First week of conference play is over and the overall look of the conference has changed completely. What we thought was going to be a two team race for the Big 12 championship has turned into a four or five team race.
Oklahoma took a scare from winless Baylor, but managed to pull in out in the end. TCU looked tremendous against Oklahoma State and shocked the Cowboys at home with a convincing win. Texas Tech’s defense awoke from their long rest and carried the Red Raiders to a road win against Houston and West Virginia pulled away late against the fiery Jayhawks.
In terms of Heisman odds, a lot of spots changed up, but now the Big 12 officially has two players out of the top three in the Bovada odds.
QB Baker Mayfield [Oklahoma] +300
Mayfield started off the game talking mess to the 0-3 Baylor squad who has nothing to lose at this point. What Mayfield didn’t realize is that Baylor brought back a plethora of players that missed the first three games for the Bears. The team chemistry changed dramatically and Mayfield had his hands full against the fired up Bears.
Mayfield still managed 283 yards and three touchdowns, but the run game proved to be the main offensive weapon for the Sooners. Mayfield remains at the top of the Bovada Heisman odds, but fell a spot to Penn State’s Sequon Barkley who put on a phenomenal performance against a fantastic Iowa defense in week four to solidify his place at the top of the odds.
Next week Oklahoma has a much-needed bye week to try to solve their defensive woes, so don’t expect much movement from Mayfield in the Bovada odds.
QB Mason Rudolph [Oklahoma State] +700
This one gets me. Mason Rudolph moved up on the list despite the bitter loss to the Horned Frogs in Stillwater. The stats were there for Rudolph as he threw for 398 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for another one, but he threw two interceptions and fumbled once. How he moved up to solidify himself at third in the Bovada odds is confusing, but a lot of the blame for Oklahoma State’s loss goes to the play-calling, defense and offensive line. The fact that Rudolph had a mediocre performance and still threw two touchdowns and nearly 400 yards should tell you something about how good this guy really is. No matter how good Rudolph did, the loss still hurts his Heisman chances more than helps and Oklahoma State opens conference play at 0-1.
Next week, the Sooners face another tough challenge, but this time on the road against undefeated Texas Tech. If the same defense that showed up against Houston is in Lubbock on Saturday night, the Cowboys may be in for a rough night. Anything can happen at a night game in Lubbock.
WR James Washington [Oklahoma State]
Washington was another player who suffered from the loss on Saturday, but even against a strong TCU defense he managed six receptions for 153 yards and a touchdown. The fact is for Washington’s Heisman chances is that he doesn’t stick out as much as last year because Oklahoma State has so many weapons. He is the best receiver on possibly the best receiving core in CFB, but for a receiver to win the Heisman he needs to put up stupid good numbers. If Michael Crabtree couldn’t win in 2008, James Washington doesn’t have much of a chance. Another factor that lowers his Heisman chances is when Washington has a good game, so does Mason Rudolph.
QB Will Grier [West Virginia]
This is a guy who has been slept on ever since the loss in week one to Virginia Tech. Grier has been great at West Virginia so far and the offensive train kept rolling on Saturday against Kansas. He threw for 347 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 51 yards and two more touchdowns. His only fault was an interception and a lost fumble that was eventually recovered by the Mountaineers any way. Grier has been a force against opposing defenses so far this season as he has turned the Mountaineers from a more conservative offense into a more dynamite type of team. West Virginia has another bye week, but a thing to watch out for if you’re a Mountaineer fan this week is the Virginia Tech-Clemson game. If Virginia Tech can pull out a win against #2 Clemson, then the WVU loss early in the season won’t look nearly as bad.
QB Nic Shimonek [Texas Tech]
We all know the star of the show in Texas Tech’s 27-24 win at Houston was the Red Raider defense, but Nic Shimonek wasn’t too bad himself. He started slow and struggled early against Houston’s powerful defense, but in the third quarter, Shimonek connected with Keke Coutee for a 77 yard touchdown that really boosted his confidence. After another touchdown in the fourth quarter, the Red Raiders let off the gas and made the game a little too close for comfort at the end. His final stats had him throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns. A downside for Shimonek was his first interception of the season, but that one was really Derrick Willies fault. Shimonek has a great chance to really put his name on the map next week when Texas Tech takes on Oklahoma State in Lubbock.
QB Kenny Hill [TCU]
I never know what to do with Kenny Hill. TCU just beat a good Oklahoma State team pretty convincingly, but Hill himself didn’t have a particularly good game. Hill’s inconsistency doesn’t really give him a true shot at the Heisman, but should TCU stay undefeated and Hill’s numbers get a little more consistent, his name will not come off the Heisman Watch. He threw for 228 yards and touchdown against the Cowboys. TCU has a bye next week.
RB Justin Crawford [West Virginia]
Justin Crawford is the opposite of Kenny Hill in terms of consistency. Crawford’s rushing performances through the first four games has been crucial to West Virginia’s offense. He ran for 125 yards and a touchdown in West Virginia’s 56-34 win in Lawrence. Crawford has been a go-to for the Mountaineers as he is averaging nearly 113 yards a game and made it into the end-zone three out of four games. West Virginia is another Big 12 team with a bye in week five.
RB Darius Anderson [TCU]
One of the newest members of the Honorable Mentions list for the Heisman Watch is running back Darius Anderson. Anderson had his best game of the year and a season-high 26 carries in TCU’s 44-31 win over Oklahoma State. He ran for 160 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Horned Frogs to victory. Anderson was the vocal point of the offense and controlled the whole flow of the game on Saturday as he has completely solidified himself as TCU go-to back.
WR Keke Coutee [Texas Tech]
The other newest member of the Heisman Watch is Keke Coutee. Coutee has been Nic Shimonek’s favorite target in 2017 so far. Coutee is 2nd in receiving yards per game and 4th in receptions per game in all of college football. What’s even more impressive is that Coutee is 10th in total receiving yards and tied for 11th in total receiving touchdowns after only playing three games, while most teams have played four at this point in the season. Coutee had 11 receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown on Saturday against a very strong Houston defense. Coutee’s presence will be needed against Oklahoma State next week.