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Big 12 Football: Saturday Recap & Respect Rankings

Welcome to the Big 12 recap. Here’s your “need to know” from Saturday’s games.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Big 12 recap.  Here's your "need to know" from Saturday's games.

Most of the conference again displayed its depth and coaching skills by stomping teams that were supposed to get stomped. While all ten teams must continue to improve, 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 one college football fan's opinion - with nothing better to do than lay on the couch and watch most of these games.

Respect Rankings Week Two:

1. Oklahoma, 52-7 over Tulsa, ranked 2nd last week

The Sooners appeared to be in mid-season form in this game.  Mike Stoops' defense held Tulsa to 94 yards rushing, with only nine of those coming in the first half.  The Sooners gave up only 234 passing yards on 50 attempts and picked off three passes, one of which was a pick six for star linebacker Geneo Grissom.  While critics would argue that the defense gave up too many first downs (23), the Sooners stiffened in the red zone, allowing only one touchdown in three trips inside the 20.  Meanwhile, Oklahoma's offense piled up 580 yards of total offense with a very balanced attack.  Trevor Knight threw for 299 yards, connecting on 21 of 34 attempts.  Receiver Sterling Shepherd was truly sterling, as he hauled in eight receptions for 177 yards and a touchdown.  Durron Neal caught six passes for 70 yards and gave Trevor Knight another option in the passing attack.  Running backs Alex Ross and Keith Ford combined for 177 yards on 15 carries with three touchdowns.  The offense played a clean game with no turnovers.  And Oklahoma only committed five penalties.  On the downside, a couple defensive players left the game with injuries (cornerback Zach Sanchez and tackle Charles Walker). Both players should return soon, but have adequate backups.  The question becomes "can OU continue to play at its current intensity level?"  We'll see, with Tennessee coming to Norman next week for a nationally televised game.  The Sooners then travel to Morgantown for their first conference game.

2. Baylor, 70-6 over Northwestern State, ranked 1st last week

What Baylor did to Northwestern State ought to get 15-20 years behind bars.  Like last week, critics could argue that Baylor beat another cupcake.  That's true.  But Baylor bludgeoned the Demons without star quarterback Bryce Petty and top receivers Antwon Goodley, Levi Norwood, Corey Coleman and Clay Fuller.  Baylor's offense should look simply above average without such firepower.  Yet, reserve quarterback Seth Russell threw for a record setting 438 yards and five touchdowns in the first half.  True freshman KD Cannon exploded with six receptions for 223 yards and three touchdowns.  He is amazingly quick and reminds me of a young Tavon Austin.  The Bears converted 13 of 16 third downs and generated 720 yards for the game.  Big 12 opponents shudder to think of what will happen as this offense continues to gain experience.  One of the few negative involved the offensive line, which struggled in the first half to manhandle Northwestern State's defensive front.  As a result, running back Shock Linwood only had 33 yards on 11 carries.  Over two games, Baylor has rushed 40 times for only 183 yards in the first half.  Baylor must improve its ground game to truly contend for a Big 12 title.  Defensively, Baylor's talent simply overwhelmed the Demons, despite garnering only three sacks, seven tackles for loss and one turnover.  Baylor played really well on third down, holding NWSt to converting only 2 of 15 attempts.  Thankfully, no Baylor players were injured in this game. It will be interesting to see if Bryce Petty and some of his first team receivers return to action this week.  Unfortunately, we won't see Baylor compete against strong competition until the 27th, when they go to Ames to face Iowa State.  Baylor plays Friday night at Buffalo (who surrendered 47 points to Army).

