Week 1 of college football is in the books, and we’ve got our first impression of the Big 12 after months of waiting to see what all of these teams would look like.
Now that we’ve got actual games to marinate on, it’s time to get to overall thoughts on the conference after the opening weekend for FBS.
1. Welcome To College Football, Spencer Sanders
No one is going to confuse Oregon State, who won all o f two games last season, for a Pac 12 contender. But the Pokes were absolutely unstoppable on offense against the Beavers, with the dynamic Spencer Sanders rushing for 109 yards and putting up over 200 through the air. Remember all that talk about Mike Gundy likely rotating QBs? You can probably forget that. The trio of Sanders, running back Chuba Hubbard, and wideout Tylan Wallace looked like the type we’ve seen compete for championships in Stillwater before.
The other side of the ball had a less strong showing to start 2019. Last year, the Beavers averaged 405 yards per game on offense, and on Friday they posted 448 against Oklahoma State. In Knowles’s second year as DC, the jury is still somewhat out on what his impact has been for the Cowboys. Oklahoma State was able to slow the Beavers down enough to run away with the game, but they gave up chunk yard plays all night.
2. Texas Looks Ready For LSU
For the first time at Texas, Tom Herman is 1-0 to start the season. Despite some thought that the Longhorns might underperform in another home opener, they looked like a team ready to take care of business. Offensively, Texas raced out to a 24-0 lead by halftime and put up an efficient 454 yards of total offense on the Louisiana Tech defense.
And, despite giving up some real estate in the air, the Texas defensive unit looked to be in mid-season form, managing three turnovers and preventing the Bulldogs from scoring until the beginning of the fourth quarter. Next week’s Louisiana opponent will present a much bigger challenge, but Herman’s squad was mostly sharp in their first outing of 2019. The only question is, will they have enough running back healthy.
3. The Horned Frogs Need Work
They need to improve on offense, at least. There seemed to be a lot of rust still on the TCU offense as they took on FCS Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The game against the Golden Lions was never in doubt, but the Horned Frogs were often forced to settle for field goals because of stalled offensive momentum.
TCU’s defense, on the other hand, looks as tough as it ever has, and came extremely close to sealing the shutout in the 39-7 win. There’s a bye week for Gary Patterson to figure the other side of the ball, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how much progress is made between now and TCU’s tilt against Purdue on September 14th.
4. So Far, So Good For The Jayhawks
Unlike the teams that under performed in Week 1, the Jayhawks managed to do enough to get the win over FCS Indiana State in Lawrence. Although Kansas was by no means mistake free (three lost fumbles attest to that), Les Miles’ new squad definitely seemed focused in on beating the Sycamores.
Still, Kansas needed a fourth quarter scoring drive to secure this game, one in which Indiana State actually had a slight edge in multiple statistical categories. The win itself is a definite positive for the Jayhawks, and next week will pose yet another test as they host Coastal Carolina from the Sun Belt in Lawrence.
5. Should Iowa State Be Worried?
Despite being favored by multiple touchdowns, the No. 21 Cyclones found themselves driving in the fourth quarter of Saturady’s contest against FCS Northern Iowa to tie it up. After getting the tying field goal with just under a minute left in the game, Iowa State needed three overtimes to put away the Panthers. The defense was stout all day, but Brock Purdy and the offense did nothing to allay any of the concerns that the Cyclones can’t overcome last year’s losses.
This Iowa State team has more expectations on them in 2019 than any Cyclones squad in decades. Were they affected by that pressure against the Panthers? Were they overly confident against a team that – on paper at least – they should have beaten handily? Matt Campbell will have a Week 2 bye week to figure it out, and he’ll hope that this performance was a fluke.
6. Oklahoma Can Play Some Defense Now
To those of us who quite vividly remember last season’s poor defensive performances by the Sooners, it was quite a shock to see so many three-and-outs from the team wearing crimson in Norman, Oklahoma on Sunday night. To be clear, the Lincoln Riley’s squad did give up 31 points at home and allowed 241 yards rushing.
Still, the Sooners just looked faster, more confident, and more sound as a defense. They held Houston quarterback D’Eriq King, thought to be one of the best passers in FBS, to 167 yards throwing on the night. They also came up with enough big stops to give Jalen Hurts – who, yes, had a banner night – and the offense a chance to keep this one from getting close.
7. A More Explosive Kansas State?
Chris Klieman’s first impression in Manhattan was certainly a good one. The Wildcats ended up boat racing the Nicholls Colonels 49-14 in a game where the offense for Kansas State looked more dynamic than it has in recent memory. Six different Wildcats scored touchdowns on the day, and quarterback Skylar Thompson threw for 212 yards and a score.
The question is how this “new look” Kansas State will look against like athletes, and we’ll get a bit of an answer this week, as the Wildcats take on Bowling Green at home.
8. New Look Red Raiders Seem More Balanced
When he came to Lubbock, Matt Wells brought a commitment to defense that certainly exceeded that of some of his predecessors. The Red Raiders definitely made good on that on Saturday, holding the Bobcats to 289 total yards and only two third down conversions on the entire day. Is there a new phyiscality in Lubbock?
Make no mistake, though. Texas Tech may not be as flashy as they once were, but by all appearances, they don’t have any problem putting up yards and points – the Red Raiders racked up almost 700 total yards in Jones AT&T Stadium and routed Montana State 45-10. The
9. West Virginia Is 1-0, But There Should Be Some Concern
Things certainly weren’t looking great for Game 1 of the Neal Brown era when West Virginia found itself down 7-3 to the James Madison Dukes at halftime in Morgantown. To be fair, the ‘Eers recovered, and transfer quarterback Austin Kendall led the team back from the deficit to give West Virginia a 20-13 win in their home opener.
Kendall finished with a decent 132.0 quarterback rating, but the stat that really has to stand out are those 34 yards rushing. Against an FCS school – even a championship-level one – being that one-dimensional may not be an issue, but the rest of West Virginia’s schedule likely won’t be that forgiving.
10. The Bears Still Look Like Contenders
Sometimes the best type of game against a lesser opponent is one where you really can’t take much away. That’s definitely the case for Baylor’s win over Stephen F. Austin, an FCS school that was 2-8 a year ago. The Bears were dominant in this one from the start, jumping out to a 35-7 halftime lead.
The Bears were able to put in backup quarterback Gerry Bohanon early in the 3rd quarter, and the redshirt freshman looks like he’ll provide sufficient depth for Baylor at that position. Keep an out for wide receiver R.J. Sneed for the Bears, who had two touchdown receptions in McLane Stadium.