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2021 Season

Three Thoughts On The Big 12 After Week 4

Emptying the notepad on the craziness that was week four.

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Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson reaches for an overthrown pass against Baylor - USA TODAY Sports - Scott Watcher
USA TODAY Sports - Scott Watcher

We’re now four weeks into the season. Some things we thought we knew have been proven wrong, while other things have completely surprised us; like Baylor’s start to the year!

Here are Phillip’s three observations about the Big 12 — and college football as a whole — after week 4.

Baylor’s offensive turnaround is legit

The offense was so bad at Baylor during Dave Aranda’s first season in charge, he replaced his offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. It seemed like the right idea at the time, and now four games into the season, it’s looking like the best move he has made since his arrival in Waco.

Last season, the Bears averaged just 23.3 points per game, which ranked 100th nationally. This year, through four games they’re averaging 42.8 ppg, good for 10th best in the country. Right now, they have an EPA of .144, which is second best in the Big 12 and 14th nationally

While the offense was bad, it was the rushing attack that especially stunk. In 2020, Baylor finished 126th in rushing yards per game as a team with an average of 90.3. They also had just 8 rushing touchdowns on the season.

Through just their first four games of the 2021 season, Baylor is 6th in college football averaging 328.5 yards per game and have 12 rushing touchdowns. They’re also averaging .295 EPA/rush, which ranks 1st in the Big 12 and 4th best in the country.

Iowa State has one of the best rushing defenses, allowing just 68.8 ypg game on the ground and only two rushing touchdowns. Baylor was still able to rush for 308 yards — at 6.8 yards per carry — and are the team responsible for both of the TD’s Iowa State has given up.

Iowa State has a Special Teams Problem

Subpar special teams play cost the Cyclones in their opener last year against Louisiana and in the Big 12 title game against Oklahoma. Well, they struck again on Saturday against Baylor.

That’s a whole lot of bad, that allowed Baylor to maintain their lead and come away with a win. It also derailed Iowa State’s hopes and dreams at making the playoff this year.

Really, the Cylones’ special teams have been some of the worst in the FBS this season.

According to Brian Fremeau, ISU is 129th out of 130 teams in special teams rating overall. That includes 122nd in opponent average starting field position, 126th in kickoff efficiency, 126th in punting efficiency. The return/FG units are also below average.

If Matt Campbell has aspirations of leading Iowa State to a Big 12 title and playoff berth, this is something he’s going to need to correct, and quickly.

Chaos is the name of the game in college football

According to Stewart Mandel of The Athletic ($$$), more teams have lost through the first four weeks weeks of the season than at any time in the AP poll’s 85-year history.

Nine teams in the AP’s Preseason Top 25 have already lost twice, including six that ranked in the top-15. That includes the Big 12’s preseason No. 2, Iowa State.

We haven’t quite reached 2007 levels yet. That season saw multiple 2nd ranked teams fall in a row. But with Clemson seemingly out of the playoff race, and Ohio State looking vulnerable, this feels like the most wide open we’ve seen conference races and the playoff race in a long time.

That includes in the Big 12 where three of the preseason top 5 have a loss, and Baylor — who was picked to finish 8th in the preseason poll — is currently undefeated and sitting atop the conference standings at 2-0 in Big 12 play.

There is still plenty of football to be played, but buckle up folks, because it looks like the Renaissance Season (courtesy The Late Kick with Josh Pate) is for real!


You can always find more of Phillip’s thoughts on the Ten12 Podcast every Monday and Thursday!