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2023 Big 12 Football Recap: Week 4

Only one favorite lost this weekend in what proved to be a pretty standard week in the Big 12.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 23 BYU at Kansas Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Only won underdog came out on top this past weekend. The Mountaineers defeated the Red Raiders as a six-point underdog. However, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the Red Raiders have not looked like a competent squad this season. Two teams played against non-Big 12 foes, TCU and Houston. Both the Horned Frogs and Cougars dominated their local rivals in SMU and Sam Houston, respectively. As for the Big 12 powerhouses, Texas continued to roll, Oklahoma showed last season was an anomaly, and might I say the Jayhawks are Big 12 title contenders? We’ll discuss the Jayhawks and more in this Big 12 week three recap.

#16 Oklahoma 20, Cincinnati 6

The Oklahoma offense has come back down to earth after a demolition of Tulsa. The Sooners' running game only managed 103 yards on the ground, but once again looked good through the air. Dillon Gabriel continued to look like one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12. He passed for 322 yards and a touchdown. Cincinnati was unlucky and lucky enough to play Oklahoma for their opening Big 12 contest. The Bearcats played the Sooners once before they bolted to the SEC, but also they had to play the best team in the Big 12 over the past decade for their first Big 12 game.

Cincinnati only mustered two field goals, one in the first, and the other in the third. The Bearcats played a relatively clean game, but could never get into the red zone. Only once did Cincinnati manage to reach the red zone, and when they did, Bearcats kicker Carter Brown missed his easiest field goal of the day.

Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0) returns to Norman to take on the Iowa State Cyclones (2-2, 1-0) on Saturday night, September 30 at 6:00 p.m. CT. The Bearcats (2-2, 0-1) battle the BYU Cougars (3-1, 0-1) who are looking for revenge after losing to the Kansas Jayhawks a week ago. This affair will be played on Friday night at 9:15 p.m. CT, September 29.

BYU 27, Kansas 38

After a thrilling upset against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Cougars looked to build upon such a big win as they began Big 12 play. Nevertheless, the Jayhawks remained stout and downed the Cougars by eleven points in Lawrence. Quarterback Jalon Daniels only threw for 130 yards, but he tossed three touchdowns. Rather than relying on the pass, Kansas looked to the ground game. The Jayhawks rushed for 221 yards on the Cougars defense. On the other side, BYU completely favored the pass, throwing the ball 51 attempts.

The Cougars only managed nine yards on the ground and turned the ball over three times. Two of which the Jayhawks returned for touchdowns, an interception and a fumble return. BYU was able to shake off the turnovers quickly, but turning the ball over three times truly did the Cougars in.

Next week, BYU (3-1, 0-1) takes on fellow new Big 12 squad Cincinnati (2-2, 0-1). The two new foes clash on Friday night. The newly ranked Kansas Jayhawks (4-0, 1-0) battle the Texas Longhorns (4-0, 1-0) on ABC this Saturday afternoon. The game will be held in Austin on September 30 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Texas Tech 13, West Virginia 20

Can it get any worse? Texas Tech dropped another game, this time against West Virginia. The Mountaineers started backup quarterback Nicco Marchiol, in place of the injured Garrett Greene, and although Marchiol didn’t put up big numbers, he came out victorious. Speaking of backup quarterbacks, Texas Tech starter Tyer Shough went down with an injury and was replaced by Behren Morton. Morton played significantly last year but looked quite rusty in this battle.

Morton did lead a 15-play drive to put Texas Tech in scoring position to end the game. However, with 43 seconds left, Morton tossed four straight red zone incompletions to put a damper on the Red Raiders' comeback hopes.

The Red Raiders (1-3, 0-1) will head into the weekend as the favorite as they clash with the Houston Cougars (2-2, 0-1). This game will be played in Lubbock on Saturday, September 30 at 2:30 p.m. CT. As for the Mountaineers (3-1, 1-0), they travel to Fort Worth as underdogs. West Virginia will compete against the Horned Frogs (3-1, 1-0) on Saturday, September 30 at 7:00 p.m. CT.

Oklahoma State 27, Iowa State 34

Rather than playing three quarterbacks again, the Cowboys looked for some consistency as they started Alan Bowman and played the sixth-year quarterback for the entirety of the contest. Bowman performed moderately well, he went 23-of-48 with 278 yards and two touchdowns, but also tossed two interceptions as well. As for Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht, he played his best game of the season thus far. The freshman quarterback went 27-of-38 with 348 yards through the air. Additionally, the young signal-caller tossed three touchdowns and finished with a QBR of 85.9.

