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 everyone a quick summary of the weekend’s games around the Big 12. We will also incorporate conference bowl projections on a weekly basis.
Week 1 for the Big 12 started out with some big pre-Saturday matchups and early season snoozers. TCU traveled to Minnesota to pad their strength of schedule and Baylor continued the rekindled Southwest Conference rivalry by going to Dallas and taking on SMU. The Longhorns got a chance to see touchdown Jesus during the primetime slot in South Bend in another marquee matchup. The results of all of the Big 12 games were generally predictable, but were in some cases surprising in how the games played out. Without further delay, on to the game summaries.
TCU (-16.5) 23 @. Minnesota 17
This was one of the first big games of the season and aired Thursday night before opening weekend. Minnesota is a middle Big 10 team that could potentially challenge for the west divisional title in the league and at home are a tough out. Against the #2 team in the nation though there were expected to provide only a tune-up for TCU. Minnesota had other ideas though and was tough in the this one throughout. They scored and hung around to the very end. TCU was in control for the most part and it never really seemed that they were in danger of losing the game, but the Golden Gophers were within a single score for big chunks of the game (including the end) and situations like that are ripe for upsets.
Even in the face of a road test against a good team, TCU struggled at times. Trevone Boykin was not as sharp as he looked last season and the defense was clearly not the same either. Boykin passed for 246 yards and had a touchdown pass and an interception. He also had an extremely nifty touchdown scramble in which he embarrassed a hapless defender in the open field. He didn't look as sharp as he was last season, but he still looked good. It was a season opener on the road though and many of the kinks and jitters will be worked out by coach Patterson and staff. TCU didn't look like the #2 team in the land but they did look good and escaped Minneapolis with a solid win.
Oklahoma State (-21) 24 @ Central Michigan 13
Oklahoma State found themselves in a real dogfight Thursday night against the Chippewas of Central Michigan. The Chips were up 13-10 in the 3rd quarter and had upset on their minds. The Cowboys were able to pull it out in the end though and escaped Michigan with a win as well. It was clearly an underwhelming performance for the Pokes against an overmatched opponent opponent though. Mason Rudolph did just enough to win with 266 yards passing and a touchdown. He also ran for one. JW Walsh made an appearance and ran for a touchdown as well.
OSU is still a big wild-card to win the Big 12 but they will need to improve their performance for that to become a reality. This could also be early season jitters on the road, but a solid win was expected, not a come from behind win in the 2nd half.
Texas 3 @ Notre Dame (-8.5) 38
This was one of the biggest games for the Big 12’s opening weekend with a marquis, primetime matchup of a highly ranked Notre Dame and a hopefully up and coming young Texas team. This game ended up being a complete dismantling by Notre Dame who made a strong statement for consideration for a playoff spot.
Texas was inept on offense. Again. In their last 3 games the offense has put up 20 points. The only were able to manage 163 yards in South Bend. The issue did not stop there though; the defense was pushed around all night as well. Over the same 3 game span the defense has given up 117 points. The defense has typically kept Texas in games and the result depended on whether or not the offense scored some points. Tyrone Swoopes had a tough night, but was running for his life for much of the time, so the offensive line has some culpability for the offensive woes. The defense while giving up 38 points, went against a talented Irish offense and is very young. A bright spot was that true freshman Malik Jefferson made a successful debut and had 9 total tackles, 5 of them solo.
No one expected Texas to beat a stacked Notre Dame team but the bumbling performance that the Horns turned in on Saturday night, proves that they have a long, long way to go to get back into league contention.
South Dakota State 41 @ Kansas (NL) 38
The only game more embarrassing for the Big 12 than the Texas game was Kansas getting beaten at home by the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. This was new head coach David Beaty’s Division 1 debut and unfortunately he will remember it well for all the wrong reasons. The Jacks jumped out to a 31-7 lead early and took complete control of the game. The Jayhawks were able to fight back and had the ball at the end of the game with a chance to either attempt a long field goal or Hail Mary. With 7 seconds on the clock Montell Cozart fumbled the snap and was unable to complete the procedural clock-stopping spike. Instead it was treated just like any other run play and time quietly expired.
If there is something to be taken out of this game, it is that the Jayhawks never gave up and did fight their way back in the 2nd half. They finished with a decent amount of yardage at 576 which even against South Dakota State is an improvement over last year. Other than that, there was not much to smile about in Lawrence.
Sam Houston State 45 @ Texas Tech (NL) 59
In a battle of the un-defensive, Tech held on beat the Bearkats of Sam Houston. Patrick Mahomes continued to shine as he put up big numbers with 425 yards passing and 4 touchdowns, but the porous defense kept the Red Raiders on the nervous side of the game. The Bearkats actual had more yards overall than Tech (637 vs. 611) but were undone by 4 turnovers. Without those, Sam Houston would have been a serious threat to win this game.
The game was pretty close until the 3rd quarter when Tech opened up a 59 to 31 lead. The defense let the Kats back into the game though and gave up 14 in the 4th quarter to draw the score to within 14. It looks like Tech is going to have a similar season than last year with the defense giving up tons of points and the offense trying to outscore the opposition to win.
