Welcome to the Big 12 recap. Here's your "need to know" from this weekend's games.
Seven of nine conference members played "power five" conference opponents. Big 12 teams succeeded in five out of seven matchups. At the quarter way point of the season, TCU, Oklahoma State and WVU look better than predicted. For the second straight week, Texas, Kansas and Texas Tech really struggled for various reasons that will be discussed below.
Respect rankings are derived from who and how each team played. The rankings will vary week to week and should eventually transform into something similar to a power poll.
This article is simply the opinion of one college football fan with nothing better to do than lay on the couch and watch most of these games.
Respect Rankings: Week Three
1. #4 Oklahoma (3-0), 34-10 over Tennessee, ranked 1st last week
The Sooners defense continued to play really well. Questions surrounding OU's secondary appear to have been answered, as Tennessee tested them early and often. The Sooner secondary rose to each challenge, as it forced one fumble and two interceptions - one a 100 yard pick six - from a Vols offense that had been averaging 36 points a game. Oklahoma limited the Vols to 313 yards of offense and recorded five sacks. Bob Stoops' offense was inconsistent, but looked good early, seizing opportunities given it by the defense to score on four of seven first half drives. The Sooners then opened the second half with a touchdown. However, for the rest of the game, the Sooners failed to score on five consecutive possessions. Trevor Knight threw both a touchdown pass and an interception. The offense converted only 3 of 12 third downs. Oklahoma travels to Morgantown to play a much improved Mountaineer team on Saturday night. This matchup will be interesting to see if the Sooner defense, which is limiting opponents to 33% third down conversions, 2.7 yards per rushing attempt, a 95 passing rating and 57% success in the red zone, can continue to play with such consistency and intensity, especially away from home.
2. WVU (2-1), 40-37 victory at Maryland, ranked 4th last week
Few would have believed that the Mountaineers could give up 37 points and still win at College Park. WVU did exactly that, as they overcame numerous blunders (four turnovers, a blocked field goal, a Maryland punt return touchdown, a 77 yard touchdown pass and a 75 yard touchdown run) to improve their record to 2-1 going into Big 12 play. The Mountaineers started fast, scoring on four of their first five offensive drives to take a 28-6 lead. A blowout looked imminent, but Terps tenacity coupled with Mountaineer complacency allowed Maryland to storm back into the game. Then, WVU couldn't shake the Terps until the game's end. It would take a heroic 13 play, 65 yard drive with just over two and a half minutes remaining for the Mountaineers to set up field goal kicker Josh Lambert for a 47 yard game winning score. West Virginia's offense looked unstoppable for most of the game, churning out 694 yards of offense (on 108 plays) and 33 first downs. Clint Trickett earned both the Athlon and Walter Camp Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 37 of 49, 511 yards, four touchdowns and only one interception performance - that's a 186 QB rating. Trickett did a great job again of taking what the Maryland defense gave to the Mountaineers, as WVU ran for 183 yards with Rushel Shell gaining 98 yards on 27 carries with one touchdown. Receivers Kevin White and Mario Alford reminded WVU fans of Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin. White finished the game with 13 receptions for 216 yards and a touchdown. Alford hauled in 11 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Concerns about WVU's deep strike threat were abated, as the Mountaineer offense generated six plays of 25+ yards. The Mountaineer defense, despite giving up two quick scoring strikes, held Maryland to 4 of 15 third down conversions, recorded two sacks and ten tackles for loss. DE Brandon Golson recorded both sacks while LB Nick Kwiatkowski recorded 12 tackles (3 for loss) and two pass breakups. The only other special teams bright spot on a day of serious blunders came when Jarrod Harper blocked a Maryland punt that resulted in a safety. If WVU can put together a complete game this Saturday, then they will give #4 Oklahoma its toughest test yet.
3. TCU (2-0), 30-7 over Minnesota, off last week
TCU's defense looked legit Saturday. They forced five turnovers, allowed only 3 of 16 third down conversions, recorded eight tackles for loss and held the Gophers to only 268 yards of total offense. The Gophers failed to run against TCU, gaining only 99 yards on 39 attempts (140 yards below Minnesota's average). LB Paul Dawson recorded 15 tackles, including four tackles for loss, a forced fumble and one pass breakup. Lineman Davion Pierson earned both sacks. TCU's offense capitalized on the forced turnovers, scoring 20 points on four drives. The offensive line didn't allow any sacks. Otherwise, the offense was inconsistent. Trevone Boykin suffered from accuracy issues, completing only 27 of 46 passes for 258 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Boykin did gain 92 yards on 12 carries, but a couple of those were scrambles out of the pocket. The offense only converted 2 of 12 third downs. This offense looks better than last season, but has room for improvement. If Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham can get the offense to buy in, then this team will push Baylor and Oklahoma for the Big 12 title. TCU doesn't play again until the 27th, when they visit SMU.
4. #7 Baylor (3-0), 63-21 at Buffalo, ranked 2nd last week
The offensive juggernaut known as the Baylor Bears continued its "scorched turf" campaign against a rebuilding Bulls team. This is the fifth consecutive year of offensive wizardry for Art Briles and offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery. These gentlemen simply reload the quarterback position. Bryce Petty returned after taking last week off from a back injury to complete 23 of 34 passes for 416 yards and four TDs in three quarters of action, despite not having all four first team receivers (Antwon Goodley, Levi Norwood, Corey Coleman and Clay Fuller). Backup receivers KD Cannon and Jay Lee caught a combined 15 passes for 325 yards and three TDs. RB Shock Linwood gained 97 yards on 20 carries with two touchdowns. Baylor quarterbacks Bryce Petty and Seth Russell have now combined for 13 TD passes and a 195 rating. Defensively, the Bears looked like Jekyll and Hyde. Baylor stuffed the Bulls in the first half, allowing only 78 yards and five first downs while recording two sacks. They forced seven consecutive punts and garnered four "three and outs." However, Buffalo bludgeoned the Bears' defense after halftime, gaining 316 yards and allowing two 41 yard touchdown strikes. Buffalo's 21 points are the only touchdowns the Baylor defense has given up this season. The Bears also failed to force a turnover. We'll see if complacency was the issue as Baylor enters conference play against significantly better offenses. Baylor takes a bye week before traveling to Ames to play Iowa State on the 27th.
5. Oklahoma State (2-1), 43-13 over UTSA, ranked 5th last week
Don't tell defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and the Cowboy defense that this is supposed to be a rebuilding year. Despite the loss of seven starters from last season, Oklahoma State's defense dominated a quality Roadrunner offense. The Cowboys limited UTSA to 206 yards of total offense and 11 first downs on 3 of 17 third down efficiency. OSU recorded three sacks, nine tackles for loss, seven pass breakups and three QB hurries. This is the same Roadrunner team that gained 349 yards of offense on 23 first downs and scored 23 points against Arizona just a week ago. Cowboy LB Josh Furman led the way with six tackles, two sacks and a pass breakup. Ashton Lampkin took an interception 50 yards for a pick six. On the other hand, Oklahoma State's offense looked like a unit that returned only four starters and that has suffered the loss of starting QB JW Walsh. The offense was wildly inconsistent as it recorded eight "three and outs." Coach Mike Gundy has totally abandoned his dink and dunk air raid offense with Daxx Garman at the helm. Garman looked like last year's Clint Trickett as he threw deep all day. Garman completed 16 of 30 passes for 316 yards and two TDs. RB Desmond Roland rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries with two touchdowns. Oklahoma State returns to action on the 25th for a Thursday night home game against Texas Tech.
6. Iowa State (1-2), 20-17 at Iowa, ranked 3rd last week
Paul Rhoads' team played "just a little less poorly" than Iowa to rally past the Hawkeyes on a 42 yard last second field goal in Iowa City. The Cyclones overcame a 14-3 halftime deficit as Mark Mangino's offense gained 191 of its 337 total yards in the second half to put itself in position to win the game. Iowa State received help from Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who called timeout just before Iowa State kicker Cole Netten missed his first attempt at the game winner. Netten sent his second attempt thru the middle of the uprights. Sam Richardson was 25 of 37 for 255 yards and two TDs. Iowa State couldn't get anything going on the ground, rushing for only 82 yards on 26 carries. Iowa State continues to struggle to find the red zone, as the offense has generated only six drives in three games (only two drives in this game). The Cyclone defense played well against the hapless Hawkeyes. Iowa State forced two turnovers and held Iowa to only 275 total yards. However, they did allow Iowa to sustain drives by converting 7 of 16 third down attempts. Give Iowa State respect for beating its in-state rival for the fourth time in five years. However, unless this team improves on offense and defense, wins will be few and far between. The Cyclones are off next week before hosting #7 Baylor.
7. Texas (1-2), 20-17 loss to #12 UCLA in Arlington, ranked 9th last week
Texas performed a mini-collapse in the second half against a Bruin team that lost its starting QB Brent Hundley midway thru the first quarter. Texas collapsed just as they did against BYU at home a week ago. This time, Texas held a 10-3 lead at the half and then scored on a Tyrone Swoopes eight yard TD pass to take a 17-13 lead with five minutes to play. The Longhorn disintegration started when the offense went three and out with three minutes remaining in the game. Texas's punt unit then gave up a 45 yard punt return to the Texas 33. The defensive secondary then bit on a pump fake, allowing UCLA backup QB Jerry Neuheisel to toss a 33 yard TD to Jordan Payton - thus completing the Longhorn flop. To poor salt in the wound, Texas defensive lineman Desmond Jackson went down with a leg injury early in the second half. Charlie Strong's team has real issues. Mental tenacity and loss of situational awareness appear to be chief among these. Texas gave up 443 yards of total offense and 217 yards on the ground to a UCLA offense that often looked lost without Hundley. The Longhorns botched punt return and then the defensive secondary bite on a pump fake clearly demonstrated both problems. Even more disheartening for Texas fans is the fact that Charlie Strong's coaching mistake - following the coin toss - resulted in an extra UCLA possession, as UCLA went on offense to start both halves. Texas wasted the opportunity that this game presented to define the Charlie Strong era. The season is not going to get any easier. They have a much needed off week prior to visiting Kansas. Back to back games against #7 Baylor and #4 Oklahoma are on deck.
8. Kansas (1-1), 41-3 loss at Duke, ranked 7th last week
Just like last week, I didn't get to watch this game, but saw some highlights. The ACC's reining coastal division champions demonstrated why they should contend for a division title again this season. Duke overwhelmed the Jayhawks early - scoring 17 points on its first three drives - and never looked back. The Blue Devils churned out 511 yards of total offense. Most of this yardage came on the ground (331 yards). Duke freshman running back Shaun Wilson shredded the Jayhawks for 245 yards on only 12 carries. Wilson scored three rushing TDs of 69, 68 and 45 yards. Offensively, Kansas only sustained four drives longer than 25 yards and generated a dismal 297 yards of total offense. The Jayhawks turned the ball over twice and suffered five "three and outs." Much improvement needs to be made. At least Charlie Weis and his program deflate all hope early on for Kansas fans that "this year will be better." The Jayhawk basketball team opens play at home against UC Santa Barbara on November 11th. Until then, Kansas football hosts Central Michigan this Saturday before entering conference play against Texas.
9. Texas Tech (2-1), 49-28 loss to Arkansas, ranked 8th last week
If you remember from the last two weeks, the Red Raider defense couldn't stop the ground game. Central Arkansas and UTEP rolled up a combined 459 rushing yards and six TDs on the ground. That trend continued as Arkansas reamed Tech for 438 rushing yards and seven rushing TDs. The bludgeoning was so bad that Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen only needed to throw 12 times for 61 yards. The Hogs converted 8 of 12 third downs and rolled up 32 first downs. Texas Tech has now allowed 84 first downs in three games. Defensive coaching schemes seem wrong. The talent doesn't seem to exist, particularly on the defensive line. Offensively, Davis Webb and company matched scores with Arkansas until late in the first half when Webb threw the first of two interceptions on the day. Webb finished a pedestrian 28 of 45 for 252 yards and three touchdowns. The turnover bug re-infected Tech after a week hiatus, as Tech committed three turnovers. Despite poor execution, the Red Raiders kept the game close until the third play of the fourth quarter, when Arkansas drove 82 yards to take a 42-28 lead. Arkansas chewed up over 40 minutes of clock, which possibly kept the Red Raider offense out of sync. Additionally, Kliff Kingsbury abandoned the run game against the Hogs, despite numerous opportunities when Arkansas dropped seven and eight defenders in coverage. Tech better improve soon because they face Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Thursday night the 25th.
10. The Big Ten Conference (4-6 on the day, 0-5 against "power five" conference teams)
Thanks, Big Ten teams, for willingly humiliating your conference for the second consecutive week. Only one B1G team - the former Big East school Rutgers - has defeated another "power five" team this season. The Big Ten has dropped 10 of 11 games to "power five" teams California, LSU, Notre Dame [twice], Oregon, Virginia Tech, WVU, Iowa State, TCU, and Washington. Mid-Conference teams Central Michigan, Northern Illinois, and Bowling Green continued the Big Ten's misery with wins over Purdue, Northwestern and Indiana. Conference play can't start soon enough.
After an off week, 2-0 Kansas State hosts #5 Auburn in Manhattan on Thursday night.