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Big 12 Roundup: Kansas did what?!

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The last two weeks were mostly good to the Big 12 conference.

NCAA Football: East Carolina at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The second and third weeks of the 2018 seasons have been mostly good to the Big 12, with a couple of big wins, a couple of disappointing losses to Power 5 opponents, and, well, let’s just address the elephant in the room, shall we?

Kansas

The single most momentous thing to happen in the Big 12 happened last Saturday. Kansas finally won a road game. In beating Central Michigan 28-7, the Jayhawks put to rest a 46-game road losing streak, a patch of futility going all the way back to September 12, 2009.

If that wasn’t enough, Kansas then followed up this rare win over an FBS team with a second-straight win over an FBS team, also for the first time since 2009. This past weekend, the Jayhawks beat the heck out of Rutgers 55-14 , in a game dubbed the GAME OF THE CENTURY by the mothership.

To put this moment into context, this was the first time the Jayhawks had scored more than 50 points in a game since beating Colorado back in 2010. That was back when Barack Obama was still president and the Big 12 still had 12 teams.

Just as they did against Central Michigan, the Jayhawks rode running back Pooka Williams to victory, but also capitalized on costly turnovers from their opponents. Rutgers’ quarterbacks combined for three interceptions, and the Scarlet Knights also lost three fumbles to turn their usual incompetence into a total comedy of errors.

Speaking of comedy, I’ll just leave this here:

Kansas takes its newfound competence on the road against Baylor next week. This might be the Jayhawks’ best chance to win a Big 12 game this season.

Baylor

This Baylor team is beginning to resemble the Baylor of old, and by old, I mean before RGIII ever showed up in Waco. The Bears beat Texas-San Antonio 37-20 in Week 2, avenging a 17-0 loss to the Roadrunners in 2017. That game offered no surprises, though it was probably not a great sign that UTSA was able to close the gap 27-20 late in the game. Both quarterbacks—Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon—played in the game and that trend will probably continue.

And then the Duke game happened. Like in the UTSA game, the Bears were looking for revenge for last year’s 34-20 loss to the Blue Devils. But instead of playing with motivation and grit, Baylor looked like a shadow of its once-explosive self, and by halftime, the score was 23-0 Duke, thanks to costly turnovers and special teams miscues. For all practical purposes, the game was over.

Baylor did find the end zone in the second half, but it was a case of too little too late. This game was the Bears’ first home game against a Power 5 team since 2008, and Baylor did not look ready for the upgrade in competition. So what happens next? Well, it’s not time to panic just yet. Baylor is good—if woefully inconsistent—and a game against a Kansas team unexpectedly flying high might be just the thing.

Iowa State/Oklahoma

The Cyclones didn’t have a great couple of weeks either. Iowa State was on the cusp of a breakout season last year but right now, they’re just 1-2, with losses to Iowa and its stifling defense and then to Oklahoma and its explosive offense. That Iowa State acquitted itself decently in both games doesn’t exactly take the sting away.

The annual Children of the Corn game lived up to its ¡ElAssico! reputation. An instant classic this 13-3 Iowa win was not.

The game was tied 3-3 at halftime. Thanks to Iowa’s swarming defense, the Clones’ offense could never get untracked. Iowa State managed just 188 yards of total offense and only made one trip into the red zone. On the other hand, the Cyclones played pretty well on defense, holding Iowa’s vaunted rushing attack to just 2.9 yards per carry.

The game against Oklahoma could not have been more different. The Sooners—coming off a 49-21 pasting of UCLA in which Kyler Murray accounted for five TDs—quickly ran out to a 10-0 lead. But Iowa State was more than equal to the task and tied it up before OU turned up the heat and opened a 24-10 lead by halftime.

In the second half though, Oklahoma would add only 13 more points as the game Cyclones hung around and made things interesting, narrowing the lead to just one score. A Zeb Noland interception late in the game sealed Iowa State’s fate, however, and the Sooners ended up exacting revenge for last season. There are, after all, no moral victories.

Given the recent tragedy in Ames, the Iowa State community is not especially focused on football right now. In the wake of star golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena’s death, the Cyclones will wear a helmet decal with her initials on Saturday against Akron. Under the circumstances, we’re going to temporarily suspend use of our favorite Iowa State GIF.

On the other hand, Incarnate Word? Really, Iowa State?

As for Oklahoma, the Sooners are 3-0 (yawn) and barely tested. It’s unlikely that Army, the Sooners’ next opponent, will hand them the first loss, but OU apparently has NCAA-sized (read: extremely ticky-tack) fish to fry right now.

