We all know that anything can happen from week to week in college football, but who would have ever thought that, after the first three weeks of action, Texas and TCU, two teams expected to be prime contenders for the conference crown this season, would already sport two losses?
Granted, TCU opened the season on a neutral field against now-seventh-ranked LSU, which is about as difficult an opening assignment as you could dial up, but the Horned Frog team that lost in its conference opener this past week at Texas Tech did not look anything like the TCU team that played tough against one of the SEC’s top teams two weeks ago.
And as for Texas, what can one say except that it appears that the gates have swung wide open at the O.K. Corral in Austin, prompting an all-out stampede on the once-vaunted Texas defense. The Texas defense, operating under former but newly installed coordinator Greg Robinson, who had been on the job just six days, again got torched by the running game, yielding 272 yards rushing to Ole Miss on Saturday after giving up a record 550 yards on the ground the week before.
It was the total collapse of the Longhorn rush defense at BYU in Week 2 that lead to the immediate dismissal of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. But after a second consecutive disnal performanbce by the once 15th-ranked Longhorns in a year that was expected to be a return-to-glory season, the defensive coordinator’s job may not be the only Texas coach to be given his walking papers before the season is out. Head Coach Mack Brown’s days in Austin would appear, at this point, to be close to a breaking point.
In his postgame press conference with reporters, Brown was asked what his message is to Texas fans now that his team was faced with its worst start since his first year in Austin in 1998: “Keep coming,” he said. “Let’s beat Kansas State. Forget the coaches; come for the kids.” If you didn’t know any better, that comment had the sound of a concession speech.
With reports surfacing over the weekend that longtime Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds will step down at the end of the year, that can’t be good news for Brown, even under the best of circumstances.
The coup de grace may be just five days away when Kansas State comes calling at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorual Stadium. Texas has not beaten coach Bill Snyder’s K-State squad in five consecutive games. And a sixth straight Wildcat win on Saturday, whiuch is a good possibility given the Longhorns’ donward spiraling start to the 2013 season, could well be the death blow for Brown and his Longhorn coaching staff, even though a definitive decision may not come until after the season.
But getting back to the rest of the Big 12 action over the weekend, TCU had a better showing than Texas last weeek, but still came up short Thursday night against Texas Tech, 17-10, in a highly unusual low-scoring game for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is now tied atop the Big 12 standings with the two Oklahoma schools, all three teams with perfect 3-0 records.
Oklahoma may have found a new starting quarterback in junior Blake Bell. Despite being the preseason favorite of most experts to lead the Sooners at quarterback this season following the departure of four-year starter Landry Jones, coach Bob Stoops gave the starting nod to redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, who struggled in the Sooners’ first two games and suffered a bruised knee in OU’s last game, forcing him to sit out against Tulsa on Saturday.
Knight may be sitting for a while longer, as Bell shined in his first career start as a Sooner, setting a record for most passing yards in a career debut. Bell completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards in leading OU to a convincing 51-20 victory on Saturday. According to Oklahoma athletic department officials, it took Heisman Trophy-winner Sam Bradford 18 starts to pass the 400-yard passing mark, and 11 starts for Jones, who now owns most of the Sooner career passing records. Ironically, it took Bell just one start.
For his performance against in-state rival Tulsa, Bell was named Offensive Player of the Week in the Big 12.
Oklahoma State, the Big 12 preseason favorite of the league coaches and most college football experts, had no trouble disposing of tiny Lamar before a record crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. The Cowboys piled up 426 total yards en route to a 69-3 win. In their last two games, OSU has averaged 57 points a game. Sll-purpose wide receiver Josh Stewart, the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week, had a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown and returned another punt 41 yards.
Iowa State lost its second game of the year in as many outings, falling to in-state rival Iowa 27-21. Meanwhile, Kansas, looking for its second win of the year, one more than the Jayhawks had all of last season, played well through three quarters on the road at Rice. Kansas led 14-13 heading into the final quarter, but couldn’t hold on, giving up 10 unanswered points in the closing 15 minutes to fall 23-14.
Kansas State fans may have been a bit nervous with their team was trailing 7-6 at the end of the first quarter, but that’s when the Wildcat offense got rolling, posting 21 points in the second quarter to take a lead it never surrendered in a 57-7 victory of the University of Massachusetts. A word of warning for Texas, K-State’s nect opponent: The Wildcats ran for 329 of their 426 total yards on Saturday.
Baylor, 2-0 through the first two games, was idle this past week.
Five Things We Learned From The Big 12 Games Over The Weekend
- Texas has gone from a preseason ranking of No. 14 in the country to falling completely out of the top 25 and not receiving a single vote in either the coaches’ poll (USA Today) or the media poll (Associated Press).
- At the beginning of the season, everyone seemed to have their eyes on Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas, believe it or not, as the likely title contenders in the Big 12 this college football season. Lee Corso’s famous words, “Not so fast,” on ESPN’s “College Game Day,” seem to be an apt way of pausing at this point, three weeks into the new season, and advising all the crystal ball wonks not to forget about Baylor. All the Bears are doing at this time is leading the conference in scoring, averaging almost 70 points a game, while giving up just eight a game. Baylor returns to action this week against Louisiana-Monroe, the same team Oklahoma defeated 34-0 in Week 1.
- Texas Tech gave up just 10 points in its win over Big 12 opponent TCU last week. That represents the fewest points the Red Raiders have yielded in a conference win since 2007.
- Like Oklahoma, West Virginia also trotted out a new starting quarterback on Saturday, and the results were extremly positive. Freshman Ford Childress got his first career start and answered the call with a 359-yard passing day and three touchdowns in the Mountaineers 41-7 win over Georgia State.
- The Kansas offense was expected to be pretty good this season with a new starting quarterback from BYU and much of its offensive firepower back from last season, but there was still a lot if uncertainty as far as the Jayhawk defense was concerned. If Saturday’s road showing against Rice is any indication, the Kansas D may not be as bad as some expected. “Our defense did a great job, and they put is in position to win the game,” KU quarterback Jake Heaps said. “Ofensively, we just couldn’t get it done.”