Kiss non-conference play goodbye for the Big 12. With Week 3 now in the books, league-play is full swing for the remainder of the fall.
While Oklahoma and Iowa State already kicked-off their Big 12 slates on Saturday, the rest of the back gets the ball rolling this week. The headliners? No. 17 TCU travels Austin to face a Texas squad that is fresh off a resounding 37-14 victory over No. 22 USC. A shootout could be brewing in Stillwater as No. 15 Oklahoma State faces Texas Tech — who has rebounded from a Week 1 loss to Ole Miss with back-to-back outings of at least 63 points. And while none of us should bank on it, Kansas can improve to 3-1 if they somehow find a way to win at Baylor. And no, we’re not talking basketball on that front.
Here’s a deeper look at it all — with some fun sprinkled in too — as we look forward to Week 4. Shall we start with the fun? I say yes.
Mike Gundy the Smoothie King?
If Mike Gundy is trying to grow the press pool at his weekly press conferences, the Oklahoma State head coach is knocking it out of the park.
After watching Gundy slurp away at his vodka-free smoothie mid-presser two weeks ago, reporters were treated to some blended beverages of their own during the team’s media luncheon on Monday. Yes, these ones were also non-alcoholic, as a far we are concerned.
So go ahead and give Gundy another A+ on the report card — further aided by a impressive 44-21 win for the Cowboys over No. 24 Boise State on Saturday. Oklahoma State is now the No. 15 team in the country, and don’t say you weren’t warned about the team’s potential to be a darkhorse contender in 2018.
One piece of advice, however: make the jump from Tropical Smoothie Cafe to Smoothie King. The name of the latter wouldn’t be any more fitting.
An unlikely hero in Lubbock
If you thought Kliff Kingsbury was all but doomed after Texas Tech’s lopsided Week 1 loss to Ole Miss in Houston, well, not so fast my friend.
Here we are, two weeks later, and the Red Raiders have scored 77 and 63 points in their last two outings, respectively. You can thank the unlikely hero that is freshman quarterback Alan Bowman for that. Not only has the true freshman from Grapevine, Texas resurrected a Red Raiders offense that seemed relatively lifeless on Sept. 1 — he’s done so in style, setting a Big 12 freshman record with 605 passing yards in the team’s Week 3 win over Houston.
And the wildest part? He likely wouldn’t even be playing had McLane Carter not gone down with an injury in the season-opener vs. the Rebels.
It’s impressive. And maybe we should be so surprised, considering the history of prolific passers who came come through Lubbock over the years. Regardless, Texas Tech has its quarterback, and when that’s the case, watch out. Weird things tend to happen on the windy plains of West Texas.
For the billionth time: Is Texas back?
Alright, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but nothing changes the fact that Texas is 2-1 after it’s 37-14 demolition of No. 22 USC Saturday night at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. Sure, the Trojans probably didn’t deserve to be ranked that high in the polls. But the Longhorns did rally back with 34 unanswered points after going down 14-3, and that’s something you can’t ignore.
So here we are: A TCU team likely feeling the bumps and bruises of a 40-28 loss to No. 4 Ohio State vs. a Longhorns squad riding the momentum of its first ranked win since Tom Herman was named head coach. On paper, that might not seem like a great spot for the Horned Frogs to be in. But Texas riding the emotions of the USC game into this week might not be such a bad thing after all — not if it grows to the point of a distraction at least.
And those concerns may be warranted down on the Forty Acres. Herman, at his press conference on Monday, told reporters that coaches had to spend a considerable amount of time “pleading” with the players to move on from the feel-good win — The “24 hour rule,” as he likes to call it.
It’s up to Texas players whether or not they choose to abide by that rule. It should be clear once the Frogs and Longhorns go head-to-head. Of course, TCU can find plenty of confidence within itself knowing that it has outscored Texas by 120 points combined in the past four meetings.
And hey, don’t forget about Kansas
Nine Big 12 teams have a winning record through Week 3. One Big 12 team is winless. And guess what, that one team is not Kansas.
“Sound the alarms!”
Okay, maybe we shouldn’t overhype the Jayhawks just yet considering the only Power 5 opponent that have faced is Rutgers. Nonetheless, the reality for Kansas is that they’d be a 3-0 team had it not been for a narrow, and quite frankly embarrassing, overtime loss on home turf to Nicholls State in Week 1.
And for all the lows the team has endured, let’s give David Beaty the credit he deserves thus far. A road win? That’s something that hadn’t happened in nearly a decade before Kansas went into Mount Pleasant and posted a 31-7 win over Central Michigan. One week later, the Jayhawks found a way to put up 55(!) points against a Big Ten team — a dreadful one at that, but still a non-conference Power 5 opponent. Those things just don’t happen too often on the gridiron in Lawrence.
Add it all up, and the Jayhawks have consecutive wins against FBS opponents for the first time since 2009. Quite frankly, that’s nothing to take lightly for a team that gone through all the turmoil that is has. So celebrate it while you can.