Akron 3 @ Oklahoma (-31) 41
This game was closer in the first half than the final score would suggest, but the depth and speed of Oklahoma allowed them to finally pull away from the Akron Zips. Baker Mayfield made a successful debut for OU and passed for 388 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another. Joe Mixon also had a big night piling on an additional 142 yards both receiving and running. Samaje Perine finished as OU’s top rusher but only had 33 yards. Midway through the 2nd quarter the OU offense had negative rushing yards, 76 yards total and 3 points.
They made appropriate adjustments late in the first half and into the second half and those plus the athleticism of the Sooners pushed this game into a blowout. The Sooner defense was particularly impressive. Even against the Akron Zips, the defense allowed only 3 points and 226 yards. If Baker Mayfield stays on track, Samaje Perine gets back to form and the defense is as effective against tougher competition as it was against Akron, then OU will be a team to watch in the Big 12 race.
South Dakota 0 @ Kansas State (NL) 34
The most exciting thing at the Kansas State vs. South Dakota game was the halftime Star Trek themed band formation. It was intended to be a photon torpedo shot at the cross-state rival Kansas Jayhawks but it ended up being a phallic frolic that required apologies from the band leadership team and the university president. Tsk tsk Kansas State.
From a football standpoint the Cats opened the game with a kickoff return for a touchdown and never looked back. The cruised easily to a shutout victory over the Coyotes. The one negative for the Snydercats was the loss due to injury of starting QB Jesse Ertz at the beginning of the game. Joe Hubener subbed for him and put up a reasonable performance, but whether or not Ertz comes back could be a big challenge for Kansas State.
Coach Snyder was gracious as always in a lopsided victory and discussed the many things that the Cats needed to improve. Some things never change.
Georgia Southern 0 @West Virginia (-16) 44
West Virginia came out strong against Georgia Southern and recorded the Big 12’s second shutout of the day against the Georgia Southern Eagles. Skylar Howard threw for 359 yards and 2 touchdowns. Wendell Smallwood had a productive night and had 96 yards on the ground. The offense wasn't the only spark on the field though, the defense turned in a dominant performance as well. Senior Safety Karl Joseph picked off three passes and the defense forced 5 turnovers over all. They truly were in shutdown mode the whole game. The Eagles only got into the Mountaineer side of the field twice and came away with nothing both times.
The only takeaway from this game is that the offense really should have put up a few more points. The defense was completely dominant and pitched a shutout and the offense scored 44, but with 5 turnovers by the Eagles leading to 15 possessions by the ‘Eers, I kept expecting a bit more of a domination. The WVU offense did have a few sputters like a 4th and 1 that didn't get converted and they only put up 16 points and one touchdown in the first half so there are some things to be improved on there.
West Virginia showed that it can be a contender in the league with a dominant defense and a solid offense.
Iowa State (NL) 31 @ Northern Iowa 7
Iowa State got on the winning track against Northern Iowa in a big win in Ames. Sam Richardson threw 2 touchdowns to Allen Lazard and Dondre Dailey. After losing to FCS teams each of the last 2 seasons, the Cyclones really needed the win to help take the pressure off of their embattled coach, Paul Rhoads.
Quenton Bundrage also made his comeback after tearing an ACL last year and provided a spark for the Cyclone receiving corps. Iowa State might not make a run for the Big 12 championship, but starting off with a big win helps give the Cyclones some confidence to bring into the season.
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Overall the Big 12 was pretty luke-warm. The top teams in the league won, but not in as dominant a fashion as many expected. It will take some time to see the value of those wins. For example, Minnesota has a real shot at winning the Big 10 West. If they do that, then a 23-17 victory in Minneapolis will be extremely valuable. Same goes for SMU. If they are in fact much improved over last season and and go bowling, then Baylor’s victory will look better. This early in the season you just never know.
In my objective opinion though, I thought Baylor looked to be the best team overall in the league even without 3 of the top defenders on the field (one to injury, two to suspension). The question at QB was clearly answered and that answer was a brilliant performance by Seth Russell. Jay Lee had a great game as well, but he missed a catch that lead to Russell’s only blemish, a tip-ball gimme interception. Jarrett Stidham came in late in the game and tossed a dime to Chris Platt for a touchdown during his first play from scrimmage. A quick vision of the future. Baylor had a poor 2nd quarter and the defense gave up some points to the revamped SMU offense, but other than that it was dominance.
On the negative side of the ball, two things stood out to me. One was Texas’ performance overall. All I could do was shake my head while watching that game. Texas went up against an outstanding team so the result wasn't what bothered me, it was how the Horns played the game. They didn't look like they had a chance to even be competitive, much less win. It wasn't just the offense this time, it was the defense as well. Texas has a knack for turning the season around somewhat after poor openers though.
The other thing that jumped out at me was Tech’s defense. 45 points and 637 points to Sam Houston? That will need to improve when Tech gets into league play.
It is still early in the season and every team has things to work on and improve. I am just glad to be able spend the weekend in front of the big-screen again watching Big 12 football.
Go Bears, 1-0…