Becht truly put the Cyclones on his back in this one. The ground game only provided a mere 74 yards on 2.2 yards per tote. With his performance, Becht was tabbed National Freshman of the Week. Both teams looked more competent this week on offense. A step in the right direction was surely made here. The Cowboys look like a more complete squad and may have found their starting quarterback, while Iowa State may have finally found its groove on offense.

The Oklahoma State Cowboys (2-2, 0-1) don’t play this upcoming weekend, which may benefit the squad as they prepare for Kansas State (3-1, 1-0) in early October. The Cyclones (2-2, 1-0) will be tasked with traveling to Norman to take on the Sooners (4-0, 1-0) at 6:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 30.

Houston 38, Sam Houston 7

The Houston Cougars deserved this one. Keeping it in the state of Texas, Houston has played UTSA, Rice, TCU, and now Sam Houston. Houston narrowly escaped in week one, lost to Rice in week two, and received a beatdown by the Horned Frogs in week three. The Cougars crushed Sam Houston, 38 to 7 in this contest. Quarterback Donovan Smith played efficiently, as he went 31-of-40 to go along with 294 yards and a touchdown. Freshman running back Parker Jenkins came to play, he rushed for 105 yards and three touchdowns in a breakout performance. The Cougar defense held Sam Houston to only seven points and 178 total yards. Furthermore, Houston turned over the Bearkats twice.

Houston, once again, plays a Texas school. The Cougars (2-2, 0-1) will make the trek to Lubbock to take on the Red Raiders (1-3, 0-1). The Cougars will look to pull off the upset as Texas Tech is currently favored by more than a touchdown.

#3 Texas 38, Baylor 6

The Big 12’s best team quickly made work of the Baylor Bears, going up 28-6 at halftime, before cruising to a 38-6 victory. The Longhorns dominated in all facets of the game. Texas recorded 503 yards of total offense, only recorded two penalties, and managed 24 first downs in this ball game. Quarterback Quinn Ewers played with great efficiency, going 18-of-23 and passing for 293 yards and a touchdown. Running back Jonathon Brooks powered his way past the Bears' defense, to the tune of 106 yards and two touchdowns. Tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders looked like Ewers’ favorite target in a crowded receiver room. The big tight end amassed 110 yards on five receptions. The Longhorns defense pestered the Baylor offense, sacking Baylor quarterbacks five times and interception Baylor starter Sawyer Robinson once.

The Baylor offense continues to look lifeless. The Bears played two quarterbacks in this one and neither played particularly well. On the ground, the Bears only managed to rush for 60 yards on 31 attempts. Although the Bears didn’t turn it over, they only converted five of eighteen third-down attempts. The Bears were constantly unable to keep a good drive going due to third-down, and even fourth-down woes.

Texas 4-0, 1-0) returns to Austin to take on the 24th-ranked Jayhawks (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday, September 30 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The downtrodden Bears (1-3, 0-1) take on the UCF Golden Knights (3-1, 0-1) for the first time since the Fiesta Bowl in 2013 where UCF won 52-42. This contest will be held in Orlando at 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, September 30.

UCF 31, Kansas State 44

The Golden Knights’ first foray into Big 12 play did not go as planned, but they still put up a valiant effort, at least on offense. The UCF defense gave up 536 total yards and an astounding 281 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to Kansas State. The Golden Knights had only surrounded two scores on the ground this entire season before the Wildcats touchdown barrage. Running back DJ Giddens went nuclear, as he piled up 207 yards and four touchdowns on 30 rushes. To make matters worse, UCF couldn’t corral quarterback Will Howard, who ran for 64 yards and added a rushing touchdown himself.

USF transfer, Timmy McClain, did an admirable job filling in for the injured John Rhys Plumlee. McClain accumulated 264 passing and three scores. He hit on numerous big plays to receivers Kobe Hudson, who scored twice on the day, and RJ Harvey who caught a 29-yard score of his own.

The UCF (3-1, 0-1) defense will look to rebound against the Baylor Bears (1-3, 0-1) on Saturday, September 30 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The Wildcats receive a well-deserved rest before battling the Oklahoma State Cowboys next Friday, October 6.