Welcome back Baylor fans to another year of football in the Big 12! The Big 12 Sunday Morning Quarterback is a weekly update rolled out on Our Daily Bears to give fans a quick summary of the weekend's games around the Big 12. New for 2014, we will also incorporate conference bowl projections on a weekly basis. This week given that Baylor opened up play in its amazing new McLane Stadium on Sunday night as well as the opening of dove season, this post will have to be the Monday Afternoon Quarterback.
Week 1 for the Big 12 started out with some big time matchups and some typical early season snoozers. AP #1 and defending national champion Florida State took on Oklahoma State in Dallas and #2 Alabama took on West Virginia in Atlanta. Both Big 12 representatives acquitted themselves well even in defeat. Three-peat FCS national champion North Dakota State went to Ames to face Iowa State and extended its FBS season winning streak to 5 much to the dismay of Cyclone fans. Kansas, Colorado State, Iowa, Kansas State, now Iowa State have all fallen prey to the Bison, which is an impressive record for sure. The rest of the games were uneventful and without a lot of drama, so without further delay, on to the game summaries.
Florida State (-17.5) 37 vs. Oklahoma State 31
This was a big game with a lot of national hype and one that I was looking forward watching. The game was played in Arlington at the AT&T Deathstar and showcased Heisman winner Jameis Winston quarterbacking the defending national champion Florida State Seminoles. At a 17.5 point favorite, everyone was expecting Florida State to dominate this game, and after jumping out to a 17-0 lead early in the 2nd quarter that was exactly what was happening. After losing a significant number of starters, Oklahoma State entered the season in re-building mode, right? Not so fast, the Cowboys stormed back against the vaunted Seminoles and well into the 4th quarter, this was a three-point game. The momentum was clearly shifting to Okie State and the Seminoles were on their heals. At the 4 minute mark Winston connected with Rashad Greene for a 50 yard touchdown strike after an OSU turnover to move the lead to 37 -24, effectively putting the nail in the coffin for State. The Cowboys scored again late to pull back within 6, but did not quite have the horses for the upset bid.
There are a couple of interesting things to note about this game. The first is that JW Walsh was a passionate leader for the Cowboys and did a great job keeping the team going. He was pretty average through the air, but did run well. Overall he had a solid outing against the #1 team in the nation on a big national stage. Another thing to put in your memory banks for later is that Tyreek Hill is going to be a big star in this league. He still looked a bit raw, but fast, fearless and aggressive. He has all the tools to be a league great and I expect that he will be one. He caught passes, returned kicks, ran the ball and had an all around great game. He was a real catch from the JUCO ranks for the Coach Gundy. The last observation is made with all due respect to the Cowboys and that is that Florida State looks very vulnerable for the supposed #1 team in the country. They looked a bit uninspired and seemed to be going through the motions. Winston had some brilliant moments like his 28-yard touchdown scramble, but overall was pretty average. FSU will not be #1 for long if they keep playing at this level.
North Dakota State University (NL) 34 @ Iowa State 14
I wrote in the preseason edition that NDSU is not your average FCS team. They currently have a 25 game winning streak going and have won the FCS playoff for 3 seasons running. Make no mistake, they are a good football team and they showed it on Saturday in Ames. A few pundits were picking the Bison to upset Iowa State for this game but most thought that the 4-year streak of beating an FBS team would end for NDSU. How wrong they were. Unlike last year's come from behind, last minute victory over Kansas State, the Bison plodding along throughout this game running clock, chewing up hard yards and grinding their way to what ended up a blowout victory.
Iowa State was actually up 14-0 early in the contest, but the Bison were unfazed. By the middle of the 3rd quarter, it was obvious who was going to win this game. The Cyclones knew that the NDSU was going to run the ball and still they had it jammed down their throat. John Crockett continued to slash through the Iowa State defensive front and ended up gaining 138 yards, most of which were in between the tackles. Defensively the Cyclones were abysmal. Offensively, they looked sharp in the first quarter but started to fall apart as the game wore on. Sam Richardson had 2 picks, no touchdowns and Allen Lazard only had one catch for 48 yards.
This is going to be a long season for the Cyclones if they don't make some significant improvements across the board.
Alabama (+26) 33 vs. West Virginia 23
This game took a very similar story line to the OSU/FSU game profiled above. A heavily favored, highly ranked SEC team takes on a lowly Big 12 foe in a nationally televised game at a neutral site and is expected to perform a summary execution. This game was played in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and contrary to preliminary opinion, was hard fought from the start. The ‘Eers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field for a field goal and announced to the Crimson Tide that they would not go down without a fight. The teams traded blows throughout the first half with Alabama holding a slim 20-17 advantage.
Although Alabama lead the entire 2nd half, this game was always close and the result was never a foregone conclusion. While watching I felt that the Tide was in control but were not able to put away the Mountaineers and with a few different bounces of the ball things could have been very different.
In terms of the overall stats, Clint Trickett had a good game throwing for 365 yards, but that was it. The Mountaineer offense was one-dimensional without much of a running game to complement the pass. Although dominating the stats, the Tide also looked vulnerable at times. Similar to the Seminoles, they will have to take their game up a notch to maintain their national elite status, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.
Central Arkansas (NL) 35 @ Texas Tech 42
This game could potentially be chalked up to opening season jitters, but if Tech continues to play like they did against the Central Arkansas Bears, they are going to have a tough time getting bowl eligible. Davis Webb threw for 452 yards and 4 touchdowns but also threw 2 interceptions and was called for intentional grounding in the end-zone, which is a safety by rule.
Central Arkansas lead for much of this contest and never let the high-scoring game get out of hand. They doggedly scored on pace with the Red Raiders taking advantage of turnovers and a somewhat porous defense.
Tech's offense is still statistically potent but a defense that allows 35 points to be scored by a Southland Conference foe is cause for serious concern in Lubbock. The Red Raiders will have to shore up that side of the ball and also limit turnovers if they want to advance past Big 12 mediocrity.
Louisiana Tech (+38) 16 @ Oklahoma 48
Oklahoma took care of business in this matchup, racing out to a 31-0 2nd quarter lead on multiple touchdown runs by Keith Ford and Alex Ross and a touchdown pass from Trevor Knight to Sterling Shepard. Knight looked good in this game, which is a good sign for the Sooners. The Sooners season will hinge on his play at quarterback and so far he is continuing his hot streak from the Sugar Bowl. Against the La Tech defense though there was not much to be learned about the true quality of the Oklahoma offense. The Sooner defense was stingy and completely bottled up the La Tech offensive attack from the beginning of the game. Tech was only able to move the ball after Oklahoma had started liberal subbing and even then did not have much success.
Bottom line in this one is that Oklahoma took care of business and looked solid doing it. La Tech was never in it and scored its points after the game was all but decided.
Stephen F. Austin (NL) 16 @ Kansas State 55
Kansas State also took care of business in this yawner in the Little Apple. The Lumberjacks were not expected to harvest any hardwood in this game and unfortunately for them that is exactly what happened. Jake Waters had an excellent night throwing for 2 touchdowns and rushing for two more and the Kansas State defense held SFA to under 300 total yards. The Cats secondary did give up some significant passing yardage though and a big chunk of it was in the first half while the game was still competitive.
Coach Snyder, as always, tries to point out the challenges and room for improvement for his team after each game. The defensive secondary will be an area that he can reflect on during practice this week.
University of North Texas (+25) 7 @ Texas 38
This was an intriguing game coming in to the season with an up-and-coming North Texas squad going against a Texas team with plenty of question marks. At 9-4 last year and their first bowl bid in decades, the Mean Green came into Austin with upset on their minds.
Charlie Strong's Longhorns got rid of that sentiment quickly though. Although the offense was somewhat pedestrian in approach, the Horns marched out to a 28-0 lead early in the 3rd quarter. David Ash turned in a reasonable night throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined for 147 yards and were a potent 1-2 punch with Brown scoring two touchdowns in the trenches.
One story coming out of this game is that Ash has already been scratched for next week's matchup with BYU due to showing concussion-like symptoms after the game. Ash obviously has had some significant concussion related injury time in the past two seasons and this could end up being a big story as the season progresses.
Samford (NL) 14 @ TCU 48
There is not much to say about this one, TCU wins big over a severely under-matched Samford squad. The real storyline in this game was the TCU offense. The defense was expected to be smothering and as advertised, held Samford to only 143 total yards. The big question mark was the offense, and although we still can't tell much based on the competition, Trevone Boykin had a solid outing accounting for 3 touchdowns and the offense overall put up 555 yards. The rushing attack was conducted by committee with 8 ball carriers getting into the action.
Although not conclusive yet, this was clearly a step in the right direction for the TCU offense that was largely ineffectual for much of the last 2 seasons. If they can continue to perform at this level against higher competition then they could be a force to be reckoned with.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Overall the Big 12 fared reasonably well in the opening weekend with the exception of an FCS loss in Ames by Iowa State. I know that the North Dakota State Bison is no run of the mill FCS team, but they are still from the lower division and that loss stings when it comes to conference respectability.
The teams that were supposed to win did win and typically by a large margin. The exception to that was Tech who was constantly harried by the Central Arkansas Bears throughout the game before finally pulling out a close win at the end.
The part of the weekend that was particularly impressive ironically came from the league's other 2 losses. Those of course were the close calls that Alabama and Florida State had against West Virginia and Oklahoma State respectively. Both WVU and OSU climbed into respectability even after losses.
The Bears had an unbelievable defensive outing and a solid offensive one. The biggest question to be answered by the Bears this year was how their defensive secondary would hold up. They held up very nicely thank you. There were no blown coverage errors, no big issues in the backfield to speak of whatsoever. Of course the defensive front was unbelievably aggressive with Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman virtually unblockable. The SMU offense, while far from elite was well set up to take advantage of a young Bear secondary and they were not able to do anything of the sort. The Pony quarterbacks were running for their life for most of the game and in draw plays and screens designed to take advantage of an aggressive front, the linebackers and safeties were in position to snuff out any big gainers. The Ponies had negative yardage on the ground and gave up 8 sacks, which under any circumstance is a great defensive performance.
The offense was not quite as lethal as it has been in the past, but lets not look past the fact that it was 24-0 at the end of the first quarter. This is against an SMU team that was hoping to contend for a conference championship this year. Special mention should be made of the true freshman receivers, Davion Hall and KD Cannon. They both came in and made an immediate positive impact. KD Cannon was not coverable. At inside receiver, he found himself matched up with a safety much of the night and it was not even a contest. With slightly better throws, he would have had 3 touchdowns rather than the one that he recorded. The injuries were another story of this game with Antwan Goodley and Bryce Petty having shortened evenings due to injuries. All reports point to the fact that their injuries are not serious though and hopefully they will be back at full power next week.
Go Bears, 1-0...