3. Iowa State, 32-28 loss to #20 Kansas State, ranked 9th last week

A lot of respect goes out to the Iowa State program.  Cyclone fans packed Jack Trice Stadium for their annual rivalry with Kansas State despite a rough week highlighted by the loss of wide receiver Quenton Bundrage to injury, the loss of offensive tackle Jacob Gannon for personal reasons, and the memory of a humiliating defeat to North Dakota State (34-14).  Paul Rhoads and his coaching staff had their team ready to play, as the Cyclones almost pulled off the upset.  This game was momentum driven.  Iowa State's defense stiffened after allowing 13 points on the first three Wildcat possessions.  The Cyclones then scored 28 points on their next four possessions.  Senior wide receiver Jarvis West took over the game. West caught a 17 yard touchdown reception, returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, and then threw a beautiful 29 yard touchdown pass off of a nifty double reverse play that caught Kansas State totally off guard.  The rout looked imminent.  But then Iowa State remembered that they were playing the 20th ranked Wildcats.  Big 12 refs didn't help the Cyclone cause.  Just before halftime, the refs didn't review a disputed Tyler Lockett catch at the Cyclone one yard line and then allowed wily Bill Snyder to line his team up and score on the next play.  Paul Rhoads couldn't challenge the Lockett catch because he didn't have a time out.  The third quarter was a classic defensive battle with both teams stopping their opponent on fourth and one.  Mark Mangino's offense remained scoreless in the fourth quarter while throwing an interception.  Kansas State scored touchdowns on two of its last three possessions to take the game from Iowa State with 1:30 to play.  This is the second game in a row where Iowa State could not establish a ground game.  The Cyclones only rushed for 105 yards on 37 attempts.  Despite the negatives, if Iowa State plays with the same intensity next Saturday at Iowa City, then the Cyclones could beat an Iowa team that looks offensively impotent.  Expect a low scoring game.

4. WVU, 54-0 over Towson, ranked 5th last week

What a difference a year of experience makes for the Mountaineers.  In the 2013 home opener against William & Mary, it took 57 minutes for WVU to put away the Tribe 24-17.  Against Towson, the Mountaineers took control of this game from the outset, scoring on six of their first seven possessions.  WVU displayed an array of weapons as seven players scored touchdowns.  WVU gained 606 yards of offense, converted 12 of 17 third downs and committed only one meaningless turnover by backup QB William Crest late in the third quarter when the game was already out of reach.  Clint Trickett demonstrated amazing control of the offense. He attacked the Tiger defense almost perfectly.  Trickett threw for 348 yards and was incredibly efficient, connecting on 35 of 40 pass attempts to 11 different receivers and two touchdowns.  Trickett also ran for a touchdown off of a five wide set draw play, aka "Genoesque."  Hopefully, we'll see that play again.  The Mountaineers possessed a balanced attack, rushing for 251 yards.  Rushel Shell gained 71 yards on 14 carries with a touchdown.  Wendell Smallwood, Andrew Buie and William Crest also scored rushing touchdowns.  Senior wide receiver Kevin White had another great game, catching ten passes for 101 yards. Mario Alford and Jordan Thompson contributed with touchdown receptions.  Defensively, the Mountaineers earned their first shutout in over three years.  WVU held Towson to only seven first downs, 122 yards of total offense, and 4 of 15 third down conversions.  The Mountaineer defense never allowed Towson to gain momentum.  The defense constantly harassed Tiger quarterbacks and even earned a safety. Wes Tonkery, KJ Dillon, both "Shaqs" (Riddick and Petteway) and Jarrod Harper got sacks.  The defense also earned seven tackles for loss.  They gave the offense great field position all night.  The Mountaineers started at or inside their own 25 on only 3 of 14 possessions.  Special teams contained Towson and avoided costly turnovers and penalties.  Did you know that WVU plays another team from the state of Maryland this week?  We'll see how much improvement the Mountaineers have made as the Terps host WVU at College Park in a noon matchup.  Maryland is 2-0 after surviving a near implosion to beat lowly USF, 24-17.  The Terps committed six turnovers and looked apathetic in Tampa.

5. Oklahoma State, 40-23 over Missouri State, ranked 5th last week

The Cowboys lost starting quarterback J.W. Walsh to a leg injury late in the first half.  Cowboy backup quarterback Daxx Garman then proceeded to tear up the Bear defense, going 16 of 26 for 244 yards and two touchdowns.  Oklahoma State fans are excited to see Garman play, as he threw all over the field (unlike Walsh, who mainly throws underneath defenses).  Garman reminds me of Brandon Weeden.  If Garman continues to play, he will make the OSU offense dangerous and definitely less predictable.  One downside of the offense was an inability to sustain drives.  The Cowboys finished only 5 of 15 on third down, forcing six field goal attempts.  Special teams play was inconsistent.  The good news regarding special teams play is twofold.  First, Tyreek Hill and Jordan Sterns put OSU's offense in great field position with 67 return yards off of two punts.  Second, special teams defense blocked three kicks against the Bears.  It's only the second time in college football history that a team has blocked a field, an extra point attempt and a punt all in the same game.  On the downside, Cowboys punter Kip Smith shanked an 18 yard punt and kicker Ben Grogan missed two long field goal attempts (he is only 5 of 8 on the year).  The Cowboy defense played adequate, allowing 374 yards and only 4 out of 14 third down conversions.  However, adequate will not get it done in conference play.  While the defensive line played well (picked up four of the five sacks against Missouri State), the secondary did not.  They got burned on numerous plays in similar fashion to what Florida State did to the Cowboys in Arlington.  That doesn't bode well as a senior laden UTSA squad led by Larry Coker comes to Stillwater next Saturday.  UTSA almost pulled off the upset at home against Rich Rod's Arizona Wildcats.  The Roadrunners lost 26-23.

6. Kansas State, 32-28 over Iowa State, ranked 6th last week

Bill Snyder's Wildcats blew a great opportunity to rout the Cyclones on Saturday.  After taking a 13-0 lead in the first quarter, Kansas State gained only 103 yards in its next five possessions to trail Iowa State 28-20 going into the fourth.  The Wildcats woke up in the fourth, depending on quarterback Jake Waters to lead the way.  And lead he did, as Waters drove the Wildcats 54 yards on four plays for a touchdown and then 80 yards in seven plays for another touchdown to take control with 1:30 remaining.  Waters passed for 239 yards on 16 of 29 attempts.  He also rushed for 138 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, looking remarkably like Collin Klein.  Star receiver Tyler Lockett caught six receptions for 136 yards, including two catches that continued those drives.  Defensively, the Wildcats looked like a Snyder coached defense in the second half as they successfully stopped Iowa State twice on fourth down and totally shutdown the Cyclones.  Defensive back Randall Evans stripped the ball from Iowa State receiver Jarvis West to halt a Cyclone drive early in the fourth quarter.  Kansas State will have to play a much more consistent game as they host #5 Auburn on Thursday, September 13th

7. Kansas, 34-28 over Southeast Missouri State, ranked 10th last week

I didn't get to watch this game, but saw some highlights.  So here goes.  The Jayhawks played well for exactly one quarter, taking a 24-0 lead.  Then one of two things happened.  Charlie Weis became really conservative or Kansas began playing like the Kansas of the last four years.  Either way, the Jayhawks survived a furious 21 point comeback by the Redhawks of the Ohio Valley Conference.  Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns on 12 of 24 attempts.  Running back De'Andre Mann rushed for 121 yards on 15 carries.  The Jayhawk defense forced three turnovers and held the Redhawks to only 5 of 16 third down conversions.  However, Kansas only forced one sack and six tackles for loss against an opponent that should have been overwhelmed.  We'll see how conservative Kansas really was as they travel to 2-0 Duke next Saturday.

