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2019 Season

What We Learned About The Big 12 In Week 4

The first conference games of 2019 are in the books. What can we take away from the first of many exciting Big 12 contests?

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A view of the Big 12 logo in the third quarter of an FBS football game - Getty Images - Icon Sportswire
Getty Images - Icon Sportswire

We got the fourth week of college football kicked off with some great games in the Big 12, with four out of five contests decided by a possession or less. That gave us a chance for some key takeaways from all of the action on the gridiron.

1. Apparently Iowa State Can Score

And how. The Cyclones had some struggles with turnovers early against Louisiana-Monroe, but then reeled off 21 unanswered points, and more or less put the game to bed by going up 41-13 in the third quarter. Iowa State played like a team on a mission to prove their doubters wrong, and indeed they did, scoring the third most points in school history with 72.

Both quarterback Brock Purdy and the offense broke multiple school records with the performance, and they never punted. The real question for the Big 12 is which Iowa State they’ll see entering conference play. Baylor will be the first team to find that out next week.

2. TCU Has Some Issues

A caveat should be provided about the Horned Frogs’ 41-38 loss to SMU: the 2019 Mustangs might just be the best team the school has fielded in 30 years. That being said, this contest was a setback for TCU squad that was hoping to make some serious noise in the Big 12 this year.

Patterson settled on true freshman Max Duggan as the Horned Frogs’ starting quarterback, and the signal caller’s youth definitely shown on Saturday, as he struggled early then hit a rhythm late. The problems with TCU’s offense – including their three turnovers – aren’t all on him, of course, but outside of their 236 yards rushing, there’was little for the Horned Frogs to brag about on offense.

Throw into that mix a pass defense that gave up a few too many big pass plays, and there are definitely new questions surrounding the Horned Frogs as they enter Big 12 play.

3. Baylor Should Never Have Early Season Bye Weeks

As a reminder, the Bears were outscoring opponents 119-31 before they took a week off and then met Rice on the gridiron. The break seemingly resulted in sloppy play from the Bears in the first half, where they turned the ball over twice, and then became utterly stagnant in a scoreless second half for their offense.

“A win is a win” is a mantra that Matt Rhule probably wants his guys to repeat after an eight point victory over the winless Owls. If Baylor can let that be the worst performance they have all year, they should be alright in conference play. If some of the trends continue, the Bears could be in for some struggles in 2019.

4. Texas Needs A Rest

One time that desperately needs a bye week right now are the Longhorns, who seemed to be dropping like flies against Oklahoma State. In addition to the injuries they had going into that contest, Texas looks to have about three defensive players out for a few games. Out of all the teams, in this conference, the Longhorns might have caught their off week at exactly the right time.

5. Spencer Sanders Is For Real

It’s clear that the redshirt freshman for the Pokes is still developing as a big time signal caller in the Big 12, but the fact that he has three years of eligibility left after this year should strike fear into the hearts of the rest of the conference.

Sanders had his share of issues connecting with some of his wideouts, but his athleticism almost brought Oklahoma State back late against Texas. Teams that play the Cowboys in November should consider themselves on notice, because Spencer Sanders looks like the kind of player who only has room to improve.

6. Welcome To The Big 12 – We Run The Ball

Despite having built its reputation on spinning the pill, the Big 12 currently is having a lot of its success on the ground. Through four weeks of pigskin, half the teams in this conference are averaging 250 yards per game or more. Nationally, eight of the ten teams in the Big 12 currently are in the top half of all of FBS when comes to rushing yards per game. The only two teams to miss the mark are Texas (165.5 ypg) and West Virginia (107.2 ypg).

7. Progress For The Jayhawks

The Jayhawks are 2-2 to start the season, and the rest of the Big 12 slate does seem to present an uphill climb. Kansas is off to arguably their best start in years, though: they’ve got a big win over a Power Five team, and in their losses they’ve been competitive. That may sound like it’s a moral victory, but the Jayhawks, but it’s definitely progress for a team that has habitually gotten blown out of football games.

8. Mountaineers Are On A Slow Climb

If you’re a West Virginia fan, it’s hard to be too negative after a road win against a conference opponent. The Mountaineers came up with a victory in spite of some continued struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Defensively, West Virginia held the rushing attack of the Jayhawks in check on Saturday, and a third of the way through the 2019 season, it looks like that side of the ball is going to be key to Brown’s team sniffing bowl eligibility.

9. We Will Know When We Know

For much of the Big 12, we could almost repeat the the idea that “they are who we thought they were” and it would be true. To date, Kansas State has been the only real “surprise” in the conference after knocking off Mississippi State in the third week of the season.

Outside of the Wildcats? The bottom of the conference is shaking out sort of how we thought, and the top of the conference remains somewhat unchanged since the beginning of the year. Oklahoma and Texas still look like they’re in first and second place. Iowa State looks tenacious against teams outside Iowa. Oklahoma State has lots of offense.

Now’s the time of year, though, when discussions about who should be ranked in what order in the conference become redundant. Like all those commercials have been telling you, every game matters, and how teams finish will be determined by the Ws and the Ls.

10. Is There An Obvious Last Place?

Yes, West Virginia ousted the Jayhawks in what was dubbed the “battle for the basement,” but does that mean that Kansas should automatically be relegated to the bottom of the Big 12? The Mountaineers looked like the most likely win coming into this season, but all of a sudden a visit to TCU and an October home game against Texas Tech look like they might not be impossible wins.

It will be interesting to see, then, how the rest of Big 12 play shakes out. At some point, math is math, and someone in this conference will have to be last. What we’ve seen from the lower half of the Big 12, though, should tell us that we shouldn’t make assumptions about who that’s going to be just yet.

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