I, for one, am embracing the chaos.
lol Sure, losing three games to three Sun Belt teams isn’t a good look for a Power Five Conference, but... it sure was fun to see some teams rise up and take down goliaths — especially while the Frogs were safely at home not almost losing to an FCS school.
And hey, in a season where nothing will be normal? Why not root for utter and complete chaos. Might as well have some fun, right?
Let’s take a look around what went right, and what went wrong, across the Big 12 in its first weekend of play.
Louisiana 31, #23 Iowa State 14
During Monday’s weekly preview, I wrote: “This game could be a lot closer than you think, and should be entertaining as hell either way.”
Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t close — though it was entertaining — as Billy Napier’s team was the better prepared, the better coached, and for the most part, the more talented. 14-10 Cyclones at the half, the Ragin’ Cajuns shutout the Cylones across the final two quarters, in their home stadium, to come away with the three-score win. Poor special teams play sealed the deal for Matt Campbell’s team, who allowed touchdowns on both punt and kick returns.
Play of the Game: Levi Lewis found Peter LeBlanc for a 78 yard touchdown late in the third quarter to give Louisiana a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
West Virginia 56, Easter Kentucky 10
Year two got off to a strong start for Neal Brown, as his Mountaineers seemed to have no problem picking up where they left off in 2019. Jarret Doege threw for three touchdowns and the team rushed for over 300, while the defense held the Colonels to just nine first downs and one third down conversion.
Oh, and they did all that despite 11 players being suspended for undisclosed rules violations.
Play of the Game: The running game was what was missing for WVU a year ago, but Doege’s improvement will be what makes this team a contender. Eers fans have to be excited about his first quarter 32 yard touchdown pass, a beautiful ball to Sam James that was put on a dime.
Arkansas State 35, Kansas State 31
I don’t want to say I told you so, but “this one could be even better than the sneaky good Iowa State-Louisiana game, as Arkansas State is an annual candidate for “fun team you root for that you have no abject relationship to”.”
Well, I have to say, I think I nailed it. K State held a one score lead at halftime, but the Red Wolves tied things up in the third thanks to a five play, 77 yard drive that ended in an eight yard touchdown pass.
The Cats were terrible on third down, converting just once in 11 tries, and Skylar Thompson was pretty pedestrian in his season-opener. More concerning was the running game, which produced just 91 yards on 39 attempts for a paltry 2.3 yards per carry average.
Play of the Game: The Red Wolves took the lead late in the fourth quarter on a 17 yard touchdown pass on second and long, as Layne Hatcher found Jonathan Adams in the end zone for the win.
#5 Oklahoma 48, Missouri State 0
Nothing to see here, just a team picking up a $600,000 buyout to get slaughtered by an elite program.
Spencer Rattler threw four touchdowns in just 17 attempts, as the Sooners jumped out to a 41-0 halftime lead. If you want to pick nits, the running game was sorely lacking with Kennedy Brooks opting out, as Oklahoma averaged just 3.5 ypc against a highly overmatched foe. Wasn’t a problem Saturday, though.
Play of the Game: Spencer Rattler to Marvin Mims is something we are going to hear a lot of, and the two future stars announced themselves on the Sooners’ second series of the game with a one play, 58 yard touchdown connection.
#14 Texas 59, UTEP 3
TEXAS IS BACK!
That’s what we do, right? As per usual, the Longhorns started the season with an impressive win against a subpar team so we can assume they’ll win the National Championship, right?
Despite the lopsided score — this one was over early, as UT was up 21-0 after one and 45-3 at the half — Sam Ehlinger played nearly the entire game (this is incorrect — he only played one drive after halftime), throwing for 426 yards on 33 attempts with five touchdowns. The youth movement in the backfield began with aplomb, as Bijan Robinson ran five times for 38 yards and Jordan Whittington picked up 15 yards on his one attempt. Receiver Joshua Moore went off for 127 yards on six catches and a touchdown.
Play of the Game: The first play was the best play, as Ehlinger found Moore for a 78 yard score on the Horns’ first snap of the ball game.
Texas Tech 35, Houston Baptist 33
Is it too early to laugh at Texas Tech? Certainly not, as the Red Raiders came oh-so-close to completely and utterly blowing it against FCS doormat Houston Baptist, who had 57 dropped on them by North Texas the week prior.
The offense was spotty behind Alan Bowman and the defense was disastrous, allowing Husky QB Bailey Zappe to throw for 567 yards and four touchdowns. SaRodorick Thompson was a bright spot for the Red Raiders, rushing for 118 yards and two scores on 22 attempts. It’s going to be another long year for Matt Wells and the Red Raiders, it appears.
Play of the Game: HBU’s two-point conversion failed with just minutes remaining in the ball game, as the Red Raiders denied the Huskies a chance to tie it late.
Coastal Carolina 38, Kansas 23
Oh no, they did it again. The Jayhawks lost to Coastal Carolina for the second season in a row, and this time it was an utter and absolute whipping. The Sun Belt truly reigned supreme Saturday, and it was not more obvious than it was in Lawrence, as the Chanticleers jumped out to a two touchdown lead and never looked back. It was 28-3 at the half before the Jayhawks tried to climb back into the game, scoring twice in the third to cut the deficit to just two scores.
Coastal QB Grayson McCall threw for three scores and ran for two more, while on the other sideline, KU seems to have more questions than answers behind center. Pooka Williams was very average in his 2020 debut, rushing for just 67 yards, and Les Miles’ team turned it over four times in total.
Things were bad, very bad, for KU at home.
Play of the Game: Kansas’ first series ended in an interception. The second? A fumble. The third? Punt? Fourth? Missed field goal. Fifth? Another interception.
They ended the half with a field goal, so that’s something, I suppose.