The first week of the 2016 season is in the books and there were upsets, dogfights, blowouts, showdowns between the P5 and FCS struggles- and that's just the Big 12! We break down the Big 12's opening week* in detail to let you see how the other sides are living ahead of conference play.
*Apart from Texas, always doing their own thing. They play later today, so this post will either be updated or Texas will get two recaps next week.
After an offseason spent having their shameful conduct exposed, leading to the demon they made a deal with being handed his walking papers, it seemed fitting that Baylor would kick off the season playing a team called the demons. While it was probably a relief to get back to some normalcy, it will be a long time before it ever feels normal to see the Bears on the field- especially with so much of the former Briles staff remaining in place. And the tone deaf tribute, not to the victims, but to the departed devil do not engender much sympathy. In news relating to things other than the souls of the Baylor administration, Baylor played a quite bad FCS team and won.
SBNation partner Our Daily Bears has a more in depth review of the game here.
Things were going so well, too. The Wildcats started decently on defense, stalling the Stanford offense the first few possessions, but they weren't able to move the chains consistently, and it seemed like in an instant the Cardinal was going to be vulnerable to the same opening game issues that they had in last season's upset loss to Northwestern. Then... not so much. It was 17-3 Stanford at the half, and the Wildcat offense still seems to have the same issues that plagued it last year- while the ground game is consistent, it doesn't produce enough big plays, and they lack both an accurate QB (both KSU QBs who played completed less than 50% of their passes) and a receiver who can make something out of nothing. In years where KSU has all three, they're Big 12 title contenders, when they have two they're a strong bowl candidate, when they're down to one they're like last year's Wildcat team- needing to get very lucky to become bowl eligible.
SBNation partner Bring on the Cats has their own five things they learned here.
This was a big one for the Mountaineers as they're trying to move to the tier of conference contenders rather than just the fringe bowl team they've been so far in their time in the Big 12. Although the Tigers had a bit of a down season last year, they are from the vaunted ESS EEE SEE (and are actually the team that West Virginia was brought in to replace), so their scalp has a lot of value- and don't let the final score fool you, this was a scalping. Though the Mountaineers gave up a garbage time TD to make the (admittedly weird) final score look a bit more respectable, the Mountaineers defense is looking very serious. West Virginia gave up just one play of more than 40 yards to the Missouri Tigers new up tempo spread attack, held Mizzou QB Drew Lock to less than 6 yards per attempt and less than a 50% completion rate. On the offensive side of the ball, West Virginia's offense was consistent as long as Skyler Howard was upright, completing about 2/3s of their passes and averaging a beastly 5+ yards per carry without padding that total with any really huge gains. That's incredibly consistent production against a Missouri defense that has been among the SEC's best every year since they joined the conference, and definitely marks a healthy West Virginia team as a conference title contender. That said though, West Virginia definitely still has issues to clear up if they're actually going to win the conference, as the offense sputtered repeatedly in the red zone- as field goals of 19, 26, 22 and 33 yards attest, and it didn't have enough big plays to be able to get away with not being a good red zone offense with no plays of more than 25 yards. That may work against an offensively challenged Tiger squad, but against the top teams of the Big 12 three points isn't going to be enough.
Check out The Smoking Musket's postgame analysis here.
Houston Cougars 33, Oklahoma Sooners 23
Our thanks go to the Oklahoma Sooners who went out of their way to make sure that TCU wouldn't have the most embarrassing opening performance in the Big 12 this week. The #3 ranked Sooners emptied their six shooter into their own feet, reloaded and took aim again, repeatedly extending Cougar drives with unconscionable personal fouls and dumb roughing the passer penalties, deciding that even with the duo averaging about 6 YPC each, that Mixon and Perine only needed a combined total of 12 carries, and even allowing a ten point swing when Houston returned a missed field goal for a touchdown. Now not only does the Big 12 lose a big out of conference game, they lose a highly ranked scalp for another Big 12 to take and they fuel the "Houston is Big 12 ready!" chatter. Hooray. Houston played decently, taking advantage of OU's soft coverage and stupid play and got after Baker Mayfield once they realized that OU had zero interest in running the ball, but this is mostly a case of idiotic game planning by the Sooners on both sides of the ball.
If you want to read sad and angry words, check out Crimson and Cream Machine here.
Oklahoma State Cowboys 61, SE Louisiana Lions 7
I'm skimping on this one, sorry. OSU played an even worse FCS team than Baylor did, and beat them worse than Baylor did. Um... Good, I guess? It could be worse, anyway. I don't have any social commentary to pass on OSU, so we'll leave it at that.
Cowboys Ride for Free probably put much more effort into their recap than I did, and you can read it here.
Another bad FCS team goes down to a Big 12 powerhou... wait. Kansas won? In a blowout? I... I didn't think that was allowed! Honestly, this is the kind of FCS team that Kansas should play- they played one of the absolute worst FCS teams in the nation (1-10 last season, with only one loss being less than double figures) and as a result they broke their losing streak, got to try a lot of things and now have confidence going into the season. Congrats, Jayhawks!
For celebration and five takeaways, check out Rock Chalk Talk's analysis here.
I think Sam's recap is pretty solid, I'll throw in a few more notes though. Kenny Hill settled in all right in the second half, but he really seems like the sort of QB who benefits from the tempo- he doesn't have to think about the next play or the situation as much and just makes his progression more naturally. The defensive issues are unsettling, but it really did seem as though SDSU was throwing everything at the Frogs in order to keep their run game from getting annihilated, slipping pulling guards and tight ends to give TCU's disciplined linebackers issues with their pursuit lanes- the aggression that tends to be one of the key points of a GP defense ended up working against us. That said, honestly Arkansas is a much better matchup for the Frogs (in that one area at least). I also would happily trade any TCU WR not named Turpin to SDSU for Wieneke, holy crap.
I suggest that anyone who suggests we play any FCS team with "Dakota" in their name be fired. Still, despite the ugliness, the Frogs won! It could be worse...
. . . If you're going to make a joke post about a FCS team being your Super Bowl, you need to win. I think Iowa State made a good hire at HC this offseason, but this sort of result is not the sort of thing to engender energy and good feelings in your fanbase. Most concerning for the Cyclones, however, is that their presumed stud RB Mike Warren was held to less than three yards per carry, even with a 12 yarder thrown in that accounted for almost half of his total yards. Northern Iowa is a good FCS team, but losing to FCS teams is not okay for teams with bowl dreams.
Wide Right and Natty Lite are sad here.
Viva the Matadors could only come up with One Thought on their victory over the Lumberjacks. Honestly... that's probably one more thought than it deserves. Playing FCS teams from the Southland conference seems like a good way to go, though.
That's the Big 12 this week (apart from Texas) anything that you noticed or are concerned about with the Big 12 at large?