TCU

In Week 2, TCU played for and won the Iron Skillet for beating one-time arch rival SMU 42-12. This is the school’s seventh straight win in the series. Things didn’t go as planned at first, thanks to a two-hour lightning delay and a driving ran that fell for most of the first half. The Horned Frogs found themselves trailing SMU until Kavonte Turpin returned a punt 78 yards to close the lead, and then never looked back.

In fact, if anything, TCU was looking ahead to its primetime game with Ohio State in Week 3, and what a game it was. In the first half, the Horned Frogs looked more than up to the task of taking down the Buckeyes. Indeed, TCU led 14-13 at halftime, and 21-19 at one point in the third quarter. But a four-minute interlude after that went something like this:

TCU gave up a defensive score and then had a punt blocked to put Ohio State in the lead for good. A late interception thrown by Frogs’ quarterback Shawn Robinson ended any chances of a comeback, and the Frogs lost the game 40-28.

Up next, TCU will play at Texas, but not before Gary Patterson gave the media—and lazy headline writers—a piece of his mind.

Texas

The Longhorns began the season badly, losing to Maryland. In Week 2, Texas did a little better by beating Tulsa 28-21, but the manner of victory left fans very much in doubt about the team’s trajectory. It took a long, clock-grinding drive from quarterback Sam Ehlinger to finally put the game out of Tulsa’s reach, and that was despite the Golden Hurricanes doing everything to give the game away, including missing three field goals in the first half. Still, a win—even a listless one—is a win, right?

Well, Texas needed a much more emphatic performance against USC, and boy did the Longhorns get just that. The 37-14 beatdown of the Trojans began with Texas down 14-3 in just the first quarter. And then the sleeping giant woke. Ehlinger accounted for three scores and a blocked punt added another as the Longhorns scored 34 unanswered points and absolutely dominated the Trojans.

So it Texas back then? Who knows?

The game against TCU should provide a more definitive answer. Speaking of that game, this TCU pregamer is a must-read.

Texas Tech

In Week 2, the Red Raiders won a glorified scrimmage against Lamar 77-0. The important point here is that Texas Tech’s defense pitched a shutout, a feat last accomplished in 2006. This was also the program’s highest scoring game since dropping 80 points on Sam Houston State in 2005.

Playing a Lamar will mask many sins, but what about when the competition gets better? That proposition was tested last week when Texas Tech hosted Houston, and the result was, well, pretty much the same on the offensive side. The Red Raiders beat the Cougars 63-49, and Alan Bowman emerged as the program’s newest quarterback with crazy numbers. Bowman threw for 605 yards and five touchdowns, including three to Antoine Wesley who managed a school-record 261 yards receiving on the day.

Ignore the fact that the defense is kinda terrible and gave up 49 points. A win is a win.

Tech’s inability to play defense might haunt them against Oklahoma State in their next game.

Oklahoma State

Much like Texas Tech, the Cowboys played a seriously overmatched opponent in Week 2. Beating South Alabama 55-13 told us almost nothing about Oklahoma State. Despite starter Taylor Cornelius throwing two interceptions, the Pokes rolled to victory.

Playing Boise State was going to be different though. The #MurderSmurfs had been lighting it up against lesser opponents. They had 818 yards of offense against UConn and had outscored opponents 118-27. But the Pokes were unfazed. Those are just numbers, they said, and so, Oklahoma State proceeded to methodically annihilate Boise State 44-21. After playing to a scoreless tie in the first quarter and then being down 7-0 early in the second quarter, the Cowboys rallied. With Taylor Cornelius passing for a touchdown and running for two more, and with Justice Hill gaining 123 yards on just 15 carries, the rout was on.

But never mind all that. The Pokes’ offense being good is to be expected. But the defense—absolutely the real deal—is only giving up 17 points a game and held Boise State to just 34 yards rushing.

West Virginia

The ‘Eers beat Youngstown State 52-17 in Week 2. Quarterback Will Grier to nothing to harm his Heisman chances, throwing four touchdown passes including three to the much-maligned Gary Jennings, Jr. Meanwhile, the defense held the Penguins to just 293 yards of total offense.

As good as the ‘Eers looked in that game, they were no match for an actual hurricane. The ‘Eers game against NC State was cancelled due to Hurricane Florence. Whether this will be a good thing for the ‘Eers or a bad thing remains to be seen, but for now, the team and its fans are riding high on confidence. And maybe too much Red Bull.