Big 12 Football Preview - Week Four - Conference Play Begins
Week four of the college football season lifts the lid on Big 12 conference play, with a pair of games featuring a couple of tough-to-pick contests.
Somehow, offense and scoring increased in the league last week. Six teams are averaging more than 508 yards of total offense, led by Baylor's ridiculous total of 754. The entire league averages almost 501 yards of total offense. Unsurprisingly, the Big 12 is also first nationally in passing yardage and scoring.
TCU's Trevone Boykin received a great deal of well-deserved attention heading into the season, but it's Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield who has grabbed the spotlight. Playing quarterback for a team that has seen a few underachievers at the position, Mayfield had 572 yards of total offense last week to set a school single-game record while earning several national player of the week honors.
One angle of the Baylor-assistant-coach-on-the-Oklahoma-sideline affair that hasn't been mentioned is the potential recruiting advantage. In addition to getting to see and hear the Sooners' signals and procedures upclose, Bears' assistant Jeff Lebby could have had contact with recruits at the game - another big no-no. Only the home team's coaches and personnel can speak with or have any contact with recruits at a game, or while on a campus visit.
On the same subject, is there anything more lame than an "official reprimand" from a league or other governing body? The Big 12 issued the latest in a line of such taps on the wrist in the aftermath of the Lebby affair, but in today's almost totally open world with out shame, is there any use in doing that? Fines, suspensions and the like would be more effective. Three months from now, who is going to remember this?
This is the last week of the schedule with out of conference games in the Big 12. From here on out, it's all conference showdowns. The league will finish with 0-1 records against Independents and the Pac-12, but has a chance for a winning record against every other league.
Kansas (0-2) faces Rutgers in a battle to avoid the dregs of the NCAA. Do the Jayhawks, despite predictions of an 0-12 campaign, have enough to unseat the troubled Scarlet Knights, who have appeared in police and NCAA blotters more than Tony Soprano? This is a battle of hope as much as it is of talent, and based on that Kansas gets a very shaky, and very reluctant selection.
Baylor (2-0) hosts Rice in yet another mismatch. The Owls can score some points, but its hard to imagine them matching the Bears' speed and resulting scoring production for sixty minutes.
West Virginia (2-0) renews its border battle with Maryland, needing a win for a sweep of September. The Terrapins looked better in their recent win over South Florida than they did against Bowling Green but they will need another big leap up to knock off the Mountaineers, and that's not likely in Morgantown.
Oklahoma State (3-0) travels to Texas (1-2) in the hopes of outshooting the Longhorns, who put up a totally unexpected 44 points last week in a loss to California. That didn't appear to be a one week aberration, but the Cowboys look to be just as solid as the West Coasters, and are the pick to leave Austin with a win.
TCU (3-0) visits Texas Tech (3-0) in the feature game of the week. Everything about this contest screams "upset potential". The Horned Frogs haven't been quite as sharp as they would like, and have suffered several damaging injuries. The Red Raiders are riding high after a road win at SEC Arkansas. The home team should make it interesting, but a lack of defense should allow the Frogs to escape with the win.