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A Look At How Big 12 Expansion Candidates Fared In Week 1

Looking at how the rumored Big 12 expansion favorites did in week one.

Getty Images - Christian Petersen

As the college football kicks off there is still one major issue from the offseason looming over the Big 12: expansion.

There’s a lot of factors that come into play for a potential candidate, like, among other things, stadium size, TV market, and how athletically competitive they are. It’s that last one we’re going to focus on. We’ve got one week of football in the books and a couple of expansion candidates impressed significantly more than the others.

The conference has officially narrowed down the search to dozen or so schools, but realistically, there’s only a handful of options. We have a pretty good idea that the search is down to just three schools and that it is just a matter of getting everyone to agree. However, for the sake of argument, we’ll include a few more of my “top contenders”.

BYU

The Cougars seem to be a lock to join the Big 12, should expansion happen, and on Saturday they looked the part of a Power Five program.

Down by one with just 4 second left in the game against Arizona, BYU coach Kalani Sitake sent out a freshman kicker to attempt his first career kick. (No pressure)

A gutsy call, but it paid off. Kicker Jake Oldroyd put it dead center, and the Cougars walked out of Glendale with a big win over a Power Five opponent.

Houston

Houston had just one chance on the national stage to prove they belong, and they took it. The 15th-ranked Coogs were drooling at the chance to play the #3 Sooners, and it showed on the field.

From the opening kickoff it was clear that Houston was going to leave it all on the field. They weren’t holding anything back, and they were not afraid of an Oklahoma team tabbed as a Playoff favorite.

The game was close into the third quarter, but then it all fell apart for the Sooners when Stoops elected to attempt a 54-yard field goal. Houston’s Brandon Wilson returned the short kick 109-yards for a “kick six” touchdown. The Cougars never looked back, winning 33-23.

Cincinnati

If BYU is all but in, then Cincinnati is the Coogs’ leading dance partner. However, Texas politics may not be the only thing in their way after this weekend’s performance.

The Bearcats looked awful against UT-Martin, and were down 7-6 at the half. Cincinnati scored 22 second half points to put the game to bed, but when the conference has a lacking strength of competition perception, adding a team that struggled with a FCS school would raise a few eyebrows.

No, you’re right, one week of less than optimal play isn’t enough to turn any expansion supporter away, but on the field issues might not be Cincy’s only cause for concern. The lack of fan attendance is a much larger issue for the conference.

UConn

If Cincinnati looked awful, then the Huskies looked… well, something a lot worse than awful.

Like BYU, UConn won on a field goal with just seconds remaining. However, there is one big difference. The Huskies weren’t facing a Power Five program on the road. No, they barely pulled out a win against FCS maine, at home. But hey, if ESPN gets them into the conference (not likely), at least it wouldn’t be such a big deal for Kansas to win a game.

Central Florida

UCF has made great strides in football in recent years, and they took care of business this weekend. Sure, it was against a FCS school that you would have to have gone there to have heard of it before, but it’s not like Baylor and Oklahoma State didn’t do the same. The Knights are a long shot at this point, but according to Brett McMurphy, they’ve at least made the first cut.

Memphis

Another case of a FBS school taking care of business against a FCS opponent. Not eye-opening, like BYU and Houston’s opening weekend, but at least they didn’t mess the bed.

The Tigers were all over Southeast Missouri State early. (is there another Southeast Missouri? Did they have to add “State”?) Memphis would score 29 unanswered points before SEMO eventually got on the board with 3 before the half ended. SEMO got a garbage touchdown late to make it look closer than it really was.

I wouldn’t mind seeing Memphis in the Big 12, especially if FedEx lives up to their promises, but it doesn’t seem likely since they’ve been eliminated.

Colorado State

Remember when Colorado was the embarrassment of the Big 12? Well, they just whipped the Rams 44-7. If you can’t show up for a in-state rivalry game, then you aren’t ready for big boy football.

“It’s embarrassing. Totally embarrassed our name,” coach Mike Bobo said after the game. Yes, yes you did.

Air Force

Some people are high on the service academies joining the Big 12. I am not one of those people, and this weekend’s Air Force game did little to change that. Sure their antiquated triple option offense got the 37-21 victory over Abilene Christian, but it’s Abilene Christian. Whoever they are.

Adding Air Force would be a mistake, because well, we do want people to actually watch Big 12 games, right?

South Florida

Stop the charade, Big 12. We are well past the schools that have a realistic chance, and even then those might not get the needed votes if Texas gets moody about it.

Regardless, South Florida made “the first cut”. Wait, is conference expansion a reality TV show I’m not aware of? You don’t need to eliminate contestants in rounds, or even one at a time. This isn’t Big Brother. Instead, just pick the two that are friendship, so your boy can stop talking about this nonsense.

Whatever, USF beat Towson 56-20.

Tulane

I feel sorry for whatever poor soul watched this weekend’s Tulane-Wake Forest Game. Unless your kid was playing, I’m sure there were better things on. Like reruns of The View or Roseanne. The Demon Deacons managed to hold off the Green Wave by a whopping 7-3.

Why am I even talking about this game. Tulane has no chance at joining the Big 12.

Rice

Seriously? Rice? They have as about as much chance at making it into the Big 12 as Western Kentucky, who coincidently whipped the Owls over the weekend 44-7. Rice? Who does the Big 12 think they are kidding?

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