Big 12 Football: What We Learned in Week 2
We're only two weeks into the college football season, but the Big 12 is shaping up to be as unpredictable as any conference in the country.
That probably confirms the preseason notion that this league is as wide open as it's been in years. Some teams are already emerging as pleasant surprises, while others are surprising in ways that are, shall we say, not so good. In any case, it doesn't look like there's a national title contender from this league right now.
We'll get a much better grasp of where teams stand once conference play really gets underway in a few weeks. For now, here's what we learned about the Big 12 in Week 2.
Baylor and Oklahoma State are carrying the Big 12 flag so far.
I'm going to stand firmly beside TCU as a Big 12 title contender until the Horned Frogs give me a reason not to do so, but I have more thoughts on TCU below. Right now, there aren't two teams in the Big 12 playing better than Baylor and Oklahoma State, save for perhaps Texas Tech.
Granted, the Bears and Cowboys' opponents to date have been Wofford and Buffalo, and Mississippi State and UTSA, respectively. But both Baylor and OSU have looked far better in their first two games than most other Big 12 teams have against similar competition. The Bears are a team with several offensive weapons who can, and probably will, score on any given play. OSU has settled on a quarterback in J.W. Walsh and the defense is finally forcing turnovers on the regular again.
There's a lot of football still to be played, but these are the two teams sitting atop my power rankings at the moment.
Texas carried a flag too—a white one.
I hope y'all know that I'll always be honest with you. So here's my honest answer about Texas: I didn't see the 'Horns' 40-21 loss to BYU Saturday night coming. Like, at all.
Maybe I should have. Some folks, including Bleacher Report's own Sean Frye, tried to tell me. But it was too late. I was already full of burnt orange Kool-Aid, which contains a potent combination of 19 returning starters, brand recognition and Orange Dye No. 8.
@BenKercheval how are they talented? what has that unit done?— Sean Frye (@SeanEFrye) September 8, 2013
Like most bad games, you don't want to over correct too far to the other direction afterward, but watching the Longhorns get pushed around by the Cougars' ground game was basically like watching UT a year ago. That's the most concerning part: Texas didn't look like it had improved on either side of the ball from its 9-4 season in 2012. That starts with coaching.
But who knows? Maybe the Longhorns get the mistakes corrected and go on to win 10 or more games this year. Saturday provided more legitimate reason to be concerned though, and if Brown can't get it done this year, I'll be as guilty as anyone thinking he could have.
Trevone Boykin will be asked to lead TCU's offense again. And he's capable of doing so.
You have to feel terrible for TCU quarterback Casey Pachall. After everything he's gone through personally to get back to where he is, it was tough to watch him leave Saturday's 38-17 win against Southeastern Louisiana with what the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting to be a fractured non-throwing forearm. It's not clear how many games he'll miss this season, but the chances of a feel-good comeback have been tabled for the time being.
Trevone Boykin, who started most of last season while Pachall dealt with substance abuse problems, will once again be asked to carry the Horned Frogs offense. He's certainly capable of doing so after throwing for over 2,000 yards last year and winning a few games with a group of young teammates.
Boykin isn't the pure passer that Pachall is, but he does add an extra boost with his running ability. And, for whatever reason, TCU's offense has looked more alive through the first two games of the season with Boykin at quarterback.
West Virginia's defense... actually played well.
I still don't know who this West Virginia team is, or what they've done with Dana Holgorsen, but I'm not sure I like it.
The Mountaineers relied heavily on their defense during Saturday night's 16-7 loss to Oklahoma, forcing four turnovers and refusing to allow the Sooners to run away on the scoreboard. According to OU postgame notes, it was the fewest points scored by the Sooners in a home win since 1967. For that, WVU's defense deserves a lot of credit. And, if the WVU offense was able to play even a little better, the Mountaineers may have come out of Norman with a win.
Yes, part of that defensive success was OU's failure. Trevor Knight took about three steps back after a solid season debut in Week 1 and Bob Stoops may have to reevaluate how he approaches his quarterback situation going forward.
As anyone watching WVU in Week 1 saw, there are still some remnants of last year's defensive debacle that show up on occasion, but it's not nearly as bad or as often. If anything, the blame of Saturday's loss rests squarely on the offense and Holgorsen's game management.
Behold! A Kansas wide receiver caught a touchdown!
Let's ignore the fact that Kansas threw for just 110 yards against South Dakota in Week 2. That's not nearly as important (or fun) as pointing out that a Jayhawks wide receiver actually caught a touchdown pass from a quarterback for the first time since Oct. 22, 2011. Like, physically grabbed on to a football thrown to him, and crossed the goal line for six points.
Specifically, it was a 5-yard pass from Jake Heaps to Justin McCay. Kansas would go on to win 31-14.
Kansas State was able to bounce back and showed signs of improvement.
Kudos to the Wildcats for rebounding after a tough season opening loss to North Dakota State. K-State was able to get back on the winning side of things after handling Louisiana-Lafayette a 48-27 loss on Saturday.
K-State did better at getting off the field when it needed to. ULL's final three drives were lengthy (34 plays for 219 yards), but the game was firmly in control by that point.
There are still some places where Bill Snyder's team needs to improve. Namely, the ground game is still lacking and running back John Hubert has yet to fully take off. Snyder, as promised, did use backup quarterback Daniel Sams more and the sophomore led all K-State rushers with 63 yards on just eight carries.
Week 2 Big 12 Awards
Best Individual Performance: Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield didn't slow down in Week 2 by throwing for 367 yards and three scores in a 61-13 win over Stephen F. Austin, but we'd be hard pressed not to give this to Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh. The sophomore had more touchdowns (four) than incompletions (three) in a 56-35 win over UTSA.
Best "Yakety Sax" series: Oklahoma and West Virginia combined for four straight possessions that ended in a turnover in the third quarter.
Coolest moment captured on social media: As if you needed any more proof that Bill Snyder is one helluva guy, he apparently wrote a hand-written letter to North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen congratulating him following the Bison's Week 1 upset of the Wildcats.
From bill Snyder to Brock Jensen. Classy move by the coach. pic.twitter.com/OIMwsH6AWo— Jay Bartley (@Jaybartley34) September 7, 2013
Best "I was against you before I was with you" performance: TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson used to play for Wyoming and once caught a touchdown pass for the Cowboys against the Horned Frogs in 2011. He was more beneficial to TCU on Saturday...
TCU WR Josh Doctson has now caught a TD pass for TCU and against TCU (when he played for Wyoming in 2011).— Mark Cohen (@TCUSID) September 7, 2013
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow him on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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