Big 12 Football Preview - Week Three - Seven League Teams in Action
Open dates hit the schedule for three Big 12 football teams this weekend, but seven teams are in action with designs on building momentum as September progresses. Baylor, Kansas and West Virginia have the early byes, while five teams host contests with another two hitting the road.
Texas made up for its problems on offense with a whopping 327 return yards against Rice. One hundred seventy-five of those came on punt returns. All those runback yards allowd the 'Horns to score 42 points while running just 38 plays from scrimmage. While very impressive, that's not a week-to-week winning formula.
Admittedly, the opponents have been stinkers. But might Baylor have even more offensive firepower this year than in past seasons? Averaging 754 yards of offense per game is notable no matter what the opposition. About the only thing that stops the Bears is themselves --they again lead the league in penalties, with 25 flags for almost 100 yards of walk-offs per game.
K-State should have a good chance of moving into the Top 25s this week, and even WVU, although idle, could squeak in, depending what teams just above them in the rankings do.
There are a number of stats that underscore the fast pace of offensive action in the Big 12, but none moreso than this: Through two weeks of play, conference teams have 90 touchdown drives. Fifty of those have lasted less than two minutes, while 25 of them have taken less than 60 seconds. That contributes to this follow-on note -- only three teams (TCU, Kansas State and Kansas) keep the ball more than half of the game. Texas' anemic offense has possessed the pigskin an average of just 18:24 per contest.
Nine of the league's ten teams are perfect on extra point attempts so far. Oklahoma State (5-7) is the only team with a point-after miss this year -- and the Cowboys already have two.
Oklahoma (2-0) gets the early start on Saturday, and expects to be ready for the starting gun -- at least more than it was against Tennessee, where it did almost nothing offensively until the fourth quarter of what eventually wound up as an overtime win. That will be enough to keep Tulsa from pulling an upset, even with the Golden Hurricanes' powerful offense.
Kansas State (2-0) has given up just a field goal in 2015, showing defensive prowess that wasn't expected. It will need every bit of that in the Big 12 season at it works to overcome the loss of its starting quarterback, but the PowerCats' stopping power will be enough to get a home win over Louisiana Tech.
We're still on the UTSA bandwagon -- but maybe Big 12 teams are just that good. They have enough talent to make Oklahoma State (2-0) sweat things out for a while, but the Cowboys will duplicate K-State's winning effort against the Roadrunners.
Arkansas looked abysmal against Toledo last week. Texas Tech (2-0) is scoring more points than the Red Raider basketball team. But something says that the Hogs' running game and better defense might flip the script in this game, especially on the road. Call it the Razorbacks in a home upset of sorts.
Will the disarray at Texas (1-1) affect the football team? The 'Horns have enough problems of their own without the drama in the athletic department, and California is no slouch. Still, UT is at home...but that's not enough, especially given the quiet nature of Texas fans (only Michigan makes fewer noise with 100,000 people). A wait-and-see attitude, plus a good Bear squad that can rack up points and yardage, deals the Longhorns a loss.
TCU (2-0) will easily take home the Iron Skillet again when it rolls over the Pony Express of SMU.
Every year, Iowa State (1-1) does a thing or two to make observers think the Cyclones are turning the corner toward becoming an annual bowl contender. And jus about every year, it follows that up with enough missteps to keep it at home, and stuck near the bottom of the Big 12. This week is one of the latter. Toledo keeps it going with a home win.
Open: Baylor (2-0), West Virginia (2-0), Kansas (0-2).