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2021 Season

3 Thoughts On The Big 12 After Week 3

It hasn’t been pretty, but is the Big 12 out-performing the rest of the power five?



Quarterback Jaren Lewis of the Kansas State Wildcats hands the ball off to running back Deuce Vaughn - Getty Images - Peter Aiken
Getty Images - Peter Aiken

We’re already a quarter of the way through the 2021 college football season. With that in mind, it feels like we know enough to start having some thoughts about the season and the Big 12 as a whole. So with that in mind, let’s dive in on a few.

The Big 12 had the best non-conference

For all of the slander against the Big 12 this offseason, the conference is arguably having the best non-conference of any of the other power conferences, and the AAC.

  • The Big 12 has the best non-conference winning percentage at 85% and the fewest losses (3). 
  • The Big 12 is one of only two conferences to not lose a game to a team from the FCS, joining the Big Ten.

The only real knock against the Big 12 is the lack of a marquee win. The Pac-12 has Oregon over Ohio State. The Big Ten has Iowa over Iowa State and Penn State over Auburn. The SEC has Georgia over Clemson. It’s the only real blemish on the Big 12’s record.

While there are only three non-conference games left on the Big 12’s slate (SMU and Duke this weekend), there is one that could be a really nice win for the conference; Baylor will have an opportunity against what could be a 6-0 BYU — who already has wins over three Pac-12 schools — when the Cougars come to Waco on October 16th.

Kansas State has the Big 12’s best non-conference slate

Before the season I thought the Wildcats had a sneaky good and sneaky challenging non-conference slate. They opened in Arlington against a quality opponent in Stanford before facing a top-10 FCS team in Southern Illinois and closing out with Nevada who was the preseason pick to win the Mountain West Conference’s West Division.

The Wildcats went 3-0 against those teams, who have all done their part in winning to help make those wins look even better for Coach Kleiman and Co. Stanford rebounded with blow-out wins over USC and Vanderbilt, Nevada open the season 2-0 with wins at Cal and FCS Idaho State, and the Salukis have two dominant wins in FCS play to begin the season.

The opponent names might not be flashy, but so far the only losses Kansas State’s foes have suffered have come at the hands of the Wildcats. As of now, no one else in the Big 12 who is so far undefeated in non-conference play can claim to be their opponent’s only losses.

The Big 12 is a defensive conference

The league known for nearly two decades for its high flying, high scoring, air-it-out offenses is now all about defense.

The conference is allowing the fewest points per game of any of the power conferences.

  1. Big 12 – 18.23 ppg
  2. SEC – 18.73 ppg
  3. Big Ten – 18.74 ppg
  4. ACC – 20.5 ppg
  5. Pac-12 – 22.67 ppg

Throw in the fact that seven Big 12 teams are in the top 50 in 3rd down defense, and six are top 50 in yards per game allowed and defense in the Big 12 has definitely made a resurgence.

Some in the national will media will tell you that this is simply because the Big 12 offense’s aren’t as good anymore. While the conference isn’t putting up the astronomical numbers of the past, they’re certainly still producing points.

  1. SEC – 36.35 ppg
  2. Big 12 – 33.4 ppg
  3. ACC – 32.4 ppg
  4. Big Ten – 32.04 ppg
  5. Pac-12 – 29.14 ppg

At this point, one could argue that the Big 12 is the second best conference, especially with as weird as this season already seems. The Renaissance Season, to quote Josh Pate of The Late Kick. For the first time in awhile, everything feels up for grabs. Seems like the perfect time for the Big 12 to rise up and claim, at worst, the No. 2 spot for a year.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Ten12 Podcast to hear more of Phillip’s thoughts every week. Check out the latest episode for a recap of Week 3 and more!