The conference went 8-2 in Week 2, with about half those games against FCS opponents. Only three Big 12 squads covered the spread in their respective contests, making last week a tough one on the field. Schedules only get harder from here on out, but below are some takeaways from this past weekend.
The Jayhawks Have Some Fight In Them
Yes, they lost by 27 to Coastal Carolina on the road. This Jayhawks team looks different under head coach Lance Leipold, though. The biggest difference is the way in which Kansas continues to compete, even in a game where they had mutliple chances to give in. Headed into the second quarter, the Jayhawks had the lead. Coastal pulled ahead, but Kansas cut the lead to six early in the second half.
The Chanticleers were able to pull away thereafter, but, all things considered, there were reasons for optimism. In particular, the play of junior quarterback Jason Bean was impressive. He led the team in passing and rushing, and gives this team an offensive spark they can build from.
Offensive Questions Remain For Oklahoma State
Another week, another hard fought win by the Pokes. The offense continued its struggles, albeit this week against a fairly decent defense. After a back-and-forth game, Tulsa pulled ahead 17-14 with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter, but an L.D. Brown kick return for touchdown seemed to give Oklahoma State the final spark of momentum they needed.
The Pokes still have one of the better defenses in Division I, but there don’t appear to be many strengths on the offense right now. Running back Jaylen Warren stood out as maybe the most explosive skill player, but he only averaged 2.6 yards per carry on the day. Spencer Sanders led the team in rushing as well as passing, and right now the whole offense is really dependent upon his production.
The Cyclones Need To Play Teams Not From Iowa
Maybe it’s just not in the cards for Iowa State to beat Iowa under Matt Campbell. Call it what you will about this Cyclones squad, but this game was definitely a disappointment.
In the span of about 7 minutes this game went from a 14-10 advantage for the Hawkeyes to a 27-10 all-but-decided victory. The Cyclones lost three turnovers in that time, and Brock Purdy was benched.
This was a defensive battle where those turnovers made all the difference. Iowa State actually outgained Iowa in total yardage, 339-173. The Hawkeyes always present a challenge for Iowa State because Iowa’s style of play is so different from what the Cyclones see in the Big 12. A league title is certainly still on the table in Ames, but anything beyond that feels like it’s out of reach now.
The Honeymoon Is Officially Over For Steve Sarkisian
I dare you to find me a team that self-destructs in the non-conference like Texas. They are now on their third head coach who will not enjoy a 3-0 record going into Big 12 play.
Not that the Longhorns will have to worry about the Big 12 much longer. The “preview” of their SEC fortunes didn’t bode well, as the 40-21 beatdown at the hands of the Razorbacks was just that.
Arkansas ran the ball for 333 yards on a Texas defense that was gashed repeatedly. The Longhorns got a glimmer of hope early in the third quarter, down 16-7, but the Razorbacks scored 17 straight to leave no doubt about who was winning this one. All the warm feelings that Sark earned with an opening Top 25 win has largely dissipated, and now Texas will have to hope they can pull it together before Big 12 play.
That Was The Home Opener The Sooners Wanted
We didn’t learn much from Oklahoma’s utter decimation of Western Carolina other than that that it probably should have had a mercy rule. Oklahoma put up over 600 yards of offense and was up 45-0 by halftime. Transfer running back Eric Gray scored his first touchdown as a Sooner, and highly touted freshman quarterback Caleb Williams saw the field. It’s not exactly a newsflash that Oklahoma has a bevy of talent, and it showed out against a vastly overmatched FCS foe.
Oh, and as if needed to be said, the Sooners are still the odds-on favorite to win the Big 12. They haven’t been perfect, but through two weeks, the gap between Oklahoma and everyone else still looks substantial.
Hopefully It Was Just A Rough Day For TCU’s Secondary
Many people had this pegged to be an easy win for the Horned Frogs, but Cal had other plans. The Bears jumped out to a two possession lead, missing both a PAT and failing on a two point try that felt a little premature. The Bears managed that same lead until the third quarter, when TCU took the lead for the first time at 21-19.
Cal quarterback Chase Garbers had a surprisingly strong day against the TCU secondary, throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Should we be concerned about the Horned Frogs’ pass defense? It’s not like Cal just lit the field up, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.
Wells’ Teams Really Do Not Play Well Against The FCS
Just when you think the Red Raiders are about to go on a roll, they go and struggle with an FCS squad. Stephen F. Austin came into Jones AT&T Stadium looking to get an upset, and at one point the Lumberjacks had themselves in good position. Tyler Shough hit Erik Ezukanma for a big touchdown catch 1:09 into the game, but SFA go three straight scores.
Texas Tech was able to respond in the second half to recapture the lead, but they managed to get a 28-22 escape in a game where they were favored by 32 points. This was definitely a letdown after what seemed like a statement win in the opening week of play, but Texas Tech is 2-0 regardless.
Baylor Certainly Has Some Athletes
This is the type of game that presents a stark contrast between good athletes from the FBS and those from the FCS. Baylor was bigger, faster, and stronger than the team across from them, and it showed up in the stats sheet. The Bears put up 419 yards on the ground, and absolutely hammered Texas Southern, a squad that hasn’t won more than two games since 2016.
Baylor was up 42-0 at halftime against a Tigers team that was physically outmatched. Bears quarterback Gerry Bohanon was able to put up some nice stats as well, throwing for 247 yards and three touchdowns. He added two more on the ground as well.
The Wildcats’ Offense Took A Major Blow
The biggest news – and it’s unfortunate news – to come out of Kansas State’s win on Saturday is that starting quarterback Skylar Thompson is now out indefinitely with a right knee injury. Thompson went down suddenly halfway through the first quarter on a non-contact play.
The day started off well for the Wildcats, who took the opening kickoff and drove the field 75 yards to put one in the endzone. Kansas State had a tough first half, though, as every possession ended with either a touchdown or a turnover. Backup quarterback Will Howard threw a pick-six before halftime that gave Southern Illinois a 23-21 lead. The Salukis had turnover issues of their own in the second half, though, and Kansas State put together enough offense to salt this one away.
West Virginia Gets Right Against The Sharks
The Mountaineers exorcised some of their Maryland demons this week against Long Island, which, yes, is a real university with a real football program. Winston Wright took the opening kickoff back 90 yards for the Mountaineers’ first touchdown, and it was indicative of how the rest of the game would go against Long Island.
The Sharks were held to just 95 yards of total offense, and quarterback Jarret Doege averaged 11.8 yards per passing attempt in a game that was 38-0 at halftime. This was definitely a “get right” game for West Virginia, who will now host in-state rival Virginia Tech.