest of the season.

After all, West Virginia is still in college playoff contention.

We leave you to ponder the state of the Big 12 with this final GIF: