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Big 12 Roundup: Clowning the non-con

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Every team is pretty much exactly who we thought they were, sort of.

NCAA Football: Stephen F. Austin at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Perfection.

For the first time in, well, a long time, every single Big 12 team was in action for the first proper weekend of college football, and the weekend finished with the Big 12 not having lost a single game. 10-0. For the record, the Big 12 was the only Power 5 conference that managed the feat.

The next week did not go exactly to plan, however, with some teams not quite managing expectations, and others just flat falling on their faces to lesser competition. Then again, offered a chance of redemption, the opportunity to do something unexpected, some teams really stood up to the challenge.

Through three weeks, the Big 12 has gone 22-5 (including 6-4 against Power 5 competition) and boasts the best record among the power conferences. With Oklahoma still a playoff contender, and nearly every team (including Kansas!) boasting a winning record, 2019 could turn out to be a big year for the conference.

Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Baylor (2-0)

There’s little to be gleaned from Baylor’s 56-17 demolition of Stephen F Austin. The Bears took an early two-touchdown lead, and after briefly allowing the Lumberjacks to linger in the first quarter, pressed their advantage and never looked back. Also, they were playing SFA, and SFA is bad.

A 63-14 win over UTSA the next week was not particularly revealing either. Wide receiver Denzel Mims topped the 100-yard mark and caught three touchdown passes, and Baylor’s rushing attack was impressive, piling up 368 yards on the ground, the lion’s share of them coming from backup quarterback Gerry Bohanon. But again, UTSA is bad.

Baylor will play Rice tonight to round out the non-conference schedule. Expect more of the same.

Conclusion? Cupcakes are yummy, but they’re not real food.

Iowa State (1-1)

The Cyclones came into the season riding a medium-sized hype wave. Entering the season ranked for the first time in over four decades, Iowa State looked mostly like the Iowa State of old, struggling to put away a tough FCS opponent. It took the Cyclones three overtimes—including a game-saving heads-up play from quarterback Brock Purdy, and maybe some fortuitous bad judgment from their opponents—to put away Northern Iowa 29-26.

A win is a win, and beating hated in-state rivals Iowa, a ranked P5 opponent, in the Cyclones’ version of the Super Bowl would have been the perfect thing to dispel concerns about Iowa State’s less-than-hot start. Alas, Iowa State is still Iowa State. This means that despite the near-appearance of their natural wind-and-rain carrying mascot, the Cyclones could not get out of their own way and lost to Iowa in true ¡El Assico! fashion, i.e. on a muffed punt return when the Iowa State returner got bowled over by one of his own.

This level of Iowa State-ness can only be understood by witnessing it with your own eyes:

As of this writing, the Cyclones have already put the hurt on UL-Monroe, so here, have yourself whatever the heck this is.

Kansas (2-1)

Guess what? The 2-1 record is not a typo. Kansas is actually above .500. Les Miles has won two games as the head coach of the Jayhawks, In Week 1, Kansas beat Indiana State 24-17 and had to work hard through four quarters to earn the win, including briefly giving up the lead in the fourth quarter on a fumble by quarterback Carter Stanley.

Things did not get better in the next game, when Kansas squarely faceplanted to a 12-7 loss against Coastal Carolina. This was Pooka Williams’ debut game for 2019, but all the great rushing action came from the other team, as the Chanticleers’ CJ Marabel ran right over the Jayhawks to the tune of 148 yards.

A season ago, the whole thing would have been over right then and there. But then, something downright weird happened. Kansas went on the road to take on Boston College, an actual Power 5 opponent with a pulse, ran a version of the triple option, and absolutely stomped their hapless opponents to a 48-24 victory.

Kansas was a three-touchdown underdog, and somehow managed to score 27 straight points to win its first road game against a P5 in 11 years! Everyone—literally everyone—was surprised by this.

Well, maybe not Les Miles.

Oklahoma (3-0)

It was pretty much all Jalen Hurts all the time as #4 Oklahoma stayed perfect and barely broke a sweat while cutting through the non-conference schedule like a scorching hot scalpel through frozen butter.

OU beat Houston handily, 49-31, and the game was not nearly as close as the score might suggest. Hurts accounted for 332 passing yards (20/23), 176 rushing yards (16 carries), and managed six touchdowns. That would be three with his arm and three with his legs, for those obsessed with offensive balance.

The Sooners then clowned South Dakota 70-14. Hurts (14/18, 259 yards) once again passed for three touchdowns, but let backups Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler, and the Sooners’ running back corps take credit for the other six OU scores on the board.

That was followed by a blowout win over hapless UCLA. The Bruins barely showed up and the Sooners won easily 48-14. Hurts (15/20; 289 yards) hit three touchdowns with his arm again, but also managed 150 yards on the ground on just 14 attempts. That’s almost 11 yards a carry.

The biggest takeaway from the first three weeks is that Oklahoma has few flaws that Big 12 teams can truly exploit. Even Dana Holgorsen, Houston’s newly minted coach, seemed at a loss for words, or at least words that were not repetitive:

Four years ago, they were good. A year later, they were the best offense in college football. A year later, with a new quarterback, they’re the best offense in college football. A year later, with a new quarterback, they looked the same to me.

