Contributor, BIG 12 Football
This past week in Big 12 football can be viewed as the calm before the storm. Don’t get me wrong, there were a handful of interesting match-ups worth paying attention to but nothing that would constitute a statement game. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and in many ways it can give us more evidence of how a team can compete on a week to week basis. Nevertheless, this week provided some strong football action and was another example of how this conference plays host to some of the more underrated football in the country.
Let us start with the marquee game of the weekend for the Big 12 which included two programs with a lot of history. Who could hardly forget the historic 2006 Rose Bowl between USC and Texas, in which Vince Young led the Longhorns past the star-studded Trojans who featured prime Reggie Bush and Matt Leinert. Just as a side note, before writing this I looked up which exact year this game was played and literally could not believe that was 11 years ago. I digress, however I think it is fair to say that both programs have diverted on interesting paths in contrast to what most would’ve predicted over a decade ago. This to me was the type of gritty showing I was looking forward to from Tom Herman’s Longhorns. The game was not pretty by any means, Texas QB Sam Ehlinger coughed up the ball on four different occasions with two picks and two fumbles lost. The running game was nowhere to be found by both teams with Texas and USC amounting for a total of 68 and 71 yards on the ground respectively, amounting to a paltry 1.9 yards per carry for each team. This was a defensive game and there was no mistaking that, with Longhorn linebackers Malik Jefferson and Anthony Wheeler combining for 23 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. However, it wasn’t until the 4th quarter when this game brought memories of that phenomenal 2006 championship game. USC pulled out the gutsy win in the second overtime which left Texas empty handed on a long trip back to Austin. There are rarely moral victories in college football, one loss can be the difference between a playoff birth and an anonymous bowl invite, but in this case it’s fair to say Texas left everything on the field in Southern California and have something to build on.
On a brighter note, is it time for us to start taking Texas Tech seriously? Arizona State traveled east to battle the Red Raiders in a western shootout appropriately set in Lubbock, Texas. This game was pretty much exactly how you would expect it to go with big plays and high scoring. Tech pulled out the win 52-45 and though it would be unfair of me to write this win off as unspectacular, I do want to wait and see on this squad. Kliff Kingsbury and company travel to face Houston (2-0) next week which will be an emotional game for the Cougar faithful, they then host the high-flying Oklahoma State offense the following week. How about we meet back here next week and see how serious Tech really is.
The rest of the league for the most part followed the script. Oklahoma State simply embarrassed Pitt on the road which amounted to a career game for QB Mason Rudolph. I think I am finally confident enough to admit that I have a little bit of a crush on this Cowboys’ offense. Oklahoma was awarded an easy win against Tulane after their statement win against Ohio State, and TCU took care of business against cross town opponent SMU. Other wins around the conference included Iowa State over Akron 41-14 and West Virginia over Delaware State 59-16. Loses this week included Kansas at the hands of Ohio 42-30 and lowly Baylor falling to Duke 34-20.
I want to wrap this up talking about Kansas State and their low scoring lose to Vanderbilt 14-7. This was the type of game the Wildcats simply could not afford to lose. Vanderbilt can be a tough out depending on the season, but Snyder and company have much tougher tests over the horizon. This was a team that I felt could have had high expectations but a loss like this certainly puts things into doubt. On a positive note, next week’s matchup against the dumpster fire that is the Baylor Bears could be just what the doctor ordered to get back on track.
Games to keep an eye on next week:
Texas Tech (2-0) vs. Houston (2-0) 12:00 P.M. EST, Lubbock, TX ABC
TCU (3-0) vs. Oklahoma State (3-0) 3:30 P.M. EST, Stillwater, OK ESPN