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Conference Realignment

How Big 12 Expansion Candidates Fared In Week 2

All 11 Big 12 expansion candidates were in action over the weekend, let’s look at how they did.

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Getty Images - George Frey

Has any other news topic stayed at or near the forefront of the national media as long as Big 12 expansion has? Well, other than what Tim Tebow is up to? Hopefully we don’t have to speculate for too much longer, but until then, there are 11 candidates that haven’t been ruled out.

That’s right, the Big 12 is nearing their decision time-table and there are still more expansion “candidates” than there are actual conference members. In fact, you could make an entirely new conference with just the candidates, and it probably wouldn’t be too bad. They would have a member in the top 10 of the nation and already have wins over the Pac-12, Big Ten and the Big 12.

Let’s take a look at how they fared in week two.

The Favorites

BYU Cougars (1-1)
BYU 19 – UTAH 20

After knocking off one Pac-12 opponent last week, the Cougars couldn’t get it done against bitter, in-state rival Utah in week two. This year’s edition of the Holy War was defined by turnovers. Utah turned the ball over six times, yet the Cougars couldn’t capitalize with three turnovers of their own, and the Utes managed to pull out the one-point victory.

BYU will have to regroup at home. They are set to play their third straight Pac-12 opponent as UCLA comes calling on Saturday.

#6 Houston Cougars (2-0)
Lamar 0 – UH 42

The Coogs continued to roll after their big win against Oklahoma in week one. FCS school Lamar was just no match for the 6th-ranked team in the country.

Houston is earning some early CFB Playoff buzz, but they’ll need a lot of help from the Sooners and Louisville if they are to have a shot. For now though, everything is golden in H-town.

Cincinnati Bearcats (2-0)
CINN 38 – Purdue 20

After a rocky start to the game last week, Cincinnati controlled this one all the way through. The Bearcat secondary was opportunistic, yet a little porous. Purdue QB David Blough threw for 401 yards, but was picked off five times.

There is something to be said for creating turnovers, but the amount of yards given up has to be concerning with #6 Houston, and their explosive offense, coming to town on Thursday night. The upcoming matchup won’t affect either expansion campaign, but you get the feeling that there’s a bit of pride on the line.

Not Out Just Yet

Connecticut Huskies (1-1)
UCONN 24 – Navy 28

Things started poorly for the Huskies on the road. Navy jumped out to a 21-0 lead, and it looked like the Midshipmen were going to run UConn out of the building. However, just before halftime, the Huskies started to unlock Navy’s pass defense, and grabbed a touchdown of their own. With momentum UConn’s way, they scored two more unanswered touchdowns and it was all tied up going into the fourth quarter.

UConn took the lead early in the fourth quarter with a 38-yard field goal, but the lead wasn’t to last. With the game slipping away, Navy was able to put together a touchdown drive that left just 3:08 on the clock. Down 28-24 the Huskies drove all the way down to Navy’s one yard line, but Navy’s defense held. And with no more timeouts to stop the clock, Connecticut fell short of pulling off the comeback.

Even though it’s a loss, and clock management was suspect at the end, UConn showed a lot of heart and character to get back into the game.

Colorado State Rams (1-1)
UTSA 14 – CSU 23

After an opening weekend to forget against in-state rival Colorado, the Rams got back on track by running over the Roadrunners. Literally.

Colorado State’s eighth leading rusher in the game, Collin Hill, ran for more yards that UTSA’s entire team. The backup QB ran for one yard, while UTSA finished with -1 yard of rush offense. Mostly because UTSA QB Dalton Sturm lost 57 yards in sacks. Yikes, not going to win many games like that.

It’s a solid win for a team in need of an ego boost.

South Florida Bulls (2-0)
NIU 17 – USF 48

There wasn’t much to learn about USF last week as they beat up lowly FCS Towson, but the Bulls kept it rolling in week two against stiffer competition, beating Northern Illinois 48-17.

With Syracuse and #2 Florida State up next on the schedule, if the Bulls keep it rolling over the next couple of weeks, they are going to make themselves tough for the Big 12 to ignore.

Central Florida Knights (1-1)
UCF 14 – Michigan 51

UCF got their first win since the 2014 season last week, but after facing #5 Michigan, they are predictably back in the loss column. This was always going to be a beating, so I can’t knock the Knights too much. They’ll have a chance to show us what they are made of next week as Maryland makes the trip down south. Although, UCF may be in need of a new starting QB should Justin Holman not be ready to go after injuring his shoulder against the Wolverines.

Air Force Falcons (2-0)
Georgia St 14 – AF 48

Wearing brand new uniforms, Air Force looked sharp against Georgia State, defeating the Panthers 48-14.

With a bye this week, the Falcons won’t get their first real test until week four, when they go on the road to face Utah State. Until then, there’s not a lot to say.

SMU Mustangs (1-1)
SMU 13 – Baylor 40

Any consideration the Mustangs are getting from the Big 12 might have just been snuffed out by Baylor. To SMU’s credit, they managed to make it into the half tied up at six apiece, but it was all Bears in the second half.

They’ll get plenty of other opportunities to prove they belong in the Big 12 with TCU and fellow expansion candidates  Tulane and Houston still on the schedule. So far though, they’ve looked anything but the part of a Power Five school.

Tulane Green Wave (1-1)
Southern 21 – Tulane 66

Southern just wanted to hit the showers after getting smothered by the Green Wave on Saturday. At 49-0, this one was over by halftime.

What can you say? It was a game Tulane should have won. It’s doubtful that they have any realistic shot at joining the conference, but as long as they are in the running you have to show that you can take care of business.

Rice Owls (0-2)
Rice 14 – Army 31

Another week of football, another loss for Rice. This time at the hands of Army. The Black Knights pounded the Owls into submission with 348 yards rushing. Rice simply didn’t have an answer, and when the expansion dust finally settles they aren’t going to have an invite either.

Seriously, If Houston doesn’t get in, the Owls aren’t going to. And after next week’s game against Baylor, it will be clear Rice doesn’t belong.

We are saddened to hear that Army corner Brandon Jackson lost his life in a car accident on Sunday. Our thoughts are with his family and the team.

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