In short:

Oklahoma State

In the battle of the OSUs, the Pokes delivered a 52-36 beatdown of Oregon State. Like their hated in-state rivals, Oklahoma State debuted a new quarterback, Spencer Sanders. All he did was go 19/24 for 203 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 109 yards on the ground. Teammate Chuba Hubbard provided the rest of the scoring, rushing for 221 yards and three touchdowns.

Oh, and the entire coaching staff got stuck in an elevator at Reser Stadium at halftime, delaying the start of the second half.

The Pokes’ passing game dominated their next contest, a 56-14 romp against McNeese State. Sanders had himself a game, getting 250 yards with his arm and adding 51 yards more with his legs.

Tulsa did mount something of a challenge against Oklahoma State, and actually led 21-20 at one point. But that didn’t last long, and ultimately the Cowboys prevailed over Tulsa 40-21, with Hubbard going off for 256 yards on 32 carries, and it was all over bar the shouting.

TCU (2-0)

The debut of Alex Delton at TCU did not go as planned. In a routine 39-7 win over Arkansas Pine-Bluff, he started and went 11/22 for 119 yards and added 67 more with his legs, but didn’t do enough to separate himself from Max Duggan who was a bit sharper through the air.

But if the Frogs didn’t look perfect in their opener, they more than made up for it in a 34-13 rout of Purdue on the road. Running back Darius Anderson was responsible for most of the fireworks, rushing for 179 yards and two scores, while teammate Sewo Olonilua added 106 yards and another touchdown.

That win was enough to cement a spot for TCU in the current Top 25, but the Frogs are currently locked in a struggle with arch nemesis SMU, so who knows what’s really happening with our purple brethren anyway?

Texas (2-1)

Is Texas back? The answer, as always, is that Texas is always back. It just depends on what you mean by back.

Certainly, Texas’ first win, a 42-14 decision over Louisiana Tech, suggested full backness. This was the first year that Tom Herman managed to go 1-0 in Austin, and it was mostly thanks to Sam Ehlinger’s four-touchdown, 300-yard day. Indeed, Ehlinger was so dominant, he was able to leave the game in the fourth quarter.

But Texas being back never lasts quite as long as fans want, and in Week 2, the Horns lined up against LSU in a matchup of Top 10 squads and took a hard-fought 45-38 loss in the process. The two teams went toe-to-toe for much of the game, with Ehlinger passing for 400 yards and four scores. But the second-half avalanche of points was not enough to overcome the Horns’ slow start. So Texas is maybe not quite back yet, although LSU is good and this loss shouldn’t count against the Longhorns.

Texas then wrapped up the non-conference schedule with a 48-13 clobbering of winless Rice, where, yes, you guessed it, Ehlinger had over 250 yards passing and three scores. So Texas is maybe kinda back, at least according to this confusing statement from Herman:

We said all week elite teams, you don’t prove to yourself you’re an elite team by winning every top 10 matchup that you face.

Texas Tech (2-1)

In Lubbock, the Matt Wells era began with a big 45-10 victory over Montana State. Quarterback Alan Bowman lit up the Bobcats to the tune of 436 yards and two scores, while running back Armand Shyne added 125 yards on the ground.

So the Red Raiders are back in business, right? Well, it certainly seemed that way in a 38-13 win over UTEP. Bowman started slowly, but ultimately woke up and passed for three touchdowns. Plus, the Tech defense also showed up to play, The Red Raiders gave up just 131 yards of offense, their lowest total since an 84-yard game in 2012.

But Tech and Wells’ determination to fix Texas Tech ran into a bit of a snag in the form of Arizona and more importantly, a power run game that Tech’s defense could not stop, ultimately losing to the Wildcats 28-14. This was despite Bowman having another three scores and over 300 yards passing.

And if just losing was not enough, Tech also lost defensive back Desmon Smith to a targeting call, and Bowman to a shoulder injury that will keep him out for several weeks.

Tech fans right now:

West Virginia (2-1)

The ‘Eers, much like our own Wildcats, have a new head coach in Neal Brown and were expected to bring up the bottom of the conference standings.

West Virginia’s first outing, an uninspiring 20-13 win over FCS stalwart James Madison, did nothing to change perception. Indeed, the Dukes actually held a 7-3 lead at halftime, and managed to hold West Virginia to just 34 yards on the ground. Quarterback Austin Kendall had to bail his time out in the second half, and did a decent job of it, managing 260 yards of passing and two scores.

And then things really went downhill. The ‘Eers got trucked 38-7 by a Missouri squad that had lost to Wyoming in Week 1. Kendall was ineffective, getting picked off twice and getting the majority of his 137 yards late in the fourth quarter. The ‘Eers’ already anemic rushing attack was bottled up, yielding just 30 yards total. Confusion and disappointment reigned.

But just like with Kansas, something sort of unexpected happened. Taking the field against previously undefeated North Carolina State, the ‘Eers discovered good football again and beat the Wolfpack 44-27. This was West Virginia’s best offensive showing of the season and featured Kendall passing for two scores and the ‘Eers rushing attack finally getting out of the gate and grinding out 173 yards as a team. This was the classic “blue collar” football that Brown wanted, and boy did he get it.

It’s hard to know what to expect from West Virginia this season, but all is not lost.

Also, this is the most West Virginia GIF of all time: