College football in Big 12 country finally kicked off, and while most games went as expected, there were definitely a couple of big oops moments as well.
Let’s start with Baylor, because we’re doing this alphabetically, but also because OMG, Baylor?!
That Baylor was stunned 48-45 by Liberty is not really the news here. This loss was a stunningly inauspicious start to the Matt Rhule era. It’s true that FBS teams sometimes lose to FCS team, but this wasn’t exactly Kansas State losing to North Dakota State. Indeed, it was far more like Michigan losing to Appalachian State in that this loss feels like the beginning of the end for Baylor.
This was the Bears seventh straight loss, going back to last season. The loss ended a 19-game win streak against non-conference opponents, and this 0-1 record is the first losing start for Baylor since 2008.
As always, the numbers tell the real story. Liberty’s Stephen Calvert carved up the Bears secondary for 447 yards, and wide receiver-turned-defensive back Blake Lynch struggled all game long, particularly against Liberty’s Antonio Gandy-Golden who averaged nearly 15 yards a catch. The defensive line managed no push, sacking Calvert only once in the entire game.
Afterwards, Rhule said “I put this on me. I put this on the coaches. It's our job to get it fixed.”
Lost in the post-mortem is that the Baylor offense was decent, generating 532 yards in total offense. Anu Solomon passed for almost 300 yards and had three touchdowns through the air and added 97 yards with his legs. Freshman running back John Lovett ran for two scores and looked like an able replacement for the injured JaMycal Hasty.
Oh, and this happened:
Nearly 900 miles and an entire football subculture away, Iowa State opened the season against a familiar and capable opponent. Usually, the result is something like this:
But in a departure from the norm, Iowa State didn’t blink or fall down on their faces this time. The Cyclones beat Northern Iowa 42-24 in a game that was maybe closer than the score suggests, but still a fairly routine victory.
Iowa State was a bit slow out of the gate, but two pick sixes by Willie Harvey and Kamari Cotton-Moya put the Cyclones ahead on the scoreboard and gave the offense just enough time to catch up.
Ultimately, Jacob Park threw for 271 yards and two touchdowns, and Allen Lazard set a new school record with his 178th career reception on his way to 108 yards on the day.
Is it just me or have Cotton-Moya and Lazard been at Iowa State since forever?
Second-year head coach Matt Campbell noted the big difference between this game and last year’s loss against UNI: “[W]e didn’t panic.” A small change in team attitude may be all the difference for Iowa State this year.
Of relevance here:
You know who else didn’t lose last weekend? That’s right. The Kansas Jayhawks are currently undefeated with a 38-16 win over Southeast Missouri State. There were a few lapses in concentration, but for the most part, this was as decisive a victory as any Kansas has had since 2007. (Not really). Coincidentally (or not so much), Mark Mangino and the 2007 Orange Bowl team were honored at halftime as they entered the Kansas Athletics Hall of Fame.
For the first time since David Beaty’s arrival in Lawrence, the offense and the defense were clicking and in sync. Quarterback Peyton Bender, only announced as a starter on the day of the game, threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns. His favorite target was Stephen Sims, Jr., who hauled in just four catches for an eye-popping 142 yards.
In a rare moment when his candor exceeded his perennial positivity, Beaty picked apart the performance, noting several miscues that stalled drives with scoring potential. Like their head coach, Bender and Sims weren’t too excited by their great stat lines either.
Should we worry that Kansas suddenly cares about how a game is won rather than just winning?
A new era dawned in Oklahoma today as new head coach Lincoln Riley walked the sidelines for the first time in an actual game. That’s pretty much the only newsworthy thing about a fairly workmanlike 56-7 win over the UTEP Miners in Norman.
The Sooners were the picture of efficiency, with Baker Mayfield going 19-of-20 (including 16 straight completions, a new school record) for 329 yards and three touchdowns in just two quarters. Oklahoma doesn’t seem to missing Joe Mixon or Samaje Perine either, with featured backs Abdul Adams, Marcelius Sutton, and Trey Sermon all averaging more than 5 yards per carry. All in all, the Oklahoma offense piled up 676 yards in the sort of beatdown we’re used to seeing in Norman.
Indeed, the only real negative was that a chunk of falling stadium nearly hit fans during the game. Nobody took a direct hit, but apparently OU’s stadium is literally falling apart?
For Oklahoma, the real test will come in a few days against Ohio State in Columbus. For his part, Mayfield is ready and is probably not going to be stymied by the Buckeyes’ “really basic defense” this time around.
Oklahoma State is widely predicted to win the Big 12 this year, and nothing about the Cowboys’ pedestrian 59-24 win over Tulsa gave lie to that prediction. The Pokes ran off a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and never looked back.
Heisman hopeful Mason Rudolph had a near-perfect day in the passing game, going 20-of-24 for 303 yards and three touchdowns in three quarters. He also ran for another score. In particular, Rudolph showed significant improvement in picking up blitzes and torched overmatched Tulsa’s secondary. Rudolph worked in tandem with receiver James Washington who caught the ball six times for 145 yards and two scores. Oh, and Justice Hill had 132 yards on 15 carries.
In other news, Rudolph can do yoga, but should probably keep his day job.
Mason Rudolph shows off his yoga skills!! https://t.co/Xm4N4d9GDg— Jeannine Edwards (@jeanninee12) September 7, 2017
Texas Tech beat Eastern Washington 56-10, and in keeping with the current trend, Nic Shimonek completed 23 of his first 24 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns. The Red Raiders amassed 626 yards of total offense in a contest that was over by halftime.
Lost in the scoring avalanche against EWU was Texas Tech’s less-than-stellar defensive effort. The Eagles are a decent FCS team with prior wins over FBS competition, but the Red Raiders gave up just over 300 yards of offense, and were helped by several miscues and drops by EWU. Also, Tech managed only one sack despite constantly trying to get to EWU’s quarterback.
On the other hand, this is the first time Tech has held an opponent to 10 points or less in a long time, and the defensive scheming seems to be better. Only time—and maybe Arizona State—will tell if the Red Raiders have actually turned the corner on that side of the ball.
TCU had the Big 12’s most comprehensive victory with a 63-0 romp over severely overmatched Jackson State. Kenny Hill passed for 206 yards and four touchdowns before being pulled in the third quarter. But it was the defense that really stood out. This was TCU’s first shutout since 2014, and the stingy Frogs allowed Jackson State only 65 yards of total offense (with sacks).
Oh, and it was also Gary Patterson’s 150th career victory. For his part, Patterson was predictably unfazed by the milestone, and wanted to move on to the next game.
Thank you to everyone involved thru the years! Now let's try to get to 151— Gary Patterson (@TCUCoachP) September 3, 2017
That next game is a big one, against Arkansas, a team the Frogs nearly beat last year in a wild game decided in double overtime. This time around, TCU is looking for sweet revenge with a side of bacon.
Texas is back! Texas is BACK, y’all!! Texas is....oh. OH.
So Texas lost to Maryland in a 51-41 contest to begin the Tom Herman era in Austin. That we are even a bit surprised by this result is probably the big surprise here.
The Longhorns began the game well enough with a 31-yard interception return by Holton Hill to open the scoring. But after that, it was all Maryland. By halftime, the Terps led 30-14. Weirdly, Texas mounted a huge comeback in the third quarter, scoring 20 points to narrow Maryland’s lead to just three points, but the Terps’ two scores in the fourth quarter put the game away.
Shane Buechele passed for 375 yards and two scores. But he also threw two picks in a game where he attempted 52 passes, largely because Texas’ ground game never got going. The loss proved costly in other ways too. Buechele injured his shoulder and may not play in the Longhorns’ next game.
If the offense did nothing to excite fans, the defense was actually worse. Texas gave up 263 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to Maryland. Some of this is probably due to the Terps’ particular rushing attack, but if it’s because of poor defensive scheming from Texas, it’s going to be a long season on The Forty Acres.
Texas held the ball longer than Maryland, had more first downs than Maryland, and nearly as many yards of total offense. But Texas also had a bunch of those self-inflicted problems we now identify with Texas football: special teams miscues, turnovers, and a defense that can’t stand up to a bruising run-based attack for four whole quarters.
Predictably, there are some already calling for Herman’s head, but we can all agree that this is just silly overreaction by the most entitled fans in college football. Texas fans are right to be disappointed, but the Longhorns are only one week into a new season with a new head coach, and rebuilds take time.
After the game, Herman wondered “why can’t we get out of our own way?” Well, Coach, to quote one of your predecessors, “it is what it is.”
Finally, we come to West Virginia, who joined Baylor and Texas in dropping to 0-1. But West Virginia was so competitive in its Sunday night 31-24 loss to Virginia Tech that it almost felt like a win for the Mountaineers. Almost.
Junior Will Grier had a good game, throwing for 371 yards and three scores, and running back Justin Crawford added 106 yards on the ground too. The offensive line was stellar, giving Grier all day to throw. The defense held its own for the most part too, especially considering that West Virginia is breaking in eight new players on that side of the ball. On balance, this was a good outing for a young team, one that may yet contend for the Big 12.
Oh, and Dana Holgorsen had a bit of a moment. He flipped out over a holding call and earned his team a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. That’s ok, Dana. You do you.