Big 12 Football is just around the corner, so let’s take a look at the big picture landscape ahead of conference play.
- Kansas (2-1)
Starting off the rankings we have a familiar face at #10.
To be fair, Kansas looks much better this year than in years past. A reinvigorated defense under Les Miles seems to be holding its own thus far, limiting opponents to only 16 points per game through three contests.
However, an absolutely inexcusable loss to Coastal Carolina puts a massive question mark on the Jayhawks’ consistency. Les Miles gave up over 170 rushing yards to CCU and scored only 7 points in the game. One can only imagine how they might fare against the elite talent of a Big 12 team.
- West Virginia (2-1)
The Mountaineers have likewise posted a respectable two wins, but also seem to lack the top end talent to roll with serious teams.
They logged wins against James Madison and NC State, both at least respectable opponents, but it remains hard to get the image of Missouri’s trouncing of the Mountaineers out of your head. Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall’s horrendous showing, in which he logged a QB rating of merely 14.0 out of 100, could be the writing on the wall for this season.
- Texas Tech (2-1)
Following the firing of Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury and his subsequent move to the Arizona Cardinals, Texas Tech did not have high hopes for the season. It seems as though those uninspiring predictions were valid.
Gun-slinging QB Alan Bowman has looked good in his own rite, although the Texas Tech offense looked more or less confused as the Raiders took on Arizona last Saturday. On top of only putting up 14 points, Bowman looks to be sidelined for at least several weeks with a shoulder injury.
- Iowa St. (1-1)
Iowa St. was pegged as a preseason sleeper in the Big 12 but have done just about everything in their power to refute that claim early.
They eked out a triple overtime win against University of Northern Iowa in their first game, only to fall in embarrassing fashion to Iowa two weeks later, ending the game on a muffed punt. The talent is there, but unless the Cyclones can put it all together for a full game, they rest at #7.
- TCU (2-0)
The Horned Frogs’ physical brand of defense has looked good through two games, holding opponents to only 20 total points thus far. More impressive was coach Gary Patterson’s stomping of Purdue, a game in which RB Darius Anderson rushed for 179 yards and 2 TDs.
The only question with TCU is QB. Despite the wins, freshman QB Max Duggan has routinely missed receivers on open routes, made poor decisions, and left questions on his ability to succeed in the college game. If teams decide to key in on the run, then TCU will have no choice but to put the ball in the hands of the young quarterback.
- Oklahoma State (3-0)
Mike Gundy and the Cowpokes have not played any elite teams yet, but one need only look at their talent on the offensive side of the ball to see why they might be dangerous.
QB Spencer Sanders looks great as a dual threat, both elite at passing and running through three games. RB Chuba Hubbard likewise looks great, logging almost 8 yards per carry for the Pokes. But the true X factor is Junior WR Tylan Wallace. Wallace stretches defenses for a living, as he has already racked up almost 400 receiving yards and averages a mind boggling 26 yards per reception. Wallace could give Big 12 defensive coordinators nightmares this season.
- Baylor (2-0)
The Bears have not played any top end teams thus far, but it’s already clear that this Baylor squad is a bit different than in years past. The defense looks reloaded and perhaps better than it has in four years. But the defense isn’t what will carry the Bears, it’s this absolutely loaded offense.
The primary value of the Bears comes in their supremely balanced attack. Five separate rushers are averaging over 10 yards per carry on the season, which speaks volumes to Baylor’s consistency running the ball. On the outside, Matt Rhule has plenty of toys, including Denzel Mims, one of the most complete receivers in the entire country. These forces will keep opponents guessing every single down, leading to what could be the best Baylor offense in years.
- Kansas St. (3-0)
Kansas St. was not projected to be anything special this season, but following a gritty win against Mississippi St., their ceiling may be higher than we thought it was.
This team is balanced, possessing talent both sides of the ball and even in special teams. Don’t count on them to win the Big 12, but they are one of the few teams in the conference who have a chance to take down giants.
- Texas (2-1)
Texas is back! Well, sort of.
The Longhorns showed their inconsistency in their shootout with LSU two weeks ago, but overall hung with what could end up being one of the top four teams in the country by the end of the season. They possess a legitimate Heisman hopeful with Sam Ehlinger, who threw for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns against what many considered one of the best defenses in the country.
The Longhorns are far from perfect but remain very much in the mix for the Big 12 crown this season. Watch out for the Junior stud QB to make some more incredible plays in the weeks to come.
- Oklahoma (3-0)
Are you surprised?
Oklahoma has quite literally decimated the rest of the Big 12 for the past half decade, so why would anything change when Alabama transfer QB Jalen Hurts started running their offense? A proven winner at the QB position links with perhaps the best young coach in all of college football, and… they’re really, reallygood.
Even though he has done a masterful job running the offense thus far, this team is not only about Hurts. Ceedee Lamb and Charleston Rambo are as talented a WR pair as you’ll find. This team has an affinity for big plays, and it’s hard to see Texas, or any other team in the Big 12, stacking up against the treasure chest of talent in Norman. They are the best team in the Big 12, and perhaps in the nation, until proven otherwise.