8. Texas Tech, 30-26 over UTEP, ranked 8th last week

This writeup is eerily similar to last week's - hence the eighth place ranking. The Red Raiders barely escaped El Paso with a victory over the Miners late Saturday night.  As written in last week's column, Kliff Kingsbury wanted this year's team to clean up its issues with turnovers and penalties.  Tech cleaned up the turnover issue, committing just one fumble.  However, Tech still played undisciplined, committing ten penalties that unnecessarily extended two UTEP drives. One of those drives resulted in a UTEP touchdown.  Two of the ten penalties were a direct result of coaching staff buffoonery.  On a UTEP attempted punt, the Red Raiders had two special team players with the same number on the field (unlucky #13) at the same time.  Then the Tech coaching staff received a five yard penalty for sideline interference.  Unbelievable.  Tech's defense allowed the Miners to roll up 393 yards of total offense - 277 yards on the ground.  Tech simply couldn't stop UTEP's ground game.  Yet, for some inexplicable reason, UTEP futilely tried to pass the ball, completing only 9 of 25 for 116 yards.  On the bright side, the Red Raiders held UTEP to 6 of 16 third down conversions and stopped the Miners on fourth down at the end of the game.    Offensively, Tech rolled up 504 yards of offense, but squandered numerous opportunities to make this game a blowout.  The Red Raiders converted only 4 of 14 third downs.  Again, on a bright note, Tech was four of four in the redzone for 24 points.  Quarterback Davis Webb did not look sharp.  He missed numerous wide open receivers, going 17 of 31 for 278 yards.  Webb did pass for three touchdowns - all to beast receiver Bradley Marquez.  Tech running back Justin Stockton played really well as he gained 135 yards and a touchdown on only eight carries.  While a win is a win, Tech could begin to question its abilities.  Nah, we're talking about Kliff Kingsbury.  Tech can't afford to play like this against 1-1 Arkansas, who blasted Nichols State 73-7. 

9. Texas, 41-7 loss to BYU, ranked 4th last week

"Texas Fight" is simply another song that the Longhorn band performs when Texas plays BYU.  For a second straight year, the fight song meant nothing to the team.  Texas' offense really missed quarterback David Ash, along with tackles Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle.  As a result, the offense looked horrible.  Reserve quarterback Tyrone Swoopes did his best, but he was not ready for prime time.  Swoopes led the offense to 83 yards and a missed field goal in the first quarter.  Texas would gain only 175 more yards the rest of the way - and 75 of those yards came on a sole touchdown drive late in the third quarter after BYU had taken a 34-0 lead.  BYU is a quality team, but Texas made the Cougar defense look nearly invincible.  BYU stymied the Longhorns, forcing four turnovers, four "three and outs" and eight punts.  Swoopes was 20 of 31 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.  The Texas ground game was non-existent, rushing for only 85 yards on 30 carries.  Remember, we are discussing Texas - a program that recruits so well that it should be two and three deep at each position.  At least the Texas defense played well - for a half.  They held BYU to two field goals, forced an interception and stuffed BYU on a fourth down conversion.  However, after halftime, there was no fight in the Longhorns defense.  They quit.  BYU then proceeded to gash Texas for 231 of the 429 total yards gained.  In his post-game press conference, Charlie Strong admitted that his team's performance was "an embarrassment to this program and this university."  The "fight" had better return soon because Strong's team hosts #11 UCLA in Arlington on Saturday. 

10. The Big Ten Conference

Since TCU had an open date, the bottom ranking had to be filled.  Thanks, Big Ten conference, for stepping up.  Or down.  Elite teams such as #7 Michigan State, #8 Ohio State and Michigan were humiliated by #3 Oregon, unranked Virginia Tech and #16 Notre Dame by a combined score of 112-48.  Purdue got pummeled by Central Michigan 38-17.  Northern Illinois defeated Northwestern 23-15.  Nebraska needed late fourth quarter heroics to fend off McNeese State 31-24 in Lincoln.  The same is true of Iowa in Iowa City against Ball State.  Illinois barely beat Western Kentucky.  It took Wisconsin an entire half to shake off the cobwebs of losing to LSU the previous week to defeat Western Illinois 37-3.  Maryland almost imploded at lowly USF.  At least Penn State, Minnesota and Rutgers won by double digits.  Oh, wait.  They played Akron, Middle Tennessee and Howard.  Thanks, Big Ten teams, for allowing real non-conference opponents to eliminate all of the national playoff talk that would have surrounded your storied programs.  You potentially saved yourselves the embarrassment that would have taken place in New Orleans or Pasadena.

After an off week, TCU hosts 2-0 Minnesota in Fort Worth